I’m turning into a hermit. Not in the traditional sense, exactly. I leave my house almost every day. But I hate leaving. When I leave, I can’t wait to get back. I can’t wait to put on the same clothes I’ve worn for twelve weeks, even though they stink and have stains on them. I long to lay on my couch and stare blankly at the TV.

I’m not finding comfort in anything anymore. Flipping around on the internet, my surefire way to escape, now makes me tired. I have thousands of unopened emails, dozens of unread text messages. I want to look at them but I just don’t have the stamina.

The only things I seem to have engery for? Envy and crying.

When I was on bed rest with Madeline, the only time I was allowed to leave my house was to go to the doctor. I remember sitting in my OB’s office, seeing happy pregnant ladies with their growing bellies, and being overcome with jealousy. Or when Maddie was in the NICU, I would constantly see happy parents going home with their new babies, and my body would become hot with anger.

This is so much worse.

Everything sets me off now. Seeing a child walking down the street with a parent, or a man buying diapers, or a plastic toy in the grass turns me into an ugly, hateful shell of my former self. I say that I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, but that’s not entirely true. If it meant I could have my little girl back? If a magical genie said, “OK, pick another family and they’ll lose their child instead,” there isn’t a single person in the world that would be safe. Even the people I know.

I felt guilty about this at first, but I realized that everyone who knows me or reads this would feel the same way. And everyone who knows me or reads this has already had a similar thought. “Man, that sucks, but better them than us.” Who WOULDN’T think that way? I know that, before Maddie passed, when I heard about a family that lost a child I would be so relieved it wasn’t MY baby that was gone. It wasn’t MY family whose worst nightmare came true.

So I’m slowly becoming a hermit, because I’m afraid soon I won’t be able to keep it in. So that the next person that says something well-intentioned won’t get me screaming in their face. So that the next person who rightfully complains online about their cranky child won’t get an expletive-filled email or comment. So that the innocent man buying diapers won’t have to see me glaring at him with my swollen blood-shot eyes.

Am I protecting others, or myself? I don’t really know.