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The Mask of Grief: Jealousy

(This is part 1 of a 2 part series on the Mask of Grief. Click here to read part 2.)

Have you had those moments when you look at another mom and you're overcome with envy?

She's so lucky.

She probably doesn't even know what a high-risk OB is.

She gets to wear maternity clothes.

She's in her third trimester.

She's having a baby shower.

She's probably never even heard of the NICU.

It's not fair. She's so lucky.

I know I have. So many times I've seen women walking around during pregnancy, totally oblivious to the complications that land 400,000 women per year on bed rest and felt that way.

Seeing photos on Facebook of a brand new family - a freshly born newborn being held by an exhausted but ecstatic mother and her partner crouched over the two of them - hits a nerve for me.

You know what I'm talking about?

We shy away from the word jealousy because it's a horrible feeling we're told never to feel. It's not nice. It's not helpful. It's bad.

But that's exactly what this feeling is. We're jealous.

The thing about jealousy is that behind it is the even stronger emotion: grief. (Tweet that!)

Yes, even if you are still pregnant or your baby is still in the NICU or even if your baby is home now, it is possible to grieve. (Tweet that!)

Jealousy is a mask for grief. You've experienced a significant loss even if your baby survived.

You are grieving. And that's ok.

Release the jealousy and heal from the grief.

Once you see that jealousy isn't the root but that grief is, it opens the door for healing.

Here are my top 5 tips on how to overcome jealousy of other pregnant women or moms.

1. Acknowledge your reality.

As superficial or silly as your triggers may feel, not being able to have a maternity photo shoot or attend your cousin’s wedding is a loss. Take time to really acknowledge your losses.

What do you wish had happened that didn’t? What were your deepest desires for your journey to bringing home your baby that didn’t turn into reality?

These are very real losses that need to be acknowledged before you can heal from them.

2. Stop judging yourself.

The more you tell yourself you shouldn’t feel a certain way or try to push it aside by minimizing it, the more pain you are causing yourself.

This judgment can come in the form of "shoulds" like, "I should be grateful" or "Things could be worse". It can also come in the form of tough critiques of yourself. "My contractions are my fault" or "My body is broken".