Soooo… I may be a bad person. Maybe.
Here’s the back story:
A coworker of mine had a baby via surrogate around the same time as Chick. Not only were we due around the same time, our babies were both born premature. He and his husband have been trying to have a child for years (everything from adoption to 4 failed surrogate pregnancies) so I was really very happy when I learned they were expecting a child. If anyone knows the long, hard road to fertility, it’s me…
But this is where our stories diverge.
Said co-worker, “Pea” as he will be known from here on out, isn’t just a coworker, he is the head of my unit. Which means he makes bank. Upon learning that he and his husband were expecting, Pea sold his fancy loft in the city and moved to a multi-million dollar home in the ‘burbs. His husband stays at home with their daughter. They hire a babysitter once a week so they can have a date night. They also hired a night nanny when their child was teeny so that they could get a good night’s sleep.
Um… yeah. That’s not my life. There are times I feel a bit like Nick Caraway in The Great Gatsby. I can see the fancy, but I always return at the end of the day to my tiny cottage just next door to Pea’s metaphorical (and come to think of it, LITERAL) mansion.
Because our kids are close in age, Pea will occasionally ask me how Chick is doing. Specifically, if Chick is eating solids yet, rolling over, playing with sensory toys, etc. It wasn’t until recently I realized he is comparing his child to mine. It’s like Chick is a litmus test. On one hand, I get it… as new parents, you don’t know what is normal. On the other hand, I’m not entirely comfortable with the tone of some of these conversations.
And still I’ve managed to be mostly pleased for him. Sure, there are times where I just marvel at what having money can do. Yes, there are times when I wish I could provide X for Chick or Mr. O if only I made a kagillion dollars. But these times are mostly fleeting.
Recently, Pea and I were catching up over the proverbial water cooler when he drops the bomb. He and his husband are trying for another child. They found another surrogate and had just completed an FET. I was kinda gobsmacked. I can’t imagine having another child right now. Chick consumes so much of my time, even when I’m not with him. How on earth can they be starting on another child so soon? I will admit it– I got judgey. (On the inside. All on the inside, because I have the best polite poker face ever.)
I’m not really happy with my reaction to this. It’s complicated. I’m about to be completely honest here in an effort to get to the bottom of this… *gulp*
First, is it because they are wealthy? Not only can they afford to buy a fancy house, have a parent stay at home, hire a night nurse, and all the rest, they can afford another surrogate. Mr. O and I are just making it work with the cost of daycare, diapers, etc., while still meeting all our financial obligations. A second baby right now would make my bank account implode.
Second, is it because they are men? Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t start on child #2 right now because my body is still recovering. (It takes between a year and 18 months to fully recover from pregnancy and childbirth.) Not to mention that I’m still supporting Chick through breastfeeding. Because neither of them is carrying the physical burden of this child, they can bounce into baby #2 much easier than I could.
Third, is it because they are having a baby at all? As so many of you know first hand, there is a part of me that will be infertile forever. Birth announcements still sting a little, even though I have a baby of my own. I see pregnant women and I cringe (all on the inside.) Infertility is a wound that doesn’t heal, never fully.
Or four… is it a big ol’ sauce of all three?
In all of this is the lingering question of why another person’s happiness has to reflect on my own. I don’t think I’m alone in this– keeping up with and feeling insecure about the Joneses is as American as apple pie. I do wish I were better at keep that nagging need for comparison at bay.