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I'm Jealous of the Second Grandchild

Somewhere after my second failed IVF cycle, my dad and I were having a conversation that brought me to the brink of a complete and total meltdown. He was trying to comfort me, explaining that he had lived a happy life and raised two children he loved deeply. If he never became a grandfather, he said, that would be alright.

They were the absolute worst words he could have said to me at the time. And while I somehow managed to hold it together through the duration of our conversation, I spent the remainder of that night huddled in a ball on my bed suffocating beneath my own tears.

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Because it wasn’t alright. Not even kind of. It wasn’t fair that I couldn’t be a mother and it certainly wasn’t acceptable that my father couldn’t be a grandfather.

We’re talking about a man who is pretty much my hero, and who I often tell people is my best friend. I knew he wanted to be a grandfather, and I wanted that for him almost as much as I wanted to be a mother. Because I knew, even then, that my dad would be the world’s most amazing grandfather.

It crushed me to think that my failing body was going to deprive him of the role he had clearly been meant to play.

But then, my daughter landed in my lap. An unexpected adoption, she was the best kind of miracle that had ever happened to any of us. And with only a week’s notice, my dad was on a plane to Alaska ready to meet his first grandchild — landing within just a few hours of her birth.

He spent the next two and a half weeks with us, and not only was his help invaluable during that chaotic newborn adjustment period, but seeing him fall in love with my little girl was almost as magical as falling in love with her myself.

At 18 months old now, nurturing that relationship between the two of them remains a top priority for me as a mother. Because while I am a single mother by choice, I am confident in the fact that she has the best male role model a girl could ask for in my father.

The thing I’m really jealous about is feeling like my daughter is no longer going to be the light in my dad’s eyes.

In many ways, their relationship has brought my dad and I closer. A lot of the wounds from the past have felt minimized by the importance of this new little life between us. And honestly, there has been something special about being the mother of the first grandchild. It has made me feel special to be the one who has been able to give my dad that joy.

So when my dad called one day a few months back to tell me that my stepsister, who currently lives at home, was pregnant — it felt like a punch in the gut.

What you need to know is that I genuinely love my stepsister. She is gorgeous and sweet and far more put together than I was at her age. We always have fun together and I could sit in a room laughing with her for hours. She is also incredible with kids, and my daughter absolutely adores her auntie. I have no doubt that she is going to overcome the challenges ahead of her in order to become a great mother.

But even months later, thinking about the birth of this child brings tears to my eyes. And not the happy kind of tears you might expect.

I am ridiculously sad. And jealous. And angry. All feelings I know I’m not entitled to, because what kind of a person feels that way about the birth of a new baby? What kind of a person struggles so much with the pregnancy of someone she otherwise loves?

Part of it is infertility jealousy. As someone who struggled so hard to get pregnant and failed, it is probably always going to sting me a little to hear about unplanned pregnancies — no matter who they happen to. Just because, seriously, there are people in this world who can just go out and get knocked up without even trying? That just makes me want to demand a refund for the tens of thousands of dollars I threw down the fertility treatment drain. I mean, not fair.

But I think I’ve come to realize this is more complicated than just infertility jealousy. Maybe the thing I’m really jealous about is feeling like my daughter is no longer going to be the light in my dad’s eyes.

This baby is going to live there, and is going to get that time with my dad every single day. They are going to form a bond that my daughter and I can’t possibly compete with all the way up in Alaska, 3,000 miles away from the town I grew up in. And recognizing that is crushing for me.

Do I really have any right at all to pout or mourn the lack of time my daughter will get with her grandfather, when I am the one who chooses to live so far away?

I feel like this is the replacement grandchild. The one who is suddenly going to take priority, if only because of proximity. This baby is going to get grandpa for the holidays, birthdays, school recitals and special events. My baby, meanwhile, is going to get one or two weeks a year and the occasional Facetime call, which always involves a large audience of people in the background also trying to get their time with her. I feel like any promises of longer visits, or even the potential of moving here, that have been made up to now are going to be quickly forgotten once this baby is born — because why come all the way to Alaska when there’s a grandchild right there to love?

And while I know these feelings aren’t totally logical or fair, I can’t help that I’m feeling them. I wish I could make them just go away – my eyes are getting awfully red and splotchy from all the tears.

Still, I choose to live in Alaska. Leaving home, for me, was something I desperately wanted to do from the time I was about 13 years old. I’ve been away for over 10 years now, and I have no intention of ever returning for longer than Thanksgiving visits. So do I really have any right at all to pout or mourn the lack of time my daughter will get with her grandfather, when I am the one who chooses to live so far away?

I feel selfish and bratty and completely unreasonable. And I’m mad at myself, because my stepsister deserves my love and support right now — not to have me pulling away from her in an attempt to soothe my own hurt feelings.

I kind of liked my daughter being the only grandchild. And maybe I wasn’t totally prepared for that reign to end. Maybe I wasn’t ready for that special bond between my dad and I to be over so soon. It leaves me to wonder if this is a normal thing moms of first grandchildren experience, perhaps heightened just a bit for me by infertility and distance? But even if it’s not, how do I get over it?

Because I genuinely do not want to feel this jealous when my little niece or nephew is born.

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I don’t want to be that girl, the one who selfishly can’t let go of her own hurt feelings in the face of someone else’s happiness, the one who can’t rejoice the birth of a new baby because she’s too busy concerning herself with how unfair it all seems — and how ridiculous it is to be yearning for “fair.”

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