On April Fool’s Day, I will never forget five years ago, when I stood in a classroom where I worked and received a text message from someone close to me which said, “I’m pregnant!”. I instantly felt my knees buckle and my stomach twist into knots. I also remember that all too familiar lump form in my throat as I tried to hold back the tears. I was so happy for them, but I couldn’t help but begin to wonder when I would be able to one day make such an announcement. And so as the lump came, my hope left as I suddenly began to fear I wouldn’t. However, as hours passed and I finally gained control of my anxious thoughts and emotions, I was shocked once again. Because of that announcement? It was a joke. And while I love jokes, this one didn’t strike my funny bone.
Don’t get me wrong; I love a good harmless prank. I’m the one that will hide behind the door and jump out to scare my husband, who is coming around the corner. Not to mention sitting in the break room eating yogurt out of a cleaned out mayonnaise jar to fool my co-workers into thinking I am eating mayonnaise for lunch makes me laugh hysterically. But the fake “I’m pregnant” joke was (and still is) anything but harmless. Or even funny. At least to me.
However, the thing is this, not only was I unaware on that day how much a joke like that would upset me, but my close friend was unaware too. They didn’t know my husband, and I had been trying ‘but not trying’ for nearly five years with no luck. Or that a doctor just two weeks earlier had labeled me “infertile” and informed me that I would not be able to conceive on my own. Therefore, they didn’t know how their fake announcement would cause me to feel overlooked and forgotten by God. Or weep uncontrollably in the bathroom stall of a teacher’s lounge because I was swept away in the tidal wave of emotions that infertility can so often bring without warning, no matter how much you try to stuff it down and push through. And they did not know the staggering fact that 1 out of every 8 is fighting a disease, the disease of infertility. A disease that is dream shattering and heartbreaking. They didn’t know that I, someone they love, was at the beginning of a battle. And silently hurting.
This is why I am bringing awareness to this topic today. And why I am asking that you please consider not making the fake pregnancy announcement on April Fool’s Day or any other day of the year for that matter. Because, like me, the person you are sending the joke to could have just been told they may never be able to conceive. Or the friend scrolling through their newsfeed and seeing a fake sonogram picture announcing a fake impending bundle of joy could have secretly just experienced her own heartbreaking miscarriage. Therefore the intense roller coaster ride of emotions each of these women just went through while reading your announcement, gearing up to put on a brave face to push through their pain to share in this joy with you, only to later (hours later) it was a joke, becomes–well–hurtful.
I can’t speak for all, but generally speaking, most of the time, those struggling with infertility can take the pain of an announcement easier if it comes with true joy for someone else. But with a fake announcement, there is no joy in the end. There is no real reason to celebrate. And so their pain was for no reason at all. Not to mention, seeing something so miraculous as the gift of life, the gift they are hoping to receive, be made into a joke, can only be viewed as insensitive. And distasteful.
Yes, I understand that many who have or still do struggle with infertility and loss are not bothered by this joke. And I applaud them. I myself have now become desensitized (for the most part) by them. But I’m not asking for those people or myself. I am asking on behalf of those who aren’t in that place.
I am asking on behalf of those who might be hanging onto hope by a thread and fighting alone and grieving silently.
I am asking on behalf of those who can’t find their joy or strength to laugh right now because the pain of losing their baby or even the dream of having one is too fresh, and the hurt is too deep.
I am asking on behalf of the person who is too embarrassed to say that this joke hurts even though they wish it didn’t.
And I am asking on behalf of those who don’t have the energy to keep their head above the unexpected tsunami wave of emotions in which being that “1” so often brings.
So will you join me in spreading this message? Will you urge your friends and family members to no longer make fake pregnancy announcements? And not because anyone is trying to be a “killjoy” or take the fun out of things, but simply because we are trying to be compassionate. And we are trying to be considerate. You never know the battle someone else faces or the price they are quietly and needlessly paying for a harmless, yet to them, a harmful joke. This time, this day, is about bringing laughter, not causing tears. Will you help me keep it that way?
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20 thoughts on “Your April Fool’s Pregnancy Joke Could Hurt 1 in 8 (and here is why)”
If I still used Facebook, I would totally use that! In fact, I will send it to people who do. I stopped using it almost 2 years ago, and I am glad for it right now.
But people need to be aware.
Thank you for sharing.
Very well said, I agree entirely with this xxx
Thank you so much for speaking out about this. It was perfectly said too!
Thanks so much, girl! This topic has proven to be controversial from the messages I have received. Ian thankful that you felt it was worded good 🙂
Im guessing its because they do not personally get it! It was perfect!
Goodness gracious, hopefully people know better than this, but I guess the reality is that so many don’t. It’s amazing how many are so clueless about infertility (grace Caroline, give grace). I am thankful that you are getting the word out there!
Can we not share in the joy of others, joke or not, even if we ourselves have sorrows?
But can we not share in the joy of others, joke or not, even though we have sorrows in the same area?
I knew I was infertile at 18. I lived my entire life knowing I would never have a child. I never considered myself a “warrior”. I just couldn’t have children. Was I sad? Yes, occasionally. But I never experienced the crushing pain and hopelessness that others seem to think must go hand-in-hand with this “disease”. So let people joke. I refuse to be a victim to anything. This is no more harmful than someone bringing a cake to a party if I had diabetes. It isn’t a personal attack- unless you make it so.
Jill B, I think you said it well. I am somewhat overweight, have diabetes, am oldish, and many other things that could put me in a subclass of society as a whole. But most remarks, blogs, social media memes, comments or statuses, etc. are not personal, and if we stop putting out good news because someone might be saddened because they do not have that particular good news, then we are in an emotional bottleneck.
I have a loved one who is single, and it saddens her (and me) when her friends, often of less moral courage, etc., tell her in some way they are getting married. She celebrates with them, attends the weddings, even participating. She does not get in a huff and public pity party over it.
Like the Breitbart reporter who was intentionally in a crowd and says she was pushed or something, people make things more dramatic than what they should be.
I am sorry someone cannot have children. Some people adopt, work with children, etc., to share their love.
To just tell everyone to shush about their own joys, whatever they may be, to me, is pretty narcissistic.
I don’t think the blogger or anyone is telling others to “shush about their own joys”… just to refrain from making a not-very-funny joke that could cause pain to those they love. If someone really is pregnant, on April 1 or any other time of year, they should be free to announce it however they wish.
But even when announcing an actual pregnancy, it’s certainly not narcissistic to think twice about what you’re posting and try to have a bit of empathy for others who may be struggling. Quite the opposite of narcissism, I would think.
I can’t understand what you’re going through because I’ve never been absolutely sure I wanted children but I wish more people would look into adopting as an amazing chance to give a child a better live and take it…
Sometimes couples are open to adoption and may pursue that route one day but they are just not open about it with others in fear of hearing advice, Etc. Also, adoption is not a desire for everyone and that is okay too. I am currently a foster parent and so obviously adoption is something that is always on the table in the event the child cannot return home. I will also say that from what many have told me, (not speaking from experience) that while adoption was a beautiful thing and they love their adopted children, they still have that desire to carry and birth a child.
Maybe more people should! You could be right. I don’t believe it’s for everyone, but perhaps there are more out there who God is nudging towards that beautiful story. But it’s ok for someone to grieve the fact that her body has failed her, that she will miss out on the experiences of pregnancy, breastfeeding, etc. There’s no reason to be guilty or shameful. They are natural desires that many ladies hold deep inside as part of how they were created.
I know how you feel. We were blessed with a miracle baby but conceiving again is becoming impossible even though science says it should be easier. Thank you for posting this. It is a true thing that people get over in their own time and many times don’t tell their friends.
Thank you for sharing this, Elisha. My cousin told me a week after this that she was going to use this as a joke for our family since she’s over 40 and just married a few months ago. I did not lie and tell her it would have been funny. In fact, it would have broken my heart.
It’s just such an inappropriate joke in my opinion.
This reminds me of 15 years ago when I found out I was pregnant and a lady from church told me to “tone it down” with my happiness because “Liz” was having infertility issues and my news could hurt her. I was shamed and my happy moment dulled because someone else couldn’t “deal” with her own problems and be happy for someone else. This is a harmless joke and you are not being targeted. Stop making everything about you snowflake and be glad people are making jokes and laughing.
My mom taught me that if I can’t say anything nice, then to not say anything at all. So that’s what I am going to do with your comment.
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