I will never forget five years ago on April Fool’s Day when I stood in a classroom where I worked and received a text message from someone close to me that said, “I’m pregnant!”. I instantly felt my knees buckle and my stomach twist into knots. I remember a lump forming in my throat as I tried to hold back the tears and immediate thoughts of wondering when I would be able to one day make such announcement. I remember hope leaving as I surprisingly feared I wouldn’t. But then as hours passed and I was able to finally gain control of my anxious thoughts and emotions, I was shocked once again. Because that announcement? It was all a joke. And while I love jokes, this one didn’t strike my funny bone.
Because 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. And the thought of sitting in the break room eating yogurt out of a cleaned out mayonnaise jar just 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 (I was new to infertility and the feelings it can bring), they were 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 told me I would not be able to conceive on my own. They didn’t know their fake announcement would cause me to instantly 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 so often brings without warning no matter how much you try to stuff them down and push through. And they simply did not know the staggering fact that 1 out of every 8 person’s is fighting every single day a dream shattering, heartbreaking disease. The disease of infertility.
Or that I, someone they love, was that “1” who was fighting. And silently hurting.
This is why I am bringing awareness to this topic today. And why I am asking that you please consider not doing the fake pregnancy announcements 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. And so the intense roller coaster ride of emotions each of these women went through while reading your announcement, gearing up to put on a brave face in order to push through their pain in order to share in this joy with you, only to later (hours later) discover it was a joke, becomes, well, hurtful.
Because generally speaking, most of the time, women 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, yes, I understand that there are many who have or still do struggle with infertility and loss who would not be 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 that 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 is facing or the price they are quietly and needlessly paying for a harmless, yet to them, 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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