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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