Monday, 26 March 2018

:: COLUMN :: Please don’t make a joke of pregnancy this April Fools Day

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:: This column was originally posted on Endometriosis News ::


If there is one day of the year I find difficult, it’s April 1st, aka April Fools Day. And I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way. Let me explain… 

We were blessed with a gorgeous little boy. He’s a funny, loud, energetic, loving 3-year-old now. But, one thing that doesn’t escape me, is the years of trying for him: the heartbreak every single month of finding I had once again started my period when I wished upon every star that I wouldn’t; the knowledge that my body had failed us both. 2 long years passed before we got our chance at in vitro fertilization (IVF) and fell pregnant on the first round. Our only round, since none of our other 9 eggs survived.

We have been lucky in our journey. Others, less so. The trying can continue for years to no avail. No amount of money, fertility treatments, magic potions or pills work. These women live with that hope in their hearts that one day they will hold a baby in their arms, and, for some, it doesn’t come.

There are many paths on the road of infertility, pregnancy and baby loss. It’s not always quite as clear-cut as you get your baby and everything is forgotten. And this is the reason that, still now, I get a sense of dread wash over me towards the end of March every single year.

You see, and it might seem a little unbelievable if you haven’t ever witnessed it yourself, but there are people out there who think it’s hilarious to make a joke of pregnancy on April Fools Day. Maybe I’m just being a sensitive Sally, but I can’t see myself having found this funny even if I hadn’t have been through the whole infertility thing.

I’m hoping that you haven’t seen these types of “jokes” before, but they go something like “Surprise! We’re pregnant!”... Followed quickly by a “April Fools! Got’cha!” type message. Some do it to be funny, some to shock their family and friends. I have seen them, many a time. In fact, I’ve seen some of the top Instagrammers make jokes like this. One in particular has since been on her own adoption journey and might not have found her own jokes quite so funny now. Even one of my own idols, singer Gwen Stefani, made a joke of it back in 2016 by putting up a sonogram on her Instagram with the caption “It’s a girl”.

You see, pregnancy announcements are difficult enough as it is. Knowing someone else is getting their first, second, even fifth or more chance of becoming a parent when you cannot conceive is heartbreaking to say the least. But, once we get past our bitter emotions, we will at some point find that joy for the parents to be. We don’t want to be outcasts, we want to share in this wonderful news. It’s just sometimes not quite as instantaneous as we would all like.

But it’s not just the person making the joke that’s the problem in this situation. It’s the comments that follow. Someone will point out how hurtful something like this can be, only for others to tell them to “stop making it about themselves”. Can you ever imagine how painful it must be to have lost your baby or to have never experienced pregnancy and be told to “get over it”? Well, even if you can imagine, you will never know the sheer pain we feel deep inside. Nothing can ever make you “get over it”. These fake pregnancy announcements are just a massive reminder of what we do not have.

What I’m trying to say, is please don’t be that person. Just stop for a moment and think of the emotional impact your “joke” could have on those around you. Those who face infertility, pregnancy or baby loss don’t have big stickers on their foreheads or flashing signs pointing towards them. Much like chronic illness, these situations are invisible. Often, women, and their partners alike, might feel some sort of embarrassment in their plight. Not everyone likes to make it known to the world that their bodies cannot achieve what others can. And, while some of us do speak out about it, it doesn’t make it any easier.

If you take a look on April 1st, I assure you, there will be at least one person making a joke of pregnancy… Have you ever been hurt by a statement like this or do you think we should all lighten up and get a sense of humour?

You can follow my Endometriosis News column here.

S.
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