April Foolish: This Pain Is Not A Joke
It happens every year. Someone decides to put a picture of a positive test, or a baby on an ultrasound, or some other way of announcing a pregnancy onto social media for April Fool’s Day. You’re just about to hit that requisite ‘like’ button (jaw clenched and tears burning in your eyes) when you finish reading the accompanying message.
“HA! Just kidding! LOL! Happy April Fool’s Day!!”
For anyone who has dealt with the pain of infertility, miscarriage or child loss it is decidedly NOT funny. Once you calm down and stop throwing magazines across the room to vent your anger, and instead let the poster know that this isn’t humour, you get comments back from them.
“It’s just an April Fool’s prank, what’s your issue? Why can’t you just take this at face value instead of making everything about YOU and your difficulties?”
Allow me to explain. This raw pain that burns, at last count, in the 25% of women who have experienced a miscarriage, or the 1 in 5 couples struggling with infertility, means that there is an enormous contingent of people who are not laughing. They would give everything, and often do, to see a positive test, hold an infant in their arms, to laugh with a child that looks like them.
Often it means that you have taken so many pregnancy tests that you develop an almost trauma-like response to repeating a test. Hands get sweaty, heart rates increase. Please, oh PLEASE, let THIS test be positive! Let it STAY positive! Utter despair (and, for me, a tub of Häagen-Daz and spoon) accompany a negative test. Elation and fear that comes from the marrow of your bones if the test is positive and it’s not the last test you take. Daily tests, sometimes multiple tests a day, comparing lines, monitoring symptoms, it doesn’t let up the entire 9+ months. Every symptom of a possible miscarriage is agonized over.
Sometimes you end up watching those two lines fade to one. Or hear the doctor who comes into your ultrasound room tell you that they’re ‘sorry, but can’t find a heartbeat.’ Some of you have even held children as they passed after birth, or down your parenting journey at some point.
When anyone dealing with the above sees ANY pregnancy announcement, it can come with pain. There is happiness for the announcer, but despondency for ourselves. For those that have lost the dream of children who were, or the idea of children who might be, it is acid in a wound.
And some people chose to use April 1st to make a joke out of it.
For anyone considering such a thing, here is your PSA: don’t make light out of a situation that consumes people to the core. Another person’s pain is not a laughing matter. If you wouldn’t joke about having cancer, or your house burning down, or losing a family member on April 1st, don’t post fake pregnancy announcements. It’s cruel. Heartless. Gauche. Even if you don’t personally know anyone who has faced infertility or miscarriage, don’t do it. Chances are someone close to you has, or is going through it right now and is choosing to keep it private.
By all means, have fun with the pranks on this day! Cling-wrap the toilet if needs must. Put salt in the sugar. If you feel the need to post on social media, tell the world how you covered sponges with icing to trick people into thinking it was cake. Just don’t use this day to hurt anyone, even inadvertently, about something they can’t control but wish with every fibre of their being that they could. I would like to think that as a society, we are better than that.
Please, prove me right.
Photo by Isaiah Rustad on Unsplash