Today is March 31st. That means tomorrow is April Fool's Day. Most of us really enjoy this day, and for good reason. It can be fun. However, some people really go overboard, and do so without thinking about someone else's feelings.
For the last few days, the "pregnancy is not a joke" pictures have been going around. I made a status about this, and have noticed a few friends sharing the photos (and even some who have shared my status!). I was quite surprised at the responses I got to my status. It makes me happy to know that I may have made someone stop and think "Wow, I have never looked at it that way before". I'm so proud at the attention these photos have gotten over the past few years! It still isn't getting the point across to most people, though. In fact, four minutes after I posted the simple, informative status about this subject, someone reported it to try and get it taken down. This was probably someone who is sick of me advocating for infertility and loss (they don't care), or it was someone who had this BRILLIANT joke planned and I ruined it. I was shocked that someone would do such a thing.
Unfortunately, a lot of people are still in that "get over it" mindset. If you click on the original photos shared by organizations, you'll see a lot of rude comments. Here are some examples (with some replies I would like to give!):
1) "I don't care if my friends take offense to this. I'll do it anyway. If jokes offend you, then you need to delete your Facebook. It's not my problem."
Of course it isn't your problem. You should be glad that it isn't your problem, and I'm sure you are. However, why are you so uncaring? You probably have multiple Facebook friends who are struggling with infertility and/or pregnancy/infant loss, and you just said that you don't care -that it isn't your problem. That means you are not a nice person. I don't even really have a good response to this, except for...you will live a very sad life with that attitude. That is karma right there. Have fun with that.
2) "People who lose babies or are infertile are way too sensitive."
You know what, I'll actually agree to this statement. It is true in most cases. I am way too sensitive, and I'll shout that from the rooftops. It is common knowledge. However, we aren't asking you to do anything crazy except for stop making pregnancy a joke, when to us, it isn't. It's pretty simple. It hurts. Hurting someone should be something you try NOT to do. I personally try my best to not hurt someone else. I know that I have before, but I always try to make it right, as everyone should.
3) "Stop playing the victim card. You're just looking for attention."
Wow. See #1, but I can assure you that we are not looking for attention. We want to inform others and be an advocate for something we are experiencing, because it is still taboo. It is clear by this comment and the rest of these that we still have a long way to go.
4) "Just because you're struggling doesn't mean I can't have fun. Get over yourselves."
I see "get over yourselves" quite often, and this one is just awful. I'm not going to "get over" my losses. It doesn't work that way. I'm also not going to just get over the fact that people are jerks and many don't understand how painful infertility and loss is. Again, why is it so hard to actually care about how someone else is feeling? Being selfish gets you nowhere. Also, there are plenty of ways to have fun on April Fool's Day without hurting someone else just so you can get a forced laugh out of someone else - because let's be honest, nobody is going to believe you're actually pregnant. It's overdone.
These are comments that I personally cannot even begin to understand. What I can understand is the ignorance behind it - if you haven't been there, you won't understand. What I don't understand is the lack of empathy people have. I know the world isn't a nice place sometimes, but until I lost babies, I never knew how absolutely awful some people are. It's true, some people only care about themselves, and I don't understand that at all. (Most) of these people wouldn't make jokes about a relative dying, cancer, etc, but they're fine about joking about pregnancy because they just don't see how it could hurt someone. This is understandable, but that is why we are trying to show HOW it can hurt someone.
Now, since so many people do not understand why this joke is hurtful, let me explain. Imagine (and I say to imagine this, but this will be hard to do) that you have been trying to get pregnant for over two years. You've given up hope that it will ever happen for you. You've cried a million tears, and prayed a million prayers. One day, you wake up a couple of days before your period is due, and as you always do at this time of the month, you take a cheap pregnancy test. You lay the test aside, because, let's be honest, it will be negative just like it has been for the past twenty-six months. You shower, and when you get out, you reach for your towel and realize...there is a second line. You're in disbelief, and the happy tears start flowing. You cannot BELIEVE it! You're finally pregnant! You spend the next six weeks absolutely overjoyed. You're the happiest you've been in years, when...BAM. You start bleeding. A visit to your doctor confirms your worst fear...your baby has died. You spend a week in agonizing physical and emotional pain. But the emotional pain never goes away.
THIS is why pregnancy is not a joke to some of us. Pregnancy is serious. It's hard to achieve, hard to maintain, and hard to think about for many of us. The fact that some people take it so lightly...we don't understand it. We will never understand it. Seeing someone make a joke about being pregnant and then saying "HAHA! Just kidding! Thank GOD I'm not really pregnant!!!" sends a jolt of pain into our hearts. Should we feel this way? Well, a lot of people think we shouldn't, but it is something most of us can't help. All that we ask for is a bit of empathy. If you want to call your husband, sister, or mom and make this joke, so be it. But doing it for all of us to see is hurtful. Most of us prefer to at least be hidden from said post if you are going to do it, but remember, most people struggling with infertility and/or pregnancy loss aren't vocal about it. You're hurting people without even knowing it.
This last point was brought to my attention by someone else. I have unfortunately lost two pregnancies and have been trying to conceive for a year and counting. I'm very open about this. My Facebook friends know all of this about me. If I were to make a joke tomorrow about being pregnant, my friends and family would be shocked and think I was sick. Because how sick would it be for me, who has struggled, to make a joke about that? That's not funny! Yet, most of the people thinking that wouldn't think twice about making the same joke TO me or for me to see. That is a problem. It has a simple solution, and that is empathy.