Every year, on April 1, there is a popular joke people like to play on their friends and family members. It’s not uncommon for people to trick their friends and family into thinking they have a baby on the way. Such announcements are usually done over social media.
It could be in the form an ultrasound photo of an unborn baby, or that of positive pregnancy test along with such words as: “Due soon in 2020.” It could be a picture of a positive pregnancy test or even a sonogram. But the joke isn’t funny for people who can’t get pregnant. It’s the fake pregnancy announcement joke.
It could be a statement as innocuous as “Your child needs a little brother or sister. I hope you’re working on that.” All year long, such comments only add salt to the open wound of couples trying to conceive.
While for some people the joke is innocent enough, but for others who are facing infertility (especially women), that fake announcement comes across insensitive and hurtful—almost like a punch to the stomach.
One in four couples in Nigeria face infertility and it can take quite a physical, emotional, and mental toll on those who suffer from it. One of the things that can set off an emotional roller coaster is social media posts from families who are expecting or have had a baby. They want to be happy and ecstatic for their friends or family members, but at the same time they feel sadness, sometimes jealously, and the ever-present question of “When will it be my turn?” pops into their head.
Every day, these men and women put on a happy face and hold back the tears with each new pregnancy announcement from family and friends. It is exhausting and tough work to genuinely be happy for their growing family and to push away feelings of jealousy and hopelessness. So to see and hear these pregnancy jokes at the time of new life, it minimises the general heartbreak and feelings we all possess.
This is not what couples trying to conceive need. They need to feel supported and see legitimate actions that help on the wild ride trying to have a baby.
It is not that those who make such comments do so intentionally to hurt those struggling with infertility or miscarriages. It could be just for the instant shock value but when pranks hurt others in any capacity it is not a laughing matter.
When people make a joke, for you who wants more than anything in the world to be pregnant, it really catches you off guard. And these feelings don’t go away once these families finally have children of their own—it will follow you for years after. So instead, this April, leave the fake pregnancy announcement alone.
When you’re facing infertility, pregnancy announcements are difficult. Even when they’re coming from people you love and they’re true pregnancy announcements. Naturally, you’re happy for the people who get to expand their families, but you’re struggling with that happiness because you’re sad for yourself.”
You find yourself closing off from people. Your friends are talking candidly about having a family, and when they do it you’re left behind. Jokes about getting pregnant can make you that is struggling with infertility feel abnormal and like a failure. You could feel defective, and shameful about it.
People tend to make light of infertility, but it isn’t funny. If you want to get pregnant and you’re able to successfully and you have a child, it’s a miracle. Infertility can be just as distressing and disruptive to people’s lives as cancer diagnosis or divorce. In addition, it’s not recognised by the wider culture so people are often treated insensitively. It’s not life-threatening, but that doesn’t make it less devastating.
Everyone’s experience with infertility is different, but you can learn to cope with any form of pregnancy prank. Most jokes about fertility are rooted in a lack of awareness. Most people know so little about infertility. There’s just this general assumption that if you want to get pregnant, you can — you just have to have unprotected sex.
But you don’t need to tell people you are infertile if you’re not comfortable about it. Unless those that have gone through infertility treatments or faced infertility, they don’t understand it. So when nobody understands what you’re going through, it could be really lonely and isolating. But once you start being open about your infertility struggles, you will discover a community of other people with the same experiences.
Being more open about what you’re going through might bring you the kind of support you find from people you know really well and love. If you don’t have people to talk to who have experienced it, reach out and find those people through support groups. Through that experience, you’ll find that you’re not alone, even though you feel alone.
A pregnancy joke in the company of an infertile couple is not funny. It is never okay to ask a woman what’s going on in her womb or what she intends to do with her womb. It’s nobody else’s business.