It is that time of year when pranksters rejoice at the opportunity to be a tad mischievous and are absolved of all punishment under the guise of April Fool’s Day. The goal is to fool an unwitting victim into believing something or trick them into taking some sort of action you’ve encouraged them to.
Growing up in my household it was a prime time of year to be awoken by my father with the news that there had been a big snow storm overnight and that school was cancelled. Much rejoicing followed until we rushed to the window to see how much snow we’d be able to go out and play in with a day off from school – only to see bare ground.
Whatever the prank or hoax, it is meant to be received in a humorous way – to tease, get a bit of revenge but always to surprise someone when they learn the truth about a situation they have been enticed into believing.
However, there’s one prevalent hoax (especially since the invention and widespread use of Facebook) that many will resort to on April Fool’s Day – the fake pregnancy announcement. This my friends is far from funny and I’m about to share with you just why I urge you to never have this in your arsenal of pranks.
Fake pregnancy announcements, while they may seem harmless and all in good fun for you, can be extremely hurtful for others who are struggling with infertility or pregnancy loss.
Imagine for a moment that you and your spouse want nothing more than to get a positive pregnancy test result. Imagine you’ve been trying desperately to have a baby of your own for YEARS while everyone else around you seems to be able to have children without even thinking about it. How would seeing an update about a fake pregnancy affect you?
Imagine you have a child already and people assume you can have another one without difficulty – but the reality is you’ve been trying for months or perhaps years since the birth of your first child to give them a sibling. You also would give anything to be able to share the news of a pregnancy – then you see someone you care about joke about being pregnant. How would you feel?
Imagine you were pregnant and suffered a miscarriage or even more tragic, a late loss or stillbirth. Now imagine subsequently seeing a status update from a family member or friend announcing a pregnancy. While it would have been difficult if it were a legitimate announcement, then seeing it retracted in a “ha, ha fooled you” manner would be incredibly hurtful when you had your baby taken from you. How would you feel?
You might rationalize the announcement as all in good fun and you would never mean to intentionally hurt someone. You’d only do it because you know there’s nobody in your circle of friends or family who have problems getting or staying pregnant.
I assure you, believing that just because you haven’t been told about someone’s personal struggles with pregnancy does not mean they have not happened or are happening in their lives. To think otherwise is extremely naive.
The harsh reality is that many people who are challenged with infertility or secondary infertility or who have suffered miscarriages NEVER TALK ABOUT THEM openly. They grieve privately and only share the details with a few select people. Sometimes they only share that grief with their spouse.
It is for this simple reason that I respectfully request that false pregnancy announcements never pass over your lips or through your finger tips. What may seem like a harmless joke to you can cause unimaginable wounds to reopen for those you love the most, without even realizing your words are having that impact.
By all means, have fun and celebrate April Fool’s Day but beware of the impact your antics might have on others.
I have learned now that while those who speak about one’s miseries usually hurt, those who keep silent hurt more.
~ C.S. Lewis