Between the COVID-19 pandemic and April Fool’s Day looming, a lot of women like me are struggling. Why? Because jokes about pregnancy and kids abound.
I’m sure you’ve seen the tweets, Facebook posts, and Instagram photos that joke about how many babies will be born nine months from now and that they’ll be called pandemic babies or COVID babes or the like.
I’m sure you’ve seen the social media posts joking about how parents are hiding from their kids or locking the kids outside so they can get a break from them, or how they wish they could be quarantined without their kiddos because spending all day with their kids is just too darn exhausting.
And, with April 1st coming up in a few days, the annual fake pregnancy announcements will be popping up too.
I know these jokes are all in fun. I know they aren’t meant to be hurtful.
But they are hurtful.
Because 1 in 6 couples have difficulty getting pregnant, and 1 in 4 women have had a pregnancy fail either in miscarriage or stillbirth. Chances are, someone on your social media friend list (or multiple someones) fits into one or both of those categories.
Not everyone who wants one will be getting a COVID-19 baby in nine months.
Some people have diagnoses of PCOS or blocked fallopian tubes that explain their infertility. And some people have diagnoses of a cord accidents or an incompetent cervix that causes a pregnancy loss.
But many people like me have no answers. My baby was perfectly fine until suddenly, his heart wasn’t beating. The autopsy on his tiny body gave no answers as to why he died. All the super invasive blood tests, ultrasounds, x-rays, and analyses of my husband and me came back perfectly normal with no explanations for why I haven’t been able to get pregnant again since my last miscarriage.
A lot of people had IUI or IFV cycles set and ready to go in the coming weeks. And people like me had appointments booked for April that were hopefully going to provide some answers or treatment steps for what to do next to get pregnant. But that appointment is no longer happening. Most fertility treatments across North America have been cancelled indefinitely because of the pandemic. Which means most of us have no chance of having a baby in our arms before 2020 ends.
Please stop making these jokes about pregnancy and parenthood.
Fake Pregnancy Announcements
These are never, ever actually funny. Even on April Fool’s Day. Pregnancy announcements are already hurtful for people mourning infertility and pregnancy loss. Fake ones hurt even more.
We want to be happy for our friends and family who are pregnant, but it’s tough. Every pregnancy announcement is like a punch in the gut. We long so much for our own announcement and instead constantly see other pregnancies, often from the same people over and over again, while we are still waiting for living baby number one.
Our waits are long, and the pregnancy announcement is something precious and sacred.
Fake pregnancy announcements are cruel.
Please don’t joke about being pregnant.
Quarantine Baby Booms
We are all spending a lot more time at home with our partners right now because of the social/physical distancing, quarantine, and shelter-in-place rules. When you can’t go out anywhere or see any other people, you’ve got lots of extra time and there’s bound to be boredom that results in more bedroom time together.
But please consider how much work it takes for some of us to get pregnant. And how that never actually guarantees we will stay pregnant.
I’ve been trying to have a living baby for 3.5 years. In that time, I have had 3 pregnancy losses, one of them a stillbirth. I know people who have been trying for 5 and even 7 years and still don’t have a baby.
If getting a baby was just about having (or making) time to get it on with your partner, we wouldn’t be battling infertility or grieving babies that never got to grow up.
Having appointments and treatments cancelled means our chances of getting that baby are now even lower.
Joking About Getting Rid of Your Kids
It’s totally understandable that spending all day every day in your house with your kids when they’re usually at school or activities or able to visit friends or grandparents is challenging and overwhelming. You’re not getting a break at all. That’s exhausting.
But there are a lot of us who are sitting alone in our silent houses wishing our kids had had a chance to live so we could be stuck at home with them and their noise, watching them play and learn and grow up. We’d trade places with you in a minute if it meant our babies lived.
If you’re tired and frustrated with your kids, please consider the language you use on social media to express that frustration. Rather than joking about locking them out or getting rid of them, be honest that you’re tired and having a hard time. Ask for advice or tips from other parents rather than complaining.
And if you really need to vent for a minute, call or text another parent who’s in the same boat rather than posting your frustration publicly on a feed where the infertility warriors and loss mamas in your life might come across it. We’d count that as a huge kindness.
Care for the loss mamas and the infertility warriors in your life by not making or sharing these types of jokes, in person or on social media. You might find them funny, but to us they are hurtful. And there’s already too much hurt in the world right now.
Be kind. Words and memes are powerful, for both good and bad. So be kind, always.