You see it on April Fools’ Day. There’ll be someone on Facebook who posts a status update about being pregnant, or who shows a photo of a positive pregnancy test. Hilarious, right? Well… perhaps not if you’ve lost a baby. Or if you desperately want to get pregnant, but can’t.
For these women, it can be incredibly hurtful to go through the emotions that come up when they find out a friend is pregnant, then realise that it’s just a prank. With April Fools’ Day almost here, memes are being shared, asking people to be sensitive about it.
This week marks the start of Never Forgotten: Mamamia’s Pregnancy Loss Awareness Week.
One meme that has been shared more than 26,000 times was created by an American doula, Heather Dumas. It shows a positive pregnancy test, along with the words, “This is not a joke. On April 1st, please keep those struggling with infertility or pregnancy loss in your thoughts before posting.”
Dumas tells The Motherish says she's seen a lot of women negatively affected by pregnancy jokes on social media.
"There are women dealing with infertility issues and pregnancy/child loss who are exposed to these jokes and it hurts my heart to see them become upset," she says.
Dumas admits she herself played the "joke" three years ago.
"At the time I didn't realise the impact it had on this demographic but learned about it soon after," she adds. "I wanted to bring awareness to those who may be like I was, and hopefully reduce the heartache for mothers who are not able to conceive right now."
Dumas says she's had some negative feedback. One woman said she'd struggled for eight years to get pregnant, but was never offended when friends joked about it. Another said everyone was getting too sensitive, while another said she was going to keep making the joke.
However, most women have appreciated the message Dumas is putting out and have been sharing their stories.
- "I have never done this and after losing my baby three years ago today I find it even worse of a joke. Please think before you do this. This time of year is especially hard for me and knowing in three days 'jokes' like this will fill my newsfeed kills me."
- "I'll admit I have done it in the past but now that I'm in this position it does kinda hurt a little bit. I've seen some girls younger than me get pregnant no problem and I've been trying for over a year and still nothing."
- "I myself have struggled for seven years to have a baby and still can't have one. Many friends cannot either and unless you live that life you don't realise how bad it hurts."
- "I think this hurts me still because I recently lost my son on September 10, 2015 at 15 weeks and two days. Knowing that there was absolutely nothing wrong with him, but with me, kills me everyday."
- "I appreciate this post. I could never have children which made me very bitter and angry for a very long time. Now that I'll be 50 this year I'm OK with it but I'll always have an empty spot in my heart."
Dumas says she's hoping to make people realise the impact these jokes make on some women.
"They say the more we know, the more we grow."
Have you been hurt by friends joking about being pregnant?
If this has post raised any issues for you or if you would like to speak with someone, please contact the Sands Australia 24 hour support line on 1300 072 637.