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I'm pregnant! April Fools!

I'm pregnant!

Gotcha! April Fools!

Today is the day my newsfeeds are clogged with articles and pictures saying, "Infertility is not a joke. Don't post fake pregnancy announcements."

Personally, I'm not one for April Fools pranks. I honestly think that if someone swapped my sugar for salt and I put that in my CAFFEINE-- my LIFE BLOOD-- making it undrinkable, heads would roll.

When I see all the articles talking about (and shaming) people who find humor in posting a fake pregnancy announcement, I don't necessarily agree.

Hear me out.

On social media, most of my friends are from the military community. We have friends who post fake order announcements or fake duty assignments, only for it to be an April Fools joke.

And check out this list of April Fools jokes from Buzzfeed.

Silly? Harmless?

Pretty much.

We have lost babies to miscarriages, one early in the first trimester and one nearing the second trimester. We have tried to get pregnant and had to wait to get pregnant due to a molar pregnancy. I do not think that fake pregnancy announcements are funny, but I also do not think they are the most insensitive remarks that people who suffer from infertility receive or even the most insensitive remarks that I have received regarding pregnancy loss, parenting, and number of children I have year round. Not on April Fools days, but on ordinary days when I wasn't expecting to get punched in the gut by painful and insensitive reminders of our loss or to be criticized by strangers. These are all comments (some summarized), that I have actually received, to my face and not all by strangers:

"Well, those kids don't really count as your kids because they weren't ever born. Those were just miscarriages." 
"How do you know it was another multiples pregnancy if you never made it to term? A lot of people have a quote on quote multiples pregnancy and then lose some of the babies and just have one. That's pretty normal." 
"We wanted our kids close together in age so they could grow up to be close friends, but it seems like having the age gap you do would make life easier. Do you like having your kids spread apart?" (Not our choice.) 
"At least you have kids so it's not such a loss." (Said after my 2nd miscarriage, which was our 4th pregnancy.) 
"Can you imagine having so many kids close together?" (Comment made when discussing my miscarriage, so, yes, I can. And we lost those babies.) 
"If I had so many boys, I would put a gun in my mouth." (Said in front of our 4 boys.) 
"Have you ever heard of overpopulation or do you just not care about that?" 
"You are a horrible mother. You should pay more attention to your kids."
"You can't really be that upset about a hysterectomy because you have 5 kids already. You honestly would have had more?" 
"I would never have that many kids. We have 2 and that's enough. I don't think my kids would feel loved if I had as many as you. No offense." 
"We decided to stop at 3 kids because we felt like that was a big family. We wanted our kids to have a normal childhood, which wouldn't happen if we had more." 
"You should be glad you have boys and don't have to deal with female hormones. Girls are so much work because all they run on is emotions." (Said in front of our 4 boys, as if that is an appropriate comment.) 
"You can always try again. Losing your first baby is normal." 
"Do you think your older 3 will be close to your younger 2 considering the age gap?" 
"Back in my day, we followed through with our discipline. We would never allow behavior like this." 
"Maybe the miscarriage is a blessing. Would you really want that many kids?" 

My point is that politeness and sensitivity towards other's circumstances should not be extended only on April 1st. I myself do not suffer from infertility. It took us a year to get pregnant with baby #4 after we had the all clear to start trying again after my partial molar pregnancy and about the same for baby #5, but that falls within normal timelines to get pregnant. I cried every month we had negative pregnancy tests and charted and tracked and joined online molar pregnancy groups and pregnancy loss groups and talked to friends that had lost babies and lost multiples. But I have many friends that suffer from infertility and I know that infertility is a daily struggle. Like pregnancy loss, there are daily reminders. I handle those reminders better now that we are finished having children, years and years later after the losses. But they are close to my heart. When I tell people out loud how many children we have, I think a different number in my head because that pain is personal to me. And too many times I have opened up about our story to receive unexpected or insensitive comments like the ones above. They hurt. They hurt so much. I can smile politely and move the conversation forward, but later, when I'm alone, I cry.

People do not need to cater their social media accounts to everyone's private and personal struggles. That is your social media account and you have a right to post what you wish, just like you have a right to say what you wish. I think it would be impossible to edit ourselves to the point where we never offend, even inadvertently and without malice. One person's social media content should not be pointed statements against any individual, no matter how veiled, nor should a person look for offense to be taken from the most banal of posts. Just like every other post we find frustrating or unpleasant (cough, cough, politics...), we should scroll past the posts we find distasteful.

I think the bigger message should be that these struggles-- infertility and infant loss-- which are so often joked about on April Fools day, are constant, year round struggles. Even once a child is born (if another child is born), the lost babies and the struggle to get to that point are never forgotten. Sensitivity and consideration for others when voicing your opinions should be paramount in all interactions, either through social media posts or in person conversations, regardless of the day.

In the meantime, I think it is worthy to celebrate days like today that give me (and all of us) the opportunity to speak openly and honestly about deeply personal issues such as infertility and infant loss.

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