Is Your April Fool's Day Joke Offensive to Those with Infertility?
April 1st is fast approaching and I know you're probably thinking, who cares?
We care! For many, a favorite April Fool’s Joke for people is to pretend they’re pregnant and then shout “April Fools”!
So. Not. Funny.
If you don't know about April Fool's day, here's a quick primer.
A Little April Fool’s History
Dating back to the 1700's, the annual tradition of April Fools’ Day is still celebrated today in Europe and North America by many people who go through great lengths to create elaborate practical jokes and hoaxes. These pranks have appeared on radio and TV stations, newspapers and websites. Even large corporations get in on the game with one famous example occurring on April 1, 1996 when Taco Bell, the fast-food chain, announced that it had bought the historic Liberty Bell in Philadelphia and planned to rename it the Taco Liberty Bell. Almost everyone has fallen victim to an April Fools' Day joke at one time or another – and we’ve probably been the evil genius behind a joke or two ourselves.
April Fool’s Day Stinks if You’re Infertile
This time of year, though, for 1 in 8 couples who are struggling with fertility, there is one kind of joke that falls decidedly flat: pregnancy jokes.
The ride on the roller coaster begins with some well-meaning person taking advantage of a baby-like bump that was actually induced by their morning consumption of bagel complete with cream cheese, playfully pulling her shirt tight against her tummy, and announcing with all the joy in the world… “I’m pregnant!”
The first precipitous dip on the roller coaster ride comes 30 seconds to 5 minutes later, after the shock, surprise and whatever other emotions are elicited by those nearby, when that same person shouts “April Fools! I’m SO not pregnant.”
Imagine that roller coaster zipping down, going 30 miles an hour and then, without a hint of warning, coming to a screeching stop. There’s the physiological response- heart beating, mind racing, increased pulse rate, tears often coming to the surface, and then there are the emotions – heartbreak, grief and anger. If the witness to the hoax has been trying to concave, they may very well feel as if a tiny piece of themselves was crushed at the high and then the low of that fake pregnancy announcement. The months of infertility struggles – fertility treatment cycles (IUI’s or IVF), needles, fertility doctor appointments, hormone medicines carefully timed, hopes held high and sometimes crushed – all done in the search of holding that little bundle of joy that is part of you, and will complete that family of your dreams that you’ve been holding in your heart.
A Little Funny?
Not resonating? Maybe it’s a little bit funny? If so, try this. Instead of “I’m having a baby”, take away “baby” and insert “cancer” into the joke. Can you imagine?
"I have cancer. Ha, no I don’t! April Fools! I don’t have cancer!"
How would you or anyone react to that? How is having cancer in any way funny?
For many struggling with health issues, there are moments of dark and twisted humor that takes hold within the community of people who are walking a similar path. We've heard comments so funny in peer support groups (Ladies Night In) that we were laughing so hard, we were crying, tears literally running down our faces. How about the ones about ovaries referred to as dried up raisins or that they were so old they needed cobwebs dusted off? Or sperm analysis’s so low that only two fingers were needed to count? There are jokes about injecting so many drugs that one was single handedly supporting the syringe industry or the pharmaceutical companies.
We do joke about infertility. And fertility. And medications. And pregnancies…within the safety of our community. But that doesn’t mean that it feels good to be on the wrong side of someone’s hoax…especially when it hits very close to home.
Keeping in mind that for many of those couples out there that will absolutely not find a fake pregnancy funny on April Fool's Day, we thought we’d offer up a few practical jokes that are actually hilarious – for everyone. Maybe go for the food related pranks! How about a burger that is actually made out of chocolate ice cream? Or a hot dog with its head cut off?
Funny Doesn't Have To Hurt
There are lots of pranks and jokes that are funny that don’t hurt. This year, let’s make that the goal- truly funny without the side of hurt.
To all of our patients, friends, family and staff, we wish you a Happy April Fool's Day -- with a reminder to keep in mind that funny doesn’t have to hurt!
About Lisa Rosenthal
Lisa has over thirty years of experience in the fertility field. After her personal infertility journey, she felt dissatisfied with the lack of comprehensive services available to support her. She was determined to help others undergoing fertility treatment. Lisa has been with RMACT for eleven years and serves as Patient Advocate and the Strategic Content Lead.
Lisa is the teacher and founder of Fertile Yoga, a program designed to support men and women on their quest for their families through gentle movement and meditation.
Lisa’s true passion is supporting patients getting into treatment, being able to stay in treatment and staying whole and complete throughout the process. Lisa is also a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist, which is helpful in her work with fertility patients.
Her experience also includes working with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and The American Fertility Association (now Path2Parenthood), where she was Educational Coordinator, Conference Director and Assistant Executive Director.