It happens every year on April 1.
I scroll through my social media feed when a post grabs my attention. I should know by now that it will inevitably come up, yet somehow, I am momentarily surprised. My heart sinks and my mind floods with jealousy and sadness.
The post? A female friend shares, “Oh my gosh! I’m pregnant!”
Following the announcement are a few clueless congratulatory comments. Then there are those who catch on and respond with a “LOL!!!” and “I thought you were serious until I remembered your husband got the big V last year.” Others post laughing-crying emojis, while a few offer sarcasm like, “You do know how that happens, right?”
Then there are those who, like me, who don’t comment. Because the fake pregnancy post is a slap in the face. Another stab to the heart.
A fake pregnancy announcement is a reminder to many women, myself included, that pregnancy may very well never become part of our story. Perhaps this is because a disease, a disability, or an unexplained medical condition has stolen our opportunity to conceive and birth a biological child.
Maybe we’ve never found that forever-partner with whom we are assured will be with us for the long haul. Or our partner doesn’t want to have children. Or we’ve decided we’re too old, or too financially unstable, or perhaps not worthy enough to become someone’s mom.
The post may be a reminder of the loss of a full-term baby, or a miscarriage, or the dozens of negative pregnancy tests. Maybe it’s a reminder of a baby who came home to us by adoption or foster care, later to return to his or her biological parents.
It’s hard enough, in our everyday lives, to receive yet another baby shower or gender reveal party invitation. To hear that our second cousin is pregnant, again, and this time with twins. Or to listen to a co-worker agonize over an “oops” baby or the neighbor complain about her mother-in-law’s passive-aggressive comments about breastfeeding. We’ve all had that one friend who is suffering from “gender disappointment” because the baby she’s expecting isn’t the boy or girl she’s longed for since she was young.
If we’re lucky, some of us can afford infertility treatments, which may or may not work. Or we might use our dollars to hire a surrogate or choose to adopt. But these experiences are not replacements for having a baby “the old-fashioned way.” They are experiences that have their unique joys and challenges.
As person who waited three years to become a mother for the first time after a diagnosis abruptly changed our family-building plans, let me tell you that being on the outside looking in is emotionally and mentally exhausting. It’s confusing, heartbreaking, and soul-shaking. And it’s most definitely not funny.
Ladies, we need each other. We rely on our fellow women to lift us when we are low and celebrate alongside us when we are high. And most of all? We need female friends who understand that our heartache is every day of every month.