One in six couples in South Africa will struggle with infertility. Infertility is defined as “a disease of the reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse.”… (WHO-ICMART glossary1). “Infertility is the inability of a sexually active, non-contracepting couple to achieve pregnancy in one year.
Infertility, for whatever reason, is on the increase.
I read a study a few years ago, unfortunately, I can’t find reference to it now, but the study found that infertility patients are second only to cancer patients in the unending search for a cure.
Would you make a prank about having cancer on April Fool’s? No? Because we all know, that would be in really bad taste, it would hurt and offend a lot of people, people struggling with cancer, people in remission from cancer, people who have lost loved ones to cancer.
So why would you think it’s funny to post about a fake pregnancy for April Fool’s?
I thought long and hard about whether or not I should add my voice to the growing roar over this issue online today. There are so many people standing up and saying don’t be a doos, a fake pregnancy on April Fool is not funny. There are meme’s, there are images, there are articles. You have to be really callous or stupid, to still go ahead with that prank. And yet, some people are!
So I decided to add my voice to the roar, in the hope that one of you who reads this, will be touched by my very personal experience with infertility and how other people’s pregnancies affected me.
I am an infertility survivor. Infertility stories are never pretty, even the ones that have happy endings. And I don’t want to say mine is any worse than anybody else, but my story sucked. For 7 years we struggled. For 7 years my hopes and dreams got smashed to smithereens and each time, I got back up and tried again…. remember that comment I shared about research and infertility patients determination to find a cure? That was me. I had 7 confirmed pregnancies. I had 7 first trimester miscarriages. I also had many many (too many to count) chemical pregnancies, where you’re a little pregnant but not pregnant, but maybe if we keep jabbing needles in your arms and drawing blood and medicating you for weeks on end, you could be properly pregnant, but oh no…. sorry to put you through all that, this really is “just” a chemical pregnancy, you’ll miscarry shortly. I had multiple surgeries. I had multiple IUI’s (intra uterine inseminations), I had 5 IVF’s (invitro fertilizations). Aside from using an egg donor or a surrogate, Walter and I experienced, literally every kind of treatment that was currently available in search for our cure. We were on the egg donor list when Ava got placed. So that was next up for us. I put my body on the line and don’t be fooled, infertility treatment is horrible. It hurts, it’s invasive and often very very humiliating!
Our years of treatment decimated us. It bankrupted us. It broke our hearts and crushed our spirits. Every miscarriage, every flicker of hope for the future was reduced to a pile of ashes with each failed attempt, with each miscarriage, the very essence of who I was was altered. It was the most excruciatingly painful, physically, emotionally, spiritually, time of my life. It was my very own personal hell. It was teeth gnashing, writhing in agony, tearing at my hair, slow, painful, destruction.
For 7 years, I watched as almost everyone I knew fell pregnant and announced their happy news. I can’t tell you what that does to an infertility sufferer. There are no words to describe it. The hurt, the crushing blow, the thoughts of why not me? When will it be MY turn? The self flagellation, what is wrong with me? Why am I jealous of someone else’s news, I’m a horrible person because I just can’t be happy for someone else int he midst of my own misery.
Of course, Murphy has a sick sense of humor too. We’d have a dry spell of pregnancy announcements, scan photo’s and new baby announcements and then I’d be in the midst of a round of IVF or in the middle of bleeding out a miscarriage and BAM…. I’d get flooded with happy news from other people. My sister in law found out she was pregnant with my nephew during my first miscarriage. My cousin found out she was pregnant with my niece in the midst of my second miscarriage, I also hosted my sister in laws baby shower while doubled over in physical pain from my second miscarriage. My two best friends at the time found out they were pregnant and had their first scans when I was in the midst of my 4th or 5th miscarriage.
It hurt. There are no words that can tell you how painful it was to go through that. And to hate myself and my body in the process. Always wondering why I couldn’t be really, genuinely happy for my family and friends in the midst of my own terrible pain. Hating and punishing my body for failing to do what should come naturally to every other woman.
It’s been 6 years since we found our cure. Since Ava was placed with us. Six years. You’d think I’d be over it, but you’d be wrong.
Like almost all infertility, miscarriage sufferers and women who lost babies, you don’t ever recover. You don’t ever get over something that rocked you to your core and made you question everything you were. I tried to kill myself during my 6th miscarriage. You don’t just get over that.
So still today, when someone announces a pregnancy, or shares a scan photo or a happy birth photo, I have that sudden sense of panic, that sharp intake of breath, that stabbing pain in my heart and I have to remind myself to breathe. To remember, I got my “cure” I am ok, I can be happy, I can release that pain.
And I am not alone guys. Not alone. One in six couples in South Africa are infertile. That means, statistically speaking, you probably know more than one woman or couple who are struggling through infertility.
Please please, I beg you, think before you prank. It’s not funny to post fake pregnancy announcements on April Fool’s day. It’s unoriginal, it’s callous and it’s unkind. Take a moment to imagine what it’s like to walk in the barren shoes of a women you know, you’re friends with, it could be your sister or your bestie, she may be open about her infertility or she may be very private about it, struggling on this journey and be kind, please?
Because if you use a fake pregnancy this April Fools then you’re the damn fool.