What’s your favourite joke? The one that makes your sides ache or reminds you of a happy time?
Chances are your funny moments aren’t to do with infertility. Mind you, I do have a few bleak but amusing moments. One is telling my husband to go into our living room so he’d fall onto something soft because he felt faint when I had to sort out the needle for a trigger injection (the last timed injection before egg collection). I’ll write that here because chances are you’ll get that dark sense of humour. You’ll appreciate the need to find those moments in childlessness.
What I’m absolutely sure about is that posting fake news about pregnancies isn't funny to you or me. This happened on social media earlier this month, from the ‘star’ Justin Bieber and his wife. You can read a little more about it here, with the warning it contains a scan photo that isn’t actually a scan photo because it’s fake… My first thought was that his actions endorsed the low opinion I had of him and wife (truthfully he wasn’t much on my radar at all and happily not on any Spotify list).
Then I actually was pleased. Because I read the backlash and thought how fabulous it was to see social media rise up in empathy at those who couldn’t be parents. Still, it shouldn't have been the case in the first place. Then I got mad again (maybe this is what it’s like listening to a Bieber song?) because those comments didn't sink it at all. I don’t know about you but I didn't see a great deal of understand in his apology which read…
“Not to compare pregnancy to cake..”.. uhmmmm… did you ever compare cake to pregnancy loss or childlessness? Did the buttercream in a Victoria Sandwich remind you of that time you realised you may not be a mum? Did you find the missing answers to not being a father in a chocolate Swiss roll? Nope, us neither. The apology is terrible, if Bieber is talking to the audience whom he offended then we’ve already understood that cake isn’t the same! The analogy makes me cringe. The upset of a birthday party is barely comparable to the hurt caused by a fake pregnancy announcement. That moment when you realise that a friend, colleague or relative really doesn’t understand at all is devastating.
It takes a strong soul well on the path to acceptance to not feel that cold dart over real pregnancy news, however it’s delivered. At least that’s how I describe hearing baby news, even now. It is not only the complex ‘wish it was me’ feeling but how the relationship with this person or couple will change. As we who have been there all know, it’s not jealousy, it’s something completely different that is impossible, I feel, to describe. To have that emotion pulled out as a joke and played with as if in a game, as summed up by his last sentence, “I think with pranks u sometimes have to roll that dice” is cruel.
My concern is reflected in that of Fertility Network who have launched a campaign, #InfertilityIsNotAJoke in which myself, Steph Phillips of World Childless Week and other leading figures will be explaining why it’s unacceptable. My reason for getting involved is that others may follow suit. Bieber unaware of the impact of his actions (in my opinion!) but he can influence others. It’s part of my role and others in the community to speak out, raise awareness so that this doesn’t became a trend.
The more we speak, the more we may get the message over that #InfertilityIsNotAJoke and educate fools like Bieber. And he really is the fool in all this.
This post was written to support Fertility Network’s campaign #infertilityisnotajoke. To find out more about them and to make a donation to their work please go to www.fertilitynetworkuk.org/donate.