STFU Parents: Are Pregnancy Pranks On April Fool’s Day Outdated And Offensive?

Yesterday was April Fool’s Day, and with it came a somewhat unexpected campaign. Unlike the typical corporate marketing campaigns that get rolled out from big brands hoping to go viral with stupid internet pranks, this one was rooted in seriousness and conducted by thousands of women who struggle with infertility and loss.  It started last week with a widely-shared poster and an unrelated-but-comparable blog post written by a mom who runs the site Scissortail Silk. Both the poster and the blog post were intended to boost awareness, although I’m not sure anyone realized just how much awareness they’d wind up creating. As of now, the post on Scissortail Silk has been “Liked” 180k+ times, and countless people have shared the poster and similar messaging across social media. As with any campaign-gone-viral, no platform went unused, and the content sharing lasted the duration of the day.

So what was all the hoopla about? Well, according to those involved, there’s an unease surrounding a particular April Fool’s Day prank that’s been upsetting certain communities for years. Although the holiday is a celebration of hoaxes and practical jokes and has been around since medieval times, some people find joking about pregnancy to be insensitive, thoughtless, and even cruel to those who have had trouble conceiving or who have lost a baby. Other jokes, presumably, are fine, but jokes about expecting a baby are now considered passé. At least, they sure were yesterday. Predictably, not everyone took to this new “rule” very well.

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  • LizzieBean

    I’ve been a lurker on this site for a long time and I normally love STFU Parents but I feel compelled to comment on this. I walked the road of infertility for two and a half years and until you’ve been there, you can’t possibly understand the hell that is the pregnancy announcement (at least for me). Every pregnancy announcement gave me a feeling of great joy for my friend combined with intense feelings of sadness, envy and overwhelming loss. Every pregnancy announcement was a reminder of all the things I’d given up hope of ever having (a family, motherhood, etc.) I was in a very dark place for a very long time, where infertility destroyed everything in my life that was good or happy. And to go through all that to find out the announcement was fake? I’m sorry, but it’s just not funny. It’s just not.

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the people who do this usually have any ill intent. They just don’t know. Before being thrust unwillingly upon this road, I had no idea either. But I don’t understand why these women who chose to speak out and try to raise awareness about this issue are being labeled as “too sensitive.” Infertility is a deeply personal, painful journey that gets far too little attention and support as it is, despite affecting nearly 1 in 10 women. I see nothing wrong or “too sensitive” with encouraging people to practice compassion toward those who are going through a genuinely tough time.

    • Cora27

      I’m sorry about your struggle but you’re wrong. The world is not about you, or the things you happen to go through, and the same way a recovering alcoholic doesn’t get to tell other people not to post pictures of them drinking with their friends or jokes about drinking, you don’t get to tell people what jokes they’re allowed to tell, you can delete them. This is a silly road to go down: “before you joke about alcohol, think of recovering alcoholics or people who have died of alcohol poisoning”
      “Before you joke about how slow grandmas drive, remember how many people have lost grandmas”
      “Before you joke about how many carbs you ate today, remember how many people struggle with their weight”
      “Before you joke about music you dont like, remember someone gets through the day because of their justin bieber albums”
      You’re right, here here everyone! Life is hard so jokes are off limits, people who make jokes are jerks and insensitive so comedians, you’re all out of a job and anyone who makes a joke is getting fined for being a big huge a$$hole.

  • Renee J

    The only time I saw this prank on Facebook was from a friend who is infertile. (And she doesn’t talk about it, so I don’t think many of her Facebook friends know.) Before she said it was a joke, I wondered how it happened. (But, I wasn’t about to ask her a personal question like that.)

    So, apparently it’s not hurtful for everybody.

  • HD

    Here is the problem: miscarriage and infertility are often silent losses. They are very big and real losses to the couple, but they are often dismissed and downplayed by others. Constantly.

    I have had two miscarriages and no take home babies so far. I have had people tell me, “At least it is fun to try again.” “You’ll have a baby when it is the right time.” I had someone remember that I told them about the pregnancy, but forgot that I had told her about the loss as well. She went to tell a bunch of people in my social circle that my husband and I were expecting, long after the loss. Why?? Because the loss was not very real to her.

    I really believe that most everyone doesn’t understand what a miscarriage is like until they have had one.

    Here’s the thing, if someone posted one of these reminders, they are sharing a part of their story that is very sad and that is usually not talked about in such a public way. I don’t think it is really fair to criticize them for saying that pregnancy announcements are not a joke. They have had a lot of grief in their lives and usually they have not had any sort of outlet for the pain they have experienced. They know that most people don’t understand their grief, so they are trying to explain.

    I realize that stuff like this comes of as bossy and self centered. I know it makes people think that these ladies are very touchy because they are hurt by a joke that isn’t really even funny. But I am willing to cut the ladies in this situation LOTS of slack, especially since we don’t know where they are in their grief process.

  • SA

    The pregnant on April Fools is a tired joke, but these people need to give it a rest. Potentially anything and everything you could post or talk about could offend someone or remind them of something painful. From people complaining about real pregnancy posts, to pictures of children, to vacation pictures, to pintrest projects, to weight lost. Somewhere someone is always going to be insecure you can’t expect everyone you come into contact with to behave accordingly. If I knew someone I was close to was going through something particularly sensitive I would be careful to not post anything to offend them, but other than that I think it is ridiculous to expect everyone to.

    This coming from someone who miscarried a couple of weeks before April 1st 2011 – the thought of ‘fake pregnancies’ didn’t even cross my mind as being something insensitive.

  • Upsilon

    I’m not sure i find this offensive per se, but it’s also just not funny to make a joke out of any life event. Even on AFD, I’m unlikely to assume that your pregnancy is a joke because why would that be funny to make me believe that? Oh I know, I’ll tell my mom she’s gonna be a grandma–J/K!!! so high-larious

  • Guest

    As someone who has BOTH lost an infant child AND who is infertile, I don’t appreciate the joke police invoking this in my name/defense/whatever. I don’t think those jokes are particularly clever, creative or funny. But, there’s a line of where it’s appropriate to ask people to self-censor and where not, and I just don’t think joking about being pregnant is something it’s reasonable to ask others not to do.

  • Larkin

    I actually AM pregnant–and just turned 12 weeks, so we’re at announcement time–and I seriously considered doing an April Fools Day announcement just to confuse the shit out of people. ;-)

  • J.B.

    I think people are just too sensitive and take everything others say or do personally. I’m in my 30′s, likely can’t have kids…and these jokes don’t bother me. Most of the time they aren’t necessarily funny and are predictable, but why should I care what kind of jokes people make on April Fool’s? We can’t expect to like or agree with everything we see or hear and it’s about darn time people realize that. And we need to realize that most of the time it’s not about you…it’s not directed at you to make you feel bad so don’t take it that way. This applies to so many things I see, esp on the Internet. Don’t take it personally!

    I understand the struggle of infertility and wanting a baby you can’t have, but these jokes are just that…jokes. Let people be who they are and you do the same. That’s how I feel about it. Unless it’s something that seriously negatively affects you or others, scroll past, ignore, hide, delete, or move on.

    I’m actually a really compassionate person and do regulate how I speak around people, especially when I know they are going through something, but I still believe that we just need to stop taking everything so personally. Because most of the time people don’t have ill intentions. And if it’s a friend saying something that bothers you, then speak to them about it (not in a FB thread, but maybe on the phone or in person).

    • J.B.

      But I do understand the emotions and feelings these women are having, so…I didn’t mean to come across as harsh…the struggle is real and lonely and heartbreaking….most people just don’t understand what you are going (and don’t make jokes to upset you), but know you are not alone.

  • Jamara Auchter

    Regardless of you feel about it personally, going on a rant about the political correctness of the pregnant April Fool’s joke will most likely NOT change anyone’s mind, nor their actions. It’s pointless to keep yammering about it being insensitive, because people can post what they want on their OWN facebook page. It’s pointless to try to make someone not post something because of how YOU feel about it. Pointless and a waste of time. Jeez.

  • lil

    Pregnancy jokes shouldn’t be done because they’re not funny. Not because they offend. They’re just f***ing lame. Grow a sense of humour, not a fetus.

    • lil

      Argh, this comment totally sounded grumpier than I intended it to be.
      I just feel like people forget that pranks are meant to be funny. Pretending to be pregnant doesn’t really get me rofling.

    • Betty Martin

      That is exactly my feeling too. It’s not funny at all. Jokes are meant to be funny. The same old people that pull out that same old tired joke year after year after year seem to have forgotten that a joke is supposed to be FUNNY! That’s the ONLY reason for its existence.

    • suckitpigs

      So because something isn’t funny according to your standards we should stop? To you, your arrival to this world was not a joke; but to your parents it was a joke. So should your parents have stopped joking? If they did stop joking then you wouldn’t be here today.

  • Von

    Well said, Blair.

  • smartygirl

    I read a letter to the editor of a newspaper a few years ago asking the newspapers to not print stories about babies because childless people found them hurtful. At some point, you have to realise the world does not revolve around you, and you’re going to encounter unpleasant things in life. If that is too painful, you may just have to hide under a rock.

  • Awa

    I’ve had this prank played on me before, and I’ve never found it to be funny. The first time was at 16; a friend of mine drew out a pregnancy scare over the course of a week prior to April Fool’s, to the point that our parents got involved. The second time was this year, four months after an MC. I think it’s ridiculous to assume that the sphere of social media revolves or should revolve around one’s personal tragedy, and to that end I disagree with the sentiment of censorship, but it is absolutely heartbreaking to suffer a loss and subsequently have to watch as over a dozen of your close friends and coworkers progress with healthy pregnancies or announce new ones. I think about my baby every day, and every bump photo and online announcement revives all the grief and rage and envy I felt the moment I saw the body of my second child. I would never tell anyone what to post, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t grateful that someone at least acknowledged how painful these kinds of pranks can be for some of the people they’re played on.

    • suckitpigs

      Newsflash: everyone has suffered tragedy. Get over it.

  • Fluffy_1

    Oh yes, let’s not joke about ANYTHING online just in case we hurt some sensitive little soul’s feelings. Seriously? Get a thicker skin and quit thinking that everything is about you.

    For the record, mental illness is joked about just as much. I’ve suffered from clinical depression in the past, and I’ve laughed at mental illness jokes, cuz get this, I don’t see why I have to be the joke police like these women do.

  • croutonthegreat

    The more I lean towards agreeing with you B, the more I think about how much alike this topic is with current Washington Redskins/Cleveland Indians controversy. (Note- I’m not including teams and schools using actual tribe names. To me that’s a completely different issue.) With that in mind, here’s what’s on page 3 rewritten:

    “Despite, or perhaps because of, the name’s popularity, fans have been asked to quit cold turkey. One could make the argument that the majority of team names have fans who don’t like what they’re called, and it’d be impossible to try to please everyone. But should we really stop using a decades-old name just because some people think it’s insensitive?”

    Yes. Yes we probably should.

    • oofstar

      yeah, joking about pregnancy is on par with dehumanising a race of people who’s lives are already marginalised and written off. your logic is infallible.

  • oofstar

    that last quote seems pretty on point. I’m confused why joking about being pregnant is triggering but all the real announcements aren’t? nobody has to announce their pregnancies on Facebook, so I don’t really see a difference.

  • disqus_4Fw8t5kzKY

    Seriously? If someone is offended or upset by a lame joke they better not go anywhere else on the internet either. They might see a photo of a baby. They might see an ad for children’s clothes or toys. They might see the word “baby” somewhere. How do they get by in the normal course of a day seeing pregnant women, babies, and other things child-related? Everyone has had something bad happen to them some time in their life; anything could be a trigger to someone.
    Or they could, y’know, try looking at the world without the filter of “me-me-me” and “Iwannababy” and realize that the rest of the world doesn’t make its decisions based on someone else’s wants.

  • ZBombs

    I had my first ultrasound in April 1st this year. I decided to use the picture to announce my pregnancy. I had a few “I am not falling for that.” And “That ultrasound sure looks real!” It was hilarious the day day when people realized I was serious.

  • suckitpigs

    That’s not my problem if someone has lost a baby, or has problems conceiving. I’m not going to tiptoe around every Tom, Dick and Harry in the world. Just because something unfortunate has happened to you, does not mean I need to sit there and worry about your feelings. Someone made a joke, not to come and spite you, but because they thought it was funny. They weren’t thinking about you- one person, in a land of 7 billion. People need to get over themselves.

  • Denise General-Booth

    Having spent over a decade being treated for really bad PCOS and being told I would likely never have kids, I don’t see why anyone should take these April Fools’ jokes personally. Yeah, I spent so much time, money, and effort to be able to conceive my baby, but why is that the concern of people who are genuinely just having a bit of fun on the one day it’s expected?

  • Ashley

    I announced my pregnancy on April Fools just cause I knew everyone would think it was a stupid joke but it wasn’t. Waaaay more fun, let me tell ya.

  • Liberty

    People need to get over themselves. I’m over 30, unmarried, and childless but would love to be married. Should I be offended & upset every time a married friend with kids posts pictures of her kids/husband? That would be ridiculous & selfish of me. It’s not like she went to the baby store & stole a child out of my shopping basket & there were none left on the shelf for me. Stop emotionally blackmailing people & choosing to see your circumstances in what’s happening in their lives. Your life is your life. Their lives are their lives. If you’re on a diet & someone is eating pizza you don’t get to pout & demand people never mention pizza to you or post about it. You focus on your own life & the positive things you have. Such narcissism.

  • Kelsey

    Maybe it’s just me, but when did April Fool’s Day become about telling lies and seeing which of your friends don’t pay attention to the calendar? For me it’s always been about taping the faucet sprayer on or putting salt in the sugar shaker. A lie just seems a little like you’re phoning it in. That said, I don’t think it’s inherently wrong to make jokes about pregnancy just because it’s a sensitive subject for some, though if you know it’s going to open wounds for a friend, you should probably just skip it.

  • Bereavedparent

    Wow, so, it’s rude of me to expect my supposed FRIENDS and my family members to not make pull the: “LOL GUESS WHAT U GAIZ IM PREGGO” stupidity, given that 7 months ago I had to cremate my stillborn baby, after struggling with infertility over a year ago? Until you have had to hold your child’s cold body, I don’t think you can tell bereaved parents to “get over it”. All of you are completely insensitive, cold-hearted, assholes who completely lack any sort of compassion or another living being. I pity you all. Mull that over for a second: a woman who nearly lost her life trying to give birth to her stillborn baby PITIES YOU.

    Way to stay effing classy.

  • Ali

    I do not understand the thinking behind these “public service announcements.” It’s unkind to joke about being pregnant–a happy, joyous moment in people’s lives–on a day that is MEANT FOR pranks? It’s not as if anyone is saying anything bad about pregnancy or childbirth or children. I could understand if this was about someone saying, “I have cancer…APRIL FOOLS, HA HA HA.” Cancer is a horrible, scary thing that causes pain to everyone it affects. But WHY would someone be upset by a fake pregnancy post any more than a real one? I know this is insensitive, but I believe therein lies the true problem…that these women who have miscarried or experienced stillbirth or fertility issues are not happy for ANYONE who is announcing their pregnancy, whether it is real or not. Otherwise, what is the problem? That they have to get all jealous and worked up for no reason, instead of for someone else’s real pregnancy? If that’s the case, then anyone who has experienced a loss has the right to post a sanctimonious meme about how others should stop posting pictures of their weddings/pets/parents/offices because it’s insensitive to those who got dumped/lost a pet/lost a parent/got fired. It’s terrible that people have to go through those fertility tragedies, but they have been happening since the dawn of humanity and will continue to happen until medicine can prevent them. And all while that goes on, other people have and will be getting pregnant and having healthy babies, regardless of how unfair it is that everyone can’t. Everyone is entitled to feel sorry for themselves and experience/deal with their sadness as they see fit…but not by trying to guilt or control others’ words and actions. Everyone knows that nobody is making these jokes for the purpose of hurting feelings, and it seems like a really gratuitous way to remind people of a problem that, to be honest, isn’t there’s. It’s not my job to spend my time thinking about how you might feel about something as random and unimportant as a Facebook post due to what you’ve been through. If you feel you are that fragile and sensitive, you should not be on social media. You should be in therapy and doing things to heal. And if you still feel that Facebook has to be part of your life, the unfriend and unsubscribe buttons are right there–you don’t have to see any posts you don’t like.

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