By Clodagh Meaney
Pregnancy can be a wonderful and wanted experience for many. For others, it's something that they can only dream of as they face issues that prevent them from conceiving. And sometimes it is experienced in circumstances where it isn't wanted.
On April Fools' Day, there is one joke that unfortunately, is inevitable; 'I'm pregnant.' But is it really a funny prank to play? For many reasons, I don't think so.
It is estimated that 1 in 6 couples in Ireland will struggle to conceive. My parents were one of these couples. My Mam dreamt of the day she could tell people she was finally pregnant. For women like my mother, pregnancy was absolutely not a joke.
'I've been told I can't have children' a friend once told me. All she wanted was to be a mother, but her world crashed down around her with this news.
I watched on as another terrified friend, who was only 21, looked down at a pregnancy test. '3 weeks+' it read. She wasn't ready to be a parent. How would she tell her partner? She was terrified, and she couldn't access an abortion. That pregnancy, however, was unplanned.
Figures published by the Irish Family Planning Association show that 1 in 4 women in Ireland experiences an unplanned or crisis pregnancy. To put that into context, for every four women you know, one of them has unexpectedly, and perhaps in crisis circumstances, become pregnant.
A further 1 in 5 pregnancies end in miscarriage. That's 20% of all pregnancies that end in devastating circumstances. That loved one of mine lost their baby at eight weeks. That was four years ago, and they're still traumatised by the devastation of this event, even if it was a crisis pregnancy.
To be able to joke about being pregnant is to exercise your privilege. If you're able to joke about pregnancy, it probably means you've been lucky enough not to experience the pain that many women have.
By all means, have some craic on April Fools' Day. You could replace white Oreo filling with toothpaste, hide your house mate's favourite cup, or even tell your Mam you're off to Australia forever. But please don't tell someone you're pregnant as a joke. Because behind each statistic above, is a woman you know who has suffered enough.