Mr. Turtle partly inspired this post. He is completing an assignment for his graduate counselling psychology course that requires him to take a word that is used in the profession and come up with synonyms that have different connotations and analyze how the meaning is changed in context.
Example: The word "repression" has a certain connotation. A recovering alcoholic passing by a liquor store may cross the street to avoid it. She is "repressing" her desire to go in. But instead of using this word, one could say she is exercising "discipline" or "restraint." Those words imply she is exercising choice rather than hiding from a desire.
Of course, those words don't mean exactly the same thing as repress. The idea, from a counselling point of view, is to help someone redefine their experience.
I am not a counsellor (for which I am thankful, and thankful that there are people like Mr. Turtle who can do that job) but I have a life long fascination with words. I studied English Literature for my first degree, so I have fed the craving.
I decided to update my blog blurb today. This is the "About Me" section off the to the right. It's been eight months, and several referrals and tests since the blog's debut, so I thought it was time to update About Me. Excuse the navel-gazing, but some of the changes to words are significant to me, so I'm going to indulge my inner English major and explain them.
"Call me the Turtle." This stays the same. It's a nod to the first line of Moby Dick. One of those fantastic, understated openings like the "So" at the beginning of Seamus Heaney's Beowulf.
This blog is primarily about our journey to transcend infertility.
Changed from: "It is an unexpected journey to overcome infertility factors."
I try very hard to keep sports/war metaphors out of my blog. As in: "I'm going to beat this thing" or "We have a new weapon to fight infertility." I simply cannot use sports/war metaphors when talking about health issues. This is not to criticize others who use them. Everybody expresses themselves and copes with challenges in their own way, and if it helps someone to say it like that, they can say it like that. But, I simply can't conceive of having a battle with my own body or organs. Who gets to be the winner in that scenario?
"Overcome" is a softer word than "beat," but it still implies a win/lose scenario, which I find limiting. "Transcend" means "to rise above or go beyond; overpass; exceed." You don't have to beat or destroy or obliterate something to transcend it. What you do is become greater than it.
Mr. Turtle and I are in our early 30s. Neither of us has ever had children but we would like to.
Changed from "...journey to start our family" (or something like that; I've already forgotten.)
Yes, Mr. Turtle and I would really like to have children. Are we partly defined by our desire for a family, and by extension, our infertility? Yes. We are part of a group affectionately known online as IFFers. It may not be exactly right to say I am "proud" to be part of this group, but I am certainly not ashamed of it. I am humbled and inspired by the courage, tenacity, resourcefulness, and generosity of IFFers. We hope one day to also be part of another group called "parents."
But at the same time Mr. Turtle and I are not solely defined by whether or not we have children. Neither, I would argue, is any other individual or couple. By the way, this great post by Infertile Myrtle deserves a read: Infertile Does Not Equal Incomplete. It can be hard to find that kind of equanimity when dealing with yet another BFN or failed treatment, and I do not always feel it. But I nevertheless think her words are worth dwelling on.
[...various diagnostic details...]
Stays pretty much the same
"In case you are wondering, "torthúil" is an Irish word meaning "fertile." I try very hard not to be defined by the diagnoses given to my female bits."
Changed from: "I'm starting this blog by thinking positively."
Well, obviously the blog has been around for a while, as has the IF diagnoses. I've had some time to consider just how positive I really am. On one hand, our situation looks bleak. Double infertility diagnosis is never good, and DOR/POF is truly craptastic as put perfectly by another POFfer. Natural conception with POF is a 5% chance with every cycle (according to the Wikipedia expert.) Add non-swimming sperm into that, and we have a chance of, I dunno, probably zero? On top of that, DOR/POF also significantly reduces the chances of IVF success. On the other hand, we haven't entirely given up hope that improvements in health and reproductive health might increase our odds. And conception through ART is still a possibility too. My intuition, which I believe is based on something more than delusion, tells me there is hope yet.
What I have also discovered, however, is exactly what the new sentence says: I don't want to be defined by the diagnoses given my female bits. True, for a period of time after learning about the DOR/POF, I felt fairly devastated. I felt like I was riding an old rusty jalopy on a rough dirt road through the desert, while all the while different parts were breaking down and falling off in a tragi-comic progression. The car would never, ever reach its destination. It would break down somewhere between Phoenix and Waterton and I would perish in the dust. But then I realized I was fundamentally uncomfortable with this self-concept (except certain nights when awake at 3am). I do not feel broken. I do not feel hopeless. I do not feel at the mercy of my imperfect reproductive system. Or rather, I simply refuse to feel this way. It isn't who I am.
So, why do words matter? Because I check this blog at least once a day, when I'm around my computer. Because I see my own words, and others see them too. They matter. I want them to carry the message that is generative and meaningful, not limiting.
Are there words or phrases that you feel define your blog or your journey? or words and phrases that you can't stand to use?