Daily Archives: June 21, 2007

The Semantics of AI and a word about the title

T and I love words, and we love to name things.  When we first moved in together, we had this poster of a frog in our kitchen–we named it Consuela.  We’ve named the tatoo on my shoulder (Bernice), all of our cars (Brutus, Sophie, Redcloud) , and yes, even some of our plants (poor Zenevivia).  Weird, right? But we have fun with it, and we’ve had a baby name book for years.  Writers often use these as a resource to name their characters, and in fact, this is how we came up with our first cat’s name, Pierre.  So, yes, I often think about words, names, titles, and their meanings.  Sometimes I feel there are too many words or the words at my disposal aren’t adequate or need additional explanation to describe this unusual process of creating a baby.

Take the term “artificial insemination” for instance.  This is a very clinical term and doesn’t quite fit what we’re doing, at least meaning-wise.  Creating a baby isn’t just a physical process as the term “insemination” implies.  For us, it is an intensely spiritual process as well, taking all that we have come to know and love about the world and each other and working to create another human being, to pass along our love and wisdom (for whatever it is worth).  It is also a personal growth process because it really has forced us to revise our priorities and try to eliminate certain habits, behaviors, etc.

Then there’s “artificial” to contend with.  It’s synonmys are “fake” and “not real.”  Well, it is true that I am not impregnating my wife with sperm that comes from my own body, but it is one of the most real and important tasks I’ve ever been trusted with, so I can’t embrace the “artificial” part of the term.  I haven’t come up with an alternative, though T’s stepdad likes “basting” as a reference to turkey basters.  Humorous, but not quite right either.

Next up, “sperm.”  Okay, that’s the formal, medical term for what we need to create our baby, but we tend to refer to it as “the shipment” as our donor ships through UPS, or sometimes it is “the donation,” which we like because it sounds altruistic, and we are absolutely aware that without this amazing, yet anonymous, donor (maybe I’ll call him our benefactor from now on) we’d be where we were a year ago, hoping against hope that some acceptable guy would come along and offer his DNA.  (On a side note, this actually did occur with a friend of ours from college, but he must have later changed his mind becasue we never heard from him again.)

Sometimes it feels as though we’re talking in some kind of weird code, and it sounds funny coming out of my mouth, especially when talking to my heterosexual friends, who understandably don’t need to talk this way.  In fact, most straight couples trying to conceive don’t tell their friends the next day “Well, we inseminated last night.”  They just have sex a lot and wait for the results.  For some reason, we always find ourselves explaining, sometimes awkwardly, how the “donation” arrived on our doorstep, how we won’t know whether the “insemination” will take for a few weeks, etc.  I, for one, am somemwhat weary of explaining it and of feeling awkward about the semantics of AI.  I try to make it funny and light for those who are interested, but I’m getting the feeling not everyone is interested in the process.  Something about how sausage is made comes to mind, but that metaphor feels all wrong too.  Sigh.

Oh, and about the blog name “reproducing genius.”  In hindsight, I can see how the title might seem a little self-absorbed, or conceited, like we’re two geniuses trying to populate the world with enlightened beings that only we can create.  Bullocks!  I’m no genius, though I did take the national IQ test that Fox aired some years ago on TV.  Drunk, I got the score of “average intelligence” and T was “above average.”  T is highly intelligent, but I don’t know how she would do if she tested sober.  All of this is meaningless anyway as the only legitimate genius in the equation is the donor, our benefactor, Mr. Goodman.  We didn’t go looking for one, but one found us anyway.  Anyway, I thought there would be some fun word play with the word “genius,” as in “reproducing genus.”  Get it?  Genus?  Terrible, I know, but we’re stuck with the name, and I’m going to feel bad if the kid eventually feels pressured by the early label.  Maybe we won’t tell.

 Anyway, semantics aside, what a weird, wonderful, process this is.  The next shipment comes in two days, and we’ll baste, inseminate, or whatever again then.  I think I’ll calm down on the verbiage once T is pregnant.  Or is that “expecting”?  maybe “with child”. . . aaaaaarrrrrgh! My head!


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