(If you didn’t guess from the title, there’s some adult-ish content here… Just so you know.)
You’ve no doubt already gathered that I get a kick out of teasing my husband about his age. He’s wonderfully young at heart (and wonderfully good-humored about my endless ribbing)–and given that he was in college when I was born, we actually both have fun at the expense of our generation-gap.
I was riffing on the subject a while back while we were hanging out with our Tattoo Artist, who jumped in with some contributions of his own… and somehow among the three of us we ended up with a running joke of a “Spermudgeon”–a curmudgeonly “swimmer” so old that it would need a walker. Next day our Artist showed up with a sketch of the little guy (grey beard and spectacles and walker and all), which became a tattoo just because it tickled us… But the real question of whether the swimmers are still swimmy hasn’t been of vital importance (heck, we’ve got seven great kiddos between us already) until now–and not quite for the “usual” reasons. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me back up and begin at this story’s REAL beginning.
Our beautiful second daughter, Anelahiki’alani, is joyfully married to the woman of her dreams, and the two of them are ready to embark on the adventure of Mommyhood! Of course, it goes without saying that when both members of a couple are prospective Mommies, there are some specific aspects of parental-planning that need to be addressed. (As Anela wrote about one well-meaning but clueless fertility-advice-giver: No, in our case it really WON’T help to “just relax instead of ‘trying!’”)
Anela’s wife, Sarah, is planning to carry their baby, and the Girls are hoping that the daddy-donation might come from someone in Anela’s immediate family, so their child will be closely related to both of them. (If you haven’t had reason to think about this topic before, maybe it strikes you as strange; but it’s not an unusual arrangement for couples—regardless of the gender-pairing—who need to seek beyond themselves for a donation of either half of the genetic equation.) So the Girls asked my husband Keoni if he’d be willing to provide the “missing piece” of Tyler-genes (of course!—what wouldn’t we do for them?) and with the help of their own clinic in California, they arranged for him to get his “swimmers” tested here in Idaho.
Earlier this week he got a call from Tammy at the fertility clinic near our home, phoning with instructions for his appointment this morning. I was half-listening to his half of the conversation—“Okay… okay… okay… hold on, can I put my wife on the phone? I‘m not going to tell her that!” Curious, I took the phone from him, and Tammy good-naturedly repeated to me the instruction she’d just given him: we’d need to practice abstinence for three days before his “collection.” Wait, say what?! (Can I revisit that question of what-wouldn’t-we-do? Joking, just joking, Girls. But now you KNOW how much we love you!)
Tammy also told him that he’d have the option of “taking his collection” (a euphemism that sounds disturbingly like something that should happen midway through church) either at home or at the clinic— and of course it’s a no-brainer to guess which one of those options sounded more comfortable to him.
Here’s where we come to the Hazards of Being Married to a Writer… Because the Scribbler artlessly piped up that she was awfully curious what that whole set-up is like… And now I know how much he loves ME, because he immediately overthrew the “comfort-zone plan” in favor of the “journalistic adventure,” and declared he’d do it there.
Which brings us to this morning, neither of us entirely at ease with the prospect ahead of us, stuck in traffic and realizing we’d be late for the appointment… You won’t be surprised to hear that both of us tend to diffuse discomfort with humor, but the receptionist had apparently had her sense of humor surgically removed. Keoni apologized for being late, adding that he typically tries to be on time, but in this instance he didn’t want to come prematurely… (Come on, Lady, we need a laugh here!) But with an utterly dead face, she responded, “Okay, sign in here.” (And then she rather pointedly picked up the pen he’d laid on the counter and jammed it back into the jar where he was obviously supposed to have replaced it.) Wow, okay. We’re on our own on this one.
She showed us to the “collection room,” gave us a cup with instructions to write his name on it and leave it at the lab, and swept back to her desk. Those might be adequate instructions for collecting a cup of pee, but I must say they leave something to be desired as a set-up for this job, with its added psychological factors… Keoni tried for one more joke (“Is there a time limit?”) but her only answer was the thump of the door closing.
Well, our shared sense of humor-and-adventure hasn’t let us down yet, so we locked the door and went exploring. I’d put on my metaphorical journalist-hat (along with some lacy underthings, in case that might be a help), so we went poking through all the drawers to check out the “Collection Periodicals” provided, turned on the TV (playing some really ridiculous ads for 900-numbers) for a few minutes, and read aloud the Very Seriously Phrased instructions pinned to the wall. They’re rather severely overcomplicated, with further reference to the typed sheet on the back of the “Andrology Requisition”…
This is clearly an environment where they’re taking the sex out of sex. Perhaps to some extent that’s an inescapable side-effect of achieving procreation by “assisted methods”—but it’s truly not an inviting room, not a place to put a person at ease to do what needs to be done there. Bright fluorescent lights, white walls decorated only with a blood-pressure cuff and a framed picture of some mountains, the small TV, and a dentist-chair sort of seat. Oh, and a small padded rug in front of the chair, possibly for the benefit of anyone (ahem) who’s there in an “assisting” role…
The final admonition on the instruction sheet was the command: “Do not leave the sample at any time.” (I was half expecting a loudspeaker with the automated voice of an airport announcement: Do not leave your semen unattended at any time… Fertility Clinic Security Threat is currently at Level Orange…) So we dutifully delivered the properly-labeled item to the lab and made our escape!
We haven’t heard back from the clinic yet, so I guess our anxious Girls will have to wait the weekend before we all find out if the swimmers are swimmy enough (or if their walkers are getting tangled on the raceway)… We’re honored to share in their journey-to-parenthood–if rather more closely involved than might be “usual” for prospective grandparents–and we know that whatever the results of this morning’s Spermudgeon-sample, God’s got a plan for putting our next grandbaby in their arms. One way or another, these two are meant to be Mommies. If there’s a call for more “collections,” though, I think we’ll take care of them at home. The Scribbler’s curiosity has been sufficiently satisfied.