Posted in Family, Today's File

Adventures of The Spermudgeon & The Scribbler

(If you didn’t guess from the title, there’s some adult-ish content here…  Just so you know.)

the "Spermudgeon" tattoo... (with our lucky-13 anniversary worked into the walker)

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.

Anela modeling for California's "No Hate" campaign

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? Im 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.

wait... is there an App for that?

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.

with a label like that, I half expected the drawer to be full of fertility-related medical journals...

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 timeFertility 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.


I am... a writer, an explorer, a coffee-drinker, a recovering addict, a barefoot linguist, a book-dragon ("bookworm" doesn't cover it), a raconteur, a sailboat skipper, a research diver, a tattooed scholar, a pirate, a poet, a spiritual adventurer, a photographer, a few kinds-of-crazy, a joyful wife, a mom... a list-maker! :)

51 thoughts on “Adventures of The Spermudgeon & The Scribbler

  1. Oh my Word! I just about peed myself reading this. I must say I applaud you and Keoni’s willingness to come to your daughter’s aid. (snort). I am so glad I did not do my usual blog “skimming” today because I would not have wanted to miss this one for anything.

    And may I just tell you, you sure can write a story!!



  2. Aloha Kako’u, As for the “airport announcement” I could’ve sworn I heard, “The white zone is for loading and unloading only!” But then I am makule, so I might be mistaken ;) Malama ‘Ohana, Keoni Da Kook


    1. I don’t know if that room were sound-proofed… But if not, they HAD to be wondering at all the giggling that was going on in there! ;)


  3. I love love love your blog Granny! I can’t thank you and Daddy enough for doing this for us! We are def anxious but I know the Big Kahuna Above has a plan for us! You have been such a blessing to our ohana! Maybe Daddy’s tattoo was unknowingly created for this reason! I love you my Tylah Boys!


  4. Thank you for the lovely description. I’ve had a great giggle. I do hope the trip proves successful. Such a pity the Receptionist didn’t query your comments with remarks like “Come again” …..



  5. First love the tattoo, it’s a riot! My husband is quite a bit older than me. When we were toying with the idea of having children, at that point we had one each, I jokingly told him he had “old sperm.” clearly I was mistaken. Now he says he has super sperm who grabbed two of my eggs to prove a point!!

    Second, what a beautiful, beautiful thing you guys are doing. That is some serious love :)


  6. Such a great story, and what a wonderful thing you’re doing for your girls. It seems very natural to me to want “family” genes.

    I’ve heard about other sperm donor sites that are much more “user” friendly, with staff that actually smile and the appropriate mood-inhancing atmosphere. Well, you seemed to get the job done in spite of it all. Here’s hoping Keoni is of the Uber-sperm sector.


  7. Life is always so much more interesting than fiction. Write this into a screenplay and I bet you can option it into a movie! Seriously, though, I bet this situation occurs more than we realize. I send my best to the prospective parents. May they have a long and wonderful life together with many children.


    1. If I’d had any doubts about my recent realization that I’m happy as a NON-fiction writer, this episode would have put those doubts to rest. ;) Life beats fiction any day, in my book!


  8. Kana, this is a great story…how fun! I love that you and your husband are helping the “girls”. Thanks for reading my blog, Simply Here. It was fun to come back here and read a little about your life.


  9. First of all, congrats to the gals for their decision of mommyhoodom. Second, this was hilarious. And that receptionist needs an injection of her own, most preferably a sense of humor.


  10. This absolutely MUST become serialized on cable TV!!! Such unselfishness mixed with so much goofy cluelessness (receptionist) added to your own bottomless depths of love for your daughter make this “journalistic”(tee, hee, hee, ) adventure of yours a MUST SEE!


  11. Hopefully the receptionist feels that’s her only defence to people who actually get pervy with her about the whole thing, but then again, maybe not. I love the spermudgeon – jammed together words are my favourite – and wish your family luck with this new adventure! I for one had never heard of choosing to use family genes this way.


    1. Eighteen years, three months. ;)
      (Four of the seven kids are closer to my age then he is; our oldest daughter is three years younger than I am…)


  12. Great tattoo, and great humor in an unusual situation. Hate to bring up NaNo again, but my novel has a two mommy couple with a brand new baby! Lots of tattoos and love there, and my protagonist is learning to knit so she can make them a black baby blanket with skulls (fun, not weird, right?) Good luck with the progeneration!


  13. so fully AND tastefully written, observed and preserved… good luck to all, especially the “little Spermudgeons”… thank you for allowing us to share this with you… over and above the skill with which you related the logistics, your enthusiasm and and love energy for your role in this family growth truly gave life to this story…


    1. Thank you for the “tastefully”–I confess this one was challenging… Didn’t want TOO many readers to run screaming “TMI!”–but the whole thing was so damn funny to US… I was hoping to hit an acceptable balance. Particularly because (with their permission before I ever wrote!) this post was the Girls’ first time “going public” with their intentions… Lots of FaceBook chatter today! ;)


  14. The tattoo takes the cake. Your loving “contribution” is wonderful. I was once with someone for 10 years who was almost 20 years my senior. It works if you support each other.

    You tell a story so damn well!! Thank you for sharing.


  15. What a fun way to get information…Thanks. I’m just getting an extra chuckle because I remember the song, “I’m my own Grandpa”. I know it isn’t totally appropriate, but, still, I was humming it as I was reading. Hope the swimmers are healthy and blessings on your daughters’ journey. Here’s hoping!


    1. Funny, that song crossed my own mind this week… The possible permutations of the family tree get kind of interesting–though at the end of the day, our grandbaby will be… Our GRANDBABY. :)


  16. I can’t believe the receptionist never cracked a smile! Seriously funny. What a great piece and what an awesome thing you are doing for your daughter. I hope it all goes well.


  17. What a thoroughly interesting post! I clicked on you because of Tale of My Heart’s awards – the comment you left there. This was a way interesting article & I loved the pictures in between, especially the sperm – great!


  18. Kana, I loved your story. I read this after a visit with my chiropractor and somehow ending up relating our own sperm story to him, that being my daughter ended up conceived by the only man in my life whose sperm was able to get past the birth control (the pill) barrier. Synchronicity is wonderful! I can’t help but think your husband’s sperm will be the super sperm needed to get the job done. And by the way I’ve never regretted the fact that his sperm wiggled past that barrier and helped produce the wonderful daughter I have. She came out face up just to see his face after nine months of never allowing the sonogram to reveal her sex and him adamantly declaring that the baby was a boy for the whole nine months. I told the doctors and nurses she refused to be turned because she wanted to see his face when he realized she was a girl. It is the only time I’ve ever seen him speechless. You all are embarking on a wonderful trip with your girls! Enjoy!


  19. first of all…. spermudgeon… hahahahah!!! i love that he’s got such a great sense of humor that’s actually a tattoo now!! but all haha-ing aside, what a beautiful thing you guys are doing for your daughter and her wife :) i love stories about families like yours. folks like you guys give me great hope for the future! :)


  20. Yes yes we will definately keep everyone posted! It joys my heart to see such a posative supportive response. It is def something that is gonna take some people some time to digest the whole situation but (no offense) that’s kind of their problema not ours/mine! I have a feeling that as this alll works out that our lil one will be very loved and known! Just to give some peeps a heads up… the wifey and I had tried for 10 months with no luck! A lot of tears and heart ache (not to mention $) later and it kind of hit us like a ton of bricks that maybe the original donor was NOT meant to be our donr and gives me more hope that Daddy IS meant to be OUR donor!


  21. My hubby and I fill our life with giggles, too, and it sure beats any alternative. Your story cracked me up, but all through it and between every line… was LOVE. I got goosebumps at all that love. (My husband won’t even go for a sleep apnea test. he he) I really hope you get a happy ending to this story. uh oh… more goosebumps. :)


  22. What a brilliant post and I second everything your previous commenters have said. I confess that I have always wondered about same-sex parents and donor sperm and where it comes from and what the dynamics of negotiation are. These are such private, personal issues and I don’t know anyone well enough to ask. Thank you for giving me a glimpse into your very special family tree. I’m sending all of my best wishes to you and The Girls.


  23. @Lollabees…sowwie but nope! My daddy will only be the grandpa! Technicaly biologicly yes but that’s as far as it goes! <3 regardless of the donor our lil one will not have a daddy or a father however that is where the gentlement in our life come in! They will have uncles and grandpas as their male role models! Mahalo for your support! <3


  24. Hilarious! Some people wake up on the wrong side of the bed and are determined to take everyone else they meet that day down with them. I would suggest a nice review on a google site letting the clinic know how un-welcoming their receptionist was. Assuming that a good portion of the people attending places like these are struggling with their fertility in one way or another I would think a kind and cheerful receptionist would be a small ask.


  25. As someone relatively new to your blog, (I followed the link from you 03-09-12 TMI blog story), I’d have to say that this spermudgeonly story (ha!) fills me with all sorts of warm fuzzies. Obviously I don’t know how it turned out, (whether his swimmers were up to the task), but I can only say that it really gives me such a warm feeling of encouragement and universal love to know that you both would be willing to help Anela and Sarah in this way. Your willingness to step up and “fill the cup” fits into my vision of a world where we simply help others in any way we can, as in, if we have something another person needs, then we share it with them. If doing so also helps them fulfill their dream of becoming parents, then even better. The world becomes enhanced by the loved that is shared across generations, and so on.

    Great storytelling, and great humor, (well except for that one spermudgeonly receptionist, who could have at least made an effort). Nicely told, and best of luck to the prospective parents.


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