I find it only right to disclose that I am one fertile girl. My husband pretty much only has to look at me, and I get knocked up, which led us (three kids later) to schedule a vasectomy. It was my idea. I didn’t want to pump myself with any more hormones. I was through with messy diaphragms. I hated how long it took to get a condom on. I was ready for liberation!
Until I wasn’t.
As the days got closer to his appointment, I started to fret. My worry lines started multiplying while I vacillated between “yes” and “no,” “do we or don’t we?” It’s a cruel irony: We spend much of our youth trying not to get pregnant, then experience a few short years trying to conceive, and then suddenly, the door starts to close. Time runs out, choices need to be made, and pretty soon it’s put up or shut up. We have three healthy, fantastic children – they are enough, right?
Before I knew it, the big day arrived, and, due to my terminal indecision, I failed to realize my husband’s surgery was scheduled on the very same day as our daughter’s field trip to the freakin’ fuzzy-wuzzy-cutesy-pie farm. According to her I could not possibly miss that! So my husband rang his good buddy to take him to the vet. Um, butcher. Um, no, doctor. Right.
But all was well, I told myself. (As well as anything could be on my neurotic island.) To prep for surgery, my husband took a Valium, which made him the equivalent of three-martinis fun. He was one happy guy as he left the house. I, on the other hand, the one who had this idea in the first place, practically followed him out the door hanging onto his leg, screaming, “Are you really sure you want to do this?” He was.
I pulled myself together, put the children into the minivan, and cringed as Raffi filled the sound system, playing his drums with a cheery, happy, baby-centered voice. I bet Raffi wouldn’t get a vasectomy. We made it to the farm and unloaded. Everywhere around me was the circle of life. I was pacing, sweating, distracted. “Look mommy! I hold bunny!” my daughter chirped with an excitement that made her shake. “That’s great, honey!” I said, eyes filling with tears. I couldn’t take it anymore. I ditched her with her class and dashed behind the barn frantically searching for bars on my cell phone. There were none. I raced around a la Harrison Ford in The Fugitive to find a signal. Finally! Crouched and squatting up on a hill, I started dialing. One ring. Two rings.
“Good morning, Dr : ”
“HI! Yes! Sorry to trouble you but I need to talk to my husband RIGHT NOW. ”
Silence on the other end.
“Yeah, um, you see, he has an appointment to, um, to (whispering) get a vasectomy, and, ah, it’s supposed to be happening RIGHT NOW, and I really need to talk to him. (Channeling Sally Field in Steel Magnolias DO NOT LET HIM GET IT. I repeat: DO. NOT. LET. HIM. PROCEED.”
“Ma’am, (her first mistake), I cannot even tell you that your husband is here due to privacy laws, never mind go into a room before a procedure.”
Me, climbing up a tree to keep my two bars: “LISTEN TO ME VERY CAREFULLY. I know my husband is there – this is his name, address, social security number, eye color, and blood type. Put him on the f*&^% phone.” (Daughter in the background -“Mommy? Mommy? Why you up in that tree??”)
Sigh from the receptionist. “Hold, please.”
Husband gets on phone, sounding like Dudley Moore in Arthur: “Hel-looo!”
“I am finished. Honey, I’m saw-rry (insert hiccup-like noise), gotta go hon-eey. Doctor is waiting.”
Okay. I hugged the tree branch. He’s … right. The sinking, panicky, lost-at-sea feeling in my stomach shifted to my throat. What was I doing? This was pushing the crazy boundary – even for me. As the grip of my insanity let go, I realized it wasn’t that I wanted another child; I just hadn’t wrapped my head around not having the option anymore.
So much of life is coming to terms with our choices. In that tree in the middle of that farm, I made the painful, wonderful, startling discovery that not every path was going to be endlessly open, available, and mine.
I climbed down out of the tree, watched my daughter cradle the tiny bunny, and swallowed the fact that this moment was happening and I could do nothing to lasso it. We walked in the sun, my daughter and I, and we cooed and aww’d our way through the farm. As we got ready to leave, I looked back at my tree and took a deep breath. I was ready to go home.
I walked into the house, grabbed a bag of peas from the freezer, and made my way to my husband who was sleeping gingerly on the bed. Settling in next to him with my kids playing happily in the other room, I realized I may not have all the choices in the world, but the ones I have made so far have been pretty darn good.