When the baby making was clearly done in our family, a vasectomy seemed to make the most sense. After all, I had carried two babies around in my belly for about twenty months combined. That was pretty cool, really, but then I had to push them out. Not quite so much fun. The first delivery was brutal, and with an epidural mishap, I ended up on my back for ten days. The second was pretty quick, but with no pain meds, it was certainly no walk in the old park.
So when we decided we were happy and blessed with two healthy boys, a three-month-old and a two-year-old, we decided that he was going to cover the birth control from now on. It seemed simple in comparison to giving birth, a no-brainer, really. And my husband was on board with getting snipped, or at least it seemed that way. After all, these days the procedure is easier than ever, no scalpel needed, and lots of our friends were doing it. We got the paperwork, he consulted his physician, we would chat about a good date, and we’d be good to go.
Then life crept in: the two kids, full time jobs, camping trips, holidays, occasional date nights — we were the typical busy parents. In my mind, the vasectomy appointment was his responsibility; I’d been to my share of doctor’s appointments while pregnant, not to mention I was always the one taking the kids to get their dreaded shots.
But he never made the appointment, and a month or so after agreeing on “the big V,” we were back to the inconvenience of condoms. Like having sex with two kids wasn’t hard enough — now we had to locate the baby-blocking device at every rare opportunity that arose (no pun intended). Time dragged on — one, two, three years — and every so often I would ask when the V-job was going to occur. Sure, he’d procrastinated about other things in the past — finishing the trim, fixing that leak — but this was taking the cake.
Each time I asked about the procedure, there was another excuse, ranging from the cute to the ridiculous.
Excuse #1: “My buddy Greg says that vasectomies don’t work.” (Cute.)
Greg is a 60-plus-year-old ski bum who lives in a one-room cabin down by the river in Montana. I know that he has indeed fathered at least one child in his life, but I was wondering where his scientific evidence came from. “Call him and ask,” my husband said. “He’ll explain the whole theory.”
I never did call Greg and ask. Since it was early in the vasectomy quest, I just kind of laughed that one off. But then something happened to back up Greg’s preposterous theory, leading to my husband’s next excuse.
Excuse #2: “Joe’s wife got pregnant after he got a vasectomy.”
“See? They don’t work,” he said. “Greg’s right.” It was true. Joe’s wife got pregnant five years after he got a vasectomy. They had two kids in elementary school, and their lives were right on track, when all of a sudden : bam.
This one had me reeling a bit. I talked to my doctor, did some research, and eventually wrote an article about the rate of failed sterilizations. I talked to so many doctors in my research that I felt confident explaining all the findings to my husband. Though it does happen, the chances of a vasectomy failing — as long as you have a post-vasectomy visit to make sure you have a negative sperm count — are close to none.
I think I had him back on board, but then he got injured.
Excuse #3: “I don’t heal well from surgery.” (Ridiculous.)
My husband is a life-long ski patroller; let’s just say he’s on skis about a hundred days out of the year, at least. So when he went in for a routine knee surgery, it wasn’t a huge shock when the doctor announced that it was much worse than expected. He was out for the entire ski season and beyond and ended up being on crutches for a few months. His darn knee just wouldn’t heal. But eventually it did, and he was back to normal. And I was back to nagging him about a vasectomy appointment.
“I’ll do it if you want, but I’m just warning you that I don’t heal well from surgeries,” he said.
“This is a very different kind of ‘surgery,'” I said. “If you could even call it that.”
But my mind raced with flashbacks from the knee surgery: him laying in bed moaning like men do, groaning as he made his way around the house. I had visions of him in the La-Z-Boy after vasectomy “surgery,” with the sack of frozen peas on his area. “Honey, please can you get me another beer? Oh, the pain.” (Hmm : maybe this wasn’t the best move for either of us.)
But time passed, and eventually I mentioned the big V again. We were in the middle of planning a spring road trip to the dessert in Utah.
Excuse #4: “I was going to get a vasectomy, but you wanted to go on vacation.”
“Listen, I’m psyched to go on vacation, but just so you know, that’s when I was going to get it,” he said. “But I know you really want to go to the desert :”
“You mean, you were going to get one this spring? Did you have an appointment?” I asked.
“You decided we were going on vacation instead,” he said. “So no. I guess it’ll just have to wait. You were so excited to go and all.”
That’s when I realized that there was truly something deeper to these excuses. It had been a good three years since we first discussed him getting a vasectomy, and each year he got more and more squeamish about this “surgery” involving his manhood. No amount of nagging from me would change that. I knew he didn’t want another baby, but I also knew that he’d never admit his fear of getting snipped. They’re called the “family jewels,” and to him, they are extremely precious.
So I dropped it. Soon after our spring trip, I called my doctor and scheduled an IUD. And in all honesty I can say that I did it willingly because it was clearly the easiest route. I could go in, lie on a table, have an IUD inserted that will last for up to ten years, and voila, it’s done. No more nagging, no more excuses, no post-vasectomy sperm counts from a cup, and no more condoms.
When I told my husband about my plan to get an IUD, I explained that I decided to take one for the team, that this really did seem a whole heck of a lot easier than the vasectomy ordeal. He agreed, although not without mentioning that he “would have had one though :”
To this day, he has never really praised me or shown a whole lot of gratitude for me handling our birth control, probably because I kind of handled that for him: “See what I’ve done, honey? Now we are condom-free because of moi!” But my gloating aside, I do think he appreciated it.
Even though my husband never admitted his fear of getting snipped, I’m not resentful. When I mention the vasectomy situation to a friend, she will immediately say, “Well you had the babies, couldn’t he get the vasectomy?” And I know a lot of women would agree with that sentiment. Of course I would’ve been psyched had he gone through with the procedure, but when he didn’t, it was obvious to me just how real his anxieties were. And I guess if the family jewels are so important to him, and I’m part of the family, it’s up to me to try and protect them too.