Snip, Snidin’ Away

I had a vasectomy. There. Now you can never not know that about me.

Yep. I just upped the friendship level here by about a thousand. Hello, Besties.

Anyways, yes I had a vasectomy. My baby making days are behind me. That was almost three years ago now. And honestly, it was totally not a BFD. That’s Big Fucking Deal for those unfamiliar with the term.

It was supposed to be. TV says it is a big deal. I was supposed to be very anxious about it. I was supposed to be worried about losing my manhood, my machismo, my dudeness. However how much I had to begin with has often been up for debate. I drive a white prius with a Wonder Woman sticker in the window. My wife picks out my clothes for me, I do the bulk of both the grocery shopping and cooking in our house, and my days off generally revolve around doing the neverending pile of laundry in my basement. So whether there was much manhood to cut off is open to interpretation.

But I had a vasectomy, and here’s the tale of it peppered with observations and humor(again, up for interpretation).

I have four sons, two my wife had with her ex and two we had together. This is a bit of an achievement. When Shay and I first were getting to know each other, she was sure she was done having babies. She’d done that and was ready to move on to new adventures. I on the other hand had not. And while I didn’t know much about what I wanted to do with my life, I knew I wanted kids. Not that I had any issues being a stepfather. The Bigs, as we call them, are wonderful. At the time I met them they were still little, 6 & 4. And I loved them immediately. So it wasn’t that I didn’t see them as my own because they came from another dude’s willy. I don’t see it as that. But there was the birth and baby part that I knew I wanted to have a part in. When Shay said she didn’t want any more kids… well it looked like that was the end of the story. And that would have been okay. I personally have broken up with women for way less reasonable conflicts and disagreements. One time I broke up with a girl because I couldn’t decide what kind of chips I wanted at a gas station.

Of course this didn’t prove to be the end of our story. As we continued to get to know each other, and our relationship grew, we decided that we did eventually want to have at least a kid together. And eventually we did.

Our third son changed everything for me. Made me different, made me grow up. Everything you read or hear about becoming a dad is true. You’re not the same at all, and your brain starts to work different. And it’s totally fucking awesome. It’s what I needed and wanted for myself and our little family. And we thought it was just enough and just right. We were okay with our three boys and calling it good.

But of course, you don’t always get a say in these things. Shay got pregnant again. I was stoked from the get go. She took a minute or two to warm to the idea, but eventually she came around to it. Once we got on the same page, we were super stoked for our fourth little guy to come along.

But we were also sure of one indisputable fact: this was going to be the last one. No debate. Four was enough. Ain’t no more fucking babies for us after four. No way, no how.

We weighed our options. Now, I don’t know how much ya’ll know about a lady getting her tubes tied, but apparently it’s pretty rough. I’m pretty sure there’s more to it than just loop, swoop, and pulling the baby-making apparatus shut forever. There’s recovery time and other potential issues. On the other hand, a vasectomy is super quick with minimal impact and potential dangers. So considering how much harder having a baby is, it only seemed reasonable for me to take this one for the team. We came to an accord that I would get myself fixed(or broken as I have heard another dude in my situation calls it). But since my wife was already pregnant, I didn’t feel like there was anything to rush.

She had other thoughts. She wanted it done and over with. Here’s the thing I’ve learned from being around a pregnant woman: pregnancy, while a miracle, is kind of unpleasant. There are apparently a lot of cons to the experience. And while the end result is a super pro, the cons are difficult to ignore as well. Seeing as this was her fourth go around with this unpleasantness,  Shay was in a bit of a rush to take steps to ensure that this would indeed be the final go around with the babies. Steps needed to be taken.

I said I wasn’t in a rush, and that really is the most accurate way to describe it. It wasn’t that I was afraid, I wasn’t. And I didn’t have any issues wondering if I would lose anything in the process. I didn’t make kids for the first 29 years of my life and that was fine. If going forward I didn’t make them anymore either, it really didn’t bother me. I also knew several dudes who had already had the procedure and they had told me nothing changed afterwards. To me, it wasn’t a big deal and I’d get around to it sooner or later.

Well Mrs. B was on a mission. And she was not messing around. She had a 2 step plan to get ‘er done. First she appealed to a side of me that she knew I would listen to: my cheapness. Yes, I love a deal. I have a deep-seeded phobia of money. This phobia more often than not leads to a process of researching an item, finding what I want, getting to the point where it is in either my physical or virtual cart, and then at the last minute chickening out and putting it back and eventually justifying that I don’t actually need it. This habit… pisses my wife off to no end. Now, in my defense I have gotten better at it. With the exception of large purchases. Ya know, things over $50 dollars. General rule of the house is if we want to buy something over $50 bucks, Shay buys it while I close my eyes in terror. As you can imagine, planning our trip to Florida was a REAL GOOD TIME for my wife.

Anyways, Shay knew that my frugalness would probably play a factor in getting me to get the vasectomy. Smart lady that she is, she did her research. This was October, which meant most of the deductible year had passed. And since kids have this amazing ability to very quickly meet your family deductible in a year, my wife discovered that through our insurance my procedure(this term will come to importance shortly) would run us about $150 dollars. While this is over my $50 threshold, it was a fucking bargain to me! In my mind any trip to a clinic, doctor’s office, or ER costs $5000 dollars. When you use the word surgery that amount triples in my brain. But $150 dollars??? DUDE! That’s a steal! It’ll practically pay for itself by avoiding another baby. Here’s the thing about babies: they’re expensive. You have to clothe and feed them daily. And you have to purchase things for them to defecate in. Adds up QUICK. You can’t even take them anywhere without having to spend money on accessories. Ya know, car seats and strollers and what-nots. From a fiscal standpoint you’d be a real moron to have a kid.

Step one successfully completed, Shay moved to step two: practicality. I had recently been promoted to manager of the store. I was waiting on my new assistant manager from another store, but it was becoming a real pain in the ass. The manager of that store kept pushing the transfer off weeks at a time. Meanwhile, I was pulling double-duty at mine and working nearly everyday. It was getting old. That’s when my wife pointed something out: when you are having a medical procedure, people take notice. And when they hear you need to have a medical procedure, they care about you and want to help. By simply calling my vasectomy a procedure, I was able to change the conversation to getting my assistant to my advantage. It was not lying. That’s what I was having. A medical procedure. Was it elective? Yes. But I didn’t say what the procedure was. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I intentionally left the situation vague. This was a bit manipulative on my part. Let’s be honest, if someone says they’re having a medical procedure but won’t say what it is, we assume it’s bad. I mean, if it wasn’t a big deal like a mole removal, you’d say what you were having. But when you won’t say what it is… people assume the worst. People assume cancer. Okay, I’m a little ashamed of that part. But it is what it is. After sending out an email saying I needed my assistant so I could be off several days for my procedure, I suddenly had a definite date for their transfer. The other manager was bending over backwards to make it happen. That reminds me, I owe her an apology at some point.  

With her two steps in place, my wife had convinced me to make an appointment and set a date. Now, we’re pretty open with our kids about things. We talk about things openly. My procedure was no exception. The good news is that our oldest already had some understanding of what a vasectomy was. “They’re gonna chop off your balls” said my then 11 year-old son. He and the nine year-old found this hilarious. Apparently their father’s dog had been fixed some time ago, and this was how it had been explained to them. My wife tried to explain the significant differences between what would happen to me, and what the boys envisioned… but it was no use. And that’s fine. At least they understood why I was doing it.

I made an appointment with my Doctor. My Doctor is a cool guy. He and I have a similar sense of humor. So during the appointment when I told him about the 11 year-old’s understanding of the procedure, he of course said “Well, if your son has a better way to do it we could give it a shot. I mean, I’m no expert. Maybe I’ve been doing it wrong all this time.” I like my doctor.

He went over how the procedure would work, but I didn’t care about the steps. I mean, honestly I don’t need to know how the donuts get made. My wife on the other hand, had lots of questions. Shay is a nurse. As such, she found the whole thing fascinating. After they had a long discussion about the steps, we set the date to chop me open.

It’s hard to describe how not a big deal this all was. I mean, I dunno. TV says I should have been going through stuff. But I wasn’t. It was such a non-issue. I took my prescription for lorazepam to my pharmacy and then it was just a matter of waiting.

And I didn’t even need to wait long. A week and flew right by. The day came, I woke up, took my lorazepam and just chilled out. My wife drove me to the clinic and it began.

Now, I’m gonna try and not make this too graphic. You don’t want to read that and I’m really not comfortable writing it. But for the sake of the story, there are some bits that may turn some of you off. First, you gotta get shaved for this. More than that, you gotta let a nurse you don’t know do the shaving. It’s a good thing I was high as a kite, cause I have some issues with intimacy and my own nudity. I come from a family that doesn’t hug. So stuff like this is outside of my comfort zone. But in my sedated state, it was totally NBD. Shave away, person I’ve never met!

Now, they keep you awake during the procedure. Did you know that? Yep. Though you’re high, you do know what’s going on. They of course numb ya up, but you’re awake during all the going-ons. I had been told that but it hadn’t registered. Again, good thing that I was high.

As I laid down on the operating table, my Doctor asked me what I wanted to listen to. To my great pleasure, he had Paul Simon’s greatest hits. I… FUCKING LOVE PAUL SIMON!!! I especially love Paul Simon when I am under the influence. So there was no question what I wanted to listen to. As the opening chords of “Graceland” kicked off, we began.

Being that she was a nurse, my wife wanted to watch the entire thing. Me, I don’t want to see anyone’s stuff cut up and open. But that’s why I’m not a medical professional, just some asshole that runs a store where people buy stuff. Shay had a total professional interest in watching and asking questions. While normally I might have some issues with my stuff shaved, cut open, and being changed around by my Doctor, a stranger nurse, and my wife watching, the drugs did a great job of making me comfortable.

There really wasn’t much of interest that happened during the procedure. I just laid there and listened to P Simon play some of my favorites as the Doctor did his thing. But there was one weird thing that happened that I want to share. It happened during “Slip Slidin’ Away”. For those unfamiliar, it’s a beautiful slower jam where Simon writes about characters reflecting on their lives and the choices they’ve made. I love this song. It’s always particularly touched me. And there’s one verse that speaks to me:

And I know a father

Who had a son

He longed to tell him all the reasons

For the things he’d done

He came a long way

Just to explain

He kissed his boy as he lay sleeping

Then he turned around and headed home again

I don’t have a relationship with my father. It has been years since I have seen him or spoken to him. Most of my life he made what I see as really selfish decisions that alienated him from my siblings and I. I think what speaks to me about this verse is the idea that some day my father might want to explain why he did the things he did. That he would search me out and try to explain it all away. But the last two lines show the truth. It doesn’t matter. Trying to justify selfish actions to your child is just more selfishness. When it comes to your kids, your reasons aren’t as important as your actions. And if you’re not proud of your actions, you’re only hurting them more by trying to make them understand. It’s beautiful, really. Sad, but beautiful. I don’t know if I cried on the table. But I know that I felt every word of that verse. And I think it helped me find some closure between my feelings about my father and my feelings about myself as a father. That short little moment has stuck with me.

Then it was over. Just like that. My wife helped me hobble home, I rested for two days and then was back to business as usual. I was the same. It was a total NBD. TV had severely over-exaggerated the experience.

Except it wasn’t. That moment with Paul Simon and my dad still pops up in my head from time to time. It still has an impact on me. While I am okay that he and I have no relationship, I have worries about myself as a dad. I have these four boys and I want to do my best for them in their lives. Sometimes I worry that choices I make for them they’d never understand. Like choosing to work extra hours with both work and going to school at night. Or anytime I have to go out of town for work. These are moments being missed with them. I can justify them to myself, but can I get them to understand? I don’t know. That’s what that verse is about. Accepting that maybe you can’t, and just be happy loving your child and leave them in peace.

The last time I saw my father, he tried to justify some things to me. He tried to talk about what he had experienced and why he did the things he did. Now, he chose to do this after a long day of the two of us drinking, and he did it in a bar. It didn’t go well. After angry/LOUD words, the bartender asked us to leave. He got in his truck and drove home to Minneapolis from Milwaukee. And that was it. Not great. A real fuck up. Makes you realize the father from Simon’s song knew what he was doing in the end by just walking away. On some level, I wish had never happened. But it did, and I’m okay with it. It told me what I needed to know about him, even if it took getting a vasectomy to process it all.  

For those that are considering a vasectomy, I hope this helps you realize that it’s totally not a big deal. It isn’t. You’re the same afterwards as you were before. And I was. I was still a guy committed to being a good father, that has conflicted feelings about his own dad. But that’s okay. As long as I am conscious of the situation and can keep my selfishness to a minimum, it’ll be okay. I have the boys I have. And they’re all I want or need.