“And what do you plan to use for birth control?”
I sit in the exam room for my post-partum visit. My left boob is leaking, I’m sitting on a rubber hemorrhoid pillow, and I’m actively hot flashing so badly that I’m sweating through my jeans. The doctor smiles warmly at me as he tries to navigate his new iPad, and a sweet nurse clutches a leaflet on some new IUD thing. The cover pictures a college-aged girl pushing a cello down a slide. Apparently, the cello is “Her Baby Right Now.”
“Vasectomy!” I almost yell.
He stops tapping away on his tablet and looks up, surprised, as though the cello thing would have been the obvious choice. I try again.
The sweet nurse sticks the brochure into a drawer and walks away knowing that this old girl is past the point of trusting her fertility to something that looks like it was lifted from a box of CrackerJack…
So. Vasectomy. For those of you who are late to the consequence-free intercourse party, a vasectomy is an operation performed by a urologist to prevent pregnancy. By severing a man’s vas deferens, no sperm are able to enter the seminal fluid—and the patient is essentially left with reproductive O’Douls. It is the second most effective method of birth control—the first being abstinence. Abstinence was the other option I gave my husband. He wasn’t feeling it.
After three kids in three years (including a set of twins) we were ready to shut the door on the possibility of more children. And seal it behind a giant wall of concrete. And surround it with barbed wire and explosives. Since hormonal birth control transforms me into a gin drunk, ragey Ann Coulter-thing, vasectomy was our best option. We went for it.
Here are a few things vasectomy lessons we learned along the way:
DO Your Research.
…..And maybe don’t leave the research to a sleep deprived, new twin mom who has recurrent nightmares about becoming pregnant with multiples again. The reason for this is that her only requirements in selecting a urologist will be that they are licensed, available, and take insurance.
Long story short, our urologist was affiliated with a Catholic hospital and was not allowed to perform vasectomies on-site. I would have known this if I had spent more than eight minutes exploring our options. As a result, we ended up with sort of a trendy, pop-up vasectomy experience in what might have been the utility closet of a radiology center. An ant trap sat in the middle of the floor, and a handwritten sign was taped to the door. My husband had to listen to “Three Little Birds” through an iPhone while somebody was soldering his manhood. Everything turned out fine, but it might have been finer had it occurred in a facility that seemed even remotely medical. My Bad.
Ask around. Ask your local mom groups. Ask your primary care provider. Ask Yelp.
DO Bring Support: Emotional, Vehicular, and Testicular.
Plan to accompany Poppa Bear to his appointment whether he has the procedure performed under general anesthesia or not. Not only will he be reasonably nervous day of, but chances are, he’s been provided with a smooth hit of pre-snip Valium that will leave him in a child-like state of wonder. He’ll need a sober driver when he’s all done, and if you make him take an Uber afterwards, you’re officially the worst.
Also, be sure he brings a comfortable jockstrap and supportive underwear. Proper support and compression can help minimize bruising and make it easier for your fella to hobble to the car afterward. We missed this step. My husband wore loose boxers and—to the horror of some elderly blue-haired women—limped across the car park, nads in hand. I had to run to the Target across the road where the only cup available looked like a piece of jai a’ lai equipment.
DO Get Help.
The internet makes it seem like a vasectomy is little more than an enthusiastic bikini wax. Based on our experience (and plenty of anecdotal evidence), this is often not the case. Your baby daddy’s balls are going to look like this:
And feel like this:
As parents, we’ve all fantasized about somebody abandoning us in a comfortable chair. The reality will be substantially less awesome for your recovering fella. He’s going to need some serious care for at least a day or two post-op. Schedule the procedure during a time when family is available to lend a hand with your littles. That way, Dad can get some TLC.
DO Buy All the Frozen Vegetables.
If you have ever been in the presence of a toddler, you know that frozen peas are good for one thing—and it ain’t dinner.
Go to the store ,and buy as many small to medium sized bags of frozen veg that you can. (Peas, corn, and diced onion are best.) Clear the place out. They thaw quickly and need to be replaced often.
The invalid is going to want his entire pelvis frosty and numb for the next few days.
DON’T Say What You Both Know You’re Thinking.
He will complain. This is normal. Nonetheless, at some point, perhaps after you’ve repositioned the vegetable medley underneath his swollen nether regions for the eighth time, you will feel the need to gently remind him that you were pregnant for ten horrifying, sober months. That you went from a full C cup to long A cup, that your perineum looks like a backwoods motocross course… Sacrifice? You want to talk about SACRIFICE?!
Don’t do it. Just don’t. Never kick a man when he’s down.
DON’T Forget to Get the All Clear.
Approximately three months (or 15-20 ejaculations) after the operation, the patient must “provide a specimen.” This is doctor speak for “masturbate into one of the bad Tupperwares and bring it on down to the office.” The urologist will analyze the sample to make sure the procedure was successful and present your man with a “Congratulations, YOU’RE STERILE!” t-shir—and probably enter him into a drawing for an iPod shuffle.
All jokes aside—DO NOT miss this follow up. Overwhelming odds are that your partner’s seminal fluid is perfectly useless but you’ll want to know for sure—or else you’ll spend the rest of your life secretly worried you’re pregnant. Or you might end up with an actual baby or two—which would be kind of horrifying.
SO. How much fun does all of this sound?!?! Seriously though. If you’re done having babies, and I mean really, really done (because the reversal is crazy expensive), vasectomy is a safe, affordable, and reliable option that you really ought to consider.