A vasectomy is something my husband swore he would never do.
For years, we couldn’t even say the word in our house because he would become so visibly uncomfortable. It was strange to see him so scared because, in general, he is a pretty tough guy. Sure, his favorite movies are Patch Adams and Mr. Holland Opus, but other than that, he really makes me feel safe. If there was an earthquake and an intersection fell on me, he would lift it off. If an intruder came into our home, he would kill them with his bare hands. If a tsunami washed our family out to sea, he would become a whale and let us ride all the way to shore on his back.
But this vasectomy thing had him all worked up.
Believe me, I understand that having someone cut your privates is not fun. The 42 stitches I had after my son was born don’t exactly provide me with warm memories. But the truth is, we were done having kids, and I had done my part. Someone needed to make sure it couldn’t happen anymore and that someone needed to be my husband. In a last ditch effort, I told a little white lie. “Honey, if you get this done, we will have SO much more sex because I won’t worry about getting pregnant anymore.” Maybe that statement, or the fact that our deductible was going up finally pushed him over the edge. Nobody will ever really know what happened...but once he agreed, I moved quickly.
The truth is we both knew it was time. A few months ago it became very clear to us that we were in the honeymoon phase of parenting. Both our kids can use a toilet, pour a bowl of cereal and sleep in a regular bed. They speak English, they go to school and they think we are great. Right now they are old enough to know we like to sleep in on the weekends, but young enough not to know anything about sex or drugs. These are the glory days for the Chittick family.
So, we said a prayer for his Vas Deferens, said goodbye to our days as a fertile couple, and made the appointment.
On Friday morning, I met my husband at home about 2 hours before the procedure. I arrived home to find my husband outside sitting on a stool. He was scared, sweating, and shaving his privates.
Me: Are you okay?
Husband: Not at all.
Me: Can I help?
Husband: There is nothing anyone can do.
Me: What are you most worried about?
Husband: My balls.
Me: It will go quickly.
Husband: I don’t want to do this.
Me: I know.
Husband: I am really scared.
Me: I know. Now that’s enough.
I was struggling to have compassion. He was going in for a thirty-minute outpatient procedure but was acting as if they were removing a limb. It took everything in my power not to remind him that during both my childbirth experiences I was certain that I was going to die. With each child, I was poked, prodded and pulled so much that I still struggle to talk about it. Each child was vacuumed out and on both miraculous occasions, I tore all the way through. I had so many people with their hands in my business that at one point, when the Janitor came in to clean my room, I fully expected him to lay down his mop, put on a glove, and check to see if I was dilated.
I wanted to care that he was scared and nervous, but for some reason, it just wasn’t happening.
His anxiety about this was very high (aka...off the charts). During his consultation, the urologist insisted that he take a Valium prior to the procedure. The problem is, my husband doesn’t take drugs. They make him nervous. He doesn’t smoke pot, he has never done mushrooms, and often claims that Sudafed and Mucinex make him hallucinate (shoot me). When we got in the car, he carefully swallowed the pill and looked at me with a serious expression, “How long until I feel it? Oh God, my heart is racing.” I tried to get him to relax, to talk about normal things, but nothing was working.
Eventually the drug started to take effect, but the result was less than ideal. He seemed very far away and still extremely anxious. At one point, as we pulled into the parking garage, he began whispering to himself like a crazy homeless person, “You can do this! Don’t be afraid! You are strong! You got this one!” It was uncomfortable to witness, but I did my best to be supportive.
During his surgery, I sat in the waiting room. I wish I could say I hurt because he was hurting, or that his pain was my pain, but that would be a lie. While he was under the knife, I found myself reveling in the silence and peace of the empty waiting room. It has been so long since I had been alone in a room, with nothing to do and no one around me. It felt like a mini vacation! I read a bunch of magazines from 2010, caught up on some emails, and ate a Snickers candy bar. To be honest, I had a lovely time.
Barely thirty minutes later, the doctor came out, said that all went well, and my husband should be out soon. As I looked up, there was my sweet husband, slowly walking towards me. He looked horrible. He was white, shaky, and appeared to have aged ten years. This is the conversation we had next:
While reading the dialogue below: Please picture a big, blonde man with a low deep voice that speaks very slowly while sweating profusely from his forehead
Me: How did it go?
Husband: It was horrible. The worst thing I have ever gone through.
Me: Oh honey, it only lasted ten minutes and now you are done.
Husband: I wanted to die, I felt so violated. I prayed for it to be over the whole time.
Me: Don’t you think that is a little dramatic?
Husband: Not at all, you have no idea. There was smoke coming from my balls.
Me: Honey, I had two kids. They were 8lbs each and left me with 42 stitches. But you are right; the smoke thing would be strange.
Husband: I am so glad it is over. It was awful. Oh, I was so scared!
Me: (giving husband side hug while thinking to myself “What a baby!”) I am so proud of you.
Then the doctor came out and explained the procedure and what we needed to do next.
Husband: So doc, you cut into my balls and snipped the thingy that the sperm travel in?
Urologist: Yes, I made an incision into your testicles and cut the vas deferens.
Me: So his balls are going to be swollen for a while and there is no way we can do it for at least a month, right?
Urologist: Yes, his gonads will be slightly enlarged for a period of time and it would be best to abstain from intercourse until he heals.
Me: So I don’t have to do it for a while?
Husband: He didn’t say that.
Urologist: (visibly uncomfortable) That’s something that you two can work out later.
Me: But really we should give that area a break, right?
Urologist: (more visibly uncomfortable) Again, it is up to you all how you want to move forward.
Husband: How soon can we do it again?
Eventually the doctor realized this conversation was going nowhere and quickly excused himself.
Today, for the third day in a row, I woke up next to a very large man with a bag of frozen peas on his privates. I have done my best to take care of him but, I am pretty sure I won’t be winning any awards. I am trying to understand that what he experienced was traumatic, but on some level, I am just not buying it. After having my kids, I know I didn’t come home and spend the entire weekend watching football, drinking beers and laying on the couch with my friends. If I remember correctly, I was woken up every two hours by a small newborn who would gnaw at my breast, scream in my ear and poop all over me. When my husband says he can’t stand up and would I mind bringing him his breakfast in bed, it takes all I have not to lunge at his throat.
In the end, I am grateful he decided to go through with this and provide me with the assurance that the days of breastfeeding, sleepless nights, and hemorrhoids are over. Yet I still dream that one-day, just for a day, he could know what it is like to be a woman. And then maybe, just maybe, he will understand.