Motivated by weekly episodes of “The Cosby Show,” I planned — as a child — to become a doctor by the age of 30 and to promptly follow graduation with birthing six children. I came from a big family, and I wanted one too. As time went on, my dreams deviated. I entered the healthcare sector as a registered nurse and lice clinic owner, and I am also the blessed mother of three wonderful and inspiring children. Our home and our lives became more and more full over time. Yet, because I loved having my children so much, I was not quite ready to stop having children once my third was born.
But carrying and raising our son Gabriel was difficult compared to his older siblings. Six years younger than our previous child, Gabriel bothered my hips, ruined my abdomen while in the womb, and was colicky, hungry, and always awake once he was born. When Gabe was around 5 months old, my husband came to the conclusion that our family was complete. I was nowhere near thinking of having the next child, but I also was nowhere near being ready to proclaim I was done for good! Permanent contraception was not my first, second, or third choice, but my husband felt differently. He began to research a vasectomy.
A vasectomy is an outpatient surgical procedure where a urologist cuts into the male testicles and then snips, ties, and essentially burns the vas deferens tubes. The procedure is done using local anesthesia, with a needle piercing very delicate spots on the body. Once completed, sperm is no longer able to exit the male structure, thereby stopping future conceptions.
A vasectomy is pretty easy to access. Most insurances cover the cost, and it wasn’t difficult to get the ball rolling (no pun intended). My husband asked his primary care doctor for a referral, and a couple of weeks later he met with a urologist. The initial meeting with the urologist went well. I decided not to be involved, as I disagreed with the decision to permanently sterilize while still in the throes of caring for a newborn. I preferred to wait until the one-year mark to make such a huge planning decision.
The two men scheduled a procedure date. I tried to remain supportive of my husband’s decision, though I disagreed. I asked him plenty of objective questions about the doctor, the procedure, the healing time, and whatever else I would normally ask before a procedure.
The procedure date came and went — my husband canceled due to last-minute fears. Soon, the second procedure date arrived. He was obviously nervous. I figured he would cancel again, but to my surprise, he didn’t! I requested that he write a summary for this blog post, sharing his experience in hopes of helping others make their fertility planning choices in the future. Here is what he wrote:
Fortunately, I made it through the stinging of the anesthesia, and as he got to work down there I stared up at the ceiling hoping it would be over soon. There was some tugging and pulling, and a subtle feeling like I had gotten kicked in the groin, but it was over quickly with surprisingly little bleeding and just a couple of small stitches.
He gave me an ice pack to put on my groin while I drove home, and when I got home I took the frozen peas out of the freezer and settled in to watch some movies. I iced the area repeatedly for the next 12 hours, and I think that made all the difference in the world, because my recovery was very short and uneventful. I had that subtle feeling of being groin kicked for a few days, but that subsided and then eventually disappeared.
In closing, I can say my vasectomy experience was . . . OK. It was neither good nor bad. It worked and served its purpose, and now my wife and I can continue our lives together without concerns about unintended pregnancies. To be sure, there are some days where I wonder what it would have been like to have another child (possibly another little girl), and there are days where my wife wishes we had more kids in the house. But, there are many more days where we (my wife included) realize it was the right decision for our family and our lives. So, my advice: Take the time to consider it fully, and discuss it as much as needed before you take the plunge.
Our Gabriel has brought so much joy into our lives, and we are very grateful to have him. He has completed our family — he rounds us out and makes us laugh. He has brought us all so much closer together than before. I now believe my husband made the right decision moving forward with the vasectomy procedure. I do wish I had been 100% on board (instead of 50%) when he moved forward with it — I could have been there to physically support him, and I could have helped research the process.
If you are considering a new method of contraception, I urge you to talk it through as much as possible. Although I was not fully convinced, we did speak a lot about the choices. This helped in the end, because I was fully aware it was happening, even if I did not fully agree on the timing.