After the Vasectomy: “Um…Um…”

The beginning of my sex life at the ripe young age of none-of-your-business launched a series of imagined pregnancy scenarios and in-case-of-emergency planning every time my period was more than two hours late.

– Abortions were expensive, but I was pretty sure my boyfriend would help pay for it.

I imagined telling him I was pregnant. And then I imagined him saying, “No way I’m helping you pay for an abortion. I want to keep it. Let’s get married!”

– I’d heard something once about vitamin C in high doses leading to miscarriage, but I wasn’t sure I could rely on it. I checked the medicine cabinet to see if I had some, just in case.

– If the vitamin C didn’t work, I could ram my abdomen into something. There was a chair I could use, and the loft railing. That could work.

– I vividly remember standing at the top of the staircase and looking down to the first landing. In movies, pregnant women threw themselves down the stairs. I imagined tumbling down and cracking my head open. I didn’t see how a fall down the stairs could result in a miscarriage unless it also resulted in my death.

Fortunately, I continued to receive negative results on my pregnancy tests, and after one too many scares, I finally got smart and made sure I didn’t miss one single pill. On particularly paranoid days, I’d double up: pill+condom.

When I stopped taking the pill for reasons that had to do with not wanting to develop cancer or a blood clot, I became obsessive about condoms. (Other methods were too messy.) And when my second husband decided he didn’t like to wear them, I decided I didn’t like to have sex. (Permanent sterilization with this husband was not an option.)

Some time after my second husband and I divorced (for several reasons, not the least of which was that he thought I would “come around” to wanting children – more about that in No Children, No Guilt), I entered into a relationship with the man I love more than life, and he wasn’t opposed to my birth control preference.

By that time, however, I was almost thirty, and I was more certain than ever that I didn’t want to be a mother. I didn’t even want to have to think about the possibility of being pregnant. Even though we were careful, every single month was tainted by at least a week of panicked impatience: “C’mon, period…Come on, period. Please please please please. Please.”

Condoms weren’t enough, anymore. What if one broke? What if a crazy man at the condom plant thought it would be fun to poke a hole in a package? What if I were one of those horribly unfortunate 15%-2% of people the condom didn’t work on just one time?

I begged my love to get a vasectomy.

“Worrying about pregnancy is taking the joy out of sex,” I said. “Don’t you want it to be anxiety-free?”

“They say it doesn’t hurt,” I said.

“I would get something done, myself,” I assured him, because it was true, “but it’s a lot more invasive for a woman.”

His reluctance to go through with it had nothing to do with a desire for children. He and I had known each other for a number of years, and he’d always known being with me meant not having children. (However, he wasn’t as anti-parenthood as I was. You might say he’s a perfectly content fence-sitter.)

What his reluctance did have to do with was the fact that it meant surgery in a sensitive area. Understandable. So, I let it go, knowing he was thinking about it (because he would have been a fool to think I would let it go – whether “it” was him having something done or me having something done, should he decide he just didn’t want to do it).

And then came the day when, out of the blue, he told me he was going to do it. The big V. (Even years later, I still get excited when I think about it. Freedom. Relief. All those years of worry…never again!)

You can imagine my surprise, then, when shortly after he had the operation and our child-free life together was guaranteed, I was so sad I almost couldn’t stand it.

It had to be the fact that I was no longer worried about the possibility of pregnancy that “what-if” scenarios, which were no longer a direct threat to me, had an entirely new face.

Suddenly, I was thinking of all the times I’d seen him interact with children (the ones he liked, anyway); he was so natural, so fun. He’s the kind of person who says off-the-wall things to kids that I would never think to say in a million years because I just don’t “get” kids, that way. I remembered how much the children of a friend of ours latched onto him, the little girl in particular. (I can’t say that I blame her.) Everywhere he went, she went.

And here he was, now, never to have children of his own. I couldn’t help but think I had done some unborn child the greatest disservice imaginable by depriving them of this beautiful, generous, kind, funny, understanding man as a father, and it was killing me.

That I told him all of this while he was still sensitive from being tugged and cauterized might not have been the best decision, timing-wise. He didn’t say much. I still don’t know what he was thinking that day. It probably sounded a little bit like, “Are you ______ing crazy? I just had this done and now you don’t want it?”

That’s what I would have been thinking, were I him, so I assured him (while crying all over him) that I didn’t regret the decision. I still didn’t want children, and I never would. “You’d just make such a good dad,” I bawled.

I suppose it hit me in a way it hadn’t before that it wasn’t only my future as a parent that had been decided. This was a man who had considered having children years before, when he was in a relationship with a woman who had wanted them.

“I didn’t do this just for you, you know,” he said. “I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t want to.”

But I already knew that. He isn’t, and has never been, a pushover. He does nothing unless he wants to do it.

Even so, the thought of someone like him not having a child just didn’t feel right, that day.

And sometimes, it still doesn’t. Every great now and then, it tears at my soul just a little bit to know that if I wanted a child, he would be all too happy to have one with me.

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What Every Woman Wishes Modern Men Knew About Women

by Sylvia D. Lucas

A desperately needed antidote to The Game and The Rules.

“An odd combination of really funny and really insightful.”

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9 thoughts on “After the Vasectomy: “Um…Um…”

  1. Petra

    “But you’d be such a good parent” is not a good reason to have kids. And you should know that. How is it different when it comes to your guy?

    1. It isn’t, of course. (But this makes me ask, “What IS a good reason to have children?”) If you go back, you’ll see that he had previously considered having children, and that’s how his situation is different from mine (I never considered having them).

  2. J

    Great post, Sylvia. I haven’t read through all of your blog, so I’m going to offer my comments with the preface that you’ve probably covered this point elsewhere in these pages.

    But here goes:

    There are so many societal narratives built around what it means to be childfree, and one of the ones I bought into for a long time was the idea that not wanting to have kids not only meant that I didn’t like kids, but also that I could never have a warm feeling about a kid for any reason whatsoever. I couldn’t crack a wacky joke with a younger cousin. I couldn’t make goofy faces at my niece. I couldn’t be a good wacky uncle because I didn’t want kids, and therefore, despised them in any form and at all times.

    Hogwash.

    I don’t like to speculate on anyone’s mental state or otherwise try to read their minds, but I’d hazard to guess that you’ve got a big heart and an overabundance of empathy. Kudos to you for recognizing your husband’s goodwill toward children, and for validating your own mixed feelings about his vasectomy.

    I’m reading your book, by the way, and it’s great. Lively and canny. Keep it up.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, J. And I’m happy you’re enjoying the book! :)

      I agree – not wanting to have and raise your own children is a decision made for any number of reasons. Some people truly don’t like children, but some do. More than anything, it strikes me as a lifestyle choice.

      1. J

        Well said, Sylvia.

        It’s funny — when I first started telling people I didn’t want kids, I would always focus on the big-picture reasons. I described parenthood as a great calling that I simply didn’t hear.

        That was (and is) true and rightfully among the reasons why I don’t want kids, but as I’ve started to explore the childfree community, I’ve found that all of the other reasons why I didn’t want kids — everything from enjoying the pleasures of naps to wanting to stay focused on my creative pursuits — are just as valid.

        I also looked back on my “great calling” talk and have come to see it as emptier rhetoric than I knew at the time.

        Anyway, I’ve been learning a lot as I move through these circles and become more secure, comfortable and happy about my feelings. :)

        Thanks again for the great reading.

        J

  3. Mike

    This is why you should always put some of your sperm in a sperm bank before the vasectomy. I just graduated college, and already I can say I don’t plan to have kids, “ever”. Maybe a lot of doctors would refuse to do it this early (21), but hopefully I can find one that will do it. I can’t wait to be able to enjoy the rest of my life risk free. After I’ve put sperm into a few banks just in case one burns down I can easily get it back if the decision to not have kids does reverse. I, however, don’t see the decision ever reversing because a super-majority of my reasons are grounded in logic and reason rather than emotion.

    1. Sylvia D. Lucas

      Hi, Mike. I’m glad you’re confident in your decision, as my husband and I were. I didn’t think to bring up the idea of saving sperm, because I won’t change my mind (emotional or logical, a choice is a choice), but I’ll ask him if he wishes he would have done that.

  4. May Peterson

    My heart goes out to you Sylvia. I believe that what you have felt and are constantly feeling simply shows your love for your husband. And that is a selfless love!

    When my husband had the vasectomy, it was a decision that both of us agreed on. Our reason was to prevent a pregnancy so that we could also straighten out our financial conditions. So he went for it. For several years, we had a good time together and we were indeed able to fix our finances. When the time came that we said that we were ready to have a child, we simply decided that he’d go through a reversal. At first we were worried that it would not be successful but we were wrong. Perhaps, the good thing was that Dr. Wilson, a Christian, was the one who did the reversal, charging us only $1700. He’s from OK, you can check out his info at http://www.microvasreversal.com

    Sylvia, you’re one great girl for feeling that way. I do wish you and your husband all good things in the world!

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