My wife and I couldn’t conceive naturally.
Her eggs are… scrambled. Or poached. Or something like that. I’m sketchy on the details. My spermies, however, I’m a little more solid on: they’re flatheads. With low motility. So instead of having a pointy head that can pierce and fertilize an egg, mine sort of bonk the surface. Like trying to slap your way through a car window. And the low motility part? That means they’re lousy swimmers. There’s Michael Phelps, there’s a Schnauzer doing the doggy paddle, and then there are my lazy, slacker sperm roaming through a fallopian tube without focus or direction.
(Side note: finding out I’m infertile so late in life bummed me out, because back in the day I always wore condoms. In retrospect, I could have been having A LOT more fun. Oh, wait. Shit. STDs. Never mind. Condoms = awesome.)
The reason my inability to produce offspring the old fashioned way is on my mind is because of comedy. I just watched Fixed, a movie centered on marriage, manhood, and family planning. Specifically, the aspect of family planning involving the husband going under the knife to eliminate his baby-making ability. It’s a word that makes every man flinch: vasectomy.
(I think my nards crawled up inside me a little upon just typing it.)
One thing that stood out was a scene involving the male fear of being snipped from the woman’s point of view. The truth being explained was that women experience childbirth and all the pain that involves, yet men grow squeamish about an outpatient and (relatively) painless procedure.
To be honest, it does expose a great hypocrisy. Women do (emphasized) go through the invasive and damaging process of carrying around and then pushing a human being through their body, and men do (emphasized again) balk at something that takes 45 minutes. Which, to be fair, isn’t fair.
But hey, life isn’t fair.
(There’s a response that’ll win friends and influence people. Let me explain.)
The truth of the situation is that one of the two experiences is out of our control, and the other is elective. Biologically, women carry and have babies. That’s the way it is. Men have the option of whether or not to have a vasectomy.
I’m not saying that’s a justification, or the end of the discussion, or anything, really. I’m just saying that women are told from birth to adulthood that they make and have babies. It doesn’t make the process less painful, scary, or off-putting. It does provide, however, preparation. Years of conditioning and mental preparation for one of the biggest stresses you put the human body through.
Men? We go through life carefree. It’s an old (but true) statement: ask a man what he’s thinking. When he says “nothing,” believe him. Our minds are a blank slate most of the time. So when the idea of a vasectomy comes up, it’s a shock to the system. A knife? Down there? But… that’s my manhood, the reason for my being. Everything important about me is swinging between my legs.
What if something goes wrong?
Men don’t stress about not being able to make babies; we want to know, 100% know that after the procedure is over that we’ll be A-OK in the boner-and-orgasm department. We want to be sure we’ll be as turgid as before, and shooting our Something-About-Mary hair gel just like before. Which, according to all statistics, we will be. But fear is irrational, and irrational fear trumps calm logic any day.
To even the playing field, maybe we should start conditioning boys. We condition girls to the fact they’re in charge of the baby-having part; maybe we should tell boys, “Here’s the deal: You grow up, you make a baby, and then you get clipped so you don’t make anymore.”
Parity. Fairness. Treat boys just like we do girls. Same, yet different. Like water fountains.
Oh, wait. Shit. Abort that analogy. Um… moving on.
Look, I’m not saying this is a great idea; I’m just throwing crap against a wall. But that’s how conversations start, right?
I’m probably going to have the conversation with my son. When the time is right, we’ll talk the birds & the bees, condoms, and the possibility of someday going under the knife. Because why not introduce that option?
The Mrs. and I have actually had one… maybe two, discussions regarding the possibility of my having the procedure. That’s right, even though we can’t get pregnant, we’ve talked about it. We’re human, which means we worry. Statistically, it’s near-impossible for us to create a baby on our own. Read that sentence again, and emphasize “statistically” and “near-impossible.”
There are no absolutes in life, and in our minds our family is complete. We have our two kiddos, and don’t need a third, fourth, or fifth. We. Are. Done. Man coverage always works better than zone, and we are happily one-on-one with our defense. So, were a “miracle pregnancy” to happen, we’d be in a bind.
Fortunately, given our situation, our vasectomy conversations don’t go too far. It’s somewhere in the back of our minds, yes, but “What if we get pregnant again?” isn’t anywhere close to a daily stress. We’re an older, pretty freaking infertile couple. We’re not a younger twosome with several kids already and no clue what to do. I don’t have to worry (too much) about surgeon’s blades slipping while near my delicate twins.
I do wonder: does not having to having to worry about a vasectomy make the money we spent on in vitro fertilization worth it?
I never looked at it that way before…
…but hey, it’s a solid “maybe.”
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