Portraits of the Patriarchy
Father Time examines the progressive shift in modern fatherhood
The procedure was transactional—like getting a haircut, except the cutting was happening nowhere near my head. My doctor tried to ease the tension with pedestrian conversation, but the experience was still awkward for me. While he’s used to snipping a man’s most private of parts, I felt relief knowing I would only have to do this once. That was the hope, at least.
Our decision at home for me to have a vasectomy originated several months before, when my wife had a false positive pregnancy test. With two toddlers already, we were stunned with the news. Did we want this? No. Well, maybe. Okay, yes. No, no we didn’t. Two is enough. It was a three-week emotional roller coaster to say the least.
Then, a visit to the OB/GYN revealed she wasn’t pregnant. It wasn’t meant to be, and that was the sign. It was time for one of us—correction, me—to step up and get cut.
Most men I talked to about their vasectomies recalled theirs like a distant battle in which only a little blood was shed and only a bag of frozen vegetables was needed to heal the pain. There was also a recurring theme with age. Men typically get vasectomies when their most youthful and vital days are behind them.
What vasectomy doesn’t do is change your masculinity. It doesn’t make you less virile, nor does it tamper with your libido. It might (warning!) make things in the bedroom more fun, because you know the end risk (baby!) is nil. In a way, it’s liberating.
In the days prior to my procedure, I looked at my two sons and realized I would never have any more children. These two young boys would be it. My wife had had a similar emotional response when we realized the false positive was just that, plus, our signal to end our procreative years.
Everything went fine. I provided a sample four weeks later, but then received an unsettling call.
“I have good news and bad news,” my doctor said. “The bad news is that two sperm cells showed up in your sample. The good news is that they were dead. This means your body most likely needs more time for all the sperm cells to clear. This happens once in a while. I don’t think you need to come back in for a second procedure. Just bring another sample in two weeks.”
The second sample was clear. My doctor called and said, “Congratulations!” Like it was a party. Or maybe a graduation. A full and complete commencement to a new era in my life. One where I had crossed over to the side of the table to sit amongst the men who have made perhaps one of the bravest decisions of their lives.