I struggle to make day-to-day decisions. What should I cook for dinner? Do I bathe the kids now or after they’ve eaten? Which of my two irreverent errands do I complete first? These are all questions which test and vex me on a daily basis. My wife often bangs on about my lack of decisiveness, and she’s right. At least I think she is…
So, when it comes to making decisions that will drastically impact both my and my family’s future, you can imagine these are not resolved on a whim. And so it was when it came to ‘family planning’. We had agreed, after the birth of Matilda almost five years ago, we’d have just one more child (providing we were lucky enough to conceive). Pregnancy was pretty hard on Frankie, and, let’s be honest, though being a parent is the most wonderful job in the world, it is also the most knackering. We’d stick to two.
With that in mind, once child #2 Zachary was a few months old, the subject of ensuring we keep to just our chosen quota reared its head. The options were pretty thin on the ground – for reasons which I’m not going to delve into, the pill, injection and others were not viable long-term. So I began thinking about the dreaded V word. You know the one: ‘Vasectomy’. Aka ‘The Snip’. Aka ‘Tubes Tied’. Mention any of these to a man and you’ll see their face contort into an expression of unimaginable pain, discomfort and loss, accompanied by a sharp intake or exhalation of breath. And so it was with me when the idea was floated. And there were several factors which went on to play heavily on my mind:
- One of the big fears for me was that I imagined feeling like I’d lost a big part of myself, part of what makes me a man. I know that sounds stupid, but I’m betting most men would feel the same. The procedure itself was not a massive barrier in my mind, but wasn’t exactly something which excited me either!
- At 32, I guess I’m quite young to have it done. When I first mentioned the idea to a GP (who was training at local practice and was not a doctor I knew), the idea was met with what I can only describe as bewilderment because of my age, and he even suggested we focus on female-led contraception instead.
- Who knows what the future will bring? We could change our minds. Something could happen to Zachary or Matilda. To say once-and-for-all I’m never going to spawn (I like this verb) any more children is a big deal!
After months of deliberation, research and consternation, I made a decision. I’d do it.
I guess one of the big factors for giving it the green light was taking responsibility. Men get things pretty easy in terms of our bodies – women, for a start, get poked and prodded a lot more than we do by medical professionals. They also pump themselves full of hormones for decades to ensure they don’t get pregnant at the wrong time, and then when they do conceive they go through size changes, discomfort, the pain of childbirth and, if they breastfeed, the changes that occur thereafter. This was a way for me to shoulder some of the physical burden; to do MY bit for MY family.
So, after chats with chosen friends (I knew some would think I was mental so they were avoided) and a more positive meeting with a different doctor, I booked myself into the Centre for Life. Frankie came with me, and was a real support as we hung around waiting to be seen. The staff were amazing, and put me at ease, so I was as physically and mentally comfortable as I could be with three people I’d never met cutting into the most private part of my body! It wasn’t fun, but it wasn’t hell, either. We chatted about politics and the Daily Mail (boo!), which was very surreal.
The after effects, though painful, were totally bearable, and a month or so later I have yet to feel less of a man or any real pangs of regret about my decision, despite a few raised eyebrows from friends I have since told – ‘Ooh you’re young to have that done’ being not an uncommon reaction. In fact, I feel pretty positive about the whole thing: I have made a decision for the good of my marriage and my family as a whole. I can look at my wife and kids and know: this is it. This is us. And it brings a smile to my face to know it was my choice to make, and I made it. Though I’m still struggling to decide whether to have pasta or curry for dinner tonight.
Jake Rusby | Rusby Media