Two is enough, thanks

Warning: If you’re squeamish or easily offended, this post is probably not for you!

If you are reading this on rather than an RSS reader, the header and photos on the right are probably a small clue that I have two small girls: a nearly-four-year-old whirling dervish of gobby bossiness, and a six-month old monster determined to be the loudest thing within miles.

I am an insufferable bore when it comes to my girls. They are awesome, and barely a conversation or a twitter goes past without me mentioning them (sorry about that, by the way).

But as much as I love them both to bits, two is enough, thanks 🙂

The plan was always to have two kids. Not sure exactly why.

I guess it’s partly because it’s what we are used to – both my wife and I each have a single sibling, so that’s what feels right.

It’s partly financial – kids are not cheap. Even with economies of scale and all, the amount of stuff you need to get for a kid is staggering, and we couldn’t afford another! And that’s just the day to day stuff – with bills like monthly day care fees for Grace that were higher than our mortgage for a long while, I can only wonder how people with big families afford it.

The difference from two kids to three kids feels bigger than the difference from one to two. For example, it’d mean needing a new car (I couldn’t fit three kids in the back of my little Fiesta). It’d probably mean a bigger house (would be difficult to squeeze a bigger family into our mid-terrace).

It’s partly time, energy and a desperate need for sleep. One child is exhausting. A second makes exhaustion a dim, fond memory. A third? There just isn’t enough caffeine in the world.

In short, a third kid would be a game-changer, and not one that we’re ready for.

This, combined with knowing that you can’t rely 100% on contraception, is all a roundabout way of explaining why we decided for me to go for a vasectomy.

Weird choice of topic for a blog post? Perhaps. But going on the philosophy of sharing experiences that might be new or interesting to others, I figured “why not?” So if you are curious to find out how you go about getting yourself neutered, read on 😉

16th May :: the local doctors surgery

The GP is the gatekeeper. She controls my access to the medical world, so step one was to convince her to refer me to the hospital.

This was tougher than I’d expected, and led to one of the most surreal conversations I’ve ever had.

She wanted to make sure that I’d considered the implications, and within a couple of minutes was pointing out things like:

“One of your children might die, so you might need a replacement.” (I’m not 100% those were her exact words, but as I recall, it wasn’t far off that!)

“You might get divorced and want more children with your next wife.”

Hmmm… two minutes in, and she’s already got me divorced and bereaved. Nice(!) 🙂

Her questions generally focused on the theme of me being very young (I’m 28 – it’s not often that anyone calls me “young”!) and not knowing what might change down the road. And as much as I jest, it was a fair point.

Eventually, she relented. Or, at least, convinced herself that I had thought this through and wasn’t doing it on a whim.

She agreed to write me a referral letter to go and see a urologist at the hospital. But she warned that he would likely need the same, if not more, convincing, and that if I couldn’t persuade him the procedure wouldn’t go ahead. (Well, not without going private and paying for it myself.)

Step one – done.

4th July :: the out-patients clinic at the hospital

The day of the consultation with the urologist.

My GP had advised that I bring my wife along – saying that he would need to see that it was a family decision that we had both considered. We also brought along the kids, although that was mainly due to lack of babysitter!

After the grilling my GP had given me, we were expecting the worst. It was a bit like waiting for an interview! But, as it turned out, it was a fairly short appointment – we spent longer in the waiting room than we did with the urologist. He barely said two words to my wife, and most of his conversation with me was just clarifying how the procedure would work and what the risks are. The description of Chronic Testicular Pain syndrome was particularly enjoyable – as informative names go, that one pretty much says it all, doesn’t it?

Other than asking how many kids we had (the fact that they were sat in front of him was probably a small clue, but I suppose he had to make sure!), there wasn’t any discussion about why we wanted to do it, or whether it was really a good idea considering how young I am. Phew.

Then the less than fun bit. He took me next door into a small room so that he could examine me. He wasn’t exactly delicate. I wont go into graphic detail about what was involved, but if I did, I’d have to use words like “squeezing”, “separating”, “pulling”, and “pressing”. Suffice to say, it was… uncomfortable.

The examination led him to decide that I’d need to have the procedure done under general, rather than local, anaesthetic. Something to do with a particular tube being hard to access. Trust me to be damn awkward.

A couple of signatures later, and I was on the waiting list.

27th August :: pre-assessment clinic at the hospital
Back to the hospital for a meeting with a nurse. Mainly a chance for her to explain some of the practicalities of what will happen on the day – implications of the anaesthetic such as needing a “responsible adult” to bring me home afterwards and stay with me for 24 hours, not driving for 48 hours afterwards, and not being allowed to drink after 6.30am or eat after 11.30pm on the night before.

She went through the pain relief options, and – my particular favourite bit – explained how you need to shave before coming to the hospital for the operation. Oh.

10th September :: the big day

The day started early. I was on the day waiting list, which means turning up at 7.30 in the morning and waiting for your turn.

After arriving at Reception, I was taken through to the ward where a bed was ready for me – my name (spelt wrong) was on a board over the bed, and a gown and a brown paper bag with stuff for me to take home was at the foot of the bed.

I got to sit by the bed for two or three hours while people occasionally came to ask me the same questions – do I have any allergies, when was the last time I had anything to eat, do I have any metalwork in my body, etc. etc. About seven or eight times. Unfortunately they’d lost all the forms from my consultation and pre-assessment clinics, so I had to go through all that stuff again – signing forms and confirming that everything had been explained to me.

The anaesthetist came to introduce himself, and get me to sign a consent form. Then the consultant who would be doing the procedure came to introduce himself, and get me to sign another consent form.

The guy who was before me on the waiting list got taken away. Eek. Wouldn’t be long now.

A nurse came and told me it was time to put my gown on. It’s not a glamorous look. After another half an hour I was led to the operating room. Actually, I was shown to a little anteroom connected to the operating room – though the windows in the doors I just got a glimpse of the sort of operating room you see on the telly. There was a bed in the anteroom and I was asked to lie down while the nurse hooked me up to a bunch of monitors and put a cannula in my hand.

I spent about half an hour waiting in there – alternating between staring at the clock, and staring at my heart rate and pulse ox readings on the little monitor above my head. And trying to calm myself down to keep my heart rate down in double figures… by this point I was scared.

Then the anaesthetist arrived. An oxygen mask was put on my face, and he told me that it was time as he pushed the anaesthetic in. That was weird. I felt a cold, stinging pain inside my hand. It spread to my lower arm, then up my arm and into my torso. I remember thinking that there was no point to try and fight it, and deciding to shut my eyes. Then I felt myself falling asleep.

Next thing I know, it’s about half an hour later and I’m waking up in the recovery room. I think I remember dreaming. I was left to doze for a little bit before being wheeled back to the ward where I’d started.

And that’s pretty much it. They kept me in hospital for a little bit to check I was okay, then rang my wife to come and bring me home.

In hindsight, I didn’t really need to be that scared. It was all fairly quick and painless. Well, at the time. Hurts like buggery now 🙂

Update – a few days later
I thought I’d come back to this and add a few thoughts particularly for the benefit of anyone who’s come across this post from Google.

There are a few things worth adding:

1) There is really no need to worry about it. My overriding feeling as I came out of the hospital was “Was that it?! Is that what I’ve been worrying about for months?!”. Lots of waiting, lots of filling in forms, and a short sleep. That’s it.

2) Okay, so it hurts a little after. On the scale of pain, from ‘discomfort through ‘pain’ to ‘agony’, I’d describe it as pain. It definitely hurt, but not in the same league as when I hurt my back, for example. If you’ve been hit in the front by a football before, that ache you get for the first couple of minutes after – it’s basically that. Only for a couple of days. Not a lot of fun, but nothing you can’t handle with a few painkillers.

3) The worst bit is the shaving. By a long way. The instructions you get before the big day are:

“Please shave the bag (scrotum) and the area around the penis (pubic hair). This… is best done in a bath the night before.”

I can’t even bring myself to describe how not-fun that was.

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4 Responses to “Two is enough, thanks”

  1. Dave Nice says:

    Good of you to share such a comprehensive account of it all!

    Glad you’re OK, even if “the boys” are now trapped alive… 😉


  2. Andysc says:

    thanks for sharing that with us! Sitting here with legs firmly crossed!

  3. Roo says:

    Doing it under general sounds like a Very Good Thing indeed. Hope the soreness has reduced. Ouch.

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