Monday, June 08, 2015

The Vasectomy

“you can’t unring a bell”

is what I thought 
when I woke up 
March 10, 1986,
the day
I was scheduled 
to have the vasectomy.

The abortion was 
by mutual consent,
but the vasectomy 
was a unilateral decision.

To ensure 
no more accidental
I made the decision.

I was 22 and 
to default
to my partner’s 
birth control 
method of choice
seemed predictable
and unimaginative.

I was deathly afraid
of getting the wrong woman 
and being forever trapped
with a baby carriage
chained to my ankle.)

I arrived at the doctor’s,
and changed into
the paper gown.

As I lay down 
on the examining table, 
I looked up and 
started counting the holes 
in the ceiling tiles
out of nervousness.

Then someone came in,
and I didn’t even look 
as he announced 
he was administering
local anesthesia.

I tried not to think about it 
as he tore 
a small perfect square
from my paper gown
to isolate my genitals
for the treatment.

His self-assurance 
and precision 
put me at ease,
I saw the needle
and felt a rush of heat in my forehead
and then soft warm fingers
gently moved my penis
to the side
and before I could register 
the strangeness of the moment,
I felt the pinprick
on my right testicle.

My eyes widened,
I breathed deep,
and when he left 
I realized:
“this is really happening.”

I propped myself up
on my elbows 
and looked at my package,
laying there, 
groggy and limp 
surrounded by a 
white paper gown field.

“Look what we got ourselves into.”

I smiled 
there’s something about being 
the master of my own destiny,
no matter how small,
it was empowering
and calming.

Dr. Montgomery came in 
and he described everything 
he was doing, 

and then it was all over,
all my worrying 
all my guilt about the abortion. 

I ached for three days after 
but I took it in stride
because I had done the right thing, 

and because
getting a vasectomy
made me feel more like a man
than getting laid did.


  1. I am amazed that a doctor would perform a vasectomy on a 22 year old without some kind of mandatory counselling. That is very young to make a life-changing decision. But that is just my two-cents worth. You recreated the scene with both physical and emotional aspects well - covered (no pun...etc)

    1. Actually, I did have mandatory counseling - I had to convince them to do this. I was a grown-ass man who was old enough to be drafted in to war (presuming there was a draft) but I had to convince them of this decision? Never regretted it, by the way. Go three kids the old-fashioned way: I married a woman with children. Thanks.

  2. Now neither of us can get our girlfriends pregnant, Mosky! ;-)

    This was so real in its details, it made me want to fetch you an aspirin or something. Poor Mosky's stuff, but good for you for knowing what you wanted--or didn't want--and making them perform the procedure.

    1. Thanks, Shay. An aspirin? Sheeit! I needed an ice pack!

  3. Puts my dental work into perspective :-0
    My husband tells a story that as his vasectomy was performed, The First Cut is the Deepest started playing on the radio - to which both him and the surgeon looked at each other started giggling. Nervously, I should think!

  4. I read this when you first posted it, and I felt so conflicted. I think I expected it to be about regret only, and that it was the right decision was hard for me to process. This is such a cool instance of poetry making me really think about what is being said instead of making last assumptions. I feel so anxious throughout the poem until that last stanza, and then I'm so relieved. I also think that I wouldn't have believed it if you had just said (like in the previous stanza) that it was the right choice. The last stanza (I think) shows me it was the right choice.

  5. Wow, now that's some poetry. Sadly, you seem like the sort of person who should procreate. But moving right along, I like the way you weave your reasons and thoughts in with the very specific details. On a more personal note, I'm glad you never regretted your decision...when I was 22 I couldn't even decide on a hair color. And, the details made me want to hand you a bag of frozen peas.