I chickened out on my vasectomy. I had the doctor's appointment booked and everything, but at the last minute I cancelled. I don't know why. I guess the thought of it put me off. Anyway, I booked another appointment, but in the meantime my wife got pregnant. We already have three young children, and are barely hanging on financially and in every other way, especially since my wife recently lost her part-time job. Now we're considering an abortion and my wife is furious with me. Is there any way I can smooth this thing over?
Oh, boy. I know before even typing a word of my answer I'm going to have men across the country wincing and squirming in their seats.
So, gentlemen, a piece of advice before I launch in: Look away. Return to the sports and business pages from whence you came. This is not going to be pretty.
Okay, are all the men gone? Good.
Now, to my questioner, allow me to say: I not only feel but have felt your pain, mon frère, both literally and metaphorically.
I too have three kids. I too dragged my heels for an unconscionably long time after the third one was born before getting (gulp) The Procedure.
But then my wife, Pam, and I had a couple of pregnancy scares. Like you, with two careers and three little kids, two still in diapers, we were hanging on by a very thin thread. A fourth kid, I felt, would sink our ship: There'd just be a big BLOOP and no one would ever hear from us again.
That's probably what has your wife freaked out and angry. Your only hope to mollify her is to promise her, for starters, that whatever happens you're in this together - as a team - and that you will overcome your qualms and undergo this procedure post-haste.
I know it's frightening. Before I did it I looked Pam in the eye and said: "If I do this terrible thing, I'm picturing morning glories, afternoon delights, quickies on the kitchen table."
She just smiled enigmatically.
Now, I've been forbidden from writing about our sex life so all I can say is: Next to marrying Pam, getting that procedure is the smartest thing I've ever done. A completely worry-free form of birth control - what could be better?
I remember before I got the procedure done, when post-op vasectomees would extol the virtues of the snip, I would just watch their lips move and think: "Sing on, castrati, sing on."
But that reaction was rooted in ignorance and prejudice, people! For the few who may be unaware of this factoid, the operation involves only a tiny snip in the vas deferens, the tube that carries the sperm out the end of your johnson. Instead of being released, the sperm now gets reabsorbed into the abdomen area, leading many to speculate (including, obviously, us vasectomees, who would love to believe it) that getting a vasectomy actually supersizes your mojo.
Still, on the bus on the way up to the doctor's, I almost bailed. I had my (childless) man's-man friend on the phone, and he was like: "Dave, just reach up and pull the string and get off that bus. This is the biggest mistake you ever made."
At several points in the ride, I actually had my hand on the string, ready to pull; but in the end I held fast, got off at the proper stop, and marched like a condemned man through the incongruously sunny, cheerful day to honour my appointment with the Scalpel of Doom.
As to the procedure itself, well, I'm not going to kid you. There's nothing pleasant about it. It depends on what version you undergo, but other men have written, for example, about the horrible moment when they look down and see a puff of smoke appearing above their groin.
All I can say, to you and the few other gentlemen who are still reading, is: During the procedure, chat with the doctor all you want (I babbled like a nervous schoolgirl throughout), but keep your eyes glued to the ceiling.
Now, you may have noticed I've been quite quiet about your pregnancy. It's outside this column's purview and also my own comfort zone to tell you what to do there. (But allow me to say that if you do go ahead and have the child, it'll probably be fun and you'll find a way to deal.)
But I will say to you: Don't be a big baby yourself. Promise your wife you'll be supportive throughout her pregnancy and whatever outcome you choose together. Then suck it up, book another appointment with Dr. Shakeyhands, and go through with it this time. Get the thing done and spend a weekend in bed with a bag of frozen peas on your throbbing niblets.
Counterintuitive as it may seem, it's the manly, menschy thing to do.
David Eddie is a screenwriter and the author of Chump Change and Housebroken: Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Dad.
I've made a huge mistake
Have you created any damage that needs controlling? Send your dilemmas to email@example.com, and include your hometown and a daytime contact number so we can follow up with any queries.