You know how women, or more specifically, mothers and wives, think that it’s progressive and evolved and supportive for men to be in the delivery room when their children are born? And how we talk about the old days when less evolved men sat in waiting rooms and handed out cigars while the womenfolk got to experience the miracle of life? And how the assumption is that those men were missing out on something by sitting in the waiting room and that it is, in fact, better for everyone to gather around and watch as babies are born?
We are so fucking wrong.
Really. Dead wrong. I can say with the utmost certainty that if I am ever reincarnated as a man and I end up impregnating a woman, I will sit my happy ass in the waiting room with my box of cigars and I will refuse to go anywhere near a live birth.
And if I ever invent a time machine, I will go back in time to 5:00pm on Friday, July 23, 2010 and I will tell my completely ignorant self to stay your ass in the waiting room while your husband gets a vasectomy.
Oh. My. God.
I thought I was being supportive. He asked me to go, and I am much too evolved and progressive to say no because I have seen the man’s genitalia once or twice and come on. We are all grown-ups here!
Plus I was too distracted by live tweeting the entire thing to be trusted to make wise decisions.
Blah blah blah, they called Jared’s name and we both got up and walked to the tiny patient room that was currently serving as Waiting Room Part The Second, and as soon as I stood up, I heard the other wife in the large waiting room say, “See! I’m not the only one!” and the nurse assured her that lots of women accompany their husbands. The nurse even divulged that she had been in the room during her own husband’s vasectomy in order to “make sure it really got done.”
Someone remind me to warn that other woman in the waiting room when I go back with the time machine!
The two of us are sitting in Waiting Room Part The Second, which shared a wall with what was apparently the room where the procedure was being done. Jared and I listened to the doctor’s constant stream of chatter about family size and tried to guess if he was a Democrat or Republican. Well, I tried to guess. Jared started to look more and more pale. Once in a while the doctor’s inappropriately placed questions would be answered with a grunt or halfhearted “yeah”, and I would reassure Jared that the other guy was obviously doing just fine.
And then we heard something that sounded an awful lot like a very large person falling over. The remaining color in Jared’s face vanished completely.
“You’re going to be fine,” I insisted, reminding him again of my previous survival of TWO pregnancies and TWO childbirths.
The doctor opened the door to our purgatory room and led the two of us next door. Jared was instructed to stand at the foot of the exam table and pull his pants down. I stood beside him while he unbuckled his belt and pulled his pants down to his ankles, the doctor looking on from the other side of the table as if this was all very routine.
“Good, good, now lay down”, Jared did as he was told, “and we’ll something something something your unit.”
Jared shot me a look and I bit my lip. Hard.
“And then we’ll something something something the subject.”
My lip was starting to bleed, but I wasn’t laughing. Technically.
Jared seemed to decide that looking at me was actually not helpful and began to stare at the ceiling instead. This was probably a good call on his part. Once the doctor started slathering the unit and surrounding area in iodine, it became impossible for me to hold back giggles with the term “oompa loompa penis!” flashing in my head.
OK, I might have slid up by Jared’s head under the guise of holding his hand so that I could discreetly whisper “oompa loompa penis”. But that shit is too funny not so share.
The doctor is now babbling. He’s asking about where we’re from and what’s in Iowa and where are children are and a bunch of other things that were apparently meant to distract everyone from what was going on. But I’m no idiot. A little small talk is not going to make me forget that someone is snipping away at my husband’s reproductive organs. I squeezed Jared’s hand a little tighter to assure him that I was being really supportive, and then I leaned as far as I could towards his crotch.
Oh. My. God.
At first it just seemed like a small hole was being made. A hole, I assumed, through which the entire procedure would be done. A hole, perhaps, that a tiny tube with a camera would be inserted into. Maybe a wire? I don’t know, but I assumed that this tiny hole in my husband’s scrotum would be an access point.
It was, instead, the opening the doctor used to pull stuff out of.
I looked away.
I looked back at the subject.
I looked away again.
I looked back at the subject.
And at no fucking point in time did anything turn into two tickets to that thing I love!
No. It turned into… oh my God it was so awful.
I thought I was going to vomit. Like, literally. The saliva sprang up in my mouth and my stomach swelled. I looked into Jared’s eyes and tried to look really, really supportive.
“Everything OK?” I asked.
I’m going to be the asshole wife who vomits during her husband’s vasectomy.
I don’t know what Jared said. Something that indicated that he was hanging in there. I looked back at STILL NOT DIAMONDS. SHIT. STOP LOOKING. Looking back to Jared was no longer enough to stop the sweat and I was afraid he’d see how badly I was struggling. I looked at the wall behind him and swallowed as hard as I could.
You will not throw up. You will not throw up. You will stand here and be a lovingly supportive wife.
And then I smelled it. ”Oh my God,” the words were out of my mouth before I could stop myself. Jared’s eyes slammed into mine, and I realized that an obviously involuntary gasp of “Oh my God” may possibly be the least comforting and supportive thing a man could hear midway through a vasectomy.
“Whew, that smell, huh?” I tried to quickly assure Jared that it was just the smell of burning flesh – nothing to be concerned about!
“I can’t smell any – ohhhh. OHHHH!”
I am quite possibly the worst wife ever.
And then I looked back again. BECAUSE I DON’T KNOW WHY. I’m an idiot. And the smell and the cutting and the little white – *lurch*. My stomach vaulted into my mouth. I took a deep breath in to hold back the vomit and was suffocated by the smell of burning testicle. I’m looking at the little white worm-like thing protruding from the scrotum and I’m tasting the smell of burning vas on my tongue and oh my dear Lord in heaven, the room started to swim.
You will not pass out during your husband’s vasectomy.
I instantly had a visual image of hospital doors swinging open and shut behind my mother’s head as my father ran out of the room moments after I was born. I didn’t remember the sight from my own memory, but my mother had told the story so many times that I could practically hear the swing of the doors as if the memory was own. I instantly felt empathy for my 19 year old father and sympathy for my mother and husband whose wife was actually going to pass out during this vasectomy oh my god.
“You ok?” Jared asked.
I made promises of future sexual favors in my head. “Yes, yep, yeah, of course, great!”
The next several minutes were filled with a lot of shallow inhalations and deep exhalations and hand squeezing and more idle chatter and OH MY GOD HE JUST PUT METAL IN YOUR BALLS! WHY DID HE DO THAT?!?!
Apparently there was some video I was supposed to watch beforehand.
Anyway, chit chat, metal, wipe you off, pull your pants up, mail us a sample in a few weeks and have a nice life. Jared signed some papers, picked up his goodie bag, and we headed out to the car.
“You OK?” I asked.
“Yep!” He pulled a lollipop out of the goodie bag and waved it at me.
“Good, good. Glad to hear it.” I put the car in reverse. ”I, by the way, am completely fucking traumatized and we may never be able to have sex again.”
“Listen, Jared, that little piece of paper says you can resume all normal activities in three days. I cannot unsee what I just saw!”
“You have got to be kidding me.”
“You didn’t see it! It was – ” I wretched. I couldn’t help it; he visuals all came flooding back and *wretch*. “I can’t even begin to -” I wretched and shuddered some more.
Jared may have been not exactly sympathetic and possibly a little annoyed. Or maybe pissed. I don’t know exactly because I was probably suffering from PTSD.
I’ve asked Jared several times since then about when the kids were born. He was in there – watching. I remember my mother asking him if he could see the baby’s hair when Devin was born and the way he scurried up by my head shortly thereafter. I remember him helping me into the bathtub the next morning and asking him if we were ever going to have sex again.
I finally understand his response.
“Shhhh… shhh…,” he’d patted me on the back tenderly, “let’s just not talk about that right now.”