I vowed that I would never have the snip... I changed my mind!

After three children, ERIC NOLAN decided to have a vasectomy. Here, he explains his thought process, his fears, and the procedure itself.
I vowed that I would never have the snip... I changed my mind!
Eric Nolan, who is the Labour Party's local area representative for Cork East, says the vasectomy procedure was straightforward and almost painless

IT’S easy to be certain about a potential choice you would make in some hypothetical future scenario. I’ve been certain about a lot of things over the years. But life has a way of muddying the waters.

One of the things that was most certain for me was that I would never, ever, ever get the snip.

It was incomprehensible to me that I would ever have a vasectomy and intentionally cause harm to such a vital part of my body. I’d sooner lose a leg.

It seemed like the vast majority of my best and worst physical sensations centred on that area. I still wince when I remember stray footballs from bygone matches. The better memories still remain too.

They say that having children profoundly changes your priorities. It certainly has for me. The immediate love and protectiveness is impossible to describe. The knowledge of how it really comes about is very sobering. There was no stork delivering a bundle of joy.

Pregnancy is extremely hard. And, as if that wouldn’t be enough, it’s only the countdown to what can be an extremely dangerous and difficult finale.

I’m very proud to say I have three wonderful children. I grew up with three siblings and always thought I’d like four kids. Three is enough. Three is more than enough.

I feel so lucky to be their dad. I’ll also be forever grateful to my wonderful wife for all she went through to bring them into the world. We both agree that we wouldn’t change a thing. But it was tough going.

The most recent (and last) pregnancy really took the biscuit. My wife was hospitalised at 30 weeks for the remainder of the pregnancy. It was a scary, scary time. Our son arrived at 35 weeks and is doing great. His mother is doing great too, thankfully.

During her six weeks in hospital, I got a glimpse of what life might be like without her. I didn’t like it.

I’ve joked with her that I’m like the small spare tyre that comes with new cars. It’ll work fine if you’re in trouble, but you wouldn’t want to use it all the time.

Joking aside, she is just too important to me, and to our children, to ever risk something like that happening again.

Once I came to the realisation that my procreating days were over, it was time to investigate the options. With the potential risks being so high, effectiveness was important. That ruled out condoms and similar methods. (They can be a bit of a mood killer too.)

The female pill was quickly ruled out. It can have side-effects, and long term use doesn’t appeal for good reasons. My wife had well and truly been through enough medical procedures so the tying of tubes was crossed off the list.

The list had only one thing left on it. The dreaded snip. Something I’d always been certain I would never ever do.

I try to take an evidence-based approach to everything and reluctantly went on a fact hunt. Anecdotally, I knew that three friends had got it done in recent years. None of them walked funny, had higher pitched voices than before or appeared to be more docile. That wasn’t going to be enough for me though.

The biggest rationalisation I had conjured over the years to justify my ‘No Snip’ stance was that, while I would be very happily married and never wish to enter another relationship, tragedies happened in life. If the unthinkable ever happened than, in time, I could possibly end up wanting more kids. I was (and still think I am at 37) young.

The cold, hard light of reality quickly melted this away. While anything can happen in life, the here and now takes supreme precedence. And now that I was in the position to have to really make the decision, this concern disappeared.

The snip also passed the effectiveness test. The chances of pregnancy post procedure are said to be 1 in 2,000. It’s the best method there is for avoiding pregnancy (except abstinence, but that didn’t appeal at all).

Vasectomy Ireland quotes a price of €450 for a ‘No Scalpel Vasectomy’. This compares favourably to the alternatives.

Most health insurance policies don’t cover vasectomy, which is hard to understand given how much a vasectomy could save them financially. The procedure would take 15 minutes and was described as close to painless. Side-effects are said to be minimal and generally short-lived. Even Google struggled to come up with scare stories.

I was goosed,and not at all content with it. My belief in reason and logic won out, but I was very anxious about it.

There were a number of providers in the Cork area and I chose to go with Dr John McCormick of Vasectomy Ireland. After a few emails I was booked in. Painless so far.

Making the booking relieved my tension considerably. The decision was made. The only preparation needed was a bit of ‘manscaping’, which I carried out carefully. This was probably more dangerous than the procedure itself. There was no need for fasting before the procedure.

D-day arrived quickly. After struggling through breakfast, I made my way to the clinic. I was seen quickly and it was just as well because even the small wait was torture.

John talked me through the procedure and was very clear on the risks. Chronic pain can occur in a small number of cases. I fought the urge to run. There was no turning back now.

The vasectomy itself was physically close to painless. We made small talk throughout but it was impossible not to think about what was happening.

I’m glad I won’t ever have to do it again. It was over in 15 minutes. Job done.

I drove home and spent a quiet evening relaxing. Those of you with young children will know what a rare luxury that is.

I was extremely careful in the following days and took pain relief now and again, but there was no real pain.

Not being able to exercise for a week was more of a challenge than I expected. I hadn’t realised how much I valued the head space of a run or walk.

After a week I was back to normal. The only side-effect was that I could now legitimately be described as harmless.

The procedure wasn’t nearly as big a deal as I had built it up to be. I have no regrets.

I’ve tried to take some learnings from the experience. The next time I have a strong opinion on something that I have not had to make a decision on, I’ll try to think twice.

Life is complicated and the reality is we never truly know what we will do until we have to really make a decision.

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