IT all started over a glass (or two) of wine. I say wine, it was fizzy apple juice for my wife as she was about four months pregnant at the time with our second child.
I found myself laid on the bed, CKs and jeans round my ankles whilst the CUS ensured that my "vas were easily palpable".
"Ya know", she said, eyeing up my Pinot Grigio with envy, "we really don't want any more kids after this one, do we? What's the point of me going back on the pill when this child's born. Surely it'd make sense for you to have, ya know, the snip?"
About £2 worth of cheap Italian plonk came spraying from my mouth.
"WHAT? A vasectomy? Are you kiddin' me. No way, No way. Absolutely NO WAY."
And here I am now. Just days away from the operation I fought so long to avoid.
Let me give you some background.
I met my wife about 10 years ago. To say it was a whirlwind romance would be an understatement. She'd practically moved in to my Manchester city centre bachelor pad by about date number three. We were engaged after four weeks, she was pregnant with our first child after five months and we were married after ten months.
Our daughter Charlotte was born and we soon said goodbye to Deansgate, Selfridges and long lies in on a Sunday. We moved to the 'burbs and spent our weekends road testing buggies or shuffling around Ikea.
For over eight years we were really happy with our one child family. Then, at the beginning of last year we both talked about the possibility of having another child. I'm 11 years older than my wife and, being in my mid-forties it was a now or never moment.
We chose now.
Within six weeks she was pregnant and we were back to road testing buggies.
Looking back, I can only really remember one occasion my wife even mentioned the word vasectomy prior to being pregnant again. It was after a dinner party, she'd had too much wine and I came into the bedroom at about 2am to find her on the phone to the NHS Helpline asking for details of the operation to be sent to us. She couldn't remember really doing it the following day so, when the brochure turned up, it went straight into the bin - never to be mentioned again. Phew, I thought, that was close.
You can then imagine my shock when, after clearing up the spat out Pinot, she was looking at me deadly serious and with that glare that all guys know of, thanks to Maggie Thatcher. This lady was not for turning.
It took a while for it to sink in to be honest. Having never thought about it much, I wasn't about to go handing my nuts over to a surgeon without some prior research.
Thank goodness for Google.
A quick search and I was bombarded with loads of vasectomy facts and figures:
‘Over 65,000 guys in the UK have the procedure done every year. The op takes 15 minutes to perform - severing and then tying or sealing the tubes of the vasdeferens to prevent sperm being ejaculated. It’s the most effective form of male contraception, with a success rate of 99.9 per cent. It’s often free on the NHS; otherwise, it costs less than £400. Whilst there is some discomfort it’s relatively pain free after a few days.’
The biggest myth - that you then actually shoot blanks, is complete rubbish. After the op, there is absolutely no change to what your semen looks like, smells like and even (allegedly) tastes like.
Armed with my beginner’s knowledge of genital surgery, I hot footed it to the GP to inform them of my chivalrous act.
That's actually not what happened at all.
My wife badgered me for about four weeks to make an appointment, then made the appointment for me, and then finally came with me to ensure that I didn't do a runner from the waiting room. Still an act of chivalry in my book eh lads?
Expecting the GP to refer me straight away was a full gone conclusion to us both so, I was a bit taken back (and overjoyed) to be told that I wouldn't be referred until after our second child was born.
On reflection, that was a really sensible decision. Just imagine if something had gone terribly wrong with the birth? Would we want to immediately try again for another baby? Who knows? We certainly didn't and, with a procedure that's pretty much irreversible, it’s not a chance I was about to take. Oh and I got a reprieve.
Perhaps, I thought, she'll just forget about it when the new baby arrives. She'll be busy doing Mummy things like going to play groups, talking to Health Visitors and taking the pill again.
No such luck. Pretty much as soon as Max, our new baby son, had reversed out of her, (yes, he was breach) she was mentioning it again.
Even the community midwife mentioned it the day after he was born. She said it was good to get these things cleared up before we started having sex again. But, as time went on it started to be mentioned more and more. Normally post-coital, lying in each other’s arms. She knows how to choose her moments.
At the beginning of May (Max was now about five months) I was back at the GP.
This time there was no escaping it. She asked quite a lot of questions about our relationship then after looking at her PC for a few seconds, informed us (yes, the wife had accompanied me there again) the waiting lists were really long at our local NHS hospitals. She would therefore refer me to a private hospital and it would be paid for by the NHS. Winner.
I received my appointment through in super quick time and was sent to a private hospital in Bolton for a pre-op consultation. I arrived, on a Saturday (that's private hospitals for you) and, after a cup of tea, was seen by a Consultant Urological Surgeon (CUS).
After a few preliminary questions about my job and home life I found myself laid on the bed, CKs and jeans round my ankles whilst the CUS ensured that my "vas were easily palpable".
Apparently they were and that was a good thing. He then counselled me about the vasectomy for quite a while and then explained the procedure. It was pretty much as I'd researched but, apparently, he cuts the vasderferens, removes a piece of them and then ties AND seals them. This guy doesn't muck about.
He talked to me about the short and long term complications such as pain, infection, bleeding, bruising, excessive time off work, chronic testicular pain (like constantly getting a football in the knackers) and the 0.01 per cent failure rate. He also talked about the difficulties of reversibility. To be honest, after going through that lot, I wouldn't want to do it all again. Not even backwards.
I thought that once the operation was completed then the job was done. Apparently not. It generally takes 3 - 6 months (or, more specifically, 22 ejaculations) to get rid of all the sperm.
He explained I’d have to go back after a month, with a small pot full of semen. This testing continues every month until you are free of all motile sperm. After a handshake and a bit of blokey chit-chat about the cricket, he agreed to list me and I waited for the appointment date like a lifer waiting to taken to the leccy chair.
And so, it came today.
My appointment is on Thursday 22 August, just before the bank holiday (or blank holiday as my oh so funny wife is now calling it) and the day after it we go and spend four days with my parents down on the South coast. Timing couldn't be worse, or better in some ways. Even though I'm 46, I'll be making the most of my predicament with my Mum. I'm still her youngest after all, because my Dad had a vasectomy just after I was born!
Look out for the second part of Mark’s vasectomy diary after his operation...
Follow Mark on Twitter @mrkbtlr