Alternate Title: Beware the Tiger’s Milk!
My wife has pooped out three babies in just over three years.
Before all that, I would have said that any man who got a vasectomy was a lesser man. By definition, a less virile man. Kind of a pussy.
I used to say things like, “There is no way anybody’s taking a blade to my balls,” or “Give me my testicles or give me death.”
In hindsight, you only hear that kind of shit from a man with no children.
In 2013 my wife bore our first child, a son … first of name, first of blood. I thought a great deal of it. I even sang to him sometimes while putting him to sleep. I would throw away the last ounce or so of milk if there was a bit at the bottom of a bottle. It could go bad and make him sick.
In 2015 my wife bore a daughter. While I secretly hoped for a son before the first baby, I couldn’t have cared less what this second offspring was by the time he, she or it popped out … just so long as it was healthy. It was a girl, and the nurses all said she was “linda.” To me she looked the same as the boy did. To me they all look the same.
By that time my son – first of name, first of blood – had already grown large enough to be imitating me, one night bodyweight squats. Chip off the old block, he is.
So I almost ignored the daughter for several months there, but the girls creep up on you. Just when you’re thinking, “What the hell am I going to do with a girl?”, the way they smile at you when you’re changing or diaper or feeding her melts your heart. It’s a different kind of connection, I dare say “romantic.” And I couldn’t imagine life without a little girl.
But with a second child you get a little less strict with your parenting norms. An ounce of breast milk left in last night’s bottle? Hell no, I’m not throwing that away. Just dump it on top of the bottle in the freezer, it’ll be fine. Oh, it’s vaccine time again? You go without me, my love, let me know how it goes.
Needless to say my singing days were over. In fact I would just prop the milk bottle up with a pillow and leave her to fall asleep on her own, and the AAP can go jump in a lake.
I brought the daughter and company back to the States to meet the gringo fam in May 2016. We stayed a month. On the way back to the airport, we ate at Bandanas as per our new tradition so wife could have her beloved ribs one last time, her favorite dish on the planet. She likes ribs better than my all-world favorite, ceviche. She likes American food, I like Peruvian, go figure.
But she didn’t finish her ribs. She ralphed in the bathroom.
I didn’t think anything of it. After all, she just gave birth a few months prior, and we had been traveling internationally. Her system was still getting adjusted.
Back in Lima she got a little nauseous during a romantic dinner at El Bambino, one of those unbelievably underrated neighborhood spots which isn’t too expensive but qualifies for a nice dinner out. She didn’t put a dent in her lasagna.
She suggested she might be pregnant again, just five months after giving birth. I ran to the Inka Farma a block away. When I got back she had decided she would not be eating any of her lasagna. We boxed it up along with my lomo fino-stuffed spinach tortellini in bolognese sauce, paid and went home.
She tested positive. In 2017 she gave birth to our third child — just 14 months after the second child.
I had skipped every prenatal appointment I could get away with. I tried to get out of the one where we learn the sex, but no dice. This third child, who I sometimes call “La Accidente” as it turned out to be a female, gets no singing. She doesn’t get new clothes either, we have an absolute shitload of perfectly fine clothes from her older sister.
Thank God we didn’t throw away the crib. I had to put that back together.
Looking at how the crib fits next to the bed in our room, I realize that the same pad I chose when we were family of four may not be ideal for five. And I’m thinking, whoa … this shit adds up quick. We can’t have any more children for a while.
Having a second child increases the workload by more than 100%. That’s because the wife does almost everything for the first child. I didn’t change a diaper until the boy was like two months old. With the arrival of the second, however, you’re going from maybe a 20-80 split of one child’s workload to 40-60 of two. It’s an exponential increase, as I explain to the fellas.
For the third one I already knew all the moves, but the sheer volume of work is dizzying. It’s chaos all day, every day. The tasks never stop: diapers, baths, change clothes, brush teeth, give the baby her gruel, make the boy a sandwich. STOP!
Having shacked up in 2011 and married in 2012, I still haven’t felt a deep yearning for freedom. And I still didn’t want freedom from my existing family per se. I didn’t want OUT, I didn’t fantasize about disappearing altogether. I just wanted no more children. I really need it to stop. Just so I can catch my breath. I can’t have another one, there’s no more room in the damn house. I started getting panic attacks about wife getting knocked up again.
I don’t miss freedom in the sense of what you would think a married man would miss. I miss my napskis. I miss the freedom to take a napski after lunch.
With three small children, two of them babies, you never know when one is going to need a diaper change, or the boy needs his butt wiped. Just when you think it’s safe to lie down for a snooze, you hear your wife calling from across the house, “DAH-dee …” do this or do that.
Or there’s nothing to do and you go to take a napski, but wife has put the sleeping newborn in the crib next to our bed. If I doze off there, I could be prematurely woken at any moment by a crying baby. Or even better, wife puts the sleeping newborn in the crib DURING my napski, and the baby starts screaming the moment she leaves the room.
So sometimes I’ll sneak a napski in the children’s bedroom, on a child’s twin bed, but that comes with its own pitfalls. They might come in and decide to start jumping. Or their mother may come in looking for something and ask me stupid questions like, “¿No vas a trabajar?”
Thinking about sleep, I started longing for continuous sleep, sometimes called “sleeping through the night.” I don’t know the last time I’ve slept through the night. Either the baby or the one-year-old needs diaper and/or milk, or sometimes the boy or the older daughter will wake up at 1 a.m. or 3 a.m. wanting to watch TV.
There are a million and one possible interruptions to a night’s sleep, and at least one of them happens every single night. Usually two interruptions. Sometimes it’s two brief interruptions plus a long interruption sitting in front of Thomas and Friends from 3 a.m. to 5 a.m.
Don’t get me wrong, I get at least eight hours every day. Being self-employed I can make it happen come hell or high water. But I miss my continuous sleep, and I miss the freedom to take a nap when and where I want.
I’ve been changing diapers for over four years now. Just as the boy was out of diapers, we added another baby. It’s not so much the buying of diapers that bothers me as the changing of diapers.
So I swallowed my masculinity and scheduled an appointment with the urologist to inquire about vasectomies. The dude told me it could be done this week, for about $500 all said and done.
I told him upfront that I don’t do pain. I don’t like it all. I want drugs. Hard drugs.
The doc said he could get me that. So far so good, I explained, but you realize that I weigh 105 kilos. That makes me about 50% larger than your average Peruvian. And I may have 50% less tolerance for pain, so I expect the double dosage of what you normally give. He said he would take my weight into account when prescribing my painkiller.
And so I did it, I got snipped. I was limping around for a few weeks, but the doc gave me a script for 15 Tramadol pills so I was happy (he said he normally writes for only 10). I found that Peruvian pharmacies don’t take the script away after filling it. So I filled it at every pharmacy in the neighborhood. I was high on smack pills for a good couple weeks, which were warranted because I’d say as a witness to both that the wife giving natural childbirth might reach 45% of the pain in a man’s vasectomy, but more like 40%. It’s that bad, believe me.
Then I had enough pills left to go on the nod for another week or so after the pain was gone. I was giving 10-packs away like candy to gringos who came over to drink.
So anyway, I should theoretically be shooting blanks, but I haven’t done the sperm count checkup where they confirm whether the surgery worked. There were a worrisome couple months after my sac healed and I learned that some swimmies are still alive post-surgery. It takes a few months to flush the live ammo.
One night during that time, wife threw her lunch up on the living room floor. I immediately left her with all three children to run to the pharmacy for a pregnancy test.
“Go to the bathroom now, or shall I serve you a liter of water?” I said, thrusting the pregnancy test into her hand.
“I’m not pregnant,” she said in English. “I am bleeding.”
Oh shit. She’s bleeding and we’re about at the four-month point for my swimmies to be dead dead dead. I just wasted 15 soles on a pregnancy test, HALLELUJAH!
Wife had made homemade ceviche that day for lunch. That occurred to me before buying the test, but I didn’t get sick and I ate twice what she did, and drank the tiger’s milk. So I ruled out the ceviche.
But now it occurred to me that I was just back from training in the park before lunch, and my ceviche sat in lime juice for 20 minutes as I showered. Being a good Peruvian, she would’ve eaten her own “bien crudo,” as soon as the fish was under lime.
That’s not a problem at the cevicheria where they know what they’re doing. But I know my wife would have bought the fish at the commoners’ market (read “mad animal proteins with little to no refrigeration”). The fish are spread out for sale on slabs. I imagined she bought a fish that had been at room temperature for hours, if not a day or so, before bringing it home and making ceviche.
But at least she’s not pregnant.
After we figured out what happened, she said she forgot what a period felt like. It was very painful. It had been at least two years, maybe four, since she had a period. And I swear to God, this … “I miss being pregnant.”
Moral of the Story
I was feeling a little cognitive dissonance after the vasectomy, a permanent operation. I don’t want more children now, but who’s to say what we’ll want in, say, five or 10 years when we’re more stable and all three are in school? I started to wonder if I did the selfish thing. Would God disapprove?
So the moral of the story is this: nothing will do away with your post-op cognitive dissonance like a fuckin pregnancy scare.
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