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the day I defused my population bomb

November 8, 2011

In 1968 Paul Ehrlich and his wife Anne (who received no credit) published The 

Population Bomb, which predicted imminent mass starvation and major social

upheaval due to overpopulation.  Some of the Ehrlichs’ math proved to be off, but

their main points were valid.  My first wife Suzy and I, pleased with the two kids

we had and with no way to return them, decided to stop populating.


There was a doctor in Chanute, Kansas, who did vasectomies in his office.  Chanute

is about 50 miles from where I worked at an adolescent group home.  Suzy and I

scheduled an appointment.  Dr. Baker required an interview with the husband and

wife to ensure that neither was being pressured by the other.


We were both fine with the idea, although my mother wasn’t keen on it.  She’d come

from a large farm family, and had lost a sister when they were both children.  How

would we replace Chris or Meghon if something happened to them, she wondered.

We pointed out that they were irreplaceable.  Maybe we’d adopt.  I don’t think that

satisfied her.


Nevertheless, I set out on an early spring Saturday with Bill, one of the older boys

at the home.  Suzy stayed home with our kids, but she’d done her part.  The night

before she prepped me by shaving my bikini area, constantly reminding me how

I teased her when she was prepped for childbirth.  Genital payback is the worst.


Bill drove because  I had to have a ride there and back.  I took a sedative an hour

before the operation, and I’d be groggy on the return home.  We chatted amiably

on the way over.  I kept expecting the dose to kick in, but it didn’t until we were

just inside the Chanute city limits.  Bill woke me up at the doctor’s office.


It took about 15 minutes.  It was painless until the doctor had to dig around a bit to

find my second vas deferens.  Once he did, he clipped it and was outta there.  As best

I remember my post-op instructions, he said to continue using contraception for

“six weeks or six ejaculations, whichever comes first.”  I love medical humour. 


As Bill and I were leaving the office, Dr. Baker said “oh, by the way, your scrotum

will turn black for awhile.”  Bill found this immensely amusing, sharing it with the

other kids at the home.  Even though I was forewarned, it was quite a fright to wake 

up with an ebony ball bag the next day.


I still have the receipt for the surgery.  It was the wisest $125 I ever spent.  When 

Suzy and I divorced and I started dating again, I carried it in my wallet.  I needed

every advantage I could get.  I even considered making counterfeit vasectomy         

receipts, but then remembered that fundamentally I’m an ethical person.


This year I celebrated the 40th anniversary of my operation.  Forty child-free

years.  I’m sure that Dr. Baker did it right, but it’s always bugged me that he did

it on April Fools’ Day.       

  1. Gordon Raley permalink
    November 8, 2011 1:42 pm

    Appropriate considering that the world population hit 7 billion on October 31 (should it bother us that that was Halloween)…but who’s counting?

    • November 8, 2011 7:40 pm

      I hadn’t considered that angle, Gordie. When will we get some adult leadership?

  2. Charlotte Wales permalink
    November 8, 2011 3:55 pm

    Made me laugh, really laugh, Allen! And for your info, I had myself “spayed” as well, at age 40; a simple tubal ligation, easy-breezy!! So, no surprises for me, after having two sons, 15 years apart. It’s been a pleasure to have those years with each of them separately; and even though there’s 15 years difference, they’re very close. I always worried a lot about having only 1 child; I couldn’t have borne losing Dallas, so when I became pregnant with Cody at age 36, it was a big relief, strange as that sounds. Parenting is always a real trip, eh?

    • November 8, 2011 7:42 pm

      Parenting is by far the toughest thing I’ve ever done. Not even the Marines and the war prepared me enough for the challenge.

  3. November 9, 2011 4:52 am

    I got set up on a blind date once – and my blind date offered to show me his vasectomy scars. It might have been a whole lot less uncomfortable had he just shown me the receipt. For the record – that date was over at that very moment and we didn’t go out again. Which was totally unlike me, at that point in time, to take the higher moral ground.

    • November 9, 2011 3:58 pm

      That was you?

      • Anonymous permalink
        November 11, 2011 10:42 am

        I thought you looked familiar!!! 😉

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