I have a mate with four children under the age of seven. Four! Two were planned, one was a semi-surprise - conceived in the sleepless haze of caring for the first two - and, the last, was something of miracle birth; neither he or his wife can even remember having had sex ...
"My family is like wire coat-hangers," he said to me, "you leave two in the closet, you open it up a week later, there's five of them. It seems like every time my wife and I are in a room together naked we get pregnant."
Notice the use of the royal "we"? It's certainly not because my friend is up himself, just that he fully understands he and his wife are on a beautiful journey together.
He adores his children.
"But one more? Five kids? That would be insane," he said, "we can't even take the chance, unless we want to live in a cave and home school the lot of them," he said.
So, he got "the snip" last month.
Chances are if you're male and over 40, you've had the snip as well or know someone who has.
I didn't realise until I started ahh ... researching this post that Australia is considered "the vasectomy capital of the world" with "one in three Aussie men aged in their 40s and 50s" having gone under the knife.
"It's due to some fairly good education and some assertive Australian women," says Jill Michelson, general manager operations at family planning charity Marie Stopes, "we're fortunate Australian men are becoming responsible husbands."
Assertive women. Mass steilisations of men. Responsibility equated with submission. Sounds a little Orwellian, but if you're like my friend, it's just common sense.
Now he and his wife can root for Australia and not worry about having to move house. Again.
Reader Trent Tino was in a similiar situation and also recently had the snip. It certainly made an impression. If you've ever wondered what goes down down there during the operation, read on as he recounts his experience.
It went a bit like this.
I got the call on a Tuesday I'd be booked in for the Thursday at 12 pm. I was the final one for the day and they were saving me for last because I was not having the twilight sedation.
I wasn't having the twilight sedation because I am in the super heavy-weight fighter division. They were worried I might be too hard to move if I was drugged and it'd also take a lot of anaesthetic to get me to the twilight sedation phase. What was on offer was a Penthrox inhaler – also known as the green whistle. A little research revealed that it did nothing for pain but relieved anxiety. (You're f---ing joking?)
10.30am Tuesday arrived and my wife, Danielle, ushered me into the car with a bit too much enthusiasm. We got down to the clinic about 11.30 and in we went. The receptionist even said "wow you're keen; nice and early!"
I looked at her doubtfully and she turned to Danielle with a cheeky woman-to-woman grin and said "Well, you're keen."
I was given some paperwork and paid for the local. That cost $520 which brought the total bill to $805. $110 for the initial consultation, $175 for the surgery and $520 for the local anaesthetic. That's when I discovered the 'local' was a needle to the balls.
The green whistle for anxiety suddenly made sense.
I have heard that in extreme circumstances, the body releases the bladder as a protection mechanism. I didn't want this to happen on the operating table, so I headed to the bathroom to splash the boots and have one final motivational chat with myself.
We stood there and stared at each other.
Words weren't needed. We both knew it was half time, the 12th round, the 4th quarter. We had come so far together; puberty, virginity, marriage, children, family and now ... this.
I opened the door and walked down the corridor towards the waiting room, when "she" called my name.
"Are you Trent?"
"She" was the surgeon; a smiling woman with a knowing look on her face.
She'd seen this movie a thousand times.
"Yes," I said.
I took a seat while she confirmed I was getting the green whistle, how long the procedure would take and if I was nervous?
"No," I lied.
I said I was as nervous as I would be seeing the dentist. Bad example. You go to the dentist knowing you'll get drilled and filled. You walk out satisfied, your problem is fixed.
Fixed - there was that word again.
With a final click of her pen, the doc told me to take off everything except for my shirt. I put on a 'sarong' that was more like a thigh high green surgical curtain for the penis and balls show, then headed next door.
An operating room: Bright lights, smell of disinfectant, green smocks topped by smiling faces, all of them women. The surgeon, nurse and anaesthetist.
"Great," I thought, "hope they understand the protective mechanisms of the penis."
I like to call mine "the duck and duck again." We both knew what was coming.
I laid on the bed. On the ceiling was a pretty laminated poster, a map of the world.
"F--- me, just like at the dentist too," I thought. Thanks to my dentist I can recount every Australian native mammal. Next up, countries bordering Russia.
There was some chit chat while the anaesthetist got a drip line in my arm "just in case". I tried to relax and sucked on the green whistle, every breath making me giddy.
The surgeon started searching for my 'vas tubes'. This was somewhat uncomfortable – like when you knock a testicle and wait for the pain to kick in. I was sucking on the tube as hard as I could when the nurse said "Ahh Trent, we haven't started yet".
I laughed a little crazily and laid off the green whistle.
"Here we go," said the surgeon and the anaesthetist placed a drip line in my hand.
The local (remember, needle to the balls) was a slight pinch. The drip line was excruciating. The anaesthetist said she must have hit a nerve going in.
Metal tools clinked on a tray and I got back on the green whistle. That stuff is great, by the way. It's like half a carton of bourbon and cokes in a tube, except when you get to that 'I've had too much to drink' feeling, you just give it a minute, you come around, then away you go again.
We all chatted.
At one point the nurse asked me if anyone had told me I look like Shane Jacobson. She wasn't in my line of sight, so I'm still not sure if she meant my sack looks like Shane's. I wonder if he's had the snip?
I heard the call "one down, one to go" after about ten minutes and the surgeon went in for the second vas tube. I got that awkward painful knock feeling again and went like hell on the whistle. The doc noticed, I felt another pinch (more local) and immediately relaxed.
Ten more minutes and I was done. The anaesthetist asked me for the green whistle back, I didn't want to give it to her. A final blood pressure check and I sat up, somewhat giddy and headed down the corridor to the recovery room where I put my clothes on, my feet up and necked some panadol.
The nurse told me to wait 30 minutes before being taken home by the wife and reminded me incessantly that ice would be my friend over the next 48 hours.
"Even if you feel you don't need it, keep it on there," she said.
Bloody good advice.