Circumcision Decision

When I found out I was pregnant with a boy, I knew I had to face the dreaded circumcision decision. My husband is circumcised but mainly because the doctors didn’t ask his parents, they just did it back in the early 1970’s. His dad said he wouldn’t have made that decision because he is from a country where circumcision is not routine.

Now, I’m going to be totally frank, because I’m hoping I can help other moms make this decision, so I’m straight up warning you that some of this may be TMI. I’m not going to talk about studies, and give you links because this is about my personal dilemma and the decision we made, and how I feel about it. This is not a research paper to argue the fine points of either side of the debate.

I always assumed I would circumcise because the pictures I’ve seen of uncircumcised ones looked yucky. I was used to the way a circumcised one looks, although I’ve only ever seen two in person: my husband’s, and my infant nephew’s. I read all the studies, pro-circumcision and anti-circumcision. I wanted to believe the pro-circ stuff: lower rate of AIDS. That was a biggie. I conveniently ignored the fact that we have running water and fairly fanatical hygiene here. I told myself, no girl will want to give him oral sex if it’s uncircumcised, but women I talked with at work scoffed at me. They said it wasn’t a big deal. I also thought I was weird to even think about his sex life. If I really wanted to think about it, wouldn’t I read the reports that sex is better uncircumcised?

I read accounts from men who were circumcised as adults. The only problem is they were circumcised for one of two reasons: They were ashamed of the way it looked or there was a medical necessity. Of course both sets would say sex was better. The first set no longer felt ashamed, and the second set had perhaps removed a too-tight foreskin. So not really reliable sources. I pushed those on my husband, though. There were many more sites of men who wished they were intact, and once it’s cut, it can’t be put back.

Although throughout the years, when we had this discussion before, my husband was for circumcision in a loose manner, he was now firm that he didn’t want to circumcise. He was extreme, I thought. He called it Male Genital Mutilation and said he wouldn’t consent to a cosmetic procedure on a newborn. I was angry and upset. I even thought about telling them to do it anyway, and then telling my husband it was a mistake. Then I thought if he knew I went against his wishes, there would be an imminent divorce. I couldn’t betray him in that way, but I was quite illogical. If I admitted it to myself, I really wanted the circumcision for the main reason that I thought a circumcised penis was better looking.

So we didn’t circumcise, so what I didn’t have to do was watch them hold my baby down and cut into his penis. I didn’t have to watch him pass out from the trauma (which I’ve read happens, even with pain killers!), I didn’t have to dose him with Tylenol or Motrin within his first two weeks of life. I didn’t have to rub a healing wound with Vaseline to keep it from sticking to the diapers. I didn’t have to worry about re-opening the wound. I didn’t have to worry about possible infection of the wound. I didn’t have to worry about somehow hurting it when I wiped all the meconium off of him. Then I thought, Hell Yeah! This was a great decision.

Now I’m a Lazy Mom. I breastfeed because I hate getting up to make bottles. I co-sleep so I don’t have to wake up and nurse a baby in a chair and then work to put the baby back down. I also co-sleep because I never have to Ferberize or CIO or whatever other methods are used to get a baby to sleep in a crib. I breastfeed because when we travel, I don’t have to work to sterilize bottles and bring formula and clean water. I like to take the easy road (or at least easy to me). So this non-circumcision thing was working really well. I didn’t have to do any work! Woo Hoo! I didn’t even have to worry about keeping it clean, because for the first two years, the foreskin is attached to the penis completely and can’t and shouldn’t be pulled back. Possibly up to five years! Even better! according to what I’ve read recently, the foreskin shouldn’t be retracted until age 10 or older, so it’s just normal washing for a long time!  And even then, it only needs a minor washing–no scrubbing! (corrected on 1/20/10)

And then, he just needs to be taught to pull it back when he takes a bath or shower to gently clean. Nothing special.

In conclusion, I am so happy we made the decision to not circumcise. He always can do it when he’s older if he wants to, but I’m glad I didn’t have a cosmetic procedure done on my baby. If I wanted to do that, I might as well Botox my girls to keep them from getting wrinkles later in life.

I also think it’s adorable. Because I’m used to how a circumcised penis looks, his little intact one is adorable. It’s completely non-sexual looking. It reminds me of the old Renaissance paintings and statues and old fountains. I’m sure he’ll hate me for describing it as adorable, but I’m anonymous for a reason. 😉 I hope this helped you if you are conflicted as I was. I’m going to leave you with one link.

Here is one quote I got from a pro-intact post at http://arch1design.com/blog.?=4956 on decisions:

“All truth goes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Then it is violently opposed. Finally, it is accepted as self-evident” Arthur Schoepenhauer

That was me: first I ridiculed my husband for his “extremist” views on Male Genital Mutilation. Then I was very upset when he was firm in not wanting to circumcise. Now, I think, “how did I ever think circumcision was okay?”

Good Luck.

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “Circumcision Decision

  1. Mothering magazine (Mothering.com) has stats that say the average age for a boy to reach total retraction is *around* 9 or 10 years of age. No need to worry if he’s retractable or not… he’ll figure it out for himself; just like I did. 34 years later [knock on wood], not a single problem and I wouldn’t trade my foreskin for a million dollars!

    Also “Top Ten (10) Ways Circumcised Male Sex Hurts Women”:
    http://www.sexasnatureintendedit.com/

    So men lose, women lose. Circumcising is a lose-lose situation.

  2. Good for you. Your son should appreciate that you left him intact. Many young men who were circumcised at birth are finding out that their circumcision has no benefits and are upset with their parents for having them cut. You can add that to your list of things you will never have to worry about.

  3. Great and honest post 🙂 I’ve done a few blogs on circ too (to a surprising amount of controversy!)

  4. Mikael M.

    Your choice not to circ your son is admirable. I wish my grandmother had made the same decision. Everyday I wish I still had my foreskin! There are no benefits to being circumcised only negative comsiquences.

  5. NOCIRC has some good pamphlets on the care of male genitals, both circumcised and intact.
    http://www.nocirc.org/publish/

    The pamphlets are a great resource because we cannot rely on health care professionals to know everything about the penis.

  6. For the benefit of women in women in your position who have never seen an intact penis (and young intact men in circumcising cultures who feel isolated) there’s a gallery of pictures, NSFW but not porn, at http://www.circumsitions.com/Gallery1.html

    What changed your husband’s mind?

  7. joel

    Thank you for being HONEST, and sharing such a personal story with us.

    I really do hope expecting parents will read it and realize that it isn’t something they really want for their children.

    Please keep speaking out about this practice. Not all parents get the chance to question the practice before being pressured into it by family/doctors/etc.

    I think its worth noting that an intact penis can look virtually identical to a circumcised penis when the foreskin is pulled back (only with a head that hasn’t been dried out, and without a scar)… the intact penis is a bit like a transformer, its has more than one look.

    I think your comment is valid though, because an infants penis is supposed to look non-sexual. Mothers don’t need to look at the head of their son’s penis every time they clean and bathe them. A father doesn’t need to peer into the vagina or look directly at the clitoris of his daughter either. Thats why those sexual body parts come with covers. To keep them private.

    🙂

  8. I was against circumcision, an, in fact, most Pediatric Associations don’t even recommend it anymore. That said, I decided to leave the decision up to my husband and not make a big deal out of it. I figured he could also book the appointment, pay the bill etc… well it never happened and my husband has decided that it is in fact not necessary! Goes to how, sometimes, you let things unfold and it all works out.

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