Monday, October 24, 2011

Circumcision: why we stopped doing it

I frequent message boards here on the wonderful internet.  It's great to have a place to go to vent or ask questions and get answers from other moms who have likely been there and done that.  Inevitably though topics like vaccinating, car seat safety, cloth vs sposies, and circumcision come up.  I try to stay out of the circumcision discussions aside from stating what we did with our boys and why.  Then I leave and don't go back because it's a topic I feel very passionate about.  There are topics I have opinions about and there are topics that I feel super passionate about and this is one of the latter.  I don't get a terrible amount of readers here at my little blog but it's an outlet for me anyway.  And because this is my blog and this post is about MY views on circumscision I'm going to disable comments.  Not to offend those that are actual friends/relatives but this is the internet and with a word like circumcision in it this post will be easier to find for strangers who may just like to go around spouting off about things like this.  And so disable the comments I will do.

It all started almost 6yrs ago.  We were pregnant with our first child and I just KNEW I'd have a daughter first.  After all I was the oldest and I was a girl and my husband's sister was the oldest in their family.  Yeah well he wasn't a girl. lol  We were thrilled (though shocked) to be having a boy but because we found out rather late in pregnancy that he was a boy we had things to discuss and not a lot of time.  What will we name him?  Catherine just didn't seem right.  I remember having a very short conversation with my husband after we knew he was a boy.  It went something like this:

Me: What about circumcision?  Should we do it or not?

KOJ:  Sure, why not.

Me: Ok, yeah, I mean it's what you do.

We were so lacking some serious consideration and research on the topic and so when my baby boy was born after a long and arduous labor ended c-section they took him away the day before we went home and circumcised him.  He didn't have any adhesion or other issues from this circumcision and it went as well as I suppose it could.  I do wonder in hindsight after further research if the trauma from it isn't what caused some of our breastfeeding issues.

So round two.  When we were pregnant with baby number 2 we were aiming for a home birth with a midwife, it was, statistically, the best chance I had at getting a VBAC.  The thing was that home birth midwives don't circumcise.  So we would have to pay a mohel OOP to do it.  So I started researching to see if the research could convince me that it wasn't worth the money to circumcise bebe deux.  Even though we didn't know via ultrasound what we were having, I knew in my heart of hearts he was a boy.  Not a single doubt in my mind.  So I sat down at my handy dandy computer and searched out reasons to not circumcise.  WOW.  It change my whole view of it.  When KOJ came home from work I was sobbing as I told him that we just couldn't do that to another child.  I was appalled to read that the anesthetic - when they even bother to use it (which isn't often) doesn't even begin to touch the pain.  That babies who come back to their mothers "sleeping" are actually sleeping because they are in a state of shock from the pain.  That the foreskin on a boy has half of the nerve endings of the penis.  That the reduction in risk of UTI's is so negligible I can't even believe that anyone touted it as a reason to vaccinate.  I was more than convinced.  I would NEVER do that to another son again.  I spent days bursting into tears when I would think about what I had done to Squirrel monkey. 

All of that definitely convinced me not to vaccinate any longer but what really got me was this:  This is HIS penis.  Who am *I* to decide that it is best to chop a very important half of it off??  I mean people would be appalled if I got my daughter breast implants as a baby.  It's her body.  That is for her to decide at a later time.  I have the same belief about circumcising.  It is HIS body.  If for some reason down the road they want to get circumcised then they can do it with a trained professional while under proper anesthesia.  This topic is always discussed as a parenting issue but I don't believe that it should be.  It is a human rights issue.  It is my son's human right to say whether or not he wants part of his body cut off.  My younger two sons are happily intact.  I still regret circumcising Squirrel monkey but I don't spend my days beating myself up about it.  There isn't anything I can do now.  And really his birth was the catalyst in my researching it out with #2.

Questions commonly asked:
How do you keep it clean?  This question cracks me up.  I don't understand why it would be harder to clean an intact penis than a circ'd one.  Having both in the house I can say that it isn't harder.  Actually my intact boys are more likely to play with their penis' in the shower because of the extra nerve endings there.

What about your oldest noticing that he's different? Well he's 6 and he hasn't noticed yet.  He might notice one day and I will explain to him why he looks a bit different.  The explanation actually came to my middle son.  My youngest had been retracting his foreskin to expose the part of the penis you see in a circ'd boy and my middle wanted to know why he didn't have one of those and so I had to tell him that his foreskin retracted too and he did have one in there.  Otherwise there has never been a mention of differences before (or since) and this was just a couple of weeks ago.

Won't your intact sons feel insecure/get made fun of for being different? No, because the rates of intact vs circ'd nationally are something like 30% circ'd and 70% intact.  If any of my children will feel that way it would end up being my oldest.  But aside from the national rates is the fact that I don't buy into the locker room bullying issue.  Any boy who says he was looking at someone else's penis is a lot more likely to get made fun of himself.  Plus my kids are home-schooled as we all know well so the only people they see in the "locker room" is each other.

But the bible says.... the bible tells the Isrealites - God's chosen people - to circumcise their men so they will be set apart from other people.  We are not Isrealites.  There is a verse in the new testament that says that it doesn't matter if you're circ'd or not.  Also from what I've read in my research the circumcision of the old testament times was VERY different and less invasive than the circumcision of our day.  My family and I are saved by grace, not by deeds.  Praise God.

Don't take my views or opinion or word for it.  Research it for yourself.  Research it WITH your husbands.  I hear it all the time "My husband prefers we circumcise and since he has one I defer to him."  That doesn't make any sense to me.  I understand biblical submission if an agreement on the subject can't be reached but to defer to him over an issue that in my very strong opinion shouldn't even be something that parents have the right to decide over just seems silly.  Especially if the husband refuses to even research it and just wants it done because he is.  Again how often are your grown sons going to be comparing their penis to your husbands?  I hope never.  But maybe I'm naive.