I looked down at my two day old son and see nothing but perfection. Granted, every parent probably did this. From his tiny fingers to his tiny toes, I wished I could freeze time and live within this moment forever. His eyes were as blue as the ocean and his thick hair came out a strawberry blond. Hair grew on his ear lobes as if he were a little old man. I wondered to myself how long the hair would be there. No matter how silly or different this trait may be, he was beautiful and perfect.
“Are you circumcising?” asked the nurse.
She had my birth plan in her hand. She already knew that answer.
My husband and I interviewed various pediatricians and our OB-GYN, along with our doula and a few midwifes their medical opinion. We read numerous articles from medical journals on the pros and cons of circumcision. We even went as far as to look on a few medical school websites, (one in which actually had a video of the procedure that people could watch). I didn’t know until I discovered the sex of my baby I had the right as a parent to choose. I just thought it was something the doctor did automatically to baby boys when they were born.
All of the doctors, midwifes, and doula said the same thing when we asked their medical opinion. Some quoted statistics from the American Academy of Pediatrics website. Some explained the procedure and its history. All came to the same consensus: it was a parental decision and there was no proof that it would prevent sexually transmitted diseases, prevent urinary tract infections in males, cure penis cancer, get more women, etc. It was also stated that there was insufficient data to actually prove that the removal of the foreskin even helped anything. The words, “could possibly or maybe”, weren’t proof of anything to me.
Circumcision is only really performed in a few countries, (the United States being one of them). My OB-GYN, whom would have performed the procedure, stated that about only half of the baby boys that she delivers have the procedure done and that it’s not as common as some think. Another thing that she mentioned during our conversation was that the procedure was considered a “plastic surgery” because that’s what it is: not medically necessary. Would I put my son through a nose reconstruction because I didn’t like the way that it looked right after he was born? He wouldn’t remember what it had looked like before and wouldn’t remember the pain of the operation because he would be a baby when he had the surgery. Of course I wouldn’t do that, but what about this surgery?
For my husband and me the choice was clear; we weren’t going to make it. We felt that our son was the only one that had the right to choose. If later in life he chooses to get circumcised, we will of course support that decision. His penis, (all penises for that matter), are one of the most sensitive parts of the human body. The foreskin is super sensitive and full of countless nerve endings. Some doctors circumcise without the use of anesthesia. Our pediatrician said as long as he is taught how to clean himself properly just as any boy should and practices safe sex, (like everyone should), he won’t have any problems.
Some are concerned about the social and psychological aspect of not getting circumcised. What happens when he realizes his penis is different than his dad’s? What happens when other boys make fun of him in the locker room after sneaking a peek of him? What happens when the woman he loves doesn’t want to be with him because his penis isn’t “cut”?
Every penis looks different, regardless if they are circumcised or uncircumcised. If other boys are staring at his penis in the locker room and make fun of him, then they are the ones with the issues. From zits to high pitched voices, boys will pick on each other regardless, (which is the cruel and sometimes embarrassing experience of being young). You teach them how to be confident in themselves regardless of what other people say. If a woman doesn’t love or want to be intimate with my son because he’s uncircumcised, she’s the one missing out on being with a wonderful person. As a mother, I wouldn’t want him with her anyway because she does not love him for who he is.
All of this aside, I’m not judging people that have or plan to circumcise their son. It is a parental choice and preference. However, I do recommend researching the decision from all sides of the issue prior to the day you give birth. Ask medical professionals, midwifes, doulas, and other birthing professionals. If you’re feeling darning enough, look at pictures or videos off of medical websites about how the procedure is done. Even visit websites, such as http://www.intactamerica.org/. Become informed, and then make the decision that you, as a parent, feel that’s right for your son. You do, however, have the right to say “no” if that’s what you choose.
Going back to that moment when the nurse asked me if we were circumcising, I sat there and just stared at my son, lying so peacefully in my arms. Then, I looked back at her.
“We’re not changing our mind. He’s perfect the way that he is: whole and intact. Keep away from the penis.”