My husband and I did not know whether or not our first child was a boy or a girl. When I was six months pregnant, we moved to Bermuda and encountered a brand new health care system. After finding our obstetrician (only two on the island!), I set off to find my child’s pediatrician. Dr. Steve was an instant hit with me because he armed me with a ton of information to mull over the final trimester of pregnancy. One of the decisions my husband and I had to make was this: if we had a boy, would we circumcise him? Little did we know that this decision was going to cause a lot of ‘interesting’ discussion.
This was 14 years ago, so the internet was around, but I still had dial-up. That gives you a bit of perspective. Additionally, there wasn’t the massive amount of health information on the web like there is today. Thankfully, Dr. Steve armed me with both the pros and the cons of circumcision so I could discuss it with the only ball and penis-bearing person in my household, my husband Chris. My old dog Reilly had a penis but we cut those balls off three years earlier.
Dr. Steve was definitely against circumcision. In Bermuda, it isn’t done in the hospital by the ob/gyne, but by a pediatrician about a week after the kid was born. Additionally, there was only one doctor on the whole island that was willing to do it — Dr. Steve was NOT that guy. Two years later, Dr Snip became my neighbor, and let me say he was an odd duck
So I presented my husband with the pros and cons of circumcision. I told him that as a woman, I had the opinion that the procedure was unnecessary. However, I was going to leave the decision to him because he had a penis and I did not. We read over the information together and he mulled it over. At the time the American Academy of Pediatrics had a policy statement that it was not medically necessary and had limited medical benefits – primarily in the reduction of a very rare penile cancer. (The AAP has updated their stand in this policy paper written by the Circumcision Task Force.)
My husband read that guys who were ‘intact’ (code word for uncircumcised) reportedly had a bigger orgasm bang than their snipped peers. This information was not provided by Dr. Steve but by our slow dial-up service in an Alta-Vista or AskJeeves search. That sealed the deal for him. If we were to have a son, no snip for him. Fast forward three months, and we had a baby girl named Katie. We repeated that whole process 18 months later and had another baby girl, Megan. Fast forward 15 more months and we had our son Patch.
Patch was born at NYU Hospital despite living in Bermuda due to complications. My OB asked me if he was to be circumcised. After double checking with my husband, I said no snip. Here is where it got interesting. My husband is one of four boys in his family. When my mother and father-in-law came to see their first grandson, my MIL expressed shock and awe that baby Patch had his foreskin. My husband explained his decision-making process to them and they were not pleased. “He would be teased in the locker room,” they claimed. My husband told them that circumcision rates were going way down now and that he would not be unique. “What if he wants to join the Army?” they cried. My husband laughed and said that DADT was allowing gays in the military now. Perhaps our son’s foreskin wouldn’t be asked about and he wouldn’t have to disclose it.
Comments like these continued for two years when they came to visit. When Patch needed a tonsillectomy on his 2nd birthday, my mother in law called me and said we ‘now had the opportunity to right the wrong we did’ with regards to not circumcising him as he was going to be put under anesthesia for his surgery. Finally I reached the end of my rope. I told my husband to stop being such a weenie (snicker) and tell his parents once and for all this was not a subject that we were interested in discussing anymore. How judgmental!
Personally, I think my husband made the right decision for our son. I do respect others for making different ones however. There are many valid reasons to circumcising your son. Certainly there are cultural issues that should be considered, especially if it is a religious rite of passage. There are even health reasons to do it, but the evidence isn’t all that clear or convincing to me. What I find fascinating is the intolerance I felt with my in-laws is matched by the militant anti-snip crowd.
If you Google ‘circumcision’, first be sure you have safe search image on. After that you can find a whole lot of really really opinionated websites on the matter. Mothers Against Circ claims that US circumcision rate is down to 32%. Hmm. Doctors Against Circumcision have a Genital Integrity Policy Paper. Ok. Forgen is a not-for-profit working at negotiating with research institutes in the field of regenerative medicine to promote dermal regeneration for the genitally injured. The organization Jews Against Circumcision is supporting a ballot measure in San Francisco banning circumcision.
However my personal favorite is Saving Our Son’s Male Genital Mutilation Memorial. There you can have your name, or your son’s, put on a sidewalk chalk memorial lamenting the fact that you do not have foreskin or your failed to protect your son from genital mutilation.
I just signed up my in-laws for all of these organizations’ email newsletters. That’ll show them.