To cut or not to cut

(Note: This isn’t meant to change any one’s mind.  I think this issue is personal.  I really don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer.  This is just to say what happened in our family and why we decided what we did. )

We really believed Tornado E would be a girl.  The Husband was sure.  My mom was sure.  Heck, even my dad dreamed of a baby girl.  But somewhere in the third trimester, The Husband thought it would be prudent if we discussed circumcision.  Don’t you hate when your husband is right?

I had a lot of information under my belt.  I knew the religious, social, and cultural reasons for circumcision.  I even had to research the historical beginnings for several papers.  (In case you’re wondering, it began in ancient Egypt for boys at 12 to prove they bled into manhood like girls bled into womanhood.)  I even listened for several, several, several hours to a guy I knew who was against the whole thing.  He personally felt that because of his that his sex wasn’t nearly as good, but I’ll guarantee you that it didn’t ruin his sex life one bit.  In my sexpert research, many claimed that an uncircumcised man enjoyed sex better and so did his partner.  Unfortunately any girls I knew who could give me a personal account used condoms, which defeated the point.

The Husband had his own experiences.  He knew a guy who wasn’t circumcised.  After being married for a couple years, his wife made him get a circumcision because she thought his penis was gross.  It’s a painful procedure that lays a guy up longer than a vasectomy.  The sick part was his wife still divorced him less than a year after the procedure.

But I agreed that we should research it all.  We dove into it.  I taught The Husband how to search for qualified research.  For every article we found that supported circumcision, we found another against it.  Every time we decided we wouldn’t do it, we found evidence to change our mind.

The Husband: Well, read this one.

Me:  Hmm.  Yeah, but read this one.

The Husband: Hmmm.

Me: Would you be worried if he didn’t look like you?

The Husband: No, not all.  But what if girls don’t want to get near him because of it?

Me: Do we want him around girls that would take issue with his penis?

The Husband: No.  You’re right we don’t.

Me: This article says the foreskin is important for lubrication.

The Husband:  And this article says that circumcised men have a slightly lower chance of STDS.

Me: This sucks.

The Husband: Yes.  It does.

By the next OB/GYN appointment, we were both confused and still wondering what to do.

The Doc: So, any questions?

The Husband: Actually, we have one.

The Doc: (light up since we’re probably the only first time parents without questions) Yes?

The Husband: Fae and I have been debating circumcision, but everything we find just negates everything else.  We can’t see the difference.  What’s your opinion?

The Doc: Hmmm.  (He took a minute.)  It’s all a personal choice.  I don’t want to sway you.  But if you’re unsure, then the medical evidence does support that a male with a circumcised penis has a slightly less chance of getting an STD.  It’s so slight that if you didn’t want your son circumcised, I wouldn’t worry about it.  But if you wanted the extra evidence to make a decision, that’s the medical stance.

The Husband and I: Thank you.

As we left in the car, The Husband and I agreed that a slight less chance of STD was better than none.  Of course, my mom weighed in, saying she got my brothers circumcised because she didn’t know how she was going to teach and be sure a ten-year-old’s penis was clean.

So when Tornado E was born and in the hospital, I got to know the staff and rooms very well.  Including nursing in the circumcision room, which is scary with all its boards and straps.  I asked the nurses, who assured me that the babies were given pain medication, that the straps were tight but not uncomfortable, that the procedure was quick and nearly painless after the meds.  I was reassured.  Except Tornado E didn’t get his done in the hospital because of his meds.  I had to take him to the doctor’s office a few days after they took out his IV.

My mom and I arrived at the OB/GYN with Tornado E on a Friday for an appointment right before lunch.  I helped get Tornado E ready, and then they shooed me out of the room to wait with my mom.  A few minutes later the nurse came back with a screaming Tornado E.  A screaming, hurt Tornado E.  What did I do?  I let them hurt my baby!  I grabbed Tornado E from the nurse’s arms and started crying too.  My mom started crying because I was crying.

The nurse: Didn’t you give him any pain medication?

That woman is only alive today because I had Tornado E in my arms.  My mom and I shot her nasty looks.

My Mom: Well, it would have been nice if someone told a first time mom what she was suppose to do.

The nurse wisely and quickly left the room.  I cried and cried.

My Mom: Fae, you have to stop crying.  Tornado E won’t stop until you do.  We’ll go to the drug store, and I’ll run get him some Tylenol, and you can nurse him.  He’ll feel better with a full stomach.  It’ll be fine.  It’s over.

I nodded and eventually was able to compose myself.  We left, got the pain medication, and fed Tornado E in the parking lot.  My mom bought us a bag of chocolates because we needed it.

By the end of the weekend, I was sure I ruined Tornado E’s penis.  Monday I called in a panic because it was still bleeding a little.  The doctor insisted I came in and retaught me how to clean Tornado E up and assured me I was doing everything right.

Fast forward to Tornado S.  You would think I would have been against circumcision for the rest of my boys, right?  I honestly had forgotten all about Tornado E’s ordeal when Tornado S was born and I was asked what I wanted.  All I remembered was Tornado E had his for a medical reason, and it still worked for me.  They whisked Tornado S away and returned him 15 minutes later, a little fussy and wanting to eat.  Done.

The funny thing is Tornado E has a partial circ, and Tornado S has a full one.  And I’m sure I can prove that guy in college wrong about the pain and “flashbacks” that he was sure happened to many men.  Tornado E’s experience was traumatic, but the kid tugs on his penis all the time.  I can’t let him go nude or his hands are on his penis.  I don’t think he’ll have a hard time at all with the enjoyment of his penis.

So with this one, we’ll probably cut again.

For parents who are about to make this decision, I encourage you to make an informed decision, whichever way that takes you.  Anyone want to add why they did or did not?

15 Responses to “To cut or not to cut”

  1. Syma K. Says:

    Oh I didn’t know you were having a boy!! I hope everything goes well. And very informative post.

  2. Gibby Says:

    First, can I just comment on the phrase, “sexpert research,” LOVE IT!! Totally made me chuckle.

    Second, how nasty was that nurse???? Why the hell didn’t THEY give him pain meds? This is why we pay these people!

    Anyhow, this was a moot point for us, although I vaguely remember discussing with Hubs and I’m pretty sure we would have cut, too.

    P.S. When is your due date?

  3. Maureen@IslandRoar Says:

    My son, 22, is not. As a nurse I’d watched many babies get circumcised and felt I couldn’t justify it. 85% of the world’s men are not, altho in this country I believe about 60% are. Maybe more. Penile cancer, linked almost exclusively to males that are not circed, only occurs when hygeine is abyssmal. However, AIDS in men with foreskin is higher in Africa, which is alarming.
    At any rate, not worrying about him ever being in a position to be at risk for penile cancer, I couldn’t do it. The Ex is, and we’ve never had any issues about his being “different” from Daddy. I think that’s like if mom has big breasts and the daughter doesn’t.
    You’re right; the important thing is to be informed. My son tells me he’s had no complaints from girlfriends, and, like every male, he loves his penis exactly the way it is…
    Great issue to even bring up!

  4. TheKitchenWitch Says:

    Oh my God. Hubs and I fought about this constantly until we learned that Miss M. was a Miss.

    Surprisingly, he was “pro” and yet is uncircumcised himself. He’s had women in his life object that it looks sort of…Hell, I don’t know. But he was self-conscious in American locker rooms.

    I just couldn’t bear the fact that I’d be hurting my little guy in the Prime Real Estate that early. Although, since a circumcised guy is what I’m (before hubs) used to, I do think they’re more attractive.

    Tough decision. But on the bright side, all males love their dicks, so you get a free pass no matter what! 🙂

  5. joz1234 Says:

    we have done both boys. I never really thought about it. We just did it like Daddy’s. They gave them meds though!! Bitchy nurse!

  6. Fie Upon This Quiet Life Says:

    So…there will be a little TMI here… And this is also something I feel really strong about, so I apologize if I offend you.

    I dated a guy who was not circumcised, and it wasn’t a big deal to me. He was an excellent lover, and frankly, his penis was perfect for me. We didn’t stay together, but that’s cool. I found Mr. Right and we got married. Hubby is circumcised. As a lover, that made no difference to me. I kinda think dicks are ugly no matter what they look like. I don’t want to see it; I just want to feel it.

    When we found out that we were having a boy (and I REALLY wanted a girl), for some reason the ONLY thing I could think about and the immediate thought in my head was that I could never circumcise my son. Since I’d experienced a lover who wasn’t circumcised, I didn’t think it was necessary, and I was really horrified at the idea of hurting my child, even if he’d never remember it. So after the ultrasound, I went to the bathroom and peed. I came out of the bathroom and said to hubby, “We are NOT circumcising this baby, just so you know.” He was completely taken aback and merely said, “o…k…”

    Our pediatrician recommended against circumcision, saying it’s not medically necessary and as far as STDs go, the kid should be made aware of the necessity of condoms regardless of being cut or not. To me the STD factor is completely a non-issue. Young men need to have condom use drilled into their heads, big time! It will cut down on unwanted pregnancies, STDs, and render the circumcision argument moot.

    And my thought on the whole thing was this — if the kids (both our sons are uncircumcised) end up wishing they were circumcised and they decide to do it later in life, that’s fine. I would never tell them not to do it if that was what they wanted to do. But in my own morality, it is not ethical to make an irreversible decision for someone else about removing a naturally occurring piece of the body. Just my two cents.

  7. Evenshine Says:

    Nicely and non-confrontationally brought up, Fae!

    I remember the first time I ever even KNEW it was an issue. A friend asked when I was about 6 months along with Baby Boy- if I’d thought about it. Honestly, no. All my experience pre-hubby was circed, and then hubby was uncirced, which I (blush) only noticed about two weeks into our marriage. It makes no difference sexually, I can say, from my point of view.

    So, as my friend mentioned it to me, I realized that it was something I had never even given a second thought to, and I delved into it like you and hubs did.

    In the end, we decided not to, since the whole procedure seems barbaric, cutting off flesh that (I believe) God put there for a reason. There were no good spiritual reasons for it, since we’re not Muslim or Jewish. And, like Fie says, the vast majority of the world is not circed.

    Also an issue for me was something akin to plausible deniability- how could I be against FGM if I was pro-circ? Though practiced at different points in the life of the child, I couldn’t hold a strong opposition to female cutting if I was for male cutting.

    Interesting conversation!- I think you’re turning into an Evenshine with the controversy…. 😉

  8. Megan Says:

    Hi, you don’t know me. I found you through Mommy in Chief’s blog roll.

    So, I have been thinking about this issue a lot lately. I have a girl, and when I found out, I was SO relieved that I didn’t have to make the decision. And if we ever have a boy, I don;t know what we’ll do.

    I guess I can see reasons not to do it: letting the boy decide for himself when he grows up, etc. As for the pain issue, I really don’t think it’s that big an issue. I don’t see anyone getting all up in arms about piercing baby girls’ ears, which is also painful and a permanent change. Well, maybe they do. And maybe that’s a dumb comparison. I don’t know.

    I guess I just mean, it’s painful, they get over it, everyone moves on. But, will he miss it when he’s an adult? I can’t say. My husband is circ’d and wouldn’t have it any other way.

    And, I have to say this last thing. In reference to the last comment, I find it kind of offensive to compare male circumcision to FGM, and I would imagine the victims of FGM would probably agree. How can you compare taking away all pleasure and sensitivity and inflicting pain, along with serious health complications with taking off a little foreskin? The entire shaft of the penis is made up of nerve-endings. Maybe sex is a little better with the extras contained in the foreskin, but I’m positive any man will tell you that he can feel and enjoy sex without them. FGM removes the clitoris, sometimes the labia minora, and sometimes even narrows the opening of the vagina, according to WHO.

    I just think the comparison is a bit far-fetched. Having said that, I totally respect the decision to either circumcise or not, as long as it is made thoughtfully and with education.

  9. Country-Fried Mama Says:

    Well, members of my tribe do this deed at HOME. Had Belly been a boy, we would have had to hire some guy who drives in from Atlanta, reportedly in a red convertible (apparently, there is some money in cutting pee-pees. Who knew?) Our real dilemma would have been whether to go with the traditional bris or skip it in favor of a hospital procedure. I’m glad to have avoided the issue.

    People have strong emotions on this matter. Of course, do whatever YOU (and your husband) feel is right.

  10. incognitomom Says:

    Good post, Fae. I have to agree with Evenshine. You did this non-confrontationally.

    As for us we did circumcise Shorty. Big is not. Until meeting Big I had never been with an uncut penis so I was used to a circed one. Seeing as it seemed like most American men were we decided to do it so that Shorty wouldn’t feel out of place in the locker room. Also, I thought it would be easier for me to clean.

    As it turned out, Shorty’s circumcision isn’t as complete as it could be so he has slightly more skin than most circumcised penises. It doesn’t seem to stop him from getting pleasure, as like your Evan, he can’t seem to keep his hands off it. And although most of the little boys I know are I understand that it’s much more commonplace now that parents aren’t doing it as it was when I was younger.

    Boy, Fae you really know how to make people spill some personal stuff. I’m sure our husbands and sons would be mortified to know we’re all sharing this. (God, I hope Big never sees this because he would KILL me.)

  11. Restoring Tally Says:

    I am a son who was circumcised at birth. I thought I would provide one son’s point of view. It is my penis, not my parents. I would have preferred to keep all of my penis and not have part of it removed at birth. I would have preferred to decide what body modifications I would have done to MY body.

    I do not blame my parents for allowing part of my penis to be removed. I was not cut for religious reasons. I was cut because it was the thing to do. *sigh*

    No normal kid is going to be traumatized by remaining intact. Any kid that is affected by taunting in the locker room or upset that daddy looks different, has other problems that need to be dealt with. Having a foreskin has its advantages. I know because I am restoring mine. The difference is amazing and makes me sad that I spent so much time without one.

  12. faemom Says:

    Thanks to everyone who through their two cents in. It’s nice to have a respectful conversation about something contriversial. And CFM~ I too have heard it’s big business 😉

  13. Hugh7 Says:

    Isn’t by far the simpler option to just leave the kid’s thing alone? I think it’s sad that people who find so little merit to it have such a struggle and then do it.

    About seven out of ten men in the world have all they were born with, including most of the rest of the English-speaking world (the only part it ever caught on in for “medical” reasons). They aren’t having epidemics of STDs or other penile problems; they aren’t filing the cardiac wards with heart attacks from their “too much sensitivity” (actually normal sensitivity); their women aren’t fleeing in horror; and the other kids aren’t mocking them (and with the rate down about 55%, that won’t happen in the US either).

    A cohort study of 500 New Zealand boys through to manhood found no difference in their STD rates, so it would take hundreds of circumcisions wasted (and some more damaging than usual) to prevent even one.

    The US is on its own in still doing this very peculiar thing. There is no other normal, healthy, non-renewable body part it’s even legal to cut off, and the most nearly corresponding parts of girls have special legal protection.

    If it’s offensive to compare male and female genital cutting (though when you compare apples with apples, tribal with tribal, they’re not so different – 80 boys died of tribal circumcision in one South African province last year, and others lost their penises), let’s compare male and female genital intactness. They’re exactly the same. Leaving a little boy alone is just the same as leaving a little girl alone. Let’s do both.

  14. insider53 Says:

    For me there was no question. My husband is Jewish and it is the tradition and that was that. The moyle comes over 8 days after the birth, does it and then you eat..mazel tov!

  15. zeemaid Says:

    awww. I can’t believe they didn’t tell you about pain medication for him.

    We didn’t do O, #1, because they no longer supported it in our Province by making it unavailable in the hospital and it’s no longer covered by medical insurance. I couldn’t stand the thought of him being strapped and cut. I’m a big wuss when it comes to stuff like that. I really, really hope that we never have an issue with him because you do hear about all sorts of boys and men having complications and having to get it done late in life but apparently, there is more pleasure for men without it done… like I’d know. *L* It didn’t matter to my husband that they’d look different. Also, I think it’s becoming more the norm to not be circumsized so I think it won’t be so weird for their future girlfriends.

    I think you’re right doing it for the 3rd one too though since the other two boys are done. 🙂

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