Saturday, September 15, 2012

To cut or not to cut?

(This post is about circumcision.  Just a heads up, so you can skip it if you want.)

Zac and I have made some "non-traditional" decisions regarding baby Clifford.  
We opted out of the HepB vaccine, didn't get antibiotic drops in his eyes, declined the Vit K shot, and we chose not to circumcise our baby.

Now, to start, I know this is not really anyone else's business.  I get that it would be ok if I never shared any info about Cliff's man parts at all, but I wanted to, because making choices based on facts, not conjecture or status quo, is important to me.  I just want people to look into things before we make unchangeable decisions...myself included, so that's why I write this.

Just a little history, simplified of course...circumcision was initially a religious ceremony to symbolize a covenant  between Abraham and God, acknowledging God as, well, God and assuring salvation for Abraham and his decendants.  After Jesus came around, and died for our sins, we now are asked to accept God through his son, by acknowledging the sacrifice of his life, to accept Jesus as our redeemer and savior.  No more need to cut our little boys, just say a simple prayer.
(As far as I understand Judaism, Jews don't believe Jesus has returned, so that's why circumcision is still practiced....I know very little about Judaism.)

The push to circumcise boys has since been declared a "cleanliness" issue, with increased risks of infection if you don't.  Also, circumcision lowers the risks of HIV, etc.  My response...teach your children to clean themselves and teach them sexual morality (or at the very least, the importance of safe sex) and both are a moot point.  Plus, honestly, I cannot imagine that a little boy's foreskin is THAT much more dirty than a little lady's business. (Let's face it ladies, we've got a lot going on down there, and we know how to handle it.)  Now, I know there may be unforseen circumstances that may cause a man to be unable to take care of himself and if I had a child with special needs, my decision may be different, but Cliff doesn't have special needs and I am not worried about future what if's.  The situation would be addressed at that time. 
I'll be honest, this was not a topic I thought I had an opinion about.  I don't know that I would have thought twice about it.  It was just another thing that you do.  Then I happened upon this blog, and it changed my mind completely.  

Then I read this, and was pretty set on skipping the procedure.  Then I saw this explanation of the procedure (this is done without anesthesia, mind you) and the associated pictures, and couldn't bring myself to watch the video.  If I can't make myself watch a video, how am I handing over Clifford for it?  I can't. 

I also compared the procedure...religious circumcision vs. medical circumcision.  There is quite a difference in the amount of foreskin removed.  Also, notice the dotted lines on the inside of the foreskin in the image?  Those are specialized, highly sensitive nerve cells (Meissner's corpuscles).  In an adult, the skin retracts and all of those are exposed for what we will call "business time."  A circumcised man not only has lost those nerve cells (literally thrown away), but the most sensitive part of his body has spent a lifetime being exposed to clothing and has had to "toughen up" for lack of a better term.
 I saw a side by side comparison of adult men, and the intact man just looked healthier (I know the picture is graphic...put on your medical professional pants before you click on links.) Logic tells me, an intact man is more sensitive, and will have a completely different sexual experience, that is probably better for him, and I assume his lady.  (I know, it's odd to think about or be concerned with the quality of your kid's future sex life...but we worry about everything else, and I can only hope it will be fulfilling part of his marriage, even if it is 20+ years down the line.)
A side note.... if you are checking out might wanna give your husband a heads up.  It can make your browsing history look a little risque. 

Knowing what I know of anatomy (more than just the male anatomy, but anatomy in general..) I was a little shocked to read this...
The prepuce and glans are "fused" together in the vast majority of boys and will separate on its own at the right time. One may expect 50 percent of ten-year-old boys; 90 percent of 16-year-old boys; and 98-99 percent of 18 year-old males to have fully retractable foreskin. Only those whose foreskins have not retracted by the time of marriage require medical intervention.
Did you see that?  Only 50% by age what percentage do you think are fully separated at birth?
That sounds a lot like separating 2 skin layers that are not yet meant to be apart.  Bamboo under a fingernail image anyone?  

The first thing people ask when I say Cliff was not circumcised is "Aren't you worried he will be made fun of?"  This is ALWAYS the first question.  Nothing medical, all emotional. 
The answer is, yes.  I know he will be.  He will be made fun of whether he is tall or short or skinny or fat, or cut or not.  Being made fun of is a fact of life.  I just hope to raise a child that is well adjusted enough to handle it.  But, I also don't believe that he will be the only one.  Just check out this graph....
Circumcision rates in the US are dropping, a lot.  He may be the only "intact" little guy in Shelbyville, but not for long.  

Like I said, my mind was changed.  
It was not a decision made lightly.  And, in the spirit of research, I did take a recommendation from my mom and talked with 2 guys that are intact.  I asked them both if they were made fun of or feel like their lack of circumcision caused them any emotional upset, if they ever had any issues with infections, or if they had issues in explaing to their partner(s) what was up.  They both assured me, no issues of any kind....and they laughed at me. Both boys grew up in Shelbyville, so I feel like they know the environment Cliff will live in and situations he will deal with. 

Again, I know that this is a topic people are uncomfortable with and I get it.  I also know that I can name 5 little boys off the top of my head that have had issues with, or revisions to their circumcsions.  
When it comes to this decision, I hope no one feels the need to write hateful comments...I'm not better than any other mom out there.  I don't judge the decisions you are making or have made.  This is what Zac and I chose and it honestly, took A LOT of discussion, research, and facts, and Zac still was not buyin what I was selling.
But, my point is, there were facts considered and that's what I want people to do.
Is circumcision necessary? No.
Is it expected in this part of the world? Yes.
Is this post awkward? Yes.
But I hope you learned a little something, cause I know I learned a lot that I never knew I didn't know.  Plus, I want people to understand our choice, because it makes it less "weird" and ultimately, it is the people that read this blog that will be raising Cliff's peers.  Ya know, his peers....all the other kids that will be making fun of him if their parents are ignorant of the facts.

So, in review, this was our choice.  It is not everyone's choice and I am ok with whatever you decide.  Just think about it if you are making the decision for your little guy.
And know that I'm happy to discuss, not debate, my decision if you have questions.


  1. My two oldest sons were circumcised before I got them at ages 4 and 5. When my first birth son was born, I thought about it briefly, but I wanted him to "look like" his brothers and his Dad. He was a healthy 9 lbs and nursed like a champ, then they took him to the nursery for the procedure. I could hear him screaming down the hall. I called the nurse, who said he was just upset at being restrained. When I got him back he was asleep. He slept for the next 8 hrs, he wouldn't wake up or nurse. I asked how long it would take for the anesthetic or pain meds to wear off. I was shocked when they told me they don't use any because, "it doesn't hurt". My baby wasn't dopey, he was in shock. Yes, he got over it, but I didn't. I've never felt so guilty. And, they didn't do a great job, so now he has an adhesion that will have to be fixed when he gets older. My last son was not circumcised. It was so much easier, no raw, sore wound to care for, no worries about painful diaper changes. I figure, it's his body and I have no right making permanent, non-neccesary changes to it. When he's an adult he can do whatever he wants, at least he'll have a choice. And, by the way, little boys don't notice differences so minor in each other and older guys don't really look at each other naked that often.

  2. I don't know you, but have been following you for a while. I am all for your decision, plus, you will save like $475, so that's a plus. My little brothers weren't. When I was pregnant with the twins, I battled back and forth on whether or not to do it if I had a boy in there. I ended up with 2 girls. Good luck with everything.

  3. and I thought this post would be about charming Cliffords gorgeous hair. : ) However, you kept my interest and were very informative. 3 cheers to you for sticking to your convictions! I remember many years ago wondering what to do about our son. This info was not available then or i didn't know where to find it, or even think about questioning things... but a momma's gotta do what her heart says. Go You!!!

  4. Good for you for becoming informed and sticking to your convistions!

  5. ok..I did watch the video because I have two little nephews, 4 & 5, who I love more than air &, well...I almost passed out.
    I literally felt faint & had to turn it off. I'd never really given it a thought,..sad to say, you just think it's the "norm". All I can say is, if you're a mama & you've chosen to do this~do not be present & do not watch this video. Unbearable. That poor baby!

    1. I knew I couldn't do it, when I couldn't make myself watch the video. Circumcision done without's crazy. I told Zac that if he insisted on Clifford having it done, he WOULD BE IN THE ROOM as it happened. I don't know if that was what changed his mind or not, but he didn't push it much after that. Thank goodness we don't remember those very early things.

  6. Great post Abbie! I chose not to circumcise my two boys (8 and 15) and am still glad I didn't. I always like to read things that support that decision. Your blog is excellent, I grew up in Illinois and feel like I'm home when I read about what you and your family are up to (LOVE your mom). Clifford is adorable, a big congratulations. Keep keepin' it real because you are awesome! Cindy ;-)

  7. I love everything about this post. I cried while pregnant before we knew Claire wasn't a boy. Just the word circumcision in relation to what was then my unborn unknown-sex baby made me want to pass out cold. And I teach Anatomy for a living.

    Great post - and good for you for sticking to what you believe. Oh, and I skipped the video.


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