To Circumcise or Not…

…that is the question. Or was.

Fia Kisses Baby Em

Now I don’t know much about foreskin. I mean it’s probably not that pretty–but seeing as he’s a newborn, you can hardly tell what is what on my dude’s shaft. All these baby boy parts are new–as in foreign–to me.

About a week before my C-section, Phil suddenly–and out of the blue–announced that he didn’t think he wanted our boy circumcised. Huh? I mean, I know it’s a trend right now to not snip. We have plenty of friends who didn’t. But I just assumed we would. If the medical community recommends something, we usually listen.

Ultimately, I decided I’d leave it up to him.

We enlisted a few opinions, got some super funny responses from our Jewish friends (which I can’t post here), who offered to come and do it themselves.  Then the subject sort of died.

Fast forward to Emmett’s arrival. Our doctor–who is Jewish–said, “You are planning to circumcise, right?” I said, “I think so….” while at the same time Phil, said, “I’m not sure.” Dr. G looked from one to the other, not ready to get in the middle of a marriage dispute. He then said he didn’t feel strongly either way, but suggested we talk to the pediatrician.

The pediatrician, also Jewish, basically said that the pros of circumcising barely outweigh the cons. And the American Academy of Pediatrics has now backed down on their hard-line stance of pro-snipping.

I, being the compulsive clean freak that I am, was worried about the cleaning of it. I was under the impression you had to pull back the skin and wash it regularly. Not so, said doc. You just leave it alone. The night before it was scheduled, we were still trying to decide (yes, we left that and the name decision to the very end. We’re not very good planners). We sent out texts to a few of our Brooklyn neighbors, looking for confirmation on the cleaning thing. Perhaps the west coast doesn’t clean and the east coast does? Nope. No difference. They concurred with the doc. Leave it alone.

Then we called Phil’s childhood friend. A good Catholic Wisconsin boy, who is a tad conservative (unlike all our liberal hippie friends who didn’t snip). He is also an ER doctor in San Francisco and didn’t circumcise his son. We put him on speaker phone in the hospital room and had him spell out the reasons why. They were exactly the same facts the pediatrician told us. Emmett grunted a few times. Did he agree or not? I couldn’t tell.

We hung up and I asked Phil what he thought. It still wasn’t something I felt strongly about either way. But Phil began to rant about how barbaric it seemed. And pointless. He said when he looks at Em’s penis, he just can’t imagine having anything cut. Okay, calm down, I said. Let’s not do it.

In the end the only thing we ended up snipping was his frenulum. The shaft is intact.

A few things:

  • On the argument that Em will look different than “daddy”…neither of us really buy that nor care. I mean, the dude isn’t going to be showering with Phil when he’s 13 and beyond. And until then, we just explain it to him. Nowadays they say that the locker rooms are 50/50 with skin on and skin off–at least in the places we’ll be living like NYC or LA. Maybe not rural Iowa.
  • Studies show there are higher HIV rates in Sub-Saharan Africa in uncircumcised males. However, I don’t think we’ll be living on that continent anytime soon. When he’s old enough, we teach him safe sex. Just like we would regardless.
  • The pediatrician also said there is a higher rate of bladder infections in uncircumcised boys the first year of their life. However, he explained the rate is still so small; it’s kind of a moot point (our ER friend confirmed that as well).

Truth be told, I’m far more concerned right now with how to prevent him from peeing on me. When I take his diaper off, it’s like a race against the penis-pee clock. Even if I place a cloth over it, he wiggles and the cloth falls off. Any advice on that?

And what’s your take on circumcising?

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  1. by Jamie

    On February 9, 2012 at 9:55 am

    Both of our sons are circumcised. My husband’s family is Jewish. They both had a bris. Even if we didn’t have a bris, we would have decided to get it done. No judgement on whether or not to circumcise, but the whole thing drives me crazy when someone else judges one side…we all want what’s best for our kids…we all have different opinions…Congratulations on your new little man! I hope you all are adjusting well.

  2. by Courtney

    On February 9, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    Here is the trick to keep your baby boy from peeing on you:

    1. Open the front of his diaper for a few seconds to let the air hit his penis, the temperature change is usually what triggers the peeing;

    2. Lay the front of the diaper back over him and wait a few seconds to see if he’s going to pee;

    3. Proceed with diaper change.

    I have not been peed on since I learned this trick over two years ago!

  3. by Les

    On February 10, 2012 at 12:46 am

    My husband and I also had such a hard time making that decision! In the end, I told my husband he could just make the choice… Regardless,I don’t like how society has such negative views on an un-circumcised penis. I hope we can all come to a point were either way is “normal”…

  4. by Judith

    On February 10, 2012 at 9:26 am

    People who cut their sons are judged because it isn’t their right to choose what part of their kids they get to keep or lose. Circumcision is an ancient barbaric practice that needs to be stopped. And any parent who “chooses” to do that to their sons obviously did it for their own selfish reasons and didn’t care enough to do proper research. You don’t want to be judged? Then stop abusing your sons.

  5. by Andrea

    On February 10, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    The way I look at it is circumcision is cosmetic. It is comparable to tattooing your new born. I was not about to make that kind of permanent cosmetic surgery decision for my boys, so we left the three of them uncircumcised and when they get older they can make that decision themselves. We had a friend decide to get circumcised when he was 13, there isn’t a whole lot of difference. I am glad to know that more people aren’t circumzising their boys, I was beginning to feel like we were the only ones.

  6. by Bugsy

    On February 12, 2012 at 10:20 am

    I vote for the “wait and let them decide” camp. There are no medical grounds, of significance, for circumcision as a matter-of-course – it appears to be mostly a cultural or religious preference. I would be more concerned with the abolition of the mutilation of the poor girls being circumcised worldwide. On that point, why is it that the circumcision of boys is not generally seen as “mutilation”? Is it because of the widespread practice in many countries, ethnic and religious groups, and of the perception that it generally does not affect sexual response, performance or other aspects of the boy’s life? I would not consider for a second having my son snipped like that – In our Maaori culture the body is tapu/sacred, and any such act would involve great ceremony and proper treatment and burial of the part removed.

  7. by Sara W.

    On February 28, 2012 at 9:57 pm

    His body, his choice. Any moms here wish they had their outer labia removed? No?

  8. by Taryn

    On April 10, 2012 at 9:52 am

    @Jamie, Female circumcision was legal until 1997 when it was outlawed being deemed barbaric whether it was religious or not. LEGALLY male circumcision is ILLEGAL because female circumcision is illegal, have you heard of the Equal Rights for Female and Male law? When female circumcision was outlawed so was male circumcision, so why is male circumcision still preformed? Doctors get BIG payouts when they sell foreskin for research.

  9. by Lynn

    On April 11, 2012 at 2:35 am

    Why on earth would you have a frenectomy performed on him? There is abosolutely no benefit to that whatsoever. Even doctors who want you to circumcise knows there’s no benefit to removing the frenulum. The frenulum, like the foreskin, is one of the most sensitive parts of the penis. Also, there is no way the surgery could have been performed on an infant without retracting or severely damaging his foreskin. If retraction happened, he’s got tearing and he’ll probably have long term problems with UTIs.

  10. by Mare54

    On April 11, 2012 at 2:48 am

    What on earth? The article was refreshing in that the mother looked into all the information and they decided to not circumcise him, but wait, then you let someone cut his frenelum? Who would do this? In order to locate the frenelum, the foreskin would have had to be torn from the glans and then cut. This sounds insane. Maybe we are hearing this wrong? I would seriously question any doctor who would do this to a baby. Seriously, what would be the point in harming a baby in this way???

  11. by Pam

    On April 20, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    Frenulum, as in the piece of skin under the tongue!! (Follow her link in the article!) If the frenulum is too tight, it can interfere terribly with nursing. Easily corrected and allows nursing to continue with no problem to baby and much more comfort for mother.

  12. by Jill Cordes

    On April 21, 2012 at 11:08 am

    Pam, you are correct. And here is the link again. The frenulum is in the mouth–right under the tongue. It has nothing to do with circumcision. Is there even such a thing as a frenectomy?? Going to google that one now!

  13. by Jill Cordes

    On April 21, 2012 at 11:13 am

    Dear lord, there is such thing as a frenectomy. Usually on the mouth. But there is one on the penis too. It looks horrifying. Good god, I’m not barbaric folks! I would never “not circumcise” and then do that. I put the link about Emmett’s frenulum on the post for circumcision, so next time click that one before jumping to conclusions! I guess I could have clarified in writing, but I never knew this thing even exisited!!!

  14. by Mare54

    On April 21, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    Jill….thank you for clarifying that the “frenulum” you are referring to is in the mouth! I have heard of this happening and interfering with nursing. I wasn’t the only one who was confused by this being mentioned in your blog article….but I had not read the preceding article either. It is, however, important that people understand that the skin on the foreskin is very similar to the skin under the tongue, and the attachment to the tongue is similar to the attachment of foreskin to the penis. No one would think of cutting the frenulum in a babies mouth, unless there was a problem……however not true for a babies penis, as parents do “decide” to cut away the natural foreskin (and often all of the frenulum too) of his penis with no immediate medical indication. That is what is barbaric and unconscionable on the part of parents and doctors!

  15. by sam stewart

    On February 22, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    u put a pee teepee on penis during diaper change.

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