Thursday, October 04, 2007

To Circumcise or Not?

I have been thinking a lot about circumcision since we found out that Graham was a boy.

It is quite the hot debate in some circles--mostly in the natural living community. I have learned a lot from the natural living community and have been influenced in my own thinking on several things, circumcision being one of them.

To put it plainly, I did not want to get Graham circumcised. Yes, both Isaac and Ewan are circumcised. When it came to deciding the fate of Ewan's foreskin it felt like a simple decision. Sure, let's do it. We said all the typical things that you hear most people in favor of circs say...."We want him to look like his daddy, most people are, it is cleaner...".

When Isaac came along I felt more hesitant about getting the circumcision done. Partially because Ewan had some minor problems with his circumcision. His skin reattached itself and had to be pulled apart which caused him some pain and discomfort. I was worried that the same thing might happen to Isaac and I didn't want him to have the same issues. I was starting to feel hesitant about the whole procedure.

When we found out we were having another boy I felt very strongly this time that I did not want to get him circumcised. It just isn't medically necessary and they cause a lot of pain and discomfort to the baby. Sure, they are small and won't remember it but I think there are some benefits of the foreskin staying attached. Otherwise why would God have put it there in the first place? It seems unlikely to me that He put the foreskin as an advanced plan to set the Hebrews apart later on down the line when he told them to get circumcised. I can't say for sure, but it seems unlikely to me.

There are some things that can go wrong with circumcision. Too much can be cut off, scar tissue, major bleeding to name a few.

I wasn't buying all the "typical" stuff this time. So my son's penis won't look like his daddy's. No two look alike anyway. You learn how to keep an uncirc'ed penis clean. You teach your child how to do the same. It isn't true that most boys ARE circ'ed anymore. There are supposed to be benefits later on in intimacy (wink, wink) with an attached foreskin.

Here is a website that lists some more information about why NOT to circumcise. You can read more if you are interested.

Up until a few weeks before Graham was born Jon and I could not come to a decision about whether or not to circumcise the baby. Jon was for it and I against it. Jon felt strongly about all the previous mentioned reasons FOR circumcision and I felt strongly that it is not medically necessary. There isn't really a way to compromise and meet in the middle when it comes to can't take half the foreskin, ya know? Both of us thought we could convince the other but neither of us were budging.

What to do? What to do?

We went out for coffee after attending Ewan's preschool orientation and had a chat about it. Both of us were frustrated and feeling disappointed that the other person would not give in. That is when it happened. The Holy Spirit. As we were talking I heard the unmistakable whisper of the Lord speaking to my heart...."You need to honor your husband and let him do this." What? "Honor your husband."

I cried. I had to die to myself and my strong opinions so that my husband would feel honored and loved. We sat on it for 24 hours to make sure it was from God. I still had my fears that something would go wrong with the circ and Jon had his fears that IF something did go wrong I would be mad at him. I told him that it would be on God because I was doing what HE wanted--I was ultimately submitting my will to Gods so I wouldn't have any "right" to be mad at Jon.

We went to get the circumcision and lo and behold, something went wrong. The contraption the pediatrician used was a plastic bell cap device. Due to the swelling and placement of the device it covered Graham's pee-hole (technical term=meatis (me-ate-is)) and he could not pee for 8 to 9 hours. He woke up from a nap screaming and when I went to change his diaper it was totally dry. It had been several hours since the circ. It was the kind of cry that you KNEW something was really wrong. We called the pediatrician and went back to the office. He checked the circ, couldn't find the meatis and said that in the 20 years he had been doing circs that had never happened. He sent us to Children's Hospital downtown so a pediatric urologist could take a look.
Both Jon and I were getting sick with fever so this was not adding to a restful recovery from the cold. We went downtown and waited in the ER while we were worried that Graham's bladder would burst and it would kill him. (Totally dramatic, I know).

On the way to the ER we prayed--for Graham, our marriage, our sanity.

THANKFULLY, when we finally got to see the urologist Graham peed on him. Way to go, son! The urologist used a q-tip to move things around and I guess the pee hole was somehow dislodged. We were all very relieved since the worst case scenario would have been to have Graham go under general anesthesia in an OR to have the device removed. Not exactly what you want for your week old baby.

As all this was happening I was telling God that I was worried about my baby but trying to trust that HE was taking care of it all.

In the end everything worked out fine. Graham's penis is fine and so is our marriage.

It did feel a little ironic that the thing I feared most would happen did happen. Well, it wasn't the WORST thing that could happen with a circumcision but something did go wrong. It only confirmed my opinion that getting a circumcision is a risk that should not be taken lightly and that it truly isn't medically necessary and is more often a cosmetic choice.

If we have another baby and it is a boy, I suspect that we will be having a similar conversation. Perhaps we will have a girl and won't have to go down that road.....

That is why I am against circumcision but did it anyway.


Grace H. Lin said...

amelia, somehow i felt your pain and frustration as i read your entry. i am so sorry that all of you, especially, graham had to go through that. caleb is circumcised too because john was dead set on it. afterwards, because caleb went through so much pain afterwards, john did question whether or not we made the right decision. i think sometimes he does still think about it. i know i do. the doctor cut A LOT off.

i pray for complete healing on graham and no more complications. i know that God was honored in your decision to honor jon too. i hope yall are well!

The Herd said...

If we never have an opportunity to "submit", do we really ever know what submission means in regard to our hubbies when encouraging other wives to honor their hubbies and submit? I am proud of your decision in the end to honor Jon. Go Holy Spirit! You did well:). God will bless obedience!

Anonymous said...

Amelia, I had some correspondence with you a while back when you were still in Plano and I was looking for a Bradley teacher. I hope you don't mind, but I've been occasionally reading your blog and felt compelled to comment on this post. My husband and I had the same conversation about our son. We talked with our midwife and she suggested going to a rabbi for our son's circumcision. It was one of the best decisions we made regarding his care. He did not have to be strapped down and he only cried for a few seconds and then it was over. The procedure was very quick and Oliver did not seem to experience much pain afterwards. Plus, our pediatrician keeps saying how it is one of the best circs he's seen. It was truly an answer to prayer as I was so afraid of doing anything to hurt Oliver (especially after seeing how he cried after his HepB shot). I'm currently moving and don't have the rabbi's info handy, but I'm sure you can call the Allen Birthing Center and ask for Rabbi Ravinsky's info if the future holds another son for you. He travels a lot and performs brisks all over the country. Even if he doesn't make it to your neck of the woods, he may be able to recommend someone who can provide you with as positive an experience as we had. I was inspired by your story and know that God will honor your decision; please know that your experience has reminded this new mother and sort-of new wife to put more effort into honoring my husband. Congratulations on your new little one!

allison said...

Thanks for sharing your perspective and candidly letting us into your struggle. We've had both both boys snipped had very different experiences for each. When Carter was born in San Antonio the ObGyn whisked in and just said they were going to take him to be circumcised; she never asked if we wanted to do it. I had no problem because I had never considered it not being an option to have the procedure done. Erik and I followed them a few minutes later to watch and they shut the blinds on us so we wouldn't have to see. I wasn't afraid of seeing blood nor was I worried when I heard him crying, I just wanted to participate in the event. When Mason was born in Oxford there was no one in town who would even consider talking to me about performing a circumcision. The doctor and midwives I consulted all wondered why in the world I would consider putting my son through such pain and agony. I had to do a lot of research, call numerous people and finally found a GP office about 75 miles away who performed the procedure one afternoon a week. When I walked in with Mason and my mom I was taken aback because everyone in the waiting room as well as all the doctors were Muslim. It was an odd experience to be the only Anglos in the room.

I only recently have been considering the necessity of circumcision but am still glad that we made the effort for Mason. We had a friend who underwent the procedure as an adult because it was so painful for him to be intimate with his wife when they were first married. Despite the pain caused the boys as newborns, it seemed for us a better decision for them to undergo it when they are sleeping 18 hours a day and will not remember the pain, unlike our friend who has vivid memories of his adult circumcision and the pain he went through.

Needless to say, both boys' circumcisions turned out fine and we are pleased that both have had them. You bring up an interesting point in considering why God gave the foreskin and if he had an "advanced plan." Is it too much to consider that maybe it WAS that important for male Jews to have the distinction, especially in such a *sensitive* area, and that God had it in mind? I don't know; I have no theological scholarship to support my thoughts.

ANYWAYS, thanks for sharing this with us. I always enjoy checking in on you guys via blogsville. :) Blessings to you.

Anonymous said...

I really dislike the idea of making my baby suffer pain for no reason--hence why I engaged in a similar conversation on this topic with my hubby. I told him that if we had a boy, I would leave the decision to him because he was the guy...but made it known my vote was "against." sigh...sometimes dying to self really is so so hard...

I am so glad Graham is doing okay. That sweet baby boy. I'm sure he will tell you that you did the right thing when he is older (and just the same as the big boys he will look up to).
hugs to all! -monica

Daniel Larkin said...

I had the same issues when we were having Quinn. I finally gave in to the "he'll be like his daddy" argument I was having with myself, but I still question the decision.

If we have another son I don't know if I could handle treating him differently, so that makes me want to stick with the decision to circumcise, though I will probably feel some amount of guilt at the decision.

Patty said...

Well, I feel your pain. I questioned the whole circumcision idea with our first, Andy. I'm like you, why would God have put them there in the first place? My dad helped me make my mind up. He was circumcised at five due to medical issues. He said it was horrible and majorly scarred him. He begged me to have Andy circumcised. I guess it scared me. I knew that it was a possibility that he would need to be circumcised later in life if issues arose, and that concerned me, but hearing it from a family member made it feel more common than maybe it actually is? With this one, Aaron, I felt like we should because we did with Andy, although finding a "reason" for it is difficult. With Andy it went perfectly, but with Aaron... not so much. Aaron started bleeding and had to have some foam stuff around his penis that would "eventually fall off". It looked terrible. It was red and swollen. It was hard to tell what was what with the swelling and the foam that was stopping the bleeding. Ben freaked out when he saw it... which freaked me out. They sent us home with instructions on what to do if it started bleeding. It wasn't a good experience.