I don’t really talk about circumcision much, but mostly because it’s not something I really think about very often. Until I started writing for TMD, I can honestly say it wasn’t something I had even considered as being a hot button issue in the parenting world. Once I began to get to know the other girls here, I saw that this is indeed a topic that many parents feel very passionate about, especially in the natural parenting realm. Even when the other girls discussed their views or experiences, I often just ignored it because I only have one boy, he is circumcised, and I don’t plan on having any more biological babies. The decision was made a long time ago and there is nothing I can do about it in the present. End of story. Right?
Except that the more I see arguments, facts, and information regarding circumcision, the more I have thought about the decision we made 7 years ago to circumcise Cade. As I have listened to the to the girls discuss circumcision, or share screen shots of intactivist discussions, I have picked up a little bit of information here and there. I have started to see that circumcision is, in fact, an unnecessary practice. I realize that it is something that is hurting our little boys, but since it is socially acceptable in the US, we mostly ignore it. We accept silly explanations (like I used to use) along the lines of I wanted him to look like Daddy, or I don’t have a penis, so I let my husband make the decision. While I think it is definitely a decision to make with your spouse, I also think it’s one that should be researched. If I am willing to put time into researching the pros and cons of sleep training, co-sleeping, full-term breastfeeding, baby led weaning, vaccines, babywearing, and natural birth, I should have been willing to research circumcision. Since I can’t go back and do things differently, I hope I can encourage others to instead.
I remember when we were nearly ready to leave the NICU and a nurse asked me if we planned on circumcising Cade. I had never given it a single thought, and I wasn’t sure what to say. I told her I would talk it over with Carl and we would let her know. I honestly don’t remember the discussion that led to deciding we would circumcise him, which is now a fact that saddens me. I feel sad when I think that we so quickly cut our son for no reason at all, other than that was what seemed “normal” to us. I remember tiny Cade, who must’ve been about 5 pounds at the time, lying on the doctors small table while a nurse stood at his side. Carl stayed in the room with them, but I couldn’t. I stood outside the room and listened to him crying. I cried with him, and felt helpless that such a thing was necessary for tiny babies who didn’t know any better. I cried that he was in pain and I couldn’t make it better. I rushed in as soon as they told me the procedure was over, and listened as the nurse reassured me he would be fine, he hadn’t felt any pain, and that we had made the right choice. I felt comforted that we had done the right thing.
The thing is, though, seven years later I do not believe we made the right decision. I believe we made the socially acceptable, most common (especially at that time) decision. I think we gave little thought to the fact that we were cutting off a very sensitive portion (some argue that it is the MOST sensitive skin) on his little body. He could have suffered from infection, a lifetime of numbness, or any number of other negative side effects, and all because I didn’t take the time to look into this decision.
I didn’t write this post to give you facts on circumcision, or even to guilt you into becoming a raging intactivist. I do hope to make you think. I wish I had. I want to point out that although it is very normal in our American culture to circumcise, that is changing. As more people become aware of the facts, do their research, and decide to choose what’s best (whatever that may be) for their child rather than what is most common (or what their doctor suggests), leaving your son intact will not be such a controversial subject. I know I’m not the only one who regrets the decision we made.
If you have any questions, I’ll do my best to answer in the comments. If you are looking for more information on leaving your son intact, visit these resources: