Day 12: What Not To ExpectPhotobucket - Video and Image Hosting

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Putting that Backfield in Motion since 2003

Monday, January 16, 2006

A little off the top

A thread over on the feeding choices debate board regarding infant ear piercing got me thinking about the subject of circumcision. I know, adorning an infant's ears with earrings is quite a leap to circumcision but are similar in that they are both PURELY COSMETIC changes to an infant's body without their consent. I stated on that thread and I'll state it here, I would never dream of piercing Grace's ears as an infant. Maybe when she is a bit older and can take care of them herself I will think about it but piercing an infant's ears is not even on my radar. I don't know why making a purely cosmetic change to my baby girl is an impossible idea when I did circumcise Gavin. It is something I regret more than not breastfeeding him longer than a few months. That's a whole lot of regret.

When we first found out we were having a boy, my first thought was great, I have to deal with haircuts and my second thought was, are we going to circumcise? I pretty much left that ball in Lloyd's court and like the majority of adult circumcised males in the US, he wanted his son circumcised. It is with great shame I admit that I barely researched the decision. I don't think I had ever seen an uncircumcised penis and socially and culturally, it was my norm. Not that I have vast experience with penises (that is the plural of penis, right? Or is it peni?) but not circumcising did seem a little weird to me. Uncircumcised = weird. Circumcised = normal. Decision made.

I figured there were health benefits and I figured that circumcision was just part of having a boy. I remember mentioning to a male coworker that I was debating circumcising Gavin and his response was "ewwwwwww, why wouldn't you circumcise?????". I don't even know why I had the internal debate when all signs pointed to boys should be circumcised but my inner voice was nagging me about it and I did nothing. Nothing. I have honestly researched smudge-proof eyeliners to a greater extent than I researched circumcision. What the hell was wrong with me?

I was given a video from the hospital where I was to deliver and they addressed circumcision care like it was a normal part of male newborn care. All my parenting books discussed the care of circumcision without even giving a reason to circumcise. Again, it was just like it was the normal thing to do. After Gavin was born the doctor took him to perform the circumcision and it the option wasn't even given for me to be there for the procedure. I don't even know if he had pain relief. What the hell was wrong with me?

I carried this angel for 9 months and I prepared for his coming by attending breastfeeding classes, attending workshops on safe carseat installation, preparing a safe nursery, putting aside money for his college education, and preparing a life insurance policy; and I never even once thought about pain relief or even the actual procedure for when I was going to hand him over on my own free will to forever alter (mutilate) his genitals. I would kill someone if they so much as laid a hand on my precious babe and I willingly signed consents explaining the risks of circumcision- blood loss, infection, and even death- without doing research or even without having a good understanding of the procedure or pain relief.

I have watched videos of circumcision on the internet and I have cried countless tears at the thought of my baby boy going through that. I have had a myriad of emotions- mostly regret- surrounding his circumcision and I don't know when I will make peace with my decision. I don't know how to make peace. It was an ignorant, culturally-driven decision to mutilate my child that and I don't know if I am more angry at myself or at the society in which I live that presents the decision to circumcise as normal. Genital mutilation is not normal. Our culture may tell us it is but it isn't.

There are no benefits to cirumcision and there are many risks. I only wish I could turn back time and make my baby boy whole once again.

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Blogger K said...

Oh Amanda -- I understand. I did the same damn thing. I can't bring myself to watch those videos; I know they will break my heart.


9:10 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Me too - Michael got an adhesion when he was about 10 months old - I cried and ranted about it for hours afterwards. Like everything else, we'll know better for next time - scant consolation but it gets me through.

10:47 PM  
Blogger Ally said...

God, me too. I still cringe sometimes when I change Jamie's diaper. It took months and months of beating myself up before I could put it somewhat to rest.

There was just an article in my local paper about Midwestern circ rates, which are still at about 75%. So my dh is right, Jamie will be in the majority, but I still hate it. I should have put my foot down, I just didn't know how much I'd regret it.

2:05 PM  
Blogger K said...

Question -- What to do if our hypothetical baby no. 2 is a boy? Can we circ one and not the other?

9:23 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

YES, YES, YES! If Grace had been a boy she would NOT have been circumcised. No way, no day. When you know better, you do better. Verymom's blog actually tackles that very issue as she has one circed boy and one uncirced boy.

8:47 AM  
Blogger Amanda said...

YES, YES, YES! If Grace had been a boy she would NOT have been circumcised. No way, no day. When you know better, you do better. Verymom's blog actually tackles that very issue as she has one circed boy and one uncirced boy.

9:17 AM  

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