Wednesday, September 8, 2010


So anyone who knows me even "this" much knows I am what might be called an attachment parent, a granola mom, whatever.  I am of the thinking that babies do what they need to do, eventually they develop out of some of the more annoying baby behaviors and this "baby" time is super, super short so just go with the flow (with some complaining about lack of sleep to your Facebook friends).

I read a comment on some parenting site that said something like...."the best way to care for your baby is to act as if you would if you and the baby were on a deserted island (so no westernized baby junk within arm's reach)....breastfeed, sleep with your baby, wear your baby."

And I would add to that "don't circumcise your sons."
Sure Tom Hanks was his own dentist in Cast Away and whacked away at his tooth with a blunt instrument, but that was a movie, and he was in pain and couldn't eat.  He really didn't have an option.
But penile skin that is just sitting there.  Not hurting anything.
Well, it should be left alone.

Now lots of people still circumcise their sons, and they are well within their rights.  They aren't asking me to apply Neosporin to their son's mangled penis or foot the $200 bill for the procedure, so I shouldn't really care, but I do.

The reason I care is because parents need to be FULLY INFORMED by their doctors as to the considerable risks and limited benefits.  They need to see the contraption that holds their baby down.  They need to watch a video of the procedure before it is done on their child (just as men have to watch a video of a vasectomy before they give their informed consent.)

And after all this, they still feel strongly that it is what they want for their child, then I am a little more "ok" with their decision.

But I feel quite certain that most people who make this choice for their sons don't give it even a minute's thought.


Jen Serra Shean said...

Agreed. Female circumcision seems to be taboo, yet folks still happily cut the boys.

Giselle said...

Your husband had to watch a video of a vasectomy? Really? I can't quite get past that part. I've honestly never heard of that before. If the normal person always had to watch the medical procedure before it was done...we probably wouldn't get anything done. Root canals? Open heart surgery? C-sections? Appendix out? Just imagine. Ugh.

And I won't comment on the circumcision part. Because I know that you can't be convinced that when people make choices different than yours it is for no other reason than they don't think about it. And that's your perogative.

CARRIE said...

That is the point, though. Circumcision is not medically necessary. Root canals--infected gums. Heart surgery--blocked arteries. C-section--get the baby out if not coming vaginally (although I think many, many c-sections are because of liability, not medically necessary).

But circumcision in a lot of cases is so the boys look like daddy. Purely cosmetic.

Giselle said...

Neither are pierced ears...and I had a heck of an infection from mine when I was 7 that required surgical removal of the earring.

I don't actually think that circumcisions are necessary either. But I think they are less dangerous than sleeping with your infant in a bed full of sheets and pillows and unconcious adults. If you were on an island with your baby, you'd be sleeping without covers or a soft mattress and pillows ;)

Keri said...

A contraption that holds their baby down??? I'm not sure what kind of doctor or hospital does that...or was something like that perhaps put into a video for the purpose of scaring parents away from the procedure?

I allowed Dion to make the (informed, well-thought-out) decision for us, and after research, thought and prayer, he opted for circumcision. He also opted to be with Jonah, holding his hands while it was done, and he assures me that there was no "contraption" of any kind holding him down.

(For the record, Dion also wasn't required to watch a video of a vasectomy before consenting to the procedure. Perhaps D's physician was particularly sadistic?)

I think that maybe you don't give others enough credit for being intelligent, thoughtful people. Sure, there are many who just follow the crowd, but I think there are many more who make informed decisions that just happen to be different than what you make for your family.

CARRIE said...

Giselle--Point taken about sleeping in westernized, fluffy beds. :)
Part of my issue is that at birth, the boy cannot offer his opinion. At age 7 you were likely asking to have that done (not the infection, but the piercing). I suspect most males of any age would not readily agree to circumcision if given the choice.

Keri--I called it a contraption, but I think it is technically referred to as a restraint board for infant circumcision.

I know many people who under other circumstances are thoughtful, intelligent people but who enter medical decisions without a lick of reflection or informed questioning. Kudos to Dion for attending as it was done.

Anonymous said...

Most of us don't think anything about it because it isn't that big of a deal. Seriously, we have other things to worry about than this issue. What's wrong with just wanting it circumcised for aesthetics? You need to go back into the classroom and let your kids lives their lives. You can't protect them from everything in life, other people, and life circumstances. I read your blog, and it's very well written and entertaining, but I can't help but think you aren't a very happy person. I think you fret over everything, make mountains out of molehills, try to make others feel guilty over issues such as this, breastfeeding, daycare, while claiming that basically your way is best and everyone else can just deal with their guilt. Guess what? I don't feel guilty for working, not breastfeeding, circumcising my son, having my kids in daycare when they were younger, and enjoying life.

CARRIE said...

Hello Anonymous. Thanks for reading.

Yes, I do make mountains out of molehills. It is my personality and my anxiety. I've lived it for almost 37 years now.

And I feel a tremendous amount of guilt, even when doing what I think is best. Maybe this is personality, anxiety and being brought up Catholic. Who knows?

Do I think what I'm doing is best? Yes, for me it is. I don't want other people raising my children. I don't want formula going into their bodies.

And yes, I think all children deserve to be cared for daily by people who love them more than life (not just for a paycheck) and who give them what nature intended for babies to drink. And I think aesthetics are a pretty dumb reason to put an infant boy through that kind of pain a day after being born. (But please note I'm working through feelings about whether it is dumb to put my kids in braces since aesthetics are the primary reason for that).

But the guilt thing? Didn't Eleanor Roosevelt say "No one can make you feel inferior without your permission?" I think we can insert the guilt word in there as well. If someone feels guilty because they didn't breastfeed or because their kids are in daycare or because they circumcised their sons, that has absolutely nothing to do with me and my opinion (which matters to me and a very, very small group of friends).

I would go so far to say, in a friendly way, that the fact that you commented about not feeling guilty means you do indeed feel guilty and are overcompensating.

But we could also say the fact that I am writing this response to you shows that I am hell-bound determined that I am right and everyone else is wrong and so needs persuading.