Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Decision

I was 18 years old and had just had my first baby. My mom and my boyfriend (now husband) were in the recovery room with me when a man came in to ask me a very important question.

"Do you want your son circumcised?"

Ummm... huh? what? I must have had such a look on my face, he took 2 steps closer to me and said, "The procedure is not necessary and I must inform you that it is an elective surgery. There are possible health benefits."

.... I still didn't know what to do. I looked at my boyfriend who shrugged his shoulder as if to say, "It is your decision" (it was not his biological son). So I look over to my mother and she says, "Well.. I had your brother circumcised." Okay?? Ew? What did that have to do with me? I think of my baby being so tiny at 5 lbs and how he is a preemie. I'm trying to think fast because this man is waiting for an answer with his clipboard, and I'm sure he's busy.

"Most Hispanics don't really cut their baby's foreskins, and it is an elective procedure" he said. "So...Do you want to do it?"

I felt like he couldn't really say what he wanted to say, like he was reading from a script but wasn't allowed to say his opinion. His words were very important and I thought of my tiny boy. I didn't want to hurt him. So I blurted out, "No."

And I'm so glad I did.


  1. Soliciting an elective surgery for an infant should be illegal. Disgusting vile vultures.

    "Do you want us to cut off normal and healthy body parts from your child or not?"

    Yeah, there are benefits to cutting off ANY body part. It doesn't mean it should be acceptable to force on a child.

    It astounds me that those parasites get away with doing that. Us Americans are complete idiots when it comes to Male Genital Mutilation. We take into the foreskin fear mongering hook, line, and sinker.

    Good thing this particular parasite of the so called "medical" profession didn't go on the tirade of terror that some doctors use to persuade new parents to mutilate their child.

  2. I feel very lucky that this man was nice and didn't push circumcision! The more I read on the subject, the more I realize I was so lucky to say NO

  3. I agree with Joshua that hospitals should not be asking to perform elective, unnecessary, harmful non-therapeutic procedures on your child. Especially considering he was premature!

    Nevertheless, I am glad he was not pushy and that you found your voice to say no!

    I also want to thank you for speaking out about this practice - it is only through talking about it and sharing information with our friends and family and even strangers that we'll be able to help others to realize that they don't want to hurt their children, and remove something healthy, sensitive, and functional from them if they don't have to! Speaking out helps other parents find the voice to say what you did, "No."

  4. so well written. I am also lucky. My babies were born in germany, where hospitals do not perform this needless procedure. had I lived in america when my first was born, he would have been circ'd, because I thought that was normal.. I would have never been able to live with myself, after I know what I do now..

    your baby was very lucky to have you to speak for him!!

  5. @Joel This being the age of information, it is the perfect time to spread the word. There are many ways to spread the research and I'm glad I am on board now. My baby was in the NICU for 6 days, I wonder if they really were going to pull him out of there to circumcise him?? that is crazy!

    @Nicole Your baby is lucky too :) I'm glad they won't have to deal with the consequences of circumcision and that they didn't have to go through that torture as newborns.

  6. When my youngest son was born, we decided that he was going to be intact. I didn't really discuss this with anyone, but made sure from the moment we got to the hospital they knew he would not be touched. I had a very strict birth plan, as far as what I wanted and they did a very good job staying out of the way and letting me, my husband and doula do what we needed. He was placed on my chest immediately for skin to skin and that is where I kept him. The day we were leaving I had to take him to the nursery for a heel poke, I walked down with him in the "cart" and a male nurse. I held him when they poked him, and assured him this would be the worst thing they would do. The male nurse scoffs and says "wait til we circumcise him" I responded that we were leaving him intact. At that point he turned into an ass. Telling me what a stupid decision I was making, how hard it would be to take care of, how he would be "different" and made fun of. I didn't say anything, because some people aren't going to hear you anyway. It was at this point that the male pediatrician that was on call in the nursery came over to me and in front of the nurse told me that it was purely a cosmetic surgery with no benefit what so ever, and I was making an excellent choice. I was thrilled! Suck it male nurse!

  7. @January: the male nurse you describe was blatantly unprofessional and should have been severely reprimanded. Insecure conformist American males like him are THE reason circumcision persists in the USA.

    @Diaz: I deeply deplore the fact that many USA doctors are not free to speak their minds on the subject of routine circumcision. I have read a comment in FaceBook claiming that a woman obgyn was told that she would lose her hospital privileges if she advocated against routine circ while advising mothers.

    I am an intact male baby boomer who grew up in the lower midwest. In my place and time, many maternity wards cut all babies without asking the mother. Ironically, a common reason for why some baby boys born in the 1950s and 60s escaped the knife is that they were born premature, and in those days to circumcise a boy while he was in the NICU was deemed too risky. If a boy left the maternity ward intact, he often remained intact for the rest of his life.

    Cutting boys without the consent of their parents died out in the 70s and 80s. Yet routine circ persists because parents feel insecure about raising a son whose Penis Looks Weird. Mom and Dad do not want to be reminded of foreskin and its possible sexual properties every time they change a son's diaper or give him a bath. Dad especially does not want to be reminded that he might be missing something very sexual.

    Socially insecure parents fear that an intact son will be mocked and bullied in school rest rooms and locker rooms. They fear that foreskin makes fellatio impossible, and silently believe that fellatio is a necessary part of sex, especially premarital sex. They fear that girls will refuse to date their son when they find out that his Short Arm has a Long Sleeve. They fear that leaving a son intact sets him up to be a loser in the Mating Game Rate Race.

  8. Noncircumcising cultures have, astonishingly enough, no awareness of the sexual advantages, for women as well as for men, of the male foreskin for vaginal intercourse and foreplay. Such cultures take the foreskin for granted. Latin American and European straight porn, following American practice, does not highlight the foreskin.

    The subjects in American sexual research are either circumcised men or women married to circumcised men. Hence that research has completely missed out on the sexual value of the male foreskin.

    Ironically, the experts on how foreskin improves sex are everyday American women free spirits who have been intimate with both kinds of men and are willing to share their observations via the internet, at the risk of TMI. The sharing often takes the form of blog posts similar to the one above.

  9. You're lucky that you were able to see through this doctor's speech and listen to your gut. But many, many mothers would have succumbed. After all he's the one in the white coat, he wouldn't be asking if it weren't a good idea, he said there were benefits, and he asked you TWICE!! (sarcasm)

    I can't wait for the day when doctors just DON'T ASK (sheesh, they don't ask if parents want any other body parts removed at birth, why just this one??). And if parents do ask about it, I can't wait for the day that that the answer they are given is: "Your son's foreskin is a normal, healthy, part of his body with important protective and sexual functions. There is no reason to remove it, and he has the right to have his whole body and make his own decisions about it. As a medical professional, I cannot recommend circumcision, and I will not perform them." Someday...

    Brava to you for speaking up about this. Your experience can inform other mothers, so they too can see through it. Latina moms especially need to be supported and informed or they can easily fall into the trap of thinking that just because Americans do it, that its a good idea. It's not - it's a stupid cultural HABIT, and a bad habit at that. THANKS FOR WRITING!

  10. @RD~ I am not sure what happened to him exactly, but I did lodge a formal complaint, and filled out one of the "suggestions" cards about that experience. I am pretty sure that the doctor said something to him as well. I just stood there staring at him thinking, "You ignorant prick!"

  11. Thank you all for supporting such an important cause and for reading my blog.. circumcision is killing and hurting so many little baby boys. It is really an atrocity that it is still happening

  12. We were casually asked in 1984 if we wanted our son circumcised, aka genitally mutilated. We said no, and they didn't ask again. That was in the UK, so I think they had a trainee who wanted some surgery practice.