We decided to get Baby F. circumcised. It wasn’t an easy decision. Unlike some of my friends, I don’t have strong convictions either way. I don’t consider circumcision to be evil and akin to mutilation. Nor do I believe that it negatively impacts a man (i.e. decreased sensitivity.) On the other hand, I don’t believe there is compelling evidence to circumcise. It used to be thought of as the more hygienic option, but most doctors now will argue that one is not more hygienic than the other. So, what does one base her/his decision on at that point? I passed the decision on to Mr. F., thinking that perhaps he might have stronger opinions on the matter. In the end, Mr. F. decided to circumcise; it was a cultural decision. (Although with the decrease in male babies getting circumcised, I imagine that there will be a cultural shift in a generation or two.)
So, with the decision made, the only question left was who should perform the dreaded deed? After all, if I was choosing this path for my son, I wanted the procedure done right. I had heard too many horror stories of mangled jobs. The midwives at the birth center suggested I go to a urologist who specialized in pediatrics. “He knows his stuff,” they said. Last week, we headed up the road. The doctor was very professional. He met with us beforehand to explain to us the procedure and what care would be needed afterwards. I handed over my son to the nurses with apprehension. I would be lying if I told you I didn’t have second thoughts. I had second, third, fourth, etc. thoughts. Was I crazy to do this?
As we waited the 10 minutes for the procedure to be completed, one of the nurses sought to comfort us. “The doctor does very cosmetic work,” she said. “Cosmetic work,” I thought? Do guys analyze their circumcision jobs? Is this something to be compared in high school and college locker rooms? “Hey, nice circ there.” On the drive back, I brought the subject up with Mr. F. “Absolutely not,” he said. “Guys don’t evaluate their circumcisions.” I shared this incident with my sister. She said she had a similar experience, although it was the urologist making a comment--“That’s a good looking job, if I do say so myself.” I guess it is important to take pride in one’s work, regardless of the specifics.
When the procedure was done and Baby F. was brought out, I felt very guilty when I looked at his very red and swollen organ. However, I think I was bothered by it more than Baby F., which is good, I guess.
Of the 4 or 5 moms in attendance with fussy, newly-circumcised babies, Mr. F. was the only father. Granted, the appointment was in the middle of the day, in the middle of the work week, but by-jingo, I made sure Mr. F. was going to be there, despite the inconvenient time! He, after all, was the one who made the final decision on the matter! On talking with the nurses, we heard that it was very odd indeed to see a father at the appointment. It was also very odd to have a breastfeeding mother. “How nice it is that you are able to calm him down so quickly by breastfeeding!” they exclaimed with surprise. Which makes me wonder what kind of clientele they get to have a breastfeeding mom be a rarity.
So what did I learn from this whole experience?
1. I am more bothered by my son’s afflictions than he is.
2. Fathers are wusses when it comes to circumcisions.
3. The boob is an excellent comforter and should be employed more often.
4. Urologists and the nurses that work for them take pride in a job well done.
What I still have inconclusive thoughts about:
1. Whether or not to circumcise.