Written by Ashley L.
Posted With Permission from Author
“It’s a boy!”
There really was no surprise when the ultrasound tech said those three words. I already knew. Having had both a boy and a girl in the past, I could just feel it. My husband beamed with pride, as this would be his first biological son (my six-year old son Blake was from a past relationship,) and he couldn't be happier. I, too, was elated at the chance to raise another son, another lovely bundle of blue. Circumcision wasn't brought up at the time, probably because we both assumed since my husband and first born were circumcised, this one would be, too. As my due date drew near I began to get this feeling in my gut. I don't know how to explain it other than feeling nervous and edgy. I knew what it was about. I had the same feeling when it was time to set up the appointment to get Blake (my six-year old) circumcised.
The story of Blake hurts a little more to talk about, simply for the fact that I almost saved him as well. But due to pressure from many sources, I ended up caving and threw him under the bus at the last second, so to speak. I really didn't want to circumcise him. I knew it was unnecessary, but the appointment had been set, the money had been paid, and everything was ready to go. The night before he was to go in, my boyfriend and I got into a huge fight about it. I was scared and didn't want to send my one-month old son in for something he didn’t need. My boyfriend was mad because he had set up a ride for me and paid the doctor. We went to bed that night without speaking and still both very angry. The next day his brother didn’t show up to take me to the appointment. When I called my son’s father, he bluntly told me that he had told him not to come. He then hung up on me. With that said, the current me would have gone down to his work and kicked his butt for being a jerk and put him in his place. Unfortunately, the 18-year-old me hung up with tears in my eyes, and called my grandma to ask her for a ride to the doctor. My whole family is/was pro-circumcision so she happily came down. If I had of had just one person to call for support, things could have gone very different that day, but I had no one. I also didn’t use the internet at the time, so I had no facts or evidence to sway anyone’s opinions. I was just an 18-year-old girl with a bad feeling in her stomach.
My son’s circumcision went as “normal” as an unnecessary surgery could go. There were tears and blood, sleepless nights, horrible diaper changes, and crusty, multicolored genitals. Yes, this is what they considered “normal.” Everything healed and life went back to normal. At that time, I still thought the surgery was the worst part. I still thought they had cut off an “extra piece of skin” that had no function. My boyfriend brought me flowers and apologized for the way he had acted. At the time, I still didn’t realize that it was my son that we should both be apologizing to. I still thought circumcision was just a little “cut.” At that time I believe I chose to ignore the size of the wound. Just by looking at that, anyone with a brain could tell it was more than a little snip. But my son’s circumcision had been done without any type of numbing, so in order to accept that it was more than a small snip, I would have to accept that I had sent my one-month-old in for an incredibly painful procedure without the aid of any pain medication. Self-preservation comes in many forms, and from personal experience, I can tell you one of the most successful ones is denial. And it worked. For six years it worked beautifully. Until those three words were said again..... "It's a boy!"
Back to 2011: So as I sat there with a belly full of worries, I began to wonder if perhaps I should look into what happens during a circumcision a little more closely. By this time, I had access to the internet at my fingertips, and believed I owed at least that much to my belly-dwelling son. I was a mere two weeks away from my due date at this time. I started by simply typing “circumcision” into the search box on Facebook, expecting to come across a few groups to discuss in. To my surprise, I only came across anti-circumcision groups (not such a big surprise now that I know the facts). I looked in a few, and started to absorb some information.
In this next part of the story, I’m going to be writing about how I felt from a pro-circumcision point of view. Please excuse any hard feelings I had towards any of you, or the “intactivist” point of view. As you know, my opinions have changed so much, so I do not feel this way anymore. As I scanned through the pages, I was almost mad. How dare these people try to take away my rights as a parent to circumcise?! Who are they to tell me or anyone what we can or cannot do to our children? One of the posts on The WHOLE Network referred people to the GabeandJess page, where a heated debate about circumcision was happening. I felt that this may be my time to shine! Boy was I in for a shock. I came and let everyone know that I was expecting a boy, but was unsure about circumcising. I came in with the typical pro-circumcision arguments such as “it's cleaner,” “but daddy has it done,” “I live in an area where it's quite common and don’t want him being made fun of,” and “it's a parents choice.” Right away I was hit with links and facts, videos and personal stories. So much information in such a small amount of time. The seed had been planted but apparently part of me still didn’t want to go down without a fight. I'm guessing it was the part that would have to go back and rethink on the issue of my firstborn, and would have to admit that I did wrong by him.
Over the next week or so I was in too many discussions to keep count, read far too much for my already sleep deprived mind to comprehend, and overloaded my phone with circumcision websites. I did so much research I'm pretty sure my eyes bled. I came across so much new information and FACTS that I had no clue about whatsoever. The primary cause for the change of heart was the videos. There’s something about seeing the actual surgery that leaves you feeling a little empty. If I had only seen that before I had my first son, he would have remained intact as well. May I also add, I truly don’t have a weak stomach. I’ve been to more than my fair share of “gore” websites, have come across some horrible things and still went back for more. But yet when I came across a video of a baby being circumcised, I could only watch a small part of it, and with no sound. The cries of the baby alone made me sick. Seeing is believing, and the videos and pictures truly do speak a thousand words. It was a life-changing moment when I finally realized that, no matter what, my son was not going under the knife.
I went from pro-circumcision, to “I’m not going to circumcise, but I don’t see any problem with it,” to actually getting offended when other parents talked about how they got it done to their son and it was “no big deal.” It was a quick process and now that I'm standing on the other side, I’m not sure how I was ever pro-circumcision in the first place. When I first entered the debates, I hated the saying “when you know better, you do better.” It was thrown around a lot, and it seemed condescending to me. Now from this view, all it is is the truth. When you know better, you WILL do better. It's not offensive, it's the honest to God truth.
For those of you wondering how I got my pro-circumcision husband to accept and agree, it was actually quite simple. Although I knew without a doubt that we would not be circumcising, I still let him think it was open for debate. He may have been pro-circumcision, but he was also pro-clean house, pro-steak dinners, pro-clean laundry, pro-sleeping through the night when he has to work the next day, and pro-happy wife. I simply let him know all the things that may or may not be lost if he tried to put up a fight about this. Then I hit him with some facts and statistics, some truthful information, some horrible pictures, and a horrible video. He came around without much of a fight at all. In the long run, he was glad he did. We didn’t have to worry about making that dreaded appointment, the after care, or the possible complications. I also found out, through being vocal about our decision, that my cousin did not circumcise her two boys either. Hearing that made everything all the more easier.
One last thing I'd like to share from this experience was the conversation between my husband and I, the one that sealed his decision 100%. It was hard to have to say it, but I believe it needed to be said, and it got the point across. It went a little something like this: “Let’s say that we don’t circumcise, and the worst case scenario happens: perhaps phimosis? So he has to go to the doctors for steroid cream. Maybe he will be mad that we didn’t do it when he was a baby. I know there is a tiny percent of men who wish they had been circumcised when they were children, so I will take the blame for that one. I will apologize and tell him we did our best, and that I'm sorry that he fell into the small percent of men who wish later on in life that they had been circumcised as babies. I alone will take the blame if he feels that we wronged him in some way. In return, will you take the blame if we circumcise and the worst case scenario happens? Will you apologize, and tell him we did the best we could for him? Will you look at him in his perfect little angelic face, as they lower the lid to his coffin, and tell him that you didn’t know better? That if you had of known the end result, you wouldn’t have done it? Well, let’s never find out.”
On November 3rd 2011, after only two hours of labor, our son finally came out to meet us! Our son’s birth went smoothly, and we took him home twenty-four hours after. All of him. Every last perfect, whole part. And we couldn't be happier. All because a few people from this page wouldn’t let me forget that, although I may be the parent, I am not the person who gets to decide which body parts he gets to keep. So the moral of that story is: Although we may pretend we don’t hear your points, we do. Keep planting those seeds, believe me, they grow into wonderful things.