Tag Archives: Motherhood

Infant Circumcision: Why I say NO

8 Jan

There are two things I want you to know before choosing to read this. First, it contains links to graphic material, I chose not to put the pictures on the page so that you would have the option to see them or not. Secondly, my goal is not to condemn or make you feel bad about a choice you have already made. My goal is to advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves and to share information.  If you decide to read on please do so with an open mind and be willing to hear what I have to say.

“When we know better, we do better.”

-Maya Angelou

You may already know that I am against circumcision, specifically when it is performed on infants where there is no medical reason. If there is a medical need or if it is in the case of an adult who is capable of giving INFORMED CONSENT than what I have to say here does not apply.

To begin I will explain my journey to this belief, if you want to know when I first decided not to have my son circumcised read this. You will see that what I went on was not very much information but a very instinctual desire not to put my unborn child though that. More recently I have delved into the information and have found myself taking up the cause. There are a lot of very valid causes out there and I agree with many of them. For one reason or another though, this one really hits me. I get pretty riled up about it at times.  I get that hitting my head against a wall feeling when thinking about the arguments people make. The reasons they give. I’m not mad at them, just the thought process. On some level it angers me because I once felt the same way, not strongly, but I agreed with them. I hadn’t put a lot of thought into it but I just assumed it was what you did if you had a boy and that was all there was to it. If my doctor hadn’t asked me about it that one day I may very well have done it to Logan.  Unfortunately unless you go looking for pros and cons you just don’t know, unless someone says, “Hey! Why are you doing that?” The general belief in our society currently is that when you have baby boy you cut off the end of his penis. Think about that phrase for a moment. Are there any other parts of your child you would have removed? If you had a girl would you have her circumcised? My thought is HELL NO! Yet somehow this one exception exists, this one part that we are fine with slicing off as soon as we can. There are some hints floating about now that might make you think first. It’s no longer performed immediately following the birth while you and baby are still in hospital (in Canada).  You have to find a doctor who will do it and then book it, then you have to PAY, at least a couple hundred dollars. It’s not covered by health insurance because it is considered COSMETIC.

Before I dive into the information that brings me to the decision not to circumcise babies let me address a common statement that comes up around this discussion. “It’s the parents choice” I have been saying something similar to this for some time, “Everyone has to do what’s best for them” when people have confronted me about my son. Recently I realized that I was taking the wrong approach, I was saying the wrong thing. It’s not really about the adult, it’s about the baby. Tiny and new as they are, they are still people and they have rights. Deciding for them to have an elective procedure performed feels to me like a violation of those rights, some courts agree. It is the choice of the parent, and right now in the eyes of the law they have the right to make it. If just there you said, “HA you said it Sarah I have the right so back off” then you should probably leave, you’re not going to change your mind and neither am I. Reading further will probably just aggravate you, and I’m not here to upset anyone.

Let’s start off with all those wonderful reasons people have to cut their babies. First I have a list for you, a list of various possible reasons for why circumcision came into practice. You will find the full article here.

“It has been variously proposed that it began as a religious sacrifice, as a rite of passage marking a boy’s entrance into adulthood, as a form of sympathetic magic to ensure virility or fertility, as a means of enhancing sexual pleasure, as an aid to hygiene where regular bathing was impractical, as a means of marking those of higher social status, as a means of humiliating enemies and slaves by symbolic castration, as a means of differentiating a circumcising group from their non-circumcising neighbors, as a means of discouraging masturbation or other socially proscribed sexual behaviors, as a means of removing “excess” pleasure, as a means of increasing a man’s attractiveness to women, as a demonstration of one’s ability to endure pain, or as a male counterpart to menstruation or the breaking of the hymen, or to copy the rare natural occurrence of a missing foreskin of an important leader, and as a display of disgust of the smegma produced by the foreskin.”

You will note that there are contradicting items on this list. Take into account that all of these are reasons various people have used around the world at differing points in time.  Really they are opinions.

Here are some common reasons people choose to have their baby circumcised, and the facts that debunk the myths. Find the full article here.

Circumcision is recommended by doctors and medical organizations

Fact: Circumcision is not recommended by any national medical association in the world.  Fifteen national and international medical associations have extensively studied infant circumcision and its effects and found no significant evidence to support this practice.  In March 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) concluded that infant circumcision is not recommended as a routine procedure.1  The circumcision policy statements of the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Academy of Family Physicians have concurred with this position.2-3  The AMA calls infant circumcision “non-therapeutic.”

It’s just a little piece of skin, he won’t miss it.

Fact: The prepuce (foreskin) makes up as much as half of the skin system of the penis.4  It is an extension of the shaft skin that folds over onto itself, completely covering and protecting the glans (an internal organ) and provides the mobility of the shaft skin necessary for frictionless intercourse and masturbation.  The foreskin has three known functions: protective, immunological, and sexual.  It contains about 10,000 highly specialized nerve endings and several feet of blood vessels.  An adult male foreskin, if unfolded and spread out, would be about the size of index card (3 x 5 inches), much more than a “little piece of skin.”  Many sexually active men circumcised in adulthood report a significant decrease in sexual pleasure and comfort because of the loss of sensitive nerve endings, skin mobility and natural lubrication.

The care of a circumcised penis is easier than an intact penis.

Fact: For the care of an intact penis, the AAP recommends, “Leave it alone.” 5  No special care is required – an intact child should have the external surface of his penis (and the rest of his body) washed regularly to keep clean.  When a male is older and can retract his foreskin (which typically occurs by puberty), a simple rinsing is all that is necessary. 6  Other cultural myths about special cleaning procedures are just that – myth.

Almost everyone is circumcised…I don’t want my son to be teased in the locker room.

Fact:  The circumcision rate for males worldwide is about 15%.  Even in the US, the only country that circumcises a majority of its male newborns for non-religious reasons, the circumcision rate is decreasing.  According the National Center for Health Statistics, the US circumcision rate is approximately 60% (varies widely by region) and slowly decreasing.  According to many intact males, the “teasing” concern is vastly overstated.  For many boys, genital status is neither an important issue nor one that is discussed.  In the unlikely event of concerns later in life, at least the person can make his own decision about an irreversible body alteration that has no medical justification.

Circumcision is a simple and painless procedure… it only takes a few minutes.

Fact:  While circumcision is a relatively quick procedure, it is extremely painful for the infant.  The initial part of the process involves a forced separation of the foreskin, which is fused to the glans (head) in much the same way as a fingernail is joined to the finger.  The AAP says the following about EMLA cream, one of the most common pain relief methods, “The analgesic effect is limited during the phases associated with extensive tissue trauma…” 1    Although they cannot remember the pain as adults, circumcised male infants have increased pain response in vaccinations 4 to 6 months later.11  Circumcision appears to lower the pain threshold.

Circumcision makes the penis cleaner and more hygienic.

Fact:  Circumcision removes the protective portion of mobile shaft skin, which is intended to cover the glans (head) of the penis.  The glans is the internal portion of genitalia (for both genders).  Circumcision artificially exposes and denudes this highly sensitive tissue, resulting in a buildup of keratin and a dry, desensitized part of the penis.  And contrary to popular myth, more sensation does not lead tp control problems.  Based on reports from men circumcised as adults, just the opposite is true.  With more sensation, a man has better feedback and can better determine his proximity to the “orgasmic threshold.”   

I went here and found this in regards to the circumcision rate in Canada, “A 2006 article placed the (2003) rate at 13.9%.”  That was the rate in 2003, and the rates have been on the decline. To those of you who really believe that kids are going to tease your son about what his penis looks like. Even if kids were comparing and teasing it would appear that those who have been snipped will be the minority.

I have heard accounts from people who know someone who knew someone who had a problem with their uncut penis later in life. Yes it happens. Our bodies don’t always perform exactly as they should. Our tonsils and appendix sometimes cause problems later on too, are we removing those from our newborns? No because the remotely possible benefit does not outweigh the risk of the surgery to remove them. What are the risks to circumcising your son? This article shows this:

“Out of 100 Circumcised boys:

75 will not readily breastfeed post-op

55 will have adverse reactions from the surgery

35 will have post-op hemorrhaging to one degree or another

31 will develop meatal ulcers

10 will need to have the circumcision surgery repeated to fix prior surgical problems/error
8 will suffer infection at the surgical site

3 will develop post-operative phimosis

2 will have a more serious complication (seizure, heart attack, stroke, loss of penis, death)

1 will require additional immediate surgery and sutures to stop hemorrhage

1 will develop fibrosis

1 will develop phimosis

1 will be treated with antibiotics for a UTI (urinary tract infection)

1 will be treated with antibiotics for surgical site infection

Of those who do receive pain medication for the surgery (about 4% of those boys undergoing circumcision in the U.S.) some will have adverse reactions to the pain medication injected”

Sound scary? Yeah I think so too. But wait, there are risks to leaving him intact too:

Out of 100 Intact boys: 

2 will be treated with antibiotics for a UTI (fewer if the foreskin is never forcibly retracted)

1 will be told to get cut later in life for one reason or another (fewer if the foreskin is never forcibly retracted)”

The list is shorter, and it’s rates lower than most on the first list. The rates have the potential to be lower of more people are properly educated on how to care for their intact sons.  Leave it alone! For more information on how to leave it alone,  go here.

I am always amused by the concept that the child should look like his father. He is a different person, he has half of his mothers DNA. Fathers, if your son is born with different hair or eye colour than you have do you take measures to alter it to match yours? No you say? That’s foolish? What do you mean? Shouldn’t he look just like you? Right down the end of his penis? OOhh that is foolish.

Yeah they look different. Do you know how different? Feel free to check it out here. Don’t be weird go ahead and look. You should know if you want all the information.

Let’s address the future now. Someday that baby will grow into a sexual being. And as much as we can say I don’t want to think about my kid that way, or why are you using your child’s future sex life as part of your argument, it is still a point to consider. First I would like to remind you that one “benefit” circumcision  is supposed to provide is a reduction if not complete halting of masturbation. If you think your child should not be exploring himself sexually at some point in his life to begin with then you have something else to deal with all together. For those of you that recognize it is a natural part of human development and sexuality, do you want to take that away from them? I know I know it doesn’t actually stop it, but people thought it would and that’s why they cut their kids. Studies have proven that an intact penis is more sensitive, want the stats? Go here.  Don’t want to read and try to make sense of all that? Their conclusion is this, “Circumcision ablates the most sensitive parts of the penis”.  Ablation basically means remove, “In medicine, ablation is the same as removal of a part of biological tissue, usually by surgery

There are a lot of products and marketing out there which suggest that men are seeking to increase the size of their penises, I’m thinking we’re not doing our boys any favours cutting some off.

Religion. There are several religions whose practices and rituals include circumcision. The one we tend to associate it with the most is the Jewish faith. I am obviously not telling people who to practice their faith. I Do offer this article though. There are options, and things can be done differently. A large number of the other religions and cultures who ritualistically perform circumcision do it later in life, often as a coming of age practice.

Circumcision is permanent. It cannot be undone. It can be done later in life though. And a man who wants or needs it can choose to do it. They can be sufficiently numbed or put under completely. They can be given meds to manage the pain following the procedure. They know what is happening to them. Studies have shown that neonates cannot be safely numbed to the point where they will not feel the pain of the crushing, tearing and slicing of the surgery. There is no NOW OR NEVER with circumcision. You don’t have to rush to it. The option will remain available in the future. Isn’t this best left as a “better safe than sorry” situation? Don’t take the risk and what is there to regret?

I have met, talked to, and read the stories of many mothers and fathers who regret their choice to have their son circumcised. I have heard stories of the procedure and complications which resulted in them having to bring their baby back to have it done again. Heard about how little information was offered by the pediatrician performing the surgery, and how they had to pay cash for it. One story that had a large impact on me was this one. It breaks my heart when I read, “To see a part of this baby’s penis being cut off – without an anesthetic – was devastating. But even more shocking was the doctor’s comment, barely audible several octaves below the piercing screams of the baby, “There’s no medical reason for doing this.” I couldn’t believe my ears, my knees became weak, and I felt sick to my stomach. I couldn’t believe that medical professionals, dedicated to helping and healing, could inflict such pain and anguish on innocent babies unnecessarily.”

You may have read this whole thing and clicked and read every link I sent you to and still feel that circumcision is the way to go. Perhaps from the perspective of a man you will hear what I am trying to say. Maybe knowing there are lots of people out there who feel and think the same way would help you to understand. Here are just a few of the Facebook groups who speak out against routine infant male circumcision.

Fathers Choosing Not To Circumcise 

Keeping Future Sons Intact

Boys Deserve Better

Intactivist Rex 

End  Routine Infant Circumcision

Please, even if you do no accept what I have shared with you as reality. Even if babies will in no way recall the pain of the procedure. Does that make it OK to put them through such agony? Would you cause your child any other harm feeling OK with it because they would forget?

If I have changed your mind. If you already feel the same way. If you disagree but think someone you know might benefit from the information. Share a piece of this post, a link to it, click Share or Like.


“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

                                                                                                                                                                                              – George Bernard Shaw

A Good Mother

12 Jun

People tell me I am and I find myself thinking they are not around to witness the majority of my mothering. Their comments usually follow one thing that I say or do and somehow that one thing tells them that I am a good mother. I want to be, and for the most part I try to be. I have to be honest though, my patience only goes so far. I am not always a cool and collected zen Momma. There are days where the first little thing that goes wrong sends frustration through me by 8 AM. I yell. When he won’t stop bugging his sister, or she won’t stop that whine cry she does when nothing is really wrong but she wants me to pay attention to her. After a day where I have been especially impatient and irritable I look at them while they sleep and feel horrible for raising my voice, for harshly snapping “Go away” at Logan when I was at my wits end for no good reason at all, there is no reason to bark at a three year old that way. I promise myself and the two of them that I will try harder, I will do better when they wake up in the morning and when they grow up they will look back and recall a loving and affectionate mother who was always there to support them no matter what. I want them to be able to come to me with anything, to never fear saying something to me in case it makes me mad. I wouldn’t consider myself a hot tempered person and yet I worry that others may, I suppose that means I do see myself that way.

Why can’t I do better, why do I still snap when the nagging child just won’t quit? I don’t know. But I swear I am working on it. I need to hold myself more accountable, I need to do more than silently promise to be better at the end of a bad day. My plan has a few parts. The first is to do my best to avoid those situations that push my buttons all together. My frustration is usually triggered by a behavior that comes from boredom.  If I keep them stimulated, feed them before they start asking for food and cuddle Bella when she gets sleepy so she goes down for a nap at the right time they won’t try to get my attention in a way that results in my negative response. Sounds easy but my lazy side kicks in, or I am really determined to finish vacuuming, washing the dishes, folding the laundry, make dinner, whatever it is that I need to do that is keeping me from keeping them happy. I don’t want to be the sole source of their entertainment 24/7 they need to be able to entertain themselves and they do, I think I take their ability to do that for granted though and expect their independent play periods to last longer than they do.

Next I need to remember to take a breath before I react. Too often I react before I think. Bella cries, I yell Logan! What did you do to her? Not the right response at all. And I find it so easy to say to Scott when he does the same thing, calm down your reaction is bigger than the situation. But I’m worse then him most days. I get annoyed with him because I unrealistically expect him to do better than me. I feel so bad that the kids have had me getting annoyed with them during the day that when Scott gets home I want him to be gentler and more patient. That’s not fair, he is gone all day dealing with his own aggravations and is no more a fresh page when he gets home than I am.

I need to find my own outlet, something that brings me back to a place of peace and calm to recharge and come back a better parent. I”m not sure what that is but I intend to figure it out.

Parenting is hard. Not the physical hard of being tired after chasing kids but emotionally and mentally. It get harder with time too. The more they grow the more difficult it is to know if you’re making the right choices. Logan absorbs everything, if he sees me swat at Scott in irritation the  it’s how he deals when he’s irritated. We raise our voices when we are arguing so he does too. Modeling good behavior all the time. It’s hard, it shouldn’t be. I should just be a good person who makes the right choices all the time, that would be ideal really. Why can’t is just be that easy? I guess if I didn’t have to work at it the rewards might not feel as great as they do.

Logan says thank you on his own the majority of the time, Bella snuggles into me, he says he loves me and she reaches for Daddy and squeals in delight when he gets home from work. There are so many tiny things that make my love for them grow everyday. That love is what has me reaching everyday to be a good mother.

What I Thought I Knew, And Still Don’t Really Know

17 May

The years we spend caring about what others think of us start pretty young right? I think they do. I recall those years. Being worried about how I looked, what I said, how smart I was, or was not. Stressful. Most of those years I spent walking around assuming I was the only one with the thoughts I had. Feeling different and weird, and like I was always being singled out, in a negative way. Self conscious? Um yes. Shy? Also yes. I felt like no one in the world could possibly feel or think the way I did and so no one could understand me. And if they could not understand me they could not care about me, not completely. Pretty sad little thought process but it was there. Looking back now I see I was very self absorbed. I really believed that anyone who looked at me would form some kind of judgement in their mind.

I eventually realized that people weren’t really that concerned about everyone around them. They weren’t walking around looking for people to criticize. I remember very clearly driving down the road, probably with my Mom, and looking out the window. We drove past a house around dinner time and there were lights on inside. I don’t know what was different about that moment but just then it hit me. There was a family (or some people, or one person) in there having dinner and likely conversation about stuff. They had their own lives, their own concerns and I had nothing to do with it. On some level up until that point I had been assuming everyone else on the planet was essentially an extra on the set of my life. There most often to make me feel bad about myself and every now and then to befriend me. I wouldn’t say I consciously felt this way but looking back it sounds about right. I have to give myself some slack here and point out that most tween and teens have this perception of the world, at least I believe they do.

Somewhere in the course of my social development I came to a new conclusion, and started basing my assumptions and interactions on this new thought. That everyone was just like me. That people more or less go through the same thought process that I do and would mostly come to the same conclusions as I did if faced with the same decisions. That there was a logic, a way of seeing things that was universal. This method of understanding the people around me quickly showed it’s flaws, not that I let go of it or anything. When someone expressed an opinion different from my own I was confused. I tried to put their words and actions into my predetermined formula and they didn’t fit. It was frustrating. Why didn’t they have the same thoughts that I did? Aren’t we all governed by the same basic rules of how things work? What is right and wrong, good and bad? I still struggle with this. I”m stubborn and hard headed and when someone disagrees with me and I don’t understand why I get annoyed.

I have this innate need to understand. To get to the bottom of whatever it is I am thinking about or dealing with. To say it irritates the people around me would be an understatement. Scott gets the worst of it, and to him, a man who has truly mastered the art of the one word answer, my repetitious why’s  drive him up the wall.  More recently I have learned that my need to understand may be more of a need to control than to truly comprehend. Using the word understand makes it sound passive and interested. Really though I think my constant question asking is seeking out an answer I can change or manipulate. When things don’t go the way I want or expect them to I search for a way to change them. I have a hard time accepting that I can’t get my way.

Presently I have been able to recognize my selfish and manipulative traits and try to change them. And my most recent conclusion about humanity is that I was wrong. I am not especially different with everyone around me serving as background noise. And I am not just like everyone around me. Everyone is especially different. Not only physically and in opinion, but in thought process and decision making. We all have a different sense of the world and the people in it. I perceive the world in my own unique way, as does everyone else. It sounds obvious I know. Yet somehow I spent the majority of my thinking life believing otherwise. Perhaps it was my youth, naivety or narcissism.  I don’t know. What I know is that my children, like all others, will likely go through similar phases where their perception of their surroundings will not be accurate.  And that will be difficult for me, as their Mother. To try to guide them through their lives in a way that will lead them to a more complete picture of their world. If I just tell them they probably won’t really believe me. But I can’t leave them in the dark either. Breadcrumbs here and there containing what I have learned in my time is likely the best I will be able to do. They won’t hear most of it, I didn’t. What they do hear they may think is foolish coming from someone who could not possibly have ever experienced youth, that’s how I saw grown-ups when I was younger. If I wanted to let myself go there I could get really worked up about how scary what lays before me really is. How many ways I could ruin my kids. Send them down the wrong path or lead with the wrong example. It’s to big to wrap my head around completely I think. I’m not going to try, or even let myself start to panic the way I normally do when I see a situation ahead of me I will not be able to control. I am consciously choosing not to map out every option and detail. To deal with what comes as I see it and use the very best judgement I can at the time. I will make mistakes and sometimes maybe wish I could change things, but I promise to myself that I will always remember that I did the best I could.

That’s what we are all doing isn’t it? The best we can with what we have? I think so. And I think that’s a pretty great way to be. Always try your best. You can never look back with regret if you know you tried your best at every turn.

Logan

7 May

At some point I will probably write all about my amazing son and who he is. I think there is more to say than I know how to express on that one, and his personality and intelligence is growing and changing everyday so to write something about that would become inaccurate moments after it was written.

Here I am planning to write about how he has changed me.

While I was pregnant I was nervous like all (most) moms and knew or expected that having a baby would change my life. I mean, it’s obvious, they take over everything. I don’t think I was aware of just how much of everything that really is, but I had some awareness that my life would not be the same. Foolishly on my part I was planning on having him and getting back out to the bars to go dancing with my girlfriends hours, or maybe days, later. HA! So I was wrong on that one. What I learned is this, yes having a child changes your life. They need everything from you, and just the lack of personal time means your life is flipped over. More importantly, and much more interestingly, he changed ME. My values, my perspective, my emotional state, my outlook on people, the world and life as a whole. He flipped me right side up. Turns out I had been living upside down. All I cared about was me, how to make myself happy and what to do next with my time, my attention and my money( ha again since I had SO much money). Then he showed up and suddenly I was a mommy lioness crouching over her baby snarling and clawing at anyone or anything that approached. I’m serious, I’m not exaggerating, I had several visions of myself as a lion because all I wanted to do was hover over him and not let anyone near him. I didn’t know I was so protective, and this little man brought out my not so pretty extremely possessive and controlling traits as well.

So there I was mommy to a new baby, truly very unsure of what lay ahead and feeling very unsteady on these new never before used mom legs. But would I let ANYONE know that I felt that way? Are you kidding? I can do anything. In fact to prove I can do anything I pushed everyone away. Just a phone call from a doting grandparent or concerned other relative sent anger burning through my veins. Scott (daddy lion) was the only person who could safely approach. Alright, so in retrospect perhaps I overreacted just a smidge ( yes you may laugh). I was scared, and my defense mechanism is, well, to be defensive.

So that’s the beginning, well the first year or so. I’m a tad stubborn and I had made my no one can come near my baby, ever, for any reason bed and I was going to lay in it, dammit. But I learned, very slowly to let go in little bits here and there of my insane controlling and possessive ways. I’m still very much that way, but if you saw me then versus now you would see a great improvement I’m sure. Well, I’m fairly confident you would see some sort of positive change.

Anyway what I really wanted to get to is the good stuff that Logan brought into my world. Guess what? I’m very patient! Was I before, um NO. Could I wait for anything? Not really, all about instant gratification and immediately irritated when someone took longer to do something than I thought they should. And now there is the peace floating around me that allows me to wait and watch and see what happens with next without trying to move things along. It’s kind of nice.

I love to celebrate, no not get hammered and teeter around blabbering on about how awesome something is. Get excited about, and maybe do a little dance, when something good happens. Example? Logan started using the toilet. OMG Yes! How excited was I? We did several dances over the course of several days, we sang we laughed we clapped we jumped up and down. Because it was awesome! As if my little baby man can do this big person thing all on his own? Seriously? What better reason is there to celebrate!?

I cry over everything. This is a good thing. My emotions are so much closer to the surface now. I can really feel. I don’t really know what else to say on this one. You get it right? Sure you do.

I have a much greater appreciation for other peoples life stories and the hardships they encounter. I learned to actually BE empathetic, I understood what it meant before but I wasn’t really applying it to my interactions.

I love my husband so much more. I loved Scott to begin with, I mean I married the guy. Obviously I had some sense that he was like important to me or something…I’m laughing here not being (insert negative word). In learning to appreciate his life and who he is, in being empathetic and with my emotions at a level where I could detect their existence on a regular basis I LOVE him. I wasn’t the most emotionally available person before in case that’s not already obvious. I was pretty closed off, and I still can be, it’s an on going learning process. I can say with certainty on this one though I am in a much more positive place now compared to where I was before Logan. I have learned that making myself vulnerable is a good thing, letting my soft side show isn’t as terrifying as I had assumed. I”m not sure why I had assumed it was so dangerous to being with. OK. That’s a lie I do know why I was so closed off but that is a whole other post that I don’t even know I will write .

So, in short, my gorgeous, amazing, and wonderful son taught me how to be a genuine, caring and affectionate human being. And all he did was breathe. Pretty effing amazing eh? Yeah, that’s Logan.

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