A Tough Call: My Son's Circumcision Story

A Tough Call: My Son's Circumcision Story


A Tough Call: My Son's Circumcision Story

It’s a snippy issue: Should voters in San Francisco outlaw male circumcision?

If you ask Lloyd Schofield, the answer is yes. Last summer, Schofield began collecting the more than 7,000 signatures required to put a ballot measure before voters in November. In mid-February, Schofield told the San Francisco Examiner that he was “on track” to have enough signatures by the April 26 deadline. He won’t tell just how many signatures he’s acquired. But if he’s successful, voters could choose to criminalize infant male circumcision. If passed, the measure would make circumcision of a male less than 18 years of age a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of $1,000.

Seriously?

I struggle with why this needs to make the ballot.

Schofield believes adults should make circumcision decisions, and I agree with him. Just not on the point of which adults. He says we should limit the prerogative to men ages 18 and older (who want the procedure for themselves). I say: parents.

Throughout our children’s lives, we moms and dads make decision after decision regarding our kids’ best interests. Some of these choices are easy; others put us through the ringer. When an infant boy enters our world, the question of whether to circumcise him stares us down, forcing us to make a choice that will impact him for all his days.

Currently, we parents decide if our sons will sport a “hot dog bun” or a “football helmet,” and though it’s not easy, that’s the way it should stay. (You may snicker at the reference, but for boys, the difference in appearance between the two is no laughing matter, especially once they hit the junior high school locker room.)

By the time my son was born, my husband had convinced me not to circumcise. He remembered how much his older son (from a previous marriage) cried. I think he mostly remembered how much he cringed. So we took home a gorgeous baby boy with a hot dog bun.

This issue of cleanliness really wasn’t a problem. My husband was on active duty in the military back then and busy, so for the most part, I was the one monitoring the hygiene issue. I was careful to follow the doctor’s instructions.

This worked fine until my son was three. Then things got “stuck.” He was in uncontrollable pain. I had no idea what to do. So off to the doctor I went with a screaming kid. The drive music that usually soothed him did nothing.

Turns out my son was among the one in five uncircumcised boys who wind up with an adhesion by age eight. Surgery was the only solution. The hot dog bun became a football helmet after all.

I have perhaps the most adorable photo of my son in his hospital bed that day. He’s in his surgery gown and cap and sitting next to his Tickle Me Elmo, who we dressed in a similar hospital gown and net cap. Gearing up Elmo gave my little guy the courage to wait until he was wheeled away to the operating room.

In spite of that sweet moment, this story never gets cute. Once the drugs wore off, my son’s cries of pain were so intense that even the most detached nurses took pity.

The good news is that the whole episode passed and he doesn’t remember it. The bad news is that the guilt my husband and I both felt did not. It stayed with us for a long time. I know I’d rather have comforted a screaming one-week old. And wouldn’t it have been easier on our son, too, if we’d just done it when he was a baby?

More to the point, isn’t this second-guessing just part of parenting? We make what we think is the best decision and then live with its consequences.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association have both stated that routine male infant circumcision is not necessary.

That’s nice. I appreciate their input. But let parents of baby boys–and not the knife police–weigh that information along with stories like mine as they make the first of what will be many difficult decisions regarding their sons’ lives.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

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