Saturday, January 17, 2009
How it all began...
Finding out that you're going to be a parent is an exciting, yet surreal, moment.
But, if you've got a boy on the way, one of the decisions you'll need to make is whether his penis will circumcised or not. This is the decision that my fianceé left to me last year when we found out the sex.
Anna was indifferent about it, and I just assumed our boy would be circumcised, mostly because I am myself. We also live in the United States (New Jersey to be particular) and it just seemed like something everybody does.
It wasn't until we met with the paediatrician one day and he brought the topic up. He said, somewhat bluntly, that "the Paediatrics Academy doesn't recommend this procedure. From a medical standpoint its not really beneficial, and from an ethical standpoint... well that depends on your point of view."
Driving home, this got me thinking (while Anna concerned herself more with boy names and bedroom wallpaper designs). Her opinion was that I'm the one with the penis, so I should decide what happens in that department.
So, I went on the internet, and did some homework. What happened next shocked me.
It soon became clear that circumcision was no longer something everyone "just did".
I started from the very beginning — doing a Google search for circumcision returned over six million results. At that point, I decided I would need a beer.
So, armed with a 4-pack of Bud and a curiosity as to why there are 6,000,000 webpages about it, I got stuck in.
Next, I realized how hotly debated circumcision actually is. I found it very difficult to find resources that were impartial. Most seemed to be either very "pro" or very "anti", and a lot of people have very strong opinions for their side of the fence, some even resorting to flat out abuse of the opposition.
Oh by the way, for the purposes of this blog, I will often refer to circumcised penises as "cut" and uncircumcised ones as "intact". This seemed like what each battalion preferred calling their respective units, and also I am the laziest person I know, so typing out the long versions every other sentence will soon get tiresome.
When I was eventually able to find some objective resources, I quickly learned a lot. See, I thought that if we didn't have baby Joseph (so he turned out to be named) circumcised, we'd have to intricately wash under his foreskin after every diaper change to prevent all sorts of nasty diseases. Not so. In fact it seemed like more care and attention would be required if we had him cut!
I also learned that the foreskin plays an important role in protecting the penis head, and that I could actually be missing out on some sexual sensation being cut. I think this is disputable, and almost impossible to prove.
To outline what follows: I've split my blog up into 4 sections.
In the first, I'll share what I know of the actual thing that us Americans like to cut off: the foreskin itself.
Next, I'll talk about how America is actually the only country that cuts foreskins off for non-religious reasons!
Thirdly, I will dedicate a whole section to the potential protections circumcision has to offer, as well as its potential risks.
And finally, the decision that I made for little Joe, as I smoked a thousand cigarettes while Anna pressed through labor for what seemed like an eternity, way back in the April of '08...