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to snip or not to snip?

Before we had a child we had a lot of time to mull over important parenting decisions. The decision to try a home birth was a long though-out, well researched project. I read two books, talked to a woman who had done one and another who was planning one, and grilled our potential midwife. And all this before I even went off the pill! By the time we got pregnant (On our first month trying - have I mentioned that before?) I was so confident about the home birth decision, I could have debated the surgeon general on the senate floor.

Then the baby came out, and important decisions we had never thought about started flying at us fast and furious. Should he sleep in our bed? Should we get him circumcised? Should we get him vaccinated? And if so, how much vaccinated? All these decisions needed to be made with the available mental capacity of a sleep-deprivation test dummy. No time to read books anymore. Barely enough time to check wikepedia.

The circumcision decisions took a lot of turns for us. Before Harvey was born Dan and I casually discussed having a boy and what we would do about the, err, foreskin issue. The extent of our logic was pretty much: meh, circumcised penises look normal, right? I've never seen an uncircumcised penis, have you? No? Then I guess it's settled.

BTW, just for the record, I wouldn't advise anyone to make any decisions based on the number of penises Dan and I have collectively viewed. It's not what you'd call a statistically significant sample.

Anyway, we were pretty sure we were having a girl, like 95% sure, so we didn't spend much more time meditating on infant penises. But then it was little Harvey, and not say a little Lily, that came shooting out, and when I took a gander at what he had between his legs, my emotional reactions ran in this order:

1) "IT'S A BOY!" (I wanted a boy... I win!)
2) "Is that okay?" (Oh crap, Dan wanted a girl...)

It was only towards the end of Harvey day 2 that the logistics of a circumcision started to become real to me. Like, for example, that we would need to go to a hospital. Which entailed getting in the car. Which necessitated setting up the car-seat. And I'm in bed. And like, really lazy.

No, it was more than just laziness. Rebecca the midwife came over on day 2 and brought with her a heal-slick test that necessitated taking several drops of blood from Harvey's foot. It's a rather non-invasive procedure, except that Harvey wasn't a terrific bleeder, so the ordeal took several pricks over the course of five minutes. During the test, I held the baby while he screamed and screamed and screamed and screamed. He screamed like the world was ending. "WAAAA WAAAAA WAAAAA," he said, "REBECCA IS KILLING ME! WHY AREN'T YOU SAVING ME MOMMA?????" Well, at least that's what I heard. After everyone left that afternoon Dan and I lay side-by-side in the bed trying to catch our breath. I think Dan was the one that brought up this issue. "I'm not so sure about the circumcision thing."

Me neither. Indeed, at that moment there was no way I was stepping inside of that sterile smelling chamber of horrors with my child, certainly not for a voluntary mutilation. But before I could let apathy run its course I had to assuage my original fears regarding the appearance of God-given peni. So I (gulp) googled "uncircumcised penis."

Hey, I'm not that dumb... I didn't click on image search.

Seeing as I didn't search for something like "uncircumcised penis totally hard" or "uncircumcised penis and hot asian sluts," the first entry was Wikepedia. Thank You Wikepedia for containing all the search strings in the world! You saved my computer!

In a very scientific fashion, wikepedia showed me images of an adult circumcised penis next to an uncircumcised one, both in flaccid and erect states. For my part I was like, Really? This is what all the fuss is about? I had imagined a natural member acting something like the head of the medusa... Don't look at it or you'll be turned to stone!!! In reality, it looks, um, like a penis. No more or less scary (depending on your mood) than the typical variety.

But of course, circumcision is first and foremost a religious issue, so we consulted with the bible. The practice comes from Genesis 17, in which God establishes the covenant of circumcision with Abraham. Still, as Christians we tend to put a bit more weight on the New Testament, which is good since in the case of circumcision at least it's less baffling. In Romans 4 we have a long theological discussion from Paul to convince us that the uncircumcised still share in Abraham's inheritance, because Abraham "received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them." And an even a more straight-forward command came to the folks in Corinth: "Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God's commands is what counts." (1 Corinthians 7:18)

So that sealed the deal religiously, but there was still the matter of telling my parents. I didn't bring up Paul's letters (who's whatters?) or the unspoken truth that um, like, I'm not Jewish anymore. I just said that this was our decision and we done made it. Subtext? I'm Harvey's Momma. You wanna hang out with him? You gotta go through me.

Shanda aside (it's yiddish for GOD FORBID ANYONE ELSE SHOULD HAVE SUCH A DAUGHTER WHO BRINGS SHAME ON HER FAMILY) I'm pretty happy about our decision, especially when I look at that cute little penis peeing all over the changing table and I know that he gets to keep 100% of what God gave him. May all our parenting decisions be so rewarding in the end!

Speaking of which, first vaccinations are on Thursday. Ugh.

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