Lisa and I never gave much thought to circumcision. We figured Andrew would be circumcised since we both are too -- although with Lisa it was a bad bed of nails accident. As our doctors and pediatricians asked whether or not we were going to ginsu knife Andrew's delicate sashimi, their response to our affirmative answer was always, "...oh...okay..."
You see, there are a number of associations that don't advocate circumcision. For instance, the American Academy of Pediatrics says there's "...insufficient data to recommend routine neonatal circumcision." Other groups against circumcision include Foreskin Forever, No Stitch In Time Saves 6 Inches, and Triple AAA (you get 10% off at Pep Boys if you show your uncircumcised penis).
As soon as I heard circumcision isn't totally recommended, I went ahead and did a little internet research. First of all, if you read the Wikipedia article on circumcision there are quite a few pictures of flaccid and erect penises. Secondly, even though there are graphic pictures of penises they are not blocked from your work computer. Lastly, do not read the Wikipedia article on circumcision when your bosses are around the office. Also it does not help your cause when you accidentally shout out loud, "Omigod! Look at those erect penises on my computer screen!"
Most of the articles I read said there wasn't really anything that good or bad about circumcision. And if there's not really anything that good about it, why do it. There are of course religious and cultural reasons to perform circumcision. Additionally, some studies show benefits of peeling the banana: randomized control studies show that there is a 50-60% reduction in risk of HIV transmission from female to male; there is a lower risk of infection and inflammation of the penis; and lower cases of penile cancer from anywhere from 3 to 22 times less. Which is great news for me because I still smoke cigars with my penis.
As the days grew closer to the final cut, I was still wavering with my decision. I emailed Lisa's sister, Susan, for her advice. Not because she has a circumcised penis, but she is a pediatric nurse. She responded that although circumcision is not necessary, her personal opinion was to do it due to hygiene benefits.
All this time Lisa was firm with her opinion to have Andrew's salami sliced. Easy for her to say since she doesn't have a penis, although she does have two gigantic testicles. Since Lisa had a strong opinion and due to a handful of potential health benefits I decided we would proceed with the procedure.
September 28th. We all get into the car and make our way to the doctor's office. I called it D-Day: Dick Day. When we arrived at the hospital, the nurse escorted us into a room with a little bed and four velcro straps. The nurse asked us to take off his pants. After Lisa mistakenly took my pants off, we correctly got Andrew naked from the waist down.
The saddest part was to see the nurse strap Andrew's four limbs to the bed. He was crying and crying. His face was a deep red that soon turned to purple. I could've sworn he said his first words which may have been "F U", but it was all mixed up with the yelling.
The doctor entered the room. As he was preparing his instruments, I was preparing my mind. I hate blood and surgery and doctors, but Andrew's my kid. Although he will never remember this day, I will. And how could I desert him when he's obviously distressed and confused. Only a good father would stay with his son.
Before the mangling commenced, the doctor turned to me and said, "You know, you don't have to be in here. I'm a doctor and I wasn't even in the room when my son was circumcised."
I stood firm and said, "Sounds good to me! I'll be right out the door."
I mean seriously. Andrew will never remember this day, and I can learn to be a good father tomorrow. Screw that.
The whole procedure only took about a minute. There was some crying involved, but surprisingly, after I wiped my eyes I calmed down quite a bit. When we reentered the room Andrew was calm. The doctor and nurse said he was very brave and instructed us how to take care of his newly shaved penis. Over the next week, there was absolutely nothing weird or odd or bloody that happened with Andrew's wee-wee.
If I learned anything from this, I learned that when it comes to your kids you just want to do what's best for them. And even when you do what you think is best for them, you still wonder whether or not you made the right decision. Sadly, my fretting over circumcision is just a glimpse of the many larger problems and decisions Lisa and I will have to make down the road.
Oh! And I also learned that when push comes to shove, I'll ditch my kid for the nearest door.