November 21, 2007

Nip Tuck

Chris, today, was talking about circumcisions. He was in no way asking for any advice, and so naturally, like a good e-friend and loyal reader, I am totally going to give him some.


I don't agree with circumcision. I don't agree with it because both of my sons are circumcised.

There comes a point in your pregnancy, when you know it's a boy, when you and your spouse have the talk about this. Our talk went like this:

Him: What do you think about this circumcision thing?

Me: I don't know...what do you think?

Him: Well, I'd kind of like to not explain why mine looks different than his.

Me: Well, last time I checked, I didn't have one of those, so I'll leave this up to you. But, if you do it, I want NO PART of it.

Him: Cool.

And that was it. 1of3 was born, and dad went with matching accessories. I really had no part of it; I wasn't in the room when they did it and I skipped the next few diaper changes. Because, yuck. And ouch. Youch.

And then, when 2of3 was born, it wasn't really a choice at all, was it?

Here's what they don't tell you about circumcisions, or at least what they do tell you but you absolutely cannot grasp until you're dealing with it. Sometimes, sometimes the skin grows back a little. Sometimes, even if you Vaseline the crap out of it and do the alcohol swabs religiously like they tell you to, sometimes nature fights you and fights you hard and you are left, all alone, at 3 in the morning, to have to roll back that skin that has totally ignored your good intentions and healed itself right back to the tip of that thingy you were trying to trim it from. You have to roll it back, which honestly just means ripping it away from where it wants to be. You have no choice at this HAS to be done. And as much as it sucks for you, what with the bleeding and the oozing and stuff, it sucks that much more for your child who has just gone through a rather strenuous move and really just wants to sleep.

There are other things they don't tell you. They don't tell you that if you ask for a circumcision, they will do it, and they will do it even if your little man is indeed a little man. They will do it even though that thingy isn't sticking out far enough for them to get a decent hold of, and you will have to suffer through the cleaning and the crying and all the headaches, and when it's all over and you man has grown a little, you will not be able to tell they did it at all. They will do this because they will do anything you're willing to pay them to do. It will not bother you right away, but when the kid's 3 or so, you're going to be mighty annoyed at the whole uncircumcised-though-totally-circumcised deal.

There is another thing they don't tell you. They don't tell you that sometimes they won't finish it. They don't tell you that they do the bottom skin first, and then check for things, and then do the top. They don't tell you that if they get half way in and the check doesn't go well, that you are left with a half-circumcised boy.

On the off-chance that your son has a crooked urethra, they will do surgery to fix it, about when the child is one. They will need skin to graft after the surgery, and that foreskin is prime graft fodder. So, when they circumcise a boy, they cut off the top of the skin, do a quick check of the urethra, and then get the bottom half. Unless the urethra is not straight, at which point they stop. A year later, you go to the doctor to schedule the surgery to fix the urethra, and thereby remove the remaining flap of skin, only to find out that in the past year that urethra has totally straightened itself right out.

You now have three options:
  1. Schedule a cosmetic, elective surgery that no insurance in the galaxy will pay for, because after your hospital stay for the birth, circumcision is considered major surgery involving general anesthesia and stuff while he's still young enough to totally forget it.
  2. Deal with it until he's a little older, when maybe he'll just have fuzzy memories of the whole thing in his adult life, until you can explain what the deal is and trust that he can get a local anesthetic and not mess with it after.
  3. Ignore it and pray like crazy that he never has to change in a locker room, and perhaps start a savings account for the therapy bills you'll have to pay when he realizes what you've done to him*.

We went with option 3. We really meant to go with 2, but by the time it came to deal with it, well, he was kind of fond of his little weiner and we didn't have the heart to tell him it was different. And besides, there are advantages to having only your bottom foreskin. It makes a lovely hiding spot for small rocks and marbles; you can fill it with water and then toddle over to that new baby your parents just brought home and dump the water all over his weird, bald head. I don't really ever want to know if there are any other perks.

What this is going to come down to is that one day, he's going to figure this out. One day, he's going to have to make a choice about this. I imagine that your feelings about that part of your body, as a man, are kind of pivotal to your image of yourself, and that is going to get called into question someday for my son. And all of this will happen because of an unnecessary, silly, traditional nip tuck. I know it's unnecessary because, as you read up there, my other son had it done but it really wasn't done, you know? I had to care for a circumcision, but then I had to care for it, and teach him to care for it, as though it had never happened. And I had to teach my oldest son that same care, just for one half.

So, yes, both of my sons were circumcised. And I regret those two decisions more than almost any other I've made with them. But hell, it makes for good, embarrassing stories later. And Chris, I hope this helps and I also hope you don't mind that I left your comment on my blog. That would've been a mighty long comment.

*Or when he realizes that you've told the entire world about it, via the internet. Sorry, 1of3.

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