I wrote this post about 2 years ago after our experience circumcising Mr. Monkey. This isn’t meant to be a pro/anti-circumcision post, but our experience with feeling helpless in a situation, and a request for people to support, not degrade, each other.
Captain is circumcised. I suppose starting there is best, since that’s why I’m in this whole tangle of emotions. Since he is circumcised he wants our sons to be circumcised. Okay. I don’t have a penis, I’m not one to really make a decision about it. However, I still played devil’s advocate, researching the pros and cons of circumcision, telling him all my findings. Nothing changed his mind, and I’m okay with that. At least he’s informed. So, after our first son, Cabin Boy, was born, I grudgingly made the appointment. I cried the morning leading up to it. I cried in the waiting room. I cried when I took him in, full of guilt that I was leaving him and his little manhood in the hands of someone I didn’t know from Adam, terrified that something would go wrong. The procedure took all of 5 minutes, went totally fine, and CB only showed discomfort the first night. A week went by, the plastibell fell off, and VIOLA. All done. Happy, healthy penis.
Fast-forward to mid-August, when I had our second son, Mr. Monkey’s, circumcision appointment. Same Dr. and all. We’ve been through this before, it should be easy, right? Nope. Same guilt. More tears. I made the mistake of seeking comfort through my social network friends. Most of them are moms I met through local play groups and even most of those that aren’t from the groups are parents; They’ll have words of comfort for me, right? Even if they don’t feel that circumcision is necessary for their sons, they’ll at least have a ‘Good luck’ for us, right? Nope. Apparently, when it comes to the topic of circumcision, despite it being an intensely difficult and personal decision for each family, people feel the need to say something that digs the knife of guilt a little deeper in my gut. Thankfully a few close friends had the words I needed to dry my tears and make the drive to the clinic. Again, I cried as I left the room and sat in the lobby, once again terrified that we could be in the percentage of ‘procedures that went wrong’. Lucky me, there was a wonderful display of teenage angst to keep me preoccupied (really, if any of my kids call me a ‘f*&^ing idiot’ in public, I will backhand them and I don’t care who’s watching- but I digress) and before I knew it the Dr. was there telling me everything went fine. **Breath sigh of relief** Now I felt bad that I had kind of hoped MM had peed on the Dr. like CB did. Mr. Monkey was a bit fussy but nursing and some good cuddle time calmed him down enough to help him sleep for the drive home. Once we got home he worked on filling his diaper so, of course, I changed him… and there was blood. Everywhere. A lot of it. He started screaming. I started crying and yelling for my sister to bring my phone and the paperwork from the Dr. so I could call the ‘if a problem occurs’ number. The nurse told me to take him to Urgent Care immediately, so Captain and I took him in.
Not to include all the gory details but several attempts at cauterization (O.M.-effing-G!!! You want to do WHAT to him now?!), using pressure, different wraps and clotting products, a discussion of plan B to remove the PlastiBell and convert to a Mogen Clamp method, and FOUR HOURS later, the bleeding finally stopped. We’re lucky he’s such a mild mannered baby; he laid in my lap and slept for most of it (thank goodness- I can’t imagine trying to maintain pressure on his little parts had he been squirming and kicking), we managed to maneuver enough so that he could nurse while laying in my lap and not disrupt the process we were going through. Maybe I’m trying to assuage my guilt a bit by telling myself he couldn’t have been in much discomfort since he slept nearly the entire time and barely squeaked through all the gauze changes and various pressure holds we used.
The follow up appointment went well and he’s healed perfectly.
So, what’s the point of me telling you this? I guess I felt the need to put a reminder out there. A plea, if you will. As parents we’re faced with difficult decisions every day. Not that someone’s going over our every move as a parent with a fine-toothed comb, but we’re under a lot of scrutiny and the pressure to ‘do it right’ is overwhelming at the best of times. We all feel it… I’d love to shake the hand of a parent that was exempt from receiving unwanted advice or scrutiny from someone that feels they know better. So why on earth do we insist on putting more pressure on one another? Why couldn’t someone have just said, I hope it goes well, instead of telling me what they think I should or shouldn’t be doing? I have enough guilt and have avoided telling people of our experience because the LAST thing I need right now is someone saying ‘I told you so’ or ‘I never would have done that to MY son’ like it makes them a better mother than I am. I don’t want apologies or backpedaling on things that have been said. I just want to ask everyone to give each other a break. We’re all doing what we feel is best for our families, wading through the myriad of choices and circumstances life throws at us. For whatever reason though, it doesn’t make us sympathetic, it makes us more self righteous. My boys may hate the decision we’ve made for them down the road but, you know what? That’s something Captain and I are prepared to deal with. We should be supporting one another in this hectic phase of our lives, not sowing seeds of doubt and guilt.
So, in conclusion, I would like to issue a challenge. And this goes to everyone, not just parents. The next time someone is discussing a life-choice that you don’t agree with, stay away from the soap box and just wish them good luck. It may not be what’s right for you or your family, it may not fall in with your beliefs, but isn’t that the beauty of everyone being individual?