Friday, December 24, 2010

UNCUT - In Defense of the Foreskin

The last we left my story I had gotten knocked up again, luckily by my husband. It was an accident so I like using the term “knocked up.” It kind of reminds me of backing into someone’s car and causing a dent, but way more life changing.

After humorous trips to New Orleans and Miami as the D.P.D. “Designated Pregnant Driver” Patrick and I discovered we were having a boy. Oh no! Here it is – the inevitable question that spans cultural and religious arguments between our families; he is Romanian and I am a half Jewish, half Catholic American. To circumcise, or not to circumcise, that is the question.

According to medical journals on the subject of circumcision, Patrick still has his “penile integrity” while the men of my family, you could say don’t have integrity in that area. To many of my American friends the decision to circumcise is a no brainer. Their husbands, fathers, and brothers all survived the removal of their foreskin so will their sons. However, my husband was not born American and the idea of slicing off his foreskin is torturous and arcane to him. My father, on the other hand, started to wage a campaign for circumcision by reminding me daily of the dangers of “schmutz” build-up. I like to consider my self a progressive thinker and took the duration of my pregnancy to deliberate keeping my son’s ‘integrity.’

My first response was to consider my relationship with the uncircumcised sect. I had always preferred them since I met my first foreskin when I was 20-years-old while studying abroad in London. The owner’s name was oddly enough Christopher Reeves. I never actually had sex with him, content on seeing how it worked manually. The first time I actually took one for a ride was in Pittsburgh by a tattooed, raven haired boy who had been born at home. For the first time in my inexperienced sex life, it didn’t hurt. I had found my type!

Thinking of my little baby as a man was giving me disturbing pregnant mama dreams. I had no idea how to raise a boy! I mean I barely knew how to date them and now it was up to me to mold his idea of women for life. If I let my husband do it he might end up with all his father’s flaws! I didn’t have these anxieties with my little girl Lyra. I just told Patrick she wasn’t dating until college. He rolled his eyes at me and told me I was paranoid. “No, I know myself,” I replied, “and if she is my daughter than there is trouble ahead. ”

But it was a ‘he’ now inside me kicking my ass from the inside out and the decision to nip his willie was starting to feel barbaric. Was it even my decision to begin with? It seemed a big personal decision for a man. Shouldn’t it be his decision? Will he be made fun of in the locker room if I didn’t!?

According to the U.S. Circumcision Statistics about half of the babies born in the U.S. are not being circumcised, which is about 15 percent increase from the 80s. According to our neonatal physician, the practice of circumcising became popular after the World Wars in the States. Men who were subject to the unclean and dire environments of the trenches came back with infections and other gross ailments. Consequently, they started to circumcise babies because the process was very painful for adult. Now the procedure is considered elective and some insurance carriers will not cover it.

My father likes to remind me that my grandfather had his done to marry my Jewish grandmother. Poor man was disowned from his family for it, or maybe it was the Jewish bit. OMG! Why was I listening to my family? I never had before, but having kids makes you realize you need help and, in my case, a reminder of what not to do. My little unborn baby’s peter was becoming a hot topic at the dinner table.

My mother is under the belief that men get circumcised so they don’t give women yeast infections. During my check-ups I took the subject up with my OBGYN, who happens to also be Romanian. We usually spent most of my visits gossiping about our Romanian husbands and trying to cure my sore butt. She told me that her patients get yeast infections from partners that were circumcised and it wasn’t a cure for contracting STDs.

The biggest fear I had of becoming the proud mother of an uncut boy was that I would be the mom that constantly had to remind their son to wash his penis. I could see myself yelling at my poor embarrassed son, “Did you wash your peter? I don’t care what your daddy says you go back in there and wash your peter.” Horror.

But what if he wanted to be Jewish? It turns out it is one of God’s commandments to be circumcised. That was like 5000 years ago, I argued. Can’t there be a new interpretation that would let my son remain intact and accepted? Not sure I am the person to start the revolution within the Jewish community, but I vowed if my son wanted to study Torah I would go to battle. Until then, Merry Christmas.

By the time I was eight months pregnant I was insane with having to make a decision. I had also gained 55-60 lbs by eating cupcakes everyday and was ready to start dieting, so I thought. I was ready to be unpregnant by the end of May, but wasn’t ready to make the decision about the future sex life and hygiene of my son. That was when my husband finally spoke up.

“I thought you were going to make the ‘right’ decision on you own, but you are thinking about this way too much,” he said. “We are not circumcising.” Whew! Someone made a decision. To further cement his case Patrick cited studies that stated the procedure could be psychologically traumatic and destroy nerve endings.

When we told our doctors they congratulated us for making the decision. When we told my family they were less pleased and acted astonished that Europeans like my husband are not. Actually, my son will join 80 percent of the world’s males in that area.

The only thing left to do was give birth. I had been having contractions every time I farted, or rather the baby farted. I had even gone into the hospital to be sent home when I only dilated 3.5cm. On the way home, Patrick and I stopped at an old favorite of mine – the bar. In the 70s they use to administer alcohol to women in labor to help them with contractions. Not to fear, I only had one glass of wine.

After a week of bouncing up and down, having sex, taking walks, and trudging my daughter around the zoo in the heat I decided to get induced on May 30th. My deliveries go pretty fast once they get started. This time around everything went smoothly, unlike the emergency entrance of my daughter. My husband, who is an anesthesiologist, even let my daughter gently pull out my epidural line.

“Ha! Even a two-year-old could do your job,” my dad chided from the back of the room.

We named him Lucian Orion Filip. His middle name was from me. Orion use to be the only man I could depend on, always in the sky above me. Now here he was in my arms. I am not sure how good a female role model I will be, but for now he is my little lover, always connected to my boobs.

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