Now I know a lot more about the politics of penises.
When each of my sons was born, I opted to get them circumcised.
Now I wish I'd left my boys intact.
I ended up staying in the hospital for three full days after my first child was born, not because either of us had complications, but because the surgeon wasn't available to perform his circumcision. When the doctor was finally able to get around to it, my postpartum hormones and new-mom exhaustion were in full swing. I sobbed when they wheeled him away.
He ended up having an abnormal bleed. I watched through a large window as four nurses held him still and pressed gauze against his penis as he shrieked, his entire body gone purple.
The horrible image lingers with me, but it wasn't enough to discourage me from circumcising his little brother two years later.
At that point, I felt like they needed to "match." Each time, I felt like a monster as I changed their dressings and applied ointment. The healing skin looked so raw and angry — had I made the right decision?
I wasn't as involved online back then, and I didn't know much about the circumcision debate. I knew that extremists had a tendency to accuse parents who chose circumcision of mutilation and abuse, but I didn't know much else.
They're not gross, despite what girls giggled about when I was a teenager in an area where very few boys or men were uncircumcised. I have zero complaints, and I'm certain my kids would have been able to manage being uncircumcised just fine.
I disagree with reports likening male circumcision to vaccination. An uncircumcised child isn't going to affect public health the way a child who hasn't been vaccinated will. Research shows that circumcised penises lower the risk of STDs, but I could have taught my boys about proper hygiene and safe sex.
The fact that fewer babies in the U.S. are being circumcised weakens the argument that boys should look the same as their male peers.
I'm not sold on boys needing their penises to fit in, anyway. I've seen boys do the comparison thing. It's a non-issue. My sons have relatives who are uncircumcised. The boys recently changed together, idly noted the differences in their anatomy, and continued a raging debate on Pokémon.
Also, the pee. The pee is a nightmare. When babies and little boys with a foreskin pee, the foreskin kind of directs the urine in a manageable stream. When circumcised babies and little boys pee, it's a nightmare of urine. The forceful stream has a mind of its own.
My older son once peed in a wide 8-foot arc up over his head and all over his adorable nursery curtains. And it's never-ending. I had to throw away an entire toilet seat last week. Had I known about this pee issue before having kids (who routinely destroy my bathroom), I definitely would have left them intact.
My biggest source of regret? I often wonder if my kids, and my kids alone, deserved the chance to decide the fate of their foreskins.
Do you have any regrets about circumcising or not circumcising your boys?
This article was originally published at SheKnows. Reprinted with permission from the author.