Saturday, April 29, 2006

au natural

I had a dream the other night that Joe was Brad Pitt. He didn't look like Brad Pitt--he still looked like Joe, and I was still me, and we were still married, but he kept getting calls on his cell from Angelina Jolie on his cell phone, because she was in the hospital getting ready to have THE BABY and I had to be all supportive and whatnot even though I was actually jealous that she was getting all the attention.

I have no idea what that dream was about, except that I find that whole Jolie-Pitt clan to be really, really, really, really ridiculously good-looking.

(Orange mocha frappuchinos!)

* * *

So I was just reading this article in the Times about the study out of Africa showing that circumcision may cut the risk of HIV transmission. Hmm. Nine months too late for us.

I know this is another hot-button topic for some reason (even though I don't quite understand why people care so much about the foreskin of other people's kids) but Cal is uncircumcised. Before he was born, I didn't really care much either way--I mean, I had done my research (literally, meaning that I had to do a presentation on the topic for my urology rotation in med school) and knew that the current AAP position was that the medical benefits of circumcision were not enough to recommend the practice as a standard for all newborns. As for the aesthetic considerations, I had been a Peds resident for two years in a population where hardly any baby boys were circumcised, so I was used to seeing uncirced pee-pees and just figured it was no big thing. However, given that I didn't have a penis myself, I decided to leave the final decision to Joe, who could maybe more critically evaluate the risk-benefit ratio. He also didn't really care so much either way, but we had sort of half-heartedly decided that we would have Cal circed in the hospital before we came home.

See, the thing is, when your kid is born, everything changes. Suddenly it was no longer theoretical, and the idea of putting our kid through an elective surgical procedure, no matter how small, with no significant medical benefit and without any religious or cultural commitment to the practice seemed kind of foolhardy. I felt like we had gotten lucky in our encounter with the fickle gods of the medical establishment--why tempt fate more by offering up another change for something to go wrong, instead of just cuddling our healthy baby and getting the hell out of Dodge as soon as possible? So that's what we decided to do. And that's why Cal is uncirced. But if we had decided to circ him then, it probably wouldn't have been a very big deal either.

Might we have decided differently if the results of the study had come out before Cal was born? Maybe. It's not enough to make us run and get Cal circed now--circing a non-newborn is a big deal, at least in my hospital. It would involved a pediatric urologist and OR time and general anesthesia and all that kind of thing. And it's still not a pressing medical concern. But I guess this is what it's like to be a parent, constantly second-guessing the choices that you've made for someone else. And hoping that you've made the right ones.

Well, the possible increased risk of HIV-transmission for uncircumcised males will hopefully never be an issue anyway, since Cal is never, ever going to have sex. Ever.

Currently reading: OK, I don't know what's up with this, but between having a lot of down-time at work this week (with the neurosurgeons away at conference) and a couple of good subway commutes, I think I've read two and a half Jodi Picoult novels in the past two weeks. I can't quite classify why I have to read these--it's a little bit like my sickness in HAVING to read the rest of the absolutely pulp-like Dan Brown opus in its entirety even after it became clear why he was never a huge name before every airline passenger's favorite, "The Da Vinci Code." Jodi Picoult's stuff is melodramatic and formulaic and the characterizations can be pretty strained at times--but I CAN'T STOP READING THEM. Help me. Though (usually) better written, Picoult's stuff occasionally reminds me of books written by Lurleen McDaniel, this young adult author I read when I was younger that would write books entitled things like "Why Did She Have To Die?" and "Six Months To Live." I am reading "The Tenth Circle" now. Wait, let me guess...there's going to be a courtroom scene and a last minute SHOCKING revelation on the witness stand.


  1. Thank you for keeping Cal intact and perfectly whole as he was born. We are meant to have foreskin (prepuce); we’re all born with it (male=foreskin; female=clitoral hood). Worldwide, 70% of men are intact and enjoy the full extent of their sexuality. Less than 1% of them ever choose to have this significant part (15 sq. inches) of their penis cut off.

    The perfect design and miracle of a child includes their genitals. The right to genital autonomy – independently choosing what happens to one’s own genitals – belongs to all children. It is permissible for an adult to cut, tattoo or pierce their own body, but it is not ok to force these on children. Federal law 18 U.S. Code § 116 has protected girls’ genitals since 1997, regardless of parental cultural beliefs. Why protect one gender, yet amputate part of the other without his consent?

    Proper intact care is simple and essential, especially for Cal's well being. Wash like a finger, outside only, no harsh soap; never forcibly retract! If he can pee, leave him be. The boy should be the first and only to retract. The glans and foreskin are naturally adhered, like a fingernail to the nail bed. They eventually separate; average age 10 years. Then he retracts, rinses and replaces. It’s easier than daily dental care, properly washing hands, and feminine hygiene. Misinformation and premature forced retraction cause problems, not foreskin.

    The studies that tout 60% reduction in HIV transmission from circumcision are extremely flawed. These explain why:
    *** When bad science kills, or how to spread AIDS
    *** The Use of Male Circumcision to Prevent HIV Infection

    *** Foreskin Care: A Guide for Parents (It's easy!)
    *** How Foreskin Works (many functions explained and a brief video animation)
    *** Global Survey of Circumcision Harm (including how an intact penis looks and functions)
    *** Intact or Circumcised: A Significant Difference in the Adult Penis
    *** Circumcision - Penis Sensitivity Test by Morris L. Sorrells, M.D.
    *** Sex as Nature Intended It
    *** The National Organization of Restoring Men
    *** Child Circumcision: An Elephant in the Hospital
    *** American Secret: One Nation under Knife