Updated: 7 days ago
By Jackie Griggs
I’m a midwife and I have five sons. I never thought about circumcision much in the beginning, but since then, I’ve had a lot of experience with clients asking questions about circumcision. I’d like to share it with you.
When my first son was born in 1974, we stayed in the hospital for three days after the birth. On the third day, I remember we were anxious to go home, but we had to wait until our new baby boy was circumcised. I don’t remember anyone asking my permission and I’m fairly sure I never signed any kind of permission slip. We all just assumed it would be done and it was. I did not see it done. They brought him back to me all wrapped up afterward. He wasn’t crying; It was kind of like he was in a state of shock, but he was ok. He had a plastibell, and I remember it was a relief when it came off about a week later.
My second son was born 10 years later. During that time, I’d gone to nursing school and then worked as a nurse in Labor and Delivery and the newborn nursery. I had witnessed and cared for many babies that had had circumcisions. I was sure I did not want my baby to go through that. Strapping babies down on a circ board and the surgery itself was not anything I wanted my newborn baby boy to go through. I still didn’t worry about it too much beforehand. Again we stayed in the hospital three days after his birth.
On the second day, my husband and I had a discussion about circumcision. He felt very strongly that our son should be circumcised. He wanted him to look like him and he felt he would be ridiculed by other boys if he wasn’t. He didn’t think having a circumcision was any big deal. I felt strongly that I didn’t want to put him through the procedure, but finally I went along with what my husband wanted. I cried when they brought him back to me, but he was okay and it was all soon forgotten.
Three years later, we were blessed with another son! He was born at home with the assistance of a midwife. I’d had a strong intuition that I was going to have another boy, and I had decided that I definitely did not want him circumcised. When the question came up, I told my husband I would not make the arrangements. If he wanted it done, he would have to do it himself. My husband did not agree with my thinking. He was upset about it, but he never got it done. He warned me that later in life, our son would be ridiculed and scorned. I told him that lots fewer boys were being circumcised in the United States and he would not be an outcast. I thought he was going to be our last child. I certainly didn’t expect any more boys, but I was wrong.
Three years later, our 4th boy came along and he too, was left uncircumcised. This time, there was no discussion or hard feelings about it between me and my husband. I was just glad there were two that were and two that weren’t. Three years later, we were blessed with one more son!!! He was left uncircumcised and so now we had three males in our family who were, and three who weren’t. That seemed like a good balance.
In 1990, I became a midwife after apprenticing with another experienced midwife for two years. Our sons grew up happy and healthy and we never had any problems with anyone not being circumcised.
In 1999, when our 3rd son, was 12 years old, I was getting ready to attend a midwifery conference. My husband and I were sitting in the front room discussing it. There was going to be a speaker there discussing and actually performing a live circumcision. There was a lot of debate among the midwives whether or not this was appropriate. Some felt it was a good learning experience and others felt it was totally wrong to contribute to such a controversial procedure for our benefit.
I was telling my husband about the debate among my friends. Our son was listening to us talk from his room next door. He came in asked us “What is a circumcision?” I was flabbergasted that he did not know. He was certainly old enough and he’d played sports long enough to notice. He was sincere that he did not know, but he knew it had something to do with a man’s penis. Our youngest son, who was two, happened to be running around with no pants on and I showed him how they take the end of the penis (the foreskin) and cut it off. Our older son could not believe his ears. He said no, he couldn’t believe it. He couldn’t believe anyone would do that to a baby. I assured him it was true. Hadn’t he ever noticed that his older brother and his dad looked somewhat different from him? No, he had never noticed. He had never been ridiculed and it seemed very unusual and terrible to him that anyone would cut off the end of anyone's penis.
After that, I felt sure in my heart that circumcision is not necessary to ensure family harmony. My husband also admitted several years later, that it was an unnecessary procedure. Please think about it closely before having your son circumcised.