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A Tough Call: My Son's Circumcision Story

A Tough Call: My Son's Circumcision Story

A Tough Call: My Son's Circumcision Story

It’s a snippy issue: Should voters in San Francisco outlaw male circumcision?

If you ask Lloyd Schofield, the answer is yes. Last summer, Schofield began collecting the more than 7,000 signatures required to put a ballot measure before voters in November. In mid-February, Schofield told the San Francisco Examiner that he was “on track” to have enough signatures by the April 26 deadline. He won’t tell just how many signatures he’s acquired. But if he’s successful, voters could choose to criminalize infant male circumcision. If passed, the measure would make circumcision of a male less than 18 years of age a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of $1,000.


I struggle with why this needs to make the ballot.

Schofield believes adults should make circumcision decisions, and I agree with him. Just not on the point of which adults. He says we should limit the prerogative to men ages 18 and older (who want the procedure for themselves). I say: parents.

Throughout our children’s lives, we moms and dads make decision after decision regarding our kids’ best interests. Some of these choices are easy; others put us through the ringer. When an infant boy enters our world, the question of whether to circumcise him stares us down, forcing us to make a choice that will impact him for all his days.


Currently, we parents decide if our sons will sport a “hot dog bun” or a “football helmet,” and though it’s not easy, that’s the way it should stay. (You may snicker at the reference, but for boys, the difference in appearance between the two is no laughing matter, especially once they hit the junior high school locker room.)

By the time my son was born, my husband had convinced me not to circumcise. He remembered how much his older son (from a previous marriage) cried. I think he mostly remembered how much he cringed. So we took home a gorgeous baby boy with a hot dog bun.

This issue of cleanliness really wasn’t a problem. My husband was on active duty in the military back then and busy, so for the most part, I was the one monitoring the hygiene issue. I was careful to follow the doctor’s instructions.

This worked fine until my son was three. Then things got “stuck.” He was in uncontrollable pain. I had no idea what to do. So off to the doctor I went with a screaming kid. The drive music that usually soothed him did nothing.

Turns out my son was among the one in five uncircumcised boys who wind up with an adhesion by age eight. Surgery was the only solution. The hot dog bun became a football helmet after all.

I have perhaps the most adorable photo of my son in his hospital bed that day. He’s in his surgery gown and cap and sitting next to his Tickle Me Elmo, who we dressed in a similar hospital gown and net cap. Gearing up Elmo gave my little guy the courage to wait until he was wheeled away to the operating room.

In spite of that sweet moment, this story never gets cute. Once the drugs wore off, my son’s cries of pain were so intense that even the most detached nurses took pity.

The good news is that the whole episode passed and he doesn’t remember it. The bad news is that the guilt my husband and I both felt did not. It stayed with us for a long time. I know I’d rather have comforted a screaming one-week old. And wouldn’t it have been easier on our son, too, if we’d just done it when he was a baby?

More to the point, isn’t this second-guessing just part of parenting? We make what we think is the best decision and then live with its consequences.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association have both stated that routine male infant circumcision is not necessary.

That’s nice. I appreciate their input. But let parents of baby boys–and not the knife police–weigh that information along with stories like mine as they make the first of what will be many difficult decisions regarding their sons’ lives.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

Join The Conversation
ragsangle ragsangle 5 years
The choice is up to the parents...period!
MichelleMercer89577 MichelleMercer89577 5 years
I absolutely agree! Parents need to be able to make decisions for their children. It's nobody's business if I have my son circumcised or not. And by the way, both of my sons are circumcised and are doing great! I have a step son who did not have the procedure but he seems to be doing great as well. So the government should stay out of such personal issues.
CoMMember13631177378076 CoMMember13631177378076 5 years
My son is now 10 months .. and i think why spend 300 dollars on something the baby doesnt need! I have a friend that got her son circumcised, and she is so broke she doesnt know wheres she's gonna get the money.. i guess if you are more than financially stable its ok. But i mean its tough enough being born and having a bunch of people pinching you with needles all day.. and then adding another pain just because mommy and daddy want to.. i feel its a choice ... but i think its something to think about .! i rather have those 300 bucks and buy formula bottles and diapers.. but thats only because im just getting buy with my money now.. i mean its a way of we live thats how we make choices..
BiancaHamilton BiancaHamilton 5 years
Hi everyone, So many people so many opinions, I have 2 daughters and a baby boy. My husband and i decided to get our son circumcised he was 6 weeks old. We did it for so many reasons 1 being "like his daddy" (which if all read on before commenting not the only) 2: cleanliness 3: got a lot of information from many doctors 4: if the satistics are right it may just cut out alot of diseases. Circumcision isn't for everyone but it is NOT WRONG and for my son being the age he was he will never remember and never have those infections some uncircumcised have. I REALLY DONT THINK PEOPLE SHOULD BE MAKING SUCH A HUGE DEAL ABOUT THIS TOPIC. You either do or u dont. Each to their own :)
JaimeMcKown JaimeMcKown 5 years
Cyndavaz - your comment is a bit bias. Just like male circumcision you need to do your homework before making assumptions and comments like this. Female "mutilation" as they call it, is mostly practiced in Africa and it is not a required Muslim practice on girls - though boys circumcision is. And it was practiced by both Christian and Muslim religion so as your homework first.
JaimeMcKown JaimeMcKown 5 years
I thank you SO much for this article! Finally a mother who didn't have her son circumcised and can see what a difference it actually does make. And most "anti-circs" always state how there is no issues with uncirc'd boys. There was no thought for me in having my boys done. My view is that I would not be with an uncircumcised guy so why would I have my sons not done?
CherylWharton55898 CherylWharton55898 5 years
I got my son done and yes it is painful for a little while but he will never remember it and hearing from so many grown men who didn't have it done 'm glad I did. Because you see picture this... Young man decides he wants to lose his virginity, skin tears, excessive bleeding, rushed to Emergency.... What a moment to remember
KarenMcAuley KarenMcAuley 5 years
I believe in being pro-choice on all fronts - no government body should be able to tell anyone what to do or not to do when it comes to their bodies or that of their children's in the medical and religious aspect. I had my son circumcised when he was a week old - and I do not regret it. I was not comfortable with cleaning it and thankfully I had it done because even at 10 to get him to shower is like an all out battle and since his diabetes was diagnosed at 5 I was so glad I had it done since he is more prone to infection now that his immune system is compromised. I don't see why anyone should come down on anyone else for doing it or not doing's a personal choice and I have only met a few that have not had it done - and the one friend I have - her son is 13 and he STILL doesn't clean it properly and gets infections a lot...but she doesn't want him to get it done now due to the pain factor. I did it for personal reasons and if my next child is a boy I will be doing it husband is ok with it and he has not been done but he wishes he had been...there are a lot worse things we could decide for our children out there and that would be far more detrimental in the long run than this. I think the Government should stay out of it...
AnnDMFT AnnDMFT 5 years
Sounds like you need another doctor. There is no reason to circumcise a little boy ever. Adhesions can be treated very easily with steroid creams. Just another tragic story in the ignorance of American docs and the normal development of the foreskin.
CaitlynEnnis CaitlynEnnis 5 years
Oh my I am amazed by the amount of people who say that circumcision is cleanliness and such....It's there when your born there is a reason it's there I do feel it's whatever the parents decide but to think that a child who is not is dirty or will most likely have problems when they are older is absurd as long as you are washing the penis there should be no problem. To debate weather to even fathom doing it to an older child, toddler etc is crazy. Leave it alone there is nothing wrong with it, it's a penis people the only reason that doctors sarted doing it is because it became a fad or religon. If you want to do it when your child is born do it. If you want to leave it when there born leave it but don't for one second think that just because someone is not that they are unkept and dirty.....jeeze the world we live in.....
jobycreasman jobycreasman 5 years
i found this link about penile cancer. Circumcision may decrease the risk. Men who are not circumcised should be taught at an early age the importance of cleaning beneath the foreskin as part of their personal hygiene. i just saw on local news this guy lost part of his, because this happened to him,but the doctors found cancer and removed it. Now he is sueing the hospital
jobycreasman jobycreasman 5 years
This procedure NEEDS to be performed as an infant or very young. I disagree with you because some people consider it an order or commandment from their creator and I will do my utmost to obey Him and the laws that God gave humankind.
JennyRadigan JennyRadigan 5 years
Yikes, one in five? In the U.S.? Stop retracting the penis before it's ready and BOOM...problem of "1 in 5" done. What a ridiculous argument for pro-circumcision. Most important thing for parents of boys to do is their own research. Learn how to properly care for your boy, and read about the debate and the consequences of certain methods.
CristinaBishop CristinaBishop 5 years
Both sides of this arguement were well presented.... in the COMMENTS. The story...not so much. And to the one commenter, Holly from the ob/gyn.... My mommy friends are a mix of well-insured and medical assistance mommies and NONE of us made the decision of circumcision based on what was and was not covered by insurance. It wasn't even one of the issues discussed in the decision.
jayKoh90180 jayKoh90180 5 years
Why would you put your perfect baby boy through unnecessary surgery? Surgery that can cause death? And that does cause pain? And where did the statistic 1 in 5 need surgery come from? I live in Ireland and I the only person I know who has had it done is my husband and I have never met or known anyone who has had an emergency circ? Really who made up the one in five part? And mentioning hygiene? Of course there was no problem? There is no extra care needed, the foreskin keeps all of that under control like nature (god) intended it to. And then pasting this 'cute' pic of the baby boy in hospital? ? Am hello? Do we look that stupid? Circ is NOT CUTE. Don't try to make people think it is!! I was ready to divorce my husband until he agreed to leave my son the way god made him, I feel so strongly about the fact that people are lied to about the ''benefits'' of circumcision. There are no benefits. And my husband and I nearly always need lube when having sex because a woman is made to have sex with a man with the foreskin attached. Talk about ruining the moment! I would never put my son through the shock and pain and the risk of death unless there was a problem later on. And there more than likely wont be... I mean one in five? Really? Who are we trying to kid? Think of 5, even ten boys you know who have foreskin.. no problems there... That's if you live somewhere where the boys were left alone and not scared forever with their first time feeling anything on their sexual organ being extreme pain. Enough pain to make a newborn stop crying and freeze in pain, silent pain. Don't follow the crowd!
HeatherDaugherty49253 HeatherDaugherty49253 5 years
Shortly after my son was born, and we were struggling with this decision, a friend told me a story similar to yours, where her son ended up with a circumcision at 3. It gave me peace that we did the right thing by my son's circumcision at 2 weeks old.
BriaIvey BriaIvey 6 years
My son is 5 mons old and has not been but only because of medical reasons. When he was born his blood platelets were way to low and I nor the doctors wanted to take the risk of him being cut and bleeding out so it was not done. They told me that I would have to wait until he was one to have it done which is fine with me, I have planned on it being done but at rectent doctors appointment the doctor kinda scared my husband my telling him that something could happen to our child (mentally) when they put him under so my hubby is now having second thoughts. I still think that its a parent choice babies dont know what they want and thats why they have us to make the best decision for them outlawing that will just make parents go across state lines to have it done. The government really just needs to stay out of our homes.
JessicaBlackmore JessicaBlackmore 6 years
I think anyone who would do this to their son is freaking ridiculous.. why on earth would you mess with nature! It is ABUSE! And I think that any mom that chooses it should try having a clitorectomy... and then decide...Pretty Pathetic parents got to do stuff like that!
ElliBean ElliBean 6 years
If a parent can choose to circumcise a boy, they should be allowed to circumcise their baby girl, too. Except no, they shouldn't, because they are then choosing to remove, healthy, functional body parts that their children cannot get back, ever. If that child grows up and wants to be circumcised, that is the time for them to decide it themselves. Unless of course there is something medically wrong that would require such a procedure to correct (which is always the exception for any body part), then of course the law shouldn't allow it. My husband was circumcised, and he's angry about it. He would like his foreskin back, please. He would like to have sensation down there. But he can't have that. Babies grow up and the these are REAL issues they will come to face. For however many boys are circumcised and glad, there will be boys who grow into men who are not at all glad and can't do jack-all about it. I support the criminalization of the procedure.
TessaBarker TessaBarker 6 years
My son is 4 and he is not he has no problem with it but i think he is starting to ask questons as his Dad is and my son still like to have a bubble bath with him
JanetteLockett JanetteLockett 6 years
Dont adhesions happen when the forskin is pulled too far back in the cleaning process. Little boys shouldnt be moving the forskin until after the age of 4-6? Id have to look those up again. Anyway, it happens when you break what I suppose can be considered like a female hymen and it heals overgrown or scar like, which again is prevented by not pulling the foreskin back to clean undernealth it until the child matures. Cutting off the foreskin removes the same amount of sensitive nerve endings as is in the tip of the finger. I just can imagine it to be necessary. I think this situation was caused by over zealous cleaning. Its atypical.
BethanyPaquette BethanyPaquette 6 years
This was not a question in my mind: my son was getting circumcised. And according to the doctor who did it, my son did great!! Only cried for about a 30 secs and was done! I wanted to have him or any other boys I would have because I thought of when they are older, are they going to be clean teens?! Nothing is worse than a smelly penis.. LMAO!! Taking legal action on this is just completely insane.
DarlaKeller12954 DarlaKeller12954 6 years
I totally agree with letting the parents make the choice for our sons. Beside the fact that we can not continue to let the government tell us how to parent, it could also go against Freedom of Religion. It is a part of some religions not to and yet some believe that you should. This should not be dictated by some man that was unhappy with his parent's decision.
HollyWunker HollyWunker 6 years
Both of my boys are circumcised and have never had any problems. Working as an RN in a newborn nursery, the truth is (just from the experience of the hospital and patient population I deal with) that those who have insurance and the cost will be covered have it done--those who have medicaid or no insurance don't because they simply don't want to pay for it. I don't really care one way or the other if parents choose to have the procedure done or not, but if we let voters and the government start making these choices for us, when will they decide to stop? Wether you agree with circumcision or not we as parents should band together to keep our rights to choose!!
AraMurray AraMurray 6 years
Wow. This article is full of so much poor advice and bad information I almost don't even know where to start. First of all, if your doctor's "instructions" on hygiene were any more complicated than "do nothing, DO NOT RETRACT EVER, just wipe", then YOU and your doctor are the reason your son suffered pain and injury by the age of 3. Every single male on the planet is born with their foreskin FUSED to the head of their penis (the glans) and does not naturally separate for YEARS for most boys. If you manually and unnaturally force it apart, you will CAYSE adhesions, and repeated retraction will creat scar tissue and yes, this will lead to a need for circumcision because scar tissue will damage the foreskins elasticity, thereby forever rendering the penis's only movable part permanently injured. You did that. The foreskin was not the problem. Does it seriously not raise any red flags of logic for you people that America is the only country that has an issue with their young sons needing circumcisions as older boys? I've read your comments as well and many of you (including the writer) talk about the foreskin as though it were a ticking time bomb. Do a little research OUTSIDE of your socioeconomic bubble....Italy, Spain, Norway, Chile, pick a country any country....they are not crawling with unhygienic, hazard penises. America is so ignorant as to normal, intact penis care and normal development it's insane. Often, an ignorant doctor will see an 8 year old boy experiencing ballooning and pain when he urinates or has an erection and prescribe amputation. When he doesn't even understand what's going on! Phimosis is POSSIBLE to diagnose until puberty is complete, and the AVERAGE AGE of retraction is age 10!! What in God's name is a doctor doing circumcising boys when their foreskin is MEANT to be adhered and tight to the glans?? Also, separation (at different ages for all boys, again 10 being the average age) is NOT an enjoyable process! Girls grow breasts, get their period, boys experience a normal an unpleasant part of maturation as well. Separation. And often separation will occur before the hormones of puberty work to loosen the tip of the foreskin to retract! Boys will be experiencing normal sexual maturation and doctors say OMG AMPUTATE! *shakes head* Just awful. I've heard every poor excuse to circumcise and many of you touched on a lot of them. None of them accurate, none of them good. If you take a daughter in for a UTI, what does your doctor suggest? Surgery or medication? Why are boys treated with so little respect that we're willing to start cutting pieces off of them instead of attempting to understanding their bodies that they are born with? Absolutely not, this is not a choice for patents to make. Why should we even CONTEMPLATE this insane surgery on our newborn boys when we COULD just take them home from the hospital as perfect without a single thought, the same way we do our baby girls? This shouldn't even be an option. Even if a circumcision could be painless and heal wonderfully and fast, 100% of the time the penis loses it's only protective part, it's only movable part, 20'000+ fine-touch nerve endings, and over half of the skin. Yes, he may be fine, but much of the foreskin's function and purpose is sexual, which he is meant to enjoy in his later years. Yes, he will adapt and likely fair just fine, but is it really right to forc our sons to adapt to our choice? Who lives with that penis? You? Your husband? Or your son? It is so funny to me when moms say "I'll let dad decide, he's the one with the penis." uhhhh, he doesn't have your SON'S penis, plus your husband doesn't even have HIS foreskin! How does that make him an authority on what will be better for his son when even HE has no basis for comparison?? News flash: if you're a woman, YOU have foreskin. Which actually means you have more personal experience with one. We women have MORE folds of skin "down there" than ANY man, and yet we don't cut pieces of our genitals off to remedy a hygiene issue. We are taught to wash are we not? Respect your son and his ability to use water to clean. As if any boy has ever had an issue with paying attention to his penis in the shower ;) I could say SO much more but I don't even know how much room I have. Don't watch a circumcision video on an intact-friendly website if you feel it's propaganda. Google one yourself, watch any one on YouTube. But for God's sake RESEARCH. Google the rate of death from circumcision and you will find completely neutral information and realize the rate is higher than those children who die of choking, of SIDS! (in the neonatal period....that's in the first month of life), of suffocation from crib bumper pads....I could go on. Seriously, it is an unnecessary cosmetic procedure that deserves our full attention and education, and a life-altering genital change that DOESN'T deserve our consideration. Boys are born perfect too. They deserve to keep their whole bodies.
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