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Aug. 7th, 2007 | 10:42 pm
posted by: prettylilditty in intactivists

Brief history: I have 3 children. Boy, girl, boy. My first son is circ'd, my second one is not.
When I had my 1st, I was asked if I was going to circ. "Well of course! Why wouldnt I?" Its just what people did. He has had nothing but problems, was circ'd wrong, is always sore and red...poor kid (7 yrs old) gets so frustrated and shouldnt have the problems he does. They want to RE-CIRC him...Good God NO! Stay away from my son, you've done enough! This lead me to reasearch circ more (while I was pregnant) to find out what my options were. I had no idea what a "hot topic" it was, or why. Some kind and informative people sent me link after link and the more I read the more I was convinced I would never do that to another boy as long as I lived. I CRIED over the decision I made for my first boy, but tried not to blame myself for lack of knowledge. You can't make an informed decision without being informed and truthfully I didnt even know there was anything to be informed about. Anyway, my husband wasnt initially on board with not circ'ing, but saw how passionate I had become and decided to let me have my way. It didnt take long for him (doing his own research) to come to the conclusion that he was very against it and like me would never do it to another boy as long as we live! To this day we both say that not circ'ing our baby was the best joint decision we've made as his parents.

So, I am a WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor in training. In class today the topic of circ came up in reference to it interfering with breastfeeding due to baby being "sleepy" because of the "Motrin." (Please correct me at any time if I am incorrect. I do NOT want to give out false information and am a fairly new "intactivist." However I think its imperative for women to be told the truth about what goes on during a circ, precisely what I was NOT told with my first boy and had I not done research on it for my 2nd boy would probably never have been told.)
I pointed out in class that many babies who are "sleepy" from the "motrin" are actually passed out and in "shut-down mode" from the pain and trauma of the procedure. My instructor says, "Oh, thats not true. Its a very simple procedure. Most babies don't even cry and we let them suck so they are soothed during it." So I said I felt it wasnt a simple precedure that the foreskin is attached and therefore needs to be ripped from the glans before it can be cut. Now she states that this isnt true and that the foreskin is retractable. I told her that is completely false and that some boys cant fully retract until puberty. She again, over and over stated this was not true. She had seen them being performed, after all. I wanted to plop the baby up on the table and strip him and prove it. I was so frustrated. I felt like, if I had any hopes of planting a seed with any of these women that she blew it by making me look like I was clueless and completely misinformed. I understood that this was not time for a debate on circ since it was a breastfeeding class, but then some girl went on about how all that stuff you read about circ being bad is untrue and of course they tell you the worst of it, and they make it seem worse than it is, etc... I wanted to scream. And yes, I understand now that its a hot topic and that not everyone will agree with me. But I told her my biggest problem with it was (aside from a violation of human rights, and the trauma and pain that these babies go through) the fact that women are uninformed about what really goes on. If a woman TRULY knew what it means to circ her baby (you know, informed consent) and knew everything there is to know about what that means and chooses to still circ? So be it. But most women (I believe) do it because they ARE uninformed or are pressured by boyfriends, husbands, family, friends, society (who are all uniformed btw). UGH! When does it end? So then after I say this, that same girl says "Its up to the women to GET informed, not for the docs to inform her." UH.... NO! Doctor's are required to explain procedures to you, right? Even if they arent, you could argue that breastfeeding is something women should inquire about on their own and we shouldnt hold classes to teach them about the benefits of it so they can make informed decisions...

THEN! (bare with me...I'm just heated and need to vent) This other woman goes on to tell a story about her nephews, one of whom is circ'd and the other is not. The one who is not has very "loose" foreskin and it needs to be retracted and cleaned and they tried teaching him how to do this (not sure of the exact age, but I assumed between 5 and 10) and he kept getting infections. So, what? Was she arguing that he SHOULD have been circ'd to get rid of the hassle of trying to teach this boy how to be hygeinic? Yet girls have much more to clean... cracks, folds, crevices and yet somehow, by the Grace of God we manage to teach them how to clean themselves properly to avoid infection WITHOUT (stay with me here) cuttin off their genitals! Yet boys are just too *dumb* to learn this simple cleansing routine. Give me a break!

(This turned out more lengthy than I thought, so I put it behind a cut.) Am I way off base here? Am I missing something? Am I misinformed? Please tell me, and send any links you want me to read, or that you feel might be important. Thanks!

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Comments {18}

Audrey

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from: ladyelainelvgd
date: Aug. 8th, 2007 05:55 am (UTC)
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I'm not sure what is meant by a "loose" foreskin, but forced retraction can lead to tears and adhesions so the infections could have actually been caused - not prevented - by the cleaning.

I can see why you needed to vent. Sounds horrible and like your instructor's in denial big time. IMO, moving the discussion to human rights and informed consent was a good idea. Regardless of what one believes, one shouldn't make decisions about surgical procedures in ignorance and many doctors don't provide sufficient information on circumcision. As for your instructor repeatedly countering your arguments, at least everyone in the class has been exposed to fact that people have differing opinions on circumcision.

As for what started the whole discussion, regardless whether it's motrin or post-traumatic shock, circumcision negatively affects breastfeeding. 'Nuf said.

Cute icon. One of yours?

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Audrey

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from: ladyelainelvgd
date: Aug. 8th, 2007 06:09 am (UTC)
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I forgot to commend you on training to be a breastfeeding counselor. We had latching problems with my second which took 3 different counselors (and buckets of tears) until we figured out how to fix things. Post-partum is a terrible time to be trying to deal with things like that particularly when formula is such an easy out, but good support can make all the difference. Gold stars to you from me!

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Tara

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from: prettylilditty
date: Aug. 8th, 2007 01:49 pm (UTC)
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Thank you! Yes, another one of my passions is breastfeeding and again...too much misinformation out there. So many women are told they cant do it for ridiculous reasons and are told they need to supplement, and they believe this stuff because it comes from a doctor. Doctors arent even required to take a breastfeeding course. Only an *optional* 1 hour class, which many dont even take. The most educated in breastfeeding is Lactation consultants (board certified) followed by Peer Counselors, so I'll be #2 on the totem pole, which is great! And kudos to you for sticking it out and getting the help you needed and NOT giving up. THAT is commendable!

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Tara

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from: prettylilditty
date: Aug. 8th, 2007 01:44 pm (UTC)
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Yes, he's my intact baby! Looks happy doesnt he? LOL. Thanks!

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Bry

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from: boy_ish
date: Aug. 8th, 2007 12:05 pm (UTC)
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Yes, as mentioned above--the infections are caused by the retracting of the foreskin, not the boy's "naturally inept" cleaning. The parents shouldn't be messing with it at all. All these "infections" people hear about and the "need" to be circumcised everyone always comes out with were caused by ignorance--and thus, are the fault of the parent/s (or caretakers).

As for resources, Paul Fleiss, M.D. is a must-read. Here are his best articles (I would definitely recommend handing them over to your instructor): What is the foreskin?, The case against circumcision, and How to protect your intact son.

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Bry

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from: boy_ish
date: Aug. 8th, 2007 12:09 pm (UTC)
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Also, many doctors (including Fleiss) have said that they just didn't hear the baby's cries when hey were doing circumcisions. It wasn't until they finally heard, finally listened that something snapped in them, that they heard these babies' screams, and finally realized what they were doing. Your instructor sounds, like most, in very deep denial.

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Tara

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from: prettylilditty
date: Aug. 8th, 2007 01:50 pm (UTC)
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YES! I read that article...it killed me, but atleast he admits he was wrong and is now educating people.

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Sarah

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from: isarma
date: Aug. 8th, 2007 08:58 pm (UTC)
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Ugh, I'm so sorry:( I know how you feel. As a PC, it's a pretty flexible job. So some PCs don't mind combo-feeding and are pro-circ. It's frustrating, but I try my best to do what I can...

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Tara

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from: prettylilditty
date: Aug. 9th, 2007 02:25 am (UTC)
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So, as a PC, are you allowed (when speaking with a Mother) to give your opinion about circ as long as you make it clear that WIC takes no stance on the issue and the info comes solely from you? Can you give no-circ literature to a Mom who has questions? How far can we go?

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Sarah

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from: isarma
date: Aug. 9th, 2007 05:35 pm (UTC)
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Being a PC is hard. I'm feel passionately about keeping our babies intact, about not supplementing unless medically necessary that natural birth is safest and best for everyone...I could go on. The reality is that most of my clients circ (with boys, anyway), have an epidural and supplement. You have to work really hard to not be too frustrated, at least I do.

Am I allowed? I'm guessing the answer is no, but that's not why I wouldn't do it.

Allowed is generally irrelevant. I work in a huge WIC office and no one's watching me. For example: We teach breastfeeding classes each month. This year, one of our classes in regular rotation is "Dental Health During Pregnancy". WTF?! Yes, I can see it could be a good class, nevermind how flawed that study is, but what has it got to do with breastfeeding? Nothing. Yet I can't teach classes on natural child birth and the dangers of epidurals or circ, two prenatal things that relate heavily to breastfeeding. The first month the class was schedule, I taught it. I did ask for and answer breastfeeding questions afterwards. I was scheduled to teach is last month. We didn't teach it. We flew through dental in 10 minutes and spent the other 50 teaching a class we made up quickly about breastfeeding in the first 24 hours. When my co-worked suggested this, I baulked a bit. "Are we allowed?" Her response (she's been there a few year to my less than one), "Who's going to catch us?" She's right. Those moms don't know what the class topic is to be. They didn't report us for doing it wrong and no one was watching.

So, why don't I talk to all of them about circ? Because it would alienate the majority of my clients. The same reason I don't say, right off the bat, that I breastfed my first son for almost 4 year (I say a very long time or much longer than 1 year.) and I don't push natural childbirth info at them. It's counter-productive. A peer position is meant to be someone who identifies with them on a friendly level. You can't do that effectively if you seem too far away from them and, quite often, if they figure out you're so "hardcore" they're just start lying to you! This is a real struggle for me when it comes to combo-feeding. I'm slowly learning to ask them to describe their goals BEFORE I say anything about exclusive breastfeeding. If their goal is to combofeed and if they make it a month, they're happy, I try my best to support that goal. Yes, I do try to sneak in education, but if I spend all my energy trying to convince them to exclusively breastfeed for at least a year, it's so far from what their want, believe and what their goals are, they won't consider me a peer anymore and my job is useless...

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Satan's Pawn

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from: earthlingmike
date: Aug. 9th, 2007 01:01 am (UTC)
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Whoever has educated themselves on it the least is the one who is in the wrong. It would be nice if parents were able to inform themselves of these things, and frankly those who favor circ I have a really strong hunch are the ones who are ignorant. They don't have any real reason for favoring circumcision, other than it just seems like what most other people do. A lack of cleanliness, or increased chance of catching STDs, those are non-reasons. By that reasoning, I should have all the teeth in my mouth removed: less chance of infection and disease, great idea right?!

I suppose I'll continue with the dental anology. At some point when I got my cavities filled, a dentist informed me that due to new technology, a new form of filling was available. It cost a slightly different amount, it was not quite as easy to work with, but it did not contain mercury, and was the same color as teeth, and the dentist told me which one she recommended, but told me that the decision was up to me. A simple thing that I was ignorant of. But am I expected to know all the latest information about dentistry? No, that's what I pay the dentist for. So I think it is the doctor's responsibilty to at least give us some basic information about things like this, it's unfortunate that so many people are ignorant about circumcision, but really it's a mistake of the medical industry.

Some people feel threatened by what they thought was right and is the way things are done turns out to be wrong. It sounds like you encountered a few people like that, who feel the need to out-shout others. The truth is the United States is one of the few countries outside of places like Iraq where it is still commonly done, and it is slowly but steadily declining in how often it is done, probably in the minority by now.

Many people are simply ignorant that the foreskin is there for a reason, actually in my opinion several reasons. Many people are ignorant of what the foreskin even is, or what an intact penis even looks like. Many people are freaked out by the idea of a natural penis. You don't know what you're missing if you had it taken away from you as an infant. I have some idea of what I was missing, because I've done some foreskin restoration, and it's already a big improvement.

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Tara

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from: prettylilditty
date: Aug. 9th, 2007 03:18 am (UTC)
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Its funny that you say how people get freaked out by seeing an intact penis. Many of my girlfriends awkwardly asked if they could see my son's during a diaper change and I invited them on! 3 out of the 4 girls said "Oh...it looks just like a penis" and they seemed kinda surprised that it didnt look "freakish". I told them thats what I thought. It just looks ordinary to me. Only one girl thought it looked weird, but now, after almost 8 months of seeing an intact boy, I saw a circ'd boy being changed about a month ago and I was shocked at how weird it looked to me. It's funny how used to the intact penis I've become!

As far as restoration goes (if you don't mind me asking, are you doing natural methods ie: pulling on it, stretching it out etc... or surgical? My husband and I had discussed this, but he seems kinda weirded out by it, although feels violated by his mother's decision. I tell him he can't blame her (just as I dont want to be blamed for Anthony's circ) because she just wasnt informed. As I said before, thats one of my biggest issues, as a Mother who is responsibe for making that sort of decision, its IMPERATIVE for Mom's to be better educated. My older son and I had talked about it becuase he had asked why Andrew's looked different. I explained the simple anatomy during a diaper change and explained to him that I had the doctor's cut off part of his penis. He looked horrified and asked why I would do such a thing. I explained that many parents did it (so he doesnt think it was just a freak occurance and that he's weird) and we thought we should do it too. But then we learned how bad it is for babies and we wish we hadn't, blah blah. I tried to explain it in a way that showed he wasnt weird or different, I had made a mistake but it was ok, that I learned from my mistake, and showed compassion for doing that to him, again without making him feel less or inadequate. I'm sure he shrugged it off, kids are so resilient like that. I think I was more deeply wounded by the fact that I had done this to my sweet newborn who TRUSTED me, than he was that it had happened. Sorry, got off on a tangent. Anyway, good points. Thanks!

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txncowboy

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from: txncowboy
date: Aug. 10th, 2007 10:35 pm (UTC)
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Ive been trying to restore by pulling, but its a realy slow process and quite frustrating, its also not something I want other people to see so makes some things like public bathroms and dorm living a pain. But once its done with I think itll be well worth it, Im always so much more sensitive when Ive been stretching for a couple days in a row.

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Tara

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from: prettylilditty
date: Aug. 11th, 2007 12:35 am (UTC)
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Thanks so much for sharing. I'm gonna bring it up to my husband!

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(no subject)

from: z726
date: Aug. 10th, 2007 07:02 am (UTC)
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I've heard that aggressive efforts at early retracting and "cleaning" of the foreskin may actually lead to infection. If you're misinformed in any way, it's about any cleansing routine. My advice would be to research the standard of care for the penis among cultures that don't circumcise their boys. My guess is there would be less to it than you'd expect.

Someday when he's older, it may help for your son to read up on foreskin restoration. The skin on the penis can be expanded to cover the glans again, eliminating the problem of soreness from rubbing against underwear. Simple stretching of the skin by hand, over time, can cause it to grow.

I didn't know they gave babies pain medication after circumcision these days. I guess now doctors impose unnecessary surgery AND drugs on babies.

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txncowboy

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from: txncowboy
date: Aug. 10th, 2007 10:39 pm (UTC)
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Im a bit distracted by organic homework right now but are they saying motrin the over the counter pain med like IB Profin or tylanol is making them sleepy?... I didnt think those would do that unless its the PM form with a sleep aid added... Or am I horribly mistaken an thining that motrin is something other than it is? (having trouble thinking outside of organic, have a final exam in 4 days)

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Tara

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from: prettylilditty
date: Aug. 11th, 2007 12:37 am (UTC)
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I'm not entirely sure. I'm assuming its infants Motrin drops OTC, but I could be wrong.

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(no subject)

from: 00646
date: Oct. 9th, 2007 05:27 am (UTC)
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When your oldest son is old enough to understand you could always tell him that it is perfectly normal for men to restore their foreskin.
But I think telling him in the way you did was good.
I'm glade that I educated myself on cutting before I had children.
I can't blame people for not knowing what their doing to their children.

But for my mom and dad they did know but they did it anyways. I nearly jumped out of my skin when my mom said she knew that baby boys felt that pain.
sometimes when I have to wash my brother I feel the lose and I konw that us being 11 years apart that I will be married and have children before him.
And if I have a son I know my brother will ask why he is different but by then he will be a pre-teen. So it hopefully will be easier to talk to him about it.
But good luck to you.

HUGS!!!!!!!!!!!

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