Saturday, April 24, 2010

Trusting your instincts as a mother (example involving circumcision)

Recently Josh and I were discussing a parenting issue that many have to face with their baby boys and that’s circumcision. This has been on my heart a lot lately because if I were to get pregnant again, I would love another little boy, yet the thought of dealing with the circumcision issue was stressing me out.   For many reasons, I regret choosing circumcision for Carson.  This is my mental process on the issue:  God says he formed us in the womb (Psalm 139:13: “For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb).  If this is true, then why did He form little boys with foreskins?  This one really gnaws at me.  Secondly, I had found out that the foreskin is rich in nerve endings and an extremely sensitive part of the penis.  Then why are we cutting it off?  Is it because the Old Testament says so?  Circumcision was a physical covenant between Abraham and his decedents.  During that time, if you wanted to be a follower of God, it was something you had to do, but once Christ came and became the ultimate sacrifice and died for our sins, we were no longer bound by the law in order to receive Salvation. So therefore it is my belief that it is not required of us as Christians.  Is it done for medical reasons and hygiene?  My husband’s grandpa had a circumcision at 80 years of age.  We took this into consideration.  Although, women suffer from infections all the time and yet we don’t cut off any of our baby girl’s parts to prevent them.   Most infections boil down to lifestyle and how that person cares for themselves.  How much sugar do they eat?  Studies have also shown in the last few years that after the first year of life, circumcision only prevents about 1% of infections of which most can be treated with antibiotics unless recurrent and severe. It may have other health benefits, but are they enough to warrant a routine surgery? Is it to be like Daddy?  I think that plays a big role in the decision.  When Josh and I were discussing the issue, he admitted a concern of his was one of his sons being different from him and now his older brother, Carson.  It also brought up the issue of will he be teased for being different?  Still, are those big enough reasons to warrant an unnecessary procedure, especially since circumcision numbers are going down so drastically?  Also, why would I choose a natural birth free of interventions and then have an unnecessary intervention done for my baby boy just a short time later? It just doesn’t make sense to me.  As I was talking this out with Josh, we decided it is done because of cultural influence.  It is a medical fad probably very similar to routine tonsillectomy.  (Although this has to do with a much more intimate part.)  Regardless of all these facts, Josh and I both know the biggest reason that has shaped my opinion is that Carson had complications from his circumcision.  Thankfully it seems like everything is okay, but only time will tell if there are any long-term effects.

I’ve done a lot of mental head slaps since Carson’s surgery because (and I’m getting to my point finally)   I had this nagging feeling deep in my gut that circumcision wasn’t the right decision for him.  That it was a bad idea.  At the time, I had no facts to back up my intuition and was responded to with statistics on how safe it was.  Yet I kept feeling uneasy about it.  After his circumcision, I knew why.  Hence the mental head slap.  While I was holding my inconsolable screaming two-week old, I silently kept thinking, why didn’t I listen to that feeling?  I cried buckets of tears as I helped hold him down while the doctor tried to fix the issue which then had to be fixed again days later causing even more pain physically and emotionally.  Mostly, my tears came from the fact that even though others assured me that this was the best decision, I, as his mother, knew better for him.

While Josh and I were discussing what our decision would be if we were to have another boy, he mentioned that my mothering instincts are abnormally strong and through our laughter he explained that’s a good thing.  He values my opinion more highly because he knows my opinion is coming from the desire to do the best thing for our child and future children.  Therefore, he left the decision up to me and will support whichever way I choose.  I really appreciated that.  Why hadn’t I sat Josh down and had this conversation BEFORE Carson was circumcised?  Why did I keep quiet about my true gut instinct on the issue?  Josh would have listened, I am blessed with a wonderful husband who respects me.  The answer is because I was not yet secure in my place as a mother.  I trusted other opinions over my very own.  Becoming secure in my instincts as a mother has been a building process.  My heart has been a construction site and the pieces have slowly come together.  I now consider myself a mama bear and Carson’s circumcision experience laid the cornerstone of my confidence.  

I’m sure others reading this have had similar experiences in which you didn’t trust your gut and regretted it.  Where does that “feeling” come from?  I had a conversation with my Dad recently and he shared with me that a woman’s intuition is God given and something to be honored, respected, and trusted.  I’m thankful he shared this with me because it furthered my confidence in following my own intuition.   We are empowered as caregivers.  How could we properly care for our family without this necessary tool?  What would life be like if women were emotionless robots?  It wouldn’t be a pretty picture.  So follow your instincts!  If you have a strong feeling about something, it is definitely for a reason, even if that reason is never known and above all, pray about it!

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