Book Review Of The Circumcision Decision: An Unbiased Guide For Parents

January 5, 2013 at 12:09 am , by 

2 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack,

I don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions. Instead, I believe if there is any change I feel I need to make in my life, I need to make that change no matter what day it is, as long as that day is still “today.”

However, it just so happens that around January 1st of 2013, I officially decided I want to make a point to stop participating in the polarization of America.

To quote Jimmy in one of my favorite movies,That Thing You Do, “I….. I quit. I quit. I quit…”.

In other words, I am choosing to see both Democrats and Republicans as good people.

I am rejecting the belief that “the other side” is completely irrational and/or evil, no matter how extreme or overzealous I am conditioned to believe they are, thanks in part to pseudo news channels like CNN and Fox News.

That goes for whatever “the other side” happens to be, not just political affiliations: pro-life vs. pro-choice, pro-gay marriage vs. anti-gay marriage, attachment parenting vs. supporters of the “cry it out” method, gun control reform vs. no gun control reform…

Basically, on all of these controversial issues, the side I am now on is technically… neither. Because I now publicly associate with the third party in favor of removing the “vs.” between the two polarizing sides.

Granted, I still have my personal opinions of how I feel about these polarizing topics, but I am much more interested in attempting to help tone down the collective angst regarding all the controversial issues that divide America.

I am tired of adding to the noise of two extremely polarized camps preaching to their own choirs.

With that being said, I was pretty skeptical a couple of months ago when I was approached by Susan Terkel, one of the authors of the then-upcoming book, The Circumcision Decision: An Unbiased Guide for Parents.

Knowing that my collection of blog posts on circumcision had put me in the hot seat with dozens of my readers, on several occasions, I had officially decided to retire from ever writing about circumcision again.

Then I received a preview copy of The Circumcision Decision in the mail. After reading it, I decided I actually wanted to participate in promoting the book, as much as possible.

In fact, I was so passionate about this book that the authors asked me to write a blurb for it, which is printed on the very first page, as well as, the back cover of the book:

“With grace, wisdom, and class, The Circumcision Decision impressively presents both sides of the story in such a balanced narrative, that some of us who have already made up our minds beforehand may now find ourselves challenged by the flip side.”

I proudly associate my name with The Circumcision Decision and am pleased to announce it was nominated as a 2012 finalist for the Books For A Better Life Award: Childcare/Parenting.

This book, which is now officially published and available for sale on its website, is the perfect answer to the circumcision controversy and, more importantly, to any soon-to-be parents of a son who are trying to best educate themselves on deciding whether to circumcise their son, or to leave him intact.

My guess is, no matter which side of the circumcision decision a parent lands, reading this book will simply give them the courage, confidence, and closure on how they honestly personally feel about circumcision to begin with.

 

Love,

Daddy

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Yes, Facial Cream Is Made From Foreskins… Why, Does That Bother You?

Intactivists’ Responses To AAP’s Revised Circumcision Policy

August 28, 2012 at 5:16 am , by 

21 months.

Recently the American Academy of Pediatrics updated its stance on circumcision, saying the benefits outweigh the risks.

If you are a soon-to-be parent of a baby boy who has been trying to figure out whether or not circumcision is right for your son, then the AAP’s statement is good news. Now you can have some closure on this subject.

Circumcision it is. Done.

But if you are an Intactivist, one who actively campaigns against circumcision, then the American Academy of Pediatrics’ revised circumcision stance is bad news:

After all, it means that an organization that most parents would find to be respectable and trustworthy is justifying an unnecessary tradition of genital mutilation.

The AAP’s revised policy takes away the credibility of what Intactivists have been trying to tell us all along.

So much for the neutrality of this article: I’m not an Intactivist, by the way.

Like most parents who have decided to circumcise their son, I am not and have never been passionate about the subject of circumcision.

However, on three different occasions now, I have explained what propelled me to choose circumcision:

Dadvice #5: How Is It Natural To Circumcise Your Son?

Dadvice #6: Is Circumcision Unnecessary And/Or Immoral?

Dadvice #7: A Skeptic’s Letter To Intactivists

When it was all said and done, I had no problem saying this to Intactivists:

You may be right.” It’s just that ultimately, I don’t care if they’re right. What’s done is done.

It became evident to me that the only way I could find shelter from the tidal wave of violent comments I received in those three Dadvice articles was to A) repent of the sin of circumcising my son, B) start using The Dadabaseas a platform to preach Intactivism, and C) make an oath to not circumcise my next son, should I ever have one.

That sort of parenting extremismsimply turns me off to their ideas, as valid as some of their points may be.

The vibes I have received from most Intactivists have been saturated in condescension, sarcasm, and prejudice.

I realize that stating my opinion on this today is only throwing gasoline on the fire; further perpetuating the frenemy relationship I have with Intactivist readers. Maybe I’m just curious to see if Intactivists will collectively be clever enough to learn how to be relevant in how they communicate with us unbelievers?

Will Intactivists kill me with their kindness? Will they prove me wrong when I say they are condescending to those of us who do not believe the same way as they do?

For their sake, I hope so.

Dadvice #5: How Is It Natural To Circumcise Your Son?

March 20, 2012 at 11:19 pm , by 

16 months.

Though usually this series is for readers asking my unprofessional and unlicensed opinion as a dad, today’s episode is a strange exception. I will simply be responding to a good question asked by a reader of Dadvice #4: Would You Recommend Using A Midwife? when he left this comment:

“You chose to have ‘a natural as possible delivery’ but still chose to circumcise your son? There’s NOTHING natural about a circumcision…where’s the disconnect?”

You’re right. For a guy who is so self-proclaimed “natural” when it comes to medicine and food and lifestyle in general, it appears to be a double standard that I would force circumcision upon my son who was incapable of making that decision himself.

So how is circumcision natural? It’s not.

And that’s the whole point: Circumcision is not natural.

I do believe in the hype and subscribe to the dogma that circumcision is “cleaner” and prevents urinary track infections and all that good stuff that has not necessarily been clearly proven. I’m aware of all the arguments for and against circumcision: I read them all on Wikipedia today.

But for me, my support of circumcision is a personal one: It has to do with Biblical teachings. As I’m sure you know, circumcision goes back to a covenant between God and Abraham; a commandment for the Jews. From there, it also has become popular among Muslims and Christians.

In particular though, why would a Christian Gentile such as myself observe a commandment so blatantly Jewish? Why pick and choose certain parts of the Jewish law to observe when the Apostle Paul in the New Testament made it pretty clear that Christians do not have to eat kosher food or become circumcised?

With me being Mr. Natural and all, I pay special attention to the Old Testament concerning random commandments God gave to the Jews; because sometimes though not specifically mentioned, it has something to do with health.

He instructed them not to eat pork and shellfish; which are extremely low on the food chain.

God didn’t point out the fact that that eating pork would be the leading cause of people getting intestinal parasites, but it is. Why are so many people allergic to shellfish? Because they are the bottom feeders of the ocean; they are slightly toxic.

Why did God tell His people not to eat milk products with beef? Because, as a Jewish man from Israel explained it to me one time, eating the two together in the same meal slows down digestion and promotes constipation.

So two and a half years ago, I converted to a kosher diet(That eventually led me to become a vegetarian.)

Similarly, I believe circumcision is like that. God didn’t make this commandment for His people in the name of health; but ultimately I think that has a lot to do with it.

Back to my point at the beginning, circumcision is not natural. Instead, it’s man’s recognition of God’s instruction and intervention.

And I think that concept has everything to do with faith in God: As a believer, I am constantly having to make a conscious decision to go against my own selfish desires; like choosing to love my neighbor as myself.

That is not natural.

Sure, ultimately I try to be as natural as I can. Unless I feel that there’s something health-wise I can learn by observing God’s random commandments with the Jewish people; though as a Christian, it’s not necessary I do so.

Yeah, I know: I’m kinda weird.

dad from day one: Baby Boot Camp

Week 1.

Regarding immediate life in the home front and finding a method to the madness, my wife and I are starting to get things figured out.  When Jack needs a diaper change, I put in his pacifier, “shush” him, and place my right hand over his chest while my wife handles the dirty business, delicately cleaning around his healing circumcised penis and belly button (similar to playing the Operation board game by Milton Bradley).  Regarding sleep schedules, my wife has come up with this gracious plan: On weeknights, I sleep in the guest bedroom on a futon bed from midnight until 6 AM for 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep, then I get ready to leave for work.  When I arrive home 12 hours later, I do whatever my wife needs me to, including but not limited to rocking him, holding him, and helping with the feedings.  But during the weekends, I pretty much just take naps when I can.

Yes, this is my new normal.  I look at the situation for my wife and I as “baby boot camp”.  We are being broken down to the point now where we see two hour naps as a valuable prize, as sleep becomes the new currency in life.  Though so many people have told us the “sleep when the baby sleeps” rule, he inconveniently sleeps between 4:30 and 8:00 PM, a time slot where I am always widest awake and eating dinner.  Hopefully keeping him awake during this time will push back his schedule enough to ensure better sleep time for his parents.

I figure if we can make it through the difficulties of breastfeeding and learning to deal with sleep deprivation, we can officially handle all else that will come our way in raising him.  So I remind myself that every good and present father has been through this too.  I look at parenting as a necessary rite of passage for myself as a human being.  It’s something I was meant to do in order to fully serve my purpose here on Earth; never really knowing all the positive chain-reacting side-effects that my influence on him will cause in the world.  Deep.


dad from day one: Baby Jack is Born!

Born on Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at 8:50 PM

22 hours 20 minutes of labor

8 pounds 6 ounces

20 ½ inches long

Head full of black hair

There is only one person who directly assured me back before we knew the gender of our baby that he would be a boy.  That was Tommy Huong, a Vietnamese co-worker who had already predicted the gender and birthday of another coworker (he has evidently memorized the 12 year patterns of the Chinese calendar).  So last Friday (the day after the due date) when someone at work suggested we all do a “baby pool” to predict when Baby Jack would actually be born, a better idea instantly surfaced:Go ask Tommy!

I ventured over to his desk and as he turned around it was as if he already knew why I was there, being that he was too far away to have heard the recent conversation.  “When was the due date?” he asked me.  “Yesterday,” I answered.  Tommy turned to his calendar and without any hesitation, placed his finger on Tuesday, November 16th.  “Tuesday, he will be born Tuesday.”

So we enjoyed the weekend.  Then I worked a full day on Monday.  That night around 8:45, my wife said I should finish the last two episodes of Dexter on the disc from Netflix so we could mail it off the next day- and so I have could time to watch my new favorite show before our schedules became forever changed.  I watched my two 50 minute episodes of Dexter, walked to the bedroom in perfect time to hear my wife proclaim, “I think I’m in labor.”  And she was.

From 10:30 Monday night until 5:11 Tuesday morning, she labored at the house.  Then we drove in the rain to the hospital; a 40 minute ride.  After laboring for 12 hours without any pain medications, she then pushed for four more additional hours while not furthering past the 8 centimeters mark (and 100% effaced).  By that point, it became clear that after making it that far, she no longer had the strength to push without some outside help.  So my wife chose to get an epidural.  Because ultimately, we wanted to do everything we could do to avoid major surgery.

But even after several hours of the epidural, it took everything she had to push our baby out.  In fact, if it weren’t also for the diligence and determination of the midwives to honor our request of avoiding a C-section, cutting the baby out of my wife’s stomach would have been the only option.  But the midwives tried every trick in the book, and finally, it worked.  In the end, Baby Jack turned out to be one big Bambino.  The first words my wife said when she saw him coming out was, “You’re a big baby!  How did you fit inside of me?!”

I realize that the expected Hallmark way to portray the first time I held Jack is to say that I cried, as the emotions surrounding the miracle of life flushed through me.  But for the fact all my emotions were exhausted from helping my wife suffer through over 22 hours of labor, here’s what I thought instead: “You’re darker than us!  If anyone should be Mario, it’s you!”

I’ll explain.  A few months ago I told the story of how the name my parents gave me while my mom was still pregnant with me was Mario.  My mom is half Italian and half Mexican, and therefore, dark skinned.  The name Mario would not only have represented my dark skin, but also cover both my Italian and Mexican heritage.  But as soon as I was born, my pasty skin and seemingly American features brought cause for a name change.  Therefore, a few hours after I was born, I was named Nicholas- a less ethnic name that still points to some kind of a foreign background.

So 29 years later as I held my own son for the first time, I had the opposite reaction from the one my mom had when I was born.  Because as of now, Baby Jack doesn’t necessarily especially look like my wife or me, but instead what I would imagine Super Mario would have looked like when he was first born.  One of Jack’s noticeable features his full head of black hair.  I think he has “Gerber baby” lips.  And as I have already studied his profile multiple times, it’s safe to say he has an Italian nose- which I am so proud of!

My parents holding their first grandchild for the first time.

Right before we were released from the hospital, Jack was circumcised.  I felt really bad for him, yet at the same time realized that I don’t remember my own circumcision.  It’s still sad to think about him having to go through that though.  He’s holding up just fine and so is his mommy, despite a drawn out entrance into this world.  God has answered all of our prayers for his and my wife’s safety and health; we are so grateful for that.  The pediatrician at the hospital told us that she checked him from head to toe and couldn’t find anything that needing fixing or reason for caution or concern.

Jack is a cool baby, if I do say so myself.  He’s pretty low maintenance- he just wants to be held all the time.  But I’m guessing we won’t have trouble working that out.  Thanks for following dad from dad one, so far.  If life is a sitcom, this is the season finale.  The new season premieres next week where I am promising an interesting new plot twist…