Last big hurrah; midwife appt.; and my scary “duh” moment

LAST BIG HURRAH

I went out with a bunch of mommy friends tonight for what will probably be my last big hurrah (i.e. night out alone) before baby boy arrives. It wasn’t anything fancy – just a get-together at a local pizza place – but it was nice to be out alone, among other women. 🙂

Three of them brought me frozen meals for our family for after baby comes (yay!!), so I have more to add to my stash now.

I don’t think I mentioned it, but we bought a deep freezer a couple weekends ago and I’ve been slowly filling it up. In fact, just this weekend I made a lasagna and chicken & bean enchiladas to freeze.

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NEARLY 39 WEEKS – MIDWIFE APPT.

I had my almost 39 week midwife appointment today (I’ll be 39 wks on 11/9). All continues to go well. She said the baby is measuring right at 39 weeks and feels to be about 7 1/2 lbs at this point. Ava was 8 lbs, 4 oz., so I’m expecting this lil guy to be at least 8 lbs as well. She said his head is down very low, though she can’t tell if he’s engaged without doing an internal exam. We may do one at my next week appointment if he isn’t born before then. Then I can get an idea if I’m dilated at all too. But I don’t see a point in finding that out before I’m nearly 40 weeks since I know lots of women go weeks dilated at 2-3 cm (or more) before baby is born. So no need to get my hopes up that this is happening anytime soon.

I haven’t had anything happen that makes me think labor is imminent at this point, just lots of toning (Braxton-Hicks) contractions. And I’ve been feeling a fair amount of pressure in my uterus when baby boy moves, but that’s because he’s running out of room. I told Jody last night that someone needs to post an eviction notice to him soon. 😉 The fact that I can sometimes feel him above/over my ribs is a bit weird. Like how does the uterus go up that high?? My midwife said that by the time a baby is full-term, the uterus has expanded to 40 times it’s original size. Amazing.

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MY SCARY “DUH” (AKA PREGNANT MOMMY BRAIN) MOMENT TODAY

After my midwife appointment today, Ava and I stopped at Walgreen’s to pick up a stethescope for her (Ava). She’s been fascinated by listening to baby brother’s heartbeat (as well as her own, her baby doll’s, and mine) at my midwife appointments for the past several months and I figured it’s about time I pay the $10 and get her a real stethescope of her own.

We went out to the car and I put her in her carseat, then opened up the stethescope box to give it to her to play with. Well, the darn thing needed to be assembled, so I told her I’d do it real quick, shut her door and took it into the front seat with me. I put it together and gave it to her and we were on our way to the Post Office, a few miles away.

We were driving down a side street, when I looked in the rearview mirror to see Ava’s carseat, but no Ava. Confused by what I was seeing, I turned around to see her trying to reach her baby off the seat and I realized – OH MY GOD, I NEVER BUCKLED HER INTO THE CARSEAT! Good lord. In the excitement of opening up and assembling the stethescope, I put her in her seat, but never fastened her in. GAH!!! I immediately pulled over and buckled her in, thanking my lucky stars that nothing had happened in the 2 miles or so we’d driven since Walgreen’s.

That’s something I’ve never done before and I hope I never do again. Scary.

The circumcision post

It’s amazing the number of things you never have to consider before becoming a parent – breastfeed or formula feed; cloth diapers or disposables; vaccinations; when to start solids; organic vs. conventional foods; public school, private school or homeschool; and, of course, if you are having a boy – whether or not to circumcise.

I hope to write about my feelings, opinions and choices regarding circumcision and my son, knowing full well that everyone who reads this blog will not agree with me. I think that anyone who has a son will have their list of reasons for why they decided for or against circumcision. I simply wish to share my reasons here (and some of the information I came across along the way) for deciding against it.

I hope that by including some links below to reputable sources, other parents who are trying to decide what is best for their son can make an informed decision – whether it be to circumcise or not.

I am not here to judge and it is my hope that any discussion that happens below in the comments remain civil and respectful, despite how strongly you may feel about this topic. I also ask that any “anonymous” posters please sign their posts with a name. Thank you.

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The short and sweet answer as to why Jody and I are not having our son circumcised is that we can’t find a single reason to indicate that it is a necessary procedure.

I believe that the body we are born with, in its entirety, is that way for a reason. I think that each different part has a unique purpose for existing. If we didn’t need a certain part, I believe that over time we would evolve so that it no longer existed.

In doing my research on circumcision, I came across a lot of interesting information. Some of it has to do with the origins of circumcision in the United States, some about the actual procedure, some about the effects of circumcision and about the current rates of circumcision in the U.S. I read a lot more than I will blog about here, but these are some things I thought were worth mentioning.

“Circumcision started in America during the masturbation hysteria of the Victorian Era, when a few American doctors circumcised boys to punish them for masturbating. Victorian doctors knew very well that circumcision denudes, desensitizes, and disables the penis. Nevertheless, they were soon claiming that circumcision cured epilepsy, convulsions, paralysis, elephantiasis, tuberculosis, eczema, bed-wetting, hip-joint disease, fecal incontinence, rectal prolapse, wet dreams, hernia, headaches, nervousness, hysteria, poor eyesight, idiocy, mental retardation, and insanity. In fact, no procedure in the history of medicine has been claimed to cure and prevent more diseases than circumcision. As late as the 1970s, leading American medical textbooks still advocated routine circumcision as a way to prevent masturbation.” — Paul M. Fleiss, MD The Case Against Circumcision

Uh, I’m not a guy and no expert, but I am pretty sure that circumcision does NOT prevent masturbation.

“Today the reasons given for circumcision have been updated to play on contemporary fears and anxieties; but one day they, too, will be considered irrational. Now that such current excuses as the claim that this procedure prevents cancer and sexually transmitted diseases have been thoroughly discredited, circumcisers will undoubtedly invent new ones. But if circumcisers were really motivated by purely medical considerations, the procedure would have died out long ago, along with leeching, skull-drilling, and castration. The fact that it has not suggests that the compulsion to circumcise came first, the “reasons,” later.” — Fleiss

The fact that new reasons to continue the circumcision practice are being invented is rather disturbing if you ask me.

One website I came across in my research shows step-by-step (graphic) pictures of an actual circumcision of a newborn boy. What Happens During Circumcision There is also a video there, but the pictures alone were more than enough for me. I don’t think I could’ve stomached the video. I had never thought much about the actual procedure itself. I figured that the foreskin was clamped and removed without much effort and the baby was left to heal over the next week or whatever. I didn’t think about the baby needing to be restrained, whether or not any type of anesthesia is used, the foreskin needing to be pried apart from the penis, the amount of bleeding involved, the raw exposed penis, etc. Not to mention the child crying in pain. 🙁 It was not easy to look at.

There’s a laundry list of “things” that are lost forever when a circumcision takes place. While all of these things in the list are noteworthy, I thought I would mention a few here that stood out to me:

“When a baby boy’s natural and intact penis is “circumcised,” this is what is lost forever:
** An estimated 240 feet of microscopic nerves, including branches of the dorsal nerve.
** Several feet of blood vessels, including the frenular artery and branches of the dorsal artery. The loss of this dense vascularity interrupts normal blood flow to the shaft and glans of the penis, obviously damaging its natural function and possibly stunting its complete and healthy development.
** The immunological defense system of the soft mucosa, which may produce antibacterial and antiviral proteins such as lysozyme, also found in mothers milk, and plasma cells, which secrete immunoglobulin antibodies.
** The essential “gliding” mechanism. If unfolded and spread out flat, the average adult foreskin measures about 15 square inches, the size of a postcard. This abundance of specialized, self-lubricating mobile skin gives the natural penis its unique hallmark ability to smoothly “glide” in and out within itself—permitting natural non-abrasive masturbation and intercourse, without drying out the vagina or requiring artificial lubricants.” — Gary L. Harryman – What is Lost to Circumcision

I know some parents may be concerned about whether or not an intact penis requires special care. Personally, having no experience with an uncircumcised penis in the past, I had no idea what the answer was before asking friends of mine who’s sons were left intact. FYI:

“The natural penis requires no special care. A child’s foreskin, like his eyelids, is self-cleansing. For the same reason it is inadvisable to lift the eyelids and wash the eyeballs, it is inadvisable to retract a child’s foreskin and wash the glans. Immersion in plain water during the bath is all that is needed to keep the intact penis clean.” — Fleiss

Also worth noting that the foreskin should never be forced to retract before it is ready.

“As noted, the foreskin and glans develop as one tissue. Separation will evolve over time. It should not be forced. When will separation occur? Each child is different. Separation may occur before birth; this is rare. It may take a few days, weeks, months, or even years. This is normal. Although many foreskins will retract by age 5, there is no need for concern even after a longer period. Some boys do not attain full retractability of the foreskin until adolescence.” — Newborns: Care of the Uncircumcised Penis

Regarding the rate of circumcision in the world and U.S.:

“Circumcision is almost unheard of in Europe, South America, and non-Muslim Asia. In fact, only 10 to 15 percent of men throughout the world are circumcised, the vast majority of whom are Muslim. The neonatal circumcision rate in the western U.S. has now fallen to 34.2 percent.” — Fleiss

“The nationwide circumcision rate had been fluctuating in the low 60 percent range for some years, but a decline in the percentage of boys circumcised started in 2002 and continued into 2003. From 2002 to 2003 declines occured in all four census regions. Non-circumcision has been the norm in the Western Region for more than a decade.” — U.S. Circumcision Incidence

I think it’s important to note that the circumcision rate is dropping in the United States because the old parental concern of not wanting a child to be teased because they look differently from the other boys will no longer be an issue if the ratio of circ’d boys to uncirc’d boys is approaching 50-50. I know in my own circle of friends, the ratio of circ’d boys to uncirc’d boys (babies and toddlers I mean) is probably more like 20 (circ’d) to 80 (uncirc’d) or even slightly higher in favor of the uncircumcised boys. Some parents I know (both in “real life” and on message boards) had their first son circumcised before they had done much research on the topic, and then, after learning more about the procedure, chose not to circumcise their second son.

(And now at the risk of sharing TMI…) Having never been with an uncircumcised man (yes, you can infer from that that Jody is circumcised), I was very interested to learn that not only is the pleasure of the male affected by circumcision, but also the pleasure of the female. (I mentioned a bit about this above as well.)

“One of the foreskin’s functions is to facilitate smooth, gentle movement between the mucosal surfaces of the two partners during intercourse. The foreskin enables the penis to slip in and out of the vagina nonabrasively inside its own slick sheath of self-lubricating, movable skin. The female is thus stimulated by moving pressure rather than by friction only, as when the male’s foreskin is missing.” — Fleiss

Like I said above, I couldn’t find a reason to convince me that circumcision is necessary for our son. I don’t feel the need to provide a list of all of the reasons against it. They are easy enough to find online. By reading through some of the links I provided below, you can read more information for yourself if you so desire.

I feel it is worth noting that I tried to find some pro-circumcision websites to include in my list (to keep it balanced), but 99% of the information I found “out there” is anti-circumcision. The one site (a members-only list serv “where circumcision is discussed and always supported”) I did find turned out to be centered around pornography associated with circumcision so I removed it from my list. The fact that it is a porn site is not apparent from anything posted on the public side of it.

In conclusion, I don’t feel that it is my right to make the decision to remove a part of my son’s anatomy without his consent. I believe that circumcision is a personal choice – one that should be made by the person who owns the penis. By leaving my son intact, he can always decide when he gets older that he wants to have a circumcision. If I were to circumcise him as a baby, he wouldn’t have the option of taking that back. I feel it is his body, his penis, and his choice.

Resources:
National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers
Circumcision Resource Center
The Case Against Circumcision – an eye-opening, very informative (IMO) article By Paul M. Fleiss, MD, MPH (interesting to note that Fleiss is Jewish)
My Son: The Little Jew with a Foreskin – By Stacey Greenberg
The Case Against Circumcision Discussion Forum on Mothering.com
What Happens During Circumcision? – Graphic photos/video of the circumcision process on a newborn

NEW AAP CIRCUMCISION POLICY RELEASED
Protect Your Uncircumcised Son: Expert Medical Advice for Parents
Circumcision Information and Resource Pages
Doctors Opposing Circumcision

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What’s in a name?

Some of you may know that the first and middle names we’ve chosen for baby boy have the initials “J.E.”
My husband Jody (Eldon), his dad (Jerry Eldon) and his grandpa (Judd Elwood) all have the same initials as well, though each have different names (i.e. no juniors).

At first we weren’t sure if we were going to carry on the tradition because we couldn’t find a “J” name that we both really liked. As time went on, however, we found one that we both agree on, and, after we told it to Ava and she started calling the baby by it (though she calls him “baby brother” the majority of the time), it pretty much stuck. 🙂

Any guesses (both first and middle name)? We told some friends a while back that we were naming him “Jedi” and one of them has been calling him that ever since. 😉 Maybe I will have a prize if anyone can successfully guess. 🙂 Though I will not be revealing the name (or winner) until he is born.

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Just a heads-up that I will likely be writing about my thoughts/opinions regarding circumcision in the next few days. Since we are having a boy this time around, whether or not to circumcize is something we obviously had to consider (though we both pretty much already knew our son would remain intact). However, I wanted to do some research on it and the things I read and saw only strengthened my decision to leave my son’s penis intact. So I’ll be sharing some of that in the days ahead.

Too much c-a-n-d-y

Thank God Jody took the majority of Ava’s Halloween loot into work today or I swear I would have eaten it all. I had no self-control tonight and ate like 4 of the mini-candy bars we did keep and a little box of Nerds. Ugh. Like I need to be eating that stuff. Baby boy is kicking me for it now. :oP

Anyway, we had a lot of fun trick-or-treating at the Munchkin Masquerade. Ava finally got into the idea of begging for candy at the last three shops we went to and actually took the candy out of the bowls herself. Prior to that, Jody had to take the candy every time. (At least he picked the chocolate though. Ava went for the pink and purple wrappers.) 😉 She never did say “trick-or-treat” though.

Ava got several compliments on her rocker costume (though several people thought she was supposed to be one of The Beatles – arg). One teenage girl gushed, “Oh my gosh, that is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life!” And then something about how she loves The Beatles, and told Ava to “rock on.” It was pretty cute. 🙂

A guy at Jody’s work threw up the horns and said “Rock ‘n roll” to Ava and she did it right back without missing a beat. Yay Ava! LOL

We had very few trick-or-treaters at our house last night, which is why Jody ended up taking so much of Ava’s candy into work today. We were just going to recycle it (along with the stuff we bought) to other trick-or-treaters. Why not, eh?

I took some more pics yesterday with my P&S but haven’t had a chance to get them off the camera yet. I spent the majority of the day today cleaning the kitchen (i.e. nesting), doing laundry and making muffins with Ava’s help (she’s such a good muffin maker). Later in the day when I felt the uncontrollable desire to get out of the house, she and I went to the library where she picked up a few “new” books to borrow. We really need to do that more often.

K, that is all. I need sleep. |o)

Edited 11/02/06 to add some pics:
The stoic trick-or-treaters:

Making their way down the strip:

Checking out some candy:

It’s getting cold out here! Ready to go back inside:

Trying out a Snickers bar. (Don’t let that face fool you – she loves her “chock-lit.”: