If simply reading the word doesn’t double you over with anxiety, then Wikipedia’s definition for the procedure surely will:
Male circumcision (from Latin circumcidere, meaning “to cut around”) is the surgical removal of the foreskin (prepuce) from the human penis. In a typical procedure, the foreskin is opened and then separated from the glans after inspection. The circumcision device (if used) is placed, and then the foreskin is removed. Topical or locally injected anesthesia may be used to reduce pain and physiologic stress.
And to be clear, for dads watching their sons being hauled off to this seeming routine procedure, the “pain” is for the newborn…the “physiologic stress” is for us.
Although Hugh Michael is now five, I remember the procedure as if it was yesterday. My wife was still in a mixed state of delirium, exhaustion and the pure joy that follows childbirth. I was freaked out at the notion of handing over our one-day-old child to a surgeon and a sharp knife to cut on his most private of parts. It hurt me then and it hurts me now.
These memories came back to me yesterday when talking to a friend about his new son and the circumcision. Dad was full of anxiety, stress and fear. My advice to him came in one word:
Here’s the deal. This procedure may be the first moment of pain and bloody wounds you will encounter with your son…but it certainly won’t be the last. There will be scraped knees, bruised elbows and a few broken bones along the way. You might as well get used to it and learn how to mend the wounds right away.
In the case of circumcision, it’s actually really easy.
First, keep it clean. At every diaper change, make sure the penis and the area around it is free of poop and urine. Use a warm damp cloth, perhaps a little soap. Do NOT use a baby wipe around the wound – unless, of course, you intend to torture your son and hear him scream bloody murder.
Second, don’t be shy about the Vaseline. The nurses and doctors may say, “apply a little.” Wrong. Apply LOTS! Apply more than you think is necessary. Then cover the tip of the penis with a small gauze square before diapering your baby. The Vaseline will keep any blood from drying and sticking to the gauze square. If you have any doubts about how much Vaseline to apply, think about pulling a stuck gauze square off your, well you know…and then act accordingly.
The wound should be completely healed within seven to 10 days. Your young son may be a little cranky for a day or so…but nothing memorable. And a low-grade fever is possible. You may see a few drops of blood on the gauze pad or diaper. The truth is, other than the wound care, there really is nothing to the post-procedure recovery. However, in the event of swelling, blood more than the size of a quarter, high fever or continued irritability, consult your doctor.
And trust me, of all the hurts that will be inflicted on your child over the years, you’ll only wish that a little Vaseline is all it takes to make the tears go away. You ain’t seen nothing yet!