Wednesday, June 6, 2012

To Circ or Not to Circ, That is the Question

Although I don’t think this subject is anyone’s business, it seems it is a very popular question asked to moms of boys. And since I am tired of repeating our reasons over and over, plus I figured it would be a good opportunity to educate people.

Before I go any further I need to make one very important statement. If you are every watching my boys, or any intact boy for that matter, do not, I repeat, DO NOT retract the foreskin! That can cause adhesions and damage and possibly future complications leading to a circumcision later in life. We will get into that a little more in a moment, just wanted to state it now, in case you don’t make it all the way through this post.

When we were pregnant with The Nacho we did not find out if the baby was a boy or a girl, but I had this gut feeling that it was a girl. I just knew it. I think that’s why it was so much easier coming up with a boy name since I had a deep down gut feeling that I wouldn’t have to use the name (which was Sawyer William, btw.) So anyway, one day my husband mentioned that if the baby was a boy he didn’t want to circumcise. My first reaction was “WHAT???? Why in the heck would we NOT circumcise? That’s just crazy talk!” But we never revisited the conversation after that. I never felt the need to do any research into the subject because again, I knew it was a girl.

Fast forward to the twins pregnancy; I had just found out the babies were boys and I knew the circ topic was going to come up again. I decided to do my research because I was going to prove Dave wrong. I wanted some good solid evidence to prove why circumcision was necessary. But instead I found my mind getting changed pretty quickly. The more I read, the more I was convinced that I did NOT want to circ the boys. I also became very relieved that my feelings about The Nacho being a girl were true; I hate to think what I would have done had I been wrong and never did any research.

I think that the decision to circumcise or not is a decision all future parents should make. Just because I decided not to circ my boys doesn’t mean I think people that do circ are wrong, it was their decision and it doesn’t matter to me at all. I do wish more people looked into WHY they are cutting off a part of their son instead of just doing it, but it is what it is. I am quite proud of Dave and I for doing our research and making an informed decision. A few people that I talked to, when they seemed so appalled that we were leaving our boys intact and asked us why we weren’t going to circ, I turned the question around on them and ask why we should circ. And every single time, the answer I got was “because, that’s what you do.” Well, sorry, that’s not a good enough reason for me. I am going to spend the rest of my life trying to convince my children to be their own person, to not follow the crowd, to not cave to peer pressure. Haven’t we all head the phrase “If all your friends jump off a cliff, are you going to jump too?” Well, let’s just say to me, circumcision is the cliff, and I am not jumping just because everyone else did. The second response I usually get after that is, well he’s going to be the only one in the locker room, he’s going to get made fun of. To that I say, no, he is not going to be the only one, see bullet point number 6 below. And I am going to tell the boys that if someone tries to make fun of them for being intact to turn the tables on that person and ask him why he was looking so closely at another man’s penis. That should stop any mocking in its tracks.

Ok, on to the information I found online. The first thing I came across when I starting my research was a list of bullet points called the top 10 reasons not to circumcise your son. I have made a few comments on some of these points.

1. The foreskin is healthy tissue which would be the size of a postcard in an adult man. There are nerves in the foreskin which are NOT in the head of the penis and which only exist in the lips and fingertips.

2. The foreskin rarely becomes diseased and only requires circumcision in cases of cancer, gangrene, etc., like any other body part. And if a man should get a yeast or bacterial infection, as women routinely do at much greater rates, they can be easily treated with creams or medicine, as women are.

•No major medical group recommends or endorses routine infant circumcision. Not the AAP, not the AMA, none of them

-- Circumcision is not recommended by any national medical association in the world. Fifteen national and international medical associations have extensively studied infant circumcision and its effects and found no significant evidence to support this practice. In March 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) concluded that infant circumcision is not recommended as a routine procedure. The circumcision policy statements of the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Academy of Family Physicians have concurred with this position. The AMA calls infant circumcision “non-therapeutic.” (

•More and more research is showing that circumcision does NOT prevent things such as prostate cancer, AIDS, STDs, etc… I mean think about it, how can a little flap of skin at the tip of the penis cause cancer of the prostate, an organ inside the body? Just doesn’t make sense.

3. A baby's foreskin is easy to care for as it is adhered to the head of the penis with the same tissue that adheres your fingernails to your fingertips. You do not have to pull it back to clean it, and to do so causes scarring and damage. You simply wipe it off like a finger. When the foreskin naturally retracts (anytime between age 3 and puberty), the boy only has to swish it in the water to clean it. I don't know about you, but every boy I know has no problem getting that penis EXTRA-clean in the shower or bath!

•One again, if they are intact DO NOT RETRACT! Wipe the penis the way you would a finger and that’s that. Cleaning my boys has been WAY easier than it was/is cleaning The Nacho.

•Penises are self-cleaning and have been for hundreds of thousands of years. Urine is sterile, and the interior of the penis is washed at each urination. The other secretions are are moisturizers and the body's first-line of protection against pathogens. Its appearance, just as it [is] in females, is no cause for alarm.

•Many cases of UTI and other irritations and infections can be traced directly to genital tampering, not to failure of hygiene.

•The notion that boys need aggressive cleaning is an invented one, which dates to the 1870's and was part of an advertising campaign for circumcision. The notion does not exist outside the influence of Anglo-American medicine.

•I read somewhere that the myth of retracting the foreskin to clean was based on the masturbation paranoia: “Especially widely publicized was the notion that a build-up of smegma, a protective secretion both boys' and girls' genitalia naturally produce, might cause unwanted stimulation, then termed 'irritation'. This stimulation might draw a child's attention to his penis (or her clitoris)—so goes the theory—which he or she might then touch. Even casual genital exploration by the child was thought to cause tuberculosis, insanity, blindness, idiocy, hip malformation, unusual hair growth, and dozens of other conditions.2 As late as the 1930s, some doctors advised parents to tie scratchy muslin bags, especially made for the purpose, on the hands of boys and girls, to prevent even inadvertent genital contact during sleep. Parents were also advised to retract their boy's foreskin and scrub out any 'dangerous' secretions regularly, or have the boy circumcised so these could not possibly accumulate. Throughout the 20th century in all English-speaking countries, forced retraction for genital cleaning became standard medical practice. Millions of living, intact Anglo men, it is safe to say, were forcibly—and painfully—retracted as children.”

4. Routine infant circumcision was started in this country in victorian times as a way to prevent masturbation. Dr. Kellogg, the main proponent, knew and said that circumcision removed the most sensitive part of the penis.

•The more I researched this point the more disturbed I became.

5. An intact penis provides more pleasure for a woman b/c of the gentle gliding motion which both keeps the woman's natural lubrication in the vagina and prevents chafing.

•Although I don’t really want to think of my infants as sexual beings, it is a fact of life. One day they will grow up, and one day they will be sexually active. I’m only thinking about this point a little bit, and then I’m moving on. My boys, and their future wives can thank me later.

6. Only half of boys born today in the US are circumcised. This has dropped from a high of 85% one generation ago, and continues to drop. Worldwide, only 15% of men are circumcised, and those are all Jewish and Muslim. A boy is as likely to be made fun of for being circumcised as for being intact. Your husband's experience in the locker room is inapplicable 30 years later. In addition, with all of this information readily available on the internet, as your son grows, he will definitely know the difference and it won't be just rumor as it was for our generation.

•Here is a great map that shows the circ rates in the US: You will notice in Texas only 26-50% of the male population is circumcised.

•Here is a map that shows the circ rate across the globe. You will notice that the only country that circs more than us is Nigeria. Wow!

7. Most circumcisions are performed without adequate anesthesia (even a nerve block doesn't get the vagus nerve.) Sugar water definitely doesn't dull the pain. Newborns are proven to feel pain more acutely than adults b/c of their nervous system immaturity.

•I saw a really funny blunt card once about this. But of course now that I am looking for it, I can’t find it. If I ever come across it again, I will post it.

8. The selling of foreskins from circumcision is big business. They are made into face creams. Is that where you want your son's body part to go?

•Ummmm, GROSS!

•* Cosmetics: Foreskins are used to make high-end skin creams. The skin products contain fibroblasts grown on the foreskin and harvested from it. One foreskin can be used for decades to produce fancy face cream like the SkinMedica products hawked on Oprah.

* Skin grafts: In addition to making products for skin, a baby’s foreskin can be turned into a skin graft for a burn victim. Because the cells are extremely flexible, they’re less likely to be rejected. Currently, this technology can be lifesaving in providing a real skin “band aid” to cover an open wound while a burn victim heals. Researchers at Harvard and Tufts are working on advanced skin replacements that use human foreskins.

* Cosmetic testing: All those cruelty-free cosmetics you buy? Some of them are tested on foreskins. This yields better results, since they’re human skin. And it saves the lives of the rodents your shampoo would otherwise be tested on.

9. The New Testament specifically says that Christians are not supposed to be circumcised. See Galatians 5:6. In short, circumcision was the old covenant and Jesus the new covenant. There are even Jews who reject circumcision.

•Here is a great site that goes into good detail about being a Christian and circumcising: This is actually a really good website period. Lots of good circ info on here. It was probably one of my main go to sites when doing my research.

10. There are no other cosmetic surgeries that parents are permitted to perform on their children without the child's consent. If the child grows to maturity and still wants to be circumcised, he can then have it done, and b/c his penis is fully grown, the doctor will be able to tell how much to remove and the man will have adequate pain relief during and after. Though the parents may have aesthetic preferences, the child may not share them. (Do you listen to your parents' music or wear your hair like theirs?)

Here are a few more resources I relied on when trying to make my decision. First, here is a really good video called Circumcision: An Elephant in the Hospital. When I say it’s a really good video, I mean it is a REALLY GOOD VIDEO. Go watch it.

Here are a few more websites that I found really helpful.

* I know I already posted this one in a comment on bullet number 9, but it a really good site called peaceful parenting:

* Intact America:

* The Whole Network:

* Some random blog I came across:

And one last time, for good measure. IF INTACT, DON'T RETRACT! If I find out you chose to disregard that piece of information and forcibly retract one of my son’s foreskin, you can be guarantee you will not be allowed to touch any of my children ever again. (Sorry, a little tense about this because I have already had one person say to me, “I don’t know about that, I just don’t see how that’s sanitary.” So I am very on edge about this person hurting my child because they apparently know everything there is to know about caring for an intact male and the rest of us are wrong so they are going to go ahead an retract the foreskin against my wishes.)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Finish Line

I know I haven't posted since the boys were born. So sorry, but I've been busy.

At about 5:00 today a journey hat started 996 days ago came to an end. My family is complete and everyone is home. As I sit here on my couch with all three of my children sitting (or sleeping) a few feet from me I have to pinch myself; it all feels so surreal. During the short drive home my mind was going a mile a minute, reliving all the events from the past several years. I just can't believe that something I have been dreaming about for the past 2 years and 8 months has finally happened. I can't believe it is all over and now a new journey, our adventures as a family of 5, begins. And of course, this new journey was kicked off with a song. Just like this song was played for me by my dad, and I played it for the Nacho when we brought her home, and I played when I knew my nephews were on their way home, I played it for Mork and Weiner (the Nacho's names for them) as we drove home.

Instead of rewriting the story behind the song, I am just going to copy and paste from Reid's blog.

"June 2002
After I am discharged from the Navy (honorably,!) instead of getting on an airplane and going home to boring way, my parents and sister decide to drive out to Washington D.C. to pick me up, and we make a vacation out of it. We spent a few days touring D.C., then spent another few camping and white water rafting a few different rivers. After our last river, once camp was packed up for the last time my dad turned to me and asked if we were on our way home, and after I told him yes, he had to ask one more time, Are we officially heading home, no more stops?” Then he said, “Then this is for you.” And he turned on the radio and played Don Henley’s Taking You Home, which of course made me cry.

August 5, 2009
It’s the day we are coming home from the hospital with Mackinley. It had been a long, emotional week, and I was so thankful to be going home at all. I had downloaded a special song to play for Mackinley on the way home but realized I had sent my ipod home with Dave during an earlier trip. So I had to quickly find and download it on my iphone as we were pulling away from the hospital (thank goodness for technology!) so I could play Don Henley’s Taking You Home for Mackinley, and of course I cried.

September 22, 2010
It has been a very exhausting 10 days. People always take for granted that you go to a hospital, have a baby, and bring that baby home. Unfortunately for my family we have realized that it doesn’t always work that way. Thankfully we have a little miracle on our hands! I feel blessed that I have been able to witness that miracle. I am so grateful to have Reid as part of my life. I think he is going to do amazing things with his life and I am glad I will be able to see them.
Reid, I want you to know that your Aunt Janelle loves you very much! Thank you for being such a fighter. Thank you for giving us the chance to get to know you. Thank you for reminding us about what is important in our lives. Thank you for reminding us to cherish every millisecond with our family. And although I was not there are you were coming home today, I was thinking about you often. I know you have made this one of the happiest days of your mommy and daddy’s life. So Reid, I dedicate this song to you. And yes, it will make me cry."

And now I have to add today to that timeline.

April 23, 2012

Today is a day I have been dreaming of for over 2 years. Its the day the answers to my prayers are coming home. These are babies I never thought I would have. But thanks to the amazing gift of an amazing woman these 2 sweet babies are mine. After making a slightly early entrance into the world and spending 17 days in the hospital today my miracle boys are coming home. So of course I played Don Henley's Taking You Home, and of course I cried like a baby.

I had a good life
before you came
I had my friends and my freedom
I had my name

Still there was sorrow and emptiness
till you made me glad
oh and this love
i found strength
never knew i had

And this love
Is like nothing I have ever known
Take my hand
I’m taking you home
Taking you home

There were days, lonely days
When the world
Wouldn’t throw me a crumb
But I kept on believing
That this day would come

And this love
Is like nothing like i have ever known baby
Take my hand
I’m taking you home
I’m taking you home
Where we can be with the ones who really care
Where we can throw together
Keep you in my heart forever

Oh and this love
Is like nothing i have ever known
Take my hand
Taking you home
Taking you home

Yes I am

Monday, April 2, 2012

Ever since the Nacho started watching some Bible story videos she has been asking for her own cross. She says she wants one so she can be like mommy and Jesus. And how can I deny her a cross so she can be like Jesus?!?!? So I went to Mardel today (and never even stepped foot in the teacher section. WHAT?!?!?) to find a cross to put in the Nacho's Easter basket. I find a very sweet, simple child's necklace that was perfect (meaning not too expensive so when my 2 year old breaks it I won't freak out.) and decide I would like to get her a cross to hang on the wall as well. I am wandering around the store trying to find one that I like and realize that everywhere I turn I am seeing quotes and sayings and verses surrounding me. All the things that were told to me by people trying to help me stay positive these last 2 and a half years. All the saying I said to myself over and over and over these last 2 years. All of the saying that I read and just feel the truth in the words deep down in my soul. All the words that were my saving grace since this journey began. (These are just the ones I remember seeing while I was there today.) I just got so overwhelmed with emotion as I was standing there, literally just turning in circles trying to take it all in, truly believing.

"Prayer Changes Things"

"Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation" Psalm 62:5-1

"Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge" Psalm 62:8

"May your unfailing love be my comfort" Psalm 119:76

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. He is my fortress, I will not be shaken." Jeremiah 29:11

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12


"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6

"Everything is possible for him who believes." Mark 9:23

“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

"I can do all this through him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13

And of course my favorite
"Amazing Love"

Friday, March 16, 2012

31 Weeks and 3 Days

Baby boys are looking great and L is feeling good, well, as good as you can feel when you are almost 32 weeks pregnant with twins. I must say, she grows babies very well. Baby A is measuring 4 pounds 1 ounce and Baby B is measuring 4 pounds even. At our appointment several weeks ago the doc said they were in the 75th percentile for a singleton. Not sure where we fall on the scale today.

In case you are wondering, this is what almost 32 weeks with twins looks like.

Baby B is usually the stubborn baby that doesn't want to get his picture taken. I have very few good shots of him, but today, during our perinatologist ultrasound her was very cooperative and we got a great shot. He looks like such a little baby now instead of an alien.

L tried to surprise us with a 3D ultrasound today, but during the walk from the peri's office to the OB's office the babies turned around and became very stubborn, so we had a difficult time getting a good shot. I think everyone else was a little disappointed but I was thrilled. I have watched the DVD 3 times now in awe. We are going to try again on the 30th, and I can't wait to get another good peek at my boys.
Look at those cheeks, and those lips. Just makes me swoon!

Our peri appointment ran a little long because the office was so behind, so my mom, in an effort to kill some time, took the Nacho to the newborn nursery, and apparently the Nacho was quite smitten and enthralled with the new babies. I wish I could have seen it. She was so impressed by it, when Dave got there she had to take him and show him the babies too. Love that kid!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Little Miss Attitude

A few months ago a good friend of mine found the PERFECT shirt for the Nacho. Since it was nice and warm I had her wear her new shirt today and wanted to get a picture. First she posed so nicely in exchange for a pop-o-sicle.


But after that the attitude came out. First she was showing me how she likes to "move it, move it."

And then she remembered that mommy had bribed her with a Popsicle and had not made good on said bribe, so the sassy attitude came out.



Man I love that kid!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

365 Days

First, a disclaimer: In this post I mention several different people who offered to be our surrogate but for one very valid reason or another it just didn’t work out. I hold no hard feelings towards any of these people and I never had. This post is not meant to call those people out or anything like that, I just want to try and document every single step of this journey, and this is a very important part of it.

One year ago today I got the email from our first surro telling us she just couldn’t do it.

*Well, technically she was our second, my sister was our first, but she was the first one we had actually started moving forward with. With my sister it was all just talk, but we never made it beyond that. With J, Dave and I had our first consult with Dr. C, J met with her doc and had a phone consult with Dr. C, Dave went and gave his sample, we were actually moving forward.

I remember that day so vividly as if it had happened yesterday. We were at my grandmother’s house cleaning it out when J texted me and told me I needed to check my email. I knew she had started having some concerns and had been doing some serious thinking, praying, and discussing with her family and doctor. So when she told me to check my email I knew what it was, and I already knew it was going to be bad news. I had been trying to prepare myself for it, but I don’t think I did a very good job. I was back in grandmother’s bedroom and I sat on her bed to read the email when my mom walked in followed shortly by my sister. We all just sat there in silence for a few minutes before I broke down. At that exact moment I felt like that was it, we were at the end of the road, I was never going to get my baby. My mom and sister tried to be so optimistic for me, Jennifer even offering her services again. Dave wasn’t there that day, so then I had to call him and tell him, which caused me to break down again.

I wasn’t angry or upset with J at all. I totally understood. Her reasons made so much sense. Even her doctor couldn’t support her decision to do this. And I don’t know if Dave and I would have been comfortable going with J had decided to do it. But it still hurt to lose her. It wasn’t so much the fact that we were losing a surrogate, it was losing HER, losing J, which sucked. She was who we wanted, I had grown so attached to the idea of her being our surro I had to mourn the loss of her as if we had just lost a baby. I am sure I was a pretty unpleasant person to be around for a few weeks.

After losing J we had a few other people that came forward and offered. One of which we got very close to starting to move forward again with when we lost her. I was ready to give up. The roller coaster ride was almost too much to handle sometimes. We even started the process of becoming foster parent (of course, we were denied because we both work outside the home.) I started doing some research into adoption agencies, but I could never make myself do more than request info online, I couldn’t ever make a phone call to any of the agencies. I knew that starting the adoption process would mean the end of my surrogacy dream, and I just wasn’t quite ready to let the dream go. I wasn’t sure how we were going to make that dream come true, but I still wasn’t ready for it to end. Dave kept saying we needed to call Dr. C and see if he knew anyone, but I kept poo-pooing that idea. Thankfully he didn’t listen to me and called Dr. C and that’s how we found the wonderful Gayla who then put us in contact with our amazing L.

Looking back on everything that has happened and now I get it, I see why these things happened. J has had all kinds of changes happen in her life in the past year that would have made things even more complex and difficult if she were pregnant with our twins right now. And I see His reasons for not letting it work out with several of the other women as well. L was the person meant for this job. She has been the perfect person for it. She is the best baby cooker. I can’t imagine anyone doing a better job than she is. I can’t imagine any other person carrying our boys for us.

I look at how low I was one year ago. Look at how close I was to giving up (thank you Dave for not letting me!) Now look at where we are. Look how far we have come. Look at those 2 sweet boys growing away in the perfect womb. From the struggle to find our perfect surrogate to the roller coaster of getting some eggs from me and getting her knocked up. And let’s not forget the emotion filled day where L calls and says she is bleeding so we rush in thinking we were losing the pregnancy only to find triplets. It has been quite a journey and in just 10 or so more weeks this journey will come to a very happy end. I can’t believe how close we are!

To J- I want you to know how very much I love you. I am honored that you would have even considered being our surrogate. I know you wanted it as much as I did. I know it was a heartbreaking decision that you had to make. I never, ever, ever felt any negative feelings toward you at all. I will always think of you with very fond memories and I can’t wait for my boys to meet you!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Trust No One!

About a month ago my asst. principal calls me during the middle of class and says “find a sub for February 24th, I am sending you to a training. I’ll explain more later.” So I said ok, hung up, and got back to teaching. I then started searching high and low for a sub, but all my usuals were already committed, so I thought it must be a pretty popular training. I finally found someone AWESOME (shout-out SS) got her put into the system, and forgot about it. Until last weekend when I realized the training was coming up and I had no idea what it was about, what time it stated, what building it was in. I knew nothing other than it was on the 24th. So on Monday morning I sent an email to my AP asking for more specifics, and I never heard back from her. Not even so much as a, I’ll get back to you later. Just radio silence.
That annoyed me to no end. I came home about mid-week complaining to Dave that I was still clueless about my training on Friday. I told him that I knew she had seen my email because any message sent within GISD shows a timestamp of when it was opened. I also looked on Oracle and couldn’t find any trainings listed for the 24th and so I was starting to worry that I had misheard and really it was the 23rd because there were lots of classes listed for that day. Dave just kept defending her and defending her and finally said that maybe I would just end up with a free day off.
Thursday morning on my drive into work my mom tells me she knows what my training is because she was sending several of her teachers to it as well. I took that time to whine a little more about my APs sealed lips and how frustrated it was making me. I got to work that morning and sent yet another email asking for some details. Finally, near the end of the day I heard back from her and all it said was 8:30 at the PDC; still no idea what I was learning about. Oh well, I just decided to go with the flow. I got my sub plans all ready to go, threw the spiral I take with my to all staff developments into my car so I could take some good notes like I was told to do, and was just excited about the prospect of getting to sleep a few extra minutes later than normal.
That night at dinner Dave and I were talking about the twins and about how life was about to change and this is pretty much the transcript of the conversation we had:
D: I think we need to get away one last time before the boys get here.
J: Ok. We can go camping! (side note- we are going camping over spring break.)
D: What about a weekend in Fredericksburg?
J: (paying more attention to the Nacho and her cuteness than our conversation) Ok.
D: We could stay in a B&B.
J: Sure. I’ve always wanted to go there.
D: Ok good. We are going this weekend.
J: huh?
D: Your mom is taking the Nacho for the weekend.
J: huh?
D: You don’t actually have a training tomorrow.
J: huh?
D: We are leaving in the morning after my conference call. Driving down, staying at the Magnolia House, and having an awesome weekend.
J: huh?

Slowly, the pieces started to all fit together. I think I was so confused and then stunned that I don’t think I ever properly responded with excitement to him, but trust me, I was excited! It took me a while to finally figure out that everyone was in on it and I was the only clueless one. I think I had to ask a few times “are you sure there is not training tomorrow???”
Yep, my mom and my AP were in on it the whole time. I am surrounded my sneaks! And I am so glad I am. It was a wonderful surprise and it has been a wonderfully awesome and relaxing weekend. I’m sure it is the last of its kind for a long, long time. Granted the weekends we are going to have from this point forward are going to be awesome for a whole slew of different reasons (well, for 3 pretty awesome reasons!) Its been nice to have one last grown up getaway.