Momlogic's Jenny: For some, the idea that we buried our son's foreskin may seem tribal, archaic, and downright barbaric. But for us, it was a simple and beautiful ritual that I will cherish always.
When my husband and I found out that we were going to have a son, it was without question that we would have him circumcised. As Jews, the tradition of Bris Mila, the ritual of circumcision, is considered the most important covenant in Judaism. The Bris Mila, which is only performed on boys and takes place on the eighth day after he is born, has been carried out faithfully from generation to generation. In Judaism, circumcising your son is seen as a promise to God that we as Jews will continue to exist and create future generations. On top of that, my husband is circumcised and wanted his son to "be like him." For me, it also comes down to aesthetics: I personally think uncircumcised penises are ugly. Should that be one other thing I have to worry about my (one day) teenage son getting taunted in the locker room for?
Before our son was born, we did an extensive amount of research on the ritual- from who we would want to conduct it to where to why to how... We talked to doctors, Mohels (observant Jews who are specially trained in the procedure- and in this day and age, are usually doctors or surgeons themselves), friends- anyone who had an opinion on how this might medically affect our son. We wanted the ceremony to be as "by the book" and traditional as it could be, but we also wanted to make sure it was as humane and painless as possible. Would he cry? Yes, but not mostly because they're exposed. (If you're a parent, then you know this is true. Infants hate having their diaper changed). Would he remember this experience? My husband is pretty sure he has no recollection of his. Would he still have the same sensitivity and enjoy sex as much as non-circumcised males? I think you can guess my husband's answer to this one.
Despite our strong belief in circumcision, many people, including family members, had strong opinions and were outraged by our decision to go ahead with the procedure. At a family gathering, when I was still pregnant, one cousin even told me what we were going to do was "barbaric" and "wrong." She told me that she had just read that "they" are now saying there is no medical evidence of circumcision reducing the risk of STDs or other hygenic issues and that she "urrrrrrrrges me to reconsider."
Of course we didn't reconsider -- we just didn't invite her to the bris. I won't lie: The day of my son's bris was a very tough and emotional one. But I don't think it was entirely due to the fact that my son was getting "his penis hacked off" as some non-believers think. I think the fact that I had nearly 75 people in my living room on a hot September day, 8 days after delivering a 7.5lb baby vaginally and having milk exploding from my boobs, and hormones raging like Niagara Falls is what made it hard. The act itself was beautiful, spiritual, and memorable in a way that I wish for all families considering this tradition.
Even more memorable was the moment that my husband, baby and I shared alone after the guests left and the bagels and lox were cleaned up. We went out to the backyard and underneath our new plum tree, wrapped in gauze, buried our son's foreskin. In Judaism, anything that comes from the earth, goes back to the earth. It's also customary to bury it near a young tree- as our son grows, so too shall the tree. We stood as a family and reflected on our day, reflected on my pregnancy, and marveled at our new son, never once casting a doubt that we had committed a horrible disservice to our child that we are so often criticized for.
Fourteen months later, I have more plums than I know what to do with....