Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Great Debate

To circumcise or not?

Liam is circumcised.
(Jack will be circumcised, too.)

It was done in the hospital, 2 days after he was born, after a penile dorsal nerve block was administered.

This was not a decision we took lightly. It was not a decision that we made without research and discussion. It was not a decision based on societal norms or religion and it was not a decision that was a mistake. I have never regretted our decision.

I respect the fact that there are many parents who are opting not to have this procedure done. There are just as many reasons not to do it, as there are to do it-- it's not without risks (no surgery is). I think that parents who make a decision regarding circumcision with no knowledge of the procedure, its benefits, its pain management options, its risks and its potential complications are likely to regret their decision, whatever they choose. We should always do our best to make informed decisions when it comes to our kids.

I do not, however, believe that the decision to circumcise an infant is an uneducated or thoughtless one, as I've had people imply when this topic has come up in conversation.
There are several reasons we believe that circumcision was the right choice for us. I don't list them here to try to convince you that it's the right decision for your family-- rather, to show the thought process that was behind our decision.

Protection against Penile & Prostate Cancer

In a 2000 study done by a large health maintenance organization, surveys showed that 97.7% of the men who were diagnosed with Invasive Penile Cancer were not circumcised. Penile cancer is rare, mostly affects older men & is not a big concern for us-- But this added protection is a bonus to a procedure we were planning on doing anyway. Intact men were shown to be twice as likely to be diagnosed with Prostate Cancer.

Prevention of Infant Urinary Tract Infections

Research has shown that intact infants are 12 times more likely to develop UTIs than circumcised infants. While UTIs are certainly not life threatening (in normal cases), anyone who has had one knows how incredibly painful they can be.

But THE reason-- the one that would convince us to circumcise our boys, even if none of the other reasons existed, is this:

Studies have demonstrated that circumcision can reduce the risk of HIV/STD infection as much as 60%.

When I state this statistic, some people point out the fact that the majority of these studies have been done in Africa. Lack of clean water and sex education have been listed as reasons why these statistics may not be valid. But, clean water does not prevent the spread of HIV/STDs (otherwise America would be free of these diseases), and as many condoms as I may throw at my boys one day, I cannot guarantee that they will protect themselves every time they choose to be sexually active. Yes, it's true that their overall risk is higher in areas where more of the population already has the disease-- but HIV is far from absent in the US. Therefore, I do not believe that it matters where these studies were performed-- they still present valid correlations.

Additionally, it's worth mentioning that there have been studies done in the US, but mostly among homosexual men-- I do not discredit these studies as I cannot guarantee my boys will be heterosexual (and frankly, do not care).

As for the risk of contracting and spreading HPV, not only does circumcision potentially protect my boys, but it also could help prevent cervical cancer (caused by HPV) in their heterosexual partners. As a woman who has experienced multiple abnormal pap smears with precancerous cells (and had them treated via cryotherapy), I would love to see the rate of HPV transmission reduced. In addition to HIV & HPV, it is also suggested that circumcision reduces the risk of acquiring and transmitting other STDs such as HSV (Herpes) and Chlamydia (which can lead to infertility). 

Are there additional ways to reduce STD transmission other than circumcision? Sure. We will teach our boys about safe sex and the importance of using condoms. Gardasil (the HPV vaccine) has recently been approved for use in boys-- our boys will get the series of shots. And as clinical trials continue, hopefully an HIV vaccine will be available long before my boys are sexually active... and maybe even a cure.  
I don't look down on any parent who chooses not to circumcise their son. Handing your precious and perfect baby boy over to a doctor days after birth and letting her remove a piece of his body is not easy. I can understand a parent who looks at the facts above and makes the decision that they are not good enough reasons.

For us, they are.
Several people that I know who have decided to leave their son intact have asked the question, "Who am I to make that decision for him about his body?"

My answer is always the same, "Who am I? I'm his parent. I'm going to be making decisions for him for a long time & I'll do what I believe is best for him."

We all do what we believe is best for our kids-- whether that's choosing to circumcise or not, vaccinate or not, co-sleep or not, breastfeed or not. We make the best decisions we can with the information we have.

And I know we made the right decision for us.

Feel free to tell me about your decision and why it was right for you.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

(Mostly) Wordless Wednesday: Alphabet of Liam

While I was busy creating PhotoBooks of Liam's first year to display at his birthday party, I had one other project that I was working on-- a gift for him. Originally my plan was to create a book of pictures of our family members with their names...but our family is so large that I didn't have the time to collect all of the pictures while the books were on sale. (I still hope to do this in the future.)

So instead, I decided to create an "Alphabet of Liam" board book that has pictures of people he knows or things that he likes. (We included pictures of the children in our family as well as Aunts & Uncles that he knows, but our extended family & family he hasn't met yet will go into the next book.)

I'm really happy with how it turned out & I placed my order Monday night-- here it is!

Front Cover:

Back Cover:

I can't wait to give it to him!

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Few Updates

I've been a really bad blogger (and horrible commenter, too) for the past few weeks-- I just realized that my last two posts have been Wordless Wednesdays!

But I do have an excuse-- Things have been really busy around here.

First, we moved bedrooms-- we cleared out our room, moved across the house and got settled in our front bedroom after having it painted a lovely Pewter color. (We have some work to do before it's ready for a reveal!) We had our old bedroom painted blue, just in time for the delivery truck to arrive with Liam's new bed (which needs a mattress!):

We had shelves built in the living room to help keep all of our electrical cords out of reach-- a project that we've wanted to do since before Liam was born. As usual, there was a bit of a struggle with our contractor to get them done right, but we're really happy with how they turned out. We're excited to actually be able to put stuff on them in the next few days! (Southern humidity and oil based paint is not a great combo.)

We started moving all of the furniture out of our dining room and my dad installed a gate across the opening between our living room and dining room. While I'll miss having a nice space to entertain, it's much more important to have a safe, contained area where Liam can play-- especially once Jack arrives.

We're working on finishing up babyproofing this room & will be purchasing about 4 more sets of foam tiles to cover the floor soon so that he avoids as many bumps and bruises as possible. It's a great space though, and it's already made our lives much easier. He's free to explore and we don't have to stop him every other step!

Speaking of steps, he hasn't taken any yet, but he's pulling up on everything and standing for long periods of time. He has even let go a few times-- he made it a few seconds before sitting down.

{Standing & playing at the Water Table at the Children's Museum}

I've been really busy finishing up my PhotoBooks-- and I finally ordered them tonight! I can't wait to share the Alphabet Book that I made for Liam's Birthday on Wordless Wednesday this week!


Oh, and I'm 23 weeks pregnant. 
(And ready for a nap.)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

(Mostly) Wordless Wednesday: The First Year

If you follow me on Twitter, you've probably seen my recent tweets that make me seem like a walking spokesperson for It's only because I think they have great prices (especially when they release awesome discount codes) and because they have products that most other web based photo companies do not have.

There are tons of places you can create photo books, but ArtsCow is the only place I've seen where you can make photo board books. I think these are awesome--  the books will also stand up to years of abuse by little hands. (No ripped pages!)

They're having an awesome sale on the board books right now (until 7/25), which they call "Deluxe" Books-- 6x6 books are $12.99 and 8x8 & 9x7 books are $19.99. Free Shipping! (Code: DBKS1299)

I have a few books that I'd like to make: one with Liam's newborn photo shoot pics & one with pics and names of our family (as a birthday gift to Liam). But the one I wanted to get done now, is a photo book of his first year to display at his birthday party. I've been working on it for the past week or so and it's finally done!

I couldn't wait to share the pages! The black outside borders are not so large in his book-- I just designed them a little bigger than I needed to so I'd have room to zoom in on the center design.

(Click on any of the pics to enlarge.)

My plan is to display this book at his party, then mail it to Rob's Dad or Grandmother-- Neither of them have received enough pics from us this year. Then, after the party, I'll create a new book using most of these pages, but adding in a few extras like our family beach trip in Aug and his birthday in Sept for us to keep-- a complete first year.

Just an FYI-- The company is headquartered in TX, but their printer is in Hong Kong, so if you need a book for a certain date, order early. (Looks like the standard shipping time for photo books is 2-3 weeks.) I'll be sure to post pics (and a review) of our book once it arrives!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Letters to Liam, 9 months

My Little Liam,

Sweet baby boy, you have had an incredible month of milestones… After months of “almosts” you’re doing one new thing after another.

No more bottles! When we went to your 9 month appt Dr. Farr told us that it was time to start trying to use sippy cups—I was so proud to tell him that we’ve already ditched the bottles and that you’ve been using sippy cups exclusively for several weeks. I am so happy that we didn’t have any problems transitioning—but I wasn’t surprised. You usually go with the flow. At your appointment, you weighed 18 lbs and were 29 inches long.

Teeth #5 & #6 have popped through—your sweet little gummy smile is now a mouth full of adorable little white chompers. You’re using those teeth to eat REAL food now. You figured out how to pick up your puffs and feed yourself and from then on, you’ve been eating everything. You’re not a picky eater at all-- you love macaroni, grilled cheese, goldfish, peaches and anything else we’ve given you! It’s so fun to watch you chase food around your highchair and navigate it into your mouth with your chubby little fingers.

Several weeks ago you started crawling, and watch out! We’re in trouble. What started as a few unsure moves forward has turned into you racing across the room so fast we can hardly keep up. It’s awesome to watch you learn. The house is not baby-proof yet, so we have to stay on our toes. We’re working on creating a space that’s safe for you and gives you a chance to move around a bit without us constantly swooping in to save you. (Which you HATE.)

We’ve gone to the pool several times and you LOVE to swim—I just knew you’d love the water & I was right. You are so happy and content. You’d rather skip the baby pool and head straight into the deep end. You love the freedom to float around, kicking & splashing. Knowing how much you love the water makes me even more excited to take you to the beach in August.

Time is racing towards your first birthday and I’ve just started planning your party—I can’t wait to celebrate our first full year as a family of three all of the accomplishments that entails. You are amazing, my sweet boy & growing up so fast right before my eyes.

You take my breath away.

I love you, boo-bear.

I'll try not to be so late with the 10 month letter, but I won't make any promises.

I've tried so hard to keep the composition of these photos the same each month so that you can see how much he's grown-- but after 30 minutes, 90 photos and both of us getting cranky, I gave up on getting him to lay down on his rug. He doesn't want to lay down, EVER-- he wants to MOVE! Next month, I'm going to borrow my dad's awesome camera in hopes that I might get at least a few decent shots, but it's safe to say our lovely green & white striped rug background is a thing of the past. (But seriously, no more crappy cell phone pics-- the delay is so long I miss everything.)