We never gave much thought to circumcision. Our son was a surviving twin born at 27 weeks gestation. He spent the first 76 days of his life in the newborn intensive care unit. Because he was fighting for his life, there were more pressing matters to consider than the shape of his penis.
I had never really questioned why I was circumcised. It wasn't done for religious reasons. And I had never wondered what my life would have been like had I not been snipped. The look and shape of my penis are nothing more than a part of who I am. No different, really, than the hair on my chest or the mole above my left eyebrow.
The doctors first brought up the subject a week before our son's discharge. They told us that if we wanted to have him circumcised, it would be most convenient to schedule it with his hernia surgery. It would be a two-for-one.
My wife had said that because I was the one with the penis, the decision was up to me. For me, there wasn't a choice. I'm circumcised. Of course my son would be.
The surgery was a success, but doctors said he was still too small to circumcise. They recommended that we return a few weeks later for an outpatient procedure.
Christina began to have second thoughts about putting him under the knife again.
A few days later, I was on the phone with my friend, updating him on our son's progress and talking through a potential hot topic within my family: my hard-line stance against baptism.
I was raised Catholic. I had served as an altar boy, attended Catholic school for 12 years and hardly ever missed a Sunday Mass throughout my childhood. Today, I am no longer a practicing Catholic. Except for weddings, I have not attended church in years.
We intend to expose our son to the many religions of the world, and if there comes a day when he wants to identify with one, then he will make an informed decision. I had thought this through for months. Christina, who is not Catholic, agreed.
I told all of this to my friend. He understood. Then he threw me a curveball: Did we plan to go ahead with the circumcision?
"Well, yeah, of course," I quickly replied.
"So you don't want to baptise your son, but you won't hesitate to have his foreskin cut?"
I found myself tongue-tied and slightly embarrassed. How could I have not given circumcision more thought? I had convictions regarding baptism. But to have our son circumcised for no reason other than the fact that it was done to me? By the same logic, I may as well have him baptised.
But for my son to have his penis look absolutely nothing like mine, well, it worried me somehow. If he ever had questions about his, I wouldn't have the firsthand experience to offer answers. And if he saw me naked, he might notice the difference. Would he feel less of a father-son connection to me, as paranoid as that may sound?
We researched the four methods that use a clamp, as well as the Plastibell method, the procedure favoured by the hospital where he would be circumcised.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says that the benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks, but they aren't profound enough to recommend the procedure universally. The potential consequences of not having our son circumcised included varying degrees of risk, such as greater odds of developing urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted diseases and even penile cancer - all enough to instill more fear in me, regardless of how low some of those risks were.
I do not recommend viewing the Google Image search results for circumcision.
I fell deep down a cyber-rabbit hole into a world of first-person essays on sites like Cosmopolitan and Jezebel, describing women's sexual escapades with "natural men". The reviews were mixed.
I was hoping Christina had been with an uncircumcised man so she could provide insight, but I figured she would have said something by now and, alas, she had not. I considered asking female friends about their experiences but couldn't work up the guts and didn't know whom I should ask. My fears and ego were getting the better of me. I didn't want to make the wrong decision for my son.
In the end, Christina and I kept coming back to two things: that the procedure meant pain, regardless of how temporary, and that in our son's case, it seemed not to serve any medical purpose. As my wife put it, it's just another form of cosmetic surgery.
Two days later, at his first paediatrician appointment, his doctor, who is Romanian, cautioned that there are different ways to interpret data from the many studies. She also recommended that we look into the World Health Organization's findings, which in 2007 showed that circumcision is more prevalent in America than anywhere else; in fact, Western European countries have circumcision rates of less than 20 per cent. That number made me feel even better about our decision.
Our son recently turned a year old, and I still play the "what if?" game in my head. What if he questions why we look different down there? What if during middle school he gets picked on in the locker room for being the only uncircumcised kid? What if women see this as a deal breaker? What if he has reduced sexual pleasure?
Then I remember these fears are occurring because I am way out of my little comfort zone - out of America's comfort zone, really.
And that's exactly the type of father I want to be: a man who models for his son that he's not afraid to challenge his default ways of thinking.