13 August 2009

The Procedure

As my son passes the one year mark (which is, in itself, rather unbelievable to me), I'd like to look back at his first week--actually, his first few days--of life. It was on the second full day of his life that one of the most amusing moments of new parenthood occurred. Sure, it was also potentially horrific. But in the end, it all worked out for the best.

Wait--my son is a year old. He's been on this planet for 365 days. How did that happen? I've been a dad for an entire year already. Sometimes it still feels like that very first week. I am so not used to this yet.

And I really wasn't used to it that Monday night in the hospital over a year ago, when I accompanied my newborn son as he underwent his very first medical procedure: a circumcision.

Now, I know what you're thinking. But don't worry. I won't go into all the gory details. In fact, one of the most surprising aspects of the entire operation was the total lack of gore. It wasn't what I would call pleasant by any means, but I also wasn't screaming my lungs out in abject terror and clawing at my eyes to permanently erase the vision from my memory. It was all rather simple, straightforward, and surprisingly quick. We were led by a doctor and a med student to a small room, almost a storage closet. Seemed a strange location for such a serious medical procedure, but I suppose it's also a bit of a strange procedure, so perhaps it was fitting. Anyway, the doctor lays out the equipment, the instruments, she'll be using and instructs me to please not grab any of them during the procedure. Apparently, some nervous or overzealous parents have in the past turned into eager assistants in this scenario, as though they were an extra on Grey's Anatomy. I practically laugh out loud, I am so baffled by this notion. Who could possibly behave in this fashion? Yes, please, mutilate my son's tiny penis, by all means! Let me help you, use this very sharp, shiny thing here! That's the ticket! Do it! Do it!

Now, I myself am no stranger to TV hospital drama (it dawned on me in the last year that I literally spent half my life watching ER--man, that show was on the air for a long time) but even I have no inclination to do such a thing. Okay, maybe if the doctor was Ellen Pompeo or Katherine Heigl, I might lose my head for a moment, but doctors in real life rarely look like models or movie actresses, so we are safe. The next thing I know, she's imparting a history lesson on the main tool used in the procedure. She's informing her student that it was invented by a doctor at this very institution where we're about to have this procedure. It was invented shortly after World War I, I believe she said. Really? I think to myself. This technology hasn't advanced in 90 years? How is that possible? But I don't have time to dwell on that thought because the next words out of the doctor's mouth catch my attention. She's telling her student that she'll explain everything to him as she performs the procedure, then on the second one (the next patient), he can assist, and then he can perform the third one of the night himself.

Again, I have to stop myself from bursting into hysterical laughter. Then I breathe a sigh of relief and thank all that is holy that we are the number one patient of the night. Man, that poor bastard who's number three, I think. Sure, this is a teaching hospital, but this kid is going to be given sharp, scary instruments to lop off the top of a very tiny penis for the very first time on this night. Seriously.

Number three, you poor, poor bastard.

But in the end, it wasn't as bad as you might imagine. Of course, I'm secretly hoping that if we end up having another kid, that it's a girl, and I never have to go through that experience again.

Because you never know, our number two could be the unlucky number three, that med student's number one.

Man, that poor bastard.

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