Parents who have circumcised their children and come to regret making that decision often feel a sense of purpose by sharing their story. Men who have chosen to be circumcised have also regretted their choice. These stories reveal a side to circumcision that new and old parents alike may never have considered. Circumcision pain reaches far beyond the physical into the mental, emotional and spiritual, too.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

To My Two Beloved Sons, from J.D.

Dear J and M,

You two will never know how much I love you. You are both the light of my world, you make life worth living, you shed a little light on even my worst and most stressful days. It is with a heavy heart that I am going to express my feelings about what I allowed to be done to you. You were both born so perfect. 

J, when you were born I was only 19 years old, my 19th birthday to be exact. You were the best birthday present a mother could ever wish for. But I was, unfortunately, uneducated on several motherhood topics, and allowed myself to be pumped full of drugs, which is where our story begins. I had a muscle relaxer to "take the edge off" while I waited for my epidural. Once you were born you had to be taken to the nicu, my temperature had spiked right before delivery and they wanted to make sure I had not passed on an infection to you. You were in the nicu for almost a week, despite them not saying what was wrong with you. They pumped you full of antibiotics, but every time I asked what was wrong with you they gave me the run around and couldn;t give me a diagnosis. I regret allowing you to be taken now, it was obviously not needed. I don't remember exactly when your circumcision took place, I don't even remember being given papers to read or sign. No doctor came to talk to me about the risks of the surgery, and all I had heard was that it was necessary, end of story. Nobody bothered to tell me about any complications, or that it is a purely cosmetic procedure. I, of course, trusted the doctors word. After all, they went to medical school and I didn't, so they must know best, right? If I had known that I would not have put you through that. The only detail I remember is that you had the plastibell procedure, I remember the bell coming off and seeing your swollen and red penis. I remember feeling horrible for you, but I thought it as just one of those things that baby boys had to go through, for health reasons. Your entire birth and our hospital stay is a complete blur, I hardly remember any of it, and I blame the drugs they pumped me full of. Looking back, I think they preyed on me since I was a young mother on medicaid, and because of that you were the perfect guinea pig for the sick and twisted doctors that perform this unnecessary procedure on defenseless baby boys.

Almost two years went by, and we decided it was time to try for another baby, so you could have a sibling. It didn't take long at all for me to conceive. You were three years old when we found out we were expecting another boy. This time, I decided to do things slightly differently. I spent countless hours on the internet, researching vaccines and trying to decide if I wanted to continue vaccinating you or your brother when he was born. I finally made my decision, to discontinue all vaccinations for you and to never vaccinate your brother. But I spent so much time researching vaccines that it never occurred to me to research anything else. After all, I should have known just about anything I needed to know about parenting babies and toddlers by then, right? Since I had done it all once before. 

M, you were finally born in December of 2011, a perfect baby boy. I didn't get the muscle relaxer during my labor with you, but I did get an epidural. Your birth and our hospital experience is a little clearer, but still kind of blurry. I had a different doctor with you, one that I had truly loved throughout my pregnancy, she had been so kind and courteous during my pregnancy and delivery. The morning after you were born she came in to talk to me about your circumcision, she told me she would be performing it that morning. I do not remember signing a consent form, I just remember feeling as if she knew best since she was a doctor and that it was not my place to question it. So once again, I allowed my second precious baby boy to be taken back for a circumcision. You were gone for about an hour, I remember her telling me that the procedure was quick and she would bring you back to me very quickly. I was beginning to get worried when you were wheeled back into my room in your little bassinet. The first diaper change after your circumcision was awful.  I remember seeing your swollen and red penis. I believe you had the gomco procedure. I felt bad, but again I thought it was something that had to be done. 

Fast forward to when you were 10 months old, M, I stumbled on a intactivist page on facebook that had links to articles and even videos of a circumcision being performed. I watched a video, sound on, and the pain I felt for that baby, for both of my sons, was so incredible. It was a paralyzing feeling, I watched in disbelief as the doctor sliced into the skin of the poor baby's penis, and the screams that came from that poor child was almost to much to bear. I broke down into tears, watching as the baby struggled against the circumstraint to no avail. After the doctor sliced the foreskin and began to tear it from the penis I remember hearing him say "he's got himself all worked up now", and that comment just made me want to scream. Of course he got himself all worked up! He was in the most excruciating pain he will ever feel, with only topical anesthesia and sugar water for comfort. It was then that I began to research on circumcision, and I only wish I had taken the time to research before you or your big brother were born. I am so sorry, both of my precious boys. I did not know better, I should have but I didn't. My heart hurts for what I allowed to be done to you, for what I allowed to be taken from you. I will do everything in my power to make it up to both of you. I will not rest until male circumcision is illegal just as female circumcision now is. I love you, and I am so very sorry. You cannot know the anger I feel at the medical establishment, at the doctor whom I had loved so much during my pregnancy with you, M. I don't even remember the doctor I had with you, J. It wasn't the one I had during my pregnancy, it was the on call doctor. I do not know if it was him or another doctor that performed your circumcision. I am so sorry boys, and I will do what I can to make this right.

With love,


Sunday, February 3, 2013

To My First Son, from M.S.

To my first son, 

You were born so tiny and so perfect, my eyes filled with tears as the midwife handed you to me and I became a mother at 18 years old. I put you to my body and fed you as we studied each others face. You no longer were a part of me but we began to bond immediately. The first day you were calm, you made sweet little coos, you hardly cried and had a curious face and dark blue eyes looking into mine and I could feel your heart smiling. When you were not yet 24 hours old they came to our room and took you from me, I agreed to let you go, I said ok and buddy I so wish I would have held onto you, I need you to know that I did not really know what was about to happen and I'm sorry. While you were gone from me I wondered, wondered if it really wouldn't hurt, if it really was just a snip. Then you were brought back, you were cold, sweaty and your eyes were distant. You would not look me in the eye again, you rejected my breast and cried and screamed in pain. You would never breastfeed again. I changed that first diaper with you screaming, when I saw you raw, bloody and exposed I began to cry, we cried together, this time because I had only been a mother for a day and I had already failed my baby. I didn't protect you, I let them hurt you, I made a choice that wasn't mine to make and regret has filled my soul since that day. In the days and weeks that followed, as you healed you screamed all night, terror woke you up every night and pain every time you peed. I am so sorry for what I did to you. When you were 17 months old you became a big brother. You dont know it but you saved your little brother. I had him in the car, I delivered him into my hands with you watching from your carseat. You were the second person to ever touch him. I am sorry for what I let them do to you but when your brother was born I knew better and I would never let anyone hurt him. When your little brother was 2 and a half he became an older brother, we had him at home, you and brother touched him after mommy and daddy, a third little boy blessed our family. And You saved him too buddy. 

Six years have passed since your pain, but we still struggle with eye contact and closeness. Last night I washed your little brothers in the bath and then put your soap on your sponge so you could shower. I can see the reminder of what I took from you, it wasn't just skin, it was our bond, it was your trust, it was your right to genital integrity, autonomy and your right to chose for yourself. I took something from you I can never give back, I can't undo and I will regret forever. One day, I don't doubt, you will ask why your brothers look different, I'm afraid for when I have to tell you because buddy I can't lie to you, you'll cry and I will too. I can only hope you will forgive me and maybe find strength beyond your years to see that I realized my mistake and that you truly saved your brothers. I'm so sorry buddy, you will live with my mistake carved into your body and I will forever live with the guilt.