2014-03-09

Yes, it's really that bad

"Our doctor was not truthful with us, and our first son was circumcised.

Thankfully, due to pages like this one, we were better informed this time and our second, and all future children, will be left whole.

When my first son was born in 2010, I knew very little about circumcision. My first experience with a foreskin was a couple of years earlier during my clinical training as a Certified Nursing Assistant. Working in a nursing home, I saw some of the hygiene/infection issues in intact male residents that some use to justify circumcising infants, but even those were rare. I now know they could certainly have been remedied with proper care.

It seemed circumcision was certainly the norm, and I never even really questioned it. It was just something everyone did, or so I thought.

I did come across some information against routine infant circumcision and I remember being shocked that there was this movement against something that seemed so normal and common. I considered leaving my son intact, but when I discussed not circumcising him with a close relative who was a nurse, her reaction was, “Why wouldn't you?!”

My reasons for choosing circumcision were the same reasons many people do. I was convinced that leaving my son intact would leave him the minority, freak out his possible future sexual partners, and possibly cause health issues later in life. I believed it was “just a little snip”, as so many describe it. I knew nothing about the functions of a foreskin, or what I was taking from him. Plus, my husband was circumcised, so it seemed like there was really no question about doing it.

Still... when my OB asked if I wanted our perfect baby boy circumcised, it felt wrong. My instinct screamed “No!” So I asked if it was recommended and he replied, “Yes, it will prevent all sorts of infections and other problems.”

I was never told about what the procedure entailed: that he would be strapped to a cold plastic board, given sugar water, and his foreskin would be forcibly separated from his glans, crushed, and cut away; that he would be in excruciating pain, and that the possible complications included disfigurement, amputation, and even death. I was never told the truth: that this procedure was completely unnecessary.

When they wheeled my little boy away, I fought the urge to run after him, reassured by the doctor's words that we were doing the right thing.

When they brought him back to me was sleeping. I now know many babies pass out from the pain, and that he may have been in a state of shock.

When I first saw my son's penis after his circumcision, I almost cried. The entire end of his penis was a bloody, open wound. I NEVER thought that's what he would come back to me looking like.

The nurse showed us how to put a gob of Vaseline on the glans and a piece of gauze to keep it from sticking to his diaper. Then we were discharged to go home.

His first diaper change at home, he screamed as soon as he wet. When I went to change his gauze, I realized it was stuck to the open wound on the end of his penis. I couldn't remove it and he was screaming so hard he couldn't breathe. I was crying hysterically seeing my newborn baby in such pain.

We immediately called the hospital back and the nurse instructed us to pour warm water over the gauze to loosen it. It took us 30 minutes to loosen the gauze from his penis. And that was how our baby boy was welcomed into his home.

I knew immediately that this circumcision had been a mistake, although I wouldn't tell my husband this until much later. It was simply too painful to admit that I had made such a huge error.

The more I learned about circumcision and the functions of the foreskin, the more upset I became about our decision.

Then I saw a video of an infant being circumcised. He was trying desperately to escape the restraints that held him against the plastic board and he screamed until he began gasping for breath. I cried so hard that I woke my son up from his nap.

For months I couldn't get the image of that baby out of my head, and I fought back tears every time I changed my son's diaper. I would break down randomly throughout the day looking at my sweet little boy, and feeling like I failed him.

Circumcising him is my biggest regret. I am horrified at what my son went through, and the choice we took from him. I am so angry that we were not told the truth about circumcision. I can't help but think if that doctor had been honest with us, my first son would have been spared. Instead, he profited from my son enduring the painful and unnecessary amputation of his foreskin.

I knew I would never allow this to happen to another one of my children. I had talked with my husband about this many times before we found out we were expecting another son. My husband and I agreed he would definitely not be circumcised.

13 days after my oldest son's third birthday, our second son, Wyatt was born. He was perfect, peaceful, and whole. And I am so thankful that we had the information this time to keep him that way.

Keeping him clean is so much easier and he has been a much happier baby than my first son.

I thought I was doing the right thing for my oldest at the time, but it is now my biggest regret of my whole life.

I share information and this story in hopes that other infants will be spared and that parents will be informed before making a decision that might cause the grief and guilt that I feel. It was certainly painful to learn and admit that I made such a huge mistake, but hopefully with the spread of truthful information, all baby boys will be left to make the decision for themselves as adults." ~Crystal Brown

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