Thursday, November 7, 2013


*Names have been changed to protect their identities*


My son's circumcision was "botched". I completely regret my decision to circumcise, not just because it was botched but because I firmly believe that infant circumcision is wrong. I made a mistake, and I was wrong. Here is my story.

I got to the part on the form that asked if I wanted my son circumcised or not. I couldn't even recall what circumcision meant or which one was the default. A quick google search for pics of circumcised and uncircumcised pictures answered that question. Only one looked like the penises I had ever seen. I checked the circumcised box. My husband told me I did right, and told me that they cut off part of the foreskin. My instincts told me this sounded mean. 

Here is my embarrassingly inadequate attempt at researching. I brought up the issue to some guys I knew. They all cringed at the idea that I would consider leaving the baby intact. They all told me it would leave him prone to infection. They all had stories about a cousin or friend of a friend that had experienced the "horror" of having it done as an adult. They told me that it really doesn't hurt or affect babies very much. They told me if I didn't do it that my son would grow up feeling like a freak and he would resent me for it.

We took an infant care class at the hospital in late 2009. The doctor teaching the class was very neutral about it. She said the pain was minimal and temporary. She said that ultimately it wouldn't hurt our child either way, but that there was some evidence that it led to decreased STDs. This doctor later became our pediatrician. 

I truly believed that this was the best thing for my son. Anyway, the day after he was born, they took him to get circumcised. He was alone. My OB did it. When he came back, he refused to nurse. The lactation consultant told me to give him a break because he just had his weiner whacked. I had just had a forced episiotomy. I loudly objected, and the OB cut me anyway. The similarities in the situations were causing me to understand the magnitude of what I had done.

Days and weeks passed. My son healed, and other than a lot of sleepless nights and a terrible case of jaundice, things were going as expected. He seemed to have healed. At the next pediatrician appointment, the pediatrician opened his diaper and said, "Oh that circumcision needs to be redone." It did look like the pictures I had seen of uncircumcised penises, but I am not a penis expert. 

I should have asked more questions. Now I was faced with knowing that I had put my son through that horror for nothing. Now I had to decide if we were going to do it again. My husband wanted it redone, no question but there was no way he was getting a vote this time. He wasn't the one caring for him on a day to day basis. My husband is now a very involved father, but when our first baby was born he was useless and clueless. Now I was afraid that my son would really look like a freak since he was neither! A recircumcision would need to be done by a urologist. It would be a full on surgery where he would be fully knocked out. Please, don't misunderstand me, I now know that even routine infant circumcision is full on surgery. The difference is that this time I was fully aware of what I was getting into. When I researched about botched circumcisions, I was horrified at what I found and horrified at how common it is.

Also, as side note, my niece, Amyra was a micropremie who was undergoing a lot of surgeries at the time. My little sister (Amyra's mom) asked me why I would want to put my baby through something like that if he wasn't in any pain and he wasn't having any problems. My sister has a circumcised son too, but I think this is when the light bulb came on for both of us. I decided to leave it alone until he is old enough to decide how or if he wants to address it through recircumcision or foreskin restoration. 

Patrick is 3.5 years old now. I have since learned that he got a loose circumcision. Doctors were previously doing tighter circumcisions. They had no idea how large an adult penis would be when fully erect. Many men wound up without enough skin to fully support their erection, so the skin would be painful because it was too tight. Loose circumcisions were the new answer instead of no circumcision. This often results in painful penile adhesions as the penis attempts to heal. I am not sure why this did not happen in Patrick's case, but I am grateful that it didn't. 

I wish I could take back what I did and just leave it alone. In the back of my mind I always worry that he will grow up feeling insecure. I hope that he hasn't lost enough functionality to keep him from having a fully satisfying sex life one day. I wish that I had left him alone, so that he could have made the decisions and weighed the risks himself.

The more I read about circumcision, the more I realize how lucky we were to get off as easy as we did. There is no right way to do this harmful procedure. The effects vary from child to child. Many children experience pain, and the truly unlucky families have babies that die in this pointless procedure.

I truly believe that children are resilient, and that Patrick will understand and forgive me one day. This is my single biggest regret as a parent, and I would implore any expecting parent not to circumcise their baby.


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