Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Day I Withdrew From Nursing School

By Nicole [last name withheld at author's request]


I want to share with all of you the event that drew me into intactivism.

A few years ago, I began an OB/GYN hospital clinical as a student nurse. One day, I was enlisted to attend a 'routine circumcision.'

I did not realize how much that event would shatter the very foundation of a career choice made in ignorance. I appeared in the doorway of the surgical room and saw the little newborn baby boy to whom I was 'assigned' for the day.

I was 20 years old and did not having kids of my own. I did not anticipate the lurching sensation that gripped my heart as I looked upon that baby. He was laying strapped down to a table, so small and new - pure and innocent - trusting - all alone - no defenses.

I walked toward the baby and wanted to take him off the table and shelter him - to tell him that it would be okay, that nobody would hurt him on my watch.

Then in walked the doctor. Loud. Obnoxious. Joking with his assistant. As if he was about to perform a 10 minute oil change.

Not once did he talk to this little baby. I am not sure he even looked at him - really looked at him.

Rather, he reached for his cold metal instruments and then reached out for his object of mutilation: this sweet newborn's perfect, unharmed, intact penis.


I recall this little baby boy's screams of pain and terror - his small lungs barely able to keep up with his cries and gasps for breath.

I turned in horror as I saw the doctor forcefully rip and pull the baby's foreskin up and around a metal object.

Then out came the knife. Cut. Cut. Cut. Screaming. Blood.

I stood next to the baby and said, "You're almost done sweety... Almost done... There, done."

Then came the words from the doctor, as that son-of-a-b***h dangled this little baby's foreskin in midair and playfully asked, "Anybody care to go fishing?!"

My tongue lodged in my throat.

I felt like I was about to vomit.

I restrained myself. It was now my duty to take the infant back to the nursery for 'observation.'

And this is when I realized I couldn't do it.

I could not be a part of such a cold, sterile, out-of-touch medical model.

Back in the newborn nursery, rather than observing, I cradled the infant. I held him and whispered comforting words as if he were my own. I'll never forget those new little eyes watch me amid his haze. He knew I cared about him. He knew he was safe in my arms. He knew that I was going to take him to his mommy. But, deep in his little heart, at some level, I know he wondered where his mommy was. While he lay there mutilated in a level of agony that we cannot imagine - in what was supposed to be a safe and welcoming environment after his birth - where was his mommy?

I made a note in the chart and then caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror. My chest and face had broken out in purple splotches.

My next thought? I can't do this. I refuse to do this. This is NOT for me. I took the baby to his mother who was complaining about 'some pain' she was experiencing...

I never addressed her pain because I left to go to my locker. I grabbed my belongings and hoped that my rejection of this 'medical system' could serve as some type of redemption for the violation of that newborn that I cradled in my arms that day.

The next day, I withdrew from nursing school and never looked back.


~~~~

Related Reading:

Nurses for the Rights of the Child (website)

Doctors Opposing Circumcision (website)

Babies Remember Circumcision Pain

Circumcision studies come to early end as a result of infant trauma

The Brain Altered by Circumcision

Infant Pain Impacts Adult Sensitivity


Boys cut at birth move their bodies differently

Circumcision: How Much Does it Hurt?

A plastibell circumcision (the type used in Patti Ramos' photo essay on circumcision) - the method that claims genital cutting does not hurt as much when plastic clamps are used rather than metal clamps

Reports from mothers who observed son's circumcision


My Beautiful Boy, I am Sorry

A Heartfelt Christmas Apology

Reports from Derek Markham (The Natural Papa) who observed his 1st son's circumcision: Stop MGM and Will You Make the Cut?

Men tell their stories of how circumcision impacted them.

Babies "voice their opinion" [video clip of common newborn reactions]

A mother of 2 circumcised sons researches it before her 3rd is born

Plastibell circumcision [video]

Protect Your Intact Son

Functions of the Foreskin

Statistics on side effects (including death) due to circumcision see:

Cirp.Org/Library/Death

Dangers of Circumcision Report (pdf) at DoctorsOpposingCircumcision.org

Circumstitions.com/Complications

NoHarmm.org/complicationsUS

More information on the prepuce, intact care and circumcision at: Are You Fully Informed?

66 comments:

  1. It was hard to read this post... I can't believe this happens every day. I'm glad you didn't shut down your heart and carry on in their cold system. The thing that scares me is, I know that modern medicine is SO valuable when it comes to trauma care, but in order to get that kind of treatment we have to enter into their world.

    When my husband and I learned we were having a boy, we worked together on all the decisions, but I told him that if he wanted to circumcise our son, he'd have to sneak out of the house and do it behind my back, because I would refuse to allow it. My husband looked shocked at first, but after some discussion and research, he realized that he couldn't allow it either.

    It will be a wonderful day when all parents choose to leave their healthy boys intact.

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  2. Thank you for sharing your story.

    You know, even if the doctor had been less callous about it, it still would have been horribly brutal and wrong. There just isn't any way to do something like that to a baby and still make his experience on earth a loving and gentle one.

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  3. This made me cry! Literally! I'm wiping the tears away as I type this. I am SO glad I didn't allow this to be done to my son!!!!!

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  4. This makes me think of the story my MIL told me of my husband's circumcision.
    It makes me want to throw up.

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  5. I graduated LPN school in 1996--and witnessed circumcisions with no anesthesia--and graduated from RN school in 2000 and saw the same. The "era" was only 10-15 yrs ago tops. Both of my sons are intact because of what I witnessed in nursing school. And we won't even go into the unnecessary risks of giving a young baby anesthesia--even locally!!!

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  6. I am at a similar point. First I wanted to go to medical school, then I feared I might lose myself and my values when going...and now I am so horrified and disgusted at the industry that I would be ashamed to have those little letters after my name.

    :( We have lost our humanity.

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  7. Your post made me cry. I am glad that little boy had you to help guide him back to his mother, and I commend you for following your principles, even after all the time and energy it must have taken you to get to that point. I am grateful that both my sons are still intact, and thankful that is becoming more and more normal.

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  8. I myself am a nursing student and the mother of a little boy and a firm believer in most things natural. I can tell you that not all healthcare "professionals" are that way towards little boys. I'm horrified that that doctor treated that precious little boy in such a way. Had that been me and my son I would've - well, probably slapped the man. I'm so, so, so sorry you had to wittness that. I know that I don't agree with everything you write, we have our personal convictions as do you. However, I'm thankful that someone is willing to step up to the plate and voice their oppionions. I appreciate your willingness to do so.

    ~Erin

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  9. That is one of the reasons I went to nursing school, I have saved more babies from being cut by appealing to mothers and fathers as a registered nurse than I could have just being an intactivist in the community. I will continue to educate and inform people about why this is wrong and why the whole baby should be taken home, like my son and brother.

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  10. This post was hard to read. Why WHY WHY do people continue to do this to their sons?

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  11. wow, what a terrible experience to have to watch and endure! I am so glad I did not circumcize my baby boy! Thank you for making me feel so much more confident in my decision!

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  12. I'm torn as to what to say here. As an activist I feel like we can do more from the inside sometimes. It's hard. We *are* entering *their* world, but while I respect your decision to leave, I think I may have made a different decision and stayed. So I could be a respected professional whose opinion means something and whose voice of reason, with a piece of paper attached to my name, would be heard louder than a non-professional. I guess this is why I'm going back to school to get my MAsters. So I can go back to health care and actually be heard this time. Be listened to. Be the change I want to see.

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  13. This is the reason that I WON'T go to nursing school. My mother went after having had one son. My youngest brother is intact. It truly shattered my mother and just the word causes her to get tears in her eyes. She will close her eyes and shake her head when the subject it brought up and ask that we not talk about it. She THIRTY years later feels unbearable guilt about it. No I won't be able to go to a nursing rotation where I would have to be a part of that and so no I will NOT be a nurse.

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  14. Please write to the new AAP Task Force that is considering whether or not to recommend circumcision. They need to know that recommending circumcision is unacceptable for the health and well-being of children. They are finalizing their policy statement, so they need to hear from parents NOW.

    AAP Task Force on Circumcision

    Susan Blank, M.D.
    AAP Task Force on Circumcision, Chairman
    New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
    125 Worth Street
    New York, NY 10013
    212-788-4406
    sblank@health.nyc.gov

    Errol Alden, M.D.
    American Academy of Pediatrics
    141 Northwest point Blvd.
    Elk Grove, IL 60007
    EAlden@aap.org

    Jay E. Berkelhamer, M.D.
    Children's Health Care of Atlanta
    1600 Tullie Circle
    Atlanta, GA 30329
    jay.berkelhamer@choa.org

    Michael Brady, M.D.
    Pediatric Academic Association
    700 Children's Drive
    Columbus, OH 43205
    michael.brady@nationwidechildrens.org

    Douglas S. Diekema, M.D.
    Department of Emergency Services
    Children's Hospital & Medical Center
    4800 Sand Point Way NE
    Seattle, WA 98105
    diek@u.washington.edu

    Andrew L. Freedman, M.D.
    Pediatric Urologist
    Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
    8635 W. Third Street, Suite 1070
    Los Angeles, CA 90048
    andrew.freedman@cshs.org

    Renee Jenkins, M.D.
    Department of Pediatrics and Child Health
    Howard University Hospital
    2041 Georgia Avenue, NW, Room 6B02
    Washington, DC 20060
    rjenkins@aap.org

    Judith S. Palfrey, M.D.
    President-Elect, AAP
    Children's Hospital Boston
    300 Longwood Avenue
    Hunnewell 201.3
    Boston, MA 02115
    Email Contact Form at:
    http://www.childrenshospital.org/cfapps/research/data_admin/email.cfm?s=219&c=0&u=Judith%20Palfrey

    Roger Suchyta, M.D.
    Associate Executive Director
    American Academy of Pediatrics
    141 Northwest Point Blvd.
    Elk Grove, IL 60007
    rsuchyta@aap.org

    David T. Tayloe, M.D.
    Goldsboro Pediatrics
    2706 Medical Office Place
    Goldsboro, NC 27534
    dtayloe@aap.org

    Dan Walter, M.D.
    Senior Policy Analyst
    American Academy of Pediatrics
    141 Northwest Point Blvd.
    Elk Grove, IL 60007
    dwalter@aap.org

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  15. This is the first time I have read about this subject, I was blessed with daughters, and never had to confront it.
    Aside from the horror I felt as I read of the manner of the procedure and Doctor, I thought, who will ever cradle those other baby boys, if someone that cares quits like that. I guess it was too ghastly for her to live with, but it seems this is a violation of the Hippocratic oath to do no harm. I assumed the baby boys were anesthetized preceding the surgery, that it was done for the sake of their health, and I guess a lot of other things people that don't know assume. When I thought about it at all. I had no idea that animals being sterilized got better pain management than newborn baby boys. How can this be right?

    A mother and grandmother of only girls.

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  16. Why I'm terrified to enter into Maternity clinicals in nursing school.

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  17. Thank you for being another nurse in training who will always stand up for the babies you care for. We need more like you!

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  18. Heart wrenching. Ugh.

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  19. Thanks!!! I will NEVER be a part of the mutilation of another human being...I will stand up for babies whenever I can! If I get kicked out of school for it, so be it. But I'm pretty certain my faculty adviser for maternity is against the procedure (I just wish she would also stand up for them.) I plan on speaking with her about it....when the opportunity arises.

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  20. When I start my own practice, I will encourage all my clients to not circumcise. In fact, I believe if a client wants to circumcise, then I'm not the midwife for them. I'll be attending homebirths, so I don't think it'll be that much of an issue. But, if I were to open up a birthing center, absolutely NO circumcisions would be performed there! NONE.

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  21. I completely agree. Before I moved to Austin, I worked with a certain nurse at the hospital I attended the majority of births at as a doula, who was AMAZING. I loved her- she would really stay in the room, and was encouraging to moms wanting a natural birth. That's how you are! :)

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  22. ugh- heart-wrenching... painful to read, but need to know

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  23. So so very sad. Courageous though.

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  24. Lisa - I agree...when I'm a midwife, I won't even take on a client who wishes to circ, and I will tell them why. I just can't support it. I feel it it a violation of human rights.
    Laura - THANKS! ♥ I hope so!!!!

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  25. This article brought tears....I work as a nurse in a maternity unit, and I haven't 'had' to partake helping with a circumcision for years, because I REFUSE! I wish I could quit sometimes, but I stay to help these poor babes, when I have a baby boy that is my patient, I sneak in some Reiki, and talk with him, they always look right at me, as a relief that someone understand what happened isn't okay.....sighhhh....the good thing though, is that here in Oregon, the rate of circumcision seems to be going down :))

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  26. Oh Tina!!! You brought tears to MY eyes!!!! ♥ You are amazing! Thanks for all you do!!! ♥

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  27. Tina, I am in Oregon too (now). I wasn't when all those circs were being witnessed though.

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  28. This post made me cry. I wish every mother-to-be could read this before it's too late . . . how horrible. I'm so sorry you had to experience that.

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  29. I grew up intact in the midwest, and became an intactivist when I read Wallerstein in 1983. I first read Nicole's story some years ago in another forum. It deeply moved me then and still does now.

    A question I have asked myself for years is "how can nurses bear to assist with routine circ without anesthesia?" I still don't know the answer, but Nicole proves that there are some nursing students with enough conscience to revolt.

    To circumcise a child without anesthesia (lidocaine has been marketed since 1950) is sexual violence and should be sanctioned as such. It is barbaric, and a major failure of American medical ethics.

    There are now many thousands of American women, in and out of health care, who have revealed in various internet forums that they think as Nicole does. May their willingness to stand up and be counted help end the American Foreskin Holocaust.

    That there are women who can care so deeply about the most personal part of my anatomy leaves me in tears. It is the finger of God.

    American doctors, put down your scalpels. You are doing harm.

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  30. I'm currently completing my pre-reqs for nursing school in hopes to work in the L&D unit. I didn't even take into consideration that I may have to be present for a circumcision. My views (from my own research) on this topic are torn, but the thought of having a baby go through a surgery without being under anestesia baffles me. Unfortunately my first son is cut and was a newborn in the hospital. I didn't know anything about circumcision. My second son was homebirthed, cut at 8 months old and was put under for the surgery. This gave me a bit of relief since my husband was very atimate about having it done. :-( My third son, also homebirthed will probably follow the same route as my second. But back to the point - I'm now conflicted if nursing school is going to be right for me because of this reason, and I've recently come to the conclusion that I may be too natural minded for a typical hospital L&D unit.

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  31. I am glad you shared this story. This is for the same reason why my mil did not get her boys done. And why I didn't do my son.

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  32. Oh my goodness. My biological son slept thru his circ. They numbed it up and he did not even open his eyes. Come to find out he has autism, and a very very high pain tolerance. (Did not even cry when he fell off his bike, split his chin open and got seven stitches.) My adopted son came to us at 13 months circed. I really had no idea. Another foster baby I had fresh from the hospital had a horrible contraption on him called a plastibell. It looked so painful. I so hated it for him.

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  33. The story is sad, but the saddest part to me was the fact that this young woman let one instance cause her to withdraw from nursing school rather than use her own beliefs along with sound medical information (such as the fact that it's unecessary to do so) to inform parents and patients on their rights. I am a NICU nurse and I know that I do make a difference every day I work in the lives of my patients and families by the care I give to them and the care that my co-workers see me give and the information I share. That is using your power and knowledge for good. Do not back away and complain from afar - do something positive! Earn your nursing degree and provide positive care to your patients!

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  34. Thanks for this post.

    I am in medical school, and am planning on doing obstetrics and gynecology. Those are the residents that usually do newborn circumcision, from what I understand.

    I am going to be happy to exercise my conscience and refuse to be trained, observe, or participate in any elective genital mutilation, including newborn male circumcision. I am proud to be the mom of two intact boys, too.

    One of the strangest and best arguments I ever saw was between a pediatric urologist and a midwife about circumcision. The pediatric urologist was pregnant with her first child, which was predicted by ultrasound to be a girl. The midwife, who is pro-cutting, made an offhand remark during the next prenatal visit as to how they wouldn't have to have the circumcision discussion (a checkmark in the chart) because she was having a girl.

    Oh, the pediatric urologist wanted to have the discussion anyway. She made it quite clear she wouldn't have remotely considered it, regardless of the gender of her child.

    Most people would assume the argument would have been reversed. The midwife seemed surprised that a pediatric urologist would be against circumcision, but that shows that people use really selective reasoning when reading evidence. As others have pointed out, the female anatomy is much more likely to lead to infections, not the male.

    I was thrilled, especially since the midwife knew I was against genital cutting, and was "medically minded" (I ended up leaving midwifery to go to medical school). I silently cheered in the corner of the room.

    The pediatric urologist said her partner was excellent at repairs, and unfortunately had to do them frequently. So, if anyone who was damaged at the birth center by a circumcision needed to be referred, to let her know. The midwife seemed a little miffed by this but knew to take the name down, and said she had looked for such services before.

    Never assume who has thought this through the same as you. I was surprised how many direct entry midwives who seemed to be "crunchy" in many ways, including one who had an unassisted birth, were supportive of circumcision.

    I could go on about this (and have, already, here and on my own blog). Let's hope the tide continues to turn.

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  35. my husband is British and the subject of circumcision just never came up when my son was born. No one asked me and there were no boxes to check on the hospital paperwork. I've just recently given birth to another wee boy just 7 weeks old and it was all over the paperwork asking me to provide consent and I said no..not once, but 5 times during my stay in hospital. I ended up writing "DO NOT CUT MY PENIS" on the little card with his name on it. The whole idea of if makes me ill. Why on earth would any mother consent to this? These ancient myths, "he'll get AIDS" or "It's not clean". We would never do this to a girl? It's torture plain and simple and no "binkie" with sugar on it will make that pain go away. Repulsive.

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  36. This brought a tear to my eyes! I am so glad this is not a social norm where I live (NZ) and I wont have to be part of the same machine during my midwifery training.
    Though I have fears surrounding similar situations such as genital cutting of labouring women.
    I commend you for walking away. I dont know what i will do if/when I face such a stand.

    Also when reading the comments I realised that yes, genital cutting is a norm for females too. Unevidenced and often done upon women who too are scared and vulerable. I suspect that there is a fairly strong link between the doctor that thinks nothing of cutting off a wee babes foreskin and cutting open the vagina of a labouring women. Both are generally unable to defend themselves.

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  37. Hoping that somebody makes it down to read my comment..

    I am in nursing school. My son was consciously left intact. As a medical professional, how do you consciously object to circumcision? How do you become a 'Nurse Opposing Circumcision'? I understand why you left. I wish you the best healing from this possible. But let's take it a step further. There's a huge need for nurses to walk out of the room, to refuse to attend these procedures, to risk being fired and hold their ground on "religious belief" if need be. We need medical professionals who are willing to conscientiously object, and this won't happen if at least a fraction of us don't stomach the horrors of modern health care and choose to be subversive and resistant within the system.

    I say this with the highest intent for peacefulness and understanding, and do not wish to convey any blame for your decision. You did what you needed to do to protect yourself. What I am talking about is ACTIVISM.

    Read my blog at http://womenshealthfront.blogspot.com

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  38. This brought tears to my eyes. I can understand not wanting any part of this. What would have happened if you had claimed an ethical objection to this portion of your classes? I wonder if it would make a point to the industry if some student nurses did.

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  39. This post was very emotional. However what was more emotional was the comment my 3-year-old daughter said as she noticed the picture of the crying baby as I was quietly reading.

    She is a NICU baby who's had sugar-water to 'eliminate' pain from IV, Spinal Tap, endless blood testing etc. She looked over my shoulder onto the computer screen and asked "Mommy, what is the Doctor doing to that baby?"

    They remember, they will always remember.

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  40. Stephanie - you may be interested in connecting up with other nurses in the field who are openly objecting to male genital mutilation (MGM) in the U.S.

    The site for Nurses for the Rights of the Child is:

    http://nurses.cirp.org/

    You are also likely familiar with Doctors Opposing Circumcision (a world wide organization) but if not, their site is:

    http://www.doctorsopposingcircumcision.org/

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  41. My six-year-old daughter also came up behind me and said "What are they doing to that poor baby? I wish I could hold him." I guess children have more compassion than many adults.

    I wish you'd stayed in nursing. My mother was an RN. Part of her job, back in the day, was to hold cotton wool soaked in brandy to the lips of baby boys being circumcised. Needless to say, she kept my brother intact. She also witnessed the demeaning treatment of a young woman by a respected doctor, who while performing a pap smear said "Open wide" and "Say meow". She complained to her supervisor and told the girl afterward that she could lay a complaint. I think there were many times during her nursing career that she wishes she'd had the courage to speak up and make a difference.

    Medicine NEEDS people with compassion. Please don't give up.

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  42. It was an experience VERY much like this that made up my mind to keep my sons intact. I was a teenager, no children, working as a CNA, and I had to assist with a circ. The poor little boy... I can't even retell it... I swore none of my boys would EVER experience that. Today I have three perfect, intact sons.

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  43. I can't imagine being as insanely strong you were to show so much restraint around the doctor. I'd have punched him in the crotch- well, actually probably punch+grab+rip.... Kudos to you for taking care of the baby's pain first and foremost, to do what you could to help the situation, and then leaving.

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  44. Nursing does need more intactivists. I was offered to witness a circumcision when I was in my mother/baby rotation. I refused. No one gave me any grief about it. This was 2005-2006, though.
    I saw so many things in my mother/baby rotation that just broke my heart. But I wouldn't let it break my spirit. I am an RN now. I try to educate when appropriate...(i'm a cardiac nurse so I don't see a lot of pregnant women, thank goodness).
    I was lucky to have a professor who did not believe that circumcision was medically necessary based on piles and piles of evidence-based research.
    In 2009, I gave birth to a baby boy. Every day, several times a day, they came in to my room asking if I wanted him circumcised. It was unbelievable. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO.
    I kept him by my side as much as they let me. I have no regrets.
    I am thankful for all of you who help continue to educate parents on this matter. I will try to do the same.

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  45. Wow. This made me sick to my stomach. I'm in pre-nursing courses now and it never occurred to me that I'd have to face this, but I feel like I can be more prepared because of what you've shared. Thank you!

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  46. I recently asked my mother, who is also a nurse, why she hadn't had my brother circumcised. She told me that it was her experience as a nurse that made her believe that it was cruel and wrong. She was once asked to hold a baby whilst he was circumcised but discovered that she could not do it. The doctor was incredulous and thought she was mad when she asked him if he was circumcised and offered to do it for him quickly if he hopped up on the table. He still didn't get it. We never even considered circumcising our son, it just wasn't a question - no bloody way!!

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  47. ;_; I feel VERY sorry for my friend's son. He's due to be born in July... His parents are gun-ho for circumcision, and I can't sway them. They say it's good for hygiene. I say "then teach him to shower."

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  48. My cousin is a nurse and when I put some anti circ info on my facebook page she basically attacked me for it and said it was no big deal and that she saw it all the time. All I can think of now is how heartless she is and i think it's completely ruined our relationship... I just can't respect someone who has such disregard for it...

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  49. Nurses for the Rights of the Child is a great organization for anyone in the nursing field - http://nurses.cirp.org/ - and they can help to answer questions of how to deal with the barbaric act that is still going on under some of our noses.

    DoctorsOpposingCircumcision.org is of course excellent also!

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  50. After finding out I was having a son I decided I would not circumcise him. I hadn't done any research, I had no reason other than I couldn't imagine being able to allow it...
    I live in WA and my boyfriend and I arent married. For him to have legal rights to our son I had to sign a paper. I told my boyfriend that this issue was a deal breaker. That no matter what my son was NOT going to get cut. He was upset at first but did research and decided he would fight for his son to remain intact. We went against his family together. There is no way I could close my heart to this.
    While I know there was a better way to handle this with my boyfriend, I was serious. There was no way in hell I was going to allow my son to be traumatized like that.

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  51. I have gone through periods of my life while trying to find my path that perhaps I would like to go into medicine with the ultimate goal of being a l&d nurse, a midwife, a naturopath or a naturopathic pediatrician. I have talked myself out of it each time because I am just not strong enough to deal with situations as above nor do I have confidence I could actually pass some of the courses. I have listened to some of the crap stuff my friend has had to write papers on and such for her premed classes and I just don't think I could even pretend to believe some of that crap enough to pass the courses and make it on to the point where maybe I could do some good.

    I do understand what some have said about the medical world needing inside support but I also understand that not everyone can handle that pressure, I am not sure I could which is why I haven't pursued it.

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  52. Great article. Some doctors, no doubt are awful, but to leave nursing school because of one person, I think was premature. As with any profession, there are good people and bad people. Nurses are patient advocates. Patients are the priority before the illness, or even what a doctor says. She should have spoken up and said something. She seems like a very strong willed person and would have been a great nurse. The nursing profession needs strong willed people to stand up for patients' rights. Its too bad that she quit because of one incident. Its ok to stand up to a doctor, or even another nurse. Nobody owns us. We are for patients first and always, no matter how tiny they are. I know that as a future nurse, I hope to be able to empower my patients and stand up for them at any given moment to anyone.

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  53. To all those of you saying she shouldn't have left - I don't think you understand.

    I left medical school, because it was too much: The lack of concern for the whole patient. The over-prescription of medication. The focus on tests over conversation. The realization that there are more complications than resolutions. It's disgusting. And when you even question it you are on the outside all by yourself.

    I can't even tell you how horrible it was the first time I saw my first elective C-section. But I kept going. And going. And one day I realized: this would be my life ... living and working 50, 60+ hrs. a week for what?

    High-cost malpractice insurance. Fear of litigation. Putting my entire livelihood on the line if I were to burn my own path.

    No, thank you.

    Despite graduating top-tier university with honors. Despite 35 on the MCAT and recommendations and blah blah blah. Despite being in a world-recognized top medical school. I left and now I work at a job that doesn't require a college degree and I am happy.

    So yes, I guess we "should" stay in. But at what cost? I'd rather be happy and effective in other ways.

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  54. Alright. Bawling my face off. :(
    I am sorry you had to go through that experience, but mostly I am sorry for that poor sweet baby.
    Perhaps I shouldn't be sorry, because look where you are today, doing wonderful things.
    This post made me cry. I am so glad my son is intact. :)

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  55. Even though I agree with you I still want to work as an RN. labor and delivery mother and baby ward wherever... I want to be the person working within the system to change things a little supporting bf'ing, anti circ, and pro natural birth. I would not participate in a circumcision either they can fire me first.

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  56. yup, tears... I'm so glad I saved my son from this but it makes me cry thinking of anyone else's baby going through this. It should be child abuse, just like crying it out and so many other things... It is a great responsibilty to be good stewards of our children.

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  57. I was present at my friend's son's circumcision (she is under the mistaken impression that it will be "cleaner" that way), and was absolutely horrified at what I saw. I am so grateful I have a baby girl, and didn't have to fight for the right to keep any son of mine intact. Should I have a son in the future, he will be left intact. The worst part of their baby's circumcision, if you ask me, was listening to his pained screams every time he had his diaper changed. This became even worse when his parents decided that instead of putting the vaseline on the diaper to prevent friction, as the pediatrician had instructed them to, they were going to apply it directly to his raw, sore little penis with a q-tip Every. Single. Diaper change. Why did they do this? Because the vaseline interfered with the absorbency of the diapers, and they were tired of changing his clothes every time he peed through them. How selfish and lazy can you get?
    I don't blame you for leaving after this happened, although I wish you'd stayed on as an advocate for the rights of every baby boy who came through there. I also hope that you reported the doctor.

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  58. AmyM -

    The story of your friend's son just disgusts me (and saddens me) beyond belief. How could any parent be this callused to the needs (for protection, safety, healing, comfort) of their newborn baby? How could anyone possibly be so selfish and hardened to his cries for help? And why - to make matters even worse - put the vaseline onto his amputation site with a Qtip instead of a tender/gentle/warm finger at least? Afraid of getting vaseline on their own fingers? Or did they not want to touch this new wounded baby's genitals?

    I just don't get it...

    How on earth can people do this? And HOW can people not see that it is much, much "easier to clean" an intact baby boy -- there is NOTHING TO DO! Just leave it alone. That's it. Much more work goes into treating and caring for a surgical wound/amputation site that is so prone to infection, bleeding, and re-adhesion.

    So sad for him. And so many others...

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  59. I was a RN for 10 yrs, and to this day I have NO idea how I lasted that long. I truly thought I could change the system, but I was also so young. I went to RN school right out of high school, and although I hated the schooling part of it, I stuck it out figuring I would do it " my way" when I graduated. Who was I kidding! I worked as a pediatric RN and when a child would have a slight cold I would say "try warm tea with lemon" only to be scorned by the Dr. who would then Rx antibiotics, for a cold!! q virus, that these meds would do nothing for except to weaken the immune system even more. I refused to be a part of circumcisions and thankfully, I worked with a nurse ( a sadist) who actually liked assisting in them !! Can you imagine. All the yrs I stayed day after day trying to make a difference in my own little way, still I was miserable with what I saw, overmedicating, medicating at all( when so not necc.) and the list goes on and on, and on. Until 3 yrs ago I decided enough is enough, and I left the hospital and never ever looked back. I enrolled in a Home Birth Midwifery program ( people asked why not do CNM? ) why? b/c I want out of these cold, sterile institutions that is why. i want peace. i want babies to feel love, and peace as well. So began my journey into becoming a CPM. After I graduated the home birth program I apprenticed with an amazing midwife who is also a published author, and the difference, night and day would be an understatement. I then started doing doula work as well so I could be the woman's advocate if she does have a hospital birth, and boy am I (the nurses usually hate me, oh well) So now, I attend only home births as a midwife, and some hospital births as a doula, which isn't always easy b/c i see a lot of very unnecessary c-sections, inductions, and bullying of mothers. I recently got so angry I lost my cool ( which I never do) and I said to a VERY cold, nasty RN " this is exactly why I left nursing in the first place" she didn't get it of course. I am proud of this author, and I wish I too walked out all those yrs ago, and never looked back, but I stayed, and maybe some of what i saw ( alot of it) helped me to be more compassionate than I ever was. I am finally at peace at 32 yrs old. There is nothing more beautiful and sacred than seeing a baby born at home into the loving arms of his/her mom. Nobody would dare touch that baby, and the baby knows they have arrived, and they are safe in moms arms, where they belong. To the author, I wish you the very best in all you do, you are a very special woman, and you have a huge heart. Thank you.

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  60. Wow amazing , I am SO glad that i didn't do this non sense procedure to my son, thanks to a comment in a birth board, then I started my own research and more that i read more that I was horrified! Maybe someone that has doubts like I had will read this and realize that this is not the way to go.

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  61. my son is intact for this very same reason. I spend a year working in a nursery, forced to assist with circumcisions. I was young, and had no idea that I had a right to refuse to participate. I made a promise to myself the day that I quit that job that NONE of my children would go through anything like that. I refused to participate in this portion of my nursing education as well. Good for you for standing up for yourself.

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  62. Before moving on with my life and my career, I worked for several years as a Certified Sterile Processing Technician. Part of my duties was the handling of surgical instrumentation, of which included the "Circ-Bell." It was several yers before I saw the device in use - but I remember thinking how horrible the little metal torture device seemed, though I was told babies felt no pain at that age. Making my rounds through the nursery left me with little doubt as to the dishonesty in that statement, babies feel pain as much as you or I.
    I feel for you, and what you had to witness. I also respect your choice - and admire the resolve it takes to make that stand. And though I am sure that the medical community is missing the very valuable nurse you would have become I just have to say - good for you!

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  63. My husband and I made the decision to not have my son circumcised and we are thankful everyday! This story reminded me of why this is so important to educate, educate, educate. This brought tears to my eyes. I am pregnant again and if we have another boy he will be whole and perfect!

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