My Beloved Son,
Before you were born I was already planning all the best things I knew I could do for you. I would try and ensure that you had a gentle birth. I would give you the milk from my breasts although I had no support from my family, because I knew this was best. I would love you with all my heart and protect you from harm.
I read every book I could find on pregnancy and natural child care. I soaked it all in like a sponge. The one thing that I could not find was accurate information on circumcision. My public library hadn’t a single book that mentioned anything negative about it. So I asked men that I knew what they thought was best. I asked both circumcised and intact men. Some said it was good that I was asking questions, some thought I was silly, but answered nonetheless. Surprisingly they all said that it was probably the best way to go. Even my own intact father. My brother had been circumcised. I talked with my doctor who explained that is was a quick, simple, painless procedure and there was nothing to worry about. It was just ‘routine.’ I believed at that point that I was informed. I was not.
When you were taken from me at the hospital and carried down the hallway to a 'sound proof' room something inside me started to panic. A million thoughts were swirling through my head all at once... and then I heard you scream. It was a sound unlike anything I had ever heard in my life.
The hair stood up on the back of my neck and my knees buckled. It felt like my heart was no longer beating and I could feel my face flush and tears start to fall down my cheeks. There was a knot in my gut and I wanted to vomit. I was shaking and I muttered, “Oh God what have I done?” A nurse, almost laughing, said to me, “Oh he’s okay honey, he’ll be just fine and he won’t remember a thing.” I grasped at that delusion for a moment, but I knew that I would never forget it. I would never be the same person again.
When they handed you back to me I could hardly breath. The look on your face was that of shock, pain and betrayal. I held you close to me and whispered through my tears, “Oh my God, I am so sorry. I am so sorry, I am so sorry...”
All the sparkle was gone from your eyes and I knew that I had been lied to. I felt so betrayed and confused. I felt such guilt for having hurt you this way. How could I have not instinctively known that this was wrong? How could everyone in my country, in the world, not instinctively know that this was wrong? Why didn’t even a single person ever say to me that you were perfect as you were and this pain was unnecessary. Or even mention pain at all? I was so full of hatred towards the doctors. They knew what they were doing, and they lied to me. They hurt you and thought nothing of it. I was so full of hatred toward myself for letting those bastards hurt you that way.
I made a choice that wasn't mine to make, one that I wasn't equipped to make, one that I should never have been allowed to make.
Every time I bathed you, changed your diaper, or let you run free, I was reminded of my own guilt, of my own culpability for your suffering. I felt so ashamed. So stupid. So gullible for having believed it was nothing serious.
I close my eyes and I still see the dazed look of confusion in your face. The sound of your screams are seared into my brain. Not a single day has gone by that my heart doesn’t hurt. I am scarred too. But the scars I bear are in my soul.
The more I learned, the angrier and more deeply hurt I became. Especially when I realized the extent of what was taken from you and that it would affect you for the rest of your life. That it would impact your sexuality and your relationships.
I started to tell other moms what it was like, what I had learned, and not to let this happen to their babies. I didn’t want any other babies to be hurt or any other mother to ever feel the way I feel. My pain is what drives me to do something to stop this insanity.
28 years later I am still talking to moms and dads, to grandparents, to anyone who will listen. I don’t ever want another mother to say they didn’t know, or ask why no one told them the truth before it was too late. I think one of the hardest realities a parent can ever face is knowing that their own ignorance caused their child harm.
I saved your brother from the suffering I put you through. He is whole and safe and happy. I protected him because I learned the ugly truth the hard way. At your expense. He is very grateful that I learned to do better.
There is nothing I wouldn’t give to go back and change things. But that isn’t possible, so I work hard to try and save other baby boys from suffering needlessly as you did. I talk and talk and talk so that no other boy will be robbed of his right to a whole body.
So my darling son, I say this to you: I love you now as I have loved you always. I hope you can forgive me for what I didn’t know.
To read more from other parents, or join with moms and dads keeping future sons intact, see I Circumcised My Son: Healing From Regret
Resources on the prepuce organ (foreskin), intact care and circumcision are cataloged in Are You Fully Informed?
Write to Lauren at firstname.lastname@example.org. Lauren is happy to provide an info pack of materials to expecting parents who wish to look into this subject before the birth of their baby. If you are a birth or pediatrics practitioner or educator, you can also request an info pack here to share with clients.
Jan 2012 Note from the Editor:
Lauren and her children have fallen on really hard times. They are currently without a home and staying at a hotel. Because she has done so very much, for so many people, we would love to be able to help out just a little during this rough patch. If you would like to give something to Lauren and her kids, it will go a long way in the lives of these beautiful people.