In November of 2004 I became a proud mother once again - this time to a baby boy. He was perfect and beautiful. It was a rough start for him with breathing issues and he spent some time in the NICU. I hated to be away from him and leave the hospital before he did, but I remained as close to him as possible. I remember the fateful day before he was released when hospital staff asked me, “Do you want to have him circumcised?” I said yes, of course. I figured this is what you do - this is what all good mothers do for their babies. Even a part of me thought, this is what I have to do.
Why didn't I stop and think? Why didn’t I protect him? Why didn’t I simply say no? I was smart enough to know that my daughter's ears were her own... why didn’t this apply for my son? If just one person had told me the truth, things would have been a lot different. I remember when they brought my baby boy back to me, something was different. I could never put my finger on it, but he was different. Even the bond between him and I was different.
I felt as if I failed him, and to this day I still feel that way. To make matters worse, it was a botched circumcision. However, I know that I cannot go back. I cannot fix it. I cannot make it up to him. But what I can do is educate myself. So I began to read and read and read.
In July of 2008 I once again gave birth to a baby boy. He was healthy and perfect. The day before I left the hospital a woman saw me in the hallway with him and said to me, “How did he do after his little surgery?” I looked at her completely confused. I said, “I’m sorry?” She said, “ You know... his circumcision.” Then it dawned on me. And I began to grin and replied, "Oh, he won't be getting that done.” She looked at me with complete surprise. I smiled and walked away. While I was there the nurse asked three or four more times if he was going to be circumcised. Each time I happily replied, “No thank you.” We took our whole boy home the next day.
There did come a day when my youngest noticed the difference between the two of them and pointed it out. He was two and his brother was six. My oldest looked at me and said, “Yeah mommy, why do we look different?” I knew the time had come when I would have to tell my oldest just how sorry I was. I said to him, "When mommy had you, I had you circumcised.” Naturally he asked, “What is that?” So I told him, honestly. He then said to me, “Didn't that hurt me?” I got on my knees with tears in my eyes and said to him, “Yes, and I am so sorry I let anyone hurt you.” He then put his arms around me and said, “It’s ok mommy, I’m glad you didn't let anyone do that to my brother. I don’t want him to hurt.” Of course I fell to pieces at that moment. I said to my oldest, “I wish that I had known better when I had you, or I would have never let it happen to you either.” He looked me in the eyes and said, “ I know Mommy, thank you for not letting anyone do it to him. I’m glad!”
In the 12 years that I have been a mother I know that they have taught me more then I could ever teach them. About love, about life, about forgiveness. I still struggle with the guilt that I have from my first boy. I still try to cope with it. Every time I hear of a friend or family member having a baby boy, I tell them about my experience. I am unsure if it has ever touched someone or made them think, but I will keep sharing. Maybe one day this story will save one more perfect baby boy.
Circumcision and intact care information at Are You Fully Informed?
To share your story, write to DrMomma.firstname.lastname@example.org
Join in the Saving Our Sons conversation.