Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Tragic Story of Joshua's Circumcision According to His Mother

I've got some tough words to say, and some tough parallels to draw but after seeing all the other angles addressed from judgment to relativism, I feel my point needs to be put out there.

This story did not surprise me because I see this happen to people frequently in many different topics. Such as women who are assaulted during birth, or just plain assaulted/raped. I am a rape survivor myself and have been helping other survivors for awhile. The predictability is in itself the tragedy.

It goes like this. First the woman is wronged, violated, lied to or misled. But instead of putting the blame on the perpetrator, she shoulders the full blame for whatever it might be, such as rape. Then because her mind cannot carry such a horrific burden, she goes into full denial, even pretending the rape never happened, it wasn't that bad, it was a misperception, etc.

This happens often in birth stories. Women (and their babies) are horribly mistreated, but then the woman turns around and almost worships the doctor. She thanks him and pays him. Instead of saying, "The doctor failed me and my baby" she says, "My body failed my baby but the doctor saved my baby!"

And you can see this clearly happen in Joshua's case. What these doctors did violated not only their own institution, not only the law, but also all common sense. They pressured a mother, lied to her, to solicit unnecessary surgery on a fragile baby with a severe heart defect. They chose to perform that surgery on him. And then they neglected him while he hemorrhaged and mistreated the hemorrhage many hours later.

By reading Jill's now-deleted blog post, you can see her take on the full burden of blame for her son's death. Not once does she speak out against the unethical doctors. Not once does she show any anger towards the surgeon who nicked her son's artery and caused a hemorrhage. Not once does she ask if the medical staff truly intervened soon enough or with the right tools. She takes on all the blame.

But a grieving mama can't handle that. No one can. So she deleted her blog post and is now in 100% denial, lashing out at innocent people who have nothing to do with Joshua's death instead of going after the REAL criminals, the doctors who are STILL practicing somewhere, the doctors who can do this to ANOTHER innocent baby without reprisal.
As someone who has worked through the stages of grief, who has taken on the blame and had to learn how get back to reality and NOT let the perpetrator get away with it, my heart breaks for Jill. The road she is walking is a dark and lonely one. I hope that she finds her way to a brighter one. And I hope someday Baby Joshua, and all babies who are forced to experience genital surgery against their will, find justice.

While on this topic, I wanted to expand my thoughts. I've been bumping into similar defense mechanisms in all of these topics the past week.

I am depressed at the way the survivors have to shoulder the blame. I've been talking about this issue all week... How the mamas are lied to, bullied, misled, pressured, etc into a variety of things and then THEY have to take the blame.

Thnk about our culture. A woman is raped or sexually assaulted and then SHE takes on the judgement. She is gossiped about in our culture..."too short of a skirt" "well you were asking for it" "well that's what you get for being pretty." HER body led the poor chap to attack her, apparently. She's at fault for not stopping the violation.

A woman is led to an unnecessary c-section and then SHE takes on the judgment, the comments...she claims her body failed. Others imply she wasn't enough of a "woman" to birth her child. If her child is injured or killed or deprived of certain physiological aspects such as gut colonization or bonding, does the doctor face condemnation  Does the doctor stay up at night, thinking about the baby? Does the doctor have a scar on his stomach to remind him daily?

A woman is given outdated, ridiculous advice on how to latch on her baby or supplement. And SHE has to pay for processed cow's milk. SHE has to wake up in the night and feed her child a bottle. SHE has to care for her child after numerous ear infections or stomach bugs. It's all on HER. Not the nurse or formula industry who LIED to her. Then she has to listen to all the judgmental remarks about formula feeding and catch the judgmental glares in public.

A woman caves into the pediatrician's pressure to vaccinate her daughter and then SHE takes on the responsibility. SHE holds her screaming baby all night long. SHE watches her child slowly disappear. SHE bears the looks and the rude comments in public. SHE pays the medical bills. SHE drives her child to therapy. Does her pediatrician do any of this? Heck, you can't even sue the vaccine companies.

A woman is outright LIED to about circumcision and signs the paperwork. AND SHE LOSES HER SON! Did the surgeon even get re-training? Is it even in his file? What about the doctor who lied to her about reasons to circumcise before his 3rd stage of heart surgery was complete (or ever in all reality)? Does the doctor have to tell the siblings that their brother died? Are the nurses going to plan the funeral?

I'm DONE with this ridiculous bowing down to the perpetrators who run over the lives and wellbeing of babies and mamas without any consequences. And in fact, not only do they get the satisfaction of avoiding any condemnation or justice, but the mothers turn to them and fawn on them and release them of any responsibility!

I'm DONE with our hypocritical, judgmental society, that shoves the mama to the cliff, that tips her over the edge and then condemns her when she falls off into the abyss with judgment, rude commends, glares and cold shoulders. 

I hear this EVERY DAY. I kid you not, every day I hear from a woman who was violated or her baby violated. EVERY DAY. But so few go on to press charges or sue or even speak out. It is changing. Slowly, with the communities available online, women are finding the strength to acknowledge the violations and to speak out against the perpetrators. I hope Jill and all other parents out there find the strength, too.


  1. I remember when all of this happened, this womans story breaks my heart and I ache for her baby who had to suffer. But in saying that, she has felt that the intact community has attacked her over what happened and by publishing this again I believe she is being proved right. She has some strange vendetta to make it seem like shes being bullied, as noted by her twitter comments etc. Honestly, we all know what she did and what really happened, I think reposting this sort of thing (which I bet on her website says is copyrighted) really is just adding fuel to her fire against us in the intact community.

  2. Guggie, I want to let you know that we don't all sit there silently. I have been sitting her sliently for the last 8 1/2 months about the sexual assault by my doctor during labour. I didn't know I had an option to fiel complaints/go after her for "doing her job" Thanks to you, and others like yourself, I have found my voice and, starting tomorrow, will be filing a complaint with the 'College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario' who monitor all doctors in the province. Hopefulyl something will come of it and I won't be brushed off because "well the doctor HAS to check the baby's station even if you say no multiple times" as many people have already tried to tell me.

  3. agree with anonymous 100%.

  4. Everything you said about parents footing the blame while the doctors don't answer for it is absolutely right. This is something I see a lot and is often the fuel for much of my anger and frustration.

  5. yeah well if you do stand up against a providers negligence and t\it is not one of the providers you listed,then everyone turns around and blame you. a midwife's negligence killed my baby at a homebith, and what i get from all my crunchy peers are comments about how babies die more in the hospital. it would have been easier to just blame myself and ignore the huge wrong done to me....

  6. Thanks Guggie for posting the truth!

  7. I should also add that it is not normal to be on 85% oxygen and have sats in the 60's. That enough was reason to have proceeded with intubating baby Joshua (putting him on a respirator). Not doing so allowed his heart to go into overtime, trying to breathe fast enough to get enough oxygen into him!

    It makes no sense that it took some 7 hours to stop the bleeding! It makes no sense that they did not immediately take measures to assist his breathing.

    When my third was in NICU, they changed his equipment but failed to check it, if it functioned. It did not. He needed oxygen to breathe, and needed to saturate at at least 95% because he had pulmonary hypertension. I would expect that a baby like Joshua would also need to saturate at at least 95%.

    With my son's defective canulae, he was breathing 70 times a minute, and his heart was up to 170!

    He spent the whole shift that way until WE found the mistake! Needless to say, his condition worsened greatly in the following days.

    Saturating at 60 is way, way too low for anyone! Especially for a baby with a congenital heart defect! Why did the docs not do anything? It makes NO SENSE!FM

  8. Man, I hate you people with such a flaming passion. If I were to ever take your "opinions" into account before, I certainly would NOT now. Behind your "story" is a family. A Mother, A Father, and 2 children that are mourning the loss of a child, a brother...a human being. He isn't a mere statistic, or a sensational story to further the cause of some extremists. For anyone to openly attack a family that is grieving so fully is just horrible and wrong. There are so many stories out there that are actually about circumcision. This is not one! That little boy did not die due to circumcision. He died because he had HLHS. Unless you are a doctor, I don't believe you are qualified to give a cause of death, nor to speculate about what should or should not have been done for Joshua. It's time to shut the fuck up (to put it mildly), and leave this family alone. Sitting around blaming them, blaming medical personnel (who have actual training, thanks) isn't accomplishing anything. Those that already agreed with you may still agree with you, but those that are on the fence see you as just another internet bully, hellbent on proving to the world that you know more than you actually do just so that you can stand up and pretend you're "right". Fucking sickening. I can only hope that you never have to suffer the indignities that you have forced upon Jill and her family.

    In Short, you guys are assholes, please eat a bag of dicks.

  9. actually for an HLHS (hypoplastic left heart syndrome) baby, it is 100% normal for them to SAT in the 60's. Before he had his 2nd surgery to correct the shunt, he was at 90-100% and that was dangerous for him (actually caused him to code because his lungs were receiving all of the oxygen and his body was not)- that is why they had to redo the shunt. So for an HLHS baby to be at 65% O2 Saturation as well as on 85% O2, that is not very uncommon.

  10. Seriously, when are people going to leave this mother alone?? Why does the psychotic intact community insist on raking her over the coals?? "Oh, she's not hurt enough, let's stir up more crap so she really has to pay. We don't care about her at all and want her to suffer" That is the very message you and others are sending this poor mother. Anytime a child dies, a mother blames herself and feels guilty, no matter the reason. Dang, talk about judgemental and hypocrtical! You gripe about being raped and blamed for it then go on to blame a mother for her child dying?? Obviously, you need mental help! Oh, women can thank those "uneccesary" c-sections for saving infant lives, but I guess those morons would rather have a dead baby than a scar!

  11. Anonymous, you must have accidentally posted on the wrong blog. I welcome you to read my article, however, for more insight. As for your comment about unnecessary surgical births, if it was unnecessary, then the choice was not a dead baby or a scar.

  12. Anonymous, and Jill - Guggie's point is that the blame here SHOULD NOT be placed on Jill or her family. The people who are attacking her are missing the point.

    The point is that her doctors should have known that this would upset his fragile system. The doctor who nicked his artery should have immediately noticed that it happened, and staff who let him bleed for too long need to be held accountable, or at least need to change procedures going forward, so that sick babies aren't circumcised (if at all), until they're well enough to head home.

    Even if you are 100% ok with circumcision, this one got messed up. Even if you think circumcision should be standard for all male babies, this one went wrong, and a baby died. He might have died anyway - he was very sick, and his life alone was a miracle - but he wouldn't have bled from his penis for hours, and his mother wouldn't be faced with this. That's my point.

    Attacking a mother who lost her precious child is pointless, hurtful, and unnecessary - not to mention counterproductive. Guggie is NOT attacking her.

    I would like to see a policy instituted that NICU babies not be circumcised while they are in NICU care - this would have prevented Baby Mario's accidental circumcision. Even if it wouldn't have prevented Joshua's death (and who can say that it would have, for sure), it might help someone else.

    Jill, as always and forever, my prayers and my love go to you and your family.

  13. Thank you Guggie...
    EVERYTHING you wrote is so true and unfortunately, hits so close to home.
    I've shouldered blame...for 3-C-sections (2, considered "elective", although my pursuit to
    find a mid-wife, doula, birth-center, or other-options weren't whole-hearted, and prior to my introduction to any online forums/community. Because of the continuous messages I heard of my body failing me and my 1st baby, I think I was mentally defeated and convinced I'd never birth naturally-I grieve, almost on a daily basis, because we are not having anymore children, that I will NEVER experience the beauty & joy I hear of in homebirth/water-birth/free-birth/hospital births w/no interventions...).
    I also still shoulder blame for sending my then two year old son off to a doctor who our family trusted. My two year old was sexually assaulted, and at the time, EXTREMELY traumatized by the assault. I can't help but play over the small details in my mind of what I was doing at the same time he was being assaulted in another room. How I wasn't there for him. How I could have done things different and protected him better. I will carry that shame and guilt to my grave. And although I wouldn't begin to try to compare that to losing a child. I couldn't imagine having anymore guilt on my shoulders about my son being violated than I already do.
    There was a time where I experienced most of the stages of grief. Denial lasted a bit. The acceptance came sooner than I would have expected... then the anger set in. I molded my anger into activism. Becoming an advocate for gentle birth, attachment-parenting, shielding children and babies from genital cutting...and everything else synergetic with honoring our smallest citizens-their genital integrity and bodily autonomy...from the moment of birth, forward-heck, even from conception forward, was all I could do to keep my sanity.

  14. ...cntd....
    If I didn't allow an outlet to channel my anger about my son being raped, I may have lost my mind. I may have surrounded myself in half-truths and comforting partial-realities in order to cope. Actually, I did exactly that for a short time until I realized I was traveling down a dark and lonely path. I never thought I would ever talk about any of this in a public space. It is extremely personal and leaves me feeling vulnerable.
    Jill, I am sorry for your loss. More than I'm going to assume you could imagine. I sat with my best friend while she watched her baby struggle in a NICU for 6 months before he passed. It was incredibly traumatizing for me, and I didn't give birth to him. The poor baby never had a breath of fresh outside air. Not one. But his doctors WOULD NOT allow him to be circumcised. They knew better and so should have your son's doctors and nurses.
    I can't imagine your pain. There are so many of us that are empathetic or sympathetic to what you are going through. We also need a place to grieve. Reading your story has brought too much to the surface of my life again, which I thought I had either worked through or buried safely. Unfortunately, this is something that needs to be talked about. I know if my story had been made public (either my births or my son's assault) and I perceived what I read to be a direct attack on me or my family (which honestly, is not what I am seeing here, by any means), than I would remove myself from viewing them. I try to be very conscious about handing the power over my emotional, mental or psychological state to people (especially strangers, especially online acquaintances), so much so that if I was being continuously hurt (by things that aren't being said in a malicious tone whatsoever, in this specific instance), that I would (at least temporarily) remove myself from it.
    With that said...Joshua's story, unfortunately, is one of hundreds, where doctors didn't put the first tenet of medicine-primum non nocere ~ first, do no harm, before their other motives...you aren't to blame for this at all-and I can't speak for our entire community, but hundreds of us I will, when I say, we never blamed you! In general, when I say we don't demonize parents-doctors are to take blame!...and in the end, Joshua paid for their ignorance (or greed, or whatever reason you want to throw in that motivates hundreds of doctors to hurt our children this way every day...). I hope one day you can resolve this in your heart with the truth that only you know. I'm sure it will free you from the torment you are feeling, which I am going to say is what is likely gravitating you towards these discussions. You need an outlet, somewhere to project your anger. As an intactivist, I've swallowed many hurtful and hatefilled comments from you, and that has been more than frustrating, but it is a small price to pay if it helps you to heal. I think you know, in the end, we are a compassionate community that had only the best intentions when reaching out to you before your son was circumcised, and then especially after. I hope you find comfort in the overwhelming support I've seen directed at your family and can learn to distinguish our compassion for your situation with our contempt for the medical establishment that continues to hurt children unnecessarily every day.
    Reaching out to you from one mother to another, with love and compassion...
    Colleen Corcoran

  15. Thank you for sharing, Colleen. Your post made me cry. There are so many hurting people, wounded from these industries, and our society does not even acknowledge their pain (whether from outright violation or just the serverity of an intervention). That's not fair at all.

  16. I'm sorry for your loss Jill. I read your blog and my heart aches for you. The author of this post is not attacking you but the dr that allowed the procedure and then allowed him to bleed for so long.
    Everytime I see your story my heart aches. No one is trying to attack you personally. We hope you and your family heal from your loss.

  17. Jill. I know that there is nothing I can say to you that you will not percieve as an attack.
    I am deeply sorry for your loss and pain, and I do not hold you responsible for what happened.
    However, I do hold you responsible for failing to hold the doctors to account for a horrific act of medical malfeasance.
    I don't know whether or not your son would have died at that time even without the circumcision. What I do know is that the doctors violated the guidelines of their own professional organizations by agreeing to circumcise (and pressuring you into agreeing) a baby who was so fragile and unstable.
    Please think about it. Either they circumcised a baby who was so unstable that his body couldn't handle it, or else they circumcised a baby who was so unstable that he was within 24 hours of death from heart failure. Either way, he was far too unstable to endure circumcision at that time. And the doctors get away without repercussions by cynically playing on your own emotional vulnerabilities.
    I hope and pray that someday you can work through your grief enough to finally hold those doctors to account and possibly prevent the next mother from having to go through the kind of pain that you are enduring. I hope that someday you will show your true fiestiness by going after the ones who actually killed your baby (or hastened his death) instead of lashing out at the people who tried to prevent it.

  18. "That little boy did not die due to circumcision."

    Bull. Crap.

    "However, I do hold you responsible for failing to hold the doctors to account for a horrific act of medical malfeasance."

    Exactly. The parents' decision to needlessly cut a frail baby was bad enough ... to actually *perform* it was medically and criminally negligent. The doctors need to be held responsible. But as it stands, Joshua's parents are protecting them from accountability. Disturbing beyond words.

    "I hope that someday you will show your true fiestiness by going after the ones who actually killed your baby (or hastened his death) instead of lashing out at the people who tried to prevent it."


  19. this post is eloquent and makes a very good point - why do women always shoulder the blame? as a sas i carried guilt for years. as an unneccessary c section survivor i blame myself for not fighting the system. thank you guggie. you have given me much to think about.

  20. Sorry, the blog at fierceandfeisty.blogspot.com has been removed. This address is not available for new blogs.

    hmmm... Whole blog is gone now.

  21. She claims she "wanted it done", and "would have never said yes if [she] had known it would have turned out this way".
    Does that mean she would have agreed wholeheartedly if it didn't kill the child? remember a certain David Reimer?
    You make it seem like she's blameless. She doesn't seem so to me.

    As for me, my mother wanted me circumcised throughout my childhood and often threatened me with it. Fortunately for me all doctors refused (I will be forever grateful towards them) and to this day I have a foreskin. Sadly I can say the same for the psychological trauma.
    Would you say my mother is blameless and all blame rests on the doctors?

  22. No, no not at all. I simply don't find it my place to decide on how much blame a mother deserves. I know that the medical professionals are the ones who learn it, practice it and perform it. They hand the parents the consent form and they pocket the money. So "blame" in that sense is more responsibility.

    I'm sorry if my post seemed dismissive of the way parents abuse their children. It was simply written in a way that I was able to speak out on behalf of baby Joshua without allowing others to distract from the story by crying out that I was attacking the mother. That's all people were doing when Joshua first died. "How dare we talk about her" "How dare we judge her" etc.

    I was just trying to sidestep the circus. <3

  23. But in trying to do so, you make it sound as if mothers (not parents in general, but MOTHERS) shoulder all the blame when they actually have none, as if they had been raped.
    (also in that case I find the comparison a bit unfair, since males can be raped by females – fortunately I'm not speaking from experience when I say I know the reaction is exactly the same, but I disgress)

    Of course doctors pressured into circumcising have some responsibility, since they could simply refuse like mine did (although you will have to agree that sometimes this is all but impossible).
    Doctors pressuring parents into agreeing are even more responsible, even though many are ignorant of the functions of the foreskin and I can't see why an ignorant parent who asks for a circumcision is less to blame than an ignorant doctor who provides it.
    Which brings me to my last point. Parents are, usually, NOT blameless. Even if it weren't up to us to decide how much blame they deserve, and even if a mother, because she doesn't have a penis, knows nothing about the foreskin, that doesn't make them blameless. Not my mother definitely (not mentioning my father since he died early), not Michael Schaap's who after viewing all the evidence still says she still thinks positively of circumcision, and most certainly not Ryleigh McWillis' who said if they had another boy they would have it cut too.

  24. Sure, in general, I think mothers in this culture are essentially raped of their informed consent. They are conditioned from an early age to obey, to trust and to never question.

    The culpability of someone who does not know what she is doing and additionally is lied to, harassed or even coerced into to it is much less than someone who knows what she is doing and freely chooses to do it.

    I don't speak in absolutes. I would never say "ALL" mothers are or are not. It's simply a common theme in our society. And this goes for just about anything mothering-related from birth choices to antibiotics during pregnancy to breastfeeding and even discipline methods.

    We will always have people who willfully and freely choose to harm others. What I intend to do is speak for those who cooperated or in the future might cooperate with something violent, such as circumcision, so that they can find their inner voice and know that they have the freedom to NOT be a part of it.

    You mention males being raped and I agree. I think a lot of people don't understand that the first "rape" for most men is infant circumcision. But Janel Babykeeper has an excellent documentary giving a voice to fathers: www.theothersideoftheglass.com. I encourage everyone to watch the trailer.

  25. HLHS is a VERY serious heart condition... there is nothing that will "fix" it completely, just steps to take to prolong the baby's life. 3 open heart surgeries would need to be performed before he reached 3 1/2 ... he would be a very sickly child for the most of those 4 years, and IF everything goes perfectly, he'd pull through it. something like 65% chance survival. And if things went to shit, there'd be kidney and liver failer, more operations - the list goes on. Its a near fatal condition. my question is then - if this little boy joshua had HLHS why would they put him through an UNNECESSARY surgery? THAT makes no sense. poor little guy is going through enough.

  26. It certainly didn't make any sense at all. :( The family was Christian as well, and so circumcision was contrary to their faith.

    I remember reading an article that said babies with this CHD have a 50% chance of making it to age 20 now. They called it a scientific breakthrough.

    So why circumcision was even on the mother's mind... ???

  27. No shit. She is more than a little guilty, here. You don't take a fragile baby and subject him to an elective wound where he might bleed for 7 hours. Intactivists WARNED her. It's not as if she didn't know. I still don't think anyone deserves this, but her playing the victim? I don't buy it.

  28. Frankly speaking, this has got to be one of the biggest let-downs I've ever come across. A mother failing to legally pursue her baby boy's killers. What a shame.First she gives an (supposedly) informed consent to perform a risky surgery on an already frail
    infant and to top it all the doctor (wonder who that unprofessional IDIOT is) agrees to go ahead with the same (in my opinion this amounts to a second degree murder).
    This MOM DESERVES NO SYMPATHY AT ALL, none whatsoever. I wish God makes this woman and those doctors pay for the pain and misery
    they inflicted upon the little one. One of the most appalling human conditions happens to be ignorance and the will to not to
    use your common sense(what I mean by that is failing to listen to your own conscience, of course unless you've got one)amazes me.
    And all this time where's Mr. DADDY, no one's ever talked about him, what the f*** was he up to all this time.OK,so here's how its been laid out,a baby's dead, the bereaved mother gets the SYMPATHY & the doctor's being shielded by the parents(this one sounds really goofy to me). Are we to say that the baby is responsible for his own debilitating condition and eventual death.
    What happened to accountability? This is a sham, the mother knew it and hence (selectively)removed all the posts relating to the circumcision incident.The way I see it, as long as the baby's alive parents are accountable for everything (including the privilege of signing consent forms on his behalf with respect to genital modification or mutilation, whatever you wanna call it) but once its dead then no body wants to take the responsibility.Way to go.CONCLUSION:The system's broken and it stinks.

  29. My husband is a 30-year-old intact male with tetralogy of fallot, a major congenital heart defect. His doctors suggested he remained intact. I'm glad my mother-in-law made the right choice.

  30. It must’ve been a difficult struggle for Jill. It’s quite disheartening that these kind of instances still occur inside the medical facilities. From the very beginning, the harassment was already evident. She was forced to have surgery, and she and her baby were mistreated during their stay in the hospital. I hope they could find courage to make a complaint and elaborate the negligence that happened.

    Sabrina Craig @ Medical Attorney