Friday, August 5, 2011

If Only

© Emilee Mason 2011.

“I conceived our second child in September of 2007. As soon as I found out that I was carrying a boy, I knew I would circumcise him. I was a Christian, and hadn't Jesus been circumcised? Wasn't that the right way to do it? The foreskin was created to be removed. That was my take on it. My husband agreed, saying it was cleaner and easier to care for a circumcised boy. And he wanted his son to look like him. I found out our insurance didn’t pay for it, but to me that was only proof that "pagans" were in the "system" and didn’t want to support Christians. We decided we would have the procedure done on the 8th day, just like in the Bible. The cost would be 300 dollars. It was a small price to pay to commit our son to the Lord, we thought. What flawed ideas we had at the time.

On June 22nd I gave birth to 8lbs 11.5oz, 21.5 inches of pure perfection. Our baby boy was healthy. He had huge blue eyes, blondish wisps of hair, and the most perfect smell. His 2-year-old sister was completely enamored. Her first words upon meeting her brother were, “Oh, mom, look at him, and look at his sweet little feet. Ohhh!” Without a doubt, he was a perfect addition to our family. In the hospital, a few nurses asked us, “Are you going to circumcise?” We said, “Oh yes, we will make the appointment when we get home.” “Good,” one nurse said, “It’s so much better that way. I always shudder when a parent tells me no.” I was smug in the knowledge that I was doing the “right” thing. The first two nights, in the hospital, Noah kept peeing through his diaper and all over the bed. I called the nurse and asked, “What do I do? How do I stop this?” The nurse said, “Circumcise him.” I accepted this as fact.

I carefully nursed my baby, protecting him with “liquid gold.” I cradled his little head in my hands, supported his neck and back, transported him home in a top of the line car seat, at about 5 miles per hour. Everything I did was to keep this precious miracle safe and to protect him. I never allowed anyone to smoke around him, or even touch him with Trans fats on their fingers.

The pediatrician did not have an opening for the surgery until Noah was 12 days old. The nurse warned us, “We can’t do it if they’re over 10 lbs because they won’t fit on the board very well.” I hoped that he wouldn’t weigh too much.

The day finally came. My husband and I found a sitter for our daughter and drove down to the office. We waited nervously in the waiting area, and were finally called back to the examining room. We weighed Noah; exactly 10 lbs. In retrospect, I wish he had weighed 10.1. But back then, we were delighted! He had gained so well but could still get circumcised.

We stripped Noah down to his diaper, I kissed his forehead and the nurse and my husband took him back to the procedure room. “Its okay, Mom,” the nurse said as they left, “It’ll only take a minute and he won’t feel a thing.”

They were gone for about 10 minutes. The longest 10 minutes ever. A tiny bit of doubt crept into my mind. Was I doing the right thing? I could run out there and yell no. It wasn’t too late. But I didn’t. I didn’t protect my baby when it was most important. I let them remove a part of my baby’s body and I didn’t say anything. Anything. After about 10 minutes, they all came back. Noah was quietly sucking on his pacifier. The nurse and Dad said, “It went great.” Dad told me about how they used anesthesia and my son hardly cried at all. That appeased my guilt. The nurse went over instructions on how to care for his penis, and we went home. Noah fell asleep in his car seat, and at home, I transferred him to his crib. After an unusually long nap, Noah awoke, crying hard. I tried to nurse him but he did not want to nurse. I was concerned, since it had been about 4 hours by then. I gave him some baby Tylenol as instructed by the nurse, and then laid him down to change his diaper.

I remember it clearly. Laying him down on the end of our bed. Leaning over my perfect son. Removing his diaper. My huge gasp brought our two-year-old daughter running. She shrieked when she saw my son’s bloody gauze-covered penis. “Mom!” She cried, “What happened?” I explained that he had been circumcised, in as simple words as possible. She continued to stare, horror stricken. I gently wiped his bottom. I tried to take the gauze off as directed to put more Vaseline on there. The gauze stuck. I quickly grabbed my phone to call Nurse Advice.

My sudden movement caused Noah to jump. He kicked his penis with his heel. And he, oh my sweet Lord, he tore off the gauze with his foot. Blood spurted everywhere. Blood on my hands. Blood on the diaper. Red drops everywhere. Screaming baby. My daughter screamed, “Mom, why did you let them do that to him?” My heart dropped to the bottom of my feet. I got some more gauze and put it on his penis. It's okay, sweetheart. Mommy is so sorry. Please, oh please stop screaming. Breathe, sweet baby, breathe. Oh God, what have I done? The gauze quickly filled with blood. More blood. I realized he was hemorrhaging. Oh God, have I killed my baby?

I frantically called Nurse Advice. They told me to wrap his penis in gauze, grab it and squeeze for 10 minutes. I hung up and, sobbing as hard as I ever have, I put the gauze on my baby and squeezed. He opened his mouth to scream, and there was no noise. He held his breath. He turned blue. I was shaking and saying, “Oh sweetie, I am so sorry. So so sorry. Honey, oh honey. Please, I am so sorry!”

The blood curdling scream that eventually issued from my newborn is a sound that haunts me to this day. Upon revisiting this memory, I amend my earlier statement by saying that THIS was the longest 10 minutes ever. When we finished those hair-raising minutes, I let go of his penis. And my hand was saturated in blood. I called Nurse Advice again and they told me to bring him in finally.

I tried to nurse Noah but he refused. By this time, it had been almost 5 hours since I last nursed him. We went to the doctor. Noah stopped screaming and went into a sort of trance but every time you tried to touch him at all, he started screaming again. I laid my traumatized baby on the examining table at the doctor’s office, leaned over him and offered him my breast. He finally nursed, but every time he opened his eyes and saw me, he started crying. My heart tore. The precious miracle that had depended on me to protect him had been let down. His innocence had been stripped. The doctor came in, took one look and got some Styrofoam looking stuff. He roughly shoved it between the bit of foreskin that was left and his penis, to hold it in place against the hemorrhaging part. And we waited, in that cold, unfriendly doctor’s office for an hour: Me, my daughter and my crying son.

The doctor came back in and took off the clotting thingy. Noah started screaming. Blood spurted everywhere. The doctor said, “I don’t know why this isn’t working. We have to try it again and if it doesn’t work, he will have to go to the NICU.” From here, the details get a little fuzzy. I know they inserted the “thing” again. And I know he screamed a ton. And I remember my daughter was hungry and I hadn’t stopped crying in almost 4 hours.

We waited 2 more hours in that small, cold procedure room. The doctor came in and took the white stuff out. The bleeding had stopped. We peeled ourselves out of those awful chairs, loaded up and went home. That night I got very little sleep. Noah was up crying and nursing frequently. His penis was so sore that he could not nurse cradle, reverse cradle, football, or any position that put any pressure on his groin area at all.

The next morning, I tried to change the gauze as directed. It was stuck. I immediately closed Noah’s diaper and back to the doctor we went. The nurse carefully removed the gauze. She chatted the whole time about how rare the bleeding was and said, “He’s fine now. All is well that ends well.”

That isn’t how I saw it then or see it now. My son’s innocence was stripped. I allowed him to be hurt. I allowed the doctor to cut off a part of his body. For no reason. God loves everyone; He loves circumcised men the same as uncircumcised. Every day, even now, 3 years later, I struggle with the guilt. The shame. After the procedure, Noah developed colic and a lot of food intolerances. I know those can be caused by trauma. I keep feeling that this is my fault and I realize that some day, he will want to know why I did that to him. And I will have no answer. I am so sorry baby. If only I had known. If only I had researched and listened. Listened to those who knew better. Listened to my heart. If only.

Noah, smiling a few seconds after birth, showing off his innocent, joyous personality


  1. *HUGS* We all do what we believe is best and one day he will understand that you did not decide to go through with this to harm him. To the best of your knowledge you were doing what you thought was right. Now you know better and can do better.

  2. Agonizing and heartbreaking. May she and her son find peace and healing.

  3. Help other parents to make the right choice. I hope you find peace.

  4. This is so sad, I could cry...every time I read a statistic or story about circumcision, even a statistic/story in FAVOUR of circumcision, I am glad my son is intact (because those ones that are in favour remind me just as much as the ones against it just how barbaric and horrible it is! "it gives you more staying power" for instance-wtf?! In other words you want to desensitize your sons penis?) It is such a sick act to cut anyones genitals and to say it is in the name of God is just insane. People also strap bombs to their kids in the name of God, is that also OK? What a crying shame...Oh Guggie, what a sad world we live in. <3

  5. Emilee, please do what you can to put this behind you. H'opononpono and EFT are the very best... and you can help your children use them as well. they are very simple and fun and effective.

    the sales tactics they use to convince parents to circumcise are unethical and logically flawed, but they do whatever they can to talk parents into doing it. it's not your fault. it's systemic. the world is very sick right now. much healing is needed. please learn how to forgive, release.

    "All healing is essentially the release from fear... Healing is always certain."

  6. Oh my goodness I am so sorry you and your family went through that! The Lord got ahold of my heart in the past few years and I too will NOT be circumcising my boys (if we are blessed with more).

  7. ((Hugs OP)) I've always been against circumcision. My DH and my son are intact. But I've witnessed a newborn being circ'd and its an experience I never want to live with again. I think new parents should be forced to watch a video of it happening before they ever decide to circ. To say babies do not feel pain is just insane.

  8. Your courage is astounding. I know you wrote this not to relieve your guilt but rather, to to expose the terrible lie of circumcision that you had been told, innocently believed and only understood it's horrifying truth when faced with the evidence of your own child's blood being spilled.

    I truly feel for you and your pain. I do hope you find healing and relief and are able to let it go, not to absolve your guilt, but to allow yourself compassion and acceptance.

    i can't imagine what it is like to be in your shoes but i certainly empathise and if i could reach through this computer I would give you a hug and say it's going to be ok, you are not a bad human being, you are extraordinary for having the courage to share your story so that other's know the truth, I would do so in a heart beat.

    thank you for sharing and touching my heart.

  9. I cried reading your story. I am so sorry you all went through that. :( And I must thank you for reaffirming my decision not to circumcise our 3 day old son. God bless and thank you for sharing!

  10. Oh, honey, I have CRIED for you and your family. We just found out Thursday that we're going to have a son. My husband wants to have him circumcised, but realizes that an argument is coming. I think your story may be the very first thing I share with him!

    Please, please, try to put the guilt behind you and try to consider this: If his story can help prevent other boys from being circumcised then all was not lost. Sharing your / his story may benefit other little boys. I wish you peace.

  11. I am an RN and it makes me sick how some nurses promote circumcision!! If parents were properly informed, they would have the chance to protect their sons from this horrific act. Let's keep spreading the truth, from one mom to another, and little by little we will see change. Thank you, courageous mother for sharing your story. So many moms of circ'd boys are unable to face their guilt and pain... Thank you for turning it into a chance to educate others. May you and your son experience healing. Bless you!!

  12. Thank you for sharing your story! It is these stories that moms courageously share that is slowly making a difference. Please continue to tell your Christian friends that the New Testament church banned circumcision, and they believed it to be blasphemous, an outright denial of faith in Jesus Christ. I wish pastors would preach this from the pulpit so that more moms might know this and not have tragic stories.

    “It is important to make the distinction between guilt and regret. Guilt is what we feel when we knew better and didn’t act on what we knew. Regret is the sadness we feel when we learn something new that we wish we had known earlier. Making the distinction between guilt and regret is important as we embark on learning different ways of parenting.” -- Pam Leo, Connection Parenting

    Stephanie Ashley quote: I didn't have the knowledge or resources to know better...and no one told me I was doing wrong. Now I do and I do things differently, but I certainly can't hold myself accountable when I had no idea I was supporting something so wrong.

    "Watch out for those wicked men – dangerous dogs, I call them – who say you must be circumcised. Beware of the evil doers. Beware of the mutilation. For it isn’t the cutting of our bodies that makes us children of God; it is worshiping him with our spirits." – Phil 3:2-3

  13. What a heartbreaking story. I cried as I read it. I have three sons and the two oldest were harmed in this way too because the medical community told me that it was better. When my third son was born someone told my husband that circumcision was not necessary so we decided to leave him intact.

    Oh, how I wish I had the type of information in your post before I had my sons. Thank you for speaking out, if even one little boys is saved from a similar fate, your pain has made a difference.

    As Aesculapius said you both need healing from this. I like the two modalities she suggested, but would also encourage you to look into Emotion Code as well. I am going to need to do some EC on myself and my sons for this specific issue, now that it has been brought to my awareness.

    Peace and love to you and your sweet family

  14. Bless you for sharing this story! It takes a very special person to share circ stories about their son(s). Your story will help others.

  15. That's an awful thing to go through - particularly knowing that it was so much worse for your son than it was for you. To be brutally honest, as an English person I find it deeply shocking that in the 21st century people are still doing this to their children (we gave it up 60 years ago) when we now know that it is dangerous and causes more harm than good. The religious argument doesn't work either - Jesus was circumcised because his parents were jews, and it says several times in the New Testament that christians should not be circumcised. I hope you can bring something good out of this experience by spreading the word and convincing other parents not to circumcise their sons, either for 'religious' reasons or (non-existent) 'health' reasons. best wishes to you all.

    1. Hi, would you mind emailed the scripture where it says that? I'd like to show it to my husband. Thank you so very much!

  16. I cried reading the story. I feel like I could've written something similar about both of my sons. I was so naive to trust our medical staff.. Nobody told me how horrible circumcision is! All I was told was that the baby felt little pain, and that it was better for them in the long run. When I took my YDS to be circ'd.. I could hear his screams from the adjacent room.. and burst into tears. I begged the front desk to please get them to stop. right at the same time, I guess they were done.. they brought him around, a piece of him missing. He was rooting like crazy when the nurse handed him over. I took him into an exam room and nursed him for a good 30 minutes while I sobbed. I knew at that moment, that I needed to know more and be better prepared for this.

    I went home that afternoon and researched. My stomach felt like it had a weight in it. Nobody at the hospital or during birthing classes tells you how to prepare for these choices as a parent. medical professionals are supposed to KNOW better and do better.. but they are misinforming parents left and right! He healed up... but not without some bumps in the road. He was obviously sore, and cleansing the area was clearly painful for him.

    Any future boys we have will remain intact. I cannot bring myself to ever allow this to happen to another of my children, EVER AGAIN!

  17. I too had my son circumcised. I could here him screaming from down the hall and when the Dr came in to see me after he said he did fine, didn't even cry and I told him that I could here him screaming from down the hall. I think the Dr. was astounded that I could tell my son's cry from other babies. I saw videos online of circumcisions and they do not look pleasant. I am so sorry your son had such terrible complications but I can assure you that thank God he will not remember or be traumatized for life.

  18. Thank you for finding the courage to share your story. It is hugely impactful and will, no doubt, help others choose to keep their sons intact. I have linked to it from a recent blog post:

    Let's join together and be a voice for our precious little boys.

  19. My sons are intact, because I read stories like this, and of female genital mutilation, before I had boys. But I'm a mother-baby nurse, and it tears my heart out to see the circs done at my facility daily. I'm so sorry you and Noah went through that horror... So sorry for all the innocent babies that endure it every day. Bless you, sweetie.

  20. Please, please, please Google Peter Levine's work Somatic Experiencing. Find an experienced practicioner in your area & tske Noah & yourself in for a number of sessions, It is very gentle work that integrates the three layers of the brain & nervous system (reptilian brain, limbic brain, cortical brain, which we all have)
    When we experience trauma, the experience "fractures" & different aspects of the nervous system "hold" those trauma patterns, leading to all sorts of imbalances.
    Somatic Experiencing gently reintegrates the bodymind & the effects of the trauma, once integrated, no longer create the dysfunctions we experience as mental, emotional or physical distress.
    Do it for yourself to release the trauma of that whole experience, but also for Noah, that he may grow up whole & untroubled by the trauma of the circumcision.
    Peace & blessings to you.

  21. Yet another stupid mistake by being brainwashed by religion. Sorry you fell for it. I know you aren't the same mom you were then and hopefully use science and mothers intuition more now.

    1. It isn't all a religious problem. It's being vastly propagated by the "scientific" and medical community. It's very insensitive to assume they have changed their theology or that they should. She's right, God loves both the circumcised and uncircumcised; Christianity transcends old testament covenant.
      But culture in the US and gaping holes in the medical education community allow thus practice to continue unabashedly, and that is the tragedy.

  22. Synnora, you are a special kind of idiot. Your comments are cold-hearted. This woman did a brave thing sharing this story at all. your words are harsh and at this point irresponsible, there are many people who won't come forward to tell their story because of comments such as yours

  23. God Bless You for sharing your story! I wish there had been info like this 30 years ago and the vast capacity to share it... you are helping so many people so I hope you can heal your heart and mind knowing that!! thank-you.

  24. I had my son circumsized and I dont regret getting it done. I however don't see this as being your fault at all, and dont understand why they allowed you to go home right after, that makes me wonder what type of hospital you went to, a buisness one where all they care about it getting the money in and out of beds or taking care of their patients. Alot of doctors are like this, get the money in and make room for more. They should have kept him over night, as a mother I understand your guilt, but in reality, you trusted doctors who assured you everything was alright and didnt bother to check up. I hope your baby boy is doing well now.

  25. Carol too many hospital/doctors offices let them leave too soon. My oldest son was also circumcised and he too had some complication. We actually dealt with them on and off for years . I was very niave and plain ignorant. I thought all men were circumcised(so you must realize my shock when i found out after the fact, that outside the US, not many men are). I really hate how conditioned we are about circumcisions in the US.