© 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|