Mon 18 Dec 2006
Posted by Wintersong,
26 years-old, male, caucasian-european, pagan/wiccan, born in United States, living in United States. Male Genital Cutting
, My MGC
I was born in New York to Reform Jewish parents. I was circumcised at eight days in a traditional Jewish circumcision ritual. This means that my parent’s family and friends were all there to witness and celebrate the occasion of my public genital mutilation. I am told that a lovely brunch was prepared for everyone attending.
On the advice of her friends and family, my mother chose to leave the room where the ritual was taking place before the actual cutting of my genitals, and only returned after I was done screaming. Not one Jewish parent I have spoken to finds this remotely hypocritical, a fact that amazes me. The one time I asked my mother about it she said she just couldn’t stand to see me in that kind of pain. Couldn’t see it, but had no problems arranging for it and absolving herself of her clear guilt by simply not being present during it. I love my mother, and I understand that her person faith prevented her from even considered not having me cut, but the fact that she would not witness what she was cheerfully helping to prepare brunch for, makes me hate her just a little bit.
Because my genital cutting was a traditional Jewish ritual, it was done freehand with only a guide plate to prevent damage to the glans (well damage right then, circumcision could be said to “damage” the glans in the form of desensitization). It would be many years before I realized how dramatic the damage to my penis was.
Growing up Jewish, a religion I should disclose that I no longer belong to, I had no idea that circumcision was anything but the norm. I was a sexually interested child (and gay) from a young age and over the course of many sleepovers I saw many of my non-Jewish friends’ penises as well and, this being the early ‘80 they were all altered in the same way as mine.
I still remember the first time I ever saw an intact penis. I was eight years old and attending a Jewish sleep-away camp for the first time. The boys section of the camp had group showers for the different age groups, but the grounds keeping crew used the same shower rooms and they were mostly European college students who would come to America to work for two months and then spend another month touring the United States before class resumed. Most of them were not Jewish, and being European, not circumcised. The first time I saw an intact penis I had no idea what I was looking at. The only conclusion I could come to was that the man’s penis was diseased or malformed in some way. It would not be until I was a teenager, taking sex ed, and more importantly looking at gay porn, that I would realize that his penis was the “normal” one.
Looking back now, I can clearly see that my adolescent sexual development was strongly shaped by (more…)
Tue 28 Nov 2006
Posted by Mars,
46 years-old, male, caucasian-european, agnostic, born in United States, Male Genital Cutting
, My MGC
They lost their rights by violating mine:
contempt for parents lost these days I find
and hatred for those circum-paedophiles,
who strapped me, gasping, to a circumstraint;
who tore off, like a nail from the nail bed,
the foreskin from my neonatal glans.
My mother enjoyed my father intact.
Surely they desired the same for their sons?
“They did what was best,” we like to believe.
Lost structure and function: reason to grieve.
Will I recall them as I once thought they were?
“Genital terrorists!” I now aver.
Their history went the way of my skin:
scarred shrunken remnants, in memoriam.
Thu 23 Nov 2006
Posted by Peter Pink,
59 years-old, male, caucasian-european, agnostic, born in New Zealand, living in New Zealand. Male Genital Cutting
, My MGC
The year I was born was the peak of New Zealand’s male neonatal genital mutilation frenzy (when an estimated 90% of male babies were denied their birthright). I was born in a private hospital and my father says I was operated on the day after I was born. According to him there was no parental consultation and it was done automatically. Apparently even then, in a conservative community, there was some controversy over the routine procedure, but the doctors were Gods who justified genital mutilation as a preventative for infections of the foreskin. My father told me, “All of your generation was done.”
I was not really aware of what had been done to me because my brother had also been mutilated and we regarded ourselves as being normal and anyone in the natural state as odd. Looking back this seems strange, as some of our friends had been spared mutilation.
When I was about six I remember the clothing rubbing against my glans. As a result, it became inflamed and my concerned father took me to the doctor. The doctor could only suggest I had been “playing with it” (which I hadn’t, as puberty was some years away).
Through my teenage years I accepted my condition without questioning, as virtually all mutilated males seem to. I was aware of the scaring on my penis and the sensitivity of the glans against my clothes. In my late teens the topic came up and my mother said that I had been circumcised twice. (more…)
Sun 19 Nov 2006
Posted by mjl,
36 years-old, male, austrailian, atheist, born in Australia, living in Australia. Male Genital Cutting
, My MGC
When it comes to my circumcision experience, I feel somewhat like a returned war veteran. I have a horrible story to tell, one that I need to tell over and over again, but it is so horrible no-one really is able to hear it. I am therefore branded as crazy when I start to talk. People would prefer I was silent about what happened to me. Like a soldier who has been brutalised in battle, I wonder if I might one day ‘lose it’ and circumcise someone else.
I try to be an activist about circumcision, writing letters to the press and thanking people in the media and online who express sensible, humane attitudes to the victims of what must be the most obvious crime on our planet. But often I get stuck. A sort of numb, staring-at-the-wall shellshock comes over me. I think some of my ’stuckness’ on circumcision response has always been connected to the enormity of the crime involved. I mean, how do you even start to respond to this?
I was circumcised at the age of three in an Australian city hospital. It was the early 1970s, when circumcision was epidemic in my country. I was misdiagnosed with ‘phimosis’. I can tell you I remember no discomfort from this phimosis, but I remember a lot about being robbed of my foreskin. I wasn’t quite so unlucky as those little Moroccan boys; I was knocked out with gas before a man sliced off my foreskin with a knife and threw it in the bin. So for me the whole experience is veiled in numbness.
Nevertheless, I vividly remember the humiliation of my genitals being examined by a cooing doctor, and the pain and bewilderment during the recovery. I was a figure of fun for the women in the household at the time. My father was completely, cowardly absent from decisions about what was done to me and from its aftereffects. I remember the rages I would go into when I returned to preschool after my foreskin was destroyed. Unable to express my suffering in any other way, I would run through the classrooms pulling books down from shelves and knocking over things. For this behaviour, a completely rational response to the violation I had been subjected to, I was alternately ridiculed and punished.
Silence descended after that, so that I was pretty much numb and ignorant sexually, apart from galvanic masturbation in my teen years until my early twenties. This is an age where a lot of traumas that have been bolted down in our early youth start to burst out. The internet was my first safe and private source of information. I found a database of medical studies and correspondence in medical journals about circumcision, and what I read there shocked me and took a few years fully to sink in. I wrote letters to the GP who had misdiagnosed me and to my mother. Their responses didn’t offer much solace. What became clear was perhaps only predictable: I had been circumcised mindlessly and ‘routinely’, and because my mother had believed what doctors told her. I even pursued the pediatric surgeon, and in his handwritten reply to my angry letter he had at least the grace to apologize for what he had done.
As a ‘war veteran’ my greatest hope is a simple one—for no more war. No more mutilated generations of boys and men.
Fri 17 Nov 2006
Posted by Ex-Nurse,
30 years-old, female, caucasian-european, humanist, born in United States, living in United States. Male Genital Cutting
, Other's MGC
I want to share with all of you an event that drew me into intactivism (Ed. activists devoted to keeping baby boys intact)
Back in 1996, I began an OB/GYN hospital clinical as a student nurse. One day, I was enlisted to attend a ‘routine circumcision.’ I did not realize how much that event would shatter the very foundation of a career choice made in ignorance. I appeared in the doorway of the circ room and saw the little newborn boy to whom I was ‘assigned’ for the day. Twenty years-old, and not having kids of my own, I did not anticipate the lurching sensation that gripped my heart. Laying strapped down to a table—so small and new, pure and innocent, trusting, all alone, and defenseless—I walked toward the baby and wanted to grab him off the table and shelter him, to tell him that nobody would hurt him.
In walked the doctor. Loud, obnoxious, joking with his assistant, as if he was about to perform a 10 minute oil change. Not once did he talk to this little baby. Rather, he reached for his cold metal instruments and then reached out for his object of mutilation, this sweet newborn’s perfect unharmed body. As I recall the screams of pain and terro, his small lungs barely able to keep up with the cries, I turned in horror as I saw the doctor forcefully pull his foreskin around a metal object. Then came the knife, cut, cut, cut.
I stood next to the baby and said, “You’re almost done sweety. Almost done.”
Then came the words as that son-of-a-bitch said while he dangled the foreskin in midair, “Anybody care to go fishing?”
My tongue lodged in my throat. I felt like I was about to vomit. I restrained myself. My duty was to then take the infant back to the nursery for ‘observation.’ Here is where I realized I couldn’t do it. I could not be a part of such a cold, sterile, out-of-touch medical model. Rather than observing, I cradled the infant. I held him and whispered comforting words as if he were my own. I’ll never forget those new little eyes watch me as if in a haze. He knew I cared about him. He knew he was safe in my arms. He knew that I was going to take him to his mommy, but deep in his little heart, at some level, I know he wondered where his mommy was while he lay there mutilated in what was supposed to be a safe and welcoming environment.
I made a note in the chart and then caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror. My chest and face had broken out in purple splotches. My next thoughts? I can’t do this. I refuse to do this. This is NOT for me. I took the baby to his mother, who was complaining about ’some pain’ she was experiencing. I never addressed her pain because I left to go to my locker. I grabbed my belongings and hoped that my rejection of this ‘medical system’ could serve as some type of redemption for the violation of that newborn that I cradled in my arms that day. The next day, I withdrew from nursing school and never looked back.
Fri 10 Nov 2006
Posted by semitophile,
54 years-old, male, caucasian-european, born in France, living in United States. Male Genital Cutting
, My MGC
I am an intact American Baby Boomer. During my childhood, no one explained to me why the most private part of my body, the tip of my penis, looked very different from that of my father, brother, and nearly all boys I grew up with. This led to the mental equivalent of a festering skin ulcer, which persisted even after I learned that I was completely normal and healthy.
I am intact because I was born in a continental European hospital to a European mother, and because my Americna father was unable to obtain an immigration visa in time for her to give birth in an American hospital. I hear tell that it was (and may still be) the unwritten policy of the US authorities to discourage the use of marriage to obtain US residency. At the time of my birth, the matter was also tied up with Cold War paranoia, McCarthyite hysteria, and fear of the pollution of the American “racial stock” by dark-skinned foreign sirens with shameless sexuality. Hence I see my foreskin not merely as a sign of my foreign birth, but also as an unwitting result of Cold War politics and American racism.
That my father never said anything to me was probably for the best. He had wanted me circumcised, and was no expert on matters medical or sexual, or even on human nature for that matter. My mother was far shrewder and wiser in many respects. Then why didn’t she explain to me why I looked different from my brother, with whom I bathed until at least age 8 (and how did he feel about being unlike his older brother, whom he very much looked up to)? Prudishness per se was not the reason; she could talk quite freely about pregnancy, breast feeding, adultery, and even menstruation, VD, homosexuality and incest. She did not, however, ever tell me about sex in a coherent fashion; she also feared childhood masturbation.
My foreskin paranoia had no rational basis whatsoever, and was frankly comical. I’ve even given this kink in my personality a name: the Aardvark Complex. (more…)
Sat 7 Oct 2006
Posted by vinthou,
56 years-old, male, caucasian-european, christian, born in Kenya, living in Canada. Male Genital Cutting
, My MGC
I was born in a small hospital in a British Colony in Africa. Shortly after, my mother consented to have me circumcised. My parents were essentialy of British descent, and not being a particularly modest family, I later learned that my father had been circumcised also. I can recall no mention of circumcision in my preschool years, and indeed was not aware of any other kind of penis. However, I do remember one occasion, when my brother and I were splashing around in the bathtub.
My mother was in the room with another lady (who I now think was her younger cousin). I heard her remark that she thought the doctor had done a “neater job” on me. I am fairly sure that my brother got a looser cut. Of course, at the time, I had no idea what she was talking about. Her cousin, incidentaly, had a boy some years later and left him intact.
We lived on a fairly remote farm, and at the age of 6, I was sent to a boarding school. The shower rooms were completely communal, with no privacy whatsoever. That first night was when I discovered that a lot of the other boys had a penis that did not resemble my own. It was clear that something was missing from mine, and I was very curious about this. I vividly remember , one night after ‘lights out’, when a friend and I were standing in the doorway to our dormitory, in the light of the hallway, staring down at our denuded penii wondering out loud to each other “What happened to us ?”. He had a theory that our foreskins had been removed because we peed too often. Kid’s logic? I envied those boys who were intact. From that point on I was very curious about penii, circumcision and foreskins. I must have felt too shy to question my mother, so I looked up these words in every dictionary I could find, and right on into adulthood, I searched for information in every library I came across. Of course, I found virtualy nothing until the early ’90s when I located Rosemary Romberg’s book “The Painful Dilemma”. This was a revelation.
When my youngest brother was born, I was 13 and away at school. He was about 1 1/2 months old when I came home and I remember watching my mother bathing him. She must have sensed that an explanation was in order, and told me that he, too, had been circumcised on the advice of her father (who had been born in Ireland in 1888, and passed away a few years earlier). Apparently my Grandfather had told my mother that at the age of 12 his foreskin had gotten so tight that he could not pee, and he had to be circumcised. His advice was to do the procedure in infancy rather than possibly later on.
At the time this explanation made absolutely no sense to me at all, but I have come to the conclusion that , maybe , he suffered a paraphimosis. Many years later, I again asked my mother why she had circumcised her sons, and I got the same answer. I often wonder if we would have escaped loosing our foreskins if my grandfather had kept his mouth shut about his unfortunate experience. I wish I would have asked my father what his views were, as I suspect he would have been in the circumcised minority during his years in boarding school in the twenties and thirties.
Through my 12 years of boarding school I certainly had a few thoughts and observations. About a third of the boys were intact, yet I never saw a foreskin being retracted and it was not until my late teens that I learned of this feature. I was fascinated, and wished even more fervently that I had been left intact. I can recall at least three families in which one brother had been circumcised and the other left intact. I do not remember even one instance of teasing based on circumcision status, although one poor boy was teased for his unusualy large glans. His nickname was Topheavy. I don’t remember being self-conscious about my circumcised state, as I had lots of company, but I did become very adept at ‘hiding’ myself in those communal showers because puberty came extremely late for me. It was mental agony.
Since the advent of the internet, much of my curiosity has been satisfied, but as I have learned that there is absolutely no valid reason for anyone to loose their foreskin, I have become even more angry that I was a victim of this barbaric custom. I remember when I was younger and could experience exquisite feelings from the remnants of my inner foreskin and frenulum. Now, in my mid fifties, alas, these are just a memory. I do not feel much of anything any more. I read of intact men almost passing out from the intensity of their orgasms. Mine were never like that. Every time I look at my penis, with it’s bare glans, I feel disappointment. Some of the papers published on pain response have been very interesting too. In my earlier years at school, they would line the whole school up for injections such as polio shots. I would be in tears long before they ever got near me with a needle. To this day I am terrified of anything surgical, and have a distrust of the medical profession.
Circumcision has been a major concern all my life, and I am sure that the effects are much more diverse and far reaching than we could possibly imagine. I fervently believe that it is both ethicaly and morally wrong to subject anyone to this procedure, except for a fully informed and consenting adult.
Sun 24 Sep 2006
Posted by mistere,
28 years-old, male, caucasian-european, agnostic, born in United States, living in United States. Male Genital Cutting
, My MGC
The first time I heard the word circumcision was when I was still a young child, it was mentioned on TV for some reason that I cannot remember. When I asked what it meant my mother told me, “Just a tiny little piece of skin cut off the penis, you were circumcised.” I felt my jaw drop to the floor and my eyes get as big as saucers at this news. She then said “Oh don’t worry, it’s nothing. Your dad is circumcised too. Just a little useless piece of skin.” I still had the feeling in my gut that something was off, but my concerns were dispelled for the time being.
Fast forward to Middle School and the best friend I ever had. We’d talk about anything and everything and were as close as 2 straight men would ever want to get. One night when he slept over we did a little compare, he must have had a short foreskin or been partially erect because the only difference I noticed (besides the fact that he was bigger and still is) was that his glans had a sheen that mine lacked. When I pointed this out he said it was because he had never been circumcised. There’s that word again… but I didn’t continue this line of questioning and we sat down to play video games. Besides, there was no internet back then to do research on the subject.
The real epiphany came after I became old enough to legally purchase porn. In the first scene of an amateur audition the girl comments, “Uncircumcised, hmm?” as she peels back a tube of skin from the guy’s penis revealing a bright pink and very shiny glans before commencing oral sex. That was enough, I had to find out what was going on here. By that point the internet had taken off and I immediately logged on and typed circumcision into a search engine, and it changed my life forever. There it was, “…keeps the glans covered and lubricated, nerves and receptors, diminished sensations, medically unnecessary.” I felt sick. I was in complete and utter shock. For the next few days I spent hours on the net finding out everything I could about the subject. The self pity permeated my life, “Why did they do this to me, they had to know it would destroy my sex life?” It was time to talk to mom and dad.
As I expressed my outrage at what had been done to me at birth without my consent, my mother would say that all male babies were being circumcised at that time; it was automatic. She would also say that it was necessary to avoid the problems that would come up with 100% certainty if I retained my foreskin, making it sound like male babies were born broken and had to be fixed at birth. My father (a good and loving man) said nothing and kept his eyes averted. Clearly uncomfortable and surely never expecting to be confronted with this. As my mother and I volleyed back and forth the one thing I never heard anyone say is, “I’m sorry,” or “I’m sorry that they did that to you.” That day my feelings towards my parents were forever changed, they are still my family but there is a distance in my heart that remains.
To this very day I find it hard to accept the loss of my foreskin. They say you can’t miss what you never had, but what do they know? I can only imagine what it would have felt like, but I know what it feels like now. As I age I find myself experiencing the penile numbing described in other men’s stories. The responsive organ and mind blowing orgams of my youth seem to be gone now, rushing to orgasm seems to be my goal now. I had read in another man’s story about feeling helpless in sexual situations, and tracing the cause to circumcision through primal scream therapy. I have had those same feelings, and now I know why. It makes sense when you’re still an infant and the first time someone pays attention to your genitals is to skin it alive. Knowing I have been brutally altered in this way also causes me resentment towards women since they apparently are protected from this, and men are apparently not worthy of such protection.
I have been told, “What’s the big deal? There’s nothing wrong with it.” Although I have been spared the skin bridges and excessive scarring that are the complications of “routine” circumcision, it is still a mutiliation and a violation and is still a life altering event. When my cousin had her boy a few years back, she had him circumcised shortly after birth. I said to her “Why the hell would you do that?” She replied, “Better to get it over with now then when he’s older.” I said nothing, just gave her a sideways look. There was no point. Society is still populated with mindless sheep and die-hard fans of penis chopping. I am, and forever will be a victim of their unbridled stupidity. I am ashamed to be a human being.
Sun 3 Sep 2006
Posted by Steven Saunders,
male, african, born in United States, living in United States. Male Genital Cutting
, Other's MGC
On July 1st, 2004, my Wife and I welcomed a healthy 7lb, 10oz. baby Boy into the world. A few days after the birth of our Son, we took him back to the hospital to get a circumcision. My Wife could not watch the procedure so I stayed in the examination room with my Son while the procedure was being done. I watched as the Doctor stuck a needle into my Sons penis with anesthetic to numb him from the pain and put this metal contraption on it to hold back the foreskin for circumcision. My Son wailed like a banshee in pain and it was an incredibly heartbreaking procedure to witness. Part of my heartbreak was that my Son’s arms were bound to his side and he could not move. After it was over, I gave him a bottle and he seemed to calm down right away.
I’m telling you this to lead up to what is somewhat bothering me. I read an MSN article entitled, ‘Mohels to Mozambique’, which talked about the issues concerning circumcision, which mentioned how Dan Bollinger had flashbacks of his circumcision even though he was only a few days old. They made it seem like that was a ridiculous notion because at that age it was “biologically impossible”. Well, I believe it 100% because that seems to be an issue with my Son.
He just turned 2, and from the moment he received his circumcision until now, he does not like his Mother or myself to touch anywhere near his penis. If we need to wipe him while changing his diaper or clean him in that area when he gets a bath, he
makes a fuss, sometimes cry, or may just try to block you from touching his penis or the undercarriage at all. Myself or my Wife is with him 90% of time so we are positive that he has not been touched down there inappropriately by friends, family members, or childcare personnel. First of all because we dont have him around anyone who has that type of history, secondly, because we had him checked out at our family pediatrician, and thirdly, because he has disliked any kind of touching in that area since
So, I strongly believe that people can have flashbacks. I cannot explain any other reason why my Son hates any kind of attention to his genitals, except that he has some kind of memory of the horrible pain he experienced while getting his
circumcision. Of course, the article went on to talk about how more and doctors are not advocating circumcisions like they used to and how the benifits are “not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcisions”, and that, it is an unnecessary procedure that has no known positive bearing on a Man’s life.
After all is said and done, I am glad that my Son was circumcised. What I don’t like is the fact that my Son may still have some residual memory of the experience he had at the hands of his pediatrician. It could have been a bad experince because the doctor may not have given him enough anesthetic, cut him wrong, or just the experience itself. Who knows?
My reason for this letter is to say that I do believe that men may have flashbacks because of the reaction my Wife and I get when we are near our Son’s genitals, and to say that I do not believe it is “biologically impossible.”
Sat 2 Sep 2006
Posted by Rosemary Romberg,
59 years-old, female, caucasian-european, christian, born in United States, living in United States. Male Genital Cutting
, Other's MGC
I was an expectant mother for the first time, in 1972. I was 25, college educated, but still incredibly naive about birth and babies. Maybe I was a little more motivated than others to educate myself about everything I possibly could. So I attended La Leche League meetings. I took Lamaze classes. I read everything I could, which was a paucity compared to what is available now. I thought I had educated myself about everything I could possibly know about having a baby. But circumcision was a blank spot.
The only thing I knew was that my husband was Jewish; I am not Jewish. Jewish males were “always circumcised”, so if our baby was a boy, he should be circumcised. A lot of people blame women for perpetuating it. But I know for a fact that the majority of American mothers, especially back then, don’t really know what circumcision and non-circumcision is. The word “circumcision” sounds good.
When I was in the hospital in labor I remember them handing me a circumcision form to sign, and all I can remember thinking was “Isn’t that strange that they are giving me this now when we don’t know if the baby is a boy or a girl?” I signed it.
The baby was born later that night and we named him Eric. I did not think about circumcision again until we went home two days later. The nurse pointed out his circumcision. I remember his penis was a little bit red and sore at the end. I was given a little tube of Vaseline and instructed in how to care for it.
After we got home, I did find that he screamed every time his diaper was changed. The rest of the time he was fine and he nursed well and he slept. I thought, “Well, maybe all babies do this. I wonder why he doesn’t like his diaper to be changed. He doesn’t like to be messed with.” Looking back on it, it was not as much a pain cry as it was a mad cry. It was “Waah, waah, waah!!” A very harsh, angry cry. And this persisted with every diaper change for about the first three weeks of his life - longer of course than it took the circumcision wound itself to heal up. But I went on with it. I did successfully breastfeed. I formed a happy relationship with my child. I never thought about the circumcision again. Maybe ignorance was bliss from my perspective back then.
I had our second son in 1974. I had a much better hospital birth experience. I had rooming in. I had the immediate contact with the baby that I had missed out on the first time. Our son’s name was Jason. The following morning after the baby was born the doctor came in to circumcise the baby. It was an interesting situation because it was a new hospital and Jason and I were the only patients there. The circumcision room was right across the hall, within earshot. So I was feeling very apprehensive thinking “Oh, no, I’m going to hear a lot of screaming and I’ll know that’s my baby because my baby’s the only one here.” It had never occurred to me not to have it done.
About 15 minutes later the doctor brought the baby back to me. Although I had been expecting to hear a lot of crying I didn’t hear much noise. The baby had spit up a little bit when it was over, so I didn’t think much about it until many years later. Last summer my son, who is now 14, slammed his finger in a car door. I did some observation of his reaction. I was watching how he reacted to this. Instead of yelling and screaming he was “uhhhh”, and going on and on like that for several minutes from the pain without crying out, perhaps just as he had done at his circumcision.
Two and a half years later we had another baby. During my pregnancy every time the subject of circumcision would come up I’d say, “Well, this baby’s going to be our girl and that won’t apply to me.” Then all of a sudden we had this beautiful little boy and, kind of, - the decision had been made. One day during my pregnancy I did bring up the idea to my husband that maybe it would be nice not to have a baby boy circumcised if we did have a boy. And he immediately said “Oh, no, they can get terrible infections.” I had always figured our sons were circumcised because Steve was Jewish. But we had never talked about it. He said, “Oh, being Jewish wasn’t important to me.” (in terms of circumcision.) It wasn’t a religious thing with him. It was like getting their immunization shots. “…They can get terrible infections if they are not circumcised.” So I backed down.
After the baby was born it seemed like we had a beautiful first seven days and then all of a sudden I found myself driving to this doctor’s office a week later. My husband had made the appointment. I met him there. It was for the baby’s circumcision. I remember sitting in the doctor’s office holding my sleeping, peaceful, beautiful newborn baby that had never been separated from me for the whole first week of his life. He had not been through any typical hospital traumatic procedures. My stomach just felt like a lump of lead as I was thinking, “I just don’t want to do this. This is wrong!” The next thing I knew we were relinquishing our baby to the doctor and then we were being shoved out of the building. I’d assumed we’d stay there. I want to stay with my children for the medical things that they have to go through, but we were being shoved out of the building and were kind of stunned and helpless and making silly jokes and small talk, until I could stand it no longer. I went back into the building and the whole doctor’s office was just filled with our baby’s screams. We walked into the room and our baby was lying there. There was blood on the diaper, - he was screaming. The end of his penis was raw and bloody. With my first two sons it had seemed as if they had been born that way, with all the awareness I gave it. But this baby had not been born that way. I felt that we had something very beautiful and very special and very rare in a home born baby, and we ruined it. That was destroyed.
I attempted to nurse the baby, and soon, mercifully he fell asleep, which we now know is a very deep, abnormal type of sleep, a common response to the stress of circumcision. I brought the baby home, he was wailing again. But I was able to put him down and he slept for two or three hours. He screamed again upon waking up, but then to be honest after he got up and after I nursed him, from then on he did not seem to be in any more stress. By that night he seemed to be back to normal. But these kind of things come crashing back and weeks later I was starting to have nightmares about it. I felt like something very beautiful had been shattered. I was going a little bit crazy. The baby was 3 and 4 months old and I was imagining that he was still in pain from it. I was not dealing with this well as a mother.
If you had come over the next day and asked me how the circumcision had gone, I probably would have said, “Oh yes, fine, the baby is fine.”
Why had I been so highly, unusually motivated to have this out of the hospital, at home birth, making everything non-traumatic for the baby? It was so important to me to not put any drops in the baby’s eyes. It was so important to me that the lights be dim and that we speak softly. And then I turn around and do this. It made no sense. Finally, after five months of this I woke up and said “I’m going to write a book!” It was not until I was a good 7 or 8 months into my research that I was fully convinced that circumcision was wrong and that there was no way that I could ever do this to another son.
Once again I was pregnant and the ultrasound confirmed I was carrying was a boy. And I’ve got to admit, even in my position - I’d spent seven and a half years writing this book, I was everybody’s resource person on circumcision, and well known throughout the world by this time as an opponent to routine circumcision, and yet there was this gut feeling inside of me of “uh-oh!” Like “This is it!” Theory was one thing. I’ve written a book. I’ve got all these papers and everything. But now I was going to have another little boy. Obviously I’d be the hypocrite of the century if I had my son circumcised after what I’ve been through, and no way could I ever put another baby through that. But there was still an unexplainable, maybe a little bit of panic that I’m going to be faced with - I will have an intact child, a child that is different from all the males on both my husband’s and my side of the family. After Kevin’s birth, it was very healing for me to have the eighth day of his life go by with nothing happening and the baby was still peaceful, and then he was nine days old, and nothing damaging had happened to him. That was a healing, turning point for me.
Excerpted from my speech at the 1st NOCIRC Symposium in 1989
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