Monday, November 3, 2014

Know Better, Do Better, and Save Others Along the Way

I spent my whole pregnancy researching the best ways to bring my son into this world with the minimum amount of stress.  I spent countless hours in creating the "perfect" birthing plan. Strategically planning how I was going to enforce delayed cord clamping and making sure we had our "golden hour".

Not once did I stop and think about the quick "yes" my husband and I gave during the 8 week pregnancy confirmation appointment. We didn't even give it a thought. I followed what others had done and based our decision on what my husband's penis looks like.

I had joined an uncensored mom group because of my modern way of mothering. I commented my views on circumcision not knowing how it was viewed in the group. I didn't know that there was a growing opposition within the United States and how the majority of the world leaves males intact.

I became more defensive with each bit of information I started receiving. I knew it was my guilt coming to the surface. I didn't want to see that I had made a mistake.

After repeatedly being told to watch a video I did. That was the worst night of my life. In the glow of my smartphone I wept uncontrollably. Hating myself and heartbroken. Angered that no one told me that it was cruel and unnecessary.

The day of my son's circumcision came back to me. I blocked out the look of terror and betrayal in his eyes. I remembered the lie the nurse fed me to make me feel better. The lie: "he didn't even cry". The sudden latching issues (or lack of) that began happening after his circumcision made sense.

I knew I could never correct the wrong I did to my son but I knew I could make up for it somehow. I began educating myself so I could educate others.

At first, I was only comfortable with speaking out against circumcision in private Facebook groups.

Then one day everything changed. I really wanted to start making a difference.  I shared my story on my Facebook page. I began planting the seed. From that moment, I haven't looked back and I keep moving forward.

I describe myself as an intactivist. I am gentle to my approach.  I've been there. I was ignorant.  I was misinformed.  I was uneducated. I live in a 80% circumcision rate area so there are rarely questions because no one ever thinks of asking them.

Each baby I save, I hate myself a little less. The regret becomes bearable.

Know better, do better and save others along the way.


If you'd like to share your story, please email it to

The Unnecessary Trauma My Son Endured

When I was pregnant, I struggled with the "do I want to circumcise my son" question. In my heart, I knew I didn't want to, but I had absolutely no one to support me. Everyone told me to do it or my son would hate me. I know I shouldn't have listened but I did, the pressure was so overwhelming that I thought my instincts were wrong and everyone else was right.

The pediatrician we picked refused to do circumcisions and while that should have been a red flag for me, I didn't think anything of it and had to get a referral to another clinic and wait until my son was 3 months old. Again, I struggled. I didn't want to, but was pressured to by everyone around me. Again, they made me feel I was wrong, my instincts were wrong.

At the clinic they reassured me everything would be fine. They took my little baby into the other room. I heard him screaming and I cried and cried. They brought him back to me and told me "he just wanted his mommy" like he wasn't in pain. Doctors lie to parents like this because no one wants to here their baby was in excruciating pain.

On the way home, my son would not stop screaming. It was so horrible and I knew then I made a horrible mistake. My instincts had been right all along and I should have listened to them!

When we finally got home, I went to change his diaper. There was blood everywhere. I freaked out of course. My son was still screaming and I immediately took him to the ER. They sent me to the doctor, right across the parking lot. I was outraged! My son was bleeding! Why weren't they seeing me? The doctor had to squeeze his penis (to apply pressure so it would stop bleeding) and CHEMICALLY BURN my poor baby boys penis to close the cut. The whole time (it took five whole minutes) he was looking at me as if saying "Help me mommy!" It was the worse day of my life. All it takes is 2 ounces of blood loss from a newborn for them to hemorrhage and pass.

I regret getting my son circumcised. Not just because I experienced trauma with it, but because my son went through such a horrific experience. I should have trusted my instincts. I took away HIS choice. My son survived but others aren't so lucky. Don't let your baby become another statistic.


If you have a story you'd like to share, email it to

Please watch this video on Infant and Child Deaths by Circumcision. They are grossly under reported and unchallenged.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Lauren's Story

Well, my first son, he's almost 5, was cut.

I just didn't even really think about it, I just thought it was something that we did to boys. I guess I believed the "cleaner" myth, but I really didn't give it much thought. This wasn't like me, I'm very cynical and usually question EVERYTHING. I spent hours upon hours researching vaccines, but didn't give a second thought to cutting a part of my son off?! It was all I knew...

My husband was cut so I figured what could be wrong, he was "fine" right? I remember after he came back from being cut, he had a lot of bleeding and the nurses had to keep checking on him. In my euphoric after birth state, I still didn't realize what I had done. I remember the hospital showing us a video on "purple crying" but nothing informing us about the unnecessary, damaging surgery they were about to put him through.

I didn't have when I was pregnant with him, it wasn't until about three months after he was born that I opened up a account. I remember being on a "mommy page", it was probably a thread about vaccines, and I remember someone bringing up circumcision and referring to it as mutilation.

THAT was my lightbulb moment! 

 I MUTILATED my boy, huh? I started researching, I watched a video and the sickness in my stomach has never really subsided from what I allowed to happen to him. I felt very angry for a long time. Angry at the doctor that did it and angry that no one said anything to me or informed me and I even felt a little anger towards my husband because I felt like if he wasn't cut I would have questioned it. I know it's not his fault though.

Fast forward to when my son was about 3 1/2, he was diagnosed with Meatal Stenosis. No wonder we had such issues with potty learning. He had the corrective surgery last June at 4 years old. His diagnosis compelled me even more to speak out about this.

My second son who is now 18 months is intact and hasn't had ANY issues. It's so easy to care for. I look at him and he looks so normal and natural, and my first son looks mutilated because he was, and it has changed both of our worlds FOREVER, and I'm SO sorry.

 Lauren Meyer Intactivist

"My Own Story"

by Rosemary Romberg

When children are born and people grow up in this world, we expect each individual to keep all parts of his or her body. All people have hands and feet, fingers and toes, noses and ears. People are unquestionably accorded that basic right. Most people would be aghast at the idea that any individual should be unwittingly deprived of any part of his or her body. People without their expected body parts are usually regarded as unusual.

Our feelings toward tiny babies inspire emotions of tenderness and protection. Babies are to cuddle and hold, to he kept secure in their parents’ arms. Babies should nurse (preferably) at their mother’s breast and sleep peacefully, safe and secure from any harm. Parents want to protect their infants from any unnecessary pain, discomfort, or unhappiness. The idea of cutting, pinching, or tearing the baby’s skin, of injuring that baby, causing him to experience pain, crying, or bleeding, is totally against what most parents want for their infants.

In the United States people make one glaring exception to these “rules” in that the foreskin of the penis of most newborn baby boys is routinely amputated shortly after birth. Most American baby boys undergo the following procedure: The infant is placed on his back in a plastic “Circumstraint” tray where his arms and legs are strapped down. Paper drapes are then placed over him with a hole where his penis is exposed. A hemostat is applied to the tip of the foreskin to crush it and then a slit is made to enlarge it. The operator then takes a small instrument and goes inside to free the foreskin from the glans of the penis – essentially tearing one layer of skin away from another since at birth the foreskin is normally adhered to the glans. A small protective “bell” is placed over the glans and under the foreskin. By one method a metal clamp is placed over the foreskin and left in place for several minutes. Then the foreskin is cut off and the clamp removed. By another method a string is tied tightly over the foreskin and the plastic bell. Then some of the foreskin in front of the string is trimmed away. The handle of the bell is removed and the ring of plastic remains in place around the end of the penis. The remaining foreskin atrophies (dries up) within approximately one week and the plastic ring then falls off.

In most cases this is done to the infant without anesthesia, although when the same operation is performed on an older child or an adult it is considered painful enough to warrant an anesthetic.

As an American middle class woman I had always thought penises were supposed to look a certain way with the exposed rounded “head” at the end. It never occurred to me that anything had been changed or cut off to make them appear that way. As far as I knew males were born with penises that looked like that. I had heard of the term ”circumcision” and knew vaguely that it had something to do with the penis and that the Bible said some things about it. However, this was something that I never questioned, thought about, or really understood.

I am a person who seeks to educate and prepare myself for every experience in whatever way possible. Therefore in 1972, when my husband and I were expecting our first child, I read books, asked questions, watched films, and attended classes in natural childbirth. I believed that I knew everything that I needed to know about pregnancy, birth, and care of the new baby.

I gave birth to our first child, a son, by the Lamaze method, and successfully nursed him. However, I gave birth in a traditional hospital in which the baby was separated from me, kept in a central nursery, and brought to me on a four hour feeding schedule. Therefore I had little knowledge or control over what was being done to my baby.

When the baby and I came home and I first began changing his diapers, I found that he too had a penis in the style and shape to which I was culturally accustomed, with the rounded glans exposed. The end of the baby’s penis was bright red for the first few days, but soon healed. The baby screamed every time his diaper was changed. Being a naive new mother, I had no idea why diaper changing upset him so much. Perhaps all babies did that. I never gave the appearance of my baby’s penis any concern.

Shortly after our baby’s birth I became a childbirth instructor and soon enjoyed the challenges and rewards of educating other expectant parents about pregnancy, birth and infant care.

Two and a half years later, in 1974, our second son was born in another hospital, again by the Lamaze method. This birth experience included several progressive practices such as rooming in. I was also more aware of the baby undergoing circumcision. The morning following his birth the doctor came by, took the baby to another room where he cut off his foreskin and brought him back to me about 15 minutes later. Although I expected that the procedure would be painful for the baby it never occurred to me not to have it done. This baby also now had a penis in the style which seemed normal to me. The new baby’s penis healed within a few days and I forgot about it.

Two years later after our second son’s birth I again became pregnant. During this time I underwent a tremendous amount of change in my thinking about what I wanted for this birth and baby. We made the unconventional and daring (for that time and place) decision to go outside the traditional medical system, seek the services of a lay midwife and give birth at home. I was intrigued with Dr. Frederick Leboyer’s philosophy of Birth Without Violence and wanted to use some of these practices for our baby’s birth. I read that the baby who is welcomed into the world in this manner is calmer and more peaceful than the baby who is born to conventional bright lights, loud noises and rough handling. Our first two sons were fussy and cried a great deal as new babies so I was very much interested in trying a different approach for our new baby’s birth.

We made plans to use only dim lighting when our baby was born. We would hold massage and speak softly to our new baby and welcome him into the world with gentleness and love. We would delay the clamping of the umbilical cord. No silver nitrate or other chemicals would be placed in the baby’s eyes .

During this time I also took additional training as a childbirth instructor in preparation for teaching more technical classes for people planning home births. I did extensive studying in many areas of obstetrics and newborn care. I considered myself more educated and knowledgeable about all aspects of pregnancy birth and baby care than most new parents.

The idea occurred to me that if our new baby was a boy, perhaps he should not be circumcised. However, I knew practically nothing about it. None of our doctors ever gave us any information about the operation – pros, cons, why or how it was done. Although mothers regularly discuss at length all aspects of pregnancy, birth, and infant care, I had rarely heard anyone else talk about circumcision. While I regularly discussed in detail such things as nutrition, breastfeeding, exercises, breathing techniques, and postpartum care in my Lamaze classes, it never occurred to me to discuss circumcision. Despite my extensive knowledge in many other areas, and my wholehearted desire to do the very best for my children, my awareness of circumcision consisted of nothing more than a basic concept that that was the way that penises were supposed to look and a vague idea that it was somehow supposed to be cleaner.

Early one morning in April of 1977, our third little son came into the world in the peace and comfort of our home. He coughed, sputtered, then breathed quietly as he emerged into dim light and was placed on my tummy to be massaged, comforted, and held close to me. Babies do not have to do a lot of screaming to announce their arrival into the world. There is a profound difference in the experience of birth and the nature of the baby when he is welcomed into the world in this manner. During the next few days our new son nursed contentedly, slept peacefully, and rarely cried. He had a peacefulness and serenity that I had never known with my first two babies – something very special and rare.

Another thing that was different about this baby was that he had a penis that was straight and long, coming to a point at the end. While I had always thought that intact penises looked “strange”, this baby’s penis seemed normal and natural the way it was. The first few days of our new baby’s life were peaceful and joyous and our new little son was whole and perfect.

What incomprehensible force brought me from this beautiful, untraumatized birth at home to a strange doctor’s office one week later – sitting there frightened and reluctant, holding my sleeping, peacefully trusting newborn infant? “He shouldn’t be different from his brothers or father.” “I’m afraid he’ll have problems.” “Our relatives would object if we didn’t have it done.” All these thoughts went through my head, while all the while I wanted so much to protect my baby from any harm .

My husband and I found ourselves relinquishing our baby and leaving the building. When we returned about 15 minutes later the office was filled with our baby’s screams! I found our precious baby on the doctor’s operating table with a penis that was cut, raw and bright red! I remembered his brothers’ penises looking that way, but while they, to me, seemed to have been born that way, this baby had definitely been injured, damaged, and traumatized! My maternal protective instincts had been violated! I immediately held and nursed him, trying to relieve his pitiful screams. Soon he mercifully fell asleep and I took him home. I felt like I had brought home a different baby. His tense, agonized little body reminded me of the way his brothers had been as newborns. Within a few days the redness around the end of his penis healed. But this time I was not about to forget! The trauma and torture that was inflicted upon this tiny, helpless little being was to come back and haunt me again and again.  From this sprang my quest to do extensive research for my book Circumcision: The Painful Dilemma which was published in 1985 by Bergin & Garvey, S. Hadley, MA.

TrininAs emotionally difficult as my own baby’s circumcision was, I still began my research with a neutral stand on the subject.  My sole concern was that the operation was so painful for a baby.  My American middle class upbringing had led me to believe that circumcision conferred a number of health benefits on the individual.  As a result of my research I have become opposed to infant circumcision.  None of the popular myths about circumcision are valid.  The startling facts I have unearthed all stack up overwhelmingly against the operation.

The practice of male genital mutilation – of drawing blood from, causing pain to, and changing the appearance of the penis find its origins in prehistoric times.  It is not known where, how, why, or with what group of people the practice began.  Several possible explanations have been offered as reasons for circumcision.  Among these are blood sacrifice, an initiation rite in which it was a test of torture and pain by which young boys “became men”, a fertility ritual, a means of subjection to torture and humiliation on conquered enemies and slaves, a means of purification that accompanied shaving of all body hair, a means of diminishing sexual desires, and an expression of envy of the female menstrual process.  For some peoples what has been labeled as circumcision actually consisted of a gashing of the foreskin rather than a complete amputation as we know it today.  It is clear that explanations such as cleanliness or cosmetic value had nothing to do with the operation’s primitive origins. Female circumcision, which is repugnant to the Western mind, but is still practiced in other parts of the world, originated in much the same manner as did male genital mutilation. Rarely has circumcision been the personal choice of the individual. However, with the exception of the Jewish culture/religion and the present day American medical profession, extremely few peoples have ever performed circumcisions on babies. (1., 2., 3.)

In Western society, since the time of early Christianity when St. Paul declared circumcision unnecessary to conversion to the Christian faith, it was rare for non-Jewish or non-Muslim people to be circumcised until the late 1800’s. The practice, as an American medical fad arose out of the anti-masturbation hysteria of the Victorian era. (4., 5., 6.) People feared that if a boy had his foreskin he would learn to masturbate while washing his penis. At that time it was believed that masturbation led to insanity. Today most people accept the fact that masturbation is physically harmless and that circumcised individuals certainly do masturbate. Yet American parents continue to accept the operation as appropriate for their infant sons, knowing little or nothing as to why or how the practice originated.

During the 1920’s and 30’s many articles appeared in American medical publications advocating infant circumcision on the grounds that lack of foreskin would somehow prevent cancer of the penis and the female uterine cervix. Since the rates of these diseases are low among Jewish and Moslem people, both of whom practice male circumcision, many authorities concluded that circumcision must prevent these diseases. However, upon comparing the rates of penile cancer among America’s (mostly circumcised) and Europe’s (nearly entirely intact) males, one find that the rates of this disease in Europe are as low or lower than in the United States. (7.) Among American non-Jewish women, when comparing those married to circumcised men and those with intact husbands, studies have found no differences in the rates of cancer of the cervix. (8., 9.,) Clearly other significant factors are related to both of these diseases and circumcision is not justified as a cancer preventative.

There have been many astonishing and tragic complications of the operation. Infants have hemorrhaged and developed severe infections of the circumcision wound. Plastic surgery has been required when too much skin was removed or the glans or penile shaft was accidentally damaged. Occasionally troublesome cysts, fistulas, and keloid formations have developed at the site of the circumcision wound. (10., 11., 12., 13., & 14.) There are documented cases of infants who were born male but were raised as females as a result of total loss of the penis due to complications of circumcision. (15.)

The most common complication of circumcision is called meatal ulceration. The exposed glans, without protective foreskin, develops painful urine burns from contact with wet diapers. (16., 17., 18.) My own sons had this problem. Our doctors never advised us that this was a complication of circumcision. Probably they did not know this.

Many people choose not to believe that the newborn infant feels any pain when his foreskin is smashed, slit, torn back from the glans, clamped and cut off. Circumcision, in its primitive origins, was often deliberately intended to be a means of torture and a test of endurance in adolescent initiation rites. We think of that as Barbaric, yet regularly do the same thing to babies. There have been no documented studies to support the popular assumption that babies have little or no feelings. Curiously, the earliest modern writings on infant circumcision, those that appeared in medical publications around the beginning of the 20th century, were full of concern for the feelings of the helpless infant. (19., 20.) The belief that infants feel no pain came about years later during the 1920’s, 30’s, and 40’s, during an era that advocated bottle feeding instead of nursing, rigid schedules, separation from mother and baby following birth, and rigid toilet training. Parents were warned not to rock, hold, or cuddle their babies for fear that they would “spoil” them. Popular attitudes and practices during that time totally ignored the baby’s feelings and needs in many different areas.

Recent scientifically controlled studies on the reactions of newborns to being circumcised have revealed that the infant characteristically lapses into a deep, semi-coma, non-rapid-eye movement type of sleep which is an abnormal sleep pattern for newborn infants. This is clearly a stress-withdrawal reaction. (21.) Because some babies do not cry out in response to being circumcised, but instead lapse into this deep sleep, some observers have falsely believed that the operation is not painful for infants.

Another study, attempting to evaluate gender differences among newborn infants, found that boy babies were generally fussier and more restless than baby girls. However, it was found that the greater fussiness on the part of the baby boys was due to recent circumcision – not gender When the study was repeated, using only non-circumcised newborn boys, no behavioral differences between girl and boy babies were found. (22.)

Today, many American parents and doctors are becoming aware of these facts. There is a growing trend against choosing infant circumcision, which is following the recent trend towards natural childbirth and breastfeeding. Many parents do not wish to have their infants experience such a painful ordeal as circumcision. Also there is a growing acceptance of the fact that the body is designed correctly as it normally comes into the world and does not need to be surgically made different. Another facet of the issue is that of individual human rights. Many are questioning the ethics of altering another person’s body in this manner without his permission, especially in the absence of medical and even religious indications. Many parents are realizing that their child’s foreskin is rightfully his, and by consenting to circumcision they are causing the destruction of a valuable and useful part of his body. Parents should be aware that there are a substantial number of men who do resent the fact that a part of their body was cut off and that they had no say in the matter .

Some parents still do choose circumcision for their infant sons. Usually these reasons are vague and uninformed. Many have accepted it as an automatic medical procedure when giving birth in a hospital or have believed that they had to have it done. Some believe that circumcision is important for cleanliness just as people in other countries believe that female circumcision somehow makes women cleaner. Some people are turned off when they hear that smegma collects under the foreskin and must be washed away. However, smegma is the same substance that collects on the genitals of women and girls and normally gets washed away on a regular basis. In our society we have running water and bathing facilities unparalleled to any other time or place in history. Like all other body parts, cleanliness of the intact penis is not difficult or complicated. In contrast to the myriad dirty diapers, runny noses and spit up that all parents must attend to regularly, care of the baby’s penis is an extremely minor concern.

Some parents worry that their son will be different from other boys if he is not circumcised, or feel that he should match his already circumcised father or older brother(s). However, with the growing trend to choose against circumcision, the intact boy born today should have plenty of peers who also have foreskins. Many intact males have enjoyed their individuality. There are many families in which the father and son or different brothers don’t match. This does not appear to cause problems within the family.

Some parents fear that if their infant son is not circumcised he may have to have it done at a later age. Many people believe that the operation is more painful for someone who is older than it is for an infant. This belief is unfounded, and the likelihood that he will have to undergo circumcision for a medical reason is small. Undoubtedly some doctors prescribe circumcision for problems that can and should be corrected by less drastic means. Newborn babies do heal rapidly and do not normally require stitches for circumcision. However, older children and adults are given anesthesia for the operation, and most importantly are able to understand what is being done to their bodies. If a boy or man chooses circumcision because he would simply rather be that way, then it is his body and he has made that decision for himself. Therefore, although he will certainly experience soreness, the operation should not be emotionally traumatic.

Certainly people’s religious beliefs must be respected. The majority of devout Jewish people believe that circumcision of their infant sons is an expression of their “covenant with God.” Yet today even many Jewish people question this aspect of their faith, considering it merely a tradition, or like the other American parents, simply accept it as a medical procedure. There are Jewish parents who have chosen to leave their sons intact.

Many people, doctors included, do not understand the normal development and correct care of the infant’s foreskin. We have been led to believe that circumcision is cleaner and therefore believe that the care of the intact child’s penis is very difficult and complicated. Frequently doctors forcefully retract the infant’s foreskin during the hospital stay or at one of the baby’ s office visits. Parents are sometimes instructed to retract and clean under the baby’s foreskin every day. This practice is more traumatic to the baby than circumcision (since circumcision happens only once) and is what causes such problems as infections, phimosis (foreskin attached to the glans of the penis) and paraphimosis (foreskin retracted and cannot be replaced). We are having to be educated to leave the normally tight and non-retractable foreskin of the infant alone until it gradually loosens of its own accord which can take up to three or four years. (23., 24,)


Jozua – born in 2000 (after his parents read my book)

In 1980 I became pregnant with our fourth child. This time, based on my learning through all of my research, there was absolutely no question that if this child were a boy, he would keep his foreskin. In January of 1981 our daughter was born. Today as I care for my baby girl who is so sweet, pretty, and perfect, the idea of anyone cutting up her genitals, making her bleed, or hurting her in any way is totally repugnant to me! I am thankful that our society has not developed any medical fads that cause pain and anguish to baby girls! Perhaps some day soon American people will accord that same protection and respect to our boy babies as well.

- – – – – – – -

Update: In 1985 I gave birth to our fifth child and fourth son. He has been left intact. Even I, after years of research, activism, and writing my book, was surprised to learn how ridiculously simple the whole matter truly is. Correct care of an intact son requires virtually no thought or action at all.

    When Kevin was four I gave birth to our sixth and last child, another daughter. Why this baby did not have a penis required considerable explanation to a perplexed four year old boy.

    When he was 7 years old I explained to him what circumcision was all about and why his penis was different from his Daddy’s and his brothers’. (He had never asked about it, and I don’t think he had ever even noticed.) As opposed as I now am to circumcision, I left open the option for my son that he could have the operation done if he felt that he wanted to “match” the other males in our family. As I was telling him how some guys have the foreskin cut off, Kevin’s face took on a horrified, frightened expression! His eyes grew big and his hands were cupped over his genitals as he shouted emphatically: “No!! That is NEVER going to happen to ME!!!”

  Children grow up so fast! My son is now an adult, so now any matters concerning his personal space are no longer things for his mother to know (much less share over the internet!) Suffice it to say, he is a content and successful person who has inherited his mother’s penchant for deep thinking and pouring out his soul in written words. I feel wonderfully connected to each one of my children, but my youngest son and I do share a certain connection of intense soul sensitivity and awareness (a gift and a curse in one package!)

Sadly, our society glorifies athletes and ridicules intellectuals.  While growing up I endured the agony of woeful deficiency in simple athletic skills while easily excelling in academic classes.  Add shyness and social awkwardness qualifies one as an official “nerd” (hence “bully magnet!” – Here’s another potential book of mine that may be brewing.)  Now I’ve raised a family of “nerds.” (Isn’t that every mother’s dream? That’s what all of us mothers set out to do! :-) !!)  Kevin has needed glasses since age 4. His glasses wearing has been somewhat of a mark of “differentness” in our family and out in the world – but the state of his intimate parts has never (to my knowledge) been any issue.

When my son was 15 I approached the issue with him once again, asking him if he was okay with not having been circumcised like his older brothers and his dad. His response brought me a look from him like I had suddenly lost my mind as he responded “Why on earth would anybody care what my genitals look like?!!!” Apparently through years of scout camp excursions, overnights and gym class he has never paid any attention to the penile conditions of his friends. And despite the inevitable teasing that our family’s heritage of brains, glasses, and athletic ineptness brings, foreskin status has never been an issue.



1.   Bryk. Felix
Sex and Circumcision: A Study of Phallic Worship and Mutilation in
Men and Women
Brandon House, North Hollywood, CA., © 1967

2.   Loeb. E.M.
“The Blood Sacrifice Complex”
American Anthropological Association Memoirs, 30, p. 3-40 .

3.   Bettelheim, Bruno
“Symbolic Wounds” p. 230-240.
from Reader in Comparative Religion
Lessa, William A., & Vogt, Evon Z.
Harper & Row, Publishers, New York, 2nd Ed., © 1965

4.   Remondino, P.C.
History of Circumcision from Earliest Times to the Present
Ams Press, New York, © 1974
(original ed.) F.A. Davis Co. 1891

5.   Marcus, Irwin M., M.D., & Francis, John J., M.D.
Masturbation: From Infancy to Senescence
National Universities Press, Inc., N.Y. © 1975,
Ch. 16, “Authority and Masturbation”, p. 381-409,
by Spitz, Rene A., M.D.

6.   Barker-Benfield, G.J.
The Horrors of the Half Known Life
Harper Colophon Books, New York, © 1976.

7.   Persky, Lester, M.D.
“Epidemiology of Cancer of the Penis”
Recent Results of Cancer Research, Berlin, 1977, p. 97-109.

8.   Aitken-Swan, Jean, & Baird, D.
“Circumcision and Cancer of the Cervix”
British Journal of Cancer, Vol. 19, No 2, June 1965, p. 2 1 7-227 .

9.   Terris. Milton, M.D.; Wilson, Fitzpatrick, M.D., & Nelson, James H., Jr., M.D.
“Relation of Circumcision to Cancer of the Cervix “
American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Vol. 117, No. 8,
Dec. 15, 1973,  p. 1056-1066

10.  Gee, William F., M.D. & Ansell, Julian S., M.D.
“Neonatal Circumcision: A Ten-Year Overview: With Comparison of the
Gomco Clamp and the Plastibell Device.”
Pediatrics, Vol. 58, 1976, p. 824-827.

11.  Grimes, David A., M.D.
“Routine Circumcision of the Newborn Infant; A Reappraisal”
American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Vol. 130, No. 2,
Jan. 15,  1978, p. 125-129.

12.  Kaplan, George W., M.D.
“Circumcision – An Overview”
Current Problems in Pediatrics, Year Book Medical Publishers, Inc.,
Chicago, IL.,
Vol. 7, No. 5, March 1977.

13.  Limaye, Ramesh D., M.D. & Hancock, Reginald A., M .D.
“Penile Urethral Fistula as a Complication of Circumcision “
The Journal of Pediatrics, Vol. 72, No. 1, Jan. 1968, p. 105-106.

14.  Shulman, J., M.D., Ben-Hur, N., M.D.; & Neuman, Z., M.D. (Israel)
“Surgical Complications of Circumcision”
American Journal of Diseases of Children, Vol. 107,
Feb. 1961, p. 149-154.

15.  Money, John, Ph.D.
“Ablatio Penis, Normal Male Infant Sex-Reassigned as a Girl” *
Archives of Sexual Behavior, Vol. 4, No. 1, 1975, p. 65-71 .

(*The full story of this experience is related in detail in the recently published book:
Colapinto, John
As Nature Made Him
HarperCollins Publishers, NY., © 2000.)

16.  Mackenzie, A. Ranald, M.D.
“Meatal Ulceration Following Neonatal Circumcision”
Obstetrics and Gynecology, Vol. 28, No. 2, August 1966, p. 221-223.

17.  Freud, Paul, M.D.
The Ulcerated Urethral Meatus in Male Children”
The Journal of Pediatrics, Vol. 31, No. 2, August 1947, p.131-141.

18.  Brennemann, Joseph, M.D.
“The Ulcerated Meatus in the Circumcised Child”
American Journal of Diseases of Children, Vol. 21, 1920, p. 38-47.

19 .  DeLee, Joseph B., A.M ., M.D .
Obstetrics for Nurses
W.B. Saunders Co., Philadelphia, PA., 7th ed. 1924, (1st ed. 1901 ) p. 436-440.

20.  Valentine, Ferd C., M.D.
“Surgical Circumcision”
Journal A.M.A., March 16, 1901, p. 712-713.

21.  Emde, Robert N., M.D.; Harmon, Robert J., M.D.; Metcalf,
David, M.D.; Koenig, Kenneth L., M.D.; & Wagonfield, Samuel, M.D.
“Stress and Neonatal Sleep”
Psychosomatic Medicine, Vol. 33, No. 6, Nov.-Dec. 1971, p. 491-497.

22.  Richards, M.P.M.; Bernal, J.F.; & Brackbill, Yvonne
“Early Behavioral Differences: Gender or Circumcision?”
Developmental Psychobiology, Vol. 9, No. 1, 1976, p. 89-95 .

23.  Gairdner, Douglas, M.D.
“The Fate of the Foreskin – A Study of Circumcision”
British Medical Journal, Dec. 24, 1949, p. 1433-1437.

24.  Reichelderfer, Thomas E., M.D. & Fraga, Juan R., M.D.
reprint from Care of the Well Baby
by Shepard, Kenneth S., M.D. (ed.)
J.B. Lippencott Co., 1968, p. 10.

A Journey

To be a mother – bitter/sweet. Enlistment in the most daring life journey. A new path, filled with the ultimate joys and deepest sorrows at every turn. Our lives – never the same. Bliss intertwined with sadness – flowers growing, watered with our tears along the way.
The parturient days, full pregnant belly, ripe, bulging, ever awaiting, lusty with life.
Mother and Child by Pablo Picasso
Mother and Child by Pablo Picasso
Birthing rushes, like oceanic waves, first gentle and pulsating, then fierce and crashing. Not always “blissful” or “peaceful”, but victorious none the less.
In triumph, new life emerges. Baby announces – start of his/her journey on tremendous trip of life!
The flurry of medical rituals may be a background – some okay, others annoying, incongruous – all now just a blur.
New infant, rose-petal soft skin, snuggling, nuzzling for nourishment. New mother, exhaustion/ecstasy welded together in new experience.
Hair strands like finely spun silk on little round, perfect head. Newborn squeaking, sighing noises, sweet tunes like wind through the trees.
Newborn sweet perfume, the scent of purity, innocence, emergence. Wondrous, trusting little eyes now looking to us. All of our senses are open. Breasts now full and bulging.
Honey-sweet liquid nectar flowing from mother – providing sustenance, nutrition, the power to heal the universe, the juice of life.
But “fragile”, “delicate” – not us! We are the stronger sex.
The horror! The threat! Culture demanding blood, damage, attacking, menacing! Slicing through our idyllic experience like a jagged, angry knife. Baby screams! The blood! The trauma!
The picture damaged now, out of control, surrealistic, violated, contorted. The birth blissful world, now gone gray.
We can mend. We can survive, but never the same. We sew it back together with our hearts, but the scar remains forever.
Angry She-Bear
And the blissful mother-infant picture now morphs into the angry mother she-bear un-hesitant to rip to shreds the enemy that has threatened and damaged her young. We must survive! We will survive!


I wrote the above to paint a picture with words, figuratively using broad brush stokes to convey my own experience of the births and circumcisions of my older (now grown) sons – especially after the beautiful home birth of my third son in 1977. Although we survived, something beautiful and perfect was damaged, brought back to earth, in a sense “killed” by smashing the essence of the idyllic state we once knew. We are the regret parents of intactivism. We have seen the grotesque horror of circumcision face to face, heard our babies’ screams, and felt the heartbreak. Modern day intactivism has been watered and nurtured by our tears. We are among the strongest forces determined to put an end to this assault upon our young. We carry the dual image of the ever sweet, nurturing new mother and the angry she-bear emblazoned in our hearts. We will fight until we win!

What can we do? In the immediate aftermath with grief and horror still so fresh a dear friend said “stay in present time.” Focus on “right now.” The physical wound has healed. Infant pain now encapsulated in the past. Gruesome fact – there’s no time travel, no way to go back and undo what is done. Baby is still sweet and snuggly, suckling eagerly at my breast. (The wound in my heart remains – singed there forever!) Beautiful baby must heal me. I awaken from a distressing dream and tell my baby “I love you! I just made a mistake!”

I take my baby into the bathtub with me. Warm soothing water laps over both of us, warm like the tears I have shed. Baby suckles, relaxes, blissfully drifts to sleep. Like the magical post-birth moments when we first met, a semblance of that perfect birthing energy is now re-created as best we can. I too once felt ripping pain yet I’m still sweet and so are you. My path may not be right for every parent, but focusing on the positive moments can greatly heal. Cherish every goofy, magical little grin. Savor the snuggly moments as mother and child. Feast on the awesome blessings of life – the silent, ever strong majesty of trees, the pulsating power-chant of ocean waves, the glorious, ever-changing radiance of the sun setting, the sparkling intricate beauty and delicateness of a flower, the soothing, flowing liquid balm of exquisite music.

Our children grow. They refuse to stay babies. Life is mundane – filled with laundry and groceries. Life is an ever changing adventure of camping trips, soccer games and birthday parties. Life is also burdensome with endless toys and clutter, bouts of the flu, squabbling, tantrums, skinned knees and broken dishes. Parents’ choice – keep laughing or go insane!

Circumcision regret hovers in the background – a silent shadow. How could things have been different? The scar will never leave Three more babies come to me – a beautiful baby girl, another adorable boy, and yet another precious girl. (Two other little girls left me much too soon – another grief, a different story, emblazoned in my heart.) No more babies born to me are cut. Our people do not cut girls. (Girls do face a multitude of other traumas.) New little boy – how can he know how precious his new life is? 8 days old, gets to sleep and nurse peacefully. 9 days old – nothing bad has happened. Can he ever know the worlds that had to move to make his life be peaceful and his body be whole? Can he ever know his unharmed foreskin shakes generations of blindness to the core? Can he be my new baby boy all over again, re-fashioning the past, erasing the trauma?

No one is perfect. We all make mistakes. (The cruelty of infant circumcision – we have been lied to by culture, friends, relatives and the medical profession – yet as mothers, too often naive and confused, WE get blamed!) But our own parents made mistakes. Our children will make mistakes. Parents of intact sons will make other mistakes.

Love is the healing balm for every harm. Without love we are empty. Without love we die.

Our children teach us every day. They are ever strong, vibrant. We must hear them if we ever wish to learn. On TV I see a happy little girl, romping around, laughing and playing. This child had endured an unspeakable tragedy. She had been accidentally shot in the face. She had faced some 20+ surgeries to repair the destruction. No child should ever be hurt unnecessarily, of course. But their resiliency amazes us!

My first son, as a ever busy 22 month old toddler once grabbed a hot pot of freshly made tea, spilling it on his legs. I recall the frantic, agonizing morning at the doctor’s office, the doctor and I attempting to soothe him with ice, then antiseptic medication, and finally bandages covering his ankles to his thighs, my baby screaming the whole horrible time. A quick shot of Demerol and a trip back home gave him the blessing of sleep for the afternoon. I continued heavy hearted, certain that my baby wouldn’t walk or wish to move for weeks. To my great surprise and delight, my undaunted, unstoppable child woke up that evening and was soon running around through the house, climbing on furniture, laughing and giggling (bandaged legs and all)! The experience was of course traumatic, but our life lessons never cease.

When old patterns shatter, new worlds emerge.

If infant pain is now a bygone, maternal anger remains forever. As the angry she-bear my now bared claws attack the typewriter keyboard. As “the pen is mightier than the sword” so now “the keyboard and pounding hands are mightier than the clamp and knife.” I cannot live in a world that attacks the genitals of its young. I must change it. I have been given a writer’s soul and a mother’s and childbirth educator’s heart. The words flow out through my fingers. Healing essence flows with it through my heart. I reach out, wherever I can, to anyone who can listen. I am of the “baby boomer” generation. Social change seeking justice runs through our blood. Each word is written, sealed for all time, in my own blood. I will reach thousands and more, through history and through time, even after I have left this earth. Sweat pours from my brow. I take the pain into my own being so that future babies will be spared.

Each person’s path of creativity differs. Intactivism is an ever vibrant, healing, multi-dimensional group effort. I was never meant to be an “army of one” – however starry-eyed I once was. We are a many faceted community. Some lead protests. Some organize symposiums. Some speak out publicly. Some make posters and informational material. Some teach calmly. Others rage with righteous anger. We all have tremendous communal cooperation and energy. Joining the intactivist community provides a wonderfully healing journey. One finds amazing, incredible people, each one reflecting altruism – the saintly willingness to sacrifice oneself for the betterment of all humanity.

Yet stark reality continues to crash through my brain. My once beautiful, (damaged, but ever loved) home born baby now faces the brink of adulthood. His body now private, out of mother’s domain. A routine medical check up is needed for school and I catch a glimpse as the doctor examines him. The truth continues to smack me in the face. It is still a circumcised penis – even if right now he doesn’t care. I say nothing. Ever protective, I will not give him unneeded hang ups. But thousands of hours of writing, volumes of paper – letters and treatises, laundry baskets of mail hauled to the post office, a garage full of books, and even a new baby boy left whole refuses to change the fact.

Infancy flees by quickly. Traumatic events, however distant and vague in our memories, never cease to shape us. The pain of circumcision lurks eternally in our lives, even if never recognized. Like an angry mutation gone awry, ever duplicating itself on future generations. Only those awakened have the power to kill this vestige of a broken humanity It lurks as an ever haunting remnant of a world gone insane, living in terror of our creative life force – our sexuality, yet gladly embracing the power to destroy itself. Old absurdities can be abandoned to rot in the dust, but this destruction remains, carved into our bodies, ever present in our lovemaking. What could have been there? What is missing? We are all cut off. Our senses are blunted.

Children become adults, all too soon it seems. Their own sexuality – a realm far beyond parents’ reach. The only words available are “I’m sorry.” Repress the horror, survive in the fog of apathy, or face the horror and scream! But let it, oh please, let it die with you. Leave our grandsons to be free. Let humanity be healed.

By Rosemary Romberg

A story from:


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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Jessica's Story

My name is Jessica, and I'm 24 and have a 2yr old little boy. I'm also pregnant again, Yay! I was one of the uninformed mothers who thought and was told that mutilation was right and necessary and just meant to be because he was a male. I didn't do my research until my son was about 4 1/2 months old. I researched day and night and the truth was horrifying. I lived with my parents at the time and my stepfather constantly told me I was wrong for thinking I did the wrong thing and, "He's alive and healthy, right?" Inside my heart was breaking, and I couldn't talk to anyone about it without them saying I was literally nuts....  

 Know better, do better! I know people will judge but I feel like a lioness protecting her cub, and I am doing what I think is right. 

I do plan to sit my son down when I feel he is the right age and apologize to him simply for not being informed. If the baby I am pregnant with now happens to be a boy, I will keep him intact and explain later why they are different. My significant other worries my son will feel different, and I do too, but I explained to him that's no reason to cut our second baby if the baby is a boy, and also I refuse at all costs to circ again knowing what I know now. 

I would also explain that there is no need to feel weird or bad about himself because he looks different than his brother and also the same to my intact boy that he isn't weird because he looks different than his daddy does. That that is the way he is supposed to look but mommy was uninformed and didn't know any better. 

So, I still struggle with this everyday and I wish someone had come to me while I was pregnant with facts. I cry about it especially now being pregnant and emotional. I stare at him at bath time and during potty training and I can't help but hate myself for making such a final decision in my sons life.

He would cry every diaper change from birth until about 3 months old and I never understood why until I started researching. No one believed that was the reason why but as a mother, you just know and it was obvious but too late.

I am a regret mom but my son is still perfect despite being altered in such a barbaric way. I now educate moms and dads who are uninformed about circumcision and I always will.


email your circumcision regret story to:

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Truth of It

*names have been changed to protect the identity of the children*

Hi, my name is Mirabelle.
I did not think sharing my story would be helpful to me or anyone else; I thought my story to be rather mundane and boring.  While preparing to go meet a cousin’s newborn baby boy however, I realized that some part of my story may resonate with others and perhaps in the telling, I may too find some healing.  So thank you for reading my story to the end, since it is long. I hope that I make some points that help you on the journey that you are on, that so many of us are on, and that telling this part of my story here brings some healing.

I have four children: three boys and one girl.  My oldest was born just after I had turned 20 in a time before the internet or cell phones.  The labor was shockingly painful and I do not consider myself a wimp.  So much so that, at some point I decided that I would rather go home and let him grow up in the womb rather than try to deliver.  Needless to say Branden was born healthy a few hours later and I did not die.  I did however have a tear in my perineum that nearly entered the rectum and required over an hour of suturing.  What I got instead was about 30 min of suturing including two stitches into the rectum.  Despite my protests that I could feel the stitches into my rectum my doctor dismissed me and said that my cervical anesthesia was just wearing off.  When I could not sit in my hospital bed or lift my son from his bassinet, the nurses told me it was because it was my first child.  I could not walk upright, I had to lean on my IV cart bent over at about 45 degrees because my perineum would cramp badly and it felt like my organs were all going to slide out of me onto the floor.  At just over 20 years old there was a lot that I did not know and trusted my doctor and close family to help me figure out.  None of it seemed right, but I listened anyway, they should know, they deal with this all the time and they spent years studying it.  All I had to go on was basic anatomy and physiology knowledge and my instinct.

I do not remember giving permission for anyone to circumcise my son, though I must have, for they took him from me and returned him shortly after. I do not remember much more than that except that they used a plastibell and it seemed to make sense to me that it covered the glans and kept it from sticking to the diaper. (Why it did not occur to me that his foreskin was doing just that, protecting the glans from sticking to the diaper, before hand, I have no idea.) I do not remember it being very red or swollen, though I know now that it probably was. He did not seem to me to have much pain and had no trouble nursing. I thought I had done something that was in his best interest and made sure he was clean and that everything was healing well. I know now that he was probably in a lot of pain and he didn’t need the procedure at all.

After ten months of pain, difficulty having a bowel movement that actually made me afraid to eat, and complete lack of normal function, I decided to try to have corrective surgery on the badly repaired perineum. It was then that I found out that I was pregnant again. My marriage was falling apart and this was very distressing news. I made it through the pregnancy to term and delivered vaginally with the expectation that the doctor would do an episiotomy and excise the scar tissue and give me the repair that I needed to get normal function back. Once again, I did not get what I needed.  Although Samantha was born healthy and the delivery doctor did a good job on the repair, he did not cut me or remove anything, he let me tear in a whole new place.  Where before I had a scar a centimeter wide, now I had a new scar that was paper thin.   This is what a repair should look like, and feel like. I recovered in the normal six weeks and was astonished at the difference.

At three days old, however, Samantha became lethargic. I could not wake her for feeding and we rushed her to the emergency room. They needed to do a spinal tap in order to test her spinal fluid for meningitis. Six nurses stood around the table and curled her into a ball.  Having endured awful experiences myself at that point, I knew that I wanted to stay with her for every second. Nobody was going to give me a story about what went on in that room, I was going to know. I could not get near her, there were too many bodies. (Why I could not have been one of them or did not demand to be, I do not know. Respect for authority? Submission to the plan of those who are trained?) To watch while they held down my three day old baby and poked at her with a needle was the impossible for me. I could not stand to just stand there and watch her crying for her mother and not be able to do anything for her. I wanted to be calm when they were done and I was worried that I might start screaming at them, so I walked out. I left the room and kept walking until I could not hear her anymore. I was 22 years old, I had helped my mother take care of children my whole life and knew that there was nothing that I was going to do with my life more important than having and raising children and I could not stay in the room. I was not there for her. 

This brings me to my first point: We are the parents. We know our children better than anyone. We can make decisions for them based on what the trained persons tell us, combined with our own instincts and knowledge of our child, better than anyone else every day of the week. They work for us, they are not the boss of us or our children. We must be the advocate for the best interest for our children. What is best for them may not be what is best for everyone and what is best for most may not be what is best for our children. (Though I was beginning to understand this, this is not the point in the story where I truly understood it.)

Back to the story.  Samantha was admitted and had to stay for monitoring for a few days.  She was negative for meningitis but had some infection that was resolving on antibiotics.  I stayed the first night, but the condition of the sleeping arrangements for parents of a child in the NICU were terrible.  I could hardly move the next day.  I pumped instead for the next night and left her in the hospital.  She came home and recovered fully.  Three months later and several experimental treatments later, I was told that surgery was the last resort for my recovery and that it was time.  I agreed to a reconstructive surgery that would excise the scar tissue and hopefully alleviate the pain both vaginally and rectally.  (Yes I still had trouble two years later having a normal bowel movement.)

The prep for my surgery was very painful but I scrubbed as instructed and went in for the procedure.  Upon waking up from surgery, I said aloud that I was in pain and was told, “whining about it won’t help anything”.  I had removed my contacts and was groggy from the anesthesia, so I could not see anything but some vague shapes and colors and have no idea who spoke to me that way.  I immediately passed back out. While in recovery I was informed that there were “scratches” on the external anatomy and so….it was removed. (Say what? You cut off the labia!!? Because of “scratches”?!! Did you see that scrub brush you moron? I was told to scrub and I did!)  Ugh.  I asked my husband at the time if they came out and asked if they could remove it.  He said no.  The doctor said he was concerned that the scratches created a risk of infection but not to worry, they would grow back….  I thought “I’m not a starfish.”

I was allergic to the cream that had hormones in it to help grow back the labia, which I had never heard of. So I had lost ¾ on one side and ¼ on the other.  To reconstruct the perineum he had pulled tissue, nevermind, suffice it to say I felt disfigured.  At least it was in my pants and not my face.  And I was in more pain than before, deeper inside! At the follow up the doctor said “Well there is one other option…..”  (What! I thought surgery was the last resort!!)  I nearly jumped over the desk and choked him out.  Sigh.  I wanted to be a doctor, I understood that they were people.  They are human and make mistakes….I moved past it.  I went to biofeedback and found relief from the pain…the only thing that worked was connecting myself more fully with my own body, what a shocker.

My marriage ended and I was remarried years later.  I got pregnant on the wedding night.  It had been a long several years and my new husband had a prescription drug habit that I thought we were done with by the time we got married.  That was not so.  Three months into the pregnancy it was clear that the marriage was not going to come between him and the drugs. Things got very ugly and my doctor was concerned that my husband had the potential to kill me. (More women are killed by a man than by any other source and the rate is highest during pregnancy.)  I made it to term and Dylan was born through c-section one week early.  I was under a lot of stress and, still thinking it was needed and best for him, I had Dylan circumcised at his one week appointment. I stayed in the room and tried to help him. I wanted to be there for him. I wanted to make sure everything went the way it was supposed to and that he wasn’t scared.  He screamed the whole time.  He was inconsolable and Dad had to leave the room.  The doctor said it was just because he was strapped down, that he was fine.  Since he had started screaming the minute they put the straps on and never let up at all, I thought the doctor was right.  I pulled up my big girl panties and stayed there trying to soothe him.  He needed this to reduce his risk of penile cancer.  I did not want my son to die from that, I numbed myself so that he would be calmed by my calmness….WTF!!  This is something I had learned to do with Dylan, when baby is crying you have to remain calm, they can feel your tension etc. and they will not calm down if you are upset.  I had no idea that he was actually in terrible pain and there was no way I was going to help him unless I had stopped them.  I know about genital pain, I had lived with it, experienced it and am terribly afraid of it.  How did I not know!!? I was not his advocate, I did nothing to help him.  I was there and I did nothing.  (I need to stop for a moment)

Dylan is 7 years old now and he says he can remember that day.  They say the pain they endure during this procedure changes who they are.  I have no doubt that this is true.  He is different from the other two in a way that I do not think is explained by genetics or just difference in personality.  He was traumatized and it altered him.  He was never fearful of me changing him and did not have any further complications and I still did not know the truth, this is not where I learned the truth about circumcision.

Divorced again and having had my tubes tied, I met my husband.  He did not have any children and wanted one of his own and we agreed to have a reversal and get pregnant.  One try and we had it.  I was pregnant with what I was sure was a girl.  At the 20 week ultrasound they said I was having a boy and I was at a loss.  I actually went through a grieving process for the child I thought I knew.  It was a very confusing emotional time.  Although I was finally in a stable loving relationship, I was emotionally a wreck from the news that the connection that I thought I had was with a baby that did not exist.  I had started a home daycare and was working very long hours with children that were nearly impossible to handle and I think that compounded the situation.  In addition to this stress, I was having a flare up of problems from the delivery repair of Branden.  I knew that I would not be able to deal with the intense pain with every bowel movement that I was having and be pregnant.  I had to see a proctologist and he recommended a fisurectomy surgery.  Since I was pregnant I could not be sedated and there was a small chance that the baby would not survive.  Because of all of the exams I had to have in the past and the pain they cause, I am very fearful of exams and of surgery.  I shiver when I am nervous or upset.  Despite being kept warm, being treated with respect, and cared for with compassion, I shivered violently during the whole procedure.  So much so that I could barely speak.  I was awake while they cut on my rectum.

Me and Baby made it through ok and as a result of the procedure, I finally had normal function of my bowel….14 years later.  Tanner was born one week early by scheduled c-section.  If my husband and I talked about it at all, the conversation about circumcision was a short one and I thought that there was medical reason and that we would have it done.  Some part of me was questioning this idea and I wanted to be sure that the information that I thought I knew was really right so I asked the pediatrician at one of the first visits with little Tanner.  She squirmed in her chair and did not give me straight answers.  She said she had just come back from a conference for doctors that addressed circumcision and that there is conflicting information about the statistics for the benefits it will bring.  She did say that she does not do them, nor did any doctor in the office.  (This was a big red flag to me that I ignored.  If I am honest I ignored it because some part of me did not want to know why.)  She referred me to the only doctor in our plan that performed the procedure and I set up the appointment.  My husband and I took Tanner to the doctor for the surgery a few days later.   I don’t remember questioning if I was allowed in the room or not, I knew they would not be doing it if they did not allow me to be there. 

They strapped him down and I began to feel nervous for him. The doctor administered the numbing medicine and I asked him if he was sure baby would be numb and not feel anything.  He said yes.  Almost without hesitation he seemed ready to begin.  I remember thinking, “Wait, doesn’t the dentist wait 15 min to be sure you are numb?  Why aren’t we waiting?”  He took what looked like scissors and placed the tip into the tip of the foreskin.  They were not scissors though, the tip was serrated like needle nose pliers.  As he squeezed down it clamped into place locking in position.  My mind SCREAMED at me.  “STOP!! You can’t do this!” and I stood up.  I looked at the situation and thought, I had to let them do this.  Surgery is ugly and bloody and scary to those who are not familiar.  You are familiar with this process and medicine, this only LOOKS bad.  Stay calm and focus on keeping him calm.  So I bent back down and offered him the pacifier.   He took it and looked at me, trusting me but unsure.  The doctor started using a tool and forced it between the foreskin and the glans so that he could put the tool in.  My son stayed quiet and I was sure that he was numb.  The doctor inserted the tool and put another part on and was then able to cut without risk of cutting anything but foreskin.  My husband was horrified but made some joke like “If you could see what I see you wouldn’t be so quiet.”  (Wholly &%@#, I can not make sense of this.  I have to pause, and collect myself.)

Ok, Sorry, I still can't seem to type.

So at some point I was sure I wanted them to stop, but felt that it was too late.  Had I said stop at the beginning when my mind was screaming it, they could have.  He would have been bruised, but otherwise fine.  I did not though.  I was convinced I needed to be strong for him blah blah blah.  I nursed him right after and he went to sleep in the car on the way home.  The doctor said it would take four days at least for the bandage to come off and that I should not pull at it.  After only two it was flopping around and I pulled it off gently.  I was concerned that if I could not see, I could not tell if it was getting infected.  He was very red but did not look infected.  I kept close watch on it each diaper change and at one point saw clear signs of infection.  The paperwork said only to use Vaseline but this did not make sense to me since it has no antibiotic property so after his bath I put Neosporin on it and by the next day he was looking better.  He had some adhesion and some build up in the pocket it created but a warm bath allowed me to pull it back and put Neosporin on and he seemed ok.  I remember thinking, “It looks like the foreskin that is left is desperately trying to go back where it was.”  I still did not realize the truth about circumcision.

About a year later my sister posted something on Facebook, I thought it was strange but not much else.  The second time she posted something about circumcision I messaged her.  I did not understand and was defensive.  “Why are you so upset about circumcision?  What do you really know anyway, you only have girls?!”  She calmly talked to me about it and everything I said she said something else that debunked that thinking.  A friend of hers debunked a few other things that I had posted as a comment to one of her posts.  I quickly, and easily, realized that I had used flawed thinking to justify a procedure that was not necessary.  I immediately knew that I had to tell my children.  I was distressed and upset.  I had made a terrible mistake and I could not fix it and nobody understood.  My 16 year old son said he is fine and doesn’t understand why I was upset.  My seven year old says he remembers and it seems to him to make perfect sense that I was upset that I did wrong and broke the rule.  “Your body is yours and your privates are called that for a reason.  You are the boss of them and always get to say no to touch, even to a doctor or Mom.”  How would he have been able to do that at one week old?  

In medicine it is assumed that, for someone who cannot consent, they would consent to a procedure if they were able only when: the procedure is need to save life or limb.  In all other cases it is to be assumed that they would not consent, or at least that we cannot know their desire and therefore cannot authorize a procedure for them.  Why then do we allow it for circumcision?  It is not necessary at that moment and does not save life and actually damages limb.  

I talked to each of the kids and apologized to the boys.  The two older ones seem ok and forgiving but it is something that I continue to talk about and address with them.  My husband did not think it was wrong and did not understand why I was upset.  After watching The Elephant in the Hospital my husband was also convinced that we had made a mistake.   Having his support helped me feel validated in my upset feelings.  I was able to move forward, though in writing this I see that I have not forgiven myself.  My oldest understands, I even talked with him with his girlfriend present so they would both hear about the procedure.  (Her mom is a nurse.)  I took out my anatomy text book and showed them pictures and answered all the questions they had.  I think however, that he thinks it really isn’t that big a deal.  My daughter is sure that no son of hers will be circumcised. (Her boyfriend recently had a two hour discussion with her about how the Bible says you MUST circumcise your boys.)  The younger two will continue to hear from me about the subject and will not grow up thinking that it is “just something you do”.  

None of the family understands why I keep talking about the subject or why I might have negative emotions about it.  I hope that in hearing this part of my story, and obviously there is a lot more to me than just these few pages, that we consider that we each have our own journey.  We are all in a different place on that road and should not judge each other for where others are on their trip.  Our lives are complex and a lot of factors play in to each decision we make at any given moment.  We can only do our best in that moment and when we know better we will do better.  We must keep learning and growing.


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