Saturday, January 2, 2010

What have I done? - Voices of circumcision remorse

You may think that getting that "little snip-snip" done on a baby boy is something quick, simple, and it will all be done and forgotten.  I'm here to let you know that there is so much more to it than that.  There are countless mothers who regret having their sons circumcised.  (There are also countless men who resent being cut as babies, but their voices will be heard in another post when I get it done).  The following quotes barely scratch the surface of this tragic reality.  So many say things like "If only I had known better, I wouldn't have done it".  Perhaps this post will reach someone PRIOR to having their son cut, and then they WILL know better!  I will include informative links at the end for those interested in further research.

The following quotes are taken from this forum thread:

I have only used short excerpts because the thread goes on for TWENTY-SEVEN PAGES, full of gut-wrenching stories of pain, regret, suffering, and injury!  Thank you to these brave mothers for honestly sharing their feelings in hopes of sparing other mothers and their sons from similar fates.  I challenge any mother considering circumcision to be brave enough to read more stories from that thread before going through with it!  You will never regret educating yourself before making a life-altering decision, but you could very well regret having your son cut without really understanding the whole issue (and he could likely be unhappy about it too!). 

“I felt a LOT of guilt and intense anger over my son’s circ, especially after I read this article which I stumbled upon at the Public Library (my son was then 6 months old).

“My oldest son is circumsized and I regret it immensely after reading some of the no-circ websites. I am glad that I ultimately decided against circumsizing for my youngest, but I deeply regret that I was not informed in time to save my oldest. When he asked me about the difference between how they look, I explained it to him, and then promptly hid in the bathroom and cried for 20 minutes.
If I could only take it back, I would in a heartbeat.”

“It was a bad circumcision. Part of the foreskin was left intact and the whole head looked like it was twisted. And he bled for a long time. I regretted it very much. I cried every time I changed his diapers. I still feel sorry that I was not better informed. And now that I am informed, I feel even worse that I took such an important part of his penis, a part that gives so much pleasure to men, and we threw it into the garbage. Why? Why would a doctor do that? For what reason would anyone take a part of a human being and cut it off? I could cry just thinking about it. My son is now 35 yr. old and I really still regrett it.

A few years ago he asked me why I had him circumcised at birth, why I bothered to do that, why I didn't just leave it alone?

I had no answers. I told him that I had regretted it many times and I was sorry even now. He harbors no bad feelings toward me, but I know he wishes he were intact.”

“It's so embarassing for me to post this. My ds, who was my first baby and I had when I was 16, is circumcised. I didn't get what I was allowing done to him and I would not choose it again. It makes me sad every time I think about what I signed that form for.

I told them to cut off part of my perfect baby when he was just fine the way he was. They didn't use any pain medication at all. So he was lying there, strapped down, and operated on, and he could feel it all. And I did nothing to help him. For days afterwards all he would do was sleep. I had to wake him to eat and then he would go right back to sleep. The hardest thing for me was taking care of his little bloody, scabby penis when I had to change his diaper.

Don't put yourself and your baby through what we went through. You won't regret not circumcising, but you may very well regret going through with it.”

“I so regret having my first son circumcised. I was young. I was stupid. I will never be responsible for having that done to another child ever again.”

“I was pressured by everyone who told me it was "cleaner" and all that mumbo jumbo. I still want to cry today when I think about it. He was a quiet little sweet thing and he came back with a red face from crying and was crying so hard. I was so heartbroken. I will NEVER let another son of mine be circ'd. I have a picture of my baby boy before he was cut. It is hard to look at my boy's perfect newborn penis in that photo. My son had no say in what we allowed to have done to him.”

“I was so ignorant of what was involved with circumsion. Both my boys were circumcised. I didn't know that a baby could die, or experience sexual problems later on in life.  I would have never allowed the procedure if I had an inkling of what was involved”

“I had my first son circumcized when he was born in '92. I was young, uneducated and assumed it was just the way things were supposed to be. I bought into the whole "don't you want him to look like his father?" argument.  When I changed his diaper for the first time after the procedure I was horrified. It looked so raw and sore and I was in tears over the agony he must have gone through. The nurses assured me that he felt no pain. How could they possibly know that?”

“We had our son circed and I regret it (DH doesn't, yet). I did it b/c DH wanted to and it was the thing to do, I never knew any different. The thing that should've tipped me off was when he slept all day the day of his surgery and wouldn't even wake to eat! That's not a great way to start a nursing relationship. He also had a small penile adhesion that was fixed at his 8.5 mos appt by simply pulling it apart. It was all red and horrible looking and he just cried! Next time I'm planning on leaving my son the way God made him, intact.”

“All 3 of my boys are circ'd.  I will regret it for the rest of my life. Thank goodness our 4th was a girl...dh said he would take him to get circ'd if it was a boy. I told him over my dead body he would....but any way it was a girl, so we didn't have to worry about it.”

“I have to tell you, I hope my son forgives me one day for this, that was a stupid decision, I had no right to do this to him, to cause him such pain and damage to his body.”

“I had my perfect baby boy circ'd 12 years ago. I didn't know any better.  It was the worst day of my life. And the worst choice of my life. At least my other bad life choices became learning experiences. There was no benefit whatsoever to this one--inflicting such pain on my innocent, trusting and helpless baby. The horror I feel at the thought of my decision has not lessened one iota. I wish I could take back that day.”....

“Although the pediatrician that did the circumcision did a "great" job, and used anesthetic and all, the aftermath made me regret immediately. He refused to nurse for almost 18 hours, at just 2 days of age, and in our 3 day hospital stay, he lost almost a complete pound, partly because he simply refused to nurse. The next several weeks were very hard, as he cried each and every time that he peed, and when the diaper touched him, regardless of the amount of ointment we would put on his penis. To this day, his penis seems unnaturally red just below the head, and we've even had to deal with the skin partially growing together when he was about 1-year old (involved re-separating and ointment ... and more pain). I'm also having to deal with the thought of having another boy who will NOT be circumsized (I know better now, so I'll do better now), and having one day to explain why they are different.”

“I completly regret letting my first son be circ' other 2 boys are intact..I just wished I had been informed sooner for the sake of my first son....too late for him.”

“I have a friend whose son had one of the botched circs. He's 4.5 yrs old and it seems like he's always having dr. visits and issues. I was shocked the first time I saw his penis; it's like there's nothing there!”

“My son is circ'ed. DH and I are both filled with regret over it. We failed him so badly, before he was two days old. He's about 22 months now, and the memory is still raw for me, the guilt is still tearing me up. DH went with him for the procedure. When they returned to me, DH looked green and deeply shaken. Our poor baby had passed out after screaming his head off. He woke about 15 minutes later, with the most heartwrenching wail, and I put him to my breast and DH and I cried.  What can I say? We didn't know any better until it was too late.”

“I felt horrible when he would scream at the top of his lungs at every diaper change and when he peed for the first 2-3 weeks of his life. I felt like the most horrible person in the world. And after hearing of some horror stories of really badly botched circs I felt worse that I had put him in that kind of situation and that we were lucky he didn't lose half his penis or something.  The guilt really set in when I had my first daughter and I realized no one came to ask me when I wanted to sign the paperwork to cut off part of her genitals.  I had 2 girls after my ds was born but if I had other sons I wouldn't have cir'd them.”

“The circ was not performed properly and therefore, the skin did not heal properly. Now what is left of my son's foreskin has attached itself improperly to the glans. I can either have it fixed, which means he would have to be cut again, or I can wait until he grows a bit and gradually the skin will probably rip itself away from the glans. Either way, he will suffer. I am devastated that I was not strong enough to protect him. Now my husband has a change of heart, and we will not circ the next child if it is a boy. But that does my first born son no good. I will be eternally sorry for the choice I made.”

“When I was in nursing school we were given the option to watch a circ. At first I balked, and then I figured it was a good idea, because then I could describe the circ in detail to questioning parents. I won't go into detail; most of you know what's involved. When the baby was strapped down and the device put on his little penis it was all I could do to keep myself from leaping in front of the doctor. What I saw was a child being tortured--no anaesthesia, no nothing. I stood next to a classmate from ....Scotland.... (where they don't DO this kind of thing) and we both were crying.”

“I have to say that I did want to have a full awareness for what my husband and I chose to do to our son...and I did not want my baby son to have this experience I attended his circumcision and cared for him as best I could during and after the procedure. I am not a squeamish person in the least, and the operation itself was not gory, but the look on his face during it...I cannot believe that I put my beautiful son through that- and I didn't even have a compelling reason. I have changed a few important things about his life by this act and I am truly sorry.  Please, take the whole baby home with you.”

“I completely regret doing circ with our first son. We didn't know anything about it at the time, my dh is, and of course all the medical staff told us "it was the best choice to do" even though my heart was totally against it. I still am disappointed in myself for not pushing for more information or going with my instinct. We didn't do it with our next son and will never do it again. For us the problem won't be explaining to our uncirc sons why they aren't like their dad or brother, but more so why our first son was.”


Infants feel and remember circumcision pain: 

The foreskin advantage:

Psychological and neurological impacts of circumcision:

Do men remember the trauma of circumcision?

Psychological impacts of male circumcision:

CNN-Circumcision study halted due to trauma:

The Common and Not-So-Common Complications of Routine Infant Circumcision:

Mothers against circumcision:

Doctors opposing circumcision:


Lauren said...

Oh man is that heartbreaking!! :(
I'm so thankful I had a girl back in 2006, since I hadn't educated myself on circ then. Maybe someday I will be blessed with a son I can proudly keep intact.

Anonymous said...

As a victim of male genital mutilation, called circumcision, I wonder how this atrocity can still be perpetrated on helpless male infants.

The medical profession trots out a new disease every decade or so to try to keep parents circumcising their sons, so that the unscrupulous doctors can make money from mutilating more boys.

I hate what was done to me, and bitterly resent the violation of my body and my rights by circumcision.

We need more stories like this to be published to make parents aware of just what is perpetrated on innocent, defenseless children.

Doctors do not disclose and in fact suppress the adverse effects and complications that result from male genital mutilation, called circumcision.

Female circumcision of minors is illegal, and male genital mutilation of minors should also be illegal.

It's sexist, and unconstitutional in the USA to prohibit genital mutilation of one sex and allow the other.

Circumcision is a fraud and a hoax.

A foreskin is not a birth defect; it is a birthright.


Flame said...

The whole thing is madness, but how is no anaesthetics allowed?!?! Even tongue tie separation which is just snipping a tiny bit of skin gets numbing - how can cutting the most sensitive part of a body without numbing be still legal??

I am so glad I am in the UK and it isn't something I have had to consider. My friend's son (7yrs) has had to be circ'd recently (repeated infections, pain from tightness etc for his whole life) and seeing the aftermath of that was bad enough, let alone a child who has to wear a nappy/diaper over it.

Anonymous said...

Single greatest mistake I ever made. My husband was adamant our son be circumcised. I should have been more adamanat that he not. Even though I hadn't read much on the subject when my son was born, I knew it was wrong. Anything not medically required that makes a new mother sob in her hospital room is clearly a bad choice. At my son's first in-office checkup with his pediatrician, she said, "Oh, that's a very good circ!" What? Is there any such thing? I was ashamed.

My husband still doesn't regret it and why would he? He's circ'd and to regret doing it to his son would mean his own penis is maimed. Very few men will admit that. I was on the fence on wanting another baby but when I told my husband that no future boys of mine would be circumcised and he disagreed, I decided I couldn't risk the likely marriage-ending argument and we had no more children.

I'm sorry, little buddy. I'll try to explain it to you later. For now, I sometimes cry over it. Nine years later.

Jill said...

It is heartbreaking to read these stories there is no doubt, however living through the tragedy is even worse. I have only one regret in my life that I can truly say that I regret with my entire being, and that is allowing my son to be circumcised. Nearly 8 years ago when my son came into the world after a stressful pregnancy and a traumatic birth that ended in an emergency c/s I was devastated. My partner and I discussed circumcision after finding out the sex of our baby. I was swaying more towards the no circ side of the arguement but left the decision up to my partner. I didn't have a penis so I knew nothing about the matter at hand, however he doesn't have foreskin either so he really didn't have the complete story either. I still left the decision up to him when really I should have researced the matter more in depth. Afterall, a researcher was what I was, I researched EVERYTHING prior to purchasing, using, etc but I didn't research circumcision when I should have. I am not one of those people that flows with the mainstream either so the fact that "everybody does it" had no weight in the matter...I should have known better.

My son's circ was botched, but not nearly as bad as some that I have seen. He still does have a lot of tissue on the one side of his penis that the doctor wanted to remove after it healed and I refused. I ended up researching having to be recut and came across a lot of no circ information during that time.

My son is nearly 8 years old and seems to hate is penis on most days. I can recall times when he would push it completely inside himself because it was bothering him, I once found him with a pair of safety scissors attempting to "cut it off" when he was a little over 4. I firmly believe this is due to the fact that he was circumcised.

I wish I could take it back. I hope that he realizes how sorry I am for violating his body.I still beat myself up over this on a daily basis because I am not "THAT parent", I am the parent that gives my children a choice and I expect that to make informed decisions in every aspect of their life. This tragedy surely has made me a more informed person/parent and I refuse EVERY treatment unless I research it 1st.

Thank you for this! I hope that other parents to be realize what a traumatizing experience this can be.

RD said...

Circumcision is sexual violence, especially when no anesthesia is used. These mothers are emotionally damaged by guilt for having been complicit in this violence. Their heartbreak will perhaps persist until the end of their natural lives. They are collateral damage resulting from the American Foreskin Holocaust.

To circumcise an infant without a prior injection of lidocaine should be per se actionable.

Anonymous said...

I am a mother who deeply regrets having her son done for my vain reasons. I will not be doing to my future sons but am ashamed I circ'd my first born. I wish I could take it back but I can't, just know better for next time

Leaf in the wind said...

I wanted to post that I have successfully talked my Dear fiance from wanting me to have our son circ. He said "I'm oK!" and I said "uh huh, your bent penis at the big scar you have is a constant reminder to me how you must have wailed."

I won the argument with patience, repeat descussion, and saying, "Did you watch a video of a black baby in the inner cities get it? Because I watched it! I cried, I gagged, I felt for the father who was bullshitted when he asked "Does he hurt? So WHy is he screaming?" as the blood oozed all over. "Oh I gave him something to take off the edge!"
That's an expression for slightly taking pain away. The naieve father was dupped. (who received a weak TOPICAL med on his penis because family was poor so I made a point to point out you don' t know what your hopsital will do. Is the anestic enough? HOW do they cut? Because if you're on aid or no insurance they'll go cheap on you.)

Anyway, my fiance said, "No I can't look at--I understand." And he hugged me and swore he'd side with me.

Dionna @Code Name: Mama said...

I've read some of those stories before, simply heart wrenching.
I blogged on our decision to keep our son intact - it was one of the best parenting decisions we've ever made.

JQ said...

My first two sons, born 11 years and 6 years ago, are circ'd and I feel horrible about the choice I made fore them. My third son, born 4 years ago, is intact. I wish I had known more before I became a parent.

Janet Tilden said...

In 1987 I was pregnant with my first son. My husband and I knew absolutely nothing about circumcision. Thank God our nurse-midwife was from England rather than the U.S. She told us, "Don't circumcise your son! It's barbaric! We don't do it in the U.K. and our boys are fine." Because she was willing to speak up, both of our sons are intact and we have been spared the anguish of causing irrevocable harm.

Jennifer said...

My story is shared in your blog, I was one of the original posters on that thread on MDC. I posted that when I was newly pregnant w/ our 2nd son. We did in fact leave him intact, he's now a happy, healthy, WHOLE 5yo.

Anonymous said...

My third husband is not circumcised and is very, very happy about it. He says he had to be more thorough when cleaning, but had no health problems, or ED- he's 61 now. My other 2 husbands are circ'd as well as a few lovers I've had. So I can tell you your boys will be much better lovers and happier as adults. His glans are more sensitive -having been covered and he enjoys sex much more than any other man I've known. My 2 sons were not circ'd, the eldest is 31 & has had zero problems - I just taught them @ about 3 yrs old how to clean themselves under the foreskin. I had to argue with dad, but I stood firm -even told him to go get circ'd himself, if he was so worried about his son not looking like him! This issue also makes me wonder if circ's have any connection with ED later in life?? All the doc's promoting circ's probably know the truth and they are getting rich off of viagra stocks!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. More parents need to be educated. Luckily, I was one of those moms that got educated BEFORE my son was born, so he is luckily intact. PHEW!!!

.brittney. said...

Thanks for sharing this. We only have a little girl now, but I would love to have more children in the future. This just reinforced that I will fight with all my strength to keep any little boy we may be blessed with intact and whole!

Lisette said...

Just thought I'd add a small aside to go a little way towards healing these terrible, terrible hurts.
It's NEVER going to replace the sensitive prepuce that has been torn away, but it is possible to regrow a foreskin. Surgical 'replacement' of foreskins is only cosmetic and does not enhance sexual function, BUT gradually GROWING the skin over a period of several months using a system of weights can at least allow the glans to be covered and lose the keratinised tissue.
It is never going to compensate for being circumcised, (you can't replace an amputated body part) but it may help a man who feels less than whole to feel whole again...

Deborah Chapman said...

Thanks for writing this. When I was pregnant with my son we were very on the fence about circ. We had decided we were going to do it becuase his dad is, but we were both having second thoughts and talked about it more in depth. We eventually decided not to circ our son and it was the best decision we made. It is crazy how old school some people's thoughts are. When we told my mom and cousin they thought we were crazy for not circing our son. People are also very in the dark about the care of an uncirced penis. There is no care, you wash it like you wash your finger. There is nothing different you have to do and most people don't know that. Thanks for this article. I'm glad we made the choice we did.

TLC Tugger said...

Parental circumcision regret set to music:

The Educated Smarta$$ said...

My oldest son is 12 and I had him circ'd. I highly regret it. His father insisted. I knew better instinctively, but not real reasons (if that makes any sense) I have since had two boys (different husband) and both are intact. I have apologized to my oldest, and wish there was a way to undo what was done. It seems like common sense now to just leave it alone!! It is the one thing that you will do to your son, that you will definitely regret later. My husband was cut, but his kids aren't. They don't really compare penises anyway!!

Midwife Molly said...

Deciding whether to have a new born child undergo circumcision is a difficult choice many mothers face. Thank you for discussing this matter so openly.

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