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My Sons Don’t Match

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***Update*** This post is over 2 years old now.  With time I have come to terms with my guilt more than I had when this post was written.  It doesn’t mean I’m OK with the decision, it just means that I have forgiven myself and my husband for the uninformed decision we made.  I know this post has been shared by many online groups that are anti-circumcision and I’m fine with that.  I just want people to understand that it was not written to shame or guilt the families who have circumcised.  It was written to share my own feelings about the subject for families who are still deciding.  My boys are now 5 and 3 and so far neither has asked why their parts are different…

Hitting publish on this post is like stepping out on stage nude, but even more so because it is more revealing than not wearing clothes.  I want to post this more than anything in the world and at the same time I want to hit erase on both the post, and the moment that made this post possible.  First, let’s go back to 2008…

 

When I saw my first son in 3D on that giant screen I was thrilled.  My husband and I wanted a boy and there IT was.  Happy cheers and tears all around!

Planning for a boy was exciting.  I picked an alligator theme for the nursery and even cross stitched an entire set of Mario’s from the Nintendo games.  I just knew my son would be a gamer like his father and myself and I couldn’t wait to play video games with him.  Names were hard to decide on.  Had he been a girl I had a name all picked out.  Once we decided on “Fletcher” we were set.  Nursery-done.  Name- done.

The “to cut or not to cut” debate came up in the many conversations about the little baby kicking in my tummy.  I let my husband decide.  At the time it seemed like a decision he should make.  Unlike cloth diapers, I didn’t research that aspect of having a child very much except to know that there were two choices.

When I toured the hospital I asked the nurse about the procedure and if the babies received any pain medication, how bad was it, would they be in pain after, and what would we do to care for it.  She showed us the little baby shaped table with straps and outlined what would happen.  A knot formed in my stomach.  I pictured my vulnerable newborn strapped, screaming, to that table.  Suddenly I wasn’t as happy about having a boy.  If he had been a girl this terrible decision would not fall on us and I would have a clear conscience.

November 22 I gave birth.  November 24 I was set to be released from my hospital prison and would be sent home with a baby.  The only thing keeping us from our home was the circumcision.

As I write this and hold back tears I see the signs.  I should have said No.  I should have realized that the obstacles put forth on us were meant to steer us toward another decision.  I should have listened to that little voice in my head, that knot in my stomach, the physical illness that crept up on me as the event came nearer.

Instead, I waited.  We were informed that the doctor from our practice on staff did not perform circumcisions for personal reasons.  SIGN.  The other practitioner, a midwife, did not perform them.  SIGN.  We would have to wait until after 4:00 PM for the next doctor.  I had never met this OB and yet I was expected to trust her with my son’s genitals.  SIGN.

I remember feeling annoyed at being in the hospital many hours longer than I should.  I also remember the anxiety as this procedure loomed over me.  I dreaded what would happen to my son but I convinced myself this is what was right.  This is what millions of parents do every year.  It is normal, routine, every day.  If it were so bad why in the world would so many parents choose this?  Breathe.

The time came and a nurse explained again what would happen.  We were told my husband nor I could go with him because so many have fainted in the past.  SIGN.  My first born son was wheeled away in his bassinet to a room: location unknown.  I honestly don’t know how long it took.  Ten minutes, thirty, an hour…. I sat on the bed and cried.  I started having a panic attack as I envisioned my baby back on that baby shaped tray with his arms and legs strapped down.  What must he be thinking?  Every time I thought of the pain he would be going through my anxiety would get worse.  My husband, ever calm, tried to reassure me.

The nurse and the OB who performed the circumcision wheeled a burrito baby into my room.  He was asleep.  I breathed a sigh of relief and wanted to scoop him up and never let him leave my side again.  The nurse and OB explained about how to care for the newly trimmed penis.  I was so afraid of doing something wrong that they had me change a diaper there in the hospital.  Again, the knot in my stomach returned when I saw the red, oozing, bleeding penis.  I felt physically sick at the sight.  Suddenly, I hated myself.  I tried to hide the internal dialogue happening as I learned to gently apply gobs of (non cloth diaper friendly) vaseline to the penis, then add a tiny square of gauze over the top to prevent chaffing.  I was assured he was feeling no pain and that it would heal quickly.  After they told me that he slept through most of the procedure I wondered if this was true (how could it be, unless he was in shock) or if this was a lie designed to make mothers feel less guilty after seeing the result of the circumcision.  (Perhaps a L&D nurse would like to chime in on this one.)

Weeks passed and I noticed that my son’s foreskin wasn’t peeling back as it should.  Or, I thought it wasn’t.  I’m no penis expert.  I asked our pediatrician and she confirmed that there was some skin adhesion and we could do one of two things about it.  Because it was significant we could use a steroid cream on it to thin the skin and hope it pulled back.  Or, we could wait until he was curious enough to start tugging away and hope it broke away then.  The knot in my stomach returned.  This is so wrong, I thought to myself.

We used the cream and saw a little improvement but not much.  Every visit to the pediatrician left me more concerned and feeling more guilty because it looked as if I had ruined my son’s penis.  I did begin blaming the OB for a botched job, but saw so many other cases of this happening to other boys (friends’ children) that I started thinking it was common.  But not common in a good way.

One day, long after my son turned one, all of the skin was able to pull back.  Finally, things looked “normal.”

Over time many things changed in my life.  I learned more about parenting, babies, and pregnancy thanks to the internet.  I can’t explain when and why but one day I broke down in tears when I was bathing my son and saw his penis and the unnatural look of it and realized the ramifications of what had  been done to him.

I cried at the idea of him missing a part of himself.  I cried at the possibility of one day having to tell him that I and his father are the reason he was cut.  I cried because he experienced unknowable pain and I can never take that back or truly understand what it felt like.  I even cried at the thought of him missing out of future sexual satisfaction because I thought circumcision was normal and that if I DIDN”T have it done to him he might one day have a future partner who wouldn’t want to have sex with him.

And I cried because he didn’t match his brother.  His little, intact brother who was bathing along side of him.  My boys were splashing and smiling and I was crying because one day I would have to also explain why one penis didn’t look exactly like the other.  How the hell do you explain that do a pair of curious young boys?!  I’ve played out the conversation a million times and no matter which way I choose to say it it doesn’t sound good.

Why am I choosing to post this? (assuming I grow the ovaries to do it.)  I think there are a million reasons, but one is that I am finally following that knot in my stomach.  The knot that has been nagging me for over 3 years.  I didn’t listen to it the first time it tried to warn me NOT to cut.  Now the knot is telling me that I need to tell me story so maybe another boy won’t have to get strapped to that baby shaped table.

A few years ago I stopped following a few Twitter users because every time they tweeted about MGM (Male Genital Mutilation) it disgusted me.  It angered me that they would broadcast those messages and images.  I was still clinging to a notion that what I had done was OK and a valid choice for many parents.  I scoffed at those “intactivists” and convinced myself that they needed to find a new cause.  In reality, those blog posts and tweets were just reminding me that I had done something that couldn’t be taken back.

I’m not trying to make anyone feel guilty.  We all make mistakes; some are just harder to live with than others.  The decision to circumcise my son weighs on me every. single. day.  Each time I see him nude I am faced with what I did to him.  Over time the guilt has only increased as I learn more and more about the ramifications of being cut and what this might mean to him as an adult.

Hitting publish is going to take more courage than anything else I have done in my life.  I’m terrified of criticism and negative comments.  I don’t do well with hurting anyone’s feelings and this post is likely to do so.  I’m even afraid that people I know in real life will read this and judge me.  Before you tell me I am awful for circumcising in the first place, or awful for not circumcising, or even more awful for posting about it, read “Who I am and Where I’m Coming From.”  I can’t even explain why I’m posting this, I’m just finally listening to that knot in my tummy and hoping maybe a little cathartic blog post will give me some sort of relief.

(PS, I cannot read back over what I just typed.  I’m already in tears and I can’t re-live it again.  Please excuse any run on sentences or typo’s.)

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Kim Rosas began Dirty Diaper Laundry in 2009 out of a desire to help more parents understand modern cloth diapers. She lives in Florida with her husband of 5 years and her two boys. Even though none of her boys wear diapers anymore she is still just as committed to promoting them. In her spare time Kim enjoys video editing, photography, and coffee.
  • http://minasarah.blogspot.com/ Kristie Clower

    You are strong woman & wonderful mother to admit that you made a mistake and are doing your best to learn from it and share your experience to hopefully save another mama & baby. Love to you & the family.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jessica.swinson Jessica Swinson

    Thank you so much for your story. I hope one day no mother has to share another one, but for now you brave women are some of our best testimonies & activists. Can’t imagine how hard it was to come to terms with this, or to write this…again, thank you. It can’t be said enough.

  • Irina

    I’m just new to this blog and a new fan, so I’m commenting very late to it. I too have two sons, slightly younger than yours. It was very awkward to ask us to cut or not to cut in the middle of a c-section, just when I was the one being cut. Maybe because of that, or because we couldn’t get anyone to perform it 2 weeks later, but I found a video that convinced us completely of not doing it. Both my kids are perfect, in any way, shape or form and I don’t feel guilty or even think about it. Was it a right decision to make? Hell yeah! But, for the record, my brother, father and nephew are all circumcised and they don’t seem to be traumatized by the experience. I know that if we had cut, that would have been right too, so don’t feel guilty. We only do the best we can as parents and your son won’t have to be that worried about hygiene.

  • concerned cynic

    My younger brother was cut, without my mother being asked about it. I am intact. Our parents never spoke to this fact. My brother and I have never talked about it. My mother did not open up about my being intact until I raised the issue with her, after my father had died. She eventually revealed that my being intact required her to threaten my father with divorce. At the same time, my mother does not agree with my intactivism, because I have no issues involving sons or my marriage. Nor does she agree that circumcision can detract from sexual enjoyment.

  • http://www.facebook.com/amycphoenix Amy Phoenix

    Thank you for sharing your story! I shared it with some people on Facebook at Saving Our Sons. I appreciate your willingness to be vulnerable and honest so you can heal as well as others. :) Your sons are lucky to have a loving mom… your love shines through.

  • Erin

    My best friend is the reason why I left my son intact. She confided in me that she regretted having her first son circumcised, and that she would never do it to any future sons. She is an amazing mom, so I knew if she felt that strongly about it, there had to be a good reason. A few months after I had my first son, she had her second son. Her boys do not “match”, but they are both perfect.

    Moms like you who speak out about their guilt and regret, in such an honest and heartfelt way, are an inspiration. I hope you can someday be at peace with the past. Your son will absolutely forgive you, and you are saving so many babies by posting blogs like this. Thank you!

  • http://www.thefashionablehousewife.com The Fashionable Housewife

    You are so brave and such a strong woman to not only admit your
    mistakes to yourself, but to the world. I hope that your post will serve
    as a warning to those considering circ’ing their sons… I left my
    first son intact because the knot in my stomach was more than I could
    take… The intactivist movement helped me learn more about the
    procedure and ultimately confirmed my inner instinct that it was wrong
    and I could not possibly do that to my son. And yet I know SO many
    people that continue to do this to their children. It makes me cry every
    single time a friend or acquaintance of mine has a son, leaves the
    “decision” up to their husband and then ends up taking home a mutilated
    little infant from the hospital. I will definitely share your post with
    anyone I know who is considering the procedure because your honest words
    and humility speak volumes.

  • Stephanie

    Thank you so much for this. I have tears rolling down my cheeks. We decided not to circumcise our son and although I don’t regret it- I am sometimes worried that he will be teased when he is older (boys locker rooms) or rejected when he starts dating. I know now without a doubt that we made the right choice. Thank you for showing your heart and exposing truths.

    • http://twitter.com/kgrey38 kgrey38

      If someone rejects him for being intact, they aren’t worth his time and affection. :)

  • heidi

    I feel the same way :(

  • circ esadreim

    Thank you for sharing your message. It takes a tremendous amount of courage and honesty to come to the realization you did, and that is to be commended.

  • erin

    I have mismatched boys, too. :( You are not alone.

  • Brenna Boyd

    I felt the same way! Thankfully my son’s was not batched by if we ever have another son he will be intact.

  • Breanna Lewis

    I’m so happy you’ve shared your story. It’s very moving. My son circumcision went well. My doc only cut a little off just so the head is showing. She said this way the skin wouldn’t pull tight when he gets an erection when he is older. He wasn’t in pain didn’t cry hell he didn’t even bleed longer then 5 mins. He is a happy healthy baby. It’s my choice and it does offend me that people would said I’ve ruined my son. It is very hurtful. I did my research and it worked for us. So I don’t want any negative feed back from anyone. I’m sorry you have this guilt and I know you’ll work thru it. Thank you for taking your time to write it. Much love to you

  • di is in los angeles

    I am so sorry about your own guilt & pain, but your post will help many others. We’re all trying to lessen suffering in the world. You’re doing a good job with that.

  • bright

    It feels good to know I am not alone. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I was in tears just thinking about it all, my anxiety and depression over what happened to our son, as I often do. He is 2. This post has really helped me be able to sleep tonight. Much love <3 bright

    • kimrosas

      I hope it gets easier for you. It hasn’t gone away for me but I’ve gotten some peace just knowing others have done the same. I wrote this a few years ago and so far none of the boys have asked about why they don’t match, though it has been weighing on me recently has they are both starting to explore more.


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