Circumcision: A Son's Forgiveness

By Laura May


In June of 2000 I became a mother for the first time. At the small age of 18. However I knew then like I know now, that this was going to be the most important job I will ever do. I have dedicated the last 12 years since then to my children. When my daughter turned one I remember a lot of people asking me, “Are you going to get her ears pierced?” I thought about it for a moment, then came to the conclusion, what if she doesn't want them pierced? She cannot tell me yes or no. This isn't my body, it is hers. So I stood my ground and just said no, that will be up to her when she is older.

In November of 2004 I became a proud mother once again - this time to a baby boy. He was perfect and beautiful. It was a rough start for him with breathing issues and he spent some time in the NICU. I hated to be away from him and leave the hospital before he did, but I remained as close to him as possible. I remember the fateful day before he was released when hospital staff asked me, “Do you want to have him circumcised?” I said yes, of course. I figured this is what you do - this is what all good mothers do for their babies. Even a part of me thought, this is what I have to do.

Why didn't I stop and think? Why didn’t I protect him? Why didn’t I simply say no? I was smart enough to know that my daughter's ears were her own... why didn’t this apply for my son? If just one person had told me the truth, things would have been a lot different. I remember when they brought my baby boy back to me, something was different. I could never put my finger on it, but he was different. Even the bond between him and I was different.

I felt as if I failed him, and to this day I still feel that way. To make matters worse, it was a botched circumcision. However, I know that I cannot go back. I cannot fix it. I cannot make it up to him. But what I can do is educate myself. So I began to read and read and read.

In July of 2008 I once again gave birth to a baby boy. He was healthy and perfect. The day before I left the hospital a woman saw me in the hallway with him and said to me, “How did he do after his little surgery?” I looked at her completely confused. I said, “I’m sorry?” She said, “ You know... his circumcision.” Then it dawned on me. And I began to grin and replied, "Oh, he won't be getting that done.” She looked at me with complete surprise. I smiled and walked away. While I was there the nurse asked three or four more times if he was going to be circumcised. Each time I happily replied, “No thank you.” We took our whole boy home the next day.

There did come a day when my youngest noticed the difference between the two of them and pointed it out. He was two and his brother was six. My oldest looked at me and said, “Yeah mommy, why do we look different?” I knew the time had come when I would have to tell my oldest just how sorry I was. I said to him, "When mommy had you, I had you circumcised.” Naturally he asked, “What is that?” So I told him, honestly. He then said to me, “Didn't that hurt me?” I got on my knees with tears in my eyes and said to him, “Yes, and I am so sorry I let anyone hurt you.” He then put his arms around me and said, “It’s ok mommy, I’m glad you didn't let anyone do that to my brother. I don’t want him to hurt.” Of course I fell to pieces at that moment. I said to my oldest, “I wish that I had known better when I had you, or I would have never let it happen to you either.” He looked me in the eyes and said, “ I know Mommy, thank you for not letting anyone do it to him. I’m glad!”

In the 12 years that I have been a mother I know that they have taught me more then I could ever teach them. About love, about life, about forgiveness. I still struggle with the guilt that I have from my first boy. I still try to cope with it. Every time I hear of a friend or family member having a baby boy, I tell them about my experience. I am unsure if it has ever touched someone or made them think, but I will keep sharing. Maybe one day this story will save one more perfect baby boy.

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Circumcision and intact care information at Are You Fully Informed?

To share your story, write to SavingSons@gmail.com 

Join in the Saving Our Sons conversation.


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11 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your story...I can't wait for the day when parents don't have to feel like this anymore because MGM will be abolished. Congratulations on your intact son, I can tell how happy you were to bring him home whole! Your first son sounds like such a sweetheart.

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  2. Your story made me cry. I have a daughter and am pregnant. I know I won't be circumcising if I have a boy but I also know that there are things I have done that I really regret and it will be hard to do things differently or not compare experiences. Your older son sounds so mature and you are mature as well, to admit your mistake and ask forgiveness from a child. So few of us adults, with our vast pride, can do that.

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  3. Your story really touched me, unfortunately I've made that mistake twice but will NEVER again! Unfortunley I was very uninformed and never found this page until after I had my sons! Thank you again for sharing your story!

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  4. Tears! I also regrettably circumcised my first child, and I wish with all my heart I hadn't! He's only three and has only a sister so far but I'm sure I will have to apologize at some point and I dont look forward to it, but in some ways I do, I need his forgiveness!

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  5. I, too, am dreading the day. I had 1 son and we naturally had it done in 1999. We weren't even ASKED if we were going to have it done, we just were brought paperwork to sign to have it done. We had our 2nd son in 2001 and the pediatrician said they didn't know if they could circ him due to some issue and they'd have a urologist take a look at him. While they were supposedly consulting with the urologist my husband and I changed our minds and decided we'd just not have it done. They came back and the urologist had already circ'd him. We had our 3rd son the next year in 2002 and didn't want to be faced with the "why am I different" situation so we had him done fully thinking he was our last son. Then we had our daughter in 2005 who got her ears pierced at age 4 because she asked to have them done. Family bugged me about doing them younger, but like you, I thought what if she doesn't want it? Then in 2010 we had our 4th son. We FINALLY got it right. We FINALLY brought our WHOLE son home. I regret having #1 done. I almost didn't get #2 done. If they wouldn't have done #2, #3 wouldn't have been done. I don't know why I didn't stop the cycle. So far, we havent' been asked about it although I know the oldest 3 surely have noticed the difference.

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  6. I am a similar story unfortunately. My first born son , now 9, was circ'd basically because all my family was and his dads family and we didn't question it. It went terribly wrong and I regretted it from the day I heard his screams at 2 weeks old and the nurse came to get my husband saying our baby lost allot of blood, more than normal and would be kept longer for observation. The saga continued as the bell used injured my perfectly born baby boy. I knew that experience changed my views forever. After a daughter ( Whose ears are not pierced) we had another boy. My son overheard the midwives mention penis talk and asked me about it. I told him what it was and a version of what happened to him as a baby and my then 8 yr old boy begged me not to do that to his baby brother , and asked why I would do that to him?! Oh the parent guilt! All we can do now is share our experiences and educate our sons on why they are not matching.

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  7. I didn't know about this american pediatrics and ostetrician attitude! It's horrible!!!!
    I could understand religion reasons, but why they are doing it to any boy?
    In my religion we don't baptize little children till they are 8 and decide by themself to do it, and a baptism is innoquous... free agency is the fist gift we receive by God!

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  8. Rosemary Romberg9/12/2012 8:41 PM

    Marilyn Milos and I are the two "great-grandmas" of all of this, but sadly share the same grief over 3 sons born back when circumcision was an automatic, unquestioned hospital procedure that most people thought was "good", "healthy", "painless", etc. Other matters such as natural childbirth and successful breastfeeding were huge battlegrounds in and of themselves, there were maybe a dozen or so informative books available, none with more than a vague sentence or so about circumcision. For me, my activism began 35 years ago. It's fortunate that neither Marilyn nor I had any idea how much "shit" we'd have to shovel through all these years. My story and much more can be told on my website. At one time it was all on our shoulders, but now we're just a couple of voices out of thousands out there. http//peacefulbeginningsrosemary.wordpress.com . Keep on keepin' on sister! - Love, Rosemary

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  9. This just brought tears to my eyes. Beautiful. I have a stepson who is circumcised and is going to be 4 years older than his baby brother, who is going to be kept intact. I can only hope that my stepson will be as wonderful and forgiving as your oldest. <3

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  10. This just brought tears to my eyes. Beautiful. I have a stepson who is circumcised and is going to be 4 years older than his baby brother, who is going to be kept intact. I can only hope that my stepson will be as wonderful and forgiving as your oldest. <3

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  11. my stepson was circumcised. it was his dads choice as my wife thought that he has the penis so he can choose. my son was not circumcised. he 1st noticed at school some boys had different penises and when he had a bath he pulled back his foreskin and asked why i and some boys at school had peepees like this. he had seen my penis when i taught him to pee standing but never asked. i explained they had the skin over the peepee cut off. my son did not believe me and said i was making it up and it is dumb.


    when i was dating my current wife me and her would let the boys play in the backyard while we had sex. 1 time the boys got dirty playing in the backyard so we put them in the bath together and my son said look daddy he has a peepee like yours. my stepson asked why they were different and i told him he had his skin removed. he like my son did not believe me even when his younger brother was born and kept intact. he realized when he was doing a school project and we found a pic of his 1st bath and he noticed he still had a foreskin in the pic and another pic he was wearing a plastibell which upset him and he said it was his peepee not his birth dads and said he wanted a skin on his peepee like his brothers

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