Dear Sweet Boy, Please Forgive Me

By Jessica Grindstaff © 2013

Dear Sweet Boy,

I had you inside my belly for 37 weeks and 5 days. I loved you since the moment I found out about you. I may have been young, but since the beginning, I've always wanted you, and you have been my everything. I tried to eat healthy. I felt your kicks and your turns. You sometimes refused to let me sleep. I talked to you daily and let you know how much I loved you. I even read to you while you were inside. I made sure to gather everything you needed. I kept up with your development through online resources to see what was happening with you every single week.

But there is one thing I failed to do... and that is to research something that would forever change your life and mine. I will never be done telling you how sorry I am. I want you to know that it was the worst mistake of my life.

You see, I was 18 years old, and your dad was 19. He was circumcised as a baby, and at the time, I thought it was a normal thing to do and I didn't question it. I just thought it was normal...

I was wrong.

I was in labor for 17 hours and pushed for two and a half. I ended up having a c-section. I fell asleep from exhaustion and I completely missed your birth. I met you about 30 minutes later. You were the most gorgeous baby. I loved you so much. I nursed you - I had been looking forward to this my whole pregnancy. I was so excited to be able to give my child what was best for him. I was able to breastfeed you about three times before the doctor asked if we wanted them to circumcise you. I immediately said yes. I'm so ashamed of how quick I was to say yes and not ask any questions. Young and dumb, I was. The doctor told us that it was a "fast, easy procedure" - that we had nothing to worry about. And I believed him.

We asked if your daddy could be in the room with you. And so he was there and he watched the entire circumcision surgery while I was sitting in my hospital room. I was thinking about you the whole time...

And then I heard your loud wailing from down the hall.

It hurt my heart that you were in so much pain. And yet, I still thought it was necessary at the time. The doctor didn't tell me that it wasn't.

What had I done? I hurt my baby...

When they brought you back to me you looked so sad. It just didn't click in my mind exactly what had happened. You were different, but they told me you "did great." It was the line that they give to the masses of ignorant parents who will believe everything a doctor tells them. That used to be me. Never again. I was told you only cried because you were unwrapped. That was a big fat lie. When I saw your penis while changing your diaper - (wow) - I cringed. It made me feel so bad. It hurt me to see you in so much pain. It was bloody. It looked so unnatural. Because it truly was unnatural.

I tried to care for this wound, and it still adhered. We took you to the doctor and he forcibly pulled it so far back... yet again you wailed in pain and I just sat there and let him do it. I wanted to break down and cry. Since then, your skin has torn on its own when I have tried to change you. The look in your eyes when that happened - there are no words for it. The pain I felt inside my own heart was unbearable. I tried not to cry every single time. I started noticing how I was not okay with all of this. I've hated diaper changes because I have to see with my own eyes what I did to you each time. I struggle with myself every day. I hate myself for this decision. I remember every time I change your diaper, when I give you a bath, and when you run around naked. I try to ignore the thoughts, but I still remember. And I will never forget the way you cried that first day from down the hall...

Son, I'm extremely sorry. There are not enough 'sorrys' in the world. All I am hoping is that you do not grow up to hate me... but, honestly, I would understand if you do. Months after, I became friends with someone on Facebook named Amy. She always shared links and pictures of circumcision. I thought it was kind of silly and dumb at first, but I saw her posts every single time. And then, one day, she posted a picture of an infant crying. I don't quite remember what it said, but it got to me. And I cried. That was the moment when I reflected nonstop on what had happened to you. I cried harder and harder and held you close. I felt betrayed. I thought doctors always told patients the truth - the whole truth. I was so angry that no one told me the many reasons not to circumcise - and the many reasons to keep you intact.

Only one person suggested not circumcising before you were born - and I never bring this up because it makes me feel guilty that I ignored the suggestion. It was your grandma who told me not to do it. I told her it was 'normal' here to circumcise. And that should have tipped me off right from the beginning - only in the United States do people routinely circumcise newborn baby boys. Why didn't I listen to her?

After you were circumcised, you never nursed again.

I was only able to breastfeed you those three times in the first hours of your life. Over 75% of newborn babies don't readily nurse after circumcision surgery. Many will once again breastfeed as they heal and recover from this trauma. But you were one of the 75%, and you would never again go back to breastfeeding. It hurt, so bad. It still does. I see a breastfeeding mom and think about what it would have been like... How jealous I am. All because I made you go through a painful, unnecessary surgery unwillingly. And son, I deeply regret it.

I love you with all my heart, and what you have lived through will not be in vain. I now fight for other little boys and their genital autonomy. I have saved a handful from having the same done to them. I will never stop fighting for babies who do not have a choice of their own. And Amy? She will forever be a part of my life. I will always love her for what she has done for us. To me, she is a hero. She is my hero.

I'm telling you this so you will know what happened to you. I love you, I've loved you, and I will always love you. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me one day for something I did, of which I had no knowledge on... because I cannot forgive myself.

Mom ❤

Hear from additional parents with circumcision regret and those who are keeping future sons intact:
I Circumcised My Son: Healing From Regret



  1. It's a while since I last cried about what my mother also did to me 56 years ago, but this made me cry again. It would have made all the difference to me if my mother had written something like this, but she instead went to her grave without the slightest regret at how she blighted my life. Just before my father subsequently died I learned that it was my mother's preference that I was circumcised and that my father was not circumcised. It was a shattering experience, which was to be followed by yet more grief when my marriage later fell apart after years of sexual discordance. I now live alone and applaud you Jessica for openly telling your story of how you were mislead by doctors, and I feel your pain. It is my considered opinion that those who tell others how to live their lives in this world, when they themselves are ignorant and prejudiced, are the greatest enemies of humanity.

  2. It breaks my heart each time I hear from another mom who dearly wanted to breastfeed her baby, and was off to a great start, till circumcision ruined their nursing relationship. It is simply unacceptable and NOT okay to continue on in silence on this subject. We know, without a shadow of a doubt, that genital cutting and trauma in the first days of life have a significant impact on the breastfeeding relationship - so to deny mothers this information is to actively work *against* them and their breastfeeding hopes/dreams/wishes. If we are LCs, IBCLCs, LLL leaders, or in any way working with mothers prenatally or in their early hours/days post-birth, there is no reason this subject should not be laid out on the table -- to at least give them the option to look into things further.

    Much love, Jessica - you are a courageous, wise momma. <3

  3. I too, didn't know any better with my first son. Young and uneducated. I fight in his name as well. My youngest son is intact. ((hugs)) to you mama. It's a pain that we must live with, but it softens with time.

  4. Oh mama... I am so, so sorry.

  5. I'm so sorry, this brought me to tears. So well written.

  6. I did not know of the breastfeeding bond being broken. We recently decided not to circumcise &I have been getting negative comments from friends &family alike. Our baby is due in 4wks & I cannot bring myself to put him through a circumcision. But I wish other people had more knowledge BC it's just not something thats talked about. Here in the US you're looked badly upon for not circumcising. I though t my son's dad was not circumcised, turns out he was, but they did it wrong &his parents said he suffered. I did not know this, as an adult you can hardly tell it was a failed circumcision. I'd say it didn't fail, me & my husband had no idea. the only fail was the Dr & lack of knowledge the parents had. My poor nephew had a bad reaction to whatever they put on prior to circumcision, they couldn't tell what they were cutting because of the swelling &had to stop halfway through. I feel like more people need to be informed about the dangers of circumcision & less informed of "cleanliness " of a supposed circumcision. It's misinformation. God bless you momma, if I hadn't been told about these mishaps of people so close to me I would probably have went along with popularity.

    1. You have a ton of support. Even if you feel family or friends are not in support of you...I am and many others are supporting you. Your son deserves the choice. I applaud you

  7. When we expected our first child (we did not know whether we were expecting a boy or a girl), I was pro-circumcision; it was what people did in the U.S., all my colleagues had boys and told me it's a lot cleaner, and an easy, painless procedure. When I asked hubby (who is circumcised) if he wanted a son to be circumcised, he said no, because it's an unnecessary procedure. At this point, no further discussion was needed from my side. Our baby ended up being a girl, and our son was born 6 years later in Germany, where circumcision without a clear medical indication is against the law, but I still look up to my husband for standing up for our baby's genital autonomy. I am sure your boy will forgive you once he's old enough to understand the circumstances. I wish you healing for your and your family!


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