An Open Letter from a Regretful Mother
Dear Expectant Mother,
Do you like making a mistake?
No. Of course not. And neither do I.
That is why I am writing you this letter today. Not
to sell you anything, but to offer you some friendly, experienced advice.
Mother-to-mother. To let you in on a secret I wish I had known.
You see, I made a big mistake the day my son was
My doctor told me that
Joshua wouldn’t feel any pain during his circumcision. He received an injection
for the pain as well as a topical anesthetic. But the doctor still had to strap
Joshua down to a plastic board so he couldn’t
move. As soon as the
circumcision started, he screamed and then pooped all over himself! He kept
crying hard during the surgery and afterwards.
The nurses told me, “He’s
just crying because he’s strapped down and because he’s cold.” Well, a mother
can always tell when her child is crying out of pain and when her child is
crying because he is uncomfortable. I watched Joshua’s face and heard his cries
while he was circumcised. I will never forget the look on his face. He wasn’t
just crying because he was strapped down or cold!
How could I believe that
Joshua wouldn’t be in pain? Well, I thought the anesthetic would work. The
doctor said he gave it correctly, but Joshua still screamed. How
could it not hurt to have skin stripped off your genitals?
Later, I did some research
and learned that anesthesia used for circumcision isn’t always effective
because it doesn’t penetrate the many nerves in the penis. A baby will still be
in a great deal of pain.
Circumcision was a vague mystery to me. I had no
religious reason to do the procedure, so why exactly did I agree to it? I
thought everyone had it done.
The reasons given for circumcision have always been
kind of vague. I was told that it was somehow cleaner and that it prevented
infections. But why then are more than 80% of the world’s men not circumcised?
And why has the circumcision rate in the United States fallen to 57% of newborn
What exactly did I have removed? And what exactly
happened to my baby as a result?
I know I can’t change the
past, but I can change the future. Hopefully, I can help other mothers like you
who will be faced with this decision, the only
surgery performed on children without a diagnosis.
After my son spent nine months of mysteriously
complex and elegant work at literally becoming a whole person in my womb, it
was I, his mother, who agreed to let some doctor suddenly make him less than
My doctor had no time to tell me about the pain, the
risks or the disadvantages of circumcision. He didn’t bother to tell me that
circumcision is not necessary for hygiene or disease prevention. Nevertheless, he cut
away living, healthy flesh that was part of my son’s penis. Suddenly, what nature intended as a
covered organ would be uncovered for the rest of his life. What would happen to
your most sensitive and moist parts of your body, which are normally covered,
if their protective covering was permanently taken away?
Most parents choose neither to view nor to question
the details of their son’s circumcision. But I did. After seeing Joshua’s circumcision firsthand,
I can swear to you as a mother that I will never choose to do it again. There
is no need to put any child through such a trauma!
Had the hospital shown me what they were really going to do, I never would have
let them take a knife to my baby.
I urge you to view a
circumcision before agreeing to have it done to your boy!
I have thought long and hard about what I agreed to.
How could I have done that to my baby? I simply didn’t have the up-to-date
information I needed when I needed it, like the pamphlets from the National
Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers (NOCIRC).
I’ve learned a lot from NOCIRC. I had no idea that
the head of the penis is normally a mucous membrane that is permanently
desensitized by the removal of its protective sheath of skin called the
foreskin. What remains is a scarred surface.
What exactly is the foreskin? Well, it’s not just
any piece of skin. It is complex and sensitive tissue. All mammals have one.
The foreskin protects your son’s urinary tract from irritation and
contaminants. It contains thousands of highly sensitive nerve endings, in more
abundance than in any other part of the penis.
Why do we think that our babies won’t suffer from
circumcision? Why do we take such an unnecessary risk with their penis, their
feelings, and their future and put them through such a trauma so soon after
they are born? Looking back, my own ignorance as a mother astounds me! What was
Surely a person with the power to speak would refuse
to be strapped down and submit to an unnecessary operation with its obvious
risk of physical damage.
So why do circumcisions continue? Because no baby
says, “Stop! Don’t do this to me!” and because very few circumcised fathers
ever know what it’s like to have a foreskin.
Finally, circumcisions continue because mothers are
still letting them happen to their baby boys, just like I did. I can tell you
now: that was my big mistake!
We are the guardians of our children and the
guardians of their future. I just
wish I had remembered that when I was holding my
little Joshua in my arms and was approached by a busy nurse who announced,
“It’s time for his circumcision.”
I wish I would’ve come to
my senses right then. I wish I would’ve said: No.
Won’t you take a few minutes and read about circumcision, for your new baby boy and for yourself? Then I’m sure you won’t
make the same mistake I did.