My oldest is 14 years old and Im just now realizing the full extent of what was done to him. What I allowed to be done to him. What I conspired to have done to him. I let my baby be tortured and mutilated when I swore to protect him. All I ever wanted to do was make sure he never felt pain of any kind if I could help it. So how could I have missed this? The worse part is: in my gut, I knew better!! But everything I read said this NEEDED to be done and so I hid from responsiblity, I gave it to my ex, I said, you're the man, you decide. I was just sure, as a man, he wouldnt want anyone cutting his sons penis. But he did. And I asked, after the fact, "so, what made you decide for it?" I was expecting some long thought out and logical reasoning. YOu cant imagine my shock and dispare when what I got was, "Well, because it was done to me". Come again? What? My heart sank and I KNEW I had made a huge mistake. We took him home and he cried endlessly, screamed and I didnt know why until I took his diaper off and saw the blood and how it was sticking to the stupid disposable diaper. I had to take him to the doc and have it REDONE because the skin had grown back OVER the stupid plastibell! Cloth diapers helped, he didnt stick to them and scream like he did with the sposies. Anyway....
Fastforward four years and Im back in school finishing up my degree and find myself in an anthropology class learning about female genital mutilation. Im horrifed. I asked why? How on Gods green earth could any mother do that or allow that to be done to her daughter? The instructor: it was done to them, its done to everyone, its accepted. Me: But it being done to them is MORE reason to know better, it HURT them, thier sisters have DIED from it, how COULD they? Then she gives me a list of reasons that they give, things they really believe, becase its more hygenic, it makes them better wives, its healthier etc etc. and it hit me like a ton of bricks, OMG, thats what WE say about male circumsicion. Oh God, do other cultures think we are as barbaric as we think these cultures are? Instructor just nods, I can see it in her eyes, shes gald I made the connection. At that same moment, the guilt nearly overwhelms me and I know that not only did I make a huge mistake, but what was done to my son WAS barbaric.
Fastforward another nine years, Im pregnant with my second son and there is no way Im circumcising him. After reading some of the stories Ive seen on here, thank god I used a midwife at a birthing center or it could have been done before I knew it was happening. Anyway, fastforward another year, to this one. Two nephews, a pregnant sil and stepsister. Sil is keeping her son intact, stepsister says that makes her a bad mother. Big family drama. I try like hell to save stepsisters son to no avail but am so happy sil leaves hers intact. Then at four months doctors say his foreskin is too tight. I beg her not to rush into it, I do tons of research and find out so much more than I knew before. Sil still has it done, but now Im just about rabid about it so I ask to do the presentation for work because I feel like I HAVE to save SOMEONE. To make up for my own guilt? Maybe.
I have spoken to ds1 and apologized and he seems fine with it. Im not though. Tonight, I went to a website that desribed it and had pictures. Im sick. I cried. I nearly threw up. Im too gutless to watch the video. I dont need to, I can barely wrap my mind around the horror of it all. The pain, the terror, the helplessness and I was suppose to protect him. Its no big deal to him now because he doesnt remember it, not conciously anyway. But I have too much imagination for my own good.
I just can't believe what I let happen. I want to take it back so bad and I cant. I know, like any kind of greif, that eventually, I will accept that it's done and in the past and move on. But Im full of rage right now. Rage at the doctor who did it and never told me it wasnt necesary. Hell, I dont even remember if they asked me or not. Rage at all the books and magazines, the "experts" that I, at 22, put my trust in. Rage at my ex for what? Not knowing any better than I did? Rage at our society in general for thinking this is a good idea to start with. Oh yeah, rage at myself for not following my gut, not doing more research, not taking that responsibility on myself. There is nothing worse than knowing your child suffered and you couldnt prevent it...expect knowing that your child suffered and you COULD HAVE prevented it!
The medical profession really needs to open their eyes on this issue. They are most of the reason it has continued so long; telling parents how good it is, how necessary it is....not telling them what is actually taken away and how it's done.
It's just wrong. "First do no harm", isn't that what they've sworn to?
Don't beat yourself up too much. You had it done out of ignorance, which is WAY better in my book then being educated and choosing to do it anyways. Your son has forgiven you, and you need to forgive yourself. If it helps, you can talk to your ds about restoration and his options (maybe when he's a bit older).
The good thing, you learned and you chose to not circ your other son. You've also educated your older son so that he (hopefully) will not circ his future sons. In theory, you've stopped the cycle and hopefully any remaining men in your direct family line will be spared. When you know better you do better.
I'm sorry you have to go through this. I hope it gets better for you. It may help to write a letter to the doc that circ'd your son, even if you never mail it (and to you ex too), just to get it off your chest.
Have you told your ds about foreskin restoration? That will be a way to get back some of what was taken away from him. You don't have to go into details, just give him the url for the websites. Here's one to get you started: www.norm.org.
And I didnt know he could sue. Interesting. If enough men did this, I bet the procedure would stop. These docs are thinking with thier pocketbooks anyway you know!
Is there any way you can maybe PM me that website?
Enough on the reasons why.
You say you want to help with the guilt. Then you can put a pennance on yourself if you so choose. One of them could be to write to congressman and legislature a daily letter, hand written, about why routine circ should not be happening with all the facts about the affects it has on men even if they are not aware of it.
what is 40¢ a day?
Anyways, some moms have said they took that route, just one option and even one letter does make a difference.
As for the guilt, living in guilt will not help you, your son will not know the difference until later in life. Trust me, I'm 24 and just now researching it. And if he does ever get worried about it, you can do all the research about restoring and know where to point him to if he ever asks. I wouldn't tell him he SHOULD do it, but make sure the resources are available to him if need be.
Good luck though, and know that it isn't wholly your fault, I don't really blame my mother at all. I am irritated by the ignorance of the age, but my mom did the best she could with the advice/knowledge she had available.
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I would also venture to guess that there is emotional damage to those who actually perform circ's....but I am sure it is deeply deeply buried.
I must also throw in a quick comment about foreskin restoration and the like. I'm a year or two older than your son, so I can attest to this being a point in life when children need to develop a healthy sense of self. The last thing any child wants to feel is as if something is "wrong" with them, especially from a parent. I personally wouldn't push the issue too much. Your son will know it is well-intentioned, but part of adolescence is of course a great desire to not be abnormal. If he thinks he's fine the way he is, kudos to him! We all have our imperfections. We may not like them, but part of life (and teenagerdom) is becoming comfortable with them.
The best is all one can ask for, and it looks like that's what you're doing. Kudos to you for your honesty and strength.
I also had my first DS circ'ed. I did it because that's just what I thought you were supposed to do when I was 22 years old. I'm from the midwest, never even heard of NOT doing it....Ignorance is my excuse now, but at the time I did what I thought was the best thing, which is what you did as well. Not all of the decisions we make as parents are the best in the long run, but they are hopefully done with love and done with the knowledge base we have at the time. Don't beat yourself up about it! My DS1 asked why his penis looked different than the baby, I told him that there was a piece of skin on it that we had cut off when he was a teeny baby. I didn't apologize, and I won't, I made the best decision I could have at that time, kwim? We move forward....
Gatsby, you are correct, Ive mentioned it to ds1 in passing. When we first discussed it, I left it as simple as, I left the decison to the respective fathers and they each chose the option that they themselves have and I now know that it isnt necesary. He was fine with that. I already had exactly your thought, that I dont want to make my son feel abnormal in anyway! ESPECIALLY at this age, yikes! And I have pointed out that most circed men are just fine and happy that way.
I think my grief is more for the pain he went through back then and also for what I now know he has lost. It may seem silly, to be worrying about it so long after the fact, but I JUST really realized how horrible the procedure is and I cant imagine being a helpless baby and subjected to that. No wonder he went on that nursing strike, which I was told was "normal" after circing.
This is why Im such an intactivist now. People need to know. I wish someone had told me!
Thanks to everyone for the support, thats why I love this place!!