I Regret My Son's Circumcision

My biggest regret is my son's circumcision.

I almost didn't write about this because, well, this is my son's penis we're talking about. That's kind of private.

But my regret is so much deeper than a piece of flesh. And if I can share this story and maybe help someone else make a different decision, then I need to tell it. To help me heal. To hopefully help someone else avoid the need to heal (parent and baby).

I started making my birth plan a couple months before my due date. I had a Pinterest board full of research because I wanted to make informed decisions. One of those decisions, if you're having a baby boy, is whether to circumcise or not circumcise.

At this point, I was pretty into a natural way of life. I wanted a natural birth. I wanted to breastfeed, baby wear, and make my own baby food. But I still had only scratched the surface of what it means to parent gently and naturally. Bed share? No way. Sleep training? Sign me up. Circumcision? Whatever.

The only reason I gave circumcision any thought at all was because my husband came home from work and said one of his friends was trying to convince him not to circumcise our baby boy. "Why?" I asked. "Why does it even matter?" So we did a little research on the pluses and minuses of circumcision. Afterward, I was riding the fence. The main reason I thought, "Hmm, maybe not..." was because I read it's medically unnecessary and comes with slight risk. Then why do it? But my husband still wanted to. I told him, "Okay, you're the man and this is a penis thing, so the decision is yours."

But I was wrong. We made a decision that wasn't ours to make.

Two days after our sweetheart boy was born, he was scheduled to have his circumcision. Before they took him away, I cried and cried. I held him and wondered why we were putting him in risk's way at all, this sweet little boy. And how could I ever forgive myself if he were one of rare risk cases? My strong maternal instincts told me it wasn't right. I dismissed those instincts as hormones, and I let them take my baby and cut a piece of his body away before he was even capable of making that choice for himself. Before he even understood his options.

This wasn't his dad's choice because "it's a penis thing." This wasn't my choice because I'm his mother. This is our son's choice because it's his body. And we took that choice away from him. I didn't even realize this at the time because parents have been making this choice for their sons for thousands of years. It seemed normal.

If the surgery really is as fast and painless as they say, then it would be no big deal for a man to have it done if he decides that's what he wants. I'm so sorry our boy won't get to choose.

I'm sorry I ignored my strong, protective, maternal instincts. That I failed him in such a permanent way when he was so new and little and dependant on me. 

I'm sorry I put him at risk at all when the procedure wasn't necessary. I've never so badly wanted to go back in time and change history. Out of everything in my past, this is the one thing I would change.

As I've stepped more confidently into who I am as a mother--attachment, natural, gentle parenting--I've come to see what a mistake I made. I've cried so much. Felt heavy guilt over it. In the past few days, I've started to heal as I've talked about my regret.

I'm not trying to make anyone feel bad who has had their boy circumcised. I'm hard on myself, I know that. I just wanted to share this so someone out there can learn from my mistake and leave the choice to the man they're going to raise. If we want to teach our sons body respect and boundaries, then it starts here.

I'm forgiving myself (blog post to come) and giving myself time to grieve and heal. But there's probably always going to be a small piece of me that will hold my breath until my son is old enough to understand and say, "I forgive you, Mom."

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Anonymous said…
So sorry Momma! Hugs to you and your sweet baby. You are absolutely right- your baby boy was designed and created perfectly. God intended his body to be that way. Thank you for sharing your story as you're helping to save other babies. You can find gentle support at www.yourwholebaby.org and also www.littleimages.org
Jessie Mullins said…
Thank you so much. I really do hope this will help someone else. And thanks for all you're doing doing on the matter too!
Anonymous said…
For a long time, mothers were told that circumcision keeps the area clean and prevents painful infections. We were told it was the modern, humane thing to do, so many of us did. It only later we questioned the decision. Both my sons were circumcised and neither feels maimed by it (yes we have had the conversations). Would I do it different if I could go back? Probably not, because I would have the same information, the same mind set back. If I had the choice now, knowing what I know, I would not necessarily do opt for circumcision. But my sons are fine with it, they tease their uncircumcised friend. Our sons adapt. The scary thought for me was that if we were circumcising our sons for health and hygiene reasons, what would we do to our daughters? Realistically, it is harder to keep a girl clean in that area than a boy. But we are women, we know how to keep ourselves and our daughters clean. Men are not our area of expertise so to speak, so we believed the medical community when we were told it was necessary. It wasn't until I starting thinking in those lines I understood that there was not really any reason to circumcise. I don't feel guilt about my decision, but I do feel regret at times.
Jessie Mullins said…
Thanks so much for sharing. That's awesome you've talked with your sons about it and that they're okay with it. That kind of information is still presented now. One of the reasons we decided yes was because we read an uncircumcised penis is too hard to clean and passes diseases more easily. But like you said, women have figured out how to keep ourselves clean.
Jessie Mullins said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said…
Thank you for sharing your story. I truly do hope it will helps someone who is on the fence about circumcision. I have 3 sons, and felt somewhat pressured to circumcise my first boy, but in the end I did not have it done. I am so thankful my husband was kind enough to let me make the final decision. Naturally, since our eldest son wasn’t circumcised, his younger brothers weren’t either. In Genesis, it says that after God created man, He said that “it was good”. Adam’s body was created the way God intended, and if it was good enough for God, then it is surely good enough for my sons!

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