In January 2015 my husband and I found out we were pregnant with our first child. The first thing I said to my husband was, “If it is a boy I don’t want him circumcised and if it is a girl she can’t get her ears pierced until she asks for them after she starts elementary school.” My husband was fine with the ear piercing but thought if we had a son he should be circumcised. His reasoning was primarily that since he was, so should his son be, and because he felt his son would get made fun of if he stayed whole.
Neither of us had done any actual research on the issue. At one point I even hoped we would have a girl so that I wouldn't have to face the decision to circumcise him or not. We were not finding out the gender of our baby and I was fairly confident for most of the pregnancy that I was having a girl and we just never really discussed it much after that original discussion. Towards the end of the pregnancy I told my husband we really had to discuss it and he felt strongly it should be done and in the midst of preparing for my non-medicated birth and breastfeeding journey I caved and said, “It's your choice, but you have to go with him for the procedure.”
Flash forward to October 1, 2015. We are in the midst of labor when the nurse asks, “If you have a boy will he be circumcised?” My husband said yes and I said nothing; I didn't agree or disagree. It was my husband's choice, I thought. Twenty-two hours later a beautiful, perfect boy was placed into my arms and a love I never could have imagined swept through my body. I knew I couldn't let a stranger take my son and cut him, but I wasn't sure what to do. Fear of starting a fight with my husband on the day of my son's birth ran through my head. Fear of having my beautiful boy go through an unnecessary painful procedure ran through my head. I put it to the back of my mind and didn't discuss it with my husband right then. I figured I had some time. When the pediatrician was examining him she said, "Because of his hydrocele he won't be able to get circumcised, you'll have to see a pediatric urologist." My whole body felt at ease knowing it wasn't going to be done. We left the hospital with our perfect and whole baby boy.
A few weeks later we had to see the pediatric urologist regarding his hydrocele. He said if we planned on doing a circumcision it couldn't be done until six months, but preferably after one year of age and under anesthesia. When we left the office, I told my husband I was not putting my baby under for a "cosmetic and unnecessary" procedure. He was fine with my decision and we never discussed it again.
When my son was a month old, I decided to watch a video about circumcision I found on Facebook, “An Elephant in the Hospital.” Within a few minutes the video showed an actual circumcision and I had to turn it off. I spent the rest of the day crying and rocking my perfect baby apologizing for ever thinking about agreeing to let someone do that to him. Since then I think about it daily and have cried tears of regret multiple times over it. I feel a guilt that won't go away. The "what ifs" run through my head often. What if he hadn't had a hydrocele? What if the urologist offered to do it that day in the office? Would I have gone through with it?
I realize now it was never my choice to make and it was never my husband's choice to make. The only person who has a right to make such a choice about his body is my son. I will always be an almost regret mom and while I can't change the past I can work to improve the future. I no longer wish for a girl to avoid the circumcision decision. Now I hope for more boys so that I can proudly and with no doubt say my son is staying whole. By having boys who are whole I hope it trickles down to their decisions about their sons someday. No mother should feel the guilt that I have. No parent should be given the opportunity to make a choice that is not theirs to make. No baby should suffer the pain of routine infant circumcision. I was almost a regret mom.
Trish is a mom of two and special education teacher who lives with her husband and sons in New Jersey.
Last updated 6.29.19.