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When "the time" finally arrives, having one's baby boy circumcised is usually a matter of out-of-sight-out-of-mind. The majority of circumcisions are done at the hospital a day or two after birth, when the mother is still recovering. Typically, a man or woman will come to the mother's room and announce that its time for her son's circumcision. (If babies are kept in the nursery, this may not be done. The baby may be brought to her AFTER the fact.) Until recently, the average mother or father did not know what "getting circumcised" meant- how its done, and why. In fact, some parents do not see their son's penis before the circumcision, making it easier to believe that it is just a little snip of "dead" skin. They assume that it is "law" that all boys be done, or that "every boy is circumcised". After all, a smiling man comes to your room and says he's there to take your son down to be circumcised. You hand over your new baby- hesitantly, as you know "it" will not be without pain- who may be nursing or sleeping. About half an hour later, your baby is returned to you asleep. "Ah! He slept through it!" What you don't see is what the nurses and doctors below will tell you. (See also the Doctors' Stories and Nurses' Stories.)

"Do you know how many parents walk away and leave their sons to be circ'ed? Don't stay with them? How many nurses tell them to leave so they won't get upset? Screw the baby, we're worried about mom getting upset? By the truth? Bullsh*t. Parents should stay, lend a comforting hand and voice. But they don't. Many of them." --Denise, LPN (11/1999)

"You did 'em in a -- in a locked room which was very dark with a lamp, and it was somewhat sound-proofed and it was away from the nursery so nobody could hear. And it was sort of this weird behavior that you went through where nobody was watching-- and you didn't have a nurse you just did 'em because you were a Resident: You could do anything by yourself." --Chris Fletcher, M.D.

Circumcisions are lots of times done "assembly-line" style. That is, the doctor who is assigned to perform the circumcisions that day, has all the boys born in the last day or two brought to the "procedure room"- a special room behind the nursery. It is sound-proofed and extrememly guarded- as is all of the infant nursery. Along a counter, there are one, two, three, or more Circumstraints. Each one is bolted down, as babies struggle so hard while being circumcised, they could very well fall off the counter while still strapped to "the circ. board". The doctor begins one circumcision and when he finishes, he takes off his surgical gloves, washes his hands, puts a new pair of gloves on, and begins the next circumcision. The first baby (and later the 2nd and 3rd babies, etc) is still in his Circumstraint. This continues until all the babies are "done". Then a nurse comes in to finish up. She applies antibiotic ointment to the raw penis of each baby and adds a gauze dressing if the Gomco Clamp was used. The baby is then rediapered in a "special" diaper and watched for at least 20 minutes to check for possible excessive bleeding- the most common complication from neonatal circumcision. The babies are then returned to their mothers- usually asleep from exhaustion, and also because babies sleep most of the time as newborns. This is not a normal sleep, though. If you are having problems breastfeeding- like I did with my son- Nurses and lactation consultants alike will ask you if your baby is circumcised; they know that the circumcision interrupts the breastfeeding learning process, and some say the mother-baby bonding process, as well.

"I am a lactation consultant, and about 98% of the time we have a hard time getting boys to nurse the day they are circumcised...in fact, they won't even wake up! They are frequently almost comatose! Why do you think this is? I believe that they are traumatized, and are shutting the world out because of it...and avoiding the pain...." --Allissa

Ann Lown, a Registered Nurse, comments:

"It's unusual that a parent asks to come and watch a circumcision. I wish they did. I wish we invited them in. I feel like if they're gonna have that done to their kid, they aught to have to at least be there, if nothing [else than] to pick up the baby afterwards and comfort him when its over.

"It's normal for parents to go with their child into the Emergency Room if the kid has to have stitches or something like that. It's normal them to go with their baby in the doctor's office and hold the baby while they get their shots or whatever- any painful thing that's done. It's normal for the parent to be there- both to see what happens- to know that it's alright- to give approval to what's going on, and to comfort their child during and afterwards. I think it aught to be the same thing for circumcision.

"Circumcision is the ONLY procedure that we do to little children without their parents' presence and support. It's crazy! And that's part of how you know it's crazy: There are all these things about it that are unusual. It doesn't happen the way surgery normally happens. People don't give informed consent the way they normally give for surgery. The parents aren't there the way they normally are when we do things for children. It's just not right.

"And when events happen and they're happening in secrecy and people are ignorant about it and its all 'hush-hush'- those things are usually crazy. They're usually happening for some reason other than the stated reason- the stated benefit. It's usually something much deeper and more important than that."

"On a recent visit to a British maternity hospital, I saw one chart, under the heading 'special remarks,' a message in large red letters: 'All nursing care at the bedside please; this mother does not wish baby removed.' On a recent visit to an American maternity floor, I saw three newborn boys lying in a row on a counter in the nursing area, howling and bleeding. They had been taken from their mothers for circumcision and none had been returned fifteen minutes later."28. -- Peneolpe Leach

Mary Conant, a Registered Nurse, comments:

"One of the doctors cautioned us against saying, 'Poor baby'. That it was upsetting to the mothers if you brought a baby back to her after having been circumcised and were going 'poor baby...' You know- patting the baby, saying 'Poor baby...' which is a normal thing to do to a baby that's crying. If a baby has labwork done, you pick it up and say, 'Oh poor baby'. The baby has any other painful thing that happens, you pick it up and comfort the baby and say 'Poor baby...' or something like that. So, its okay to do that with anything else that hurts the baby, but you can't do it with a circumcised baby because that will make the mother feel guilty and upset her. So, I don't know what you're supposed to say- 'You're a man now'? 'This is for your own good'? 'You're cleaner now'?"

"I know of at least a few women who, fully aware of the circumcision procedure and what it involves, had their son cut anyway. One woman's way of coping with this was to have it done at the hospital, with orders not to have her son brought back to her room until the next day, because it was going to be 'too traumatic' for her to deal with him knowing what he just went through. That, I believe (and hope), was a special case. By the way, her reason for having her son circumcised was purely aesthetical. She feels that an uncircumcised penis looks like a 'weenie in a blanket'. Hmmm."-- Julie

"I was teaching class this Tuesday night and I'm very disturbed at what I saw. It was the last class in the session and we talked about newborn babies, baby care, etc. We show a slide show of normal newborn appearances-head molding, baby zits, peely skin, etc. We also include pictures of an intact penis, a circ'd penis (healed) and two types of circumcisions that are performed at our hospital (Plastibel and Gomco). The class shuddered and couldn't look at the pictures. But when I mentioned that this was an alternative procedure and it wasn't medically necessary, they all disagreed and still planned on doing it. I don't understand *why*, if they thought it was so awful and couldn't even watch someone else's son going through it, they still found it acceptable!" --Nicke

"I too was in the dilemma because of the pain issue. Thank you for your points. I have also decided to circumcise. My husband wants it too-and I know this is not scientific but he does feel that he could help our young son better if he is circumcised like himself (this came out sounding a little silly) but I feel he has a point and I will just ask the hospital to do it and not let me know when-just bring the baby to me after. That's what my girlfriend did I feel good about my choice."-- Mary

"When I was checking out of the maternity ward, the discharge pediatric nurse gasped when I was changing my sons diaper and said, 'Uh oh... Oh my! The doctor that did the circumcisions already left.' Like it was such a horrible mistake to have missed the butchering."-- Suz

"I remember when I was expecting my second child and they asked me about breastfeeding, epidurals, etc., while filling out all the routine hospital stuff. They got to circumcision, and I said, 'No,' and the silence was so heavy you would have thought I had just asked if I could breed pigs in the hallway. They gave me this information sheet about circumcision, and I said that it wasn't necessary...it wasn't going to happen. They wanted me to take it anyway and reminded me that I could change my mind, looking at each other strangely while writing 'Mother Refused' on the consent form. Geez!"-- Alayne

"I am so sorry to hear about your experiences with being misled into going along with something you regret! It just infuriates me to hear about such things. Having been married to a physician, and socialized with lots of physicians, I have heard some casual comments made that are enough to make your hair turn gray! One USAF OB/GYN, speaking, during the Gulf war, about the circumcisions he performed, smirked and said "If the mothers could see what I do to their babies, they would think it was like something Saddam Hussein would do!". When I told him I thought the mothers would probably like to know what he was going to do to their babies, he muttered, "Well, I heard that there are fewer UTIs..." and changed the subject.

"It is really hard for me to understand how so many physicians manage to keep themselves so misinformed about these things. Young, inexperienced, parents are typically at the mercy of their physicians in making decisions about circumcision, intact care, and treatment of circumcision complications. The best thing for anyone who has made a decision they regret, based on misinformation, is to keep talking about it where other parents can benefit from it!" --Noelani

"Some people just delude themselves. Facing the truth is hard. I could not in all honesty tell someone to circ. Not knowing what I know now. There are still somethings I am not ready to face(the pain and what is actually done during the procedure!). But, I know enough to say NO WAY.

"For some it is easier to hide and pretend than to face reality, more comfortable and safe." --Elaine

"Fast forward to October 13th, 1997, 3:51 p.m. I had just given birth to Nathan. Not immediately after, but somewhere between then and 11:00 when I finally went to sleep, I was asked a couple of times by doctors or nurses if I was having Nathan circumcised. 'No,' I said. 'Good!' came the replies.

"Fast forward to October 14th, 1997-- some time in the late afternoon. In walks a man in hospital 'scrubs', pulling a wheeled metal cart behind him with one hand and carrying a clipboard in the other. 'I'm here to take Nathan down to be circumcised...' he announced. (My husband was still asleep in the chair bed in the corner.) 'I don't WANT him circumcised!' I said huffily. 'I already told TWO people that!' 'But his NAME'S up on The Board..." the assitant whined at me. "Well, take it OFF then!!" I practically shouted back at him. I was really mad that the system was so 'wacked' at this hospital-- that I needed to do something special NOT to have surgery on my son; that I was bugged by people who worked there to have it done; that my message hadn't gotten anywhere.

"Fast forward to a few weeks later. I got a phone call from a nurse who was checking up on me. 'How are you healing?' she asked. Somewhere in that short conversation she said, 'You can have him circumcised up to two months of age without anesthetic...' I think I replied something again about how I didn't WANT him circumcised. Thinking back, it seems strange that 'without anesthetic' was a PLUS to her! My guess is that she wasn't supposed to ask me that, but she noticed he wasn't circumcised in my records, and took it upon herself to try to talk me into it. If I'd wanted it done, don't you think it would have been MORE than easy to get it done at the hospital? As if 'Oops! We let one slip through the system!'?"-- Jen

Oh, I almost forgot! (How could I?) Justin had his circumcision yesterday! It's not a tradition to get them done here on the island, and so we had to go to a surgeon to get this done. Yesterday, he was 13 days old, and the doctor was able to do the procedure in his office. My husband watched, while I competed with Justin on who could cry the most. (He won in the volume competition.) I definitely could NOT watch. I saw the piece of skin that he had cut off of him afterwards, and it made me weak in the knees. Even now, I don't think it is something I'll ever forget. My poor baby. It makes me weak even having to change the dressing, and I'm SO glad that my husband has been able to take the last two weeks off of work so that he'd be here to help me. I can't wait for it to heal so that I can get past this chapter in our lives." --Tracey (1999)

"I've had 3 boys so far and we've never been in the room when they did the circ. I don't think they have a rule against watching it, but think it's just something they don't expect you to want to watch. They just take him and do it and then bring him back afterwards. Funny thing is, they boys have always seemed to be perfectly content by the time they come back to me. I've never had one come back screaming or crying (thank God). By the way, you are right about the shots. The first time you have to take the baby for shots (actually, EVERY time you have to take the baby for shots) you will cry more than the baby does. Be prepared." --Carla H.

"I think it would be sad to see, too. I really don't think I could do it - maybe I should tell dh he doesn't 'have' to be in the room with baby...." -- Jen Schneider

"Lucas was circ'd an hour ago....)0; Didn't go as well as I'd hoped, just glad it's over with." --Karen Stone

"Karen..Sorry to hear Lucas' circ didn't go as well as you thought it would. Were you in the room with him? When Jared was done, they recommended us not being there...so we weren't. (((HUGS)))"--Leeanne