Zachary's Circumcision

As seen in Mothering Magazine, Summer 1979. By Lauren Friederich

After almost a year, the feelings of recalling this experience are still painful to me. Gentla mothers-to-be, I will not betray you with my silence. Please read this letter to my son, hearing it with your hearts as well as your minds. Only you can save yourselves, your husband's and your sons from the pain, guilt, and trauma of circumcision.

I am sitting on a small stool outside a doctor's examining room, tears filling my eyes, my milk beginning to flow in response to your agonized cries for mercy and help. I have never heard such screams. Should I run in and stop them? How long can you -can I- endure this? I feel so helpless as I recall your beautiful birth just eight days ago. I pushed you out into your father's gentle hands; then you were returned to my chest for soft-sweet sucking. We have shared with you home, comfort, security, and love. Now your positive beginning seems to be turning to dust as your screams pierce my heart, telling me of this assult called circumcision you are now enduring. Small, trusting person. If only I could have the pain and disappointment for you. Will I ever know what scars this brings to your soul?

In my naive way I have prepared you for this ordeal with only momentary hesitation. Suddenly I feel betrayed by generations of mothers! Why have I not been told of the agony, the choked screams, and the final defeated exhuastion of being strapped down to a barbaric device called a "circumstraint", and then being cut, stretched, bled, and sqeezed until outraged screams are transformed into unaudible wheezes?

After an eternity of seperation, you are returned to my arms by your very pale father, who has witnessed this circumcision. Zac, can you feel my touch, my sorrow? Your eyes are clamped shut and you don't respond, as I quickly carry you away with tears falling down my face. You refuse to nurse, and I understand why you prefer to deny your worldly existance for a while. After six hours of fitful sleep in which you cry out strongly several times, recalling your nightmare experience, I'm sure, you finally awaken. What is that new look I see in your eyes? I can see pain, a certain sadness, and a loss of trust. Sweet baby, will my love, warm milk, and gentle touch be enough to help you forget? I know that I never will. I've been taught an important lesson. I promise you, Zachary, that from this day on I will let nature be my teacher and love be my guide.

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