Monday, January 12, 2015

Guilt

The other day I was in the bath with my 5 week old son and my 4 year old son walked in. He watched us lovingly for a few mins then asked me "mommy why does his penis look like that?" I said "what do you mean?" And he said "it's not like mine. See?" And he pulls the front of his pants down to expose his circumcised penis.  My heart sank. I sincerely never expected this conversation to take place. I bit my lip fumbling for the right words and settled on the truth. 
"Mommy made a big mistake when you were born. I allowed a dr to cut it off and that was wrong of me and I am very, very sorry." 
I will never forget his exact words back to me. "But mommy, it's my penis. Why did you cut it off?" 
I was literally swallowing my guilt and if only he knew how deeply this innocent conversation ate away at me. 
"You're right baby. It IS YOUR penis. And I thought I was doing the right thing. I am so very sorry." 
He sat in what I expect is quiet contemplation before saying "can you fix it?" 
The innocence in his eyes. Of course I should be able to fix it. I fix the arms on his transformer when they pop off, I can magically turn his Nabi back on with a cord, I can tape a page of his favorite book making it new again. His request wasn't far fetched in the eyes of a 4 year old who views mommy as his super hero. If only I could put a bandaid over it, sprinkle on a little breastmilk and make it all better. But I can't. 
Sure later on there are surgeries he can try if he still wants a restoration, and I will gladly pay for it and help him in anyway I can, but even then he will never be "whole". That is something stole from him. Without his permission. I stole a piece of his perfect body. For what? To make it look a certain way? 
I will never forget when he was born. A nurse tried to talk me out of it and I was so set on it and I don't even know why. Maybe it was what I was taught, or what I knew to be normal? I really don't know. All I know is looking back I had this perfect little human who looked up at me, his mama, and nursed at my breast and nuzzled into my neck. He was awake and alert and content. Then they took him back and when he returned he was silent. His eyes closed. His hands folded across his chest like he was deceased. His body was covered in red splotches where he had screamed uncontrollably before going into shock. He slept, for...twenty...four...solid...hours. 
Twenty four. 
He wouldn't wake to nurse. He wouldn't open his eyes to look at me. He was no longer curious about his world. About his mama. He no longer cared to nuzzle my neck or grasp my finger with his little fist. 
We struggled for weeks getting him to nurse correctly after that. He just wanted to sleep. He wouldn't look us in the eye and he screamed through diaper changes. 
As I sat there in that bathtub with those memories flooding me, and his eyes waiting for my answer, and I knew I deserved every single bit of guilt I felt. 
I looked down at his brother and even more guilt washed over me. He was brought earthside into his daddy's hands. He has never felt pain. He has only known love. I look at him and I and met with a huge gummy smile. He has been so alert and has gained so well. Nurses so well. Is... Happy. 
I look back up at my other son and I try to find my words "mommy wishes so very badly I could fix it for you. But I can't yet. Maybe when you grow up we can if you want to. But I want you to know you are still wonderful just the way you are to me. Mommy loves you very much." 
He kissed me on my forehead and walked back out of the room and I cried. I cried like I had cried a thousand times before when I feel remorse over the decision I had made. They say when you know better, you do better but that doesn't make it hurt any less. 
The truth is, my 4 year old hit the nail on the head perfectly. It wasn't my penis, and it wasn't my decision to make. I wouldn't tattoo his body or gauge his ears so why would I cut off such a valuable piece of flesh without even a second thought. 
I know he forgives me, and he doesn't even completely understand. But I DO understand and I DONT forgive myself. That is something I will forever live with. 

If you or someone you know is pregnant with a son and you have yet to research circumsion I urge you now to do so. You can't undo it. You're forever altering your child's body, risking their life, and putting them through excruciating pain for a purely cosmetic procedure. Please take the time to watch the procedure being performed and think about what your son and his human rights. I do not wish the guilt I feel on anyone. 

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