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Circumcising My Son Is My Biggest Parenting Regret

Photograph by Twenty20

I couldn't believe it when the nurse told us that, as a practice, they did not recommend circumcision. It's been over six years since that moment. I've learned so much since then, but that day in the hospital I knew absolutely nothing. The nurse was prepared to take our son to be circumcised for us, if we wished, but she wanted to be sure that we knew we had the choice to make. If I had just had time to do research, I might have learned how horrifying the procedure was that I was about to let them do to my newborn baby. But I didn't, and we told the doctors to go ahead.

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It tears me up to think of the pain that we elected to put our son through. It was completely unnecessary. And then, weeks later, as his body tried to repair itself, a pediatrician would have to pull the healing skin back again, essentially a second circumcision. I am literally in tears when I consider the fact that infants feel pain just like we do, and even have a lower pain threshold. God gave him to us perfect, and in our ignorance, we wounded him.

I wish someone had told me how much I would regret that decision. I wish someone would have told me how much pain my little baby would be in and the potential lasting effects of that pain.

Not only did we subject our perfect baby boy to excruciating pain, twice, but now research is showing that too much pain in infants can have lasting effects. A 2015 study indicated that "regardless of cultural background, circumcised boys were more likely than intact boys to develop ASD before age 10." Research is also indicating that when babies experienced pain in the first weeks of life, they can become permanently hypersensitive to physical pain and it can even affect immune function. For example, circumcised boys have been shown to experience higher levels of pain at their six-month routine vaccinations than boys who had not been circumcised.

The more I read, the more I learn, the more deeply I believe that I did a terrible, terrible thing to my son. Will he be "fine"? Sure. I'm positive that he will grow up to be a well-adjusted and highly functioning member of society. Is he traumatized? Probably not. But we took something from him that day. Beside the fact that we took away a very sensitive part of him that might have brought him pleasure later in life, we took a moment that should have been one of trust and comfort, handed him to a stranger and asked them to do something unspeakable to his body.

I am so, so sorry, son. I wish I had known.

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Maybe you are reading this and feeling defensive of your decision to circumcise your son, or maybe you are feeling guilty. I don't want to condemn anybody or question their parenting decisions. I just feel the need to talk about this, because I so badly wish I had known.

I wish someone had told me how much I would regret that decision. I wish someone would have told me how much pain my little baby would be in and the potential lasting effects of that pain. I wish someone would have told me that leaving boys intact is becoming more and more common. With the percentage of circumcised boys in the U.S. dropping to 55 percent in 2015, my son would not be the odd one out in the locker room if he has been left intact.

But nobody told me.

So I'm telling you. Do what you believe is best for your child, but please, please do the research and know what's at stake with this very painful cosmetic surgery.

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