The first cut is the….

A reflection on our decision to circumcise our son.

When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, and she was a girl, one of the things I remember thinking was – ‘dodged a bullet having to get that circumcision”.  What I meant about that is having to make that hard decision to actually do it – lets not forget the cost that is involved in the process.

Fast forward to the last trimester with my second child, a boy, and well… the topic of conversation is brought up – circumcision. I know that we had both spoken about it in the past, and always said if we have a boy we would have it done, and we know we wanted it for our son. I spoke to my gyne to get advice on the topic and how to go about it.

My gyne has said that the hospital I would be having my boy at did not preform the procedure and she recommended a doctor at another hospital in Durban. There was no urgency to book it before the birth. I was so super calm about it, just call once the baby is here and then get it done.

You see… not every hospital will do the procedure  while you are still there. Many doctors will request a week, two week or even a month. Some won’t do it at all. I knew that this type of procedure is not the most popular anymore, it has become a bit of a topic that women are scared to talk about amongst each other. Parents are not sure what their options are and if they can even still do it, is it even allowed?

Why do we even want to do it? Is there still a reason? Well…. I am not going to go into those details, as every parent has a reason why.

What I do want to tell you is our story, and what happened to us.

Sitting at home, my tiny baby boy in my arms, I know I need to book the procedure to happen within the first week. I am still so irritated that this was not something that could of happened in the hospital. My gyne said she would give me the number, so I call the office, and she is out and only back in a day or two, I phone to follow up and only finally get the number.

I have to build up the courage to make the call. I hate this type of thing. A lady who is a temp answers and books us. YES I think – once less thing on my list.

The next day

The phone rings – the receptionist who was off the previous day, calls to inform me that they can’t do the procedure as I am neither Jewish or a Muslim. WHAT… and they could not tell me before. I did not know that was a thing. I just thought it was something you had to pay for as it was elective and not covered by medical aid.

The panic sets in…

First thing…. I tell my husband and then reach out to my friends who has mentioned other doctors. 2 of the doctors I call are away. More panic.

My husband suggested I google it. I kinda rolled my eyes at that and said – I am not sure I am going to find that on a website of services…. but… he was right… or was he…

So now I have found what seems to be the next best option. A urologist in town. I make an appointment and tell her why I am coming, we have to have a consultation appointment first R700 before anything. So that following Monday I arrive… sitting in the rooms and well… I wait and wait… finally the doc arrives and gets given my file. She goes to her room and obviously calls the receptionist and tells her to tell me – she does not do the procedure on babies so young – WHAT THE FUCK!!!! I have just driven alllllllll this way to be told a nope. Now I tried to keep my cool – and not freak. While I was in the room another lady arrived for her appointment and overheard me talking to the receptionist. I also spoke to her of my frustrations. I said that I could not believe how crazy it was for me to try and get this done. She was the sweetest Muslim lady, she came and sat next to me and said – don’t worry let me help you. She then gave me a name of a doctor and the hospital that it can be done.

Relief… all I thought was… she will definitely know the right person and people that do it with every boy. So no messing about.

In the car on the way home I give the doctors offices a call. The sweetest lady answers and tells me everything. I say I will let her know the next day on confirming the date.

Now both my husband and I are starting to question our decision to do this whole thing. We feel the burden of the cost vs the actual benefits of the whole thing, we worry about the pain our boy will feel.

We bite the bullet and make the appointment. OH MY Word are doing this.

Lucky there was no need to have an assessment beforehand- just go and have it done. It would now be 4 weeks since his date of birth (I am driving)

Spanner in the works…

Husband is too busy – he can’t be there on the day – I am not impressed. But I know I have to do it. Lucky he suggested his mom comes with me. She is an amazing mom in law. I did not want her to take leave to do it – but she did – THANK GOODNESS.

The day… the day was here.

Crap – I am so nervous

His last feed had to be before 6am – he then woke up at 4am and wanted to eat. Oh no… too soon. Got ready and set off to fetch my mom in law. She had to sit in the back and give him 2.5ml of Panado. I was not allowed to feed him until after the procedure was done.

He cried all the way there. I am driving in morning traffic. Mother in law is trying to calm him in the back and I am trying to listen to the directions and find the place.

Nervous as all hell I want to puke. I am so used to his little thing looking the way it does. I have to talk myself not getting back in the car. We were on time and everyone else is running late. Filled in forms. Then waited…..

We are in the surgical room, my boy is prepped- he is crying, and crying and crying. He is wanting to feed. Moms – those that breastfed, the sound of your babies cries for food can trigger such adrenaline and the need to feed. I am rocking him, mom in law takes him and we bounce and rock and try everything to calm him. It’s been a long time since he has fed now. The doctor finally arrives.

I am there the whole time.

We are not asked to leave…. I am there to witness it all. The doctor is an old, and wise looking doctor who gives me the confidence I need in him.

My baby is lying on the table. The two assistants are holding him tight. He is exposed to the world. A contraption is placed on his bits. It was a clamp to cut off blood flow. They give me him again to hold for awhile as the contraption need to be placed there awhile to work. My poor boy. This is torture. Why the hell am I doing his. He is crying both for food and pain. When the doctor returns. The cutting of the foreskin was quick. He was wrapped up and the doc tell me crazy on as usual and clean, apply vasaline in 3 days to help the bandage to come off.

He is given to me. All wrapped in the green blankets – he can’t be dressed yet. I am taken to a surgery waiting room to feed him. We have to be there for 30 minutes so they can check for bleeding. I sit in a cramped space and feed him. My breasts are engorged – he feeds ferociously. And keeps on crying and crying. I am sure he has eaten so quickly out of hunger and pain and needing comfort. While feeding he does the biggest poo… no diaper. Lucky the blankets catch it all. I then clean him all up after he is checked and we head home.

He sleeps and he sleeps. Most of the day.

It was emotionally and physically exhausting. I felt like a bad parent- I felt like a good parent. I felt so many things.

After a couple days I started to put the Vaseline on the bandage to help it start to come off. I also had to apply some antiseptic. He has fine. No crying.

After the couple of day. Some of the bandage came off, leaving the smallest among. I left on for the next few days. Applying more Vaseline to help it dislodge. It slowly did and just hung there. I thought I could give it a quick tug to remove. And did. It start to bleed a teeny tiny bit and he screamed and screamed and screamed. It must of been so sore. The crying went on and on. Eventually I give him more Panado and lots of love. Fuck that is terrible. Witnessing your kid cry out of pain is the worst.

But it was done – no going back.

Now he is completely fine. With a healed penis.

Why do we still do this? There are so many reasons. It is something you will have a million thoughts about. I am mad with the whole medical system. My poor boy would not have gone through all the trauma if it was something just done in hospital. Newborns don’t feel it the same as a baby a few weeks in.

Why is this a thing we don’t want to do – but promote for adult men to have done as it lowers the risks with STDs.

I don’t regret having it done, I regret not sorting out the when and how, long before he was born.

A word of advice – don’t be like me and find out all the facts. Costs and who will do it and when.

5 thoughts on “The first cut is the….

  1. I think it is absolutely disgusting that you had this experience. I have heard about other people (not Jewish or Muslim) having trouble getting their newborns circumcised. How can these doctors say that the baby is not old enough? The younger, the less they are aware of what is actually happening to them. So grateful for the experience I had – the morning my son was born I told the paed we wanted to have it done, he organised a paediatric surgeon who arrived 2 hours later and it was done then, within hours of his birth. No questions asked and that’s how it should be. Cannot imagine how distressing your experience was, as a mom and for the baby.


  2. I’m sorry you had to struggle and it ended up being such an ordeal.
    We didn’t find out the gender of our baby before he was born but we were lucky enough to have known people who had boys who had been circumcised. They pointed us in the direction of an old Jewish doctor. We made an appointment when he was 4 days old and at 10 days old it was done. It was the most traumatizing thing for me but so grateful for my boobs!!!
    When my daughter was born I first thought “wow, look at her she’s perfection”, my second thought “thank goodness I don’t have to go through another circumcision again”.

    Liked by 1 person

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