My husband and I welcomed our first son into the world a few months ago at the Hi-Desert Medical Center in Twentyninepalms, CA. We decided to leave him intact.
But the staff at the hospital told me to retract him (pull back his foreskin) and clean his penis with every diaper change.
I’m a new mom, and I had no previous experience with intact care, so I had no idea that this was terrible advice.
In fact, even the AAP says not to pull anything back to clean. At birth, the foreskin is fused to the head of the penis, just like your thumbnail is fused to your thumb. Over time, the foreskin detaches from the glans, and by the time a boy is reaching puberty, chances are he’s figured out to retract it on his own. Before that, it can cause serious damage.
Three months of damage.
So, for the first three months of my son’s life, I dutifully followed my doctor’s orders, thinking he was the expert in this matter. I retracted my son gently every at every diaper change, cleaned his penis, and pulled his foreskin back forward like I was taught.
I just didn’t know that it’s not supposed to retract until later in life.
One day three months later, when I went to change him one morning. I noticed that the tip of his penis was incredibly swollen and red.
Not knowing what else to do, I took him to the ER.
The ER doctor immediately told me that I needed to circumcise him, that his penis wasn’t ‘normal,’ and that the skin should have been removed at birth.
I was crushed. We left him intact because we knew that circumcision was harmful, unnecessary, and painful. And yet here I was, three months after my son was born, being told that it had to be done after all.
Not knowing any better, I scheduled him to be circumcised at Loma Linda Hospital in December, once he turned 6 months.
I sought help and reassurance on a community group on Facebook from other moms who might have gone through a similar experience with a child my son’s age. I immediately got so much backlash from other moms, as well as many disgusting and rude comments. There were some gentle responses, but it hurt my feelings because I truly had no idea that circumcision wasn’t necessary.
I just thought people were being mean to me for no reason. It hurt.
Then, another mom private messaged me and kindly talked to me. She asked me about the situation and gently informed me about all of the dangers of circumcision, about how the doctor’s advice to me was rash and unprofessional, and that there were many other less-invasive options to try before resorting to something as drastic as a circumcision.
This stranger went out of her way to be polite, respectful, and caring.
After all, we both had the same end result in mind: keeping my son from further harm.
I felt so dumb after gaining all of this new information, but realized if I hadn’t thought to seek advice by posting on that Facebook page, then I probably would have just accepted the doctor’s words at face value, gone through with the procedure, and never questioned it.
I’m so grateful I spoke up, and that someone reached out to me in kindness to talk to me about what I was going through, and I know my son will be grateful for the kindness of a stranger as well.
I have since learned a lot more about the topic and am now a well-educated young mommy of a healthy intact 5 month old baby boy. I now know to never retract his foreskin and will never do so again. We also try not to use excess soap or bubble bath, because I’ve learned that this can cause irritation as well. In fact, this might have been the thing that caused his initial redness to develop in the first place.
I now try to spread the word to anyone I know who’s pregnant with a baby boy. I share with them the dangers of circumcision. Who knows what side effects my son was spared from, just because I made that one post on that Facebook!
I would like to thank any and everyone who has messaged me with info, and who has been kind and encouraging to me. It really means a lot to my family and me, and my hope is that I can help spare other baby boys from suffering due to bad medical advice.
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- How a Stranger on Facebook Saved my Baby: London’s Story - November 11, 2016