When my obstetrician was trying to convince me to circumcise my son, he told me that he wouldn’t feel a thing.  He told me that they numbed the area and it would be a pain-free experience. I wasn’t there, so I don’t know how pain-free my own son’s circumcision was. Yet, I was there before and after his circumcision. What I hadn’t considered was the pain that he would feel as a result of his circumcision. I hadn’t considered the aftermath.

Here is a photo of me holding my son before his circumcision:

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He was alert and calm. He was very relaxed and content. He would look at people’s faces. Even though he had been given the antibiotic goop in his eyes, he was still very visual and communicative that entire first day, when he wasn’t sleeping… Even with other people. Here is a photo of my dad holding him during that first day prior to his surgery. My son was watching my dad intently:

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The Aftermath

After his circumcision, he withdrew and was harder to please right away. His brows were furrowed almost always in that first week. I remember asking him several times at the end of our hospital stay, “Why so cranky Baby?” I hadn’t even considered it was from his circumcision at that time. I was a new mom and knew almost nothing.

Here he is being held by his aunt at the end of his hospital stay:

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He was sleeping. Maybe he was having a bad dream. Maybe his aunt was holding him strange. Maybe.

Here he is with me. I remember people asking him, “Why so serious, little one?”:

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Same baby, same mother… one day later.  After his circumcision, he just maintained the concerned look, with furrowed brows, even while he slept. It could have been pain from where they drew blood. Maybe.

So, for the week that followed I changed his diaper while he screamed the whole time. His little penis was red and tinges of blood would get on his diaper, even though I was putting petroleum jelly on it just like they said to. It wasn’t a little red. It was an angry red. And still I wondered why he was so upset. I remember telling him, “Mama has to change your diaper, honey.” As though what bothered him was not being wrapped up tightly.  Maybe it was that. Maybe.

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Then the Adhesions

No sooner did I get to exhale from the stress of cleaning and treating a circumcision wound being over, my son developed an adhesion. This is where the skin that is near the glans tries to reattach while it heals. The “fix” for an adhesion? The pediatrician pulled back the skin on the shaft of my son’s infant penis and forcefully pulled it apart. Screaming ensued, as you can imagine. Then, I was back to adding petroleum jelly to the diaper routine, and he was back to feeling pain on his penis. A couple months later, another adhesion was found on the other side of the shaft. Again, my son was put through excruciating pain and had to endure the discomfort of trying to heal. I was told if I had left the adhesions, his erections would cause him pain. I was also informed that adhesions are pretty common.

He Still Isn’t “Not Feeling a Thing.”

To this day, my son who is almost a teenager now, is still proving my old obstetrician wrong. He has asked me to get him a particular kind of underwear because his “completely normal” scar tissue causes discomfort. Sometimes, according to him, it even hurts. And the thing is, all of this discomfort and pain was pointless.

I was informed that my son would not feel a thing.

That might be one of the biggest lies I have ever fallen for.
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