It was mid day when I first felt the
contractions. The telling signs of labor that every mother instinctively knows.
I calmly drove to the hospital, but didnít bother calling my husband John, just
in case it wasnít really labor contractions. When I was admitted to the hospital
the resident checked my dilation and said, ďYour in labor. I was staying. I gave
John a call and told him that this was it. We were going to have a baby and
didn't he think it was a good idea to join me in this process.
Nothing happened for a very long time. John met
me on my 20-something lap of the floor and we walked some more until it was time
to be checked. Nothing. I was still 5 centimeters. The doctor thought that, by
her examination, the baby's head was coming down into my right hip and the
crookedness of it all was causing me to dilate more slowly if at all. At 7 in
the morning the doctor came in to check me and I was still 5 centimeters. I had
been in labor now -- not including Friday -- 18 hours and nothing new. The
doctor was still reluctant to break my water because he felt the head was still
a bit crooked and it wouldn't do any good to start the clock if everything
wasn't going to progress. I desperately wanted a vaginal birth and wouldnít hear
of a possible Caesarian.
At 3:30 p.m. the doctor ruptured my membranes.
Before this my contractions were six minutes apart and painless. With the first
contraction after they broke my water I felt the head slam into my cervix. It
felt as if I had been punched. I can only guess that this was what was referred
to as engagement. We were now at 0 station, 100 percent effacement, 5
centimeters and the contractions were one and a half minutes apart and hurt like
no tomorrow. These contractions felt just as bad as those I had had with Pitocin
a year before.
The doctor checked me and I was 5-6 centimeters.
I told the nurse to call the anesthesiologist and for John as they were about to
start an epidural. The anesthesiologist came and asked me to move to the side of
the bed and round out my back. He reminded me to try to not move while he was
doing the insertion. I remember laughing to myself and thinking that I couldn't
move if I was lit on fire. My job was to get through the pain. Anything else,
including movement, was secondary. I felt the needle for the medicine to numb me
up. I felt the shock go down my leg and was almost giddy with anticipation. That
meant the pain was almost over. A few contractions and medicine doses later and
I was one happy girl. It was around 6 p.m.
The doctor came back at this point and sat down
to talk with us a bit. We discussed circumcision and the pros and cons, as we
hadnít done this before. I didn't want it but John really did. The doctor also
strongly in favor of the operation and under the combined pressure I gave up and
consented. My only term of agreement was that John be there to watch the
circumcision because he wanted it. I really knew nothing about the procedure,
having done no research, but had I known then what I know now I would not ever
have consented. But I will come to that later.
Around 7:30 p.m. I started to feel very nauseous
and began to shake uncontrollably. I had hit transition and it was time to go
forward. I didn't want to talk to anybody and I couldn't stop shaking. It is
true what they say about becoming very serious at this point.
At 8:15 p.m. the doctor checked me and I was
fully dilated! I was going to start pushing now. I had a few practice pushes
from 8:30 until around 9 p.m. It was hard to tell where to push because of the
epidural. I could feel the contractions because I would get short of breath when
the baby was squeezed into my diaphragm. I pushed two times with each
contraction and waited some of them out to catch my breath. They positioned the
mirror so I could see and it was strange to see myself from that angle at first.
Later I lost all self-consciousness, as the whole thing became surreal. After a
while I could see the head. It was just a dark patch of hair but it was there.
They told me that I could touch it but I didn't want to.
With each heave the
baby's head came out a bit more and stayed there. I crowned not much longer
after that. Watching in the mirror, I thought that my body couldn't stretch one
bit longer and I just couldn't deliver this baby. There was no way that head was
going to come out of that opening without some kind of violent explosion. Just
as I thought that I saw a nose and then an ear. I could feel the shoulders even
with an epidural. One shoulder came, then the other and then wham! Out came
Kevin, all 8-lbs. 2 oz of him into the doctors arms and he quickly emitted a
loud wail. He was then placed on my belly and I cuddled his soft, perfect body
against mine. John got to hold him next and then the nurse whisked him away to
perform his initial testing. I was cleaned up and allowed to rest.
The next day I spent mostly lying in bed with
Kevin and with John at my side. That evening the doctor walked in to check up on
me. I was recovering quite well and was actually walking around the hospital.
The doctor informed us that he would be circumcising little Kevin at around 10
the next morning and John promised me once again that he would be there. The
doctor then left and John soon afterwards promising to be back by 9, as we had
left our daughter at home in the care of a trusted family friend.
The next morning I awoke at 6 and had Kevin
brought to me from the nursery. The surprise came at 650 when the nurse showed
up at the door. The doctor, she said, was unable to perform the circumcision at
the 10 oíclock time because of another birth. The circumcision had been bumped
down to 7 oíclock and she had come to take Kevin. I felt slightly panicked as
John was not here and with the circumcision happening in less then 10 minutes
there was no way he would get here in time. I reluctantly let go of Kevin, but
decided that I needed to at least watch in place of John. The nurse was inclined
to disagree but with time running short, she did not feel like arguing. Pushing
Kevin, she led me down the hall, through some doors and pointed to a smallish
room with shades covering all the windows except the smaller one in the top
center of the door. She pointed me to this spot and took Kevin around a corner.
Peering into the room, I saw a counter with several plastic looking boards
attached and a set of instruments laid out by each. Just then the nurse entered
with Kevin through a door in the back of the room. She undid Kevinís diaper and
laid him on one of these boards, strapping his little arms and legs down as he
struggled and whimpered. The doctor then entered, apparently not noticing me
looking through the window and the nurse left, shutting the door. ďWell this
isnít so bad.Ē I thought.
The doctor then began swabbing Kevinís penis
with some sort of brownish liquid and laid a sheet over him. Kevin apparently
did not like any this because he began to cry. I bit my lip, my maternal
instincts wanted to rush in there and comfort my child, but it was something
that I could just not do (I found that the door was locked anyway). The doctor
then picked up this long silver metal probe thing, and proceeded to jam it
between my sonís foreskin and penis. This looked so wrong and unnatural and
Kevin tilted up his head and began to shriek as the doctor moved this instrument
around in a circular motion. Kevinís wails got still louder as the doctor made a
slit in the skin and pushed in a small metal bell on top of Kevinís penis. He
then put a little device over the bell and tightened a bolt, causing Kevin to
pull with all his strength to get out of the straps and his little head shook
back and forth as his cries grew more intense. Poor guy!! I just wanted to run
in there and rescue him. It caused me such pain to watch this and almost wished
I had never asked to watch, let alone consent to this procedure. But I felt
compelled to be there with my son, as whatever pain I felt was doubtlessly felt
10x more in him. The doctor then waited for 3 or 4 minutes as my son lay there
crying, with a hideous clamp attached to his penis. After this period of time
the doctor took up a scalpel and began to slice off the skin. Kevinís wails had
tapered to a whimper now and the doctor pulled off the bell, revealing a very
red, exposed penis. He wiped it with some gauze and then called for the nurse.
He went to wash up as the nurse bandaged Kevin up and took him out of the room.
I walked slowly and sadly back to my room, the
whole affair having made me sick. At 830, a different nurse came in with Kevin
who was asleep. She smiled and said, ď Your son did great, he didnít cry at
all!Ē I gave her a look of death, for I knew this to be a lie. Ignoring the
look, she put Kevin down and undid his diaper, revealing Kevinís bandaged penis.
Kevin awoke and started to whimper again, the poor guy probably thought he was
going to be circumcised again. Ignoring the whimpers, she undid the bandage
revealing the angry red penis. A lot of skin had been removed and its head was
completely exposed. She explained how to care for the penis and then replaced
the bandages and left.
When John showed up at 9 I really did not feel
like talking. He proceeded to change Kevinís diaper and was surprised to find
the bandages inside he smiled and said, ď Oh, they already circumcised him, well
thatís great!Ē Great! He obviously had no idea what he was talking about. I
explained what had happened to him and he was sorry that he had not been there.
But he also assured me that it could not have possibly been as bad as I had
thought, because, after all, babies donít feel much pain. Yeah, right. He also
told me that if we had another boy, he would be there to watch. He clearly did
not get it. But I decided to cross that bridge when we came to it, as it would
likely be several years down the line. The next day we were discharged and went
At 3 months Kevin is now a happy bubbling baby
who brings joy into my heart every time I see him. His older sister loves him to
death and is so proud to be a big sister. Kevinís circumcision, although
saddening was an unfortunate blip in a sea of happiness surrounding his birth.
Thank you for letting me share my story, and parents think twice before
submitting your own sons to this procedure. Thanks again.