Guest post by Bronwyn Peterson
It was the 1992-1993 school year and I was studying at a small college to become a pre-school mothercraft nurse.* I was 18 going on 19 at the time and as a part of our training we had to do a 6 week placement at a hospital in their maternity ward. I loved the time spent here, watching babies being born and learning how to care for them; learning much from the knowledgeable women I worked with. During my time on this placement, I was privileged to be a part of many amazing moments and I remember them fondly.
However, there was one incident that I saw and it has also remained with me but for completely different reasons. I attended a circumcision and it was possibly one of the most horrific and disturbing things I have ever witnessed. I was told by the doctor who was performing the procedure that most of the time when he did this the little boys were so relaxed they would fall asleep. So here I was, naively thinking that all would be well, I mean the doctor was a professional, why question it? Especially as I was so young and unskilled.
The procedure began. Anaesthetic was injected into the newborn boy's penis - and then the screaming began!!! The screaming and crying continued throughout the whole procedure. Was it from the anaesthetic needle or the cutting?? Who knew? Who cared? He was SCREAMING - surely that should have been enough to make any caring human being stop the hurting!! I began to feel faint and everything in the room went very loud and very bright and I almost fell to the floor. The doctor actually noticed and told me to sit down and put my head between my knees, which I did and started to feel immediately better - physically, but never emotionally.
I remember him crying and screaming - I have an image of him lying there with legs apart and no nappy on. Such an example of vulnerability and exposure. Writing it now, so many years later, still makes me feel quite ill and angry as well. At the time, I was just so shocked and perhaps did not really know how to deal with it. The feelings came up at a later date and now whenever I hear about circumcision I always feel quite sick and emotional and just know that I would never have it done. There is no need for it!
All this time later, I still have flashes of that time. I cannot see it all as a clear sequence of events. I believe that is my mind's way of dealing with the trauma of it. I remember telling people about this experience and how much it disturbed me, but as time went by I pushed it to the back of my mind. Although, every time I ever saw anything on television or written about circumcision, I would remember this experience and my horror and sadness about it. This experience cemented in my mind that I will NEVER have a son circumcised, if I ever have the blessing of bringing one into the world.
Writing this brought up more emotion than I imagined, I even had a cry while putting it down here. If I'm this traumatized so long afterward, I can only imagine that little boy - all the little boys. . .
*A pre-school mothercraft nurse is someone who is trained to work in day care centres - running a room and planning learning programs for children. Also, the training enables them to work in maternity wards alongside midwives, more along the lines of working directly with the mothers and babies helping with teaching care of babies - eg. bathing, breastfeeding, etc.
Bronwyn Peterson is 39 years old. She lives with her partner Sherene on a gorgeous country property with their beautiful 5 month old daughter. They live in Australia, in the state of Victoria, up near a place called Castlemaine - a gorgeous part of the country. She now works with a local chiropractor as a receptionist, part time and also works from home doing massage. She enjoys infant massage. She has two dogs, a cat and six chickens - she loves animals and would have many more, but is not sure she really has the time to take care of them! She loves to read, write stories, do yoga, use the gym, and do spiritual studies with a Hindu nun. She has an amazing life!