I have a story to share. This is a story about my son. A curly red headed boy who gives the best hugs and has the most delightful giggle. A boy that is madly in love with his brothers and sisters. A boy that I know will forgive me and his daddy for the horrible choice we made on his behalf because that is the kind of heart he has.
On a glorious autumn morning my sweet son was born into a family full of love in the peaceful surroundings of his parent’s bed. Quinn came into the world with much to say and introduced himself in a very boisterous way. The peace and tranquility ended on day 16 of his life. On that day, the tears and hurt began.
My husband and I took Quinn to have his circumcision performed at the office of a recommended urologist. We naively believed that this was “just a routine procedure”. My husband filled out the paperwork while I nursed Quinn in the waiting room. We were called back and asked if we wanted to stay in the room while the doctor did the procedure. We both wanted to be there for him and I wanted to be able to nurse him for comfort right away. Quinn was strapped down and the doctor numbed his penis. He screamed in pain and I felt my stomach drop. A few minutes later the doctor did the cut and the nurse commented, “That’s a beauty.” The doctor invited my husband to take a look seemingly proud of what he had just done. We were told to put Vaseline dressings on at each diaper change and dismissed to go home. I again nursed my little man and then buckled him into the car seat. Quinn cried for a few minutes and then fell asleep from the intense stress of it all.
When we arrived home we were greeted by my mom and Quinn’s big brother and sister. We cuddled on the sofa for a little bit and then my mom took Quinn into my room to change his diaper before we sat down to dinner. I heard my mom yell for me in a frantic voice. I rushed in to see what was alarming her and was shocked to see Quinn had bled through his cloth diaper and the diaper cover. There was a lot of blood and it was still oozing out of the circumcision site. I yelled for my husband to call the doctor right away. It was now about 5:45 pm so when he called the doctor’s office no one answered. I insisted he keep trying and then attempted to call myself 3 times. When it became clear we would not get through to the doctor I called Quinn’s pediatrician. He instructed us to apply very firm pressure to his penis for 10 minutes and if the bleeding did not stop to go to the emergency room. After 10 minutes it was clear that this was not going to be enough to subside the bleeding. We jumped in the van and rushed to the emergency room. By the time we got to the ER Quinn had lost a lot more blood. I was holding him in the waiting room and my jeans were soaked with his blood, the blanket I had wrapped him in was soaked with blood, his little socks were soaked with blood. When we arrived they assessed the situation and asked us why we had not called the urologist. We informed them we could not reach him. My husband continued to hold firm pressure on Quinn’s penis while the ER staff decided what to do. They were able to contact the urologist and decided to use a liquid to try to stop the bleeding. The ER doctor told us it had a 50/50 chance of working. The bleeding slowed down for a few minutes and then picked up again. The bed and the towels on the bed became saturated with Quinn’s blood. My husband and a paramedic in training held pressure to Quinn’s penis while we waited for an ambulance to transfer us to the ER where the urologist who did this to Quinn had privileges. It seems we chose the wrong ER unknowingly since we were not told what to do in the event of an emergency. The urologist on call at the ER we originally went to refused to fix the mistake of another doctor. The ambulance crew arrived and was instructed that it was necessary to continue to apply pressure to Quinn’s penis to slow the bleeding. The EMT that would be sitting in the back of the ambulance with Quinn and me insisted that I buckle him into his car seat rather than hold him in my arms on the stretcher. Against my instincts I complied. When we got situated in the back of the ambulance the driver turned on the lights and began to drive quickly to the next ER. The EMT in the back said “You can kill all that.” At which time the driver turned off the lights and began driving the speed limit. Inside I was screaming “What? No, we need to get there quickly.” But, I thought the EMT knew best since he was the medical professional. I was sitting next to Quinn’s car seat and keeping a close eye on him. I commented that he was bleeding through the towels and the EMT came over to take a look then sat back down. A few minutes later I repeated that he was losing more blood and was answered with, “Mmm.” I then questioned why Quinn was looking so pale and why his lips were turning blue. The EMT responded “There could be a lot of reasons for that.” Again I dumbly trusted the medical professional. I assumed we were safe because we were in the back of an ambulance. During the 45 minute drive to the ER (which could have been less than 20 minutes had the driver left the lights on and gone fast) I continued to comment on Quinn’s blood loss and color. The EMT only checked the monitor for oxygen levels. When we finally arrived at the next ER the paramedic on duty there took one look at Quinn and said “His color is awful. We need to get an IV in this baby right away.” They put in the IV and placed an oxygen mask on my baby’s face. I was terrified. My husband and I were both sobbing and stood there holding onto one another and asking God to “Please spare our son. “ I looked down to see his car seat full of blood. We felt completely helpless and so guilty that our baby had to endure this. The urologist that had performed the circumcision came in and placed four sutures in Quinn’s penis. He had cut the frenula artery when performing the original surgery. The bleeding finally stopped. The ER staff then drew some blood to run Quinn’s hemoglobin and hematocrit levels. They came back low but not low enough to warrant a blood transfusion so we were monitored for a couple of hours then sent home. We were told to have the blood work done again the next day. I did not want to cause Quinn extra stress so I asked my midwife to please come to the house to take his blood rather than driving him back to the lab. She agreed and said she would drive the blood right to the hospital for testing. When she arrived, she checked his heart rate and breathing and drew the blood. She left and on the way to the hospital she called Quinn’s pediatrician to discuss his condition. She then called me and informed me that they both agreed that due to his rapid heart rate and breathing as well as his listless state that I needed to call 911 right away and go back to the ER with Quinn. I did just that and this time had an amazing ambulance crew. My midwife was at the ER waiting for us with the lab results that Quinn’s hemoglobin and hematocrit had dropped dramatically since the night before. The ER wanted to run their own test so Quinn was poked again. The results came back the same. We were then sent by ambulance to a hospital with a pediatric unit.
We were admitted to the hospital and spent 23 hours there being observed. His levels were checked at 5:00 am the next morning and were on the rise so he did not require a blood transfusion. We had to stay until 8:00pm that night because he was still very lethargic and nursing poorly. He lost 5 ounces and needed to show the doctors that he could eat well before we could go home. The next two weeks we had follow up appointments and more blood work to make sure Quinn’s hemoglobin and hematocrit
continued to rise. He has to take iron supplements until his levels are normal again. All of this because we believed the LIE that circumcision is “just a simple procedure.” During the time our son was meant to learn that his world is a safe and loving place, he had to endure needless pain. Please consider what happened to Quinn before you decide to have your son circumcised. I believe Quinn is alive today because my midwife let his cord pulse. He had that extra blood in his little body and it acted as his safety net. Our family was blessed with another son 15 months after Quinn’s birth. Ezra remains intact as will any future sons.