I don’t usually comment on blogosphere controversies. I read, I observe, I may even re-tweet a sentiment I agree with, but I try to stay out of that kind of thing.
Today I’m breaking my streak to speak about something that is so personal to me that I simply cannot sit back and say nothing.
This week a woman that I don’t know lost her baby. The baby had a heart condition known as Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome–this is basically a failure of the left side of the heart to develop. Charlie, if you somehow missed it, was a heart baby as well. All of the families that we shared the ICU waiting room with had children with heart issues. During our stay, there were three HLHS babies on the floor. HLHS is an extremely dangerous condition. Children that have it must undergo three heart surgeries as children. After the first surgery, they actually keep the baby completely asleep with it’s chest open and plastic wrap over it to make sure the surgery was done correctly. Those are some home movies I could have skipped. I keep in touch with one of our former roomies on Facebook and her little one went in for surgery number three two days ago. Recovery is rough and even if the operation is successful, he’ll most-likely be on the transplant list by his eighteenth birthday.
So this baby had a very serious heart condition and he passed away. Before his death, the parents opted to have their child circumcised. A doctor performed the circumcision in a hospital and recovery wasn’t as smooth as they hoped.
At some point, a popular blogger named Dr. Momma decided to post about Baby Joshua’s death. The headline read Baby Dies from Circumcision Surgery Blood Loss and Heart Failure. She also reposted two of the posts written Joshua’s mother and two of Joshua’s pictures. All without consent from his mother and without fully disclosing Joshua’s pre-existing heart problems. Dr. Momma’s followers then began leaving hateful messages for Joshua’s mother on her blog. So many that she had to take down some of her posts.
There are just so many things wrong with this. There’s the stealing of another person’s content and pictures for starters. There’s the the co-opting of another person’s heartache for your own agenda. There’s telling someone else’s story without all the facts, without a medical degree (Dr. Mama is a PhD).
Four weeks after Charlie was born, he had surgery to place a g-tube in his stomach and he was circumcised at that time as well. I agonized over the decision to circumcise him. It felt barbaric. I was uncertain. I was also living in a hospital, my sanity stretched thin by pumping schedules, endless doctors, predictions about Charlie’s future, and a myriad of other details.
I trusted the people around me–people who were getting sleep, medical professionals. We OK’d the surgery. I cannot, cannot imagine how I would feel if something had happened to Charlie after that. Even worse, if someone tried to blame it on me or an elective surgery. I’m not certain my tenuous mental state could have handled something like that. Really.
In Joshua’s case, the doctors feel that it wasn’t circumcision that caused his death–rather, the fact that he was born with only half a heart.
I hurt for Joshua’s family. I am angry at the people who feel that his story is theirs to turn into a soap box. I’m angry that a grieving mother has to deal with anything more than the death of her child–isn’t that enough?
I’m not sure I would circumcise future children. My husband and I were disturbed after we saw Charlie’s circumcision. It looked painful to us and not “no big deal.” That said, I could never, ever condone the actions of Dr. Momma or her readers–this child was loved and prayed over, and I have no doubt that the parents thought they were making the best decision with the information they had available. Those that desire to end circumcision would have done themselves a much better service by reaching out with love and compassion. Hatred rarely changes things and it usually makes them worse.
Edit: Dr. Momma has now taken down pictures and text that were not hers and that she did not have permission to use. I am thankful for that.