Dear Husband

Dear Doctor, Midwife, Mother, Sister, Husband, Childbirth Care Provider,
These letters are a compilation of letters that have been shared with me from some of my clients' journals. I ask many of the women I work with to start writing... forgiveness letters, truth letters, anger letters, secret letters... healing letters that allow them to be honest about what they are holding in their hearts.

Some of these letters make it into the hands of their intended recipients... sometimes not... 

Dear Husband,
You'll probably never get this letter. No, I know you'll never get this letter. How can I tell you what's really in my heart when I know it would only break yours?
Or possibly even break our marriage.

You wanted a son almost as long as I did. When you married me, you promised to care for and love RiLeigh as your own, and you do. But, when we decided to try to get pregnant for another baby, we both wanted a son.

When we found out it was a boy? Wow, we were over the moon! I started planning right away, a home water birth, like RiLeigh's was!

But, you started having second thoughts. You were worried about how we might be risking our babies life. I gave you tons of material to read and invited you to come to my appointments with me to ask the midwife any questions you might have.

You declined.

You had a strong opinion of how I should birth, but you weren't willing to let it become an educated opinion.

After 3 months of coercion and arguing, we switched my care to a doctor, in a hospital. You were relieved, I was in mourning.

During my labor, you were so worried for me and my health that you stopped helping me and started questioning me.

Could I do it?

Was I in too much pain?

Should I get a cesarean?

You even stopped asking me and started going directly to my nurse. My nurse went to the doctor. The doctor was more than happy to jump on the 'epidural and a cesarean' wagon. But not me. In labor, I fought for my right to simply birth my baby, and I won.

We were supposed to be a team, but instead, when the going got tough, you tucked your tail and ran to the opposing team, divulging our secrets, our weaknesses, and our strategies... but I still won the game.

That was disappointing, but not really hurtful. What really hurt was what you did to our baby boy. We had talked and talked about all of the labor and birth options, what I wanted and didn't, what we wanted for our little boy... and I guess I just assumed that, like our choice to wait on vaccinations and other injections, you would want to protect our son from the pain of circumcision. It was my fault for assuming.

But, a few hours after birth, while I am trying to get him nursing, you chose to jump in happily when the nurse asked if we would be circumcising our son and announce 'of course!'.

We talked, we argued, we fought. I broke down into tears and begged. But you were adamant that no son of yours would be the weird one in the locker room, the one who couldn't get a date, the one whose penis was ugly. You threw in your whole hand when you spat out 'it's my only child, and you would deny me the right to be his parent?!'

I was heartbroken. Your only child? What about RiLeigh, who you had cared for since infancy?
Torn between the two men in my life: my son, who I loved and, unlike you, thought was perfect and beautiful the way nature intended him to be, and you, my lover, who could say such hurtful things, and want to purposefully inflict pain on our son.

I felt guilty for wanting to keep him uncircumcised and angry for being pushed into a corner. I felt so very sad for our little boy and heartbroken that I was being made to be the enemy for wanting to protect him.

So, I signed the paperwork.

My birth experience? Forgiveable, I was still able to do it in my own strength. It was only done to me, an adult... but our son's body? He can never get back what he lost two days later, strapped on a board in a sterile room.

I know I should forgive you. But I can't. Does that make me a horrible wife? I want you to feel remorse, I want you to want forgiveness. I want you to be sorry for hurting me, our son, and the moments of labor, birth, and those precious first days.

But I don't think this wound will ever be able to heal, because you don't understand that you not only chose to carve off a piece of our son's body that day, but part of my trust and love for you as well.


The Circumcised Heart

Update: This letter was written in mom's journal shortly after the birth of their son. I didn't influence her decision to write this letter as it was written before I even met her. Mom ended up pregnant again and she did end up giving it to him the day after she found out that the baby she was carrying was, again, a boy. They went to counseling and they scheduled appointments with a urologist to talk about the research surrounding circumcision and the purpose of the foreskin.

Although she still didn't get a repeat home birth, for the third birth they negotiated and came to an agreement to have a water birth in a local birth center. He also admitted his need to have someone there to help him even moreso than her. So, they hired me as their doula.

Dad agreed to wait to make a decision on circumcision until he was sure that his reasons for wanting it to be done were worth the pain that it was going to cause his child, the potential risks it might incur, his wife's emotional pain, and the permanent alteration that would result from the procedure.

Their second son is now 3 and still intact.

Dad has apologized.

Mom has forgiven. 


Jen said...

WOW. So powerful and heart wrenching. Thank you for sharing this.

Molly said...

These letters are really, really powerful; thank you for sharing them.

Kim said...

Wow. Powerful.

I guess I need to be *really* thankful for having such a wonderfully supportive husband. Looking forward to homebirth #3 (of 3 kids) and with an intact husband ... well, obviously that's an easy choice.

I never understood the locker room argument. I'm pretty sure guys DON'T discuss each others' genitalia? Especially when they're young?

Kristi said...

Wow. My heart was beating furiously as I was reading this one. I am glad it has a happy-ish ending. Except for their first little boy....

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