The day I withdrew from nursing school

By Nicole [last name withheld at author’s request]


I want to share with all of you the event that drew me into intactivism.

A few years ago, I began an OB/GYN hospital clinical as a student nurse. One day, I was enlisted to attend a ‘routine circumcision.’

I did not realize how much that event would shatter the very foundation of a career choice made in ignorance. I appeared in the doorway of the surgical room and saw the little newborn baby boy to whom I was ‘assigned’ for the day.

I was 20 years old and did not having kids of my own. I did not anticipate the lurching sensation that gripped my heart as I looked upon that baby. He was laying strapped down to a table, so small and new – pure and innocent – trusting – all alone – no defenses.

I walked toward the baby and wanted to take him off the table and shelter him – to tell him that it would be okay, that nobody would hurt him on my watch.

Then in walked the doctor. Loud. Obnoxious. Joking with his assistant. As if he was about to perform a 10 minute oil change.

Not once did he talk to this little baby. I am not sure he even looked at him – really looked at him.

Rather, he reached for his cold metal instruments and then reached out for his object of mutilation: this sweet newborn’s perfect, unharmed, intact penis.

I recall this little baby boy’s screams of pain and terror – his small lungs barely able to keep up with his cries and gasps for breath.

I turned in horror as I saw the doctor forcefully rip and pull the baby’s foreskin up and around a metal object.

Then out came the knife. Cut. Cut. Cut. Screaming. Blood.

I stood next to the baby and said, “You’re almost done sweety… Almost done… There, done.”

Then came the words from the doctor, as that son-of-a-b***h dangled this little baby’s foreskin in midair and playfully asked, “Anybody care to go fishing?!”

My tongue lodged in my throat.

I felt like I was about to vomit.

I restrained myself. It was now my duty to take the infant back to the nursery for ‘observation.’

And this is when I realized I couldn’t do it.

I could not be a part of such a cold, sterile, out-of-touch medical model.

Back in the newborn nursery, rather than observing, I cradled the infant. I held him and whispered comforting words as if he were my own. I’ll never forget those new little eyes watch me amid his haze. He knew I cared about him. He knew he was safe in my arms. He knew that I was going to take him to his mommy. But, deep in his little heart, at some level, I know he wondered where his mommy was. While he lay there mutilated in a level of agony that we cannot imagine – in what was supposed to be a safe and welcoming environment after his birth – where was his mommy?

I made a note in the chart and then caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror. My chest and face had broken out in purple splotches.

My next thought? I can’t do this. I refuse to do this. This is NOT for me. I took the baby to his mother who was complaining about ‘some pain’ she was experiencing…

I never addressed her pain because I left to go to my locker. I grabbed my belongings and hoped that my rejection of this ‘medical system’ could serve as some type of redemption for the violation of that newborn that I cradled in my arms that day.

The next day, I withdrew from nursing school and never looked back.

Originally published at