Friday, February 24, 2012

Potty Talk - Revisited

Well, three days in and Ethan is back to diapers.  I hear that's a big no-no in the potty training world, but I'm learning that - as with everything else - there are no general guidelines I can follow for how to parent Ethan.  All of the "rules" that come along with the three biggest areas of toddler behavior - eating, sleeping, and using the restroom - never seem to apply in our situations.  There is always something else to take into consideration.

Maybe he doesn't nap because he sleeps 13 hours at night, and maybe that's because his heart needs a break after a day of activity.

Maybe he didn't eat because part of his stomach is sewn around his esophagus, because he almost died when he was 6 weeks old.

Maybe he will be 5 years old and still in diapers, and maybe that will have something to do with the extensive work that's taken place down there.

I don't struggle with this often - the woe-is-my-child-and-when-will-he-catch-a-break mentality - but when it hits, it hits hard.  I just want things to be easy for him, and I've prayed from early on that God would protect his mind from the anxiety and psychological damage that can come along with being a chronically ill child.

Long story short, Ethan started displaying some signs of extreme anxiety and/or fear about using the potty.  I have no idea where it came from and, so far, it's been explained best by his developmental therapist.  It appears that he's in a power struggle with himself and is having a really hard time giving up control of his bodily functions.  Even the nurse I spoke with this morning feels that this is strictly behavioral.

Around 1:00 this morning, however, that didn't seem to be the case.

I was awaken by Ethan crying out in pain and instantly ran into his room.  I found him jumping up in down, holding himself, and crying uncontrollably.  I reached down and expected to find a full diaper, thinking his behavior could be explained by him being upset he had "an accident".  When I discovered his diaper was dry, and realized it had been about 11 hours since any form of elimination, I began to feel sick to my stomach.  I feared the worst, given his history, and genuinely thought he wasn't physically able to relieve himself.  He did, eventually, and filled his diaper in the process - but not without many tears on his end, and lots of reassurance on mine.

It's as if he doesn't want to wet his diaper, but he's afraid to use the toilet/potty seat.  So he holds it, and it sucks.  This internal battle of his is written all across his face and is showing itself in extreme clingy-ness to me.  Not to mention he just seems uncomfortable.

The nurse of Ethan's urologist assured me that if everything was OK earlier in the week, then it most likely still is, and we're dealing with purely a behavioral issue.  She suggested that we stop the potty training process altogether (which I had already decided to do) and watch him over the weekend.  If Ethan is still really struggling come Monday, his urologist will fit him into clinic that day.

To say I'm frustrated would be an understatement.  I am, for sure, but there's so much more to it.  Sad, concerned, and stressed - with a dose of frustration - is more like it.  I'm not sure there's a word to sum up all of that.

Once again, I covet your prayers for my boy.  Pray for a calm mind, relaxed urination, and hydration.  Call me crazy, but I really think he understands the correlation between drinking water and needing to pee, which has resulted in him refusing water last night and today.  You can also say a little prayer for me, that I'll lose this intense feeling that I'm somehow damaging my child.  Many of you have already assured me of that, but I don't think it has sunk in quite yet.

And, please.  If you have any experience with anything remotely similar to this, I'd love to hear it.


Stefenie said...

{{{HUG}}} dear friend!!! Wish I had some advice for you on this but I don't. Both my boys hated to use the potty when we first attempted it. So, we held off and didn't pressure it until they were about 4 and that is when they both just "clicked" and made the decision that they really wanted to do it. We had offered both of them a big incentive like a trip to the movies. It worked for them but granted every kid is different. You can get advice from everyone on what to do and it might not work for Ethan. That's the cruddy part of potty training. Obviously Ethan just isn't ready yet so relax, do not beat yourself up about it and give it another month or two. Jen struggled with Andrew a bit so you might want to ask her what she tried.

Jen said...


Will definitely be praying for sweet Ethan to get over this anxiety he is having! Poor thing! :( We had trouble with Andrew. I remember being so frustrated I could have just pulled my hair out. He didn't do the holding it thing- in fact, quite the opposite. He'd just potty (#1 AND #2) everywhere, all over the floor, in bed, wherever it suited him. It was SO hard for me not to get mad. I decided to stop for a while also and give him a break (and me too!) We went back to it when he started day care/preschool that fall and he basically learned from the other kids. That was all it took for him! But it was a huge frustration getting to that point.

Will be thinking of you guys and sending prayers for all of this to work out!


Jenn said...

Oh Joye, I am so sorry! My heart is just breaking for Ethan and for you. I wish that these "normal" kid things were easier for you. I totally agree with what you are doing; we did not have those issues, so I can't speak from experience, but you know Ethan better than anyone. And you are being such a good mama to him- you are listening to him and his body and not pushing him just for the sake of reaching a milestone.

I know you already know this, but Ethan will figure out the potty thing eventually. And even if he is still in diapers when he's five, that is okay. Not that it won't be an inconvenience for you, but it is certainly not an indication of your ability as a mom.

Have I mentioned that you are an amazing mom? You have loved that boy and fought for him every step of the way. But mercy, I so wish you could catch a break on this! I am praying.

The Melton3 said...

I have a suggestion and you may have already tried it, but what about trying the standing while peeing trick? A friend of mine teaches kindergarten and will use a Cheerio in the toilet for aim? Maybe he doesn't like the idea of sitting while pottying? What doe Jeramie say about the subject? I told Rob that potty training a boy is more up his alley since he knows the equipment. Ethan is a very smart boy...maybe he's just overthinking it and doesn't understand that girls sit to pee and boys stand? ;)

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