Monday, December 9, 2013

Potty Training and Modern Medicine

I'm a wimp. I'm not a fan of natural childbirth. I joke that with baby #8 my epidural didn't work and that's why I'm never having another child again, ha ha. The truth is that the epidural man was my best friend for many years. When I went into labor, he was the first person we called. (Not really, but close.) I'm a huge fan of modern medicine. But, when I have a headache, I try drinking water, I suck on peppermint, I close my eyes for 15 minutes or so, etc. But if that doesn't do the trick, tylenol here I come. When I got nausea during pregnancy, I tried  eating crackers, sipping ginger ale, sucking on ginger, I even bought sea bands to wear on my wrists, etc. When that didn't work, I turned to my trusty Zofran to get through my day.

I like to think I have a good balance between "natural" remedies and modern medicine. I'm thankful for both and this is why.

When my daughter turned three, we started potty training. It was rough but I chalked up her failure to train due to my five year stint with no potty trainers in the house. I figured I had lost my skills.

When it came time to go to preschool, I don't know why I thought that was a good idea not being potty trained but maybe in my head I figured peer pressure was the ticket. Why wouldn't it work? I had tried everything else. Unfortunately it didn't change anything. By September I had her in pull ups and by January I just finally pulled her out. I resolved that it was psychological. For one month I ignored it and when she had an "accident," I simply reminded her to go change. The next month I spanked her (don't judge me). Another month I tried rewards, etc. My efforts were futile. I was trying to do this "naturally." It wasn't working.

So, at age five when her peers are all going to kindergarten, I decided that the fact she was missing out was going to be the ticket; I tried shame. She would ask why she couldn't go to kindergarten and I would explain that only big girls could go to school when they could stop peeing their pants.

The worst was when I finally made an appointment with a pediatric urologist and then told her they were going to stick a tube up her pee hole to find out what was wrong. (I know, Mother of the Year right here.) She cried and cried and then fessed up she was doing it on purpose so she could stay home with me because her friends told her how hard school was...

You have to be kidding me. For real? I called and cancelled the appointment.

So, I started "training" her one last time and she was totally on board. We set the timer and sat on the potty every 15 minutes for the first week and had very few accidents. The next week I shifted it to about every 30 minutes. More accidents. I was dying. I waited a few more weeks before I finally gave up. Something was wrong.

I finally called the urologist and made that appoinment...again. They could see me in three weeks. I bought a large package of pullups and went on with my life.

All went well at the appointment. They did an ultrasound and couldn't find anything abnormal there but a little fluid left in one kidney after she used the toilet that could be something but most likely it wasn't anything. I was getting discouraged. I actually prayed that they would find something physical with her because I wasn't sure I could deal with something psychologically wrong.

After visiting with the nurse practitioner for what seemed like an hour, we still had no clue as to what the problem might be until she asked one simple question,

 "What does she look like when she has to go to the bathroom?" 

I responded, "you mean the potty dance?"

"Yes, what does she do?"

I must have sat there and stared at her for close to two minutes mulling that one over before I responded, "I've never seen her do a potty dance."

Oh. My. Gosh. How did I miss that? She has never felt the urge to urinate. I was dumbfounded, how did I miss it?  As I reflected on the last two years, my hindsight became quite clear. She would pee her pants while walking, while sitting at the dinner table, while playing with friends. She had been wet for so long she no longer even noticed she was wet and was actually bothered when I made her change her pants. 

We discussed it further and came to the conclusion that maybe, just possibly, she had an immature bladder. That was our best lead. The good news? There is a medicine for that and it has been around for over 60 years. Who knew? The fix is a simple one, try the medicine and see if it helps. I agreed.

We discussed the side effects and the potential outcomes and came to the conclusion that this was the best road for us. We started on the lowest dose possible and after four weeks saw considerable improvement but still at least one or two accidents a day instead of 8-10. We increased the dosage at the four week mark and her success is noted by the fact that we have maybe one accident a week now. It's a miracle. A modern medicine miracle that I'm happy to be a part of. And the potty training is more or less complete. It only took me almost two years to announce that I have finished potty training eight children. It only took me 19 years to get it done, I think I deserve a reward of some sort.

The end.


  1. we're up for a urologist appointment soon. I understand your level of frustration and am glad medical intervention helped! That gives me hope for 5 y.o.

    1. Oh Jenn! I hope you have as much success as we have. I will say a prayer for you that they find some answers as easily for your little.