I will apologize in advance

7 Oct

Because today, we’re going to talk about poo.

Okay, and wee too.

Yes, I said “wee” – they taught Maura “wee” in Ireland, and honestly, her raising her hand and saying “Wee-Wee” to tell me she has to use the toilet is too cute.

Yes, I said “toilet” too.  I thought the word “toilet” was so crass, with my delicate Puritanical American values.  I did get over it about a year into my time in Ireland, as you do.

Anyway, this post is inspired by a cry for help from another blogger, where a parent is lamenting about their child not potty training by age seven.  I felt her pain and frustration in so many ways.

So. Many. Ways.

See, Maura is ten and isn’t quite fully potty trained.  She wasn’t even near being potty trained at the start of this year.  She was still in pull ups (because at her size, there aren’t any diapers you could buy, except for medical grade ones.  And those…well, they kind of suck.)  And then, one day in July, that was it, we had made it over the biggest hurdle and suddenly I could put my daughter in underwear and take her out without a worry.

I wasn’t sure we’d make it this far.

Now, let me back up a few years…

Most kids learn how to use the toilet between the ages of 2 and 4.  I always waited until my kids were ready, which meant they all trained around the age of three.  The advantage was that since they were a bit older, they got it all together within two weeks and we were golden.

At age three, Maura had the mental age of a 1 year old.  The idea of potty training her was a bit laughable.

This didn’t stop people from offering advice.

“Just be consistent!”

um.  yeah.  duh.

“You need to spend the time with her and be consistent!”

Yes, I understand.

“Seriously, if you just put her on a schedule, and be consistent about it, she’ll get it!”

Okay, great, whenever you want to come over and help me toilet train her, come on by!

(I did say that to a person – she never came over.)

Age three turned into age four, which turned into age five.  Maura showed absolutely no interest in the toilet.  She would not even accidentally use the toilet when we tried sitting her on it.  The preschool tried to no avail as well.

So my daughter started kindergarten at age six, in diapers.  Size 7 Pampers.

There was this funny moment at the IEP where the special ed director kept saying “So IF Maura is still in diapers when she starts school here…”  Finally I stopped her and said “Let’s just cut to the chase – Maura will NOT be potty trained by the time school starts, let’s just embrace that fact and move on.”  See, I was asking where Maura would be changed, where diapering supplies would be stored, and I guess that’s a hassle for some schools.

When you have a child starting elementary school in diapers still, well, you end up having a whole crew of people discussing your child’s toileting habits.  Her teachers and aide were very enthusiastic about possible getting her trained – I wasn’t as sure she was ready, but I was so over diapers, not to mention we were squeezing Maura into those size 7 Pampers, that I joined the bandwagon.

We all got The Book on how to train a special needs child.  They made up a chart to track her toileting actions, so we could devise some pattern.  What we learned was that Maura had no pattern, no rhyme or reason.

Then we all got together and tried toilet training.  Taking her every X amount of time to sit on the toilet for X amount of time.

Nothing happened.

We kept trying.

More nothing happened.

We kept trying.

Something did happen.  We cheered wildly.

It was a fluke.

They even tried doing a full morning where they took turns just sitting in the bathroom of the resource room with her on the toilet.

My child has a bladder of steel and an amazing ability to hold her water.

We decided to back off on toilet training.  Her aide said “I don’t think she gets the concept.”

YES!  FINALLY!  Someone else gets it!

See, physically, Maura was ready.  Mentally, Maura could care less.  She didn’t care about being wet, or smelly, or soiled.  I had one school staff member at one point ask if Maura had a problem with smelling, because she didn’t seem to notice when she was poopy.

Maura didn’t care about potty training.  Therefore, Maura wasn’t going to do it.

Kindergarten turned into 1st grade, and toilet training went along its merry if half-hearted way.  We moved to Ireland, started at a new school, and I sent in pull ups and wipes when needed.

Then one day, the Irish school asked about potty training.  I stated how utterly grateful I would be if they got Maura trained.  I would do whatever.

They  handed me a chart, to track her toileting habits.

I explained how we had done that, there is no rhyme or reason to her ways.

I bought underwear – lots and lots of underwear.  I sent in one pair of extra bottoms.  Then two.  After a few weeks, the school said that we needed to take a break.  Maura wasn’t getting it.

This time, I was a bit upset by our failure.  I had been told by other parents how the staff at the school were miracle workers when it came to toilet training.  All the other kids in Maura’s class were toilet trained.  My kid was the hold out.  The stubborn hold out.

She was now 9 years old.

A new school year began.  Right before Christmas, they mentioned potty training, however, it wasn’t until spring when they started again.  I bought more underwear, sent in several changes of clothing, and prepared myself mentally.  Because at this point, it was a mental game, for myself and for Maura.

She wet herself.  Constantly, for the first few days.

Then one day, she got off the bus upset.  No one knew why.  My new habit with her, since they were sending her home in underwear, was to put her straight on the toilet.  So that day, I took her straight to the toilet, and I found out why she was upset – because she had to pee really really badly!

See, she had held it ALL day at school.  ALL day.  And she was bursting.  That would make anyone cry.

A new routine hit us – she’d hold it all day at school, come home, use the toilet instantly, and then manage to stay dry the rest of the day and use the toilet all the time.  The school was frustrated, but I was ecstatic.  She was actually getting it this time!

Even better – she now hated being wet.  So if she did have an accident, she didn’t wallow in her own filth, she wanted to be changed.

One day, a school therapist called and asked if they could increase Maura’s fluid’s at school to sort of force the issue there.  I gave them my full blessing.

It worked.

She started using the toilet at school.

I still didn’t trust her out in just underwear, though I accidentally took her out with them on a couple times and she did fine.

And then, we were moving.  And we had two days worth of travel ahead of us basically.  We eyed Maura and decided to put her in pull ups for the flights.  Better safe than soaking wet, right?

Maura never does anything in a normal fashion – toilet training was added to this list.  Because that girl kept her pull up dry on the plane.  She used the toilet on the plane.  She used the toilet at the airport.  She used the toilet on the next plane.

Josh and I kept staring at each other with matching expressions of wonderment.  We couldn’t believe this was happening.

We stepped off that plane with a pretty darn potty trained child.

At age ten, my daughter was finally somewhat potty trained.

We’re not completely out of the woods.  She still doesn’t poo normally – she has sensory issues and constipation.  We’re still working on sorting those out, and have bought a plunger in the meantime.  She can stay dry at nights but I will still put her in a pull up at night to be safe.

But the fact that we’ve made it this far gives me hope that we’ll overcome the rest of the hurdles.

We WILL get there.

Yes, she earned that award!

Yes, she earned that award!


9 Responses to “I will apologize in advance”

  1. franhunne4u October 7, 2013 at 12:15 pm #

    This sounds so hard for you – and isn’t it rewarding now, that it is finally happening? You worked so hard for it.

    • phoebz4 October 7, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

      It was frustrating at times, but now I can totally appreciate how far she has gotten!

  2. Wendy Carroll October 7, 2013 at 12:17 pm #

    My son wasn’t toiled trained until the was 18! By the age of 12 the doctors and I decided there was something involved of which we were unaware and I just accepted that he would never be continent. Suddenly at 18 he made the decision. We’re not totally out of the woods. He’s 23 now and is about 95% reliable. I’m so happy for you and Maura!

  3. erm October 7, 2013 at 12:33 pm #

    Thank you for writing about this.
    Altho my son is 3 and we know he isn’t at a point where it’s even worth contemplating toilet training, the time will come when we need to address this. And it very well may take several attempts before we have a bit of success. Reassuring to read that it can be a long process, and if it doesn’t happen on the first attempt, or third, or whatever, we aren’t failures as parents of a child with special needs.

  4. Crista October 7, 2013 at 12:53 pm #

    Oh I remember! I was thrilled when Ian started catching on at 3 years old – a miracle! One thing he was going to be right on time about and then my second son was born and nope. No more using the potty for my Ian. A frustrating year of ‘but you were doing this just fine!’ to finally giving up and letting him find his own time. Flash forward 5 years and I have an unopened box of Underjams in his closet. He was doing excellent during the day but was still unreliable overnight and I’d taken to buying the large box on the internet. If you schedule it with Amazon, you save 10% or something… Anyway, one night, it was a particularly hard day and everyone was overtired and well, Ian went to bed in his underwear, not his underjams. I got up the next morning and I searched his room for his underjams. He didn’t like being wet, so if he wet them, he would get up and change into his underpants. I was convinced he must have put them somewhere. Slowly it dawned on me: I forgot to change him. I forgot and he was dry. He was dry all night. So the next night I did it on purpose. He was a little insistent at first, that he wanted his underjams but I said no and he stayed dry a second night… and a third and now, 4 months later I have an unopened box of 46 underjams that I’m not sure what to do with.

    Of course, now the problem is that he gets up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and forgets to go back to bed…

    Way to go Maura! I know how your mom feels and there really aren’t words.

  5. babazoobee October 7, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

    i’m impressed and relieved.. for you and for me! congrats maura! my sensory girl is only 5, and is mostly trained, so i count myself lucky…she still does have poo accidents almost every other day….and at this point i just have to “go with the flow” – pardon the pun! Maura gives me hope that one day I too will not have to wipe a bum and wash yet another pair of poopy underwear…….hugs to your wonderful family, and if you ever want a mini-vacation in canada, let us know!

  6. militaryspecialneedsnetwork October 7, 2013 at 9:51 pm #

    You are my new favorite blogger. You’ve given me hope, and a good laugh, so thank you. Looking forward to reading more.


  7. saracvt October 8, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

    Thank you for writing this. You give me hope, because, see, I’m still on the other side–I have TWO not-quite-potty-trained 10-year-olds. And just to make it complete, they’re perfect in school and out in public, but I still have to shower two very stinky girls at night, wash their bedding daily, and buy lots and lots of underwear. I get it bulk at Wal-Mart. I joke I should have stock in Fruit Of The Loom. And the teachers are so nice when discussing it–they use that polite, yes-I-know-dear-you’re-RIGHT-dear voice.
    But maybe they won’t do it forever after all.

  8. Joy M Newcom October 10, 2013 at 3:48 pm #

    Our son (now 22) was born with no anal opening and incontinence issues that require an every 4-hour catherization schedule through a surgically created abdominal opening. More than a decade worth of IEP meetings included the topics of pee and poo as well as entrappd flatulance capable of finding its way out if not provided the opportunity to be released. (And those are highly concentrated farts!) I have yet to figure out how to write what it’s like to have the school nurse call you in the middle of the day to come help your son because he has “an issue.” Partly because the nurse – from 6th through 12th – is a friend who seems to be fecal averse. Mostly because she’s a friend and I would have to politely point out her fecal aversion.

    I celebrate Maura’s accomplishments with you. Enjoy the freedom! We still have the same pee, poo, and flatulance issues, but now it’s our son calling for help from the bathroom OR our family looking at one another in a public place with that “Do you smell what I smell?” expression. This is followed by scanning the horizon for an accessible bathroom, one of us breaking off to go to the car for his medical travel bag and the other of us helping him exit the situation to head to the targeted rendevous bathroom. Be sure to write about your pee and poo moments while they are still fresh (really). One day they won’t be as easy to recall. And that will also be a time to celebrate.

    I enjoy your posts. They help me remember things I hope not to forget. Write on.

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