Monday, November 14, 2011

Potty Problems

I mentioned last week that during our trip to the doctor's office I had a lengthy conversation with the doctor, during which Jacob ripped the exam table paper to shreds.  We were discussing the topic of potty training.  It hasn't been going so well. 

There was a time not too long ago that I was convinced we'd be done potty training by the end of summer.  Jacob was wearing underwear all day, and most days they stayed dry.  But then, little by little, it all broke down.  I don't know why, as we didn't have any major life changes or anything else that would be an obvious trigger for regression.  He just started being wet more.  And then the pooping started.

To be clear, Jacob has been using the potty for over a year.  He started sometime in the summer of 2010, and we've just sort of let things progress on their own.  I bought some underwear last spring, I believe, and I got a potty sticker chart going as well.  We encouraged him to use the potty, but we never did potty boot camp like some people do--leaving their kids naked (i.e., without a "place" to put their pee and poop), or filling them with fluids and setting timers--mostly because Jacob struck me as the sort of kid that would just do it when he was ready and not a moment sooner.  We had a potty prize in place--a lacrosse net--and the motivation to wear underwear seemed high.  He did pretty well with pull-ups so we moved on to underwear.  All along he did a reasonably good job with using the potty, particularly for poop, and moving up to the three-year-old room at daycare seemed like a good motivator to keep up his big boy status.  He was never dry in the morning, and naps were a bit of a crap shoot, but I was less concerned about those.  I figured that peeing in his sleep was involuntary and probably just indicated that his body wasn't ready yet.  But he seemed to do a decent job in the daytime, so we soldiered on there.
For a while, things were good.  I seriously got to the point where I wondered if a pack of pull-ups I was buying might be the last pack.  Jacob dribbled a bit and had major accidents once in a while, but I figured it was just a matter of time.  I thought he'd adjust to the various sensations and the accidents would decrease, even if they didn't go away completely.  I guess I couldn't have been more wrong. 

I remember gushing a bit to the doctor at Jacob's well visit in August that he was pretty solidly pooping in the potty.  We hadn't had a poopy diaper in ages, and we'd never had poopy underwear.  And then later that week he promptly pooped in underwear for the first time.  I was shocked.  And it's been happening a bit ever since, maybe once every couple weeks.  And ever since then, with the exception of a couple decent weeks, I think there have been more days where we bring home a bag of wet undies than days that we don't.  More often than not, when he'd actually go on the potty, his underwear would be wet--maybe not soaked, but a pretty significant dribbling.  That can't be comfortable, but he never bothered telling us unless it was a major accident.  It seemed, though, that things were getting progressively wetter all the time. 

Of course, all along he's been wearing his plastic pants to contain any mess, and I can't help but wonder if that's somehow contributing.  I don't know why it would matter, since wet underwear is still wet whether it's soaked through to other clothing or not.  I'm not sure we have enough pants to attempt to go without the plastic pants, either. 

The tough thing is that I know he's capable of being (mostly) dry, because he's done it at times.  But whether his problem is more physical or mental, I'm not sure.  Maybe he really can't hold it.  Maybe he can't tell when he has to go, or at least not with enough notice.  Maybe he's too busy to care.  Maybe wet diapers and now wet-ish underwear have completely desensitized him.  I have no idea.  And while I tried not to make a big deal of the accidents, it's hard...especially when you know he knows what he should be doing.  And still...I need to at least make the point that having an accident isn't our ideal scenario.  While he's not in trouble, he still needs to try to make it to the potty.

So, at the end of my rope last week, I asked the doctor her thoughts.  And much to my surprise, she gave me the green light to go back to pull-ups for a while.  I figured that might be a bad idea since it's almost giving in to his (perceived) laziness, but at this point anything is worth a try.  It takes away potty training as ammunition for a power struggle, so if that's what he's been doing, this should help.  I do need to get a new potty chart up and running, one that focuses solely on staying dry.  We know he can use the potty, so now it's more about making sure he gets there in time. 

The frustrating issue here is that I don't know if there's a physical issue that is causing all of this, or if that little smirk on his face when we ask about accidents shows an underlying agenda.  It's so hard to not know, even if ultimately it doesn't make a difference because he's just not staying dry anyway and we can't keep doing the status quo

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