My eldest daughter has always enjoyed her moments of quiet contemplation. So when she was two years old, naturally she fell in love with the toilet. Her switch from diapers to ceramic was nearly instant, bypassing those unsanitary plastic potties entirely, to our utmost relief. The toilet was her Wonderland. And once she was dry, she never wavered – barring one unfortunate incident while visiting a waterfall. She did, however, wear a pull-up at night.
Three years later, she still wears it.
Not that it bothered me much, in the beginning. After all, I still had a little one in diapers and both girls had developed in a way that they wore the same size. They also come from a family of late-bloomers; my sister’s kids were in pull-ups until the first grade.
But last year we toilet trained the little one and I started to care a bit more. We cut out after-dinner drinks, instituted a post-bedtime story toilet run, implemented terry-cloth training pants, took her for a midnight pee break, installed the dreaded potty by her bed. She woke all those mornings like she’d woken every morning of her short life: grinning contentedly and sopping wet.
Recently we had our washing machine serviced and it clicked that we could break it in anew with a morning ritual of sheets from my daughter’s bed. She had been pushing the idea of going to sleep in her “knickers” for weeks, so it was her move, really, which was a good start, we figured. Together we set aside her collection of Disney knickers for special night use and finally inaugurated our diaper-free nights 10 days ago.
The first night we changed the linens twice and lost Belle and Ariel. The second night, Cinderella went down, but only Cinderella – I was getting hopeful. By midnight the third night there had been no disruptions, so I crept into my daughter’s room to feel her little bum for moisture. I found what no mother wants to find, despite five years of diaper-changing: a fist-sized lump, stretching out poor Sleeping Beauty.
Each night since then has been different, yet with the same outcome: laundry. So much laundry, in fact, that on the seventh day, our washer broke down. Perhaps God was resting on that day.
So where do we go from here? When I put the issue out there I encounter so many camps I can’t keep them straight. Should I wean her slowly or continue this cold turkey thing? Should I escort her to the bathroom each night before I turn in? Or should I go back to diapers until her bladder has chilled out enough to cope with a daily 12-hour recess?
Or should I pay heed to this article in Slate magazine, which tells me the reason my daughter is wetting the bed may be that she’s so constipated, a mound of back-up (to put it mildly) is pressing against her bladder and causing it to fail? (Even children who have regular bowel movements, it says, may not be clearing it all out.) The treatment for baby constipation is as you’d expect: a course of baby laxatives. Do they even exist?
Though my washing machine is suggesting we cut and run, my instincts tell me to stay the course. Our mission will give new meaning to the words “spring cleaning” and ensure another Whirlpool technician gets to send a child to college. And it may just mean that, down the road, our daughter won’t pull a Sarah Silverman and write a bedwetting confessional damning our failed strategies.
In the meantime, though, I’d love to hear thoughts from the trenches (cesspools?) of night-training. Will we ever get out alive?