Well, believe it or not, we have been celebrating poop lately in our house. Yes, I know that is a very strange statement to start off a post on TheMommyDoctor.com. But you know, actually, I bet many experienced parents out there know exactly what I am saying. When I meet with expectant parents (especially “first-timers”) during prenatal visits, I often tell them that we will talk more about poop and they will worry more about poop - schedules, consistency, color, amount, etc. - over the next several years then they could ever have imagined pre-kiddo. There typically is a little laughter that follows that statement, but all joking aside, it is 100% true. And when their new child enters the world, besides eating, sleeping, and crying, it truly is “all about that poop,” and even the most squeamish or proper parents are suddenly very interested and open about discussing this wonderful topic.
“…it suffices to say that Miss M’s road to princess panties had many pit stops and setbacks along the way.”
In any case, our latest “poop adventures” have involved our second child, Miss M. A little back story here…Miss M has certainly been more of a challenge than her older brother when it came to potty training. She is 3 years and 3 months, and we are just to the point of feeling pretty good about wearing those big girl panties and finally kicking the Amazon Subscribe & Save diaper habit for her. As fits with her, ahem, shall we say, rather strong-willed personality, she was going to do this whole potty training thing on her own schedule.
Potty training is a topic that I often talk about on a daily basis in my office, and therefore, it deserves an entire post to itself (be on the look out for that one in the coming weeks), but for this discussion today, it suffices to say that Miss M’s road to princess panties had many pit stops and setbacks along the way. To begin with, the first issue was that we had to put her in a pull up before her second birthday. Side note: This was not our decision, but was a dictate by the school Miss M was attending at the time in order for her to move to the next class. But, let me be clear: this is NOT, by any means, a rational developmental step for a child at this age to be “forced” into potty training. To drive the point home further, Miss M is no longer attending this particular day care for that and many other reasons. Then we dealt with constipation problems that culminated in her first true “success” trying to poop on the potty with a stool that was a size that would have been uncomfortable for even an adult to pass (making her think they would all be this way). And finally, as I said before, she was determined to do this whole potty training thing in her own time.
“Even us pediatricians - the folks who are supposed to know - struggle with these things when it comes to being mommies with our own kiddos.”
Miss M was doing pretty well with urinating on the potty for the past month or so, but poop…it just wasn’t happening, at least in the potty. She started holding her stool for days on end which then led to a number of not good things. Tummy aches, constipation, disinterest in eating, and ultimately a large “buildup and release” that would occur at very inopportune times - in her pants, in her bed, and icky as it may be, even a few on the floor.
What to do then? Even us pediatricians - the folks who are supposed to know - struggle with these things when it comes to being mommies with our own kiddos. Well, we bit the bullet and took a consistent, firm approach, with help from our current daycare. A few weeks ago, we started having “set” pooping time just before bath time where she had to sit on the potty to poop. The first days of this regimented “poop training” were enough to almost make cleaning poop from her panties seem worth it to my husband and I. We would routinely be sitting on the floor of the bathroom (per her request) for at least 30 minutes each night waiting for any amount of poop to end up in the potty. Reward systems, candy promises, distraction, pleading, soothing music, reading materials - you name it - we tried it to get her to “want” to poop on the potty. For several weeks, this went on and it was hard to tell if any progress was being made. But the combination of consistency and patience finally paid off after about 3 weeks when a breakthrough occurred - we had our first real positive poop.
“It seems we’ve reached the “poop promise land.” “
And oh how the heavens rejoiced when we finally scaled that mountain! When those glorious stools made it into the potty, we sang, we danced, we high-fived…I mean you would have thought we won the lottery. We were determined to nix that bad experience from her mind, and so we celebrated to the nines with every successful trip to the bathroom. She was so proud, and she thought she was the queen of the world after those successes. And the combination of consistency and patience, punctuated by the genuine, positive celebrations of her achievement worked wonders. Over the course of a week from the first positive poop, we went from 30 minutes of agonizing that finally resulted in success to her doing it all herself, on her own, in literally just a couple minutes. It seems we’ve reached the “poop promise land.”
So tonight as I’m finishing this article, I am one of those mommies where the sincere highlight of my day has to do with my little girl’s bowel movement. I would have laughed if someone had told me 10 years ago that such a thing would be true. It’s funny how what you view as your “achievements” in life - even those that might be the littlest things - change once you have little ones. I think, for now, the pooping adventures are hopefully behind us, and I, for one, could not be more excited. As we close this chapter on potty training for our daughter, I can say that I am A-OK with Mr. L, our 14 month old, waiting a while before he decides to get on the potty training bandwagon.