Slave to the Potty, Part 1

When you’re pregnant, you wonder about which diapers to buy; should I go for the time-tested brands? Am I going to go green and if so how green? Disposable green, cloth, prefolds, pockets? Or the new hybrid? Will my baby fit in those cute newborn diapers with the little cut out for their belly button stumps?

But it doesn’t take long; perhaps it’s getting some poop under your fingernails or, for some, that first newborn projectile stream that hits the wall two feet from your changing table. (NO, I am NOT joking), yet another $50 case of diapers, or another really stinky load of cloth nappies that has the lady who works the night shift at the laundromat eyeing you nastily as she suspects your dashes to the machines at the back where it is no less than 100 degrees Fahrenheit indicates you are definitely hiding something – that could be a whole post on its own.

I can’t tell you the day it started for me, but I am pretty sure I bought this lovely blue BabyBjorn potty by the time she was a year old. I knew I could never go down the EC or elimination communication route. Why? Erhum.. well I have a job and even when I am at home, I couldn’t be relied upon to keep such a watchful eye and figure out when my child twitched her left buttock muscle, which equated to her “signaling” she needed to go.

On and off we tried to get her to sit on it. And she went through short phases where she was relatively amenable. Mostly she liked to stand in it, or put it on her head. These were clear signs to me that she was definitely not ready. A good friend of mine who is in emergency pediatrics and a mum of three once told me “don’t even bother trying until she is 2.5 and then get it done fast; it will take a week at most”. I liked the former part of her statement as it allowed me to put  this whole endeavor off and anyone who knows me knows I am an incorrigible procrastinator. The latter, well I’d cross that bridge when I got there.

Fast forward to the start of 2011. P is now rapidly approaching her 3rd birthday and she still seems quite content to sit in her own shit, which never ceases to amaze me given that even my dogs never wanted to sit in their own shit.  At this point, I am starting to think she will NEVER give up her diapers. We’ve had her in a mix of cloth and disposable and as she is perfecting her colors, she suddenly loves choosing which color diaper to wear, more often than not wanting a color that isn’t clean… obviously. I’ve bought a few panties to test them out. She has a few friends who are potty trained and she thinks it is great fun to watch them pee or watch me pee but now definitely wont go anywhere remotely in the vicinity of the potty. And I say to you WTF?

I great sense of despair ensues. I picture her in a pair of Depends going off to college. Then I was told about this 3 day potty training approach one which will not only have her trained during the day but naps and nights as well!  Sounds too good to be true right? Sit tight.

This is where I come clean. I had actually come across this website before getting the recommendation. In short you are not to share the PDF. Clearly, as that would defeat her business model.  It looked like it had been featured in a number of credible places but I couldn’t find anyone I knew who had done it so I was apprehensive. I had started to think I should just buy it when someone did in fact share it with me.  So.. I said to myself, if this actually works, I will go back to the site and “buy a copy” even though I’ll no longer need it.

As we edge ever closer to the Potty Boot Camp date, something happens. We are at a friend’s house for a birthday party and she gets out of the kiddy pool and tells me she needs to pee. I get her to crouch in the grass; at this point I KNOW we are ready.

And now the pièce de résistance!

In short, there are a few things you need to do to make this successful. I won’t go into detail as I don’t want to be in breach of anything but it involves a fair amount of time with just mentally preparing your kid, you then really need to be there for 3 days by their side at all times. The day, nap, night thing is to remove the diapers as a crutch. It is intense, it is I imagine for most incredibly hard work. Like labor and sleep training, you’ll always have one smug schmuck whose kid pops out effortlessly.. (I didn’t even know I was in labor!) or “gets it” immediately whatever “it” may be and their verbal message is “oh how lucky we were”  where the tone implies that they are just that more hardcore and talented at parenting. I know I was one of these idiots with regards to sleep. Oh how I’ve paid for that with #2. But basically prepare for serious boot camp, living, eating, breathing potty time – hmmm an unfortunate phrase in this particular instance. And reaching the point where you just think it will never happen. There is such truth to the that phrase about night being at its darkest before dawn.

I had actually read the manual some time before we decided to actively start. I had been doing the verbal prep work and had removed our potty out of sight. I can’t recall if anything like this is recommended by the program but I thought glamorizing being a big girl could only help – especially since we had a new baby in the house and she had been regressing a little in some ways. P likes to dance so I told her a lot that once she was a big girl and only wore panties, I would buy her ballet slippers and sign her up for a ballet class. (thank you angelina ballerina). At this point doing naps and nights seemed totally unattainable but fortunately my husband who was sent off to Starbucks on day 1 to read the manual after I, exhausted stepped away into kitchen resulted in huge puddle on the floor persuaded me otherwise. He came back totally gung-ho which was useful as with the baby, it really was difficult for me to have my eyes on P all the time.

The Friday before our potty training boot camp, I celebrated the momentous occasion by spending around $80 on nice panties with characters P would like. Yes paying a 40% premium for Disney licensing & such was -on this occasion ONLY- worth it.  Strawberry Shortcake, The Dalmatians, Hello Kitty and one really cute little red bird were to be my first tangible incentives.

Saturday April 30 – aka Day 1
Post Royal Wedding so we are all a bit tired.

  • First thing in the morning I get the girls out of bed. Pacifique who had been pining to wear underwear for WEEKS & refusing her diaper now suddenly doesn’t want panties &  keeps asking for a diaper. They have this uncanny ability to sense when to flip sides.
  • We explain the incentive structure. A star sticker per pee. 5 Stars = a kinder egg. A poop = immediate Kinder egg. The egg is persuasive enough to get panties on and the potty chart goes on the wall. To help get things going, we give her a star for putting her panties on.
  • Down for nap after lunch. Saw her stir (yes we invested in a very cheap old video monitor, so old it wasn’t even meant for kids but more for your car = small TV screen on my bedside table. Went in, got her to potty first successful pee!
  • Accident end of nap
  • Nothing all evening
  • Then another success, a pre bedtime pee!!

At this point I am thinking wow this is going much better than I expected! Lulled into false sense of security, we settle in for an evening of cheesy TV and towards 10.30pm we hear her moving around. I go in to get her and she pees and then before we know it, she has pooped! We are now ready to pat ourselves on the shoulders, declare it all a big success and immediately reward her with promised Kinder egg.

This leads us to nightmare #1:

Now everyone is super excited, super awake. We’ve taken a picture of her with her egg as you can see below and after sloooooooowly savoring that egg and assembling the toy (at which point I am already questioning the sanity of this reward at this hour), she then declares, she wants to pee again.

To giver her credit she manages some more pee. And then asks for an egg. We explain 5 pees = an egg. And so she wants to sit again to pee. And manages a few drops. She is Triumphant. We are exasperated. She starts shouting for an egg. bla bla bla you get the picture. There were tears, cries, pulled out hair – oh and she was pretty upset as well. Sometime after midnight we got her back to bed. Once in our own bed, we decide that now 5 stars will be rewarded with a little non-edible toy.

Sunday May 1, Day 2.
We had put our baby monitor in her room the night before and told her  she should could call out to us if she needed to pee or poop. We figured if we heard her moving we could also go in and just get her on the potty. In short, the monitor  was on the wrong  channel. I heard her crying out while nursing the baby sometime around 6.45am. Hubby didn’t hear anything and by the time I got there and got him up, we had a very wet toddler bed.

  • Mid morning pee. I am getting excited again.
  • Nothing before nap. Feeling nervous. Turns out this potty training thing is proving to be a major emotional roller coaster for me.
  • Towards end of the nap, I climb into her tiny bed with her. She is dry. Until suddenly she is not but it is only a small accident. She self inhibits. I get her to potty and she empties rest of bladder.
  • Nothing for the rest of the day despite our every 6 minute statement “remember to tell maman or Papa if you need to go”. In fact all talk of potty met with extreme negativity.
  • Suddenly she is begging to go to the pool.
  • I take her to the pool
  • I am pretty sure she peed in the pool.
  • She wants to go home. Time elapsed between getting to the pool and leaving pool: 7 minutes.
  • Went to bed with no pre sleep pee.
  • Woke her up before we went to bed. She peed half asleep.
  • By some miracle, we have a dry bed in the morning.

Monday May 2, Day 3
So as we reach day 3, we are supposed to be nearing the end of the potty training. At this point my anxiety is rising. My clockwork pooper has not had a bowel movement since that first glorious night. She is not interested in the potty in  any way, shape or form for most of the day and I am thinking this is just not going to come together.

  • No poop yet but we do get an early morning pee.
  • No pee for the rest of the morning.
  • She agrees to go before nap time.
  • She is woken by huge clap of thunder and instantly pees during the nap.
  • No pee all afternoon and evening. She starts asking for pool again but I don’t take her.
  • No pee before bedtime.
  • Wake her at 11, she pees.
  • Hear her around 4am, take her again; she pees.
  • Still manages to wet the bed at 7am. ugh.

We are now day 4. We should be done with the training. To be fair to the author, she has said you will either be done or have made so much progress that you will want to continue with the plan. At my first waking moment I am not sure.  Again I start off faced with a child who does not want to pee. I am starting to feel that the only time I can get her to go is in the middle of the night when she is barely conscious, hardly what I was hoping for. I am also starting to suspect that my attempts at explaining that water goes in the mouth and comes back out as peepee has backfired as she seems to be refusing to drink anything – even pure juice – put in front of her.

Tuesday May 3, Day 4
She is not interested in going in the morning. And we are due to make our first public outing which I would cancel if I could but it is her new swimming class and they cost a fortune so I am determined to make it. I really don’t want her to have an accident on the bus. I ask her if she needs to go and suggest it is a good idea to try before we leave the house and she says no.

And here is where I, for the first time since having a child, make a straight up bribe:
Me: “Don’t forget to tell Maman if you need to Pee”
P: “No.”
Me: “You might want to Pee before we leave the house”
P: “NO maman, NO potty, No peepee”
Me: “I’ll give you a kinder egg if you pee now”
P: “OK Mama”
She gets up, walks to potty in the bathroom, pulls down panties, pees the most concentrated yellow pee ever, stands up and, with her panties around her ankles, sticks out her hand and says “Give me my egg”
Rather than losing hope I think to myself – Ok she can go if she needs to. We are going to be ok And we head off to the swimming class. Somehow I think this clicks with her too as she starts upping her liquid intake.

The rest of the day goes splendidly well. If you don’t count the lack of any poo. I know that I can’t keep her home forever and that her first day back at school is going to set the tone for whether the school is consistent with my plan and doesn’t try to pressure me into giving them diapers which they have already suggested in an email. So knowing that she is due a giant #2, I decide to keep her home one more day.

Wednesday May 4, Day 5
At this point we are rocking the pee. Rather than enjoy this victory, I am clenched in anguish of the lack of poop. I am stuffing her with fruit, fiber cereal, brown rice and anything else I think might make her go. Naps and nights are hit and miss but I figure this is par for the course living in the tropics with a kid who *really* likes to rehydrate.

At last, Wednesday evening in the bath, she is relaxed enough that she starts to poop. We quickly gets her on the potty with a towel around her and she finishes it there. She is rewarded with an egg but I know that were it not for quick reflexes, we would have had floaters in the bath. Still, at least now I can send her to school for the real test!

End Part 1.
Part 2 Preview: Children’s aim, splash-back, begging for diapers, withholding poop, persistent bedwetters, and what we would do differently.

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5 thoughts on “Slave to the Potty, Part 1

  1. Oh, my goodness, this is hilarious. I am SOOO understanding where you are coming from. We live in Italy. My son is 3 1/2, and I have my other kids’ teachers, the pediatrician, and other parents nagging me about getting him potty trained, but… HE has not worked with me. Yesterday was the first day I saw some light. Today He did some, but.. .made a pretty smeared mess, too. grrrr… Anyway, I found you through Bringing Up Baby Bilingual. Thanks for sharing!! Now I don’t feel so alone in my own Potty Wars. hahahahahaha…

    • @Celita – thanks :) I look forward to checking out your blog now that it is on my radar. Oh and stay tuned for part 2 which is now finally in progress. Honestly I can’t even believe the odd turns (and errr battles) this whole journey has taken. Parenting, so unbelievably wonderful and yet so often like a sick joke.

  2. Pingback: The Proof is in the Pooping | Multilingual Mama

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