** I wrote this post in May, along with the other 3 parts, and never published it. It is the story I meant to tell all along and then just got sidetracked with all the current things I could write about. I am publishing it now, without any changes, because I need to and because I am too tired to write something worthwhile about all the other things I want to right now. I think my writing has improved some since I did this, so please be kind. It is our story. Scott's and Matt's and mine. Not a day goes by that I don't think about this and how much it has impacted us.
For over two years, Scott only pooped when he was asleep.
Whew. I did it. Jumped right in to tell the hard, cold fact. The story of how this happened, how he finally got passed it and how it changed our family forever is the thing I need to tell. When we were in the middle of this, we searched for help. Surely in the vast world of the internet there must be someone who had the same issue and could offer some solutions. We came up dry. If anyone else had the same problem, they weren't sharing. Or perhaps they were just as frustrated and embarrassed as we were. Here's to hoping that by telling our story, someone else will be able to avoid it.
This is the first of 4 posts. I know, too much, but I thought it would be better broken into pieces and it does span a period of more than two years. I will post each one, in order, daily (maybe), starting today.
Let's start at the very beginning
When Scott was around 2 1/2 years old he started having constipation issues. He would wait to go until he was in his crib (or bed), usually as he was waking up from a nap or in the morning. We figured this was how he was comfortable going and didn't interfere. Then he started crying when he'd wake up because it hurt to go. His poop would be too hard. I am not a medicine taker, so I looked up all the typical remedies. No bananas, lots of water, fruit juice, etc. and we tried them all. Unfortunately, he ended up with a serious back up problem, a trip to the doctor and a subsequent at home enema.
The trauma surrounding all of this was awful. Scott hated going to the doctor and he was terrified of getting hurt. The whole scenario; Matt having to come home, me 8 months pregnant, a hysterical little boy, holding him down, just makes me want to cry. I thought it was so horrific, but that we HAD to do it. It would be one of those parenting moments we'd get through. Looking back now, I am even more sad to realize that it was only the beginning.
After that, we gave Scott a mineral oil laxative daily. He was no longer considered to have constipation because he went every day and his poop was soft. But he still went when he was asleep, or just as he was waking up. We were not in a hurry to potty train him, especially given the circumstances. Our pediatrician told us it could take several months for him to get over the trauma and forget that it could hurt to go. Jane was born, we were busy, and we just tried to be patient. Everyone said, he'll potty train when he is ready, there is no rush.
After he mastered peeing in the toilet, at 39 months old, we figured he'd get the pooping thing. But nothing changed. We asked people for help, we looked in books, we were told over and over that it was a potty training issue and to lay off. He'd get it when he was ready.
Then he stopped napping and one of his opportunities to go per day was taken away. Now he was often uncomfortable, complaining that his stomach hurt. We had to leave parties, restaurants, other people's houses because he was doubled over in pain. We were afraid to go anywhere. We knew he had to go and would chide him about holding it in. It won't hurt, we promised. You take the special medicine, we told him. We threatened him with the "stick down" medicine again. We thought he was being defiant. We coaxed him, guilted him, bribed him. Nothing worked.
He started having problems peeing, too. He had to go several times an hour. I was worried they'd kick him out of preschool for being so disruptive asking to go to the bathroom constantly. We feared he had diabetes. We got a referral to a pediatric GI who told us he had a problem called pollakiuria, brought on by stress and not fully emptying his bladder. Because he was holding in his poop he wasn't letting out all his pee. Apparently children can hold in poop better than adults because their colon muscles aren't strong enough to push it out . The GI told us he was fine otherwise and that we should look into how we were affecting his behavior.
He was almost 4, then he was over 4 years old and now we became desperate. What were we doing wrong? How could this be happening? And still our pediatrician didn't think it was a problem. We started seeing a Parenting Consultant/Behavior Specialist. She was very kind and helpful in lots of ways but none of her ideas changed anything. It all boiled down to the same thing; that we were the problem. We were too hard on him, or not tough enough. We weren't parenting correctly, that was for sure. How could we be if all the doctors told us he was physically fine? It had to stem from his behavior which was clearly our fault.
We blamed ourselves. We blamed each other. We fought when Scott went to bed at night. We figured that his body would forget how to poop and he'd be in diapers forever. We talked to everyone and then stopped telling people. We knew they thought we were lousy parents or, at the very least, secretly congratulated themselves for not having that problem. Scott knew he was doing something that was very wrong. Every day it came up. He begged us to keep it a secret, he was humiliated and frightened. He didn't know how to fix this and it was very apparent that we didn't either.
And life went on as all people who have ever weathered a crisis will tell you. We continued to get up and go about our day. To look for answers but also live our lives as best we could. We all had to eat, go to school and work and other activities. We couldn't stop time to solve this and then turn back on the clock when we had our answer. The loss of time is one of the hardest things to get over. I wish we could go back and live that time again without the problem. I know it would have been so much happier.
But then we wouldn't be the people we are today had it been different.
Coming next - Part 2 The hub of the problem