My 3.5-year-old, who has been potty trained since last summer, has been having frequent urine accidents off and on over the past few months. My little girl is a sweet, smart, earnest, rule-follower who generally doesn’t give us a hard time about going to the bathroom. She tells me that she wants to keep her pee-pee in her body, but she doesn’t know how. It breaks my heart. Until the fourth accident of the day, when it frustrates the hell out of me.
A few friends had mentioned the possibility that constipation might be the cause of her accidents, but I wasn’t sure, as she’s pretty regular (or so I thought). Yesterday morning I stumbled across this article in the New York Times, which I immediately emailed to my pediatrician. She called a few hours later, and gave us an appointment for 5 p.m. An x-ray of my daughter’s tummy revealed that constipation does seem to be the culprit. We start the Miralax today.
Our little trip to the doctor’s office last night illustrated a few things I wish I had known earlier in my parenting career:
1. Get used to the poop. Even three years later, I am constantly amazed by the amount of fecal matter (and urine and vomit and snot) that my little ones can produce (or not, as the case may be). And that I will inevitably get covered in it. (On a related note, don’t listen to those parents who tell you their kid’s poop doesn’t smell. They’re either liars or have no olfactory glands. Either way, I’m suspicious.)
2. Our ancestors really knew their shit (HA!). I love being Jewish. What other religion acknowledges the importance of pooping? The asher yatzar prayer acknowledges the importance of our various bodily openings, and how crucial it is that they function properly and don’t become blocked. Because you know what happens when they get blocked? Mama gets peed on. A LOT. Seriously, though, Jewish tradition has a lot to tell us about raising children, and we’d be wise to heed its wisdom.
3. Get yourself a good pediatrician. Let’s go back to my story of last night. I emailed my doctor. She responded on the same day, and gave me an evening appointment. She took my concerns seriously, and cracked my daughters up with her exaggerated shock at the “holes” in the middle of their bellies. Now, I know it isn’t always possible, but if you have any choice in the matter, get yourself a doctor like mine. It will make your life infinitely easier.
4. Kids (especially little ones) come down with the weirdest shit. (Sorry, sorry. I just can’t help myself.) If your little germ bags are anything like mine, you will soon become a veritable expert in all sorts of bizarre viruses with weird names like “Coxsackie” and “Fifth’s Disease”. You will learn that your kid can poop every day and still be constipated. REALLY?
5. The internet is an amazing resource. If you think I actually have time to sit down and read a newspaper every day, you’re seriously unprepared to have a baby. However, I can quickly scan through my favorite parenting blogs (by which I mean, of course, all of those blogs that are completely inferior to Kveller but otherwise generally good enough) and read through the relevant posts. (Which inevitably have to do with poop.) In this case, an online article helped solve the mystery of the frequent pee leaks.
6. The internet will make you insane. Researching your child’s weird rashes and viruses online is a great way to convince yourself that your child has HIV or Ebola, thereby guaranteeing that you will become that crazy lady who has your pediatrician on speed dial. Online research is also a great way to ensure that you will never, ever be able to sleep when your child sleeps. (Of note, the next time a well-intended friend or family member tells you to sleep when your child sleeps, feel free to invite them to your house to wash your dishes or fold your laundry for you while you take a nap. Or, just slap them.)
7. Judge not, lest your child become constipated, too. When I first heard of the constipation theory from friends and family members, I, well, poo-pooed it. Clearly their children were constipated because they didn’t give them enough fruits and vegetables and whole grains or perhaps their children weren’t exercising enough. Clearly it was a problem with their parenting, and it wasn’t our issue. Our daughter wasn’t going to need laxatives. So much for that. Our little girl eats multiple servings of fresh fruit and veggies every day, and she gets a ton of exercise. She poops every day, but apparently not enough. I can’t help but wonder if her constipation is yet another example of the universe slapping me upside the head for silently judging other parents.
8. Never, ever underestimate the power of the kindness of strangers. And always accept it. After my exhausted daughters had endured over an hour of waiting, poking, prodding, x-rays, and more waiting, we finally made our way down to the pharmacy to pick up our manna from heaven Miralax. The girls were barely hanging in there, and I was preparing myself for two major melt-downs. The tantrums were averted by a kindly pharmacist, who gave them each a sheet of stickers, which kept them happily occupied for the next 20 minutes.
9. Ditch the ego. If you can’t do that, be prepared to take pride in things you had never thought you could be proud of. By the time our prescription was ready, the front of my sweatshirt was covered in small fairy stickers. I’ve spent the past three years covered in breast milk, spit-up, strained sweet potatoes, and macaroni and cheese, so a few stickers were no big deal. I was just proud of all of us for playing so nicely together when we were totally exhausted.
10. Children are an inconvenient truth. Yep. I said it, and I mean it. The bad news is that kids (especially the little ones) can be highly inconvenient. The good news is that they will become your truth, and you theirs, and you will come to realize that your children are the clearest, sweetest, most important, most meaningful truth you have ever, and will ever, encounter.