Monday, February 20, 2012

A common problem

Thing 1 and Thing 2 have been completely potty trained for about a year now.  In fact, last year we got them big boy beds for their 4th birthday to celebrate the achievement.  We had made a conscious decision to wait to get the big boy beds until after they were nighttime trained, because we didn't want them ruining the new linens and mattresses with accidents.  Just to be on the safe side though, we did buy vinyl mattress covers for that occasional accident.

And for months, we had what seemed like no accidents.

Then, Thing 2 began having the occasional nighttime accident.

Then it became 2-3 times a week.

Then it became almost every other night.  Around this time, I actually put a post on Facebook asking for some advice.  I got a lot of "make sure he empties his bladder before bedtime", "don't let him drinking anything for two hours before bedtime", and "layer a mattress cover and a sheet, then another mattress cover and sheet to pull off at night."  But the accidents continued.

Then, around Christmas time, it seemed like the accidents were getting less frequent again. 

But after the new year, they came back, and more frequent than ever.  In fact, for a little over a month now, Thing 2 has wet the bed every single night.  Every night between 2 am and 4 am I hear the crying "Mommy!  Mommy!" and I go in to find him standing by his bed crying "my pajamas are wet".  And I help him peel off the soaked clothes, then bring him into bed with us.

Exhausted (both from the amount of sleep I was losing and the extra loads of laundry I was doing), I decided to turn to the internet for some help.  I put up a plea on Facebook, asking any of my friends for serious advice.  One mom suggested I check out GoodNites® Underwear, which she said were designed for older kids who had night time accidents.  So I began doing some research on them, and what I found out was that my son was exhibiting textbook symptoms of nocturnal enuresis, also known as bed wetting.

Bedwetting is common.  In fact, according to some research, as many as 1 in 10 children ages 4-11 experience chronic bed wetting.  And the vast majority of these are boys.  Moreover, bedwetting typically starts just as it did with Thing 2.  They are completely potty trained (even at night) and then they slowly start having accidents.  Then often seem to get better.  Then the accidents get more and more frequent.

I won't go into lots of detail here about the facts about bed wetting, and how to deal with it, because there are already tons of great resources out there (especially on, so I don't feel the need to reinvent the wheel.  I'll just end the blog on these last notes.
  1. If your child is having night accidents, I strong urge you to check out for more information on bedwetting.  They have lots of wonderful resources and articles to read.
  2. Don't be afraid to put your child back into training pants.  We invested in some GoodNites® Underwear this weekend, and I am so glad we did.  First, they are specially made for kids 4 and up (are very absorbent!) and specifically designed for being used while lying down.  I was skeptical that they could keep Thing 2's pajamas and bedclothes completely dry at night, but two nights in a row they have!  That pull-up is saturated, but everything else was dry.  And the pull-up didn't feel wet to the touch either (sorry, I know that is gross, but I had is on my baby boy's skin, I had to make sure he isn't going to develop rashes from the moisture).
  3. Don't make your child feel bad for his bedwetting!  This is a physical issue, not one of obstinance or laziness.  It was hard to show Thing 2 a lot of sympathy at 3 am in the morning, but I tried very hard to remember that he wasn't doing it on purpose.  I tried to use sympathetic tones and tell him it was okay, that we had plenty of clean and dry pajamas to put on.
    I was afraid that he would be resistant to the pull ups, and say "those are for babies".  But I explained to him before I went to buy them that I was going to get him some underwear that would help him not make his pajamas wet.  He seemed fine with this.  Then, when we were getting ready for bed, I again talked to him about how these would help keep his pajamas and bed dry all night.  But I didn't have to do much explaining, because he put them on with no reservations. In fact, he seemed very happy about the idea.  I had to remind myself that I'm sure he doesn't enjoy waking up in a puddle of his own urine anymore than I enjoy waking up at 2 am and changing him out of urine soaked clothes.
  4. YOU (and your child) ARE NOT ALONE!  I will say that ever since I found that site, I feel so much better.  Just knowing that my child is not the only "potty-trained" 4 year old having this problem, I am just, I don't know...relieved.  Also, it makes me less afraid to talk about the issue.  I just wish I hadn't waited so long to ask for help.
As a parent, I have already faced many things that haven't gone as planned: not having a normal pregnancy, when the boys wouldn't/couldn't nurse, their speech delays, etc.  Now my child bedwetting.  It's disappointing and frustrating, because we just want our parenting and our children to be "normal."  But I have never been one to sit back and pretend like if I don't deal with it, it will go away.  So my child is a bedwetter.  That does not define him.  And one day he will outgrow this and probably will barely even remember it. In the meanwhile, we will just love him, and be supportive, and reassuring, and let him know that this is natural and nothing to be ashamed of.

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