Friday, November 9, 2012

Push! Push! PUUUUUUSH!

Today I was cleaning up around the house, which mostly involves pushing piles of stuff from one part of the house to the other. Shovels would probably help. So while I was doing this cleaning/bulldozing, Addison stopped in her tracks and suddenly began concentrating really hard. You all know what that means. She was suddenly hearing the distant shrieks and howls of the wild pack of toddlers that we stole her from that roams the foothills of L.A. Also, she was trying to push all of her food from the last two days out of her body.
Me: What are you doing!?  
Addison: I'm doing a poop.
Me: Crap. Wait, I mean don't! Hold it in!

There's something about potty training that makes me feel like I'm once again the anxious partner to a birthing woman. I see that Addison is trying to push out a poop and my mind gets all panicky. What do I do?! Do I pick her up and run for the bathroom? Do I make her walk there, so that she gets used to doing it by herself? Is it a false alarm? (She has a lot of false alarms -- she totally punked me with that concentrating look yesterday and Lindsay and I ended up reading stories to her on the potty for an hour and a half before she admitted she didn't think she was going to poop).

I try to get her to look me in the eyes and describe what she's feeling. Is it an overwhelming desire to push? Does she feel like she's got to bear down? How many seconds are there between contractions? I take her hand and try to get her to walk a few steps:

Me: Come on, babe, just a few more steps. Lean on me. You can do it. I'm right here with you.
But when Addison starts doing her business, she's not in much of a mood to move. Her legs lock and she starts tensing all of the muscles in her body. So I start offering incentives.

We've been offering her chocolate for doing a poop in the potty, and she's gotten a small spoonful of Nutella on about five or six occasions over the past month or two. Given that she used to scream in rage at anyone who mentioned "potty" in the same sentence as "poop," that's serious progress. Ah, the joys of a chronically constipated kid.

With the help of prune juice, we've evened her out a little, and each of those spoonfuls of Nutella marks a triumph for all of us. Obviously we're taking potty training slow. Partly because Addison has a finnicky digestive system, partly because we're just take-it-slow kinds of people. Some people like to rip off the band-aid fast, in a fell swoop of just a couple days filled with potty time and plastic over all the carpeting . . . but we like to peel it slow, savoring the pain. We know she's probably gonna have to be out of diapers by the time she gets to high school, and we're pretty committed to at least hitting that deadline.

I finally coax Addison onto the potty, where I start pep-talking her.
Me: Are you gonna do a poop? 
Addison: I don't know. 
Me: Let's make this happen! Are you gonna do a poop?! 
Addison: I think so. 
Me: Come on, get excited! Are you gonna push this poop out like a boss?! 
Addison (catching the energy): Yeah! 
Me: Show me your poop face. Nice! Now what are you going to do to get that poop out? 
Addison (grimacing and sticking two fists hard into her stomach): Push it! Aaaargggh!
Addison proceeds to groan as she tries to work it out. Lindsay walks by and watches for a second.
Lindsay: Is she okay? 
Me: Are you okay, Addison? 
Addison: Sure! 
Lindsay: Why are you groaning? 
Addison: Because that's the sound I make to help doing a poop! 
Me (nodding sagely): It's true. It does help.
For the record, while I might have been the one who introduced pirate growls to potty time, it was Lindsay who taught the kid to punch her own fists into her stomach.

She ended up punking us again. Did her poop two hours later during her quiet time. It's funny how a lot of my thought during the day revolves around how many milliliters of prune juice to give a two-year-old. I think the formula is gonna need some tweaking. Trial and error. Science at its best!


  1. I guess we should just thank our lucky "tars" that she doesn't shriek and wail and cry like she used to every. single. time. she needed to poop. Those were sad days, lots of 'em.

    1. I do thank my 'tars. I thank them all the time.

  2. Potty training gets you a few more parenting stripes, that's for sure. Oh, and if she'll go for it, I recommend giving your child oatmeal with flaxseed (raisins optional) for breakfast at least every other day . . . no prune juice needed! (Flaxseed has loads of fiber and can be thrown in a lot of stuff.)

    1. We've tried flax oil and it didn't seem particularly reliable. We've tried flax seed, but less consistently. Addison notices it and turns up her nose. Also, she's eating her oatmeal less consistently than she used to, which saddens me.

      But, really, Prune juice seems to have worked pretty well. She basically likes it, and it's helped even things out a lot. She'll even come tell me:

      "I need some prune juice to help me poop."

  3. My son has had some issues in the regular pooping department. I found out a couple things: one being that its actually super difficult to get *any* poop out for babies and toddlers, as it requires a specific combination of contacting certain muscles, while relaxing certain others (not a combination easily mastered by littles who generally tend to 'squeeze' all muscles at the same time) two being a little thing called "miralax". Stirred into any drink is flavorless and safe for use everyday and non-habit forming.

    I like your nutella trick. My oldest was super into temporary tatoos. I made the mistake of offering them as reward. After running out of real estate within 36 hours- we had to come up with a whole new reward system. I bought a poster board, tacked to the wall at his eye level, and let him choose a sticker from a bucket that he got to place on the board. Both rewards were so exciting to him, that I'm afraid he trained his body to poop EVERY TIME he had to go. A habit that at 6yrs old he has yet to break!

    1. I've actually been seriously considering a sticker chart. I think she's just getting old enough that she may be able to appreciate it, especially if I can think of a good reward for a full row of stickers.

  4. You could set the world clock to my 4 year old's bowel movements. 6pm. On the dot. Every day.

    She use to hide behind things to poop when she was potty training. That's how I knew she was going. We used M&M's as bribery during PT and it didn't really work. I think it may have prolonged the process, actually. o_O

    Now she likes to have conversations while on the pot. I guess she gets bored?

    1. Yeah, Addison hides too. She'll get that look and then she'll say, "I need some privacy," if you look at her too long.

      I think I've retold the Little Mermaid story to Addison in 100 different ways just this week during potty time.

  5. My girl (2.5) was easier to potty train than my boy (4.5). He picked it up fairly qiickly, but she mastered it much faster. He had been using pullups at night and we got him out of that and staying dry at night. The girl decided a month after daytime potty training to no longer wear a diaper at night and has stayed dry as well. Now we are lucky if we can get her to use the potty twice a day, she's like a camel.

    1. We haven't been in any particular hurry, and have just been pleased to have her sitting on the potty with no fighting or tantrums. She's slowly getting better about actually DOING something in the potty...we'll probably get more serious about it after the holidays and family visits. Alternatively, I suppose we could buy her an astronaut space suit with tubes and receptacles for waste products.

      And now that I'm thinking about that, wouldn't it have been way cool to go to school with a kid who only wore a space suit?

  6. Hi Neal, manifestly interesting topic which just keeps giving =)

    Here's our current solutions:
    * Tilly likes prunes. Yay! Not so keen on the prune juice, but there's a bottle in our cupboard anyway.
    * Tilly can tell us when his poop is stuck and won't come out. So we commiserate while he sits on the toilet.
    * Tilly will indicate when he's had enough sitting without production.
    * Tilly will tell us when he thinks he needs to poop. Caveat: he is still at the 1-2 word sentence; one of his frequent words is "poop". Even in his sleep. Many false alarums ensues, until,
    * Tilly knows the word "fart" and is learning to apply it to the other thing that comes out of his butthole. (Caveat: he had a poop in the bath the other day, when he misjudged the production line. This distressed him so much, the day afterwards he worried when he farted in his bath.)
    * re. pick up or walk dichotomy - at this stage, I decided to help Tilly to the toilet, as he was learning to control his pooping muscles and concentration, followed by,
    * current false alarums script:

    Scenario 1:
    T: "po-oop!"
    me: "poop? or fart?"
    T (with toothy grin): "fart!"

    Scenario 2:
    T: "po-oop!"
    me: "poop? or fart?"
    T: "poop!"
    me: "okay walk to the toilet and we'll follow you."
    T takes me by the hand and has me follow him out the kitchen, into the hallway, past the toilet...
    me: "sweetie, the toilet is that way. We don't poop in the hallway."
    T never does go to the toilet in this scenario.

    Scenario 3:
    T: "po-oop!"
    me: "poop? or fart?"
    T (with buttock-clenching grimace): "poop!"
    me (hauls T bodily to the toilet): "okay here we go. blabber blabber todistractTillysoheholdsonlongenoughtopoopintothetoilet blabber blabber."

    1. Fertile ground, I know. Addison won't touch the prunes, just the prune juice.

      I'm sure false alarms are par for course, but that doesn't make them any less ulcer-inducing. I sometimes worry that "assisting" Addison to the toilet will make her uninterested in getting there without "flying."

      "What? You're not going to fly me there? Then screw it, I'll poop in my pants."