4/12/07

Encopresis

**This post talks of poop and wet farts. If that sort of thing is too much, you might want to move on today!**

It's funny to me how you can often tell the personality of your baby In Utero. I remember quite vividly that I knew I was "in for it" with Connor. When he finally started moving around in there, he moved all of the time. During my ultrasounds he put on a show, spreading his legs for the world to see his stuff, bouncing around, waving at us, basically.

My labor with him was also a clear marker of his personality. He was ready to enter this world. But seriously, on.his.time. My water broke. I was in labor. But I didn't progress. Finally, with the threat of being ripped out of my uterus by a stranger hanging in the air, Connor decided he'd take the natural route.
And I know this all sounds crazy. But seeing the way he works now, I know this to be true. He had his own mind. Always has. I believe he always will.

And that has marked every milestone. He didn't walk until a bit after his first birthday and he took off running. Seriously.
He didn't talk until about the same time & it was full-on sentences.

I figured potty training would go pretty easily. Rav took that on in a week & Connor was peeing in the potty like he had his whole life.
He wasn't so wild about pooing in the potty.
And he still isn't.

This became a topic of great concern last summer.
Connor informed me he would not be eating anymore because it made him poop.
I immediately called the pediatrician and our therapist at behavioral clinic.
They first told me not to worry & how to respond to this statement of his.
And then they congratulated me on having such a smart kid. Which, let me tell you, was really not what I wanted to hear at that moment.

I told Connor, when he would say this, that everyone poops. Even if they don't eat.
Thank goodness, he resumed eating.

We talked about this "problem" with behavioral clinic and we tried putting Connor on the potty at the time he would go every night (he was like clock work).
Then he started holding it in until the middle of the day, so I would be caught off guard.
Behavioral clinic told us he obviously feels very strongly about this. That we are to tell him they are his poops. That he can poop in his underwear, in his pull-up. But from now on, he'd have to help clean up.
So, we did this. I figured a few days of this & he'd be ready for the potty.
Nope. No way.

It got to the point where, one night he spent the night with my mom...she put him on the potty and asked him to go (and he did a little bit). He was so pissed, when we picked him up and brought him home, he went right up to his room, took off his pants and pooped in the middle of his bedroom floor.
Quite a statement, eh?

Again, behavioral clinic told us to let him know that his poops were his own. But he was responsible for clean-up.

We've gone on like this for almost a year. He goes in his pull-up, he helps clean up. Every so often, he'll go on the potty. As a teaser. Then we're right back to square one.
He's recently increased his withholding. He's been deliberately not pooping - at all. His poor tummy is so distended and bloated from the amount of poo he's got trapped in there.
At times, even when he would poop in his pull-up, he'd poo enough to relieve some of the pain and pressure and hold in the rest.

A few weeks ago, he came home from school and as he walked in the door with Rav, Connor had this look on his face of grave concern. I asked him what was wrong and he said he pooped in his pants. I asked him when. He told me at school. I turned him around and the stench hit me in the face. He sure had. Since he usually goes at a certain time in the evening, I knew that this was escalating. He was now leaking because he was so backed up.
I took him up and cleaned him up. And as I'm doing this & realizing how long he had been at school walking around like this, my heart just broke for him. I could feel his embarrassment at being discovered. How his whole day must have felt...one big stress ball of trying to hide this dirty secret in his pants.
We explained to him that everyone has accidents. And that if it happens at school again, he needs to tell one of his teachers.

Last night, Connor came to us with something cold in his pull-up (at this point, he hasn't pooped in days). He was beginning to leak a little and having "wet-farts".
I had to lay it on the line. I told him that his belly was really big & that he's having these wet farts because all of that poop needs to come out. And that if it doesn't come out he's going to get sick and I will have to call the doctor. So, if he doesn't want that to happen he has two choice: 1) Poop in the potty or at least try. or 2) Poop in his pull-up and I'll have to give him medicine tomorrow (laxative). After much stress, questions, explanations, whining, bargaining (on his part, to no avail), he decided on the potty.
He & I made our way upstairs with a new Space Book he got for Easter. He sat down and I began talking about each detailed page. The rings of Saturn, The Moons of Neptune, The life on Earth, and of course, Uranus.
He was asking questions and finally, a movement.

We finished the book. Cover to cover. All while he was working some magic in the bowl.
He looked better (seriously, his face looked better), I know he felt better. He probably felt a lot lighter! He looked in the bowl at his *ahem* accomplishments. And said, They look like hot dogs!!
I called Rav up to join in the celebration and gawk at what was in the bowl (something you would never dream of doing until it's your child's poop & it is something to celebrate). We couldn't believe the amount. Mind blowing. Connor said to Rav, It looks like a hot dog!
To which Rav replied, It's a whole pack of hot dogs, buddy!

I'm not getting my hopes up that this is over for Connor. I want it to be so. But most likely, we will have to resort to laxatives and mineral oil.

This process has been the single most stressful, heartbreaking thing I've ever experienced. It certainly wasn't listed anywhere in the "manual" at the hospital when I had him. This is not something I've heard other parents talk about.
This is something that has caused stress in our house....between Rav & I. Despite our best efforts at being calm and understanding it wears us down from time-to-time.
This is something that well-intentioned family members and friends need to understand a bit better. And that silence can be golden. But a listening ear and an understanding heart will go a long way.

I'm not really sure why I'm sharing this. After not talking about it on here, at all, I feel a bit better though.

I guess on one hand I put it out here for anyone who reads this or stumbles across it who might need to read about a personal experience.
This is a real problem, it's not an end-of-the-world thing, but it's very trying, it's scary and again it doesn't seem to get talked about.
Getting professional guidance is a must. Whether it be a pediatrician or a behavioralist - or both. It's a nasty, often painful cycle these poor kids start for themselves.

And I hope that maybe this helps someone.
Thanks for reading & allowing me to get this out (HA!).

8 ripples in the pond:

deb said...

We have an ongoing problem with Katie with regards to her poop as well. She likes to go in her diaper at bedtime. She needs to relax and she likes to relax in her bed. What can you do? We put up with it. She is improving, ever so slowly. She has progressed to the point where she now gets up when she has gone and knocks on the door to let us know she needs to be cleaned up. That's taken us almost fifteen years to get that.

Poop is tough. I got no advice, sadly. But I'm glad he did go on the toilet. And hotdogs. Now I don't want to eat hotdogs anymore.

Senekot works well and so does Milk of Magnesia. Mineral oil tastes bad and also depletes fat soluble vitamins.

Good luck.

Joker The Lurcher said...

we had a mad time with my son on the potty training thing. we spent hours and hours reading books to him about various creatures who liked their potty while he sat on the potty and listened in interest, then peed or pood in his nappy. in the end he had to be dry to go to the pre shcool and the health visitor said "take a week off work and refuse to put a nappy on". it was sheer hell. he would hold it all in but eventually he had weed all down his legs. by day 3 he realised we were not going to crack and tried the loo (he never did take to the potty but very quickly got into the loo with the child seat thingy).

various other people have told me they had to put cling film over the water in the loo to stop the splashing noise before their kids would poo there.

one thing your post teaches us and also all our experiences is that we all think we are the only people going through stuff until we talk about it and then we realise that in all those homes with young children there are people with apparantly fine minds spending hours talking about pooh!

this is what stops me being scared of judges when i am in court. they all had to be potty trained and quite a few have been parents - they have therefore been obsessed with poo too...

Mary-LUE said...

I don't know that my daughter was intentionally withholding, but she would get very constipated. I had to use suppository laxatives. I spent who know how much time kneeling in front of her while she sat on the toilet. I'd be hugging her and patting her back, telling her, "You can do it. You can do it." Oh gosh, it was horrible.

I feel for you, Tabba. I'm impressed at how you and your husband have handled it. I hope that your boy makes a turnaround soon, for both his sake and yours.

jen said...

oh honey. ouch.

i was humming everybody poops...REM style as i read through it...poor baby. and poor you.

it's all so complicated sometimes.

Tabba said...

Jen - I so needed that chuckle in reference to the REM song.
And today, while making Gracie lunch I realized it was hot dogs.
Yikes.
And seriously, poop. Who knew such a natural process would be so stinking......hard (no pun intended).

@ Deb, Joker, & Mary-lue: thanks for sharing your stories/struggles and thanks for the support.

Jenn said...

[hand raised]

Yes! Over here!

SO familiar with this, to the point of an ER visit and some very traumatic hours there. Miralax (Glycolax?) was prescribed, finally, after nothing else worked. Something we mixed into her drinks for several years.

All's resolved itself now, but it's an awful thing for sure, for the little guy and the both of you. So so sorry. It gets better, but in the thick of it, it's just, well, it's crap! In every way.

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Pippajo said...

We had some issues with Man-Cub in this area. He learned to pee in the toilet no problem, but pooping was quite another story. I tried all the advice, making him walk around with it in his pants, making him clean it up (I did NOT however take my mother's suggestion of spanking him if he pooped in his pants-how horrifying), but none of it helped.

He was terrified of pooping in the potty and I never could get it out of him why. I know this doesn't help you, but I can't actually remember what changed. But I do remember how frustrating and abnormal it felt to have my entire life revolving around his poop.

Thankfully, now he poops in the potty without a peep, though getting through the night without a wet bed is still a problem.

Keep your head up. You're doing the right thing by being encouraging and gentle with him, but also telling him straight. Like I used to tell my mother, he's not going to be getting married in diapers!