Definition of Poomageddon in English:
- The final battle at the end of the world between the forces of good and evil.
- A catastrophic and extremely destructive conflict.
More words associated with Poomagedon: Poo-gate
When Sydney came out of nursery this week in her spare trousers with a suspicious looking plastic bag tied to her school bag, my heart sank and I went hurtling back to a year ago.
Potty training has been, single-handedly, the most frustrating and the most challenging part of parenting that we have dealt with so far. It was an all-consuming time.
Looking back, I should never have even attempted potty training when we did. I should have potty-trained Sydney before Morgan was born, but when I was feeling huge and pregnant I just couldn’t face it. That summer was unbelievably hot, I had been diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes and I felt exhausted.
So I waited until Morgan had arrived. For some reason I thought it would be a brilliant idea to potty train Sydney in those first few months when we were spending a lot of time in the house anyway as tackling taking both of the girls out and about was pretty daunting in the early days.
I didn’t properly think through how demanding it was going to be, on top of establishing feeding with Morgan and virtually no sleep.
Not just that, but I didn’t think about how resistant Sydney would be or consider how it would make her feel. Her whole world had been turned upside down. She had just become a big sister and I was forcing her to be a “big girl” when actually all she wanted to do was to be a “baby” and would eagerly put a nappy back when I said she could, to “be like Morgan”.
She wasn’t overly excited about knickers like the books said she would be. We made a big deal about going out and choosing Minnie Mouse ones but the novelty wore off quickly. The books also said that little girls wouldn’t want to spoil their knickers, but Sydney was quite happy sitting in her own wee without seeming to even notice.
I went down the bribery route quite quickly – Chocolate Buttons at first – one for a wee; two for a poo. She found the timing tricky and she would dance around and then sit on the potty and then get up, and then sit down, and get up (and repeat) and would then end up doing it in her knickers anyway.
It was revolutionary when she discovered she could move the potty and we learnt that she actually wanted privacy when she went to the loo (who knew?!) So…when she was able to move it to wherever she wanted, it encouraged her to go and she enjoyed the praise and the chocolate that came with it.
We had nappy off hours and extended it gradually. We then had nappy off at home and on out of the house, and then we were able to take it off for short journeys (we bought a travel potty which was fab and we still keep it in the car). She learnt how to “hold it” until I could pull over or stop somewhere for her to use it, or get to a toilet.
She had a sticker chart which she loved and before long she was filling up the rows and was virtually “dry” within a few months.
Doing a poo was a different story.
At first, she would wait until her nappy was back on, or until she was in bed at night in a nappy to do a poo.
But, on one occasion when she managed to do it in the potty – she screamed like she had seen the most terrible and hideous thing she had even seen. She was shaking and looked petrified and when I say, “petrified” I honestly mean it, in the true sense of the word.
From then we moved into a hugely difficult stage where she started to purposefully withhold her poo. She would hold onto it for days and days and days. It changed her. She didn’t want to play, she was bad tempered, and she couldn’t eat properly. She was difficult about going to nursery.
If it was a “poo” day, which tended to be every other day, I wouldn’t want to leave the house because it would inevitably get to the point where she couldn’t hold onto it any more. I wouldn’t feel anyone else could look after her. On one particularly tough day, she screamed her way round a shopping centre and threw herself onto the floor as walking was bringing on the urge for her to need to go and she couldn’t handle it. I had to pick her up, kicking and screaming, as well as pushing the pram to get her to a toilet in order to have more tantrums until she finally would “let it go” and would do it, and we could then go back to being normal. On another occasion when she spent the morning at my parents, she lay on the sofa not wanting to take part in the Christmas craft activities my Mum had organised for her. It was starting to affect everything.
I went to see a parenting consultant about it. She suggested getting Sydney to blow up a balloon whilst on the loo, which worked once but she then cottoned on to why we were asking her to do it. We tried getting her to do her business directly into the toilet so she wouldn’t see it. We tried letting her blow bubbles whilst trying to go to get her to relax. I was quickly reaching breaking point.
She felt repulsed about poo. She hated the fact it was in her. She hated the feeling of it leaving her body. It honestly, honestly terrified her. The thing was, it was a vicious cycle. She would withhold her poo, so it would then become more difficult to go and when she did eventually have to, it would hurt her, and then she would feel scared about being in pain the next time, and that stopped her going even more.
We increased the amount of fruit and veg that she had, made her drinks loads of water and gave her dried apricots at every opportunity.
I bought every kind of book about it for children including “Princess Polly’s Potty”, “Everyone Poops”, “The Story of the Little Mole who knew it was None of his Business” and “The Popup Book of Poo.” But no matter how hard we tried to make her realise it was normal to go to toilet, nothing seemed to help.
I was on the verge of taking Sydney to the doctor – I reached the point where I didn’t know what else to do. Her nursery were brilliant, but had the attitude of most which was “oh, she’ll get it when she’s ready”.
They didn’t get how much of our lives were being consumed with poo! Doing it, not doing it, talking about it, hearing about it, thinking about it. Grrrrrr!
I researched “Withholding Poo” to death; through the night whilst breastfeeding Morgan, early in the morning when I had been woken up too early. It was taking up every waking moment, and Morgan wasn’t the easiest baby and was a tricky feeder.
I discovered a number of other parents on forums who were going through the same thing, which was a comfort and through a recommendation by one of these Mums, I bought a book called “Constipation, Withholding and Your Child” by Anthony Cohn.
It is a short book that I read cover to cover in a day. I cried when it ended. Every word spoke to me. It was like the author had visited our house and written a guide on what we’d been experiencing. It was unbelievable.
Inside, was a story about Mr. Poo and Mrs. Wee. This story, and the couple of pages it filled within the book, changed my life.
It described how Mr. Poo and Mrs. Wee liked to come out so they can play together in the toilet. It said that if they want to come out and we stop them, they get angry and make our tummies hurt.
It conjured a message that clicked with Sydney.
It was like a light bulb had turned on for her.
She chatted about the fact they wanted to come out and play. She invented parts to the story that I hadn’t told her, like “they are on the train and on their way”. Eventually, we had a situation where she was initiating to go to the toilet. It was amazing. A huge weight felt like it was slowly starting to lift.
From there, we built on her confidence with another level of bribery – this time, chocolate coins – which she loved. She loved what they looked like, how shiny they were, and the act of un-peeling them. They trumped Chocolate Buttons a million times over. She called them “tokens”.
When I look back at my calendar on my laptop, photo time stamps and my Amazon past orders to see when I see when I bought the book, it amazes me that that period only lasted a few months. It felt like it went on forever and I thought it would never end.
We are now nearly eighteen months later and Sydney still isn’t dry at night but we are working on it. She wears Pyjama Pants and will get up to go to the loo in the night or in the morning.
She occasionally, but rarely, has an accident during the day – but it is usually just because she has a fear of missing out on something or when she gets too engrossed in an activity.
For now, thankfully, Poomageddon seems to be over. The battle has been won; the catastrophic and extremely destructive conflict has been resolved.