Thursday, September 3, 2009

The First Day of Dry Sheets

I have been battling off-and-on with one of my children to stop wetting the bed at night. Because I know this is not a naughty behavior, I have refrained from getting angry with them. (At this point I am going to use incorrect grammar and say "them" or "they" because I don't want to single this child out. I just feel it's more respectful if I can protect their privacy. So forgive the incorrect pronouns, please.) I have certainly gotten frustrated and exhausted, but I have repeated over and over to this child and to myself, "You can't control yourself while you're sleeping. I know you're not doing this on purpose. I know you want to have dry nights as much as I want you to!"

This child has been potty-trained for many years. They have a few problems during the day, like not wanting to stop playing to pee and then getting a little bit of "overflow" on their underpants before they can make it to the potty. But, there's no misunderstanding of what the "I have to go" feeling is. And when asked to just go, on command, this child can always do it.

Last year, I bought a night-time bed alarm. The instructions that came with it were very helpful. They explained that if a child does not have GOOD daytime control of their bladder, then nighttime control will not happen either. It went on to say that kids who pee in a big hurry, or make "pit stops" as they call them, never fully empty their bladder. Therefore, the child's bladder is in a constant state of being tensed and holding in urine. This becomes a normal feeling for the child and they don't know what it would feel like to have a relaxed, empty bladder. So, when bedtime comes and the child goes to sleep, the child's bladder is finally fully relaxed and the urine which is still in the bladder comes out. The alarm company explains techniques the parents can try to get their child to improve their daytime potty habits. We worked on this from last fall until about April of this year.

Now, I'd been working on dry days for a while so I have been trying since the spring time to get this child to have dry nights. (I say I because my husband's support of this process was mostly in a supervisory role, or one of encouragement. When it came to actual washing of the "pee sheets" or scrubbing a urine-smelling mattress, he was nowhere to be found.) I limited their liquids, I cut off all drinks after dinner, and I made sure they went potty before bedtime. But still, consistently, this child will wet the bed every night.

For a while, my husband and I would get the kid up in the middle of the night to pee. Usually that helped, but eventually it was even worse... we'd be staying up late just to get the child up to go potty, then the child would STILL wet the bed.

In April I decided it was time to begin putting the nighttime bed alarm to use.
Basically, the parent clips the sensor to the child's underwear directly in the spot where the child will pee (so, different spots for a girl or a boy). The sensor is connected to a wire that leads to the alarm, which is connected (via safety pin or magnet-clip) to the child's pajamas, very close to their head - so they can hear and feel the alarm when it goes off. When the child wets the sensor, it vibrates and makes an alarm sound similar to but not quite as loud as an alarm clock. The idea is that over time, this device will trigger in the child's sleeping subconscious at the time when they are about to pee, and the child will wake before they start to pee. The child needs to learn how to wake themselves up at night when they feel the sensation to pee. The literature explains that from beginning to end, with consistent use, the process can take as long as 12 weeks.

So, we filled up an air mattress in our bedroom and armed ourselves with plenty of extra sheets and underwear and Clorox disinfecting spray. Starting in April, and the whole month of May, we would go to sleep at night, only to be awakened by the bed alarm. We would help our child wake up, go to the bathroom, and try to pee. Sometimes they would, but usually they had already eliminated everything on the sheets. We'd clean the child up and put on new sheets. This seemed to be going well - the child would not wet as much when they did wet and the child had an occasional dry night, but then in June we went to St. Louis for a long family vacation and I didn't want to deal with the bed alarm while on vacation. Then we came back in July and it was summer and we were on a different schedule every single day. Summer is not a great time to do anything that requires consistency. So, I just let it go. By this point, the nighttime wetting was happening about 60% of the time, which WAS an improvement.

It was my intention to get back into using the bed alarm once school started. But school just started last week and I wanted to give all my kids time to adjust to the new environment. Then, last night, the strangest thing happened. I was sleeping on the couch (because apparently this pregnancy has blessed me with the gift of breathing like a freight train while I sleep. It keeps my husband awake, so we take turns sleeping in other locations) and my kid comes to me in the middle of the night and wakes me up, and asks if they can sleep with me on the couch. So I say, "okay but go pee first." and the kids says, "I already did." I got up and looked and sure enough, this child had woken themselves up, gotten to the toilet, gone pee, and kept dry underwear.

This is such a huge breakthrough. I don't expect it to happen every day. As a matter of fact, I'm going to look at this as more of a fluke than a new pattern. That way I won't be disappointed if this kid keeps wetting the bed. But I can't tell you how excited I am that this may be the first step to my child gaining a little bit more dignity. This kid wants so badly to be dry at night and it breaks my heart to not be able to help them.

So, while I'm not counting my chickens before they hatch, I certainly am keeping a little glimmer of hope alive in my heart. Goodness knows my washing machine could use the break.

This post inspired by the writers workshop from MamaKat at Mama's Losin' It.

16 comments:

Jody said...

I wish you all the luck in the world with this! It has to be hard on both of you.

Jennifer said...

Oh, I feel for you. My five year old is the same way. She just started school and she too waits till the last minute and hurries to pee. It worries me with school and an "accident" happening. She has made it over 3 months without wetting the bed at night :)
So there's hope!

jori-o said...

Congrats to Texas Kid who is making progress! One of my kids' friends has a nighttime issue--I've talked a bit about it with their mom because the kids want to do sleepovers. It's a hard thing, for sure. Glad you're work is paying off! =)

Emily said...

I am certainly holding out hope for you. I have hear so many people struggle with this same issue. I just finished confronting my own child's potty training issue (a different issue) so I have total sympathy for you!

Wendy said...

ALRIGHT! I'm so glad to hear this!

We don't have nighttime issues, but every now & then (once every several months) one of my kids will just forget to go & have an accident. Ugh! What?!

I'm glad your kiddo is getting it sorted. I'm sure it's hard on 'them', too.

Vicki said...

Good job mama being so understanding and finding new and different solutions. Good luck ~sending dry vibes thoughts!

Jennifer said...

I think I have one of those "pit stoppers". Baby Girl hates taking the time to go to the bathroom and she just this year started really going regularly. I still keep her in pull ups at night because she pees a ton. I really don't know how she comes up with that much pee.

Mellisa said...

I wish you luck with this. Thank goodness your child has a parent who understands that his is not something that they can control. I will keep my fingers crossed that it is not a fluke!

Mellisa said...

I wish you luck with this. Thank goodness your child has a parent who understands that his is not something that they can control. I will keep my fingers crossed that it is not a fluke!

Anna See said...

I am so glad he/she had a good night! My sister and I were both long-time bedwetters. My mom gave us a nickle each time we didn't wet the bed, and neither of us got rich.

My kids have camel bladders and have never wet the bed. Even when they were two. I think they got this from their dad.

Michelle said...

2/3 of my kids are bed-wetters. The child who is not never wore pull-ups went straight to underwear and has never had a single accident.

Sigh! I know it gets old. My oldest is 9 and still has accidents at night. He was going 1 to 2 months without an accident but when were in Colorado on vacation he had 4 accidents. I have tried everything but now I try not to worry about it. About 6 months ago I taught him how to wash his sheets and towels. If he has accident he gets up takes a shower and starts his wet stuff in the wash. I hope he completely outgrows it soon because it is going to become embarassing for him soon. My 6 year old is not making any progress. With two bed-wetters and I was working full-time I was losing my mind with the sheer volume of wet laundry to do. I put her back into pull-ups at 5 and tried to motivate her with a sticker chart, positive reinoforcement but all that created was her lying and trying to hide her wet pull-ups. I know sometimes putting an older child into pull-ups can cause them to regress but she never really progressed past needing them I was just cheap and trying to get her past it without using them. I really want her to transition out of them soon. If I could get her to only wet once every week or two I would be ok with her not wearing pull-ups but now she is only dry once every week or two. Most kids outgrow it eventually! I hope mine do soon. No advice here but nice to hear other people are going through the same struggles as me.

Jen said...

Oh I hope this is a sign of good things to come. I really, really do.

Mom of Three said...

Good luck to you. Having a bedwetter myself, I know how challenging it can be. Just wanted to share a tip re: easily getting the urine smell out of their sheets - throw the sheets in the washing machine with abt a tablespoon of baking soda along with the detergent. I think it works better with warm/hot water, but baking soda is definitely the way to go.

Bridgett said...

Yes baking soda does help. And oh I hope this works for you guys.

Beth (A Mom's Life) said...

Who knew there even was such a thing as a potty alarm!! I'm glad things seem to be turning a corner and I hope it continues!

Every Day Goddess said...

So sorry, that is tough. My daughter used to have what is called "night terrors" where she was having nightmares of a sort, but she was in between sleep and awake. I finally figured out that it was because she was such a deep sleeper and her body was trying to wake her up to go potty. Once I figured it out I would have to help her to the bathroom and then she would start to come out of the terror. She has for the most part out grown it, but if her schedule gets off or she is in a strange place it will come back from time to time. It sounds like yours has finally started to become aware of their bodies messages, it is so hard for kids to always understand that.