Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The case against potty-training

A few weeks ago we decided to just go for it and potty-train Mary.

She is 2 1/2. She's smart, she communicates well, and we wanted it done before we bring home little Mister.

I asked for advice on Facebook and got, of course, a little more than I needed. It seems that there are as many opinions on potty-training as there are parents.

It also seems that most parents remain scarred for life after the experience.

Knowing that struck deep fear into my heart of the process.

I thought it over and chose the potty-training method that fit our personalities the best. "Wait until she potty-trains herself" isn't my style, and neither is the "just let her run around naked until she figures it out" method. I wanted a system. So I chose the "Toilet Training in Less than a Day" (Azrin & Foxx) method. This involves about 4 hours of time where ALL YOU DO is potty-train. You practice going potty, have the child teach a doll to go potty, stay off the carpet at all costs, and reward any successes shamelessly with junk food (M&Ms in our case). Also you shove as many fluids down the gullet as possible to, of course, increase urinary output. Because when they pee more, they practice more.

Two weeks later, Mary is, I'd say, about 90% there with potty-training. She wears pull-ups at night, and I frankly don't care if she keeps that up until she's 10. Accidents are getting pretty uncommon (we're still working on pooping), and all in all I think she's done as well as can be expected for a child her age. She was already starting to get it by the end of the first day. (In spite of what I'm about to say, I was very pleased with the book we used. I plan to use it again on future kids.)

Nevertheless, no experience with parenting thus far, not even the newborn stage, has made me question my decision to bring children into this world like potty-training has.

By day three I started panicking. What had I done? I'd created a monster! I'd left the blissful life of the diapered child. On purpose, no less!

Why on EARTH would any parent willingly give up the freedom of diapers? Who are these parents that push potty-training at absurdly young ages? Or that complain about having a child in diapers?Sure, they cost money, but they are a PORTABLE TOILET the child wears ALL THE TIME.

That day I hit a wall. Would I ever leave the house again? Would the fear of an impending accident forever cloud my sense of well-being? At one particularly low point, I looked down at my own expanding belly and thought to myself, "What have I done? Why am I having another? I'M GOING TO HAVE TO POTTY-TRAIN THIS ONE TOO?!?"

I started surveying parents of toddlers in diapers with pure jealousy.

With Mary in diapers, I never second-guessed what surface she sat on. Sure, sit on that couch! Wondering how I would clean pee off of it never even crossed my mind. Marathon grocery trips? No problem! Road trips? Big deal! My bladder reached capacity long before her diaper ever did. Leaving the house? Piece of cake (compared to now, anyway)! Because I didn't lose 15 minutes in negotiations, trying to get her to pee before we left. ("I'll give you anything! What do you want? Chocolate? Chips? A pony? Just sit on the dang toilet!")

The panic is starting to subside and I have, in fact, left the house successfully with Mary in tow. I am clinging to the hope that my decision to potty-train before kindergarten might not actually ruin my life.

All the same, I plan to outsource potty-training with the next kid.

Sarah's First Birthday

Sarah's first birthday was last week.

I've had a long time to think about her birthday. I've talked to other Angel Mommies. I've reflected on what her life means to me. I've watched other babies due around the same time as her hit milestones that Sarah is missing.

We decided her birthday should be fun--at least in part. We want our kids to look forward to her birthday, not dread it. WE want to look forward to it. We also decided that finding some small ways to give back would also be nice. Never have I experienced such an outpouring of generosity from others--friends, family, and strangers--as we did during her life and after her death.

This in mind, I busted out my almost-non-existant sewing skills and made a few quilts to donate to the NICU where Sarah stayed for a few days. When I finished, I vowed, as I always do after a sewing project, NEVER TO SEW AGAIN.
Here's hoping that whoever gets these doesn't look too closely at the seams...
We had a full day--going to an LDS temple to worship (one of the places I feel closest to Sarah), visiting Sarah's grave and having a picnic there, showing Mary the photo book of Sarah's life, going to the NICU to drop off donations (some family members also made donations), playing at a park, going out for dinner, having birthday cake, and watching a movie (Mary's all-time favorite activity).

Taking flowers to Sarah. Reading her book to Mary.
Also, Mary was happy to take the job of blowing out Sarah's candle for her.

Frosting Sarah's cake
In the end, it wasn't a depressing day. Obviously there were sad parts, but grief isn't always the horrible thing we make it out to be. Sometimes I think it's even okay to seek out chances to grieve, to choose to feel the hurt in a sense. But I will say this: we remembered her, and we grieved her, with gratitude, not bitterness.

And we've learned that remembering, and even grieving, can be beautiful.