No blog involving children would be complete without some discussion around toilet habits. From the beginning of their tiny lives there is so much to learn and so much mess and work involved around this subject.
When my first child was born one of my initial learnings as a new mother was that their very first poo was black and sticky like tar, something that came as rather a surprise. Then comes the yellow, sweet-smelling, seedy, mustard like breast milk poo. Initially this yellow poo filled me with an enormous amount of pride. As I watched her grow, the more yellow mustard there was the more I could see how I was responsible for that. I even liked the smell of it, perhaps blinded by love as my husband didn’t exactly share this sentiment with me.
There were literally millions of nappy changes in those early days when they have zero control over their bodily functions. Many resulted in us getting a splattering, quite often a hat-trick of wee, poo and sick. Initially I felt like all I was doing was feeding and nappy changes, well that actually was pretty much all I was doing. My pride in the amount of yellow poo my first baby did rapidly dwindling as it felt like a battle I was never going to win. This was exacerbated when more often than not it would seep out around the edges of the nappy, onto the brand new outfit I’d just spent half an hour dressing her in. It would then inevitably end up leaving a wet yellow patch on whatever I was wearing too.
One day whilst sitting in Bondi breastfeeding my second daughter the usual explosion happened. I never forget the look of shock on my friends face (she doesn’t have children yet), horrified she exclaimed;
‘Oh my god, is that normal? Is it meant to be that colour?”
I was also totally ignorant of this fact until I had the girls.
On finishing the feed I cleaned and changed the baby. Of course despite bringing 5000 outfits for her and everything else I may or may not need in the event of a crisis, I hadn’t packed any spare clothes for myself. I then spent the remainder of the day walking around Bondi covered in yellow s***t. Not that this was a particularly unusual phenomenon. I don’t wish to sound like a martyr but in order to leave the house all my energy is spent getting the girls ready and packing for their needs. Just yesterday I walked out of the house forgetting to put my shoes on.
Since becoming a Mum (particularly now I’m a Mum of 2), I have realised that it’s often a choice between brushing my teeth or my hair in the morning and more often than not neither of those things happen. Gone are the days of washing and blow drying my hair every day and as for wearing make-up, well that’s saved for very special occasions.
Just as the volume of dirty nappies that required changing finally began to decline, along came the seriously bad ass ones, once the girls started eating solids. Then it’s usually a process of bribery and negotiation between myself and my husband as to who’s turn it should be.
Another thing I was not aware of pre-babies is the fact that their poo changes so much in consistency, colour and smell when they are teething. As if it weren’t already pretty vile to deal with, it gets even worse when they start teething and this can continue on and off for several months. Not a particularly pleasant experience for anyone involved.
With only 18 months between the girls, after the first few months of my youngest’s life and thousands of nappies later, I made a concerted effort to embark on potty training asap with the eldest. Lots of my friends commented how impressed they were at me cracking on with it so soon, with her being so young. To be honest it was purely selfish, I’d quite literally had my ‘fill’ of nappy changing.
Once my first daughter was able to crawl she became a creature of habit when it came to number 2’s. Generally seeking solace under a table or chair or in a quiet corner. We now have a potty in one of the corners in our lounge that she used to frequent as she’s finally out of nappies (hoorah). I find her potty time quite interesting. She has certain things she likes to take with her to the potty and if she forgets to take them she will demand we deliver them to her. We are then, in no uncertain terms, instructed to ‘go away’, leaving her playing, chatting and letting out the occasional grunt or straining noise. This is slightly distracting and a little awkward when we have friends over.
On the whole my first experience of potty training has gone ok (although I have nothing to benchmark it against). That said, there have certainly been accidents and consequently heaps of lessons I’ve learnt along the way.
Apparently in order for children not to get a complex about going to the toilet you aren’t supposed to get cross with them when they have an accident or show any kind of negative reaction about the smell or look of their poo regardless of how colourful or foul-smelling they may be. This can prove somewhat challenging to say the least. The other day my toddler stood up from her potty and did her usual routine of bending over, bare bum in air, shouting;
”you need to get a wipe Mummy”
Mid-wipe, as I glanced over her shoulder into the potty I was shocked to see the contents of the potty were bright green, I’m talking luminous bright green.
”Wow”, I blurted out before I could stop myself.
Her eyes darted towards the potty and as soon as she saw the contents she burst into tears looking confused and panic-stricken. I guess this is why they say not to react. I soon realised what the culprit was. A wonderful Lego rainbow birthday cake with bright green icing that she’d been devouring the day before at a friend’s son’s birthday party. Phew, one less trip to the Dr’s this month.
When I started potty training I naively failed to consider that once they are no longer in nappies the urge for the toilet can occur at any given moment. At the age of 2 they don’t have self-control as we do (or did pre-giving birth). When they say they need to go it’s not usually imminent, it’s IMMEDIATE. This sounds obvious now I think about it. At the time, with a 3 month old and 2-year-old in tow, I was literally drowning in nappies. I didn’t consider the inconvenience of having to find a toilet at a moments notice. At home she had got used to taking herself off to her corner and sitting on the potty when the need arose. However when we were out and about, with no potty in sight, she often (and usually at the most inopportune moment) would halt to a stop, look up at me and utter the words ‘wee wee’. No matter how stealth like I was in getting to her, it was usually too late. Nothing I could do except to look on in dismay as the dampness seeped out, spreading through her clothes and trickling down her legs. I no longer make the mistake of leaving the house without spare clothes for her and ALWAYS insist on a toilet visit before leaving the house no matter how much she protests.
One of the battles I had with her was trying to explain that when we were out and about, if we were unable to locate a toilet quickly enough, it was ok to go behind a tree or in the bushes. I can see how this was terribly confusing for her given she was constantly being reminded that she should only go to the toilet in the potty or on the toilet. Fearing we weren’t going to make it to the toilet in time I would often run with her kicking and screaming to a nearby bush. As soon as I pulled her pants down, like clockwork her need for the toilet magically disappeared. Giving up the battle we would return to the playground. 5 minutes later she’d wet herself.
One day it became abundantly clear that she had got over the issue of going to the toilet outside. We were at the local playground when she ground to a halt, pulled her pants down and proudly announced ‘poo poo’. Mortified and looking around to see if anyone had noticed, I yanked my poor baby from my boob where she’d been happily sucking away resulting in hysterical screaming from her, and legged it to where my toddler was crouching. Attempting, rather unsuccessfully I’m sure, to hide her from view until she’d completed her deed and then desperately tried to clear it away as discretely as possible.
Now she does about 80% of her toilet visits on the potty, 10% on the ‘big toilet’ and 10% in her pants. I’m ok with that. I am certainly looking forward to moving completely off the potty to avoid the continual emptying and cleaning (and also stopping her baby sister from trying to climb in it and suck on it). I’m not entirely sure how to finally make a complete transition as whilst she is now happy to use toilets whilst out and about, she still prefers the comfort of her own potty when at home.