Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Adventures in Potty Training

*Warning: as the title glaringly points out, this post is about potty, urine, and voiding, but surprisingly not about poop or other fecal matters.   

I will cure you of your suspense immediately.  The Bear is not potty-trained. . . yet.

Our big potty-training journey started in March.  For months prior to Ellie’s spring break, she was signing “potty” and screaming “Eeeee!".  Andrew gets up to refill his ice-tea, he is going potty.  A patron at the restaurant rises from her table, she must be going potty.  A friend leaves the room during a play date, clearly he is going potty.  Any person who stops what they are doing and leaves the immediate premises is “Eeeeeeeee!”

Ellie Bear has accomplished step 1 of potty training.  She knows the word and sign for “potty”.  


Step 2: she can pull up and somewhat down her pants.  This started around the beginning of the school year when I thought using pull-ups would help her mastered this fine-motor, self-help task.  It did.  Bear has a big bo-dunk-a-dunk (aka booty) which makes it rather difficult for her to pull down her pants without assistance.  This has led to rather entertaining incidents of her trying to sit on the potty while fulled clothed and falling in.  Surprisingly, falling into the big potty does not scare-the-crud out of her.  In fact, she believes that she has successfully gone potty. 

Step 3: She can hold her urine.  School had been reporting that she rarely needed to be changed.  She would come home dry.  She could, in fact, hold that urine in for 3-4 hour intervals.

Step 4: I was forced to buy princess underwear.  Let me repeat that.  Princess underwear.  As in pink.  Lots of pink.  Girly panties.  Ellie Bear wanted to be a “big girl” and be like all of her friends.  

This is the correct way to wear the Little Mermaid underwear.
Yes, that is a princess chair in the background.  Awa Grandma bought it for her.

Step 5: Ellie wanted to use the potty.  Bear witnessed many of her friends using the potty as well as me (yeah, I get no privacy ever).  It is true, Ellie is a potty voyeur. 

This brings me back to March.  Spring Break.  The Big Potty Smack Down.

I thought the Bear would be ready only it was more like this mama was ready.  Spring break and we would not leave the house.  Intensive potty training.  I was stocked up on the M&Ms and the iPad was charged.  The peeing baby doll was ready and I had a sticker chart. This child would be day-trained.  She would head back to school in her little princess panties like the stylish diva that she is.

Ellie was 3.5 years-old at the time.  For those of you new to The Chronicles, Ellie rocks an extra 21st chromosome in her uniquely awesome DNA.  Or in simpler terms, she has Down syndrome.  As such, it is very common for many children with Ds to achieve potty training at an older age. Low muscle tone (hypotonia) runs throughout the body.  This includes the muscles of the bladder and those that make of the urinary sphincter--the part of the body that allows the release of urine.  You see where this is going, right?  Additionally, my little Diva Bear also has Sensory Processing Disorder with hyposensitization to touch.  She requires more pressure to feel things that other people feel.  

Ellie disappear for a bit and returned back with a plastic IKEA bowl.  A frog IKEA bowl.  The baby in this pic is going "potty" in her own little frog toilet aka the IKEA frog bowl.  I promise you, I did not stage this.

At this point, I can tell you all are laughing at me.  Go ahead because I am laughing too.  

Ellie nailed the potty routine in no time:
  • sign potty and head to toilet (little frog potty or adaptable seat for toilet)
  • pants down
  • sit on potty while watching iPad as an incentive to sit (the M&Ms caused weight gain--for me)
  • wipe, flush
  • completely forget about pulling pants up and trip
  • pull stool to sink with pants still around ankles and wash hands
  • clap--it should be noted that this is the most important part of the routine
Sadly, she never actually urinated. The few times I caught her going, I would place her on the potty mid-stream.  Those were her only successes.

I tried a few iPad apps to help her out.  I highly recommend the AvaKid-See Me Potty app.

In this app, you have an avatar designed to look like your kiddo and it walks them through the potty process.
Ellie insisted on watching it over and over and over and over and over again.

Ellie really liked getting the phone call from Rachel.  The only problem was, she only got the "oh you had an accident" call and never the "you went potty, great!" call.

By afternoon on the 1st day, I realized that she needed to wear underwear to feel “wet”.  She didn’t get it at first.  She had an accident and signed “water” all while grabbing washcloths to clean it up.  (yes, be jealous.  Ellie is an excellent cleaner).  Two accidents later, she finally figured out that the "water" was coming from her and that she was wet.  The shocked look on her face was hilarious.  Oh Bear!

The rest of the week we ventured out a few times in the morning with big girl underwear and she did great. . . mainly because she didn't pee until naptime.  The afternoons consisted of accidents.  She would sit on the potty, but not for very long.  She would pee about 10 minutes later.  I am not sure if she felt the urge to go or what, but I wonder if she couldn't figure out how to let loose while sitting on the toilet---any tips for that veteran potty-trainers????

Ellie seems to think baby needs to go potty all the time.
Bath baby is fully potty-trained.

Fast-forward to mid-April.  To the date of her tonsillectomy surgery, to be exactly.  After surgery, Ellie drank like a champ, but her IV fluids were never shut off as per doctor’s orders.  The anesthesia and pain medications caused bladder dysfunction, which is a rare but real side effect.  Sadly, The Bear’s bladder continued to become over distended due to too much fluid and her little muscles couldn’t coordinate to let the urine out.  This caused extreme pain.  For nearly 8 hours post-op, Ellie would urinated twice and hour, preceded by 10-15 minutes of panicked fear and excruciating pain.  I imagine many of you could hear her screams.   

The potty training ceased.

Until this past week when Ellie began to show interest again.  Pulling on big-girl panties over her pull-ups.  Signing "potty" to actually use the potty.  Has she peed in the potty yet?  No, but she will!  

Little Ellie Bear seems to think that sitting on the potty = going potty.  She sits and then looks under herself for a stream of urine (see progress since March!).  She then waves her hand under there to feel for urine.  If it is the little frog potty and not a big toilet, she will then touch the reservoir to feel for potty.  There has never been any potty.  Poor Bear.

Socially, Ellie is ready.  Physically, I think her body has a little ways to go.

The thing is, I really don’t care about potty training.  She will eventually get it.  What I do care about is Ellie getting teased at school because she still wears pull-ups or because she has an accident.  We will work on it as she wants to and not push it.  Until then, Huggies shall continue to receive a huge chunk of our take home pay.

I know that this pic has nothing to do with this post :) I just wanted to share a non-grainy, non-iPhone pic of the Diva.



  1. Awwww, so sorry for the surgical set-back. :-( That's gotta be rough. And Sammi is a champion water-holder, too! Makes me nervous that she'll get a UTI just for pure stubbornness. Love the pics - too funny about the potty for the baby! Good luck with everything. She definitely sounds like she's ready, but getting her to *feel* ready is the biggest battle. Don't worry about other kids making fun of her. I doubt they will even notice. Put her in dresses and skirts with leggings, and they'll never know. :-) I don't remember if we've had this conversation before or not, but does she have Medicaid? In our area if they have Medicaid they can get on the EDCD waiver and have pull-ups delivered (free!) to our doorstep once the child is 3 or older. Free. Until they're ready to stop using them.

    1. Dress and leggings--The Bear will be thrilled!!!! :) Or tutus and leggings because I have a diva. Oh how I wish we had Medicaid. Texas is a big pile of. . . nevermind, we are on a waiver list and will probably get it in 7 or 12 years. Goodness, I had no idea that Sammi was stubborn :-P

  2. We are going to Disney this summer so I am gearing myself up to "introduce" the topic. I'm not looking forward to it. I know that we will do it on Hailey's time just like you are with Ellie. I worry too about the other kids! Big hugs for you! I do love, love, love the pic with her on the potty and the baby on the bowl :-)

    1. Hurricane Hailey is going to be a rockstar! Can I go to Disney with you? I have never been.

  3. Owen uses the potty at bedtime and will sometimes go. But other than that, he could care less. I really don't think he can feel it at all. I was going to work really hard on it in August because he won't have school at all, but now I'm not so sure. He just tackled pulling his pants up and down, so we could transition to pull ups and do some time training. I'm just playing it by ear.

    A friend also told me that when she sent her son to kindy, he was not potty trained and wore a pull up. She didn't want teasing, so she put under over top of the pull up, so that his classmates couldn't see it. There was no teasing as far as she knew.

    1. Your friend has a good idea! Bear does like to wear the big girl panties over her pull up sometimes. She thinks she is hot stuff. Like Owen, I don't know if she can feel it :-(

  4. It sounds like she is doing great. It will just take time, I think. At 2-1/2, cora has no interest and gets pretty upset if I put her on the potty. And her baby's froggie potty is pretty priceless.

  5. Oh... And your new header is gorgeous!

  6. I've slowly been introducing it as well. Kamdyn has Ped a few times, but in not sure if she really gets it. I'm trying not to push the issue, because I d t want her to get stubborn and refuse. We also have the baby doll and potty, and we got Potty Time, and we have an Elmo potty movie. Sometimes, I'll get Kamdyn undressed for a bath and ask her if she has to pee. She'll fervently shake her head no, and then pee as soon as the water touches her haha. Oh well, she'll get there.

  7. Yes, she will get it eventually.

    That last picture of her is so darling....

  8. My mom attempted potty training with James (Ds, turns 3 at the end of August) a few weeks ago. She has this 3-day potty-training system that worked with another grandchild...but by day three, she and James were both pretty worn out, so she called it. He's got the general mechanics down: he will go potty if I put him on the potty. And he signs and says "Aiieee" when he's got potty on the mind (doesn't necessarily correspond with need to potty, though). He seems to be able to "release" on command on the potty, but it doesn't keep him from peeing in his diaper. And he could care less that he's wet. He also doesn't seem to know when he needs to go. So yeah...we've got a ways to go, but we're getting there!

    I hadn't thought about pull-ups to help with the up/down learning. James still needs work on that. And is Ellie big enough to get on the big potty herself? James is too short, though I've caught him attempting it a couple times--fully-clothed!

    Sometimes I like the "developmentally delayed" diagnosis, because it takes away the pressure of getting it done by a certain time. :) It will happen eventually! And really, the range is so wide with kids with Ds, that I think starting to learn at age three is awesome!

  9. I won't despair if you don't! Tonight my girl stubbornly sd no, she didn't have to go. One minute later she peed on me. I sat her on the potty and went to clean up the mess... then went back to find she'd unrolled an entire roll of TP into the potty. Then she clapped (what is it w/the clapping? : ) and grinned. Good thing they're cute!


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