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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Old Man and The Pee

It feels a bit odd, but certainly true to living on the fringe, that bedwetting would be the subject of my first entry in several months.  I actually started a blog entry on this subject on October 25, 2010, almost 10 months ago and just rediscovered it.   So for more than 10 months it has been an issue that we have been very affected by and I believe one that, because of my whispered confessions and conversations with parents of young kids on the fringe, bears open testimonial here.   As the website I will refer to later states "bedwetting is a common problem affecting an estimated 5 to 7 million children in the United States. Chances are, your child has a classmate, friend or teammate who wets the bed."

I shift in my seat at the use of the word "bedwetting". It is not a word that falls readily from a parent's lips when discussing their child, not like "straight As" or "team captain".   I have an easier time saying "my son has autism".  At least those words are usually met with sympathy and understanding.  But "bedwetting", well, you just don't utter it to another parent do you?  The word conjures up images of a traumatised kid who is having a temporary affliction due to a death in the family or a car accident. The hope is that he will get over it.  Or better yet, picture an 85 yr old man, bedridden and in diapers.  And in my worst thoughts it means that I as a parent have not done my job, that I have somehow been weak in potty training my son. These are the notions that I always held about bedwetting.   I have contemplated using the term "enuresis" when and if I ever mentioned what was going on, because it seemed less personal to Finbar (and myself as a parent) and more like a disease he was afflicted with.  But when a Huggies advertisement spurred me to investigate bedwetting, I realised that word fit the bill. You see, we had become regular customers of Huggies Goodnites and perhaps Huggies figured, as I had, that we had spent enough money with them and it was time to address our bedwetting issue.

The Huggies advert led me to a site called  Once again I found myself, as I had with the topic of autism, pouring over information, possible causes, what works and doesn't work, possible therapies, etc, etc.  Testimonials from parents abounded. And as I read description after description of their bedwetting experiences, with a pit in my stomach I once again accepted that my son was not going to fall into the range of normal development, that is, when it came to nighttime dryness. His brain as I knew behaved differently. So it was no surprise that what I was reading told me that in this case his brain also behaved differently, and yes, it needed (more) therapy and training.  

Finbar's brain was not communicating with his bladder at night I learned.  Duh.  I knew this because we had tried everything in the past - limiting drinks, peeing before bed, waking him up to pee, rewards, punishments, reading books... Nothing worked.  But when Finbar started Kindergarten and became more socially aware, he began to express a desire, a need to be dry at night.  That was when I started this blog entry. Here we are 10 months later, and I can finally finish the entry, and thankfully so on a positive note.

Sometime in the beginning of this year, I finally purchased a "starter kit" wireless bedwetting alarm. Top O' the Line model.  Comes with 8 different alarm sounds...anything from a sinking submarine siren to a police car siren to the one we settled on because all the others were too terrifying to wake up to - some robotic dance song of sorts.  The technology is amazing. The alarm comes with real underwear that have a little velcro strap to attach/plug the receiver into the underwear, which itself contains miniscule wiring that detects the very first drop of pee thus setting the alarm off (and it really does).   Finbar (read me, the parent) must get out of bed to turn the alarm off and then go void.  I, as the parent are meant to help him get up if he doesn't wake to the alarm, change his waterproof pad and wired up underwear, reset the alarm, note the time and size of the pee accident, and this, night after night, week after week, month after month until his brain is trained. On average 3 months they said it would take, sometimes as long as 6 months. 

Well, I call myself the Sleep Nazi. This, because I could never bear to be up at night when my kids were babies and so I made sure that both babies were sleeping through the night by 5 months old.   My kids have never slept in my bed.  They do not get out of bed at night.  They rarely go to bed late.  I need my sleep and I have made that clear to them.  I said goodbye to the Sleep Nazi and bought the $250 Malem alarm system, resigned to make this torture session go as fast as possible.

Can I just say to any parent of a child 6yrs or older contemplating this issue to GET AN ALARM. IT WORKS.  Within two weeks Finbar was about 75% dry nights. After 4 weeks, we almost stopped the alarm, but then he had one accident, so we had to go another 2 weeks. Finally, during our recent vacation, he woke himself twice each night to pee, getting himself down from a bunk bed in the process.  It took 6 1/2 yrs to get here, but now the Sleep Nazi can once again sleep :)


Rebecca Royce said...

I'm going to that website for my #2.

finbarsmom said...

Wait, you can have my "starter kit" for 50% off LOL! Oh but I forgot, I will need it for MY #2 :0

Alex Neil said...

Bedwetting is the loss of bladder control during the night. The medical term for bedwetting is nocturnal enuresis or enuresis. Bedwetting can be an embarrassing issue, but in many cases, it is perfectly normal.