Poop. It is a constant topic at our household. We talk about poop all the time, have numerous books about pooping, and even a poop journal. Why are we so obsessed with poop and pooping at our house? Because, our daughter developed a pooping problem of holding her poop. As she would say, she just would “suck it back in.” Why not just poop it out? Why was she holding it? Eventually, I started to talk about it at work and found out many kids struggle with this. It was so helpful to realize we wern’t alone. If your child is struggling with this too, know that you are not alone during this tough time. Here is our story.
Our daughter pooped all the time as an infant and toddler. She pooped so many times as a newborn, we ran out of diapers in the hospital. When it was time to start potty training, we went in with the best intentions and plans. I read all the books, watched the videos, read the articles and was ready. Our daughter was showing signs she was ready too! We let her pick out her potty and rewards. The first weekend, she good! She did her business and was rewarded. Then, she started to hold her functions. She is strong willed and we’ve known this since she was a baby, but I never knew that it would translate to her bathroom duties. First it was holding her pee. She held it one time for 16 hours. Yes, 16 HOURS. She would only poop in a diaper at this time, which we read was normal. We worked on the peeing, got a strong handle on it, and then it was time to battle the poop.
Nope. She would still hold it. We contacted our primary care provider (PCP) and they reassured us this was normal. We slowly worked with her, and then, plop! She started to go all the time! YAY! Then COVID struck, and our worlds were turned upside down. She started to hold her poop, again. At this point she was telling us, “I just suck my poop back in”.
She would be miserable during this time of sucking it back in and became constipated. When she would go it would hurt, so she began to correlate the pooping with hurting. She would be mean, cry, lash out, hit, punch, kick, yell, and scream. We got to the point of begging her to use the toilet. My husband and I would argue about it. A lot. We were trying everything. Increase fluids, decrease dairy, increase fruit and veggies, decrease sugar, giving a regimen of medications per our PCP, got books that focused on not holding poop. Rewards, rewards, rewards, but only if she pooped. She got to the point of not caring about the rewards. I returned a lot of things. Then she would start going, miraculously. She was happy and joyful! Then a change in our routine would happen, and she would go back to holding it again.
We hit a turning point on a recent vacation. She was holding before we went. We started the medication regimen before we went and were shocked that she could still hold it. She never pooped before we left, but we went on our little getaway anyway, thinking she would go. She was so happy to go on vacation! She still refused. That first night she didn’t sleep, and now she wouldn’t eat. She was so smart that she correlated that if she ate, she would have to poop. Crap. She ended up getting so sick, we went to urgent care and then the emergency department. They gave her a stronger medication to go and that night at the hotel, she threw up and ended up going. There was a lot yelling between my husband and I on what we needed to do. I’m a nurse. I should know what to do! But we hit the end of our resources. It was time for us to go to the gastroenterologist (GI) and chiropractor.
We went to our chiropractor first and then to the GI appointment. Our daughter was still holding after she went on vacation. We were coming up on a week. Our amazing chiropractor worked her magic. The nurse practitioner said she sees this often and that this will be a long road ahead of us, but we are going to work to get her back to where our daughter needs to be. We have started her on a regimen to get her poops soft, working weekly with our chiropractor, and continuing to do our diet of increased veggies, fruits, and fluids.
Our daughter started going every day and she has begun to have a healthy relationship with pooping. People are amazed when I pick her up and she runs to me yelling, “I POOPED TODAY!!” Fist bumps, hugs, smiles, happy dances, and joy all around.
This is our life right now. Poop. It stinks. You are not alone if you are going through this. Reach out to your resources. Sometimes we get so stuck deep in the poop that we forget that help is out there. Remember, everyone poops.