The Longest Days

*Poop-related post. Just sayin…*

Summer is officially here. And though the days are beginning to shorten, they’re still plenty long. Sunrise was at 4:56 this morning, and it won’t set until 9:34 tonight. The sky stays light until after 11. The blackout shade in my daughter’s room means she might sleep until 5:30 if I’m very lucky, and it still takes her an hour (on average–it could be anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours) to fall asleep each night.

Regardless of daylight hours, the past week has seemed even longer. I took Missy to the doctor last Friday to see if there was something I could give her to make pooping easier. She’d been holding it in, pacing and terrified to go, until she couldn’t hold it any longer–three, four, up to six days since her previous bowel movement. The poops were hard and difficult to pass after all that time, which I thought was contributing to her anxiety about going. That and her major freak out when she pooped in the shower…twice.

So the nurse practitioner prescribed a laxative. I started out giving her the lowest dose, and it seemed to work. Her poop was softer, but the first full day on the medication, she kept having small, squishy poos, like she was still trying to hold it in but couldn’t quite manage. And she was having several of them a day. Which gave her a horrific rash and woke her up every 15-20 minutes for the first two hours she tried to sleep that night. The rash made wiping painful, which only added to her anxiety, and soon even getting undressed to change into pj’s became a battle. She gets all worked up, cries, pushes away my hands, and flees. It’s hard on me because it makes even the simplest things, like bathing or getting out of the house, nearly impossible, but it’s so much worse on her. My poor baby. I feel so bad for her, and I’m powerless to stop the oozing poo or heal her rash immediately.

When we went back to the nurse today, she recommended increasing the dosage of the laxative, at least until she has a proper poop. She also gave us a cream that should aid in healing her angry red bum, but I’m afraid it won’t happen quickly enough.

And on top of all of this, Hubby has been gone the last two days. He returns tonight, only to turn around and leave again on Monday for a five-day conference. So I’ve been trying to manage a crabby, uncomfortable, traumatized two-year-old on my own, and if the issue isn’t resolved soon, I’ll be doing it again all next week. I hate seeing my little girl in pain, panicked, trembling. I hate that all the comfort I can give isn’t enough. Nothing about that changes when he’s home, except that he feels it, too. Which somehow makes it easier.

13 thoughts on “The Longest Days

  1. We struggle with constipation in She-Beat too. It terrible to watch your child go through this.

    I’m surprised it’s only a laxative. Not a stool softener too? The push for us is cleaning her out completely and then following up with a stool softener to make pooping painless. We were told it can take up to a year for all of this to be corrected.

    Anyway, sending love to you as you deal with this. Withholding is difficult to over come (that is one thing I don’t have experience with) as it’s a vicious cycle. May things get easier very soon.

    • A viscous cycle indeed. To be honest, I’m not 100% sure what the medication is. It can be used to treat both chronic constipation and impaction, depending on the dose. I just hope it works!

      • Sounds like it should. We also made the decision to add supplemental fiber to She-Beat’s diet. There’s data suggesting that the body metabolizes Miralax and we didn’t want to chance it. The fiber seems to help with keeping things moving. Still, it’s an ongoing battle.

  2. Oh, girl. We have — and CONTINUE to — deal with this. In fact, I know many, many people who have. Cupcake developed terrible constipation right around her first birthday and once went two weeks without a poop. Nearly five years later, we are still struggling. When she was in diapers, we too had the challenge of AWFUL (raw, bleeding) diaper rashes. Now that she’s potty-trained, that’s not an issue anymore, thank GOD. But the constipation continues. She’s been on Miralax for about three years now, which I HATE, but every time we try to wean her off, we go backwards and end up at the starting point again. I will say, Miralax helps a whole lot, but Cupcake is still terrified of pooping and, now that she’s older, is much better at holding it back than she used to be. And because she’s scared, she often holds back even soft poops unless she has a lot of encouragement. It’s hard on us and really hard on her. I know how much it sucks.

    I’m not trying to scare you. Not at all. Chances are that Missy will be over this much sooner. Every other child we know who has severely struggled through this is long over it. Cupcake, bless her, seems to be the exception. But I agree. Cleaning her out completely is the first step in a long process. It will greatly limit the leaky poops. When we’re desperate, we use a child’s laxative suppository to get her cleaned out right away. (It works faster for some kids than for others…for Cupcake, it works in about 1 minute, but I hear it can take several hours.) After that, for us it’s just about making sure she poops daily. If she goes more than a day without a poop, we increase her Miralax or find other ways to force her to poop.

    As for the diaper rash itself…I’m not sure what cream the doc gave you, but the cream we were prescribed did work rather quickly and helped immensely. Using wet paper towels (no baby wipes) for wiping also helped with reducing the sting of wiping. And vaseline after each change made a small difference too.

    Poor Missy! And poor you! I hope you can be past this soon. I’m so sorry you have to deal with it. I truly would not wish it on my worse enemy.

    • Thank you for this! I remember you writing about Cupcake being very sensitive. When I read that post, I thought it described Missy to a T. I hope you don’t mind me asking (and you can email me if you’d rather not discuss it here) if Cupcake has any issues with anxiety? I worry that Missy is already showing signs of anxiety, which is something I definitely did not want to pass on to her! But then I wonder if it’s my own anxiety making me worry needlessly. Another viscous cycle.

      • The anxiety…yes! She’s highly anxious, something even her preschool teachers have noted. Definitely not something I wanted to pass on to her either. I never really linked the constipation and anxiety, but now that you mention it, I do wonder if they are related….The two other children I know well who have struggled with constipation also struggle with anxiety. Ugh. Parenting is so hard!!!

      • Ugh, you’re not kidding! I see so much of myself in her sometimes, and it kills me that she’s already showing these signs, like how upset she gets if I ask her not to put toys in her mouth at playgroup and show her how to pretend “eat” instead. Such a small thing, but she can become so upset about it! If you have any tips for dealing with the anxiety in such a small person, I’m all ears!

      • I don’t know if I’d call them “tips,” but I can definitely give you some ideas of how we handle it. I’m going out of town for the weekend, so let me ponder it for a few days and I’ll get back to you!

      • Okay…I’ve been thinking it over, trying to figure out how to best explain how we handle Cupcake’s anxiety. As you know, it’s a battle that’s hard to win. What looks like a “small” thing to an outsider, feels very big to the person experiencing the turmoil of feelings over it. Honestly, our biggest trick is to prepare Cupcake as much as possible ahead of time. She does SO much better if she knows what to expect. For example, if we’re going to a playdate at a friend’s house, I tell her who will be there, what we’ll be doing, and remind her that we may have to play inside rather than outdoors…and that they might not be able to play downstairs…and that her friend might want to play dolls rather than Barbies…and that they might not have snack time while we’re there…and on and on. I try to anticipate every possible scenario and give Cupcake warnings and foresight about what may or may not happen. Obviously, it’s not possible to think of everything, but with experience, I have learned to recognize what she is most anxious about for any particular event and help prepare her for it. If she knows that we may not get to raid our friend’s cupboards for a snack while we’re there, she seems to relax and handle it much better when I tell her no later on during the actual playdate. Does that make sense? In the moment, when the shit hits the fan and she becomes distraught over one thing or another, we try to give her ample affection and comfort and opportunities to talk about her feelings…BUT we have also found that, at least for Cupcake, if we try too hard, it often makes the situation worse. The crying will often last much longer than if we just give her a pat on the back, tell her we love her and are there if she needs us, and then give her space. (But every kid’s different, and I know a couple who REALLY need their mom’s presence and LESS space, not more.) We also do lots of talking after the incident because Cupcake is a processor and sometimes it takes a while for her to understand what happened, why she got so upset, and what she needs to do next time to handle it better. Missy may be a little young for that, but she seems like a pretty smart cookie, so it’s probably not too early to start! I know those “tips” really aren’t much at all, but I hope they help or at least send you in the right direction. Anxiety sucks. :/

      • Thank you so much! That really is helpful. I’m sometimes hesitant to tell Missy what to expect because then if it doesn’t happen–watch out. But giving her a heads up of the negative stuff that *could* happen might help her out. And she’d probably do better at playgroup if I reminded her ahead of time not to eat the toys!

  3. I’m thinking you hit a nerve here – my son also has constipation. And I haven’t done miralax yet because I’m afraid it won’t really – help. But I’m not sure what to do! Hang in there!

    • Oh, I have already regretted this decision and changed my mind again about 50 times in the last week! At least when she was constipated and holding it all in she seemed to have some control over it. At this point, that is totally out the window, which is I think part of what makes it so hard. Hopefully the medication will do it’s thing and she’ll get on a regular schedule. And then we’ll all feel better!

  4. One of our former foster sons dealt with horrible constipation, and it was awful for him. I have no words of advice, but sending you lots of patience and warm wishes!

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