The Holding- A Toddler Poop Story

Oh the control. The crazy crazy sphincter control of a toddler. This is a story working towards a happy, or workable, ending. I've been meaning to write this post for a while now, but haven't gotten around to it, due in part to all the mid-wifing I've been forced into.

New job, you ask? Not quite. It's just that my SAHM position has required a new activity- cheering on, and coaxing out, the poop from my toddler.


I sing songs about it. We have a poop party every time it happens. We never EVER say anything bad about poop (if you tell my child her poop stinks and is gross I SWEAR TO ALL THE THINGS I WILL CUT YOU).

Because the holding. DEAR LORD THE HOLDING.

It started over a year ago. I was about 18 weeks pregnant with little man, when the hubbs was sent to California for a work trip. For 3 weeks. Since there was just no way in hell he was going without us, we drove from Seattle to San Diego and stayed for 3 weeks. We learned stuff. We laughed. We cried. We screamed. And. We didn't eat nearly as well as we usually do.

Of course, there was no kitchen in our hotel room. And we tried to stick with as much organic food as possible. But let's face it. When you're eating out for every meal, that's not always feasible. And so, babygirl got a bit backed up.

And I know I can't be the only parent out there who has suffered through this. I know my mom had this problem with me when I was little. Once it hurts a toddler to poop, getting them to poop again is challenging, to say the least.

It took 2 weeks after returning home to get ALL of our bodies up and running in a fairly regular fashion again. And she had a few issues where it built up a bit, and we had to talk her into pooping, but it wasn't life altering.

Until the end of my pregnancy.

And then, the shit simply didn't hit the fan.

She knew things were changing. And at 2 1/2, didn't have all the words to tell us about it. And so she held it.

My mom flew out the week before I was scheduled for my c-section. Babygirl didn't poop for almost that whole week. I scoured the interwebs for natural ways to help it along. Of course, miralax was the go to. And thanks but no thanks. I'd rather not drug her up, and have her muscles not be able to do what they need to do. But Dr. Sears had some really great suggestions. Turns out that one of his children had this issue for about 2 years. His wife, also a doctor, said she felt like a mid wife for those 2 years. That's when I started crying because YES! THAT'S EXACTLY IT!

So, the night before I had little man, we filled her up with prune juice, a little apple juice (because for some reason apples weren't doing the trick but organic apple juice shot it out of her), and flaxseed oil. We mixed it with the prune juice because that oil is hard to smell, much less get down. Then, we put her in a hot, soapy bath and let her play. (we used castille soap- nice and oily. lubing up the works).

God bless Nana. She had her feet in there with her, playing, trying to get her to hang out in a squat like position. And suddenly. Babygirl screamed a bit. And out came 2 of the world's largest, hardest turds. Her tiny little belly shrunk down noticeably. Nana scooped those turds out with her hand, amazed at the size, and how she was able to get them out cause they were like rocks. We praised her up and down, we laughed, we sang, we eventually flushed the poop down.....and we all slept better knowing she was healthy and not in pain for her first ever sleep time without mommy and daddy for the next day or two.

 From then on, we would make sure that babygirl had a shot of prune juice every day. Literally. We give her prune juice in a shot glass (easier to measure, and she gets so excited to use real glasses her size). It keeps her poop on the soft side so if there is a build up, it's not ripping her apart. And the hot soapy baths are like magic. It opens and relaxes everything. Sometimes she poops in the bath tub, and sometimes, right afterwards, in her diaper.  And of course for the day or two after, her poop is really really soft. And usually she poops a lot, clearing out the rest of her intestines.

One memorable time, at nana's house in jersey, she got all stopped up after the plane ride. We stuck her in the bath after a few days, and nana was so relieved that she finally pooped, that she scooped the poop out of the tub with her hands, held it there and sang to it. SANG TO IT. People, this holding stuff is no freakin joke.

I would not wish this on my worst enemy. Out of all of the experiences I've had in parenting. The placental abruption. The NICU stay. The burn unit with little man. The toddler tantrums. The no sleep. Far and away, the holding and ensuing constipation in babygirl has been the most draining. The most taxing. The most nerve wracking. We still struggle with this. It's been over a year. And there's no physical reason this is happening. She simply likes to hold it. She flat out refuses to go on the potty. She panic screams if I suggest it most of the time. She used to like to go in the bathtub, but recently when she's in the tub and feels she has to go, she asks to get out and put a diaper in. And girlfriend does NOT like to get out of the tub ever. I'm not sure if that's progress or a tub closer to potty than a diaper? Is there a way to measure that? Is that the oddest question ever asked?

So here's what I've learned, and what I'm still learning. Almost all of my friends have never had this issue. I love/ hate them.

I'm super thankful that it never lasted for so long that we had to get the poop physically removed from her body. I know people who have. And I am so so sorry they had to go through that. That's hellish.

What we're currently doing right now seems to be working fairly well. So I'm gonna share. Because honestly? There's just not that much info out there on how to manage this without lasting side effects, emotional scarring, and medication. So here goes.

At least a shot glass full of organic prune juice every day. Even if you're not doing an organic food lifestyle now, please just get the organic prune juice. The other crap they put in juices will only help to stop up the works if it's conventional. and a bottle of it goes a long way if you're giving it in shot glass doses.

As much as possible, try to get organic, virgin coconut oil into their diet. We like to drink smoothies. We add organic yogurt, spinach, coconut oil, chia seeds, berries and usually some peanut or almond butter. Obvs, the spinach helps a ton too.

Food. I try and make sure she eats enough ruffage. Greens are colon's little broom (thanks Mario Batali!) and definitely help to push it through.

To get the ruffage down, we let her dip it in extra virgin olive oil. This kid is OBSESSED with dipping her food. OBSESSED. And she loves loves loves olive oil. This helps with a) getting her to eat stuff she may have been opposed to and b) all the oil. lubing up the works from the inside.

We don't typically resort to the flaxseed oil until there's a real big issue with getting the poop out.

We sing poopy songs. She loves them. I shall share them with you because that's how much I love you.

to the tune of "the little white duck"
I'm a little brown poop, swimming in the water
A little brown poop. Just doing what I oughta
I flew right out of Ava's tooshey
It didn't hurt at all, cause I'm nice and squishy
Cause I'm a little brown poop, swimming in the water
Plop! Plop! Plop!  (her most favorite part)

Yes tooshey (touchey??) and squishy rhyme. And if you figure out how to spell tooshey, lemme know.

The other one, sung to "Camptown races"
Every one poops every day
Do da. Do da.
Every one poops every day
Oh doo doo day.

Did you see what I did there at the end? With the doo doo? I know. Hilarious.

People. I'm pretty sure this is why I got my degree in music education.

It's a fun way to remind her that everyone has to poop daily, without nagging her about it. Because the nagging? That results in a lot more holding.

She goes to the bathroom with me all the time. And we're constantly talking about how to poop. How much mommy poops, which she thinks is hilarious cause it's pretty much always. How we squat down (or at least bend our knees) so the poop comes out easier. And she gets pretty excited sometimes to show us "look I stand like THIS to poop!" This is usually done in front of people we're not close with.  Because of course it is.

If it's been 2 days and we've only had little teeny turds, or none at all (except the tell tale "shmear" meaning she held it with all her might and it tried to beat her), then it's time for the big guns. She gets no more dairy. And, we start to promise a reward. If you poop, you can have a cookie/ some ice cream/ etc. She knows we take that stuff away because it blocks up her poop, so she can have it again if she just let's it go. Oooh, that's another one we sing. Let it go. Thank you disney.

Day 3. If I watch her holding it in several times in a short span of time, the next time she tries to hold it, I'll go and hold her in a squat position. She faces me, her feet are planted on my thighs, and I hold her calves and make sure her knees are bent. She does not like this. I'm not a huge fan either. But we remind her that she doesn't want to have to go somewhere so they can take the poop out. Then she usually says "I do all mine byself" goes to a corner and finishes up.  And if not?


Let's just not talk about how many times I've had to scrub out my tub. It's traumatic and I'm trying to block it out.

I can only pray that little man won't have this issue, and that one day soon, she will simply just want to go. Right now, she sleeps through the night without peeing, and she loves to pee on the potty, but potty training is just not happening because I just want her to shit regularly. And if I try and take away the diaper for that I usually get rewarded with lots more holding. Awesome. I'll let you know if I have a break through in that department.

So that's where we stand. I'm a mid wife for poo. It's not a great title to hold. It's exhausting. And when daddy gives a glass of milk after day 2 of not going saying "it doesn't matter now anyway, she's had all the prune juice" I try my hardest not to bitch slap him. (Sometimes daddy doesn't quite get it. Daddy has yet to shovel shit out of a tub. I shall change this very soon.)

I hope this was semi helpful for you. I know I would have appreciated it when this whole shit show started.

 I'm on FIRE with the puns today.

Loves and poop!

I super super don't want to jinx us, but we've gone for almost 2 months with only an incident or two of holding (neither of which lasted past the 3rd day, and both times, as soon as we got in the bathtub she said "mommy look I did BIIIIIIIG poopy!"

What finally seemed to work was making the most ridiculous analogy of all time.

I compared poop to a fish. I straight up did.

Her fave movie for a while was Finding Nemo. She gets very sad when Nemo can't find his daddy and daddy is looking for Nemo. So I told her that, just like Nemo wants to get back to the ocean to be with his family, her poops desperately want to fly out of her tushie into the toilet to be with their family. So far, she's totally buying it. She still goes in the diaper (whatevs, she's GOING!), but then we flush it down the toilet so they can all be together as one big happy family. I was just so ready to try ANYTHING AND ALL THE THINGS! And this seems to be working!!!! She empathizes with movies a lot (typically substituting her name and our names for the characters and telling me stories that way), so this hit home.

Here's to staying on this every day poopy train and hoping it works for you too!!


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