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Potty training and Lupus: Learning to expect the sidestep

Posted Jan 02 2013 8:00am
Baby Bernadette, my two-year old, is potty trained. She only turned two in October, but since the middle of July, she's been asking to use the potty. So finally in September, I decided to just give it a go. ( You can read more about that here. ) I thought it was a little early, and I was in no hurry to get her into panties, but she really seemed ready, so we did it. And she came through with flying colors.  Turns out her 4-year old sister is a very good teacher! She's been in panties every since, and the only time she's in a pull up is when she sleeps...but I even phased those out during nap time because she is consistently dry. At least, she was consistently dry.

About a month ago, Bernie started waking up from her nap around the usual time, announcing that she had to go potty. But it wasn't that she had to go potty, it was that she'd already gone potty. Oops. No matter how fast we went in to get her once she woke up, she'd already done the deed (#1 and #2, mind you). She'd just come off a stomach bug, so I didn't think much of it. I figured she was just getting back into her routine, and she'd come out of it. But she didn't. About three to four times a week, this became our afternoon ritual.

And I have to tell you, I wasn't ready for it. Potty training Bernadette had been SO much easier than Deirdre, and I thought I was home free with this one. There weren't nearly the tears, the battle of wills, or the resistance that I experienced the first time around, so when this little setback occurred, I was bummed.  I second-guessed myself for training her so early. I toyed with the idea that she had an infection that was causing her to have accidents. I thought maybe it was something she was eating, something I was doing, or something I wasn't doing. I wasn't distraught over it, but I definitely gave the issue more air time than it deserved.


As you can imagine, set backs are not my thing. I like making progress, moving forward, building from one day to the next. I like working toward a goal and then reaching it. The setbacks can happen as I'm making my climb, but not once I get there. If I've put my time in along the way, I expect to make it to the top...and stay at the top.

The same thing used to happen with lupus, too. I'd be in an awful flare - completely down and out. And then I'd see a flicker of light at the end of that awful tunnel of pain and suffering. One day I'd experience less swelling, the next day, less joint pain. The following days after that, I'd start to see the return of my energy, and before long, I'd make the slow, yet consistent climb back to the land of the living. I'd wake up one day and suddenly feel good again - maybe not "great" - but so much better than I'd been that I wouldn't know what to do with my time, energy or both.

And that feeling would last - maybe for a week, maybe even two or three - but my expectation would always be that it would last forever. Time after time, I struggled to acknowledge that physical setbacks might continue to occur, even after a flare was over. No matter how much time I'd put in being sick, I failed to see that I might still have to put in a little bit more...simply given the unpredictability of a disease like lupus.

Of course, over time, I've learned to accept those hiccups with a little more grace and style than I used to.   In fact, at a Despite Lupus workshop a few summers ago, I described the trajectory of life with lupus as "two steps forward, and then a sidestep", rather than the traditional " two steps forward, one step back." I dislike disease activity just as much as the next lupite, but I have learned that it's not something to fear. It's merely a different way of looking at life. You work toward your goals, goals that are just as lofty and challenging as the next person's, but you just know that you may have to make room for a sidestep or two along the way. I've found that if you expect them, they're not nearly as inconvenient or upsetting.

Which brings me back to Bernadette.

Looking for some tips on potty training sidesteps, I called the nurse's line at the pediatrician's office. They reassured me that at Bernie's age, it's the most normal thing in the world to have a set back. (Of course it is.) They even suggested I put her in pull ups all day long if necessary. I assured them that Bernie would NEVER give up her Princess Panties on a daily basis (talk about tears!), but I would consider putting Bee back in a pull up during nap time...both selfishly for easy clean up, and so she wouldn't be so upset about ruining her panties.

Of course, her potty training hiccup has come and gone. Here we are a month later, and Bernie's back to sporting a dry pull up at nap time 99.9% of the time. Yeah, that's my girl. Sidestep, maybe. Backtrack, no way!
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