An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

Frightened now of our child’s adolescence, as if we weren’t before

Lately we have been sprinkling magic fairy dust into Leta’s food to help combat her constipation. It’s called MiraLax and looks suspiciously like artificial sweetener. MiraLax has to be taken with food which is all sorts of frustrating since we told the doctor that Leta doesn’t eat food. He nodded and said, “Sprinkle this on the food she doesn’t eat.” What then? Is she supposed to stand near it? Spread it on her body so that it soaks in like moisturizer?

Because she still refuses to eat anything we’ve been supplementing the MiraLax with a few mild laxative drops every morning just to get things moving along. Part of Leta’s problem is that she has become terrified of pooping and whenever she feels the urge she holds it in. Her whole body shakes as she forcibly subverts nature, her face a mess of red bulging veins, a pig-tailed spectacle caught in a desperate mid-clench battle with her colon, and she looks around wildly at nothing in an attempt to fool you, to get you to look elsewhere. What? Why are you looking at her? There is nothing to see here. Move along so she can fully concentrate on denying the act of defecation out of existence.

The laxative drops have thrown a wrench into her master plan, and now when she is unable to hold it in she throws her arms out and calls for help. “Mama, I’m pooping,” she’ll whimper and then cling to my neck like a life raft. It’s incredibly heartbreaking, and both Jon and I have spent hours holding her like this in an attempt to convince her that everything is going to be okay. Let it out, I’ll say, or Look! I poop and I’m not dead. Yet.

Yesterday I was sitting on the bed trying to work when Leta wandered into the room and began slamming the bedroom door. Jon had been watching her and when he heard the noise he came running in to see what was going on. Leta promptly slammed the door again, and Jon caught it before it tore off its hinges. “LETA!” he yelled, and the second she heard the angry rise in his voice she dropped to the floor, shot out her arms and chirped, “Daddy, I’m pooping.”

Right. Daddy, you can’t be mad at me if, conveniently, my bowels are in distress.

  • julybirthday

    Chuck is such a good sport! GOOD POOCHIE, BOY!

    Heather, try this for fun: pull a sock over his nose & face, and watch him run backwards trying to back out of it. Mean. Very mean, but very funny.

  • Just about the time I get all cocky thinking my teenagers are so easy, you come along and remind me how entertaining the drama of toddler-hood is.

    PS – I’m a longtime (pre-Leta) lurker. Hi!

  • In Bloom

    ps- I want Chuck!

  • Is it wrong of me to yearn so badly for a picture of her vein-bulging, cutie pie face??

  • Mike

    I actually use that same line quite often. Whenever I’m receiving horrible service at a restaurant, or I’m in an argument with a friend or even when I receive a speeding ticket from a mean-spirited policeman, I begin to whimper and then in my best vulnerable-yet-still-manly voice, whisper,

    “I’m pooping!”

    Surprisingly, it never works.

  • jamie

    Poor Leta! My Melanie (almost 4) seems to be a bit backed up too, coupled with a slight lactose intolerance and her favorite foods being yogurt, cheese, and any other dairy item! Hmmm…maybe I should give her the Lactaid pill, then sprinkle MiraLax on top of her yogurt, and then be ready with the Children’s Mylanta after that! Oy vey!

    And I love Chuck’s crown…Melanie word those Old Navy pants today too..only not on her head.

    Love your stuff Heather!

  • novelle

    I think you’re on to something: Laxitive lotion.

    Laxalotion. Saving the world’s bowels one swipe at a time!

    But, seriously, I’m with Leta. If I could banish pooping from existance, I’d gladly do it. Think of how that time could better be spent. Like slamming doors.

  • I think I’ll use that the next time I get pulled over. “Officer I’m pooping”!

    Poor Leta. My son had that problem a week ago, as he sat on the toilet yelling at the top of his lungs “mom the poop won’t come out”. I told him he was constipated and he was clearly offended by being called that.

  • In Bloom

    What is going on with kids and chronic constipation? It’s like an epidemic. My (ex) stepdaughter was on miralax and was bombarded constantly with “eat fiber”, to the point that if we went to a restaurant and the waitress asked what she wanted to eat, she’d say “fibew pweeze”.

    My little sister has also been on Miralax and laxatives and suppositories and hospital given laxatives. She also holds it in and cries and the whole scene.

    Both of these children were formula fed? A correlation? I don’t know. I’m sorry Leta has to go through this, but you have to eat food to poop! Poop isn’t magically created! lol She looks very healthy though. Does she drink water? My lil sister doesn’t and that’s a big problem with the constipation as well. Good luck!

  • I had never thought about the being afraid to poop angle. My son was born constipated, but I thought it might just be an infant thing.

    Good luck to Leta (and you guys) with getting over this hump. And I’m writing down MiraLax. Just in case.

  • Amy

    Sometimes I wish my daughter didn’t want to poo. Since we’ve switched to formula, the diapers have a personality of their own.
    Chuck is so tolerant. My dog would never put up with that. I’m surprised he even lets my daughter pet him(read: grab and pull his ears). She’s getting sneaky at it now – she reaches out and pets him once gently, THEN grabs ahold of his ears.

  • Your description of a constipated two-year-old is the picture I see … oh, I’d say … just about every MONDAY morning and usually lasting into Wednesday afternoon. It’s heartbreaking and yet oddly hysterical when she eventually calls out for prune juice … she calls it “poop juice.”

  • Karen!

    You should get that book “Everyone Poops”, because studies have shown that, well, everyone poops!

  • Carrie

    That’s hilarious. My 17-month-old daughter is on MiraLax too – I mix it into her milk and she’s none the wiser. It is magic and saved our lives, along with giant scoops of Benefiber and Metamucil crackers. We are down to 1/8 teaspoon of Miralax a day. No more giant poop rocks. We are so happy. Good luck on that.

  • Bruno

    I have been pooping with regularity for the first time since…well the first time. I should note that I am thirty two. I have become addicted to honey flavored All Bran bars. They are fabulous and filling and potentially killing me slowly.

  • Poor little monkey. She IS an evil genius though.

    My niece had some issues with potty training and preferred to go in her pants, even though she knew she was supposed to try to go potty on her toilet. Having not been around a toddler, I didn’t know how manipulative they could be. I was watching her one day when she went into the bathroom and closed the door. I followed her, and when I opened the door she was sort of just standing there, looking awkward.

    I asked her what she was doing and she said, “Aunt Amanda. I’m upset and I need some alone time.”

    Of course I bought it. I got schooled by a 3 year old.

  • blondeinthemidwest

    ha ha ha!! poor Leta and her constipated tummy!!

    on a side note, I love how “King Chuck” just sits there and behaves so nicely while you take his picture!

  • Heather

    My six-year old gets backed up on occasion. At which time, I’m informed that his ‘poop is pointy’ and that I need to ‘make broccoli-the poop food’. His father told him that one. Like it isn’t hard enough to get kids to eat their vegetables.

  • I asked for more bodily function posts. Ask and ye shall receive, huh?

    I’ve had colon problems since birth. Here are some suggestions:

    *Less Dairy (non-fat milk, dairy-free substitutes, soy formula)
    *More water (my parents bribed me with a glass of water for sweets)
    *Hot water bottle on my tummy while I was sitting on the potty
    *Fruit, fruit, & more fruit

    Fiber makes me constipated. I swear.

    The bummer is that your child (like mine) doesn’t actually EAT anything. Everyone gives me advice. None of it works. Here’s what works for my child; I put food in front of him on a tray in front of the TV and leave him alone to eat it. THAT’s what works for my child.


    Oh, poor Leta. My 21-month old son, Alex, also has this problem. He has been so constipated that he has torn his rectum 3 times. He is on the Miralax, also. Some days it will work and others not so much. I am glad to know that this is such a common problem for children, however painful it may be for them. He cries and lifts his legs way up in the air to poop. Poor boy.
    I hope Leta’s poops will flow more freely now with the new magic powder. I have found that the powder in juice works the best. So, good luck and good pooping to you and yours!!

  • Poor bub! At least with modern science, there’s stuff you can take for the poop that doesn’t wanna come. I remember when I was little and had bouts of non-poop, my grams used to have this procedure she swore by. Which included little soap flakes. And me bum. Hrm. 🙂 But seriously, I’ve always sworn by having papaya milkshakes. Not the most gourmet item on the menu, but it works. For me, anyway. And bless Leta’s heart for all the cuteness she radiates. Even in non-pooping periods.

  • Laura

    Try involving other young children. For some magical reason children are obsessed with each others poo and love to compare notes.

    This also helped me when my daughter, then 4, was showing signs of this behaviour. Her twin brother sorted her out by creating massive big ones whilst grinning. And then, gross but helpful, showing her the fruit of his labour. She must have then realised that it’s normal and it doesn’t kill you.

    Problem solved.

  • Jewels

    I was so going to say the f word, the one that ends with t. Not the one that ends with k. But then I realized it would violate the dooce comment policy and I DID NOT want to make Heather B. Armstrong mad, because that might be the very end of my existence as I know it.

    But I will say this. Because I don’t have poop problems. I don’t. Seriously. I have the opposite problem. Of being able to poo anytime. Whatever. No problem. Which can also be annoying. However, I realized some of my favorite foods are to blame. And this part of my ‘problem’ is helpful. Because I like malt o meal. I hear the chorus of “GROSS” from around the nation, but I do. With serious butter and brown sugar. I don’t even need to poop, but it makes me poop anyways. So that is idea one.

    Then there are yogurt covered raisins. I have three kids, they eat them and have no clue they are semi-healthy. And they will so make your bowels move. SO, just a thought. Sure, Leta won’t eat, but just tell her the yogurt covered raisins are candy. Hey, it could work.

  • Try using these pee and poo dolls – they are cute and maybe Leta can eventually call the process elmo-poop.

  • Awww poor girl, the torment she suffers living with people who expect her to allow poop to leave her body. And then the very same people think her plea for help that just happened to work quite nicely in with the exact second she might of been in trouble isn’t genuine? Awww, no. Princesses dont work that way.

    Usually mine tosses her hair, smiles, and says, Shopping?

  • Kel


    I used to work at a childrens home and Miralax goes down nicely in a glass of juice =).

  • moonrattled

    It’s normal for kids Leta’s age to be afraid of defecating and flushing. They think they are losing a part of their body and they don’t realize what’s happening is what the body wants and needs to do. I helped a little kid I nannied once with this problem. First I told him that adults also have problems letting go of their poop and that’s why adults often read when they sit on the toilet. This made him feel much better and less vulnerable. We put his favourite books around the toilet and when it came time to flush we talked about his poop (incredibly embarrassing when it came to taking him on social outings but I persevered!). Within a few days he began to feel comfortable with the whole thing and sometimes would call out “I’m pooping now!” and “Come and see my poop!” Again, impossibly embarrassing when during social occasions…but I decided that his well being meant more than the red-faced discomfort of a bunch of adults.

  • I have said for many years that if I could have one wish it would be to never have to poop again. I’m sorry that Leta is so distressed, but I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who would choose that wish.

  • ((cue 8th grade film stip)) aahh the wonder of MiraLax. The Mira comes from the word Miracle, and the Lax coming from The word Laxative… Meaning Miracle Laxative.

    And that’s just what it is.

  • Bucky Four-Eyes

    “electricboogaloo said at 04:28PM, 03.10.2006:

    Ah ha! Manipulative punk! I have a theory that whatever you deal with when a kid is two, that’s exactly what kind of issues you’ll have with them as a teenager.”

    That’s a frightening theory! What if Leta builds up magnified telekinetic powers as a result of her poop denial, and she goes all “Carrie” on your ass when prom night rolls around?

    Just promise me you won’t ever use the word “dirtypillows”…

  • there are already too many comments here to read, so i wonder if you yourself even read all of these. nevertheless, i feel the need to expose my fight with constipation to you, and the world at this very moment after reading this entry.

    for some reason, when i was younger, post-potty training, i just was constipated, all the time. so, when the time finally came when my body could just not contain another ounce of poop, there i landed in the bathroom, screaming, crying, red face, didn’t know what to do to stop the horrible pain. my parents tried to make me eat prunes/drink prune juice, and to this day i will not go near anything prune, or “plum” as they are so deceitfully labeled, as they are the most foul tasting things on this earth.

    during these times, my mother would sit there with me in the bathroom and say soothing things to me, but i could only concentrate on the imminent pain. i hear you leta, i do. and i can also still remember them once using some kind of laxative suppository, and after it was inserted i ran around the house screaming like a maniac until i hit the bathroom and exploded.

    11 years after i was born, my parents had another daughter, and during potty training she would always always wait until you put a diaper on her for her nap and then she would hide in a corner and poop, and since she would hold it and hold it and hold it waiting for the diaper/poop receptacle, the same saga happened to her.

    and somehow, it just stopped. [or stared, depending on how you look at it, i guess.] we have both been constipation-free for many, many years. i don’t know why, or what changed, but i am definitely grateful for it.

    so there, here i am, admitting to the internet i too was a non-pooper.

    the end.

  • I can’t help you much with the pooping issue – our daughter seemed quite happy to poop her little brains out (for too many years, I might add) – but she, also, refused to eat much of anything for a period and so I heartliy recommend to get to the library or bookstore and get a copy of Bread and Jam for Francis by Russell Hoban. Hoban’s series of books about his adorable badger (yes, badger…) addressed all sorts of issues that seemed easier to manage once our daughter realized that her buddy Francis was going through them too.

  • Amy

    My two and a half year old daughter is also a MiraLax kid. I don’t know if Leta is a juice drinker but we mix Elle’s into her apple juice and she drinks it right down. I know you can’t mix it with milk but her pediatric gastro doc said mixing with juice was fine. MiraLax is the bomb. Literally.

    You also haven’t really laughed untill a doctor tells your child that he wants her to be a “super duper uber pooper!”

  • KarinGal

    Oh, I feel for you.

    My 3 1/2-year-old son is a fecal hoarder/withholder. Despite our explanations to the contrary, he thinks my husband and I–meanies that we are–are to blame for making him go poop, which he’s managed to stretch out through strained avoidance to every four or even five (!) days. When it finally arrives it’s a thing to BEHOLD!

    The pediatrician says it’s just a developmental thing, and one of these days he’s just going to “get it” that milk in = pee out, and food in = poop out. The good news for you two is that girls seem to “get it” faster than boys. Hang in there! It’ll make for some great stories in the meantime, no?

  • Papa Urchin

    Given that she loves her gummy vitamins have you tried the Yummi Bears fiber? These really worked wonders for our daughter when she was having pooping on the potty problems. ( )

  • Oh my god, that is funny. I’m sorry she has that problem, but shit I needed that today. Thanks Heather. I wouldn’t worry about her being a teenager, just hope she makes it past two and go from there.

  • Ah ha! Manipulative punk! I have a theory that whatever you deal with when a kid is two, that’s exactly what kind of issues you’ll have with them as a teenager.

    As for the pooping, yeah. We tried it all: Dulcolax, high fiber diet, pullups, no pullups. We even tried **reasoning**. All failed in the face of Constipatio’s desire to keep it all in.

    What finally worked: Bribing him with pure cane sugar. He gets a chocolate treat every time he poops.

    Yes I know there’s something very disturbing and wrong about A) connecting bowel movements with yummy candy, B) bribing children, and C) the fact that the treats are suspiciously poop-colored but you know what? It works. We call it a “positive reward system”, and we plan on using this approach well into his teen years.

  • Last night my son, who is 3 and a half, cried – real tears – for 20 minutes on the potty because his poopy was “stuck”. Finally we said just forget it and let him play. An hour later I find him under the bed with his pull up full of a poop the size of a base ball! The poor guy. The doctor told me to give him this perscription fiber powder that is clearly marked on the bottle Do Not Give to Children. But today I mixed it in with his juice. What choice did I have?

  • I have two with this problem. It is so heartbreaking. The older of the two finally stopped holding it. He’s 9. We have switched from Miralax to Fiber Choice. They each eat 2 every morning. Kind of like vitamins. Works wonders. Much less tears. Good luck with Leta. May the fear of pooping be brief.

  • #1 Poor lil’ pooper
    #2 Best Chuck pics ever!

  • That is quite possibly the best Leta story EVER! I can just imagine her in all her pigtailed fury, veins popping out of her forehead, as she tries to withhold her poop from the world. Poor child – such a young age to be traumatized by the terrors of constipation! My niece – she loves to crap her pants, and she revels in the glory of running over to me, pointing at her diaper and saying “Pooey!” or something of the sort, with a big grin on her face. And when I open up the nasty diaper, she grins even wider, because she knows I am being gassed out. For a 15 month old, she creates some man turds.

    Thanks for making me laugh on an otherwise uneventful Friday. And the pictures of Chuck – amusing as always!

  • i feel for ya, kid….. i never poop anymore because of my surgery. 🙁 my doctors told me to take a ducolax every day. i still don’t go very often but at least it’s not as hard as a brick when i do go.

  • I remember the potty-training years and the books talking about “how difficult it felt to some children to let a part of them go and then (horrors!) to see it flushed down the toilet”.
    On the whole entire other hand, in your house, it could be just that bowel issues reign and she’s just joining in the fray!
    Before you know it,this too shall fade and there will be some new persisting(pun?)issue that requires your attention.
    Eventually, we get to start worrying about our children’s children!

  • JessicaP

    I was the same way growing up, as well as later in life . In fact, there are times now when if I haven’t pooped in 4 days I start to get a little worried about how much it will hurt later and decide “No, I’m just above all this pooping business. That’s fine if everyone else does it – but I’ve never really been much of a follower.” Inevitably a day later I will give birth from my ass to a 5 lb “poop baby”.

    It used to really bother my mother, but then she produced my brother 6 years later. He enjoyed pooping so much he made up songs about his poop and the joy of having his “hiney” wiped. She figured we balanced the other out.

    I’m pregnant now and my husbnad hopes that our child will have the perfect balance between his and my bowels. He’s certianly an “Olympic Gold Medal Pooper” while I don’t even qualify for the Special Olympics of pooping. We’re hoping this child will be graced with “normal” bowels – whatever they may be…

  • Leta is such a character! When I was a baby, my mom says I would hide behind the couch to poop in my diaper. If anyone came over to see what I was doing, I’d hold my hand up to block their face from view and yell, “Go ‘way!”

  • Daisy

    My 3 year old doesn’t eat either…it’s ok. She’s a good pooper though so I don’t know what is going on.

  • ah, yes, my younger sister learned a similar trick long ago. our dog tulip died when i was seven and she was six. understandably, she cried and cried, saying, iiiii missssss tuuuuu-lipppp. my parents comforted her accordingly, providing ice cream and hugs.

    little sis was quite the troublemaker, however. days later she did something traditionally mischievous, broke a chair, or deliberately poured grape juice all over the floor. or something. i don’t remember exactly what. when mom came to scold her, (what did you do NOW?), i remember her looking up at mom, nervous, and then, a lightbulb, she smiled, blinked and began to wail: “I missss Tuuuuu-lipppp!” i think i recall a popsicle being offered as condolescence this time around…sneaky little girl.

  • patty

    My 3 year old granddaughter that lives with us is fascinated with poop! She’ll sit on the potty chair SINGING – I SWEAR it – “I’m pooping, I’m pooping” – calls everyone in the house in to inspect the final product – and this past week, while she’s been sick – has been chanting the word diarrhea around the house. It’s pretty hard not to roll on the floor laughing sometimes!

  • annlee

    {{{Leta}}}} Our oldest had major poop issues, Heather. My husband, being the genius he is, found that if she had something to wrap around her waist and hold on to while she pushed, it gave her a greater sense of control. She would hold her poop for days and end up in misery until we did the enema route.

    Good for her for asserting her two year old will power:)

  • Oh, and one more thing, we (shamelessly, because it works ,dammit) reward with jelly belly jelly beans.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

read more