the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Having given birth to a force of nature

This morning I was lucky enough to wake up to this refreshing email from a lovely woman named Catherine:

Leta’s room looks like a room that was cleaned and organized after a child had died. It is the saddest, most boring and depressing children’s room I have ever seen.

Btw, when you showed the pics of your house on a previous post, I had thought the same thing.
Your house is so sterile and boring. Browse catalogs much? Every hear of having your own style?

I have 2 kids (boys – [name withheld] 2yrs and [name withheld] 5 months), not that you care, and believe me
I am a cleaning fanatic, like you. I am very concerned about germs, bacteria, etc. But you are out of control sterile. It is shocking.

One more thing, my son is 2 yrs old and potty trained. Potty training is probably the easiest thing to do.
Why are you waiting so long to train Leta? You work at home don’t you?

I go to work every day and he is trained on the potty.

Such a thoughtful letter, full of very useful suggestions, ones I am right this minute taking very seriously. This is also a welcome reminder of how other mothers are not the most judgmental people on Earth. Her compassion is enveloping me like a hot rotten vegetable fart.

Many other concerned women have written to inquire why the hell I have not yet taught Leta how to use the toilet, and I’m not sure I have ever been asked a question that has so many possible answers. Is it that I’m lazy? I don’t know, maybe I’ll have Jon answer that one since I’m busy over here growing hair.

Maybe I like changing diapers. Did you ever think of that? How could that be any worse of a preference than liking licorice? Or choosing to wear gnome shoes? Maybe changing diapers keeps me young and nimble. Maybe it’s the one thing in this world that I am the best at, and who doesn’t need that one thing? I could do it blind-folded with my hands tied behind my back while dangling upside down from a rope tied to a helicopter, I am that good. I dazzle.

But if you want me to be totally honest, and this is from the perspective of someone who lives in the same house as my daughter, of someone who has dressed her and fed her and tucked her into bed for the last three years, I’m thinking that the reason she isn’t yet potty trained is because she isn’t ready. And this is not just a hunch. This is something very real, something we live with every day.

Leta has suffered severe constipation for the last two years of her life, and we have seen her pediatrician repeatedly over this problem. A little over a year ago he gave her a prescription for a mild children’s laxative that we have been adding to her water ever since. And it worked like magic for several months, worked so well that we thought we had solved the problem. And then, well, then she suddenly decided that she did not ever want to go number two again, just like that, like someone might decide one morning to stop eating chocolate because it just wasn’t worth it anymore. And so she started holding it for days and days and days, long enough that she started to get sick, started to lie on the ground and moan because she was in so much pain.

But no matter what we said to her, no matter the coaxing or the clever bargaining, we could not talk her into going to the bathroom. She wouldn’t have it, would turn her head and pretend that we didn’t even exist. The more we tried to convince her that she needed to poop, the more she resisted. And so for several weeks the only way we could get her to go was by giving her an enema. And it was horrible. Unimaginable. May you never have to do that to your child.

But we didn’t have any other choice. Her will was stronger than the laxative. That doesn’t seem possible, right? A child cannot possibly be so stubborn that she could, through the power of her will alone, immobilize her internal organs. World? Meet Leta Armstrong.

And then.


Jon and I left Leta with my mother when we traveled to New York last December, and we explained to her all of the ongoing problems. And as we had expected, my mother had to give Leta an enema while we were gone because at that point she had been holding it for over seven days. And I have tried to piece all of this together because I’m still trying to figure out how it all happened, but I think Leta pooped while she was sleeping one night and slept it in for several hours. Later the following morning her urine started to smell very weird, like a toxic, nuclear cloud, and the next day when we returned home she was screaming like I have never heard her scream before.

I knew immediately what was going on. Leta had a urinary tract infection, which, for those of you who are not familiar, makes it feel like you’re peeing fire every time you have to go. I could see the fear in her eyes. So we rushed her to her doctor, and because he wanted to rule out the possibility that she might have diabetes, we had to collect a urine sample from her, which can be rather difficult to do when the patient is still in diapers. And so what followed was one of the worst ten minute periods of my life, certainly the worst of Leta’s life.

Because the facility was short on staff that morning, I had to hold down Leta’s arms while Jon braced her legs so that the nurse could insert a catheter. And Leta, a child who is not normally very physical, someone who would much rather lounge on the bed and read books than throw a ball through a window, Leta fought us as if we were trying to kill her. We could barely keep her from throwing herself off that table. She struggled to make us stop until she was soaking in sweat and tears.

Within a few hours of her first dose of antibiotics she was acting like a happy child again, but now, even five weeks later, now she is afraid to pee. And so she holds it, and holds it, and holds it because she is afraid that it will hurt. Now she is afraid to go to the bathroom at all, and watching her battle her body every day is nothing short of maddening. Now the only time she will use the bathroom is when she is asleep, when she doesn’t know that it’s happening. And I have no idea what to do, which isn’t new for me, but is nonetheless exasperating.

If we can get her to go to the bathroom in her diaper these days we consider our efforts successful. The potty, right now, will have to wait.

Comments? I could use some encouragement.

  • Amy

    2007/01/27 at 8:07 am

    Heather, my own daughter Taylor refused to poop as well simply because she thought it was gross. As soon as the urge to poop hit her, she would run to her room in a panic so that she could resist the urge in private all the while telling me how she didn’t want “that brown stuff” to touch her butt OH.MY.GOD. Eventually, she got over the fear and ended up potty training easily at three years old.

    Anyway, your house is gorgeous and Catherine is a cunt.

  • thethinker

    2007/01/27 at 8:07 am

    This Catherine woman needs to shove it. Honestly. I can’t offer advice from a parent’s perspective, as I’m still 16 (and not eager to be a teenage parent).

    But, I can say that every kid is different and for your Leta, it’s great that you realize that. Trying to force her to potty train before she demonstrates her willingness to do so would cause more harm than good. This woman lies when she says that potty training is the easiest thing to do. Just ask my mom. She did not have an easy time with it, and even afterwards, she struggled with me because I’d always wait until the last minute to let her know that I had to use the bathroom. And this was after diapers, so you can imagine the mess that it caused.

    (And, for whatever it’s worth, I like your house.)

  • Amy

    2007/01/27 at 8:05 am

    Hi Heather,
    Let me preface my comment by saying I am a potty-training nazi. I am even considering opening a potty training business out of my home because I am so confident of my skills at getting little 2 year-olds potty trained. Both of my kids were trained starting at 2 (boy and girl).

    But my comment to you is that I would never, ever give another parent shit about their choices. I think it sucks that anyone would bother you about potty training Leta. If someone asks me, I help. But I never give parents crap about their parenting choices and I think those Mothers who do SHOULD BE SHOT – in the leg and then in the stomach and then …. okay. I don’t really think that. But, I want you to know that people have no right to question you as a Mother. Don’t listen to the haters!

  • Jenners

    2007/01/27 at 8:01 am

    I laughed, actually laughed, while reading Catherine’s email. Catherine needs an enema herself to cure what ails her.

    I looked at the ‘sterile’ pictures in question, and lo and behold I concluded that they were pictures of a home freshly cleaned not a hospital.

    At the ripe old age of 2 and a HALF, my son was hospitalized for dehydration after a nasty bout of flu and we had to potty train him all over again. If you force potty training on children they’ll just grow up to be uptight, sour, old, judgmental cows named Catherine. Po’ po’ Catherine.

    Jon, Heather, Leta–chin up lil campers.

  • Bridget

    2007/01/27 at 7:58 am

    I’ve read your site before but never commented – but this woman’s note to you was too much! I’m simply amazed that with two children at home this mom has the time and energy to sit down and write you, and just to be mean! I’ll have what she’s eating ! But hold the lack-of-self-esteem-that-manifests-as-bitterness-towards-others, it’s murder on your waistline.
    You seem to have a lovely home that is full of warmth and care for one another, kudos to you.
    My babe hasn’t reached the potty-training stage as yet but the only advice I can offer is to use Leta’s interest in you to your advantage. Maybe announce when you have to go to the bathroom, go, and come back saying how much better you feel. If you and Jon both do this maybe it will help negate some of her fear. Anything you can do that promotes her relaxation will benefit her. But my heart goes out to you three. You are doing the right thing, she will come around.

  • Jill Shalvis

    2007/01/27 at 7:10 am

    People suck. Your house is lovely, Leta is lovely, and you’re doing the best you can. You know what got me through? Remembering that this too will pass. Literally. Hugs.

  • OriginalFB42

    2007/01/27 at 7:20 am

    Being the father of a 3 1/2 year old with similar problems, this post struck home. Our boy has had bad constipation since he’s been born, despite trying every technique known to the world. My wife and I have decided to be patient and let our boy take care of business when he’s ready.

    Personally, I think judgment is the biggest problem we face as humans. Here you’ve got someone making an uninformed comment and telling you how to do things…gee thanks. Our society in particular is all about surface value…how things look. This happens because we are lazy and don’t want to get the whole story…it’s too easy to make a quick judgment.

    When peeps do this stuff to me, I always have to remind myself…their comment is more about them than it is about me. Sounds to me like Catherine is trying to make herself feel better at your expense…you have a kid that’s potty trained at 2, good for you. Your kid has a lifetime to look forward to with her Mom forcing her to do things…that sounds like fun.

  • SaraJ

    2007/01/27 at 6:57 am

    Okay, my three year old daughter, Grace, started using the potty full time at age two. Not because I ‘trained’ her, but because she’s as particular and determined as Leta is and a complete hygiene freak to boot. Leta isn’t a performing monkey to be trained against her will – she’ll do it when SHE is ready, and that’s the only way it can work. I love how so many mothers are quick to judge others but they’d throw a megabitchfit if they got challenged on all the ridiculous shit that you do. You’re Leta’s mother, Heather. Only you know what’s right for your kid and fuck anyone who thinks you’re doing a less than stellar job. Without meeting you, no less. Bitches.

  • sarabsara

    2007/01/27 at 6:51 am

    also, don’t even bother potty training during the winter. it would be so much easier for you all over the summer. leta will be 3 1/2, hopefully the pain of her problems will be a distant memory. there will be fewer clothes and layers, she could even walk around naked or with just the pull-ups, no pants……

  • vibegrrl

    2007/01/27 at 6:30 am

    Why people can be so callous and mean I have no idea. and WHY they ‘attempt’ to disguise it as concern and helpfulness….ugh. It sometimes sickens me, the type of emails strangers think it’s ok to send to people.

    I think you’re doing a great job. Only you know your child and what she’s ready for. Besides, I really don’t know any potty trained two year olds. My niece and my boyfriend’s son were both 3 when they were potty trained and neither one of them went though the trauma that Leta has had to endure.

    You’re a good mother, from what I can tell. Don’t listen to anyone telling you differently.

  • tsans

    2007/01/27 at 6:30 am

    i probably don’t have much to say that the other 865 people didn’t say, but i wanted to share my experience with severe constipation that made us do the enema thing 1000 times. my son had so much trouble pooing that i had to take him to the hospital a few times to rule out a bowel obstruction. BUT! there is hope. after 2 years on miralax, i put him in underwear and thought what the hell, we’ll give it a go b/c he was turning 3. he was really scared at first, and here’s the but: BUT, after i got him to sit on the potty long enough to relax, his constipation was completely cured. no more miralax. and my dr. had told me not to even start with training b/c he thought it would make things worse, but it didn’t. so maybe when leta does feel like making friends with the potty, she can act like my son (and husband) and just hang out on the potty until she can go. good luck–i really know how hard it is and i think you’re great. and why that woman took time out of her day to make someone she doesn’t even know feel bad is ridiculous. she needs to get a life. maybe as a child’s room critic.

  • louisa

    2007/01/27 at 6:28 am

    I have already commented way way way at the top but I do want to say this :
    Cathrine where are you ? Are you reading this?

    Is your self judging hate mailing ass having second thoughts about your nasty email?
    Are you going to be women and Mother enough to respond and …oh I don’y know….SAY SORRY ?!
    Highly unlikely.
    What I do hope is that you realize that other parents and most importantly other non parents ( such as myslf) type intelligent,thoughtful and helpful emails on a regular basis. We do not write out jealously, hate,nasty, and self judging filled emails to a women who regularly has the guts and bravery to spill her heart out to all and everyone in the world who wishes to read it.
    If you do not like what Heather writes and if you do not lik how she parents or how she decorates her house then …..BUGGER OFF ! DO NOT READ IT ! PISS OFF!
    point taken ?
    p.s highly unlikely that you will have th moral fortitude to answer for yourself
    p.s.s Heather I think by the 900th comment you should feel self assured that you are doing a damn good job and you and john should be bloody proud of your little girl .
    rant done

  • Jennifer in Ohio

    2007/01/27 at 6:25 am

    Seth- you’re an idiot. It is NORMAL and way too freakin common for kids to be afraid to pee and/or poop. Do you really think that they would publish a book called, “Everyone Poops” (which btw, is a top selling potty book) if this was a rare problem?

    Anyone who has browsed the potty training department of any store has figured out that this is big business. You know what that means- that HUGE supply is there because of the neverending demand by desperate parents and frustrated kids.

    We have 2 DVDs, 7 books, stickers damn near coming out my ass, one kiddie potty, two portable potty trainer seats, and two installed trainer seats. Combine that with the oh-so-helpful hindsight knowlege that I should have bought stock in Huggies or Pampers- as we have spent more on pull ups than we have on pretty much anything else. Now they have night-time pull ups! And they don’t just have plain old pull ups-they have “Feel and Learn”, “Training Designs”, “Cool Alert”, “Easy Ups”, etc. all with a different characteristic to help your little one figure the concept out.

    So, Heather, the next time some egocentric self-righteous elitist antagonistic bitch throws his/her disparaging comments around you need to:
    1) Know that their kids are probably severely uptight, and will likely stick them in a piss poor nursing home with Nurse Ratched when the time comes
    3) Make their email address PUBLIC. Put a disclaimer somewhere on your site- i.e., defamatory comments are subject to widespread publication with personal details at the discretion of the owner of this site. Include a reference to the golden rule.

  • Nicole

    2007/01/27 at 6:22 am

    Well, you have received a lot of encouragment but I will add my two cents:

    I am a mom of four children who have had various “potty” experiences and to be perfectly honest, they have all turned out fine so far. Eventually they all train. I agree with you NOT to push Leta anymore for quite some time until she gets over the latest trauma. There are worse things in life than a child who isn’t potty trained and it doesn’t make you a bad mother but BOY a lot of people will make you feel bad about it!! Fact of life!!

    Also I really like your home. Your daughter’s room looks great and not like a dead child’s room (what a horrible thing to say!) That letter was obviously written by a woman who feels guilty about the mess in her own home and has tried to convince herself that it is a better environment for her children. Your effort to organize and candid comments about the crappy toys that kids naturally love was inspiring to me. We can’t afford designer toys so it comes down to finding a way to hide the Bratz and army men.

    The rest of your home looks great too.

    Don’t let the boogers get you down.

  • alh

    2007/01/27 at 6:13 am

    This too shall pass. And I say that with no condescension. I had horrible urinary infections as a child and had to have catheters inserted twice in order to fill my bladder so I could then painfully pee all over myself in a room full of x-ray technicians so that could try to discern what was wrong with me. After one of these procedures I was taken to Chuck E. Cheese for a treat. I drank much soda. Then I had to pee. The most painful of peeing in the Chuck E. Cheese public restroom. Sans screaming–because that would be embarrasing in a public restroom! Anyway, I grew up and now I can pee and poop on the potty all by myself. That’s the power of peer pressure.

  • beth

    2007/01/27 at 6:10 am

    Hi Heather. My family has been through what you’re going through. My husband or I have sat on the floor of a bathroom many hours with a crying, suffering four-year old, wondering if we could/should make her go poop. It’s emotionally draining for parents and child and everyone shares in the joy of the long-awaited poop.

    She was almost five when she started experiencing constipation and, because of the pain, she started holding it, once for 11 days. She didn’t want to eat because she knew she’d have to poop later. Our pediatrician was no help. He prescribed the laxative you spoke of: colorless, tasteless, put it in drinks. And, he said, well, just get her to poop and all is well. There was no getting a four year old who was scare of the pain of pooping to sit and poop. We went to a pedi-gastro-enterologist. His advice worked.

    He said get her cleaned out with an enema. Then, he said, increase the dose of the laxative until she can’t hold her poop, until she has to go. He instructed us to keep her at that level for a while because this disorder, or however you wish you refer to it, has two parts. There’s the physiciological part, the pooper, you’ve got to get back in shape and working right. Getting her regular was the first step. Then, healing her emotionally was the next step. We succeeded in keeping her regular with the help of the laxative. Her fear of pooping and eating grew less and less. I think it took about a month to get back to normal potty routine after battling it for over a year.

    We tried several times between the ages of five and six to wean her off the laxative. We reduced her dose and watched what she ate. Now, she’s seven and doesn’t take meds, but still suffers from constipation. We closely monitor her diet and she knows she has to eat lots of fruit and can’t consume too much of foods that cause constipation.

    I hope this helps.

  • mamamayhem

    2007/01/27 at 6:07 am

    Want a little perspective?
    The pictures you posted of Leta’s room have been making me feel a poopy about myself for having such an ugly living space. ( and for almost never being in Spawn’s nursery- seriously what do people use that room for?) I was mesmerized by the peaceful and airy quality of that room and green with envy because I have never owned curtains in my life. See? Even though my son poops 6-7 times a day I still found a way to be jealous of you and Leta. Hey, my kid eats everything ( i.e. wood, paper, socks and playpens ) and that’s way weirder than not liking pooping. To be honest if I never had to poop again I don’t think I’d miss it.

    Keep on keeping on Heather. Like with all things related to child rearing- one day she’ll just start doing it and you will feel terribly silly for worrying that much in the first place.

  • jessiker

    2007/01/27 at 6:06 am

    First, how dare ANYONE tell you when the best time is to “train” your own child?! I’m always appalled at other parent’s utter audacity to think that just because whatever strict regimen of cohersion and humiliation “worked” for their own child it should work for anyone else’s. Perfect training for the public school system I say, but that’s a whole other can of worms.

    Boy, I could really get on a soap box here, couldn’t I?

    Heather, you are doing a wonderful job. The times like this, when you feel like you should be doing something, even though, there is really nothing to do, are common to us all. I think that you are so, so right. This is NOT the time to “train” your daughter. Can you tell I hate that term, train? I do. I mean how many of us actually *had* to be trained not to live in our own excrement? None, I’ll bet. Because nobody likes being in their own poo. Not even the most primitive cultures live with excrement and yet our culture seems to think that there is some draw to it that we have to brainwash out of our younglings. Please.

    A close family member of mine had the very same, the very same, I tell you!…issues with her young boy. who, I’d like to tell you, is now 5 and going potty just fine all by himself. He definitely has a very different poo schedule, but when she finally just stopped bugging him about it, and let him work it out on his own, he did.

    I guess having a weekly enema would make me want to avoid thinking about my butt as much as possible too. Could she get used to that and just give up trying to do it on her own, do you think? Of course, if she’s making herself sick, you kind of *have* to do it.

    You’re doing just great. Don’t let those freaks give you a hard time. LOL Not like, I’m a freak, or anything. 🙂

  • Lara

    2007/01/27 at 5:51 am

    No real advice to share with you, just scads of encouragement. My son didn’t have any interest in potty training until he was 3.5. Once he was ready, it was pretty quick. I never pushed it, I just let him take the lead. Now, at 6, he is still not night trained due to how heavy a sleeper he is. Our pediatrician is not concerned so neither are we. When he is ready, he’ll do it. It’s not worth creating anxiety over. Somehow I doubt he’s still going to be wearing a pull-up to bed when he’s 16.

    As for the uber-judgemental writer, one can only hope that karma will come back and bite her in the ass. Motherhood is not a competition. We’re all doing the best we can for our children. Why is it that women have a tendency to not support one another and, instead, tear others down? I don’t get it.

  • Rayne

    2007/01/27 at 5:33 am

    We have two daughters, aged 16 and 13. We have been dealing with this same type of thing for 13’s whole life. Every time we get it conquered and think we’re in the clear something new and horrible pops up for that poor child and we go through it again.
    This last time she had been doing well for years, no problems, and then she ended up with a bad reaction to an antibiotic. She was having the runs more than 20 times a day for over 2 weeks before the doctors decided there might be something else wrong. After a simple test they found the problem, gave her medication and the runs stopped in 1 day. But now Katy has developed an incredible fear of vomiting, or having the runs again or getting sick again and having to be put on anti-biotics again. So much so that she missed the first three months of school. Everyone (including the therapist) was focussing on the vomitting/runs issue and trying to help her deal with her fear of that that it was driven home so deep that she was even more anxious.
    We have just recently discovered/remembered that by ignoring the vomitting/runs issue and just dealing with the anxiety and explaining to her what her brain is doing so she is feeling the anxiety, etc. is helping more than anything else. She is still afraid of throwing up, terrified of it but not minute by minute any more, she is back to school for most of the week, most importantly she is starting to enjoy eating again and gaining back some of the weight she has lost, (she is eating a bowl of cereal for the first time in months this morning, she has been afraid the milk would make her throw up, of course eating a bowl of ‘forbidden’ cereal, ie; her big sister’s special cereal, does add to the joy, and she is able to understand it is anxiety she is feeling and is working on that.
    I know your little one is so young, but from reading your posts I think she’s a smart little girl and maybe if you can work on helping her calm down when she is scared it might make her feel more in control about her life and her reactions and her body. We went through this before with Katy, when she was two she would freak out when she had to poop, lots of screaming and crying so I understand a little of what you are going through. If you want to know how we helped her with the anxiety then and now just email me.

  • kris

    2007/01/27 at 5:22 am

    Leta may be constipated, but that “mother” is the one that’s full of shit.

  • Shan

    2007/01/27 at 5:28 am

    Hey Heather, I did not read the previous 300+ comments so forgive me if it’s been suggested already. You guys might consider getting counseling, not to make Leta do her business on command, but to help ease the pain of this trip to hell it seems. Maybe you could find a counselor that sees the whole family and would see you as individuals too. It sure would be nice also to have a group of Moms who have similar troubles with their kids, sorta share the pain kinda thing. Also, when rude people ask you about Leta’s bathroom habits how do you refrain from knocking the hell out of them? 🙂 I hope you don’t take offense to my suggestion of counseling, I’m working on my Masters in counseling so it’s my first instinct sorta…I have had counseling during my life (probably will again too) and found it immensely helpful, with the right counselor. Good luck with this, and on a positive note you are sure that Leta has the trait of determination and the ability to hold on to what she believes in!

  • colleen

    2007/01/27 at 5:06 am

    Heather I will be sending this article to my Mom, because one of the stories of my childhood is that I up and decided that I was no longer going to poop (could have been plain hard-headed-ness or constipation or both), and this would result in episodes of my Mom and Dad having to hold me down on the bathroom floor to give me an enima. My dad said he cried every time. I believe it was between the ages of 3 and 4, and fortunately I don’t remember any of it – which is the main reason why i’m responding. You’ve created such a wonderful childhood for Leta, it will cloud out this tough time. It won’t become a foremost memory for her – it will become a story that is told on rare occasions just as a reminder to her that she’s got the best parents in the world.

    And your house is cool – looks to be Craftsman style? A home best appreciated by someone whose not going to clutter it all up with a bunch of ceramic Hummel figurines and silk flower arrangements. A house and it’s decor should compliment eachother, and yours most certainly does.

    You’re a great mom and a great writer.

  • deepa

    2007/01/27 at 3:33 am

    Dear Heather,

    I know nothing about three-year-olds, constipation or UTI. But I – like everyone else on this planet, especially Catherine – have some experience of mean people. Most of us know they suck, but some of us think it’s cool to be mean. Catherine believes this. Don’t ruin it for her. She believes she is cool for “speaking her mind” “telling it like it is” “whatever-the-fuck-else small people tell themselves to feel less small”.

    Mean people also do this other cool thing. They realise they are small, so they try to increase their stature by looking down on someone tall. Sort of a how cool am I that I can pick on coolness itself.

    You, Heather, are coolness itself. And you are tall. In case you didn’t gather that from that last paragraph.

    Catherine is miniscule. Really. After what, 851 comments, I hope you’ve lost her.


  • montanhas18

    2007/01/27 at 3:25 am

    Never the mind the a-holes. Just like in sports “everyone” thinks they know exactly what parents should do. The trick, just like head coaches do, is ignore the hell out of them and keep on trucking.

    Best of luck and keep rocking my coffee breaks with the amazing posts.

  • booger

    2007/01/27 at 3:09 am

    I am taken back by the huge amount of comments on this. It boggles my mind.

  • cardshoppegirl

    2007/01/27 at 3:16 am

    First, the surface stuf: your home is beautifully appointed and looks comfortable.

    Secondly, the real deal: your daughter is fabulous. I am sorry to hear that she is suffering. I cannot imagine what it is to be her, unable to fully comprehend the situation. I also cannot imagine what it is to be her parent, having to watch Leta go through all that. I’m wishing her well.

    Last: people who act the expert from a distance, without whole knowledge of your situation, have issues. Would that stupidity and mean-spiritedness were as painful as chronic constipation.

  • Melen

    2007/01/27 at 2:13 am

    As my mother would say, “She’s just jealous.”

  • faustina

    2007/01/27 at 3:07 am

    I really hope you leave comments open this weekend, I want to see them reach above 1000. How do you handle reading all of this?

  • kim at allconsuming

    2007/01/27 at 1:23 am

    You know, there aren’t that many people who’d get over 800 comments on the best way to toilet train their kid.
    I’m not going to offer any advice because sheesh, if it isn’t covered by the 848 people before me then it really is a life mystery.
    We’ve toilet trained two boys, there’s another one who’s in line and then one more on the way. The first two were completely different from each other, so goodness knows what the next two will be.
    But that bit? Where you said:
    …the perspective of someone who lives in the same house as my daughter, of someone who has dressed her and fed her and tucked her into bed for the last three years, I’m thinking that the reason she isn’t yet potty trained is because she isn’t ready.

    was completely on the mark.

    You and Jon just keep listening to your collective heart and Leta, that will show you the “right” way.

  • LaurenTamale

    2007/01/27 at 12:06 am

    First of all, I’m really sorry to hear about the difficulties you’re having with Leta. It’s horrible that at such a young age she’s had so many issues with this, as they’re obviously more difficult to get over when you don’t understand that urinary tract infections are temporary!

    Unfortunately…I don’t have any advice that can help. My 2 sisters have 8 children between them…only 2 of which are girls, neither one of them are potty trained yet. And so far, the only one who was difficult to potty train is nearly 4 (and is only RECENTLY potty trained), and my sister dealt with him by only allowing him to wear diapers when he slept (which was when he’d wait to do his business), then have him sit in it for a couple of hours. That worked because he’s a boy, I suppose.

    And…I guess this makes my sisters and I freaks (well…more like my dad is a freak), but we were all potty trained before even hitting age 1. I believe I was only 8 or 9 months which makes no effing sense to me. Actually, I don’t know if this will help, but what my dad did (from what I’ve been told) is sit me down on the potty, and give me a book or whatever to look at, and sit there with me for hours and hours on end…and it eventually stuck?

    Sorry, it’s 3 in the morning, I should really look into this when I’m more coherent…

  • shona

    2007/01/26 at 11:22 pm

    psychological! (and I have a psych degree)

  • shona

    2007/01/26 at 11:24 pm

    Ok, should have proofed what I wrote – my 2nd child potty trained when she was somewhere after 2.5 (not at 5)

  • Flubberwinkle

    2007/01/27 at 12:05 am

    Adding my two cents.
    My youngest daughter was motivated to use the potty only when I sat on the toilet and she in her potty at the same time and talked, sang songs or read a book together. We even made playdough stuff.
    Gives new meaning to quality time with your kid. Kid was really stubborn, so it took some extreme luring to get her to sit there (promises to playgrounds, food favors and other ways the kid extorted me).

    Don’t worry about it, every kid has her/his own unique potty time bell. It’s not easy but it will happen. Leta will potty when she’s good and ready. You’re great parents and don’t let any e-mailing loony tell you otherwise.

    Hugs to all Blurbodoocery denizens!

    p.s. @Catherine, uh, lady, them kids sure are lucky to have a wonderfully caring Mom -like you- who writes, no scratch that, spews hate-mail to another Mom.

  • shona

    2007/01/26 at 11:21 pm

    I have 4 kids, 2 potty trained, one Leta’s age and not potty trained. Each kid is different. My son, 6 potty trained in 2 days at 2.5 and never had an accident. My daughter, almost 5 took 4 months to train, it was on again off again. Now my third little girl will be 3 March 30 and i don’t have the emotional/psycholigical excuse you have! She is just a character who will do it when she will. Gotta go with the child. No point forcing the issue.
    I love your blog, you are funny and I love that you report the details of your life. Leta makes me think of my almost 3 year old, Laura, for that I especially enjoy your Leta posts, you describe that age and the crazy stuff the come up with so well.
    Have a great weekend.

  • menow

    2007/01/26 at 11:17 pm

    I am not even reading all the comments. You’re a braver woman than I on that.

    I wanted to say that if I lived in Utah, I would hope to meet you and hope that my one-year-old and I could be friends with you and Leta. I respect you as a mom and this phase won’t last- you’ll make it through. I hope some have left useful comments, or your pediatrician will come up with some advice worth the co-pay.

    My boy just started solids and pooped so many times today he’s burned the skin on his butt. I wiped him off before thinking and hurt his raw little tush- there is truly no winning in parenthood. You’re doing your best and Leta will be grateful and love you for it.

  • Melissa

    2007/01/26 at 10:53 pm

    That is, quite possibly, the most inhumane thing a person could say about a kid’s room or anything remotely connected to a child. What a tool.

    My mom died a year and a half ago and we inherited her house. The entire time she was in the hospital – dying – the neighbors were leaving me notes or stopping me in the driveway to talk about whether or not I was going to sell the place. Now that I live next door to them they complain about things (like our shared fence) and tell me, “we wanted this taken care of earlier, but your mom died so we didn’t say anything.” Hey, thanks. You’re both cunts, by the way.

    I’m sorry about Leta’s constipation problems. My husband and I had to do that catheter thing with our son when he was about three and I know exactly what you’re talking about. I felt like someone had reached into my chest and punched me in the lungs. But he’s ten now and he still loves me. And uses the bathroom. It will be okay.

  • BClover

    2007/01/26 at 10:36 pm

    We all know a Catherine type, the know it all bitch mom who later ends up finding out her husband has been screwing the nanny and whatnot. Her Simon Cowell-like comments lead me to believe that Catherine probably needs to GET LAID. Her boys have no chance at a normal upbringing. I can only imagine the tactics she used to pottytrain. Maybe her title at work is really “Mistress Catherine” and her uniform is a PVC bodysuit. All sort of makes sense to me now.

  • Brandy

    2007/01/26 at 10:43 pm

    Meh, people can be so stupid about potty training. Leta will go when she’s ready to go, end of story. You can train yourself to take her to the potty all you want, but it doesn’t mean she’s potty trained. I’m on my third potty training adventure, for the first time a girl, but I can already tell that she will be just like her brothers. They’ll potty when they’re ready to potty.

    One day, you’ll be looking at your baby girl in diapers, the next she’ll be a big girl in panties and you’ll never look back. She won’t go to college in a diaper, I’m betting.

    I teared when I thought about her ordeal with the nurse, it’s no good. We had the same experience with stitches about six months ago, she was not happy and her screaming my name was horrid. Unless someone’s been in your house, in your shoes, with your child, they can just buck off.

  • kindkarma

    2007/01/26 at 10:28 pm

    Great site Heather.

    We do such a beautiful job with children. We suck at taking care of adults.

    Catherine, frantic with two kids under two (yikes) and a demanding job (well, she sounds demanded upon) desperately needs a hug. Too bad it takes lashing out at Heather – a complete stranger – to express how little nurture she’s finding in the world. My heart goes out to her.

    Heather, for sharing so much about the road ahead, sympathy to Leta. Our two year old has a UTI and asked for the potty tonight in the hopes that peeing there instead of her diaper would not burn. How smart! What a potty training set back when it burned anyway…

  • jamiefriggin

    2007/01/26 at 10:24 pm

    I think it’s terrific that you’ve kept the comments open this long. I was really hoping we’d hear from Catherine at some point – some sort of defense or rebuttal or apology – but after over 800 posts calling her out as a real See-You-Next-Tuesday, I have a feeling she’s never going to send another critical email again unless she’s absolutely positive she can count on anonymity. I’m sure she thought her comments would never leave your inbox. After re-reading her words to you today, all I could hear was jealousy and envy, maybe with a little crazy mixed in. So strange was her fixation on your choice of decorating style! And equating it with the death of a child? That’s what I mean about the crazy mixed in. Your home looks like a designer lives there, because a designer does live there. You found the time and made a commitment to less clutter and you art directed your house. From one art director to another, I think it looks lovely.

    I am not yet a mother (we’re going to start trying this year – with me at 39!) and I only know of my own battles with constipation so I’m certainly no help with your struggle. But I do know that it will be alright, and that you and Leta and Jon will come out on the other side of this just fine. I’m sorry it’s so hard right now, but I know you are strong and you have a good support system. And remember, we, your readers and supporters, are always out here, ready to come to your aid, should you need any encouragement or support. We’re always rooting for you, Heather. We know you’d do the same for us.

  • Heather

    2007/01/26 at 10:15 pm

    Gosh you are already over 800 comments. You may not even get to mine but I’m leaving it anyway. So often in reading your Leta posts I feel as if you are writing about MY life with MY daughter who is three also. And while we do not have to deal with the issues that you and Jon are dealing with in regards to Leta’s bathroom habits our daughter has decided that she is NOT going to be potty trained. At this point I am convinced she will, in fact, be going to college with a box of Depends packed up with her computer and dorm supplies.

    Being a mother is hard work. VERY HARD. You are doing fine and obviously you are too smart to even take that freak Catherine’s email seriously. Its a shame that some people are so self important that they have to belittle others that they know nothing about.

    Please keep posting Leta updates. I love them and I love knowing I am NOT alone. My daughter loves watching Leta’s videos! Thank You

  • tigerlily

    2007/01/26 at 10:17 pm

    I wish there were a magic button that we could press every time our children were hurting. I myself don’t have any, but I know that my mother has felt so helpless at times over the years, the past couple the most probably [I live far away from her and was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis two years ago]. When I call home in tears from the pain and frustration, she sometimes cries too, and I know she would do anything to make it all better.

    Though Leta is still so young, just holding her hand and supporting her through it is one of the best things that you can do. Hopefully her body will finally one day win out on her, and she will realize “hey, that isn’t so bad”.

    Best of luck and many loving vibes sent to you all.

  • Jenn

    2007/01/26 at 9:44 pm

    I am so incredibly sorry that you feel you have to explain your actions – or supposed “lack” of – because a woman who is obviously not experiencing the difficulties you and your child are felt the need to sit there and pass judgement.
    I am truly, very sorry.
    I can only begin to imagine how trying and difficult this must be for you, for Jon, and especially for Leta. My heart goes out to all of you. I wish you the best with this rough spot, and I hope things get better for Leta – and for you.

  • Lisa

    2007/01/26 at 9:20 pm

    Heather, with the number of comments here, I have no delusions that you will read this. That being said, I hate that you feel compelled to explain your parenting (in any sense) to a moronic, insensitive stranger. I swear, women (mothers) can be the nastiest creatures on earth to each other. It starts when they find out you are pregnant (or trying to be) and it never lets up. I really feel for you with Leta’s potty situation. I can only hope that in due time, she will overcome her aversion and start to go to the bathroom for you again. It will happen. Don’t beat yourselves up over it.

  • Siobhan

    2007/01/26 at 9:17 pm

    Oh yeah, when I saw the pictures of your house I thought, “Gee, I want to live there.” My house is covered with clutter, and I seem to clean all the time!

  • b

    2007/01/26 at 8:38 pm

    My daughter is two and a half and potty trained and you know what? IT”S A PAIN IN THE ASS. She is still too young to undress herself as well as too young to have the ability to “hold it” when we are out in public so we go running recklessly to find bathrooms taking out anyone we have to in order to get there. (My mother-in-law potty trained her when my husband and I were on vacation) Gee, thanks. You and Leta will get there when you are ready.

  • AOtis

    2007/01/26 at 9:10 pm

    While I haven’t read all of the 830+ comments, I have to say Desiree’s (#12) probably nails the future of Catherine’s children on the head.

  • Siobhan

    2007/01/26 at 9:14 pm

    Iy yi yi, so many comments. I feel for you guys! As I read your post I actually clutched my face because I felt so bad for what you guys are going through. Unfortunately, I really have no advice. I was a pee holder when I was a kid, I had to have the catheter thing done, and for the life of me, I can’t remember what happened after that. According to my mom, shortly after that, I just started peeing when I had to. Hopefully it works out that way for Leta too!

    Potty training is one of the most frustrating things I have ever done. My daughter gave me all the signals that she was ready for potty training when she was 18 months. She’s now almost 2 and a half, and so far, no dice. She’ll go sometimes at night, but that’s it. And I got so much grief from other mothers. “OMG, she’s so young! I’m not potty training my precious until he/she is at least 3….blah blah blah.” Long story short, the only time I met such a bunch of judgemental people outside of high school was when I became a mother. Some of the people I met have been lovely, others…not so much. And half of the time, the people judging don’t even have kids!

    Anyway, I’ll end my rant. I wish you all the best of luck!

  • bethgo

    2007/01/26 at 8:07 pm

    First off, I like your house and Leta’s room is darling. Those pictures made my heathen ass want to move Utah.
    I have a background of over ten years in the Early Childhood field. I have successfully potty trained over 50 children including one of my own (something to boast about, no?) and I can tell you exactly the best age to potty train a child. You ready for this Catherine?
    You do it when your child is ready.
    It sounds like Leta has been through something traumatic. There is no reason to rush her. I promise you, she will not go to college in diapers.
    P.S. When she is ready, go cold turkey during the day, use Pull-Ups or diapers at night until the day training is established well and use Gummybears as a reward-one for pee and two for poop. When the time comes to potty train and you have any questions, look me up, sister.
    You follow your own heart on this one Heather and don’t let jealous old black hearted Catherine get to you. She just wishes she had your life.

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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.

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