An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

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.

  • Ha ha, how do you like this now Catherine. I bet you really don’t. Aren’t you sorry you messed with Heather and all her friends. I love this support!!

  • Melissa in California

    I really didn’t want to go through the sign in process to comment, but I kept getting bugged at this Catherine lady and decided to do it even though I am number 826 to comment.

    I like the advice other people gave you to try Mineral Oil for Leta. Or even peeing in front of Leta and showing her just how much fun and easy it is. Maybe you’ve already tried both of those things. Whatever the case, you know her best and you’ll figure it out. And when you do, please post about it because you are my second browsing option next to Google when I’m trying to figure out parenthood by myself.

    A lot of people have said it, but I loved your house decorations. I walked the isles of Target looking for the same bins to put under MY daughter’s crib because I like them. I wonder what Catherine’s decor consists of. Maybe tons of Barney and Teletubby dolls. Not sure, but she obviously doesn’t know style.

    Love your blog Dooce.

  • xxfibeexx

    Jeez, leaving a comment is complicated now! 🙂

    Ok, I meant to be commenting….

    Sod the fuckers, can I say fuckers?, oh well sod them anyway. Children do the whole potty thing when they are good and ready. My son chose to wear it on his head for several months before he got the idea that his arse was meant to go in it.

    My daughter (god, where do these sprogs come from?) has a kidney condition and we used to have to go through the whole rigamorole of getting a wee sample when she was a baby, NHS isn’t so keen on catherters and would much rather sit and watch and laugh as mummy holds a tiny, minescule pot in vaguely the right place.

    The daughter, whom I ought to name really now she is seven – Charlotte, gets UTIs regularly and in the end we had to try and make a game of it. Sounds sick I know, it was daft things like making cranberry juice her special drink and letting her drink it out of a ‘special’ glass (one of the hideous crystal schooners I was gifted), running around and weeing on the floor also was a favourite of hers for a while – very glad that phase passed! Anything to make weeing and drinking fun and anything that didn’t associate it with razor blades. We resorted to star charts, stars for fluid in and stars for fluid out.

    Because it is a regular thing as because she is older now we have it down to a fine art. There are no doubt many sacrafices we will all make for our children but I reckon drinking gallons of cranberry juice is going to be the worst.

    I’m typing this whilst blowing raspberries to Catherine.

  • Tinkleton

    Oh I am sorry to learn that the great and powerful Leta who gives us readers so much joy and hapiness with her recent entry to this world and perspective, may have inherited her poor suffering mothers dryish bowels. For what it’s worth my grannies cure was always two tablespoons of cider vinegar in a glass of warm water. And even tho I’m dang near fitty, I sometimes wear a t-shirt like a hat when it’s cold

  • ChrisMoose

    I like what Tricky Nicky said…. pee in front of her with a smile…

    Better yet, learn to pee standing up and then show Leta…what fun you two can have peeing all over the place from a standing position!! She will (as Tricky Nicky said) see that PEEING IS FUN!!!

    😉 Just another sick and slightly un-helpful suggestion from someone who thinks Catherine needs help…


  • I don’t have children, so I truly don’t have any real advice for you (and I apologize), but before you even began getting into the whole story, I was reminded of my neighbor’s child, a boy, who would “hold it” for days at a time until he was terribly sick. I was awful! When you shared about Leta doing the EXACT same thing he did (it was stubbornness and fear), I could only think of one thing – it was frustrating as hell for his parents and sister, but they’re over that hurdle, and he’s now a well-adjusted second grader. It CAN be done…I just wish I could do more than simply share that story, perhaps give you practical advice. I’m sorry that I can’t, Heather.

    I must add though, that although I agree with other commenters that you really didn’t NEED to tell that story to put that woman in her place…well, you sure as hell put that woman in her place. Bravo, as usual.

  • maiareads

    My son started on the potty just after 3 years ( I tried at 2 and he was so not ready)He wet the bed twice before deciding that was not so comfortable. My twin daughters started on the potty at just after 3 years too. And wet the bed for another 5 mos. or so and therefore wore diapers to bed until THAT was done.

    Kids do things when they are ready. Period.

    Wow, such support from that writer, surprised you didn’t hit delete immediately. No need to ‘defend’ yourself Heather!

  • loopiegal

    I read this post and the responses with interest since I just started my 3 year old son on prescription laxatives yesterday because of his chronic constipation. I find most of the responses here very supportive, however, it does bother me that some posts seem to be saying that some working mothers have successfully potty trained children because they send them off to daycare to have someone else train their children. My son is in daycare and I can attest that if a child doesn’t want to go poo, he won’t go poo at school, at home or anywhere! I have 6 months to get him to use the toilet or he’s kicked out of daycare. So, I just hope people don’t truly believe working mothers have an easier job potty training.

  • oh and another thing…my sister refused to be potty trained until “the new baby comes”. my mom was pregnant with my brother at the time. my sister was about three-and-a-half when she finally took off the diaper. my mom never pushed the issue with her, either. so don’t listen to people who tell you when YOUR daughter HAS to be out of diapers.

  • i don’t have a child, but this story just made me cry. poor leta. i had a room mate about 4 years ago who had a son. his son came over every other weekend for his visits with his dad. every time he came over, he refused to go to the bathroom. i remember my room mate just being so exhausted with worry because his 2 year old son refused to poop. he tried coaxing him and telling him it’s ok to poop, but the little guy just wasn’t going to do it.

    and as for the evil witch who sent you that email, she’ll get hers. don’t worry.

  • Some people are so insensitive. They just jump right into the conclusions without ever giving any thoughts to the whys. Leta is your daughter and I’m sure you know what’s best for her. Ignore that letter. No, print it then run it over with a ten -wheeler truck.

  • stupidgrin

    I’m terribly sorry you’re constantly dealing with stupid people. Nobody knows your Leta better than you. Nobody. I really and truly hope she starts feeling less afraid to pee. How frustrating for both of you.

  • I love all the obvious advice you get. Reminds me of when people ask me if I have tried putting my 10 1/2 month old daughter (who still wakes 2 times per night) down for a nap without rocking her first.
    :::Well, no! I had not thought of that!:::
    (rolling my eyes)
    Follow your gut, Heather. You know that.

  • phinellie

    I simply can’t believe that people don’t have anything better to do than judge everything about other people. I’m sorry that you received this email. As painful as this whole situation has been for you, I’m so glad that you just gave it to the emailer with both barrels. I hope she’s read your post and is suitably chastened. By the way – this woman would have a field day with me. I have a 3 year, 3 month old boy who will not use the potty. He has no elimination or other health issues – he simply doesn’t want to use the potty. In fact, in his preschool class of 13, he is the ONLY child who does not use the potty at all. Per the advice of his doctor and his preschool teachers and administrators, we are not pushing him. I hope he’s trained by the summer, or he will not be able to attend the camp to which we want to send him. However, those whose judgement I trust counsel not to push because, when he does decide to use the toilet, his chances at success with fewer accidents are very high. We encourage him (have you seen the Bear and Elmo Potty DVDs? – we have seen them millions of times, at the non-potty-user’s adamant request) and we bring him into the bathroom every time one of us goes. At preschool, the teachers traipse everyone into the bathroom once a day. When his best friend is over, this place positively turns into a boys’ locker room. However, for whatever reason, he just isn’t there yet. Everyone promises me he will be out of diapers before he goes to college! Seriously, good luck with Leta’s situation – the poor little girl.

  • Vanessa Mateyko

    I know this has nothing to do with the subject at hand (I have no children, and cannot imagine what you’re going through, and I pray that if I ever do I will 1) never become that judgmental bitch that Catherine is, and B) find the love and comfort and support that you have found among these readers).

    But I just wanted to second what Lemongrass said about your letters to Leta!!! I came across this blog rather haphazardly about a month ago (I’m a newbie!) and I just wept (at work) when I read the first newsletter I found. Then I had to go back and read them all. It really made me think. So thank you.

    Best of luck (and love) to you all,

  • redheadwriter

    Wow. I feel so insignificant in these vast numbers of comments.

    My son wasn’t potty trained until he was 4. He did not have the physical maturity to do it. When he was ready, he did and has done a pretty darn good job of it. However, he, too, was constipated for the first few years of life. He wasn’t afraid of going; he just never went. We did “poop juice” — shots of wild cherry Milk of Magnesia — at least once a week. He also never ate, which is why I believe he was constipated. It’s not so much holding on to the poop as it is not having enough waste to make poop.

    Now, to the “poopy shakes.” My niece was just like Leta — afraid of her poop and holding it for days at a time. She would rock back and forth on her haunches, moaning in this low growl, trying to hold it all in. She got so good at it that she could do the “poopy shakes” standing up — shifting back and forth on her feet.

    While it was hilarious in a sick and perverted way, we all knew how much pain and discomfort she was in. Just about the time she got past her fear of pooping, she too had a urinary tract infection.

    I know the agony you, Jon, and Leta are going through. It’s incomprehensible to some people — hence the insensitivity and piousness — but please try to put that aside.

    Anyway, hang in there and just know you are doing everything exactly right for Leta.

  • Heidi

    Just another reason why when my son was constipated a couple of weeks ago that your blog was the second link that came up on my search about how to get him to poop …

    After seven days without pooping we were on the verge of giving him an enema (per doctor’s orders). I went to the drug store to purchase it along with his prescription laxative, while my husband stayed home and BEGGED by son to poop. He warned him that something very bad was about to happen…and miraculously he went. He saved himself in the nick of time.

    Just the thought of having to administer an enema was horrific to us; I can’t imagine how awful it must be for you.

    Leta will use the toilet in her own time; I think your battle to get her to “go” is the only battle you should have to face right now.

    Good Luck.

  • Mellissa

    All I have to say is that the woman who sent that e-mail is obviously not the mother of a daughter. I thought I was a GREAT mother when all I had was a son and then along came my daughter. This child has been the definition of stubborn (and all of the words for it in the thesaurus) since she was born. I used to think every battle was worth fighting to keep the “upper hand” but I have learned after almost 5 years to chose the battles and learn to let the rest go. Both my kids waited until they were 3 years old to potty train. My daughter refused to even think about using the potty even though she knew what to do. She is just stubborn.

    As for your house, I love it!!! I think everything looks great and I swear I was looking at storage containers like you got after I saw your pictures. I love the organization and use of space. You have a beautiful home but more importantly, you have a loving and happy home. Leta is empowered to be herself because she is secure with her parent’s love for her.

  • Nessaness

    I have no children and am now afraid to because apparently it will turn me into a JUDGEMENTAL BITCH like that woman who believes she is the messiah of mothers. How dare she, as a fellow mother of young children, tell you that you are wrong, wrong, wrong! She should know better than to make you doubt yourself as a mother. Does she not know how nervewracking a job it can be and how mothers need to support each other. Every woman questions everything with their first child. So soon she forgets! Is she now the expert because she didn’t have her knees sewn together and now has an abundance of children?

    She is one of the reasons I am weary of having children. I often hear about those mothers that when you excitedly tell them about something your child just did for the first time they snap back with a comment of “Well my child did that at an age much earlier than that!”

    Don’t worry, it’s not that often that a senior goes up to the podium to receive her diploma wearing a diaper!

    Th one joy you can have is knowing that a woman who is that uptight, controlling, & Martha Stewarty about her house and children has probably driven her husband crazy and he is probably doing the cute little tennis pro chick from the Country Club while she spanks him on the ass with a tennis racket !!

  • I am going to shit myself, and set back my own potty training, if your comment count goes over 1,000. Go Heather!

    I sincerely hope that all the good messages you get outnumber the crappy ones, because you’re a good person and you deserve it.

    And to quote my great-grandmother: (I have no idea if she got this somewhere or if she thought of it herself)

    May those who love us, love us.
    May those who don’t love us, turn their hearts.
    And if you can’t turn their hearts, turn their feet so we can spot them by their limping.

  • Wow. Instead of asking for comments and encouragement, you should have asked for “$10 each.” You coulda had a helluva vacation. Or maybe redecorated your house. With Catherine’s loving help, of course.

  • stacyo

    My son had the same problems with constipation that Leta does. We had the industrial strength laxative, enemas, glycerin suppositories. (and you’re so right.. giving your kid an enema is hellish. I’m a trauma nurse and what I do at work doesn’t compare to at-home enemas) Then when he was 4 1/2 it just stopped. He goes every few days now and we don’t have to do a thing. Hopefully Leta will just grow out of it too. He was a late potty trainer as well. Who cares? They’ll learn when they learn. No one ever went off to college in diapers.

    On the upside, since your house is so sterile and boring, I bet Catherine won’t come over to visit. Silver linings. For what it’s worth, I liked the decor. Clean, uncluttered lines.

  • Knibbers

    I have been a lurker for years but this just burns my butt.. I live in Utah which is full of psycho Moms. They always seem to think they know what is best for everyone else and the ways in which the mothering world should always work. I will let you know Heather that I am 32 years old have 4 kids and they all potty trained at there own speed. I like you did not want to fight it. My oldest potty trained close to 4 years of age and I just let it take its course. She is now a bright and beautiful 14 year old girl, no learnin’ disabilities er nuthin!. So don’t let some nut job mom’s make you think you are doing something wrong. Not all kids are the same and not all parents need to be the same. Its not like the girl is going to go to school crappin her pants… I mean come on where does this woman have her head shoved?? You are doing a great job Heather and don’t let a few loones make you doubt yourself. So all I have to say to the psycho-bitch-mom is…. Well I think Thumpers mom said it best “If you can’t say something nice…. shut your big friggin crack!”… hmmm it was something like that anyway.

  • Cassie

    After reading a lot of these comments I just had a recollection of my own potty training experiences (who remembers that? I shouldn’t)… but I distinctly recall my mom carrying me from my bed to the potty chair in my sleep when I was young… 4-6 age range. and I’d go, in my sleep, and she’d carry me back to bed. Someone said something up there a ways about having to do that… my mom had to have done that for a couple years for me to remember it as well as I do, now that I think about it.

    Everybody’s different. Who cares who does what first (or last!). I grew up being an overachiever (still am… have to be to survive my job), and I can still say that. Anybody who says any different needs to take the stress stick outta their behind.

  • Julianne

    I think I am number 803 on the commenting list! You will probably never read this…it is my first time leaving a comment for you. I think you are such an amazingly real writer. Thank you for what you do! I am sorry that Leta is having some potty issues. I think that woman who wrote you that message is “not right” if she thinks she has it all figured out for herself and everyone else. You need to do what is best for your family, period. I don’t think you can force a kid to be potty trained. It is something that they want to have control over (no kidding, hold poo for seven days!). So you just do what you need to do. She won’t be 18 and not potty trained. Most likely anyway!

  • kcb38


    I have been reading your blog since I gave birth to my only child, a daughter, 3 1/2 years ago. Since this is the first time that I have posted a comment (ever! on anything!) let me first thank you for bringing a smile to my face on a regular basis.

    Secondly, my aforementioned daughter also had bowel issues. Like Leta, she would hold it in for days. My husband and I had to give her enemas quite a few times. You’re right…it ain’t pretty. We started by taking dairy foods away from her and trying to feed her “p” foods…peas, pears, pear juice. That worked sporadically but she put up a good fight, and knowing Leta’s aversion to anything that is not chocolate, this may be impossible. After speaking with her Dr we ended up going the Mineral Oil route and we haven’t looked back. Worked like a dream. We put 2 teaspoons into OJ each AM and stirred it while she drank it through a straw. Within a couple days she could no longer hold it. She said, and I quote, “Mommy, it shot out like a rocket!” Those words were magic to my ears….

    Anyhoo…we kept up the mineral oil routine for a month and then switched to fiber. We now put 3/4 teaspoon of Benefiber in her juice instead. It has been 6 months now and all is good.

    Thank you again, for the wonderful entertainment you, Jon, Leta and Chuck bring to all of us!

  • I love your house. When can I move in? And how can she think it’s too sterile? Did she miss all the parts where you talk about how Jon won’t let you post the before pics because they are so bad?
    Also, your monthly letters to Leta are my favorite thing on the the internet. They make me question my decision to not have children!

  • KoKo

    That Catherine would take such time and effort to judge you just shows that she thinks she’s got clean shit.

  • Oh Yikes. I just read Dawn’s comment and now I feel awful about asserting that “everyone learns to use the bathroom by the time they are 5.” I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be insensitive. I still want to say that any parents who help their child through something like this should have the support of others around them. We really don’t know what you’re going through the way you do.


  • Catherine,

    Fuck you.

    Nothing to add, but you’re getting close to a 1,000 comments from people who adore you and that would be cool, so here’s my contribution. I suspect that Catherine can’t find 3 people who have anything kind to say about her.

  • The mean, insensitive people who take the time to email such hurtful, useless things to you never ceases to amaze me. I’m so sorry. Sorry you’re having to watch your child suffer- no parent should have to do that. Sorry that Leta is in pain. Sorry that your inbox contains such crap. We’re in the process of adopting our first child so I don’t have any helpful parenting advice. Just wanted to show my support. You and Jon seem to me to be amazing, loving parents who are raising your beautiful child in a gorgeous home. Keep on keeping on.

  • Dawn

    I don’t have any words of wisdom for you, Heather, because my daughter is 8 and still doesn’t know how to relax her sphincter voluntarily. So she forces her urine out by bearing down hard, which results in bladder spasms, which means she has to pee, a few drops at a time, every 15 minutes. She has resorted to wearing GoodNight pants to school, which are like diapers. Absolute hell for a 2nd grader. I expect her classmates to tease, but you’d be shocked at how many grownups comment too. People suck, they really do.

  • Cassie

    Heather, props to you for not only talking publicly again about poop, but making SO MANY people also talk about poop, on the internet! In public! (scandalous! hehehe).

    I’m surprised such an uptight woman as Catherine could use the term ‘potty’. She MUST know it’s properly termed a toilet? I mean, come on now.

    As I already said in an email yesterday, I think you’re doing wonderfully. And, I also think your house is awesome, I wish I could have things remotely as clean and put-together looking.

    Your little one will eventually realize her body doesn’t ever intentionally try to hurt her, and then she’ll start making mega progress. Gotta get stable with yourself before you can deal with crazy new things… like the potty!

  • mompoet

    Heather, when our children were little and someone was adamant about giving “helpful” (hyper-critical) advice, I learned to understand that the person wasn’t even talking to me. She was always talking to herself, trying to justify a choice that she had made herself, some time in the past, by telling me vehemently that I must do it the way that she did it. Knowing that made it easy for me to disregard any advice that didn’t fit, and helped me not to take it personally. I don’t know what to do about Leta and the bathroom. I think you and Jon know best because you are smart and you love Leta and you know her better than anyone does. Leta is very smart and very sensitive and a fast learner. She also has amazing self control when she decides she wants to do something. I have never met a child her age who could control peeing and pooing like that! Somehow this will pass. Everyone learns to use the bathroom by the time they are 5. I think you should keep doing what you know is best.


  • lilysgift


    I think that Catherine’s thinking is stinking…what a judgemental woman. Her husband and kids must be miserable.

    Your house pictures, (like so many other posts have said) motivated me to do some cleaning and organizing. I loved it becasue it was “simple”.

    My daughter now 10, had the same issues with the potty. My husband and I had no idea that we had put so much pressure on her that we had caused the problem. (I’m not saying this is the case with Leta) We were first time parents and had a ton of pressure from grandparents and friends to get her trained and to “GET THE BINKY OUT OF HER MOUTH IMMEDIATELY!!!” She would go days and days without pooping and we were nuts. After that it developed into a fear of ALL public bathrooms. That can make life really difficult.

    After reading your post I shared with my husband and we were reminded of all of the hard times that we had with our daughter. Now we are just waiting for the boobs and the period to start. It’s always something!

  • reiki26

    Long time reader, first time commenter.

    Not to sound cliche but patience is such a virtue.
    My daughter turned 3 in October. I had our 2nd child about 3 weeks before this and she completely regressed. All the progress we made prior to this, just went out the window.

    She then got constipated and it got so bad that I would find her hiding behind things so no one could see her and she would cry hysterically as her whole little body shook and trembled because it was causing her so much pain. She wouldn’t go for days at a time. This was going on up unitl the first week in January. She started preschool and goes willingly every day on the toilet.

    I found that Little Tummy’s chocolate flavored laxative drops helps tremendously. I put the drops into her sippy cup at night before bed with milk. She never knows the difference. Also, there is a product called Beneful which is a powder form of fiber that is tasteless. You can just sprinkle it into whatever you are eating. Again, they never even know that is there.

    My thoughts go out to you all. It is heartbreaking as a parent not to be able to help your child. You ARE doing the right thing by letting her do this on her own. Kids are the best indicator as to what they are ready for.

    Thanks for all the inspiration you, Jon, and Leta have given me over the last couple of years.

  • Kit

    If yogurt is something that Leta will eat, try feeding her one cup daily of that new Activia yogurt from Dannon. It puts good bacteria into your intestine and makes you poop. REALLY. I poop every day now thanks to Activia. And it comes in yummy flavours like blueberry, vanilla, mixed berry, peach, prune, and strawberry. I like blueberry despite the chunks of blueberry in it (I chuck those out). Acidophilus, which is found in most yogurts, may also help a bit as well (Dannon makes yogurt smoothies that help my mom [strawberry-banana, mixed berry, raspberry, etc] and may be easier for Leta to consume). You can also buy acidophilus caplets at real health food stores. Acidophilus is also good for cold sores and vaginal health. Now you know more than you ever wanted to know about yogurt and acidophilus. Yogurt, especially Activia, makes you poop. Please try it with Leta because I really think it will help her. And just tell her that some crazy 21-year-old girl you saw on the internet was constipated so bad that she made her 23-year-old boyfriend hold her hand while she pooped, and SHE REALLY DOESN’T WANT TO HAVE TO GO THRU THAT SOMEDAY, RIGHT?

  • Just a word of encouragement. My daughter held #2 for a while when she was 3. I fed her prunes and whole wheat bread and tried to get things moving, but we didn’t have much luck. She wasn’t constipated, she was holding it by sheer will.

    Anyway, what finally worked for us was to take her to the doctor. The doctor explained to us in great detail what could happen if she held it too long. I guess she was listening to what the doctor said… her eyes got very big, and she went right home and pooped.

    Hey, also, we got a bowl and put it on the bathroom counter. We got little $1-$3 toys to put it in that she would get if she pooped. She called them “poop toys”… gross, I know. Anyway, that really helped too. After she got over her fear of pooping she would poop several times each day to get a toy until we finally had to put a stop to that. Good luck to you. I know it is really hard, and it sounds like you have it much harder than most of us.

  • Many, many hugs.

  • FairyJosie

    Oh wow. When I went to comment, I saw how many have already been posted, and started reading. I got so caught up, I almost forgot that I wanted to comment, too. 🙂 I’m not a mom yet, hopefully in another month (depending on when the little goober decides it’s time….) But I know that in all the stuff I’ve read about potty training, like all these other mom’s said, it’s up to the child when they’re ready. You can’t force them. It was suggested that if they’re adamant about not using the toilet til they hit school age, most likely the minute they see all their friends using the toilet and they’re still in diapers, the need to be like the other kids will kick in and they’ll train themselves, sometimes. 😉 I know, you can only hope…. but I did think the suggestion to go potty with her watching was a good idea. It does sound kinda gross, but it’s also so true that your kids follow your example, and if mommy or daddy is doing whatever just fine and having a great time, then they might start thinking, “hmmmm, I could probably do that, too”. Hopefully, Leta will think that, and not “wow, mommy’s nuts.” lol I wish you guys luck, and I’m waiting for all the fun stuff I get to go through, too. 🙂

  • you know, i never did get the readership you did nor did i get all that many trolls. what i can’t figure out, however, is why so many people react to what you write with such vitriol.

    personally, heather, i think you responded with far more kindness than is deserved.

    ps: i liked the room.

  • I’m still in shock that that stupid whore wrote that to you. I think that she should go mist herself with pepper spray.

  • Lilbird

    Just so I’m clear: Sweet Catherine took time out of her busy schedule of full time employment and potty training and what not to spew that venom at you? She must have a heart of gold. Think of this (it’s what I tell myself as a mantra when I’m consistently amazed at the assholes of the world): Kharma is a wicked bitch. Her perfect world has been vexed by her righteousness and she’ll get hers. In the meantime…..
    I’m a grown woman and STILL struggle with the constipation issues. Mine started when I was a bit older (around 7 or 8, post potty training….I think) and plagued my teenage years tremendously. To this day I have a very small window of opportunity and if I’m not in my own home, nice and relaxed- forget it. Has to wait till the next day and i get all “bunched up”. Be patient and more than anything, focus on getting her to lighten up about it. I used to get in ‘trouble’ for holding it – not a healthy appproach! 😉
    You have the right attitude – she’ll go when she’s ready. If anyone asks, tell ’em to f*ck off.

  • Suze


    Don’t worry! The poo thing is totally normal for kids this age. I have 3 kids who have all gone through potty training in the last 5 years, and every single one of them tried to hold in their poo at around 2 or 3.

    It’s scary with your first, then when it happens with your 2nd and your 3rd too, you just go with the flow & wait ’til it passes.

    Don’t worry. Leta will figure it out in her own time. Meanwhile, just ignore all the people who are critical. They don’t know what they’re talking about!

  • daegad

    I don’t know why people think Leta’s – or anyone’s – bodily functions are any of their fecking business!

    I don’t know why people are so negative. Boring and sterile? How ’bout serene and peaceful?

    Fuggem’!People – they’re the worst!

  • Hello Heather,

    I don’t know if you will get through all 774 comments (!!!) to read mine – I couldn’t even peruse them to see if what I want to say has already been said – but I enjoy your blog regularly enough that I want to give my two cents.

    First of all, I have suffered from chronic constipation practically my whole life. Yes, I remember doing incredibly humiliating things like waiting on the toilet until my dad CAME HOME FROM WORK when I was in elementary school. I think that I am a person who naturally tends towards constipation (as is my daughter) but also that I suffer from mild FOOD ALLERGIES. As a relatively healthy adult I have come to realize that I am most likely lactose intolerant. I am Korean-American and it’s taken me years to discover that drinking milk, eating ice cream or too much butter (i.e non-Korean foods) gives me a mild stomach-ache.

    Not that being being raised by two doctors gives me any medical validity – but I suspect that your daughter has mild food allergies. I would not necessarily recommend going to a doctor, but rather I would suggest trying a food elimination diet and see if her pooing habits change at all. Probably people have suggested increasing her intake of fiber (prunes) and roughage (veggies or psyllium seed)and water, but the only thing that has ever increased my bowel regularity has been eating scottish oatmeal everyday for breakfast.

    Also, I would investigate the bowel habits of everybody in your family – sounds crude but it’s basic medical protocol. My daughter has always pooped just like me! (Being half-caucasian, she is not nearly as lactose-intolerant as I am, but she was much more so as a baby.)

    Good luck. Leta is lovely and you are a brave and articulate writer. A tongue that cuts through shit…

  • I loved the pictures of Leta’s room. I think it’s very nice and sweet.

    I feel so bad for Leta. As a grown woman I have had bladder infections that have made me wary of peeing for a period of time afterwards. I can’t even imagine what that would do to a toddler.

  • Your home is so cute and I say this because it looks exactly like mine. Want to come over and look at catalogs together?

    Why do I picture this women’s home filled with crapwalk items?

    As always, your loyal fan and stalker

  • I’ve got video up on my site of my newly minted four year old still wearing her pullups. None of my three kids were reliable on the toilet until after their fourth birthday.

    And you know what? I don’t give a flying crap what anyone thinks. They weren’t ready, and I wasn’t in any big damn hurry. There are so many factors involved, and besides, once they are toilet trained, then you have to visit every bathroom in every scuzzy public location every fifteen minutes.

  • SusaninTexas

    Having had a child with similar issues- I feel your pain. When my oldest was 3 1/2 and not potty trained and not interested in it, I felt stressed a lot. Eventually, she got it and so will your little one. You certainly cannot make her do it before she is ready.

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