Some Thoughts On Bedwetting

At 2:00 a.m. last night Etani, my 6-year-old son, opened the door to our room.

“I peed in my bed,” he said. Bleary-eyed, I changed his sheets and tucked him in again.

He went right back to sleep.

I lay in bed thinking how short a time it is when our children are small. My oldest daughter’s feet have grown so much that soon we’ll wear the same shoe size. My second daughter now has a key to the garage and a $2/week allowance. Even Etani’s baby sister Leone, who’s only five months and two days old, looks like a sumo wrestler next to the newborn I see a lady carrying at the Y.

Though Etani started wearing big boy underwear (back when he would wear underwear. He’s adamantly opposed to underwear now) before he was two, night dryness has been a challenge. He wore cloth diapers at night until he was four and a half. Then he was dry so often that we boxed them up. But he went back to wetting his bed pretty regularly, with the only difference that he then refused to wear diapers at night.

He sleeps so heavily that the urge to pee doesn’t wake him up. I also read recently that a milk allergy can make you wet your bed at night. So we’ve been cutting down on dairy and we stopped letting him drink any cow’s milk before bed. That seems to be helping. Also, if we take him to the bathroom in the middle of the night, he’s usually (but not always) dry in the morning.

The past few weeks I thought we’d turned a corner. He’s been dry even without the nighttime bathroom visit. Until last night.

It’s a cliché that boys take longer than girls to potty train. I have no idea if it’s true but it has been in our family.

Our oldest was an old hand at pottying by the time she was two and almost never wet her bed. We lived in a house with wood floors back then and we’d hear her pitter patter pitter patter to the bathroom in the middle of the night, go pee, and then pitter patter pitter patter back to bed.

But then all of a sudden Hesperus started wetting her bed.

The bedwetting puzzled me. I scratched my head over it for awhile until I figured out there was a pattern. Hesperus would wet her bed whenever James and I–or even just one of us–went out at night.

“I think you’re wetting your bed because you’re worried about Daddy and me,” I said to her one night. Three-year-old Hesperus looked at me with her wide, almond-colored eyes. She fingered the satiny edge of Blue Blue, her special blanket, but she didn’t say anything.

“So I have an idea,” I continued. “Whenever Daddy and I go out at night, I’ll wake you up when I get home and let you know that I’m back and safe. That way you don’t have to worry. And you don’t have to wet your bed anymore.”

A few days later when I came home from a community meeting I tiptoed into Hesperus’s room around 9:00 p.m., pulled back her covers, and kissed her on the cheek. She stirred but didn’t awaken.

“Mommy’s home now,” I whispered. “I love you.”

Hesperus never wet her bed again.

I started a load of laundry at 6:00 a.m. this morning.

Someday, sooner than I think, there will be no more cloth diapers or urine-soaked sheets to wash.

And, then, how I’ll miss it.

What about you? Was it harder for your boys to be dry at night than your girls? Is there anything you did to help them not wet their beds that worked? Are you having any bedwetting challenges at your house?


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