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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11 thoughts on “Some Thoughts On Bedwetting”

  1. I have only daughters, both of whom day time potty trained on the early side (2.5) but one was immediately dry at night, and the other, a very heavy sleeper, was still wetting at night at 6. Her doc assured us it was developmentally normal, but it made her feel bad about herself, despite our affirmations, especially because she is the older sister. A Malem bedwetting alarm and a good book about the topic (Waking Up Dry) was miraculous for us – but because she was extremely motivated to stay dry.
    .-= homeshuling´s last blog ..Surprisingly decent Passover cookies =-.

  2. Now that you mention it, my two girls never had this problem, but my son would, on occasion, wet his bed. It did not happen very often, so I never made a big deal about it.
    .-= Alexandra´s last blog ..An April Day in the Life =-.

  3. How perceptive of you to figure out why she was bed wetting.

    About your son: I’ve read and heard that some kids are just deep sleepers, so the urge does not wake them. I’ve never heard of an adult who wets the bed (with the exception of nursing home residents who can’t get out of bed) so I’m thinking he will grow out of it and you probably don’t have to do anything to rush it along.
    .-= Alisa Bowman´s last blog ..Are you bored in bed? =-.

  4. Full disclosure: I’m a product spokesperson for Huggies GoodNites!

    As a mom, though, I’ve definitely noticed that changes to our routine or circumstances can cause some temporary nighttime pottying issues. You’re very perceptive to have figured that out! And not having had any girls of that age yet, I can’t say whether boys are more likely to have nighttime wetting than girls, but I do believe statistics bear that out.

  5. Too long ago to remember (sob). They grow up too fast, as you so eloquently write here, Jennifer. Insightful of you to figure out your daughter’s bedwetting and a solution to it. Hopefully the same will follow with your son.
    .-= sheryl´s last blog ..Untangle My Brain Please? =-.

  6. Our experience has been the same as yours, i.e., boys vs. girls. I heard somewhere that there are certain changes that turn your system to nighttime/dormant mode (you make less pee during the night than during the day) and that this change often occurs later in boys, which can explain the nighttime bedwetting (their kidneys are still on daytime mode and producing, even during the first half of the night which is the heavy-sleep period) — but the change will come in time!

  7. So many children wet the bed at the age of six or under that pediatricians consider it normal. And i believe, four times more boys wet the bed than girls. If a child reaches the age of seven or eight and still wets the bed, its often time to consider using a bedwetting alarm. At this age, if the bedwetting begins to lower your childs self esteem, then stopping the bedwetting by using an alarm should definitely be considered. My child wet the bed until he was eight. It really bothered him and he was soooo worried his friends would find out. Way too many worries for such a young boy. He loved the children’s book, Prince Bravery and Grace-Attack of the Wet Knights. Its a clever story of a Prince who defeats the “wet nights” by using an alarm. This book was a kid friendly way to introduce bedwetting alarms. About a month after we read the story he asked to try using an alarm. In less than 8 weeks he went from wet every single night to completely dry. And it enabled him to go to camp and sleepovers without any worry. As a parent, I highly recommend using an alarm for any child age seven or older.

  8. Sarah Silverman has written a candid and poignant book released recently, about her own bedwetting experiences. I think it is titled ..something Bedwetting.

  9. My 12 year old son was bedridden from an ankle injury related to playing in school sports. Our doctor told him to drink lots of water, which he did. Initially, he could not walk, or put any weight on his injured ankle, so I had to help him everytime he had to go to the bathroom. With him drinking lots of water, he always had to pee, and there were a few times he couldn’t hold it, and he peed on his bed sheets. I had put a plastic mattress cover under his bed sheets just incase of accidents. During the time that my son was bedridden, I got into the routine of going into his room early each morning to check on him, and help him with his morning pee, which was usually a lot. I kept a plasic container next to his bed for him to pee in. Because it was usually early in the morning, I normally had to wake him up. Sometimes I don’t think that he was fully awake, and I had to hold the container, while he aimed his little penis. A couple of mornings I walked into his room, and he had already removed his pajamas. He appeared to be asleep, but had an erection. I had read that boys this age can get erections while sleeping, and ejaculate. I sat on the edge of his bed, and tried to gently wake him up, but he seemed sound asleep. As I was carefully rubbing his injured leg, he started to wake up, and sort of stretch his arms and legs. As he was stretching, he grabbed his erect penis, and appeared to be masterbating, then ejaculated a lot onto his bed sheet. He still seemed partially asleep, and as soon as his penis became smaller, he peed a river in his bed. It all happened so fast, and I had no time to grab the plastic container for him to pee into. When he became fully awake, he sat up in bed, and just looked at me. I told him that he soaked his bed, and then I hugged him. As I hugged him, he told me that he thought that he had to pee somemore. I told him to go ahead, as his bed was already wet, so he finished peeing while we hugged. After cleaning up the bed, him, and me, I had him wear a diaper at night until he was better able to get around. After his injury healed, he has been dry.

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