Every morning Rebecca wakes up and washes her eight-year-old son Lachlan’s urine-soaked sheets and doona while he jumps in the shower to get clean.
“At age five Lachlan was still wearing pull-up nappies in bed at night, so we didn’t realise it was a problem. As soon as we took them away in preparation for starting school, we noticed that he wet the bed most nights.
“At first, my husband Paul and I hoped he would grow out of it, but it became a nightly occurrence, even if we woke and took him to the toilet at 10pm. By that stage he was refusing to wear the pull-up nappies at all, as his little brother Jude had also stopped using them with no issue.”
The concern around his bed wetting habits grew out of an ongoing issue Lachlan had with getting to the toilet on time generally.
“His weeing habits hadn’t been top-of-mind until this point because Lachlan suffered with terrible recurrent diarrhoea. He wasn’t in pain but his need to do a poo was so urgent that he couldn’t always make the toilet, especially if we were out.”
A conversation with a mum at the school gates prompted Rebecca to consider both toileting problems might stem from a single issue.
“A friend who was also struggling with her daughter’s similar bowel and bladder issues, suggested to me that Lachlan’s bed wetting could be connected to his tummy troubles. I hadn’t put the two together before, but she told me about a specialist physio she was seeing for children with pelvic floor issues and so I asked our GP for a referral.”
Lachlan was diagnosed him with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and the physio recommended he also see a dietitian who placed him on a FODMAP diet.
His bowel issues quickly cleared up, but the bed wetting did not improve.
“The physio recommended we use an alarm system under Lachlan’s pyjamas that would alert us to the very first signs of moisture in his undies, but attaching the alarm to him was a nightmare as he hated it and so every bedtime became a battle.
“If we did manage to get him to wear it under his pyjamas and between two pairs of undies, it wouldn’t necessarily wake him up! Paul and I would jump out of bed to the awful wailing alarm, and either carry him like a dead weight into the toilet. If we did manage to rouse him fully, he would become grumpy and upset. This was every night and it wasn’t much fun for any of us.”
How do you tell your tween it's time to start wearing deodorant? Is there a ‘right’ way to tell your teen it’s time they start wearing deodorant? We discuss, on our parenting podcast. Post continues after audio.
After all the fighting and middle of the night alarm sounds, the whole family were exhausted and tense and with a camping trip on the horizon, Rebecca was at her wits end.
She took Lachlan back to the GP to trial some dissolvable medication called Minirin.
“His refusal to wear pull-up nappies and with no access to a washing machine, I thought that this camping trip was the perfect time to try the medication. The GP suggested trialling a small dose at home first and then to double it if it didn’t work. The first night was a fail and the second night on the double dose was also a fail.
“In despair we packed the pull-ups and Lachlan and I had a huge fight in the tent for all to hear, which ended in me yelling and confiscating his camp bed. He was distraught and I felt awful and of course relented, but I’d had enough of trying to ‘fix’ my poor boy.”
Rebecca decided the whole family needed a break from the daily stress of managing Lachlan’s issue.
“We purchased a tumble dryer and teamed with his rubber-backed sheets, we have tried simply living with it for a while. Most mornings he is wet, but I am in the flow of washing his sheets and doona daily while he showers. The hardest part is feeling like we are enabling his problem rather than solving it, but he has been happy and we have functioned as a ‘normal’ family for a while.”
At almost eight-years-old, Lachlan’s sleep-over invites are starting to come from school friends, and Rebecca realises they can’t keep ignoring his issue for much longer.
“We are looking into new treatments for him including a new alarm pad system for his bed, so I’m steeling myself for new nightly battles. But we do have so much experience behind us now, and after having a break and recalibrating as a family, I am confident we can help him overcome this with patience, love and professional help.”
Do your kids still wet the bed? What have you tried to stop it? Do you have any great tips to share?