Today is day two of potty training Poppy. Look, I don’t love the term “potty training” either but I don’t know what else to call it. I’ve heard it referred to as “instilling toilet independence” but I dunno, seems to be more words for the same idea? Anyway, call it what you will, this week is devoted to getting Poppy out of diapers.

I don’t remember potty training Grady. I remember being lazy and letting him decide when he wanted to be out of diapers, and then when he did decide well after he turned four, he just stopped using diapers. We had some struggles getting him to give up Pull-Ups for pooping (I will never forget my Poop Doula days) but overall it was a relatively pain-free experience.

Poppy has some skin issues that would be better off not in the warm, dark, moist confines of a diaper. Her daycare is closed for two weeks so I’m home with her this week, and we’re spending next week at my parents’ house, so now is the perfect time for us to instill the crap out of some toilet independence. We figured she was physically ready (she goes long stretches with dry diapers, she knows when she’s going to go, she’s uncomfortable in a dirty diaper, etc.) but we were struggling with the mental aspect. Her tenacity is daunting. She told us she didn’t want to give up diapers and none of our attempts to frame it as fun, exciting, grown up, etc. worked to change her mind.

So I did what millennials do. I one-clicked a solution straight to my door.

Full disclosure: the book is long and my attention span is short. I made it about a third of the way through the book before our self-imposed start day but I credit what I learned in the first few chapters with getting us through an extremely rough first morning. I think my biggest takeaway of this experience so far is that diapers can provide a real sense of security. When Poppy woke up yesterday morning and her nighttime diaper came off and I reminded her she wouldn’t be wearing daytime diapers, she had what I can only describe as a toddler panic attack. There were buckets of tears (hers and mine), negotiations, confusion, anger, and regret (mine, all mine). But the book helped me stand firm while being empathetic instead of frustrated. We cuddled, read stories, coloured, listened to music, watched her favourite show, played cars, and talked about the potty a lot. We didn’t have a single successful toilet experience all morning, but it didn’t feel like a failure. My attention was 100% on Poppy for hours and to be completely honest, that doesn’t happen often.

Once we got through the challenge of morning, it was like a switch flipped. Poppy started voluntarily running to the potty on her own. We had some successes and some messes but we made it through day one.

I appreciated how the book prepared me for the first day. I didn’t expect to get anything else done, I knew I wasn’t going to leave the house, and I fully expected to be doing a whack of laundry that night. And all of those expectations were met.

We’re on day two but still in block one (the book separates the different stages of potty training into blocks) but Poppy’s confidence has grown. We even left the house in underpants and drove to the far away park, played, and made it home before Pops emptied her bladder on the bathroom floor. Progress, not perfection as the book says.

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Dear Grady,

Today is your eighth birthday. This morning when you woke up you told me you still felt seven, and you thought that might be because a whole year didn’t pass during the night, just one night passed, and so it makes sense that you still feel the same age. I love listening to you process thoughts. Even when those thoughts are about Minecraft.

You love to draw and make things out of paper. You go through an obscene amount of tape but you build some really impressive, intricate works of art (which your sister promptly destroys because you tend to leave your art on every surface you can find).

You are kind and thoughtful, and have a very strong sense of doing what’s right. You care deeply about your family and your friends. Sometimes I worry that this world will break your sensitive heart, but then I remember you’ve got Poppy to stomp all over anyone who dares to hurt you.

You look out for your sister, even though she’s in a very pinchy / bitey phase right now. You came with us to her most recent allergy appointment and you patiently sat for hours while the doctor ran his tests. You asked if I remembered the Epi-Pen. When you thought Poppy was having a reaction, you offered to go get the doctor. (She was fine but that’s not the point. The point is you’re eight years old and you care about more than yourself. I am so impressed by you.)

At eight years old you are knobby knees and shaggy hair and fart jokes and stuffed animals shoved under the pillow rather than on display and pages and pages of carefully drawn comic book characters and the deepest belly laugh I’ve ever heard. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings.

Grady, it’s your birthday, and I wish I could give you the moon and the stars. You’ve given me so much more.




Poppy's Pediatric Peanut Protocol

Poppy was diagnosed with a peanut allergy when she was nine months old. We’d started playing with solid food around the six month mark, and she’d shown some interest, but we also noticed an increase in how angry she could be (baby gal has never been shy about voicing her rage,) her sometimes rash-y skin became constantly inflamed, and she kept spitting up in earnest (we’d hoped that once she wasn’t exclusively breastfed, maybe she would become less leaky).

On one particularly rough morning, Poppy started crying after breakfast and it wasn’t a normal cry. It was a panicked, anxious cry. There wasn’t anything in our environment to produce this type of cry; Grady was puttering around getting ready for kindergarten, Shawn was at work, the dog was busy eating the breakfast remnants under the highchair, and I was drinking coffee. But Poppy was wailing. She contorted her body and clawed at her sleeper. I thought maybe a bug (what bug? It was winter!) had crawled into her pyjamas so I stripped her down to her diaper. As I peeled the sleeper from her wildly twisting torso, I saw an angry red rash spread over her entire body. I quickly snapped pictures with my iPhone (how did people parent before iPhones? Serious question.) and made an appointment with her doctor as soon as they opened.

Poppy’s doctor looked at the rash photos on my phone and called in an urgent referral to an allergist on the spot. We were seen within days, Poppy’s peanut allergy was confirmed, and we were thrust unwillingly into the world of Epi-Pens and IgE blood tests.

When Poppy was first diagnosed, her allergist told us that because she was so young there was an approximately 20% chance she could grow out of her peanut allergy. As the years passed and her skin prick test reactions got smaller and smaller, he upped his estimation to 50%. Last April, her skin didn’t react to peanut protein. We were ready for an Oral Food Challenge.

Today was the big day. The day Poppy would eat peanut butter, on purpose, after almost two and a half years of us creating a peanut-free bubble for her. To say that I was anxious is an understatement. I couldn’t even acknowledge the day, or talk about it with anyone, until yesterday. Last night I slept in drips and drabs, spending the majority of my hours just watching Poppy breathe. I was in excellent shape to face a challenging day this morning is what I’m saying.

The challenge itself was just that: a challenge. Poppy was confused and frustrated that I was trying to get her to eat peanut butter after our years of allergy training. Grady was with us because he’s on summer break, and I underestimated a: how freaked out he would be and b: how pissed off Poppy would be that I made her brother anxious. I am still processing the event (I literally zoned out when we gave her the first taste of peanut butter. I have zero recollection of it) but the result was better than we dared to hope. Poppy ate a significant amount of peanut butter and suffered no reaction. No rash, no hives, no runny nose, no vomit, no tingling, no wheezing, no rage, nothing, nada, zip, zero. It still doesn’t feel real.

So now Poppy starts a pediatric peanut protocol to build and maintain her immunity against peanuts. We’re starting slow and steady. We’ll feed her tiny amounts of peanut butter regularly and cross all of our fingers and all of our toes that she stays symptom-free.

We’re not out of the allergy woods yet (she’s still allergic to eggs) but it is a huge relief to cross peanuts off my worry list. Being responsible for a tiny allergic person is overwhelmingly stressful in a way I struggle to articulate. It was terrible. Today it feels less terrible.


Enjoy These Moments

It is 10pm on a school night and both of my kids are currently awake and crying because they’re “not tired” and “it’s still light outside” and I would like to bottle this feeling up so whenever someone tells me to “enjoy these moments, they go by so quickly” instead of awkwardly acquiescing, I can use it to instantly summon my rage and shut that shit down.

I love my kids with every fibre of my being but I need them to stop making noises at me and go to sleep. Hashtag: too blessed to be stressed *cry face emoji* (help)