Chapter 3: Faecal Incontinence

This post was written in June 2021

I didn’t know it at the time but my daughter’s arrival into the world was an early indication of what lay ahead of us. My labour with her was relatively fast, opposite to my son who took 3 days, a plethora of drugs and 2 consultant obstetricians to extract! By the time I was at the hospital at 2am she was almost ready to come out. My waters hadn’t broken so my midwife decided to pop them, a decision I imagine she immediately regretted. She was still at the business end clearing up amniotic fluid when my next contraction came, and with it a tidal wave of steaming diarrhoea. With swift professionalism she cleaned me, the bed and the floor up, it was as if it had never happened. Until 60 seconds later, with my next contraction it did – again. Apparently my waters had been holding in a months’ worth of excrement. It took 3 contractions to get it all out, each time my wonderful midwife got on with the clean up without so much as a raised eyebrow. There are no two ways about it, the room stank, it was disgusting. I don’t remember feeling embarrassed at all, my midwife was an absolute hero.

Moments later my 6lb 13 tiny miracle appeared with a full head of dark hair and enormous blue eyes. She came into the world squawking and promptly crapped all over the midwifes arm. I’m not sure if the flowers and chocolates I took to her as a thank you were consolation enough for the labour shit show but she can rest assured that fate took over – I have been clearing up poo ever since.

Every parent knows that potty training is a ball ache. In the baby days you get used to carrying nappies and wipes when you leave the house. When you start potty training this accoutrement is expanded to include 3 changes of clothes, a large plastic throne and scented nappy sacks often filled with stinky, soiled clothes – It’s annoying but it doesn’t last forever.

With my son I wasn’t bothered what the other kids were doing, some of his toddler chums were well ahead in the Game of Pants but I waited until he was keen at about 2yrs 9 months. We got it sorted in a week or 2, success mainly driven by his dislike of being mucky – hoorah!

I tried the same technique with my daughter, I waited patiently for her to show signs of being ready but none came. At some point after her 3rd birthday I introduced her to the plastic throne, she was happy enough to sit on it and even occasionally do a wee on it but we made zero progress in recognising when an evacuation was impending. Reward charts, fancy potties, exciting apps, bribery, books – I tried it all, nursery and preschool tried it all. She just wasn’t having it. We went back to nappies. I didn’t feel too downhearted about it, plenty of people struggle with this developmental milestone. She was still wearing age 1-2 clothes at this point, strangers just assumed she was younger than she was so I didn’t get weighed down by judgement.

About 6 months later we decided to give it another go, we made some very slow progress with dryness but she simply could not master crapping on the toilet. I started to dread picking her up from preschool. Every time I entered the hallway I looked for the peg with her name on and found it laden with nappy sacks filled with stinky pants and clothes. I was mortified that her poor key-worker had been scrapping shit out of her pants in a bid to save them, I told them to simply throw them out, we followed suit at home. ‘Girls knickers age 1-2yrs’ still comes up on the most purchased items list for our online supermarket shop!

This theme continued for the next few years and is currently still a feature in our lives. There are so many hilarious stories I could tell you about being shat on. I will save them for when we meet on a drunken night out but I will say that wetsuits and faecal incontinence are not a good combo.

I would like to share some things I have learned about faecal incontinence:

  • Eric the childrens bowel and bladder charity have a brilliant website that can help with practical advice and the law in relation to what schools must offer to support you and your child.

  • Faecal incontinence is not uncommon but talking about it is! I have never shied away from discussing it and always pushed down any feelings of embarrassment – It doesn’t help me or my child.

  • Getting emotionally invested in the journey will not help anyone. I have been on a rollercoaster of despair, hope, expectation and disappointment. Inevitably my feelings leaked out and spilled onto my daughter, I regret that bitterly. As a family we have decided to get off that ride now. It is what it is, no one is to blame and there are more important things in life than shitty pants.

  • Asda sells navy blue ‘modesty’ shorts (like cropped cycling shorts) they are super cheap and work really well under school dresses for extra poo protection.

So she started school with gusto, not with the bowel control I had hoped for but with gusto nonetheless. She settled well and got into a routine, seemed like a good time to deal with a global pandemic!

2 Responses

  1. […] Faecal Incontinence […]

  2. Rebecca
    | Reply

    Omg this was hilarious!! Thank you so much for bringing some much needed humour to the shit show that is parenthood lol 😆 x

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.