February 12, 2003 - Wednesday
Harry stayed home all day again today. Fortunately, I finished an important article yesterday and had really only organizational kind of work that I needed to do today, so intense concentration was a lot less an issue than it has been over the last few days of Harry being home and ailing. As it was, Harry spent most of the day on the sofa watching TV and I was able to do my share of work. He doesn't watch much TV, but that's kind of a perk of being sick it seems to me.
We're still not sure whether Harry has been sick with some kind of virus or whether he has been feverish with stomach pains because he is clogged in some way. That uncertainty has been particularly difficult to on his mother and me. If it's the former, it's more than understandable that he wouldn't want to eat. But if it's the latter, he needs to eat, and especially drink more liquids, and of course poop to get better. Worried more about the latter, we've been more aggressive at meals trying to get him to eat and drink. It's not been a happy few days.
Through this awkward time we have also been strongly encouraging Harry to poop on the potty, often bringing him up and sitting him down when he complains that his stomach is hurting. I suppose that's going against the grain of current potty training thinking, but regardless of the potential emotional scars that may come from this unpleasant time, I'm very concerned that he absolutely needs to get in the habit of having a more regular constitution and maybe this is an opportunity to tell him that; to equate his feeling bad with the simple fact that he has apparently tried to restrict his flow. Sitting him on the potty is just a off-shoot of that. Part of the reason why we've been so direct about it, too, is that he did have a semblance of success on Sunday when he sat on the potty and got it a little dirty. In hindsight, I think what happened was that there was a little residue on his bottom and that sitting down effectively placed it on the back of the potty seat. We, nonetheless, spun it as a very impressive accomplishment and gave him a Thomas the Tank Engine "Gordon" engine toy that we'd put on the shelf as a reward for pooping on the potty just the day before. It seemed with that success, real or imagined, that there was no turning back and we needed to continue to encourage him.
One thing I have tried hard to do, although I'll concede that my anxiety about this whole matter may have obscured this point, is to tell Harry that it's the trying to poop that is the important thing and that he simply needs to do it. He can do it by himself or he can try on the potty and that I'm not disappointed when he can't go on the potty, but he must try. In part, my rationale is that much of the trick, I'm told, with potty training and especially pooping, is to get them to feel comfortable sitting there for as long as it may take. At least, I hope, our regular visits to the bathroom in this regard will instill a familiarity, or remove a mystery about it.
While they weren't on the potty, two more bowel movements this evening seem to be enough to remove most doubts of a serious internal plug. There's no way what can out of him today came from the little he has eaten over the last three days, so it's easy to theorize that it was at least part of what's been making him uncomfortable since coming home from school on Monday. We were overjoyed and let him know. Our unrelenting message for these last few days has been that pooping is a good thing and we made sure he knew that tonight. Harry seemed refreshingly happy about it, too.