I wasn’t sure what to expect when we gave Aitch an enema last night. It was a first for everyone. Please, for the love of all that is holy, let it be the last.
In an uncharacteristic move, I did not google enemas until after the fact. The pharmacist simply told Sparring Partner that if he wanted quick results, this would guarantee it. Aside from that, I honestly had no idea what to expect. When it was all over, I THEN decided to google.
I have to admit, I’m a bit surprised that “what to expect when giving a toddler an enema” provided little information. So as a favor to you and the googling-world out there, I’m going to share our experience of administering an enema to a toddler. You might want to put down the Nutella for this one.
1) Do not tell your toddler that you’re going to give them medicine in the tushy. No good will come of it especially when tushy = pain.
Sparring Partner was out of town with Doodicus and wouldn’t be back until late and Sunday night was Poo-Night, one way or another so I brought her into the bathroom and showed her the medicine and explained why we needed the medicine and she promptly lost her shit. Her mental shit. “I’ll go poop before bed! I want more apple juice!” so I gave her a reprieve. Poop before the end of whatever the hell was on Nickelodeon Jr. and no tushy medicine. It’s a deal!
That was at 8:30, already 30 minutes past her bedtime but I figured with Grandma Day coming up, she could sleep in. By 8:50, I accepted the fact it wasn’t going to happen on its own. Plus, Sparring Partner had just walked in the door!
2) A second set of hands will be necessary to hold a feral child about to receive an enema. Also, shut the door to the other children’s bedroom because the screaming… oh my god, the S C R E A M I N G !! You might also want to warn your neighbors if they live within a four-block radius.
We took her into the bathroom and tried to let her lie on the floor, but she was having none of that. Sparring Partner had to lay her across his knees, tummy down, as I had drawn the short-end of the stick, per se. MAKE SURE TO READ DOSAGE. It’s not prominently marked, and in this case it was ½ the contents of one bottle. This brand didn’t mention how far to insert the tip, either, so I barely went half-way, squeezed out the contents and then we released her.
When she stood up and faced me with tears running down her red face, she asked if she had pooped. No, I told her, not yet, and she seemed relieved as if, hey, that wasn’t so bad and she calmed down quickly. We put her in a diaper and waited.
3) “Results in 1 – 5 minutes” is no exaggeration, people.
Within a couple of minutes of getting the diaper on, the screaming started up again. She literally was jumping up and down, hands protectively placed over the front and back of her diaper. She became a whirling dervish of poo-potential. I brought her back into the bathroom where she refused to even get close to the toilet, so I shut the door and sat on the floor as I tried to soothe her. She was having none of that, either, and would push my hand away when I tried to rub her back, softly telling her to just let it go and that she was going to be OK. At the same time, she would grab onto my arm in an attempt to brace herself. She bowed her legs and stood on her tiptoes trying to control what was now out of her control. Did I mention the screaming?
When it became imminent, she leaned into me and I felt her still momentarily, before her body began to quake with exertion, and I wondered if this was what it was like to give birth. When she was done, she cowered against the wall glaring at me. The tears hadn’t stopped. I had just earned Mother of the Year. Sparring Partner brought me the changing pad, a diaper and wipes (our HOMEMADE wipes, thank you!) and I arranged it all on the floor.
4) Do not rush your child in the aftermath of an enema to do anything. If it says, works in 1 – 5 minutes, that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to move on with your day in 1 – 5 minutes.
I asked her gently a couple times if she was ready for me to change her. After grumpily replying “no” several times, I just reminded her that when she was ready I would help her. And I continued to sit on the floor quietly and waited for her to calm. I asked again if she wanted to lie down so I could help her, and she nodded. I asked her if she wanted to walk over and lie down or she wanted me to lift her. “Lift me,” she whispered. I picked her up, stiff with pain and anger, and eased her to the changing pad.
She physically flinched when I wiped her even thought I was very, very gentle. “I don’t want you to put medicine inside me again,” she told me. I replied that I hoped we would never have to, and that poop isn’t her but what her body makes and it’s OK to push it out because that is what is suppose to happen.
5) If you offer a bribe to your child, they will not let you forget it, especially after you give them an enema. Even if it is now two hours after their bedtime and Target closes in 45 minutes.
“Since I go poop, I get a dolly, right?” “Yes. We can go tomorrow when the sun is up and after I get home from work.” “I want to go now!” aaaaannd cue more tears. It’s now 90 minutes past her bedtime. What’s another 30? I dress her in her jammies and some socks. She won’t walk because she’s tired, sore, clingy, so I carry her across the house to go get my shoes from my bedroom. The aftershocks start. There is more screaming as the cramps work her intestines into knots. It’s a good thing we hadn’t left yet.
6) Shortly after the enema works its doo-doo voo-doo, it has going to come out, too. Most likely, a diaper will not contain it because it will not be moved gently.
I carried her back to the rocking chair during this second wave. I cradled her body in such a way that her bottom was not “restricted”. Her eyes were glazed with exhaustion and hair was stuck to her face in sweaty wisps. We were not making a trip to the store anytime tonight. I felt it on my lap that her diaper had leaked, and I got up and carried her to the changing pad again. I worried that this was going to continue all night.
7) Your child may not be able to figure out the whole pooping (or peeing business), but they know what 1 + 1 equals.
As I cleaned her up, she asked, “Did I poop again?” “Yes, honey, you did. I got you in a nice dry diaper.” “Since I pooped two times I get one (she holds her hand up and pops up a finger) and two (she lifts up a second finger while using the other hand to hold the remaining fingers down to give me a wobbly peace sign) dollies! Clever wench. “How about ONE doll and ONE piece of candy?” We reach an agreement. “I want to go now.” She is so tired that I know that she will hardly make it down the driveway in the carseat before falling asleep. We bargain some more and we will get her dolly tomorrow. “I can have a fairy doll?” “Yes, you can have a fairy doll, or a mermaid doll, or a Sleeping Beauty doll. Whatever kind you like.” “OK.”
8) While your toddler is brave and resilient, you as the parent is frightened and pained. While your toddler will likely forget the whole horrible experience within a few months, you as the parent will have it permanently scarred into your brain. Your toddler’s body will eventually function with the rhythm that is natural to them. But you as the parent? It’ll make your heart skip a beat trying to justify the means to an end.