Hung-up about bedwetting.

A MOMfessional.

I follow a wonderful blog called Life Your Way, written by a funny, incredibly strong and super-cool woman named Chris Dean, mother of three almost grown-up kids. If you don’t already follow her, you really should.

Over the weekend we decided to do a “blog swap”.

Since this is a first for both of us, we did a bit of brainstorming and decided we’d run with the theme of those “dirty little secrets” that have made us better/more understanding people or parents. Thus, MOMfessional was born!

Today, we are swapping blogs. If you want to know what my MOMfession is, you’ll have to visit today’s post at Life Your Way  to find out. Today, I am hosting Chris’ MOMfession right here. Enjoy!

Soggy Mornings by Chris Dean of Life Your Way

“Hello and welcome to Needlessly Embarrassed Anonymous. I see we have a new face here this evening. Would you like to stand up and introduce yourself?”

stands up shuffling feet nervously “Hi. My name is Chris and I’m a former Bed Wetter.”

“Oh. Umm…are you sure you’re in the right room? This is NEEDLESSLY Embarrassed Anonymous. People-Who-Should-Hide-Their-Face-in-Shame is next door…”

When I was young I would have totally agreed with that guy, but over the years I’ve come to understand it really wasn’t my fault. I simply won the Genetics Lottery. You heard right, bed wetting (Enuresistends to run in families.

Now keep in mind I’m not talking the occasional wet bed up to around age five or six. I’m talking full-on waking up cold and clammy (and more than a little stinky) day after day. The “afraid to go to sleep-overs” kind of bed wetting. The burning shame and engulfing fear that someone, somewhere will find out kind of thing. (That last one seems to apply to the Parents just as much as it does to offspring.)

I come from a long line of bed wetters. Everyone on my maternal Grandpa’s side of the family (and most of my cousins) did their time with the wet sheets. The preferred manner of addressing the problem for the parent’s of yore was apparently shaming. I’ve heard horror stories about public displays of wet, stained sheets and telling neighbors and Church members in an attempt to “shame” the child into quitting. (One relative even suggested rubbing the kid’s nose in it. NO FLIPPIN’ JOKE!)

All these Parents managed to do was create children terrified to go to sleep. (Did I mention self-taught insomnia tends to run heavily in my family as well?)

By the time it got to me (Did you know I hold the record in my family for “Number of Years Wet-and-Soggy”?) my Grandpa managed to convince my Mom shaming was NOT the way to go. He seemed to think not making a big deal out of it was better for everyone involved. (Thank you Grandpa! You ROCKED!)

After it was determined there was no physical or psychological causes, my Mom never shamed me on purpose. (We will NOT discuss her lapse in judgment by LOUDLY discussing it with a friend at a Neighborhood BBQ.) She opted to view it as part of life and let me take the lead on when and if I wanted to brave the sleep-over front and who I told.

Growing up, my house was filled with rubber bed protectors and TONS of extra sheet sets. We tried the moisture alarms, the waking me up on a schedule, and the restricted fluids. Nothing worked.

By the time I was 17 (Yep. You read that right. 17!) and I was still waking up soggy at least one night a week, I was starting to panic about the whole college experience. After all, I couldn’t hide something like that from a roommate. So, back to the Doctor’s we went.

More tests determined that all those years, family member after family member, the problem stemmed from a glitch that kept us from coming out of the deepest cycles of sleep during the night. (Which explains how my Mom could get me up, bathe me, put clean sheets on the bed, and tuck me back in and I’d NEVER wake up!) The solution for me was a pill that limited the amount of time I spent in that deep sleep, allowing me to wake up and run to the bathroom. (Whoop! Whoop!)

When my own children began night-time potty training, I was nervous to say the least. Two of my four breezed through without a problem. My oldest had a few years of soggy mornings, but my third born seemed to follow in my footsteps. deep sigh

By this time the world had created night time wetness protection for ALL ages, so the choice was offered to #3 as to whether or not they wished to use these. They opted for the NO answer, since they said it made them feel bad about themselves to wear a “diaper” to bed. (Yeah, even though we’d gone over the, “NOT a diaper” thing repeatedly.)

In the end, #3 grew out of it MUCH sooner than I did! Thanks to open communication and educational chats about what was going on with their body, the self esteem came through unscathed. I armed them with the information they needed and then allowed them to make their own choices, putting some of the power back in their hands in a situation that made them feel more than a bit powerless.

This really IS something people are needlessly ashamed about. It’s a medical condition. How we as parents deal with it is what helps determine the shame-factor for our offspring. They’re gonna follow our lead so try to relax, find the cause, explore the treatment options with your child, then try to just “go with the flow.”


  1. says

    I’m so glad you pointed out that bedwetting is a medical condition. It’s brought on by immature bladders. I can’t remember exact numbers, but only a few of my kids occasionally wet the bed but one son was a serious betwetter until he was in gr. 1. At times it was frustrating but we just had to wait it out.

    • says

      Thank you! And yes, that’s one of several possible causes. The only way to figure out why a child continues is a series of REALLY “fun” tests. (My all time fave was the one that tested for possible blockages.)
      Oddly enough, they’ve also linked chronic constipation to bed wetting.

    • mummymishy says

      You should visit Chris’ blog – she writes so openly and honestly about life’s struggles. An amazing woman.

    • says

      Thank you!
      Believe it or not, I’m STILL nervous and kinda embarrassed talking about it, even though I know it’s just one more part of life for some of us. *grin* Hopefully, my embarrassment will help another family feeling equally as uncomfortable about it.

  2. Nadine says

    This is so excellent, Chris. We went through this with one of my siblings, same “solutions”. She eventually outgrew it without medication. I tend toward the other end. I’m a very light sleeper and, once, my hubs said, “If you’re awake, you might as well use the bathroom.” We’ll, that DOOMED me to getting up to use the bathroom every freaking time I stirred from sleep. It takes major doses of melatonin & valerian to get me sleeping deeply enough that I’m not up 4-5 times a night to use the potty.

    • says

      Ugh! Both sides of the coin stink, don’t they?
      Fortunately none of my kids required medication. #3 finally just STOPPED about they time they turned 12 (Puberty). They’re still hard as all get out to wake up (me too) but at least twe both DO wake up.
      My Grandfather trained himeself to wake up every 2 hours during the night to use the bathroom.
      I’m just glad you found a way to get a good night’s sleep!

    • says

      LOL! Thanks Kate. I kinda took the X-Files approach…trust no one. This is the first time I’ve ever spoken openly…*twitches a little* It’s still a bit unnerving.

    • says

      Thanks Lady! I didn’t know it for most of my childhood either! My Mom was not the biggest fan of open communication with her offspring, especially about thier health. (It took too much time.) I heard people say I was “lazy” and “disgusting” but knew I couldn’t control it.
      Thank goodness for sleep tests and experimental drugs. Otherwise, I never would have been able to go to college and drop out after a year. *grin* (I do so love sarcasm!)

  3. says

    Thanks. My family doctor told me, “Bedwetting is a symptom, not a disease.”

    I *started* wetting when I was 14. You can’t believe how devastating that is to a teenage girl. (I guess you probably can, if you wet until you were 17!)

    Fortunately, I have a caring, practical mom. She was calm and reassuring. She treated it as if it was no big deal, and so it wasn’t. Just dump the wet thing in the trash or the washer and get a good shower. All my siblings wet the bed until they were teenagers, but it didn’t keep any of us from doing all the things that kids do. I went on sleepovers and class trips. I dated (a lot). I went to college and graduate school. I married a great guy. I have a successful international business. I have three great kids. I’m a bedwetting mom

    With the products available now, it’s even easier to deal with it. My oldest (9) is just now outgrowing it, but it hasn’t kept her down at all. I don’t think she’s ever thought about it.

    You were lucky that your Grandpa stepped in. People can be cruel and stupid. An aunt told me I was too lazy to get up. Another one told me that I was doing it to get attention. She also told Mom that we kids were bedwetters because Mom was too permissive. (That’s a hoot!). A college doctor told me it was all psychological and I needed to see a shrink. (I didn’t.)

    Mom did send me to the family doctor right away. He tested me for everything obvious; then sent me to urologists and neurologists. It wasn’t until a few years ago (after a lot of awful testing) that they found the cause. Unfortunately, there’s nothing can be done for it.

  4. says

    So glad you wrote about this. I think so many families go through it, and try so many things to “cure” it when time is usually all that is needed. Though talking to the doctor doesn’t hurt either. We went through this with one of our children (I won’t say which so that when the kids write the “Mommy Dearest book I know is coming at least I won’t have that to feel guilty about!!). We knew it was from some allergy medication that they needed and handled it along the same way you did with your child. Self esteem was left in tact and it went away as the child got older. I think it’s amazing that it was your grandfather that intervened and said to let it go!! Very lucky girl!! Thanks again for sharing this!!!

  5. says

    Chris – thanks for sharing your story. You are not alone, I suffered, so did my husband, and my brother and now his son. Fortunately my daughter didn’t inherit the problem. Perhaps by shedding more light, it will result in better treatment and less shame for those who suffer! Hugs!

  6. Blaire says

    Hi,I know I’m a little late coming to the party but I am also a chronic bedwetter..I was just wondering what was the name of the medicine you were on that limited your amount of deep sleeping? I have been on ddavp the pills and the nasal spray. I have used the disposable pads along with the washable ones. I have to admit I have purposefully refused drinking any type of liquid to see if it would make a difference and it never did. I become frustrated and angry with myself because other than this one thing Icannot not seem to have any relief. There are days/nights (as I am afraid to fall asleep for fear of an episode) that I have been dry and the longest was maybe a week and a half. I’m 28 now and while I understand I am still young I’m having a hard time believing I will find that person who will see that it isn’t my fault and that I’m not “disgusting” and “just lazy”. My parents were the type to not purposefully shame me but also letting me know with exasperated sighs and dirty looks that this is shameful. I have dealt with years of dirty looks and hateful words from mainly my family and my ex partners. I am glad that I have found this blog while researching because I have never really gotten this all out before and I must say it feels very freeing. Thank you for writing this. I greatly appreciate it.

  7. SaDiE says

    I was always late with every stage of my ‘ development’; walking ; talking; …..menstruation finally arrived just in time for my 15 th birthday. But so far being reliably continuously dry at night has so far eluded me and Iam 23 ; I’ve tried every trick in the book and am a master at protecting both myself and my bed each night; but so far not so good.

    I could never face going to College or University but thankfully there is Open Uni and other correspondence courses…. As for boyfriends and God forbid sex…..not a hope in my life ……yet.

    But I must be thankfull for wonderful ( though separated) parents and a dear supportive younger sister who has never teased me plus other friends who have ‘ accidentally found out’ over the years and are incredibly understanding…which leads to greater feelings of less guilt.

    And Iam thankfull too for the Internet where one can meet fellow sufferers anonymously .. ‘ privately in public ‘ as someone so cleverly worded it. So one realizes one is NOT alone. Lots more like me out there….some even famous.

    I am thankfull too for the ‘ streaks ‘ of dry nights that occur for me sometimes, ( as much as a week or even 2 weeks at a time) but then I am confused despair and depressed when I awake up wet once again….seemingly for no reason that I can fathom.


  8. Trish says

    I too grew up wetting the bed and between the ages of 5 and 10 my bed was protected and I wore protection, My parents never made me feel bad about my bedwetting and assured me that it was much more important to get a good nights sleep then to be changing bedclothes during the night. Today me bedwetter feels the same love that I did and that’s how we get through bedwetting in our family.

  9. says

    1 in 50 teenagers suffer from bedwetting. As a child ages it becomes less understood and can take a toll on the individual.

    40% of our patients are 13 or older. Our clinic’s methodology places nighttime enuresis – bedwetting as a symptom, not the real problem. 38 years of successfully treating children, teenagers and yes, adults has shown that bedwetting occurs in the deepest sleep when the brain is not able to receive signals from the bladder. The ongoing nighttime wetting is rarely a urological problem. It is a deep sleep problem that must be addressed to achieve maximum benefit that takes an individual from wetting to a dry bed as well as a restorative, healthy sleep.

    Parents tell us they always knew there was more to this than just the years of bed-wetting.
    Bedwetting does not “run” in families. The genetically passed sleep disorder is passed down. The sleep disorder can produce MANY DIFFERENT symptoms: bedwetting, sleep walking, night terrors, sleep apnea.

    Thank you for being a voice.
    Barbara Moore
    Founder/CEO The Enuresis Treatment Center

  10. Cathy80 says

    Hi,, thank you very very much Chris for sharing this, and thanks to the others in the comments, it makes me feel less shame about my past BIG problem. My parents try to be supportive but i remember how much humiliating it was sleeping in a bed with plastic cover, wearing and hiding pullups or adult diapers, or worse wakeup in a wet bed, and growing up it was more and more humiliating. I wet the bed regularly until 19yo and I felt as the only one making this at my age, I’m an adult now but it’s still something embarrassing to confess.
    So thanks a lot for break this taboo!

  11. C. Lacey says

    My 12 year old son was bedridden due to a leg injury. Early one morning, I went into his room to check on him, and give him a sponge bath. He had removed his underwear, kicked off his covers, and was sound asleep on top of his bed sheet. I started washing his leg, and he began stretching and waking up. He sat up in bed, and started peeing in his bed. It seemed to happen so fast, and he peed a lot. After he finished peeing, he said he was sorry, but he couldn’t hold it any longer. Thankfully, I had already put a plastic mattress cover on his bed. I hugged him, and told him not to worry about it. After cleaning up his bed, I had him wear a diaper at night, and for the most part, he stayed dry.

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