At first we noticed that Poppy went for a wee way more often than we would expect! Sometimes she had a wee as much as two or three times an hour, she rarely made an hour between wees but the wees were all tiny. If she had an accident it would be a little wet patch on her trousers or leggings. She never had a full accident right down her legs like you might expect.

Was an infection to blame? 

When Poppy was making no progress with becoming dry after almost six months, we took her to the doctor. We took her several times over the next year! Each time they would think surely she has a urine infection due to the fact she was needing to wee so often. Each time her sample showed no infection.

Ruling out other causes 

We were referred to a paediatrician who encouraged us to try double voiding (where the child has a second wee not long after the first in case she wasn’t emptying her bladder properly). This didn’t make any difference. We were advised to ensure she drank 6-8 cups of water a day so her bladder capacity would improve, again this didn’t stop the wetting (although we always give her six cups a day still). We were given movicol in case constipation caused the wetting, again this made her poo regular but the wetting continued.

We need help! 

Poppy had been out of nappies at two and a half, we had seen GPs and the paediatrician and still got nowhere. By the time Poppy was four, we were finding it really hard! One day I actually phoned the health visitor and left a voicemail message in tears. I said “someone needs to help or she is going back into nappies!”. I had gone from thinking it was a behavioural thing to a medical thing and back and forth, not knowing if it was “Poppy’s fault” or not.

Measuring input/output

The health visitor got a continence nurse involved. She told us to complete an input/output chart where we measured Poppy’s drinks and her wees and even weighed wet pants! The results showed she was weeing way too often - one day I think we got to 17 wees! That sounds horrendous but some of them were tiny tiny little leaks, enough that you could just see a little patch on her clothes. Sadly that particular continence nurse didn’t do much with the results. We were more than frustrated..keeping Poppy in and weighing pants had been for nothing. 

Light at the end of the tunnel

One day I heard about a course ERIC was running for parents in Cardiff. I signed up. To my surprise Poppy’s Key person from preschool gave up her Saturday to attend with me! Preschool were so supportive, and as confused as I was about Poppy (now over four and a half) still wetting several times a day especially as Poppy is a bright child who is developing well in every other way.

How ERIC's workshop helped us 

The course was brilliant! In the morning we learnt about general tips for keeping bladders and bowels healthy and then after lunch we learnt about what can go wrong. I was sure by then that Poppy had an overactive bladder because not only did she wee too frequently but the sense of urgency made it hard to get to the toilet. One time at preschool they said she said “I need a ..” and the wee was out before she said “wee!”. She was bringing several nappy sacks of wet clothes home each preschool day.

Starting over

We moved house to another county and sadly had to start the process of referrals all over again! Poppy ( aged 4 years 11 months) started school and I contacted the school nurse who referred us to the continence nurse in our new area. My husband took Poppy to her appointment with the new continence nurse. I admit I sent him because I had had enough of being disappointed after appointments over the last couple of years - I had no hopes for this one!

Diagnosing an overactive bladder 

The continence nurse was brilliant - my husband and Poppy were in there an hour. Poppy needed two wees in that time! Each time the nurse saw how Poppy gets a sudden sensation and sticks her bottom out to try to stop the wee coming out before she gets to the toilet. She made it to toilet each time, as the toilet was near the room, but it’s really hard for her to make it. The nurse knew what she was looking for and by assessing the input/output charts too (which we had done many of by now!) she knew Poppy had an overactive or twitchy bladder.

Treatment 

Poppy has been on 5mg of oxybutynin for a few weeks now. Poppy is still wetting about 2-3 times a day but the medication is definitely improving her bladder capacity by calming the muscles down a bit. We know this because her wees and accidents are much bigger rather than just little leaks. We are just about to start a 10mg dose to see if that improves it.

Using pads 

We have made a decision (after three years!) to put Poppy in pads - we should have before. Hopefully increasing her medication will help her bladder stop twitching so she can always get to the toilet without running. She does get there if it’s very nearby, but you can’t always have a toilet next to you! She should be able to go to the park for an hour without worrying about wetting.

Working as a team 

I am calmer now than a year ago, because now we know what we are dealing with, I’m not wondering if it’s Poppy’s fault or wondering if I’ve done something wrong. Poppy herself wants to be dry especially now she is older. It’s about reassuring Poppy that it’s not her fault and dealing with it together and giving her pads for her own dignity, she doesn’t want to be the wet girl in the class.

The good news is that Poppy’s younger sister who has just turned three, doesn’t have the same problems. She can easily go two or even three hours between wees and doesn’t have the sense of urgency Poppy has, so is normally dry. This also reassures us that we didn’t do anything wrong with Poppy! Overactive bladder is a real thing and a thing we will deal with together!

A stock image has been used.