I have been struggling with potty training Norton. There are days that he goes to the potty and it’s no problem. Then there are weeks when he fights, refuses to go, holds it for eight hours at a time, begs for diapers, and does anything he possibly can to block potty training. A couple of weeks ago, I left a status on my Facebook page about taking Norton to the hospital. He was peeing and little drops of blood were showing up in the toilet. His little penis (or what he calls his pee pee… with no encouragement from us) was just not right. We ultimately got a diagnosis of balanitis.
Now that his balanitis is taken care of, I wonder how long he’s had it and how much it’s impacted life. I hate that my own fear of engaging in circumcision vs anti-circumcision mommy wars slowed down getting Norton treated for his balanitis.
Balanitis is a fairly common childhood infection of the penis. Six percent of non-circumcised boys end up with it. Three percent of circumcised boys end up with it. It’s inflamed skin on the glans. Sometimes it’s related to a yeast diaper rash and can be treated with your usual yeast diaper rash treatments. Other doctors treat it with a topical antibiotic (think Polysporin or Neosporin).
When Norton was still tiny, I asked him during a routine doctor’s visit to take a look at the diaper area. I thought something didn’t look right and was wondering if it was related to his circumcision. My family doctor is Eastern European. Circumcision was never a big part of their cultural norms. He didn’t look and said, “I’m not an expert on circumcised penises.” I should have pushed for him to take a look. I should have pushed him to refer us to someone who is. I should have done a lot of things to better advocate for my son. After all, considering the commonality, it would have been caught by someone.
Balanitis and Silence
I didn’t have to keep my concerns to myself. I have a blog. I have a Facebook page. I have Twitter. Even though Doctor Google wasn’t very helpful since I didn’t know enough about what was causing Norton’s penis to be so swelled looking to actually Google it (and I was very, very careful about what I used for search terms because the last thing that I wanted was to find child pornography), I could have put my concerns out to the world of social media. I could have brought it up on any of the mommy groups that I’m in.
Why didn’t I ask? Quite simply, it’s because I have only ever been in one group where the subject of circumcision didn’t lead to an outbreak of mommy wars. Ever. (And that’s because my fellow fluffy bloggers are amazing, and we have enough respect for each other as friends and writers to not go on the attack.) When a mother is concerned about something, the last thing that she needs is to have hoards upon hoards of women (which isn’t really accurate, but feels like it because of the loudness of that extremely vocal minority) screaming at her that she butchered her child and should lose custody. Really, that kind of rhetoric isn’t helpful at all to anyone.
I didn’t want to deal with the drama. That’s a problem. No mother should ever be afraid of asking her peers for advice. I’m not a shrinking violet. If I was afraid of asking for help, how many other moms are staying silent on mommy groups even though they have questions that need to be answered and issues that need to be resolved?
So Norton’s balanitis went untreated until he started having drip drops of blood show up on his penis when he was going “pee pee potty.” When he was sitting on the toilet, straining to go and crying because it hurt, that was when I realized that it was most definitely time to act.
When I found blood, I called my husband and we discussed taking him into the hospital for non-urgent care. By going in, we’d be able to get on the spot lab results. We thought maybe it was just a severe urinary tract infection… which of course, could have caused the blood and the pain. After a couple of hours, though, Dr. H gave us the results and prescribed us an antibiotic cream. (It has a texture like petroleum jelly, but is still an antibiotic.) We were to use it twice a day for a week. By day five, his balanitis was no longer causing visible swelling on his penis. Things were looking normal.
Since Norton’s little penis started to look normal again, potty training has gotten better. We have days on end now where he doesn’t have an accident. He’s getting more vocal about telling us when he has to go instead of us suggesting that he should go. Granted, he’ll still not go in the potty if he’s outside playing, but since I make going to the potty a requirement before going outside, that’s also getting better. I’m also kicking myself in the backside for not pushing. I should have pushed our doctor to either take a look or to refer us to someone. I should have brought it up on the cloth diapering groups, regardless of the mommy wars that would have erupted. I should have listened to my gut when I knew that something there wasn’t right.
Have you ever not pushed for something for your child, only to regret it later?
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