The comments to this post by Gabrielle at DesignMom got me thinking about the dramatic improvement in bedwetting products – and, consequently, life for a bedwetter and a parent – since I was a teenager.
There might be a whiff of “in the snow, uphill both ways”, but I never pine for the good old days. The old days weren’t very good. For a teen who wet the bed, they stunk.
When I was a kid (and I’m not that old), the options were limited for a bedwetter older than a toddler. As Gabrielle says of her childhood,
After diapers, I wet the bed most nights. At some point, I was simply too big for the diapers available at the time.
… [T]here wasn’t really much for parents to do but put a waterproof mattress protector on the bed and wish for the best.
I outgrew bedwetting before I faced that. But all my siblings faced it. Drugstores and supermarkets – certainly the drugstore and supermarkets in my home town – didn’t carry products for bedwetters. For the older kids and teenagers, Mom bought hospital disposables (by the case) at a medical supply store.
Those disposables didn’t hold much. They were adequate for my siblings, who weren’t heavy wetters. But they always leaked at least a little, even for my siblings. There was always a little wet spot on the pjs.
Those disposables couldn’t be re-taped. If you took one off to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, you had to throw it out and put on a new one even if the old one wasn’t wet. They didn’t have odor control, so your room smelled like urine even if they didn’t leak.
Even that was better than the options for earlier generations. For them, it was either (as Gabrielle puts it) a waterproof sheet and hope for the best, or a cloth diaper in a plastic pant. A diaper was effective, but it was a diaper. It may have been better than a puddle on a plastic sheet, but it was the same amount of laundry and the same smell.
That was the option I faced, too. Even the premium adult disposable of the time – Attends – was inadequate. For me, it was either a wet bed or a cloth diaper in a plastic pant. After the initial shock, being a bedwetter didn’t bother me. Wearing Attends didn’t bother me. But it took me a long time to accept a cloth diaper and plastic pant. That was the worst thing about wetting the bed.
These days, there are diapers/training pants available in so many sizes, that parents can now keep sheets protected pretty well if the child doesn’t mind switching from underwear to a “diaper” at night.
And there’s no reason a child should mind – particularly if you don’t call it a “diaper”. It’s just a way to deal with something that he can’t help. There’s no shame in it – either in wetting the bed or in wearing something to protect oneself and one’s bed. It’s nobody’s fault and it’s easy to deal with. Making a child sleep in a wet bed, is cruel and unnecessary punishment for something he can’t prevent.