Update

The medication I’m taking seems to be having an effect. I’ve only wet three times in the last month, and only once in the last two weeks.

The doctor says it’s unlikely that I will stop wetting altogether. As I wrote before, an occasional accident might be more irritating than chronic, nightly bedwetting.

I might also re-think what I wear. I’m certainly going to keep wearing something – I don’t want to wake up in a wet bed (or have my husband wake up in a wet bed), even if it is only once a month or even once a year. But I don’t really like the idea of throwing away a dry pad every morning.

I don’t love the idea of cloth – I’ve been there before – but it seems a better option. My daughter chose cloth when her wetting was down to the occasional accident. She (and I) have been satisfied with that program. I’ve been using a PUL pant over a disposable pad for some time. Replacing the disposable pad with a cloth diaper (or one of my daughter’s pocket diaper inserts) seems a logical choice.

Dating Advice

Fear of dating: The main topic in my inbox, from women and men in their 20s (and a little younger and a little older).

I dated like crazy in my 20s – until I got engaged. I loved it. I wore a diaper every night and it was wet almost every morning. So what? Of all the dozens of guys I dated, only three ever knew about it. None of them knew until after we had been dating for months. By then, it was an insignificant fact in a larger, caring romance.

Get out there

Why let it inhibit you from dating?

On your first date, you’re new to each other. Your date wants to know you, not what you wear to bed.

Relax. Have a good time. Show your personality. See if it’s worth a second date. If it’s worth a second date, get to know each other better. See if it’s worth a third date. Form a bond.

What you wear to bed is part of your wardrobe, not part of your personality. It doesn’t define you. It’s no more important than your shoe size. It’s not something anyone needs or wants to know on a first (or second or third or fourth) date.

Don’t jump into bed

Your date doesn’t need to know you what you wear to bed until (duh!) you’re about to get into bed. So (duh!) don’t get into bed until you’ve established that there are better things to like about you than what you wear to bed.

Guys:

Here’s the best dating tip you’ll ever get:

Every woman is thrilled to meet a man who’s more interested in what’s in her head and heart than what’s in her undies.

Freud was an idiot: What a woman wants is respect, attention and affection. Somebody who will listen to her and talk to her. Somebody who won’t treat her as an object.

If you give her that, she won’t care what you wear to bed. And if she does care, her girlfriends will be lining up to call you for dates. They won’t care what you wear to bed.

Gals:

Here’s the best dating tip you’ll ever get:

Every man is thrilled to meet a woman who’s more interested in what’s in his head and heart than what’s in his boxers.

What a man wants is respect, attention and affection. Somebody who will listen to him and talk to him. Somebody who won’t treat him as an object.

If you give him that, he won’t care what you wear to bed. (Trust me: I wore the unsexiest flannel nightgowns over my diaper.) And if he does care, his buddies will be lining up to call you for dates. They won’t care what you wear to bed.

PS: I’ll bet that goes for gays and lesbians, too. (mutatis mutandis)

Breaking the news

You’ve established a bond. You’re ready for the next step.

Go to a romantic restaurant. Hold hands. Tell your date that you want to take things to the next level. You want a snuggle. There’s just one thing …

If you’ve established a bond based on respect, affection and attention, your date will think it’s funny that you worried that it might be a problem. Trust me. I’ve been there.

If your date has a problem with it, dump him/her. He/she is not an adult. His buddies/her girlfriends will be lining up to call you for dates.

You’re adults

You’re not in grade school anymore. You’re not in junior high any more. You’re not in high school any more. You’re an adult and your date is an adult.

OK, maybe your date isn’t an adult. But you’ll know that long before you need to tell your date what you wear to bed.

I’ve told three guys (including my husband) that I wet the bed. None of them had any problem with it. None of them thought it was the least bit important.

Why?

Because, to an adult, it’s not important.

What’s important is who you are. Adults recognize that.

Suppose I’m wrong: Your date isn’t an adult. You break up and he or she tells your secret. It won’t make a difference.

Why?

Because to other adults, it’s not important.

What’s important is who you are. Adults recognize that.

A date that would reveal a confidence like that is a jerk. And every adult knows that anyone who would do that is a jerk. You will have the sympathy of every adult. Which is good for getting dates with adults.

You have to kiss a lot of frogs

Don’t look for perfection. Doesn’t exist. Doesn’t exist for the continent, either.

Not only do you have to kiss a lot of frogs, there is no Prince Charming. Somebody rich and gorgeous is not going to sweep you off your feet and carry you away to live happily ever after. Doesn’t happen.

That’s a good thing. It’s what makes life and people interesting.

Rejection happens

You’ll get dumped. It hurts. But it’s good. You don’t want to continue with someone if it’s just not going to work.

Get a pint of ice cream. Have a good cry while you eat it.

You didn’t get dumped because of what you wear to bed. He/she might say it’s why you got dumped. Breakups can be angry; people say stupid and cruel things.

But no adult ever dumped anyone for nightwear. Ever. Adults don’t give up a shot at a lifetime of happiness over something trivial. Your date dumped you either because your date isn’t an adult (in which case, good riddance) or because there are deeper problems than what you wear to bed.

Just do it

Dating is tough. Not because of what you wear to bed. It’s tough for everybody.

It’s also a hell of a lot of fun.

Just get out there. Call her. Call him. Yes, you’ll get turned down. Do it some more. The more you do it, the easier it is. The more you do it, the better you are at it. The more you do it, the more fun it is just to date.

You’ll get a lot of rejection. We all do. It’s not because of what you wear to bed. It’s silly to let this inhibit you. For goodness sake, don’t let it define you!

Forget about what you wear to bed. The only difference between you and Brad Pitt or Emma Stone is that they get paid to act.

Everybody is imperfect. Everybody thinks that their imperfections loom large for a potential date. Forget it. Just do it.

Under new management

I’m trying Tena Night Super pads.1

I’ve been using Abena’s highest capacity anatomic pad for years. They recently changed from a plastic back to a cloth back. Since the change, I have been getting leaks.

Mostly, it’s a damp crotch on my stretch panty and pjs. It seems to be urine seeping through the (supposedly) waterproof backing. That’s bad enough – I have to launder them, right away. The smell would drive me crazy if I left them in the wash basket for even a couple of hours. And it’s an extra change of nightclothes and an extra load of laundry.

What’s worse is that I’ve also had real leaks – and a wet bed.

I have a waterproof cotton bed pad on top of the sheet (as well as a plastic cover on the mattress and another waterproof bed pad between the sheet and the mattress pad. So it’s not getting to the mattress. It’s easy to toss the bed pad, panty and pjs in the washer, get a quick shower and get back to bed. But I absolutely hate it all.

It’s easy to tell myself that bedwetting isn’t a big deal when it’s just tossing out a wet disposable in the morning. It’s less trouble than washing my hair in the shower.

But that’s a little hollow when I wake up in the middle of the night in wet, cold, smelly pajamas, on a wet, cold, smelly bed. When I have to do a load of laundry in the middle of the night. When I have to take another shower in the middle of the night. When I’m blundering around the house trying not to wake up J and the kids in the middle of the night. (PS: It’s been darn cold in this drafty old house this week!)

Most of the leaks have been little spots on the pad. That’s enough to get me out of bed. But a couple have been big. J and I could sleep in a single bed and have room left over. We snuggle tight and sleep in each others’ arms. I’ve been mortified that J is going to find out just how unpleasant a wet bed can be. It’s one thing to accept that your wife wears a diaper, it’s quite another to have her soak you in the middle of the night.

So I’m trying something different. J says I should give Abena a call. Maybe I will.

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1 Not the confusingly named, available-everywhere, Tena Serenity Pad Overnight. I tried them, lured by the name into thinking that they were for a real bedwetter. They aren’t. They would be fine for a slightly leaky bladder or low-volume stress incontinence. I opened the bag and was skeptical (too small!), and I was right. The one I tried just flooded out.

Accidents

Having an occasional accident must be more stressful than chronic bedwetting.

I wear protection every night. I don’t worry about the risk of an accident. I don’t wake up in a puddle thinking, “Damn. Not again.” I don’t worry about J waking up in my puddle thinking, “Damn. Not again.”

In my late teens, I only had occasional accidents. I didn’t wear protection at home or (after my first semester) at college. An occasional accident didn’t bother me, probably because (after years of chronic bedwetting) it was a relief that it was so rare. I could get up, change the sheets, get the wet things going in the washer, shower and be back in bed in a few minutes. I barely even noticed I was wet.

But I could see that, for someone who’s been dry since early childhood, an occasional wet bed could be unnerving. Do I really want to wear something every night? If not, do I really want to wake up in a wet bed?

Stress incontinence is common after childbirth. Moms know where the nearest bathroom is, potty-stop every hour when driving and worry about sneezing or laughing with a full bladder.

I assume that happens to some of us while asleep. One of my closest friends stays with us when she’s in town. She has been bringing a bed pad and a Depend since her second was born.

For my kids, too, an isolated accident seems more stressful. A wet bed after a dry month or two is more disheartening than a nightly parade of wet pullups. “I thought I was through with this!” Reset the days-without-an-accident clock to zero. Keep packing pullups for sleepovers and trips to Gran’s.

“My spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend wets the bed”

The most common search terms that lead people to this blog are, “bedwetting spouse”, “bedwetting boyfriend” and the like. I ran them through Google, just to see where this appeared in the list.

What I found were cris de couer to medical sites and advice forums:

“My husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend wets the bed, what can I do?”

“My boyfriend/girlfriend is trying to hide his/her bedwetting, but I found out.”

On the other side, I see equally desperate cries:

“I wet the bed – How can I ever have a boyfriend/girlfriend? How can I ever get married?”

“How can I tell my girlfriend/boyfriend?”

If you’re asking one of those questions and wind up here, my advice is the same as my advice to anyone who wets the bed:

Relax. Live your life. Protect your bed and yourself. Date. Fall in love. Get married. Have kids.

If your spouse/lover/boyfriend/girlfriend wets the bed, reassure him/her. Get him/her to a doctor.

Bedwetting is not a big deal. No one who loves you will care that you wet the bed.

If you love someone who wets the bed, don’t let it bother you. It won’t affect you at all. Properly managed, you shouldn’t even notice. Bedwetting is not a big deal.

J

I dated J for several months before I told him that I wet the bed. Telling him was prelude to spending the night together (not intercourse — that was much later).

Over the next few days, J asked a hundred questions — some intelligent, some silly, some touchingly sweet — as they popped into his head. A college girl who wet the bed was … different. He was kind and sympathetic, without being patronizing. If he had pitied me, I would have dumped him.

After I assured him that I wasn’t hurt or embarrassed by his curiosity, he wanted a “fashion show”. (I wore briefs back then; it was before I discovered pads.) For the next few weeks, he was sneaking looks as I went from bathroom to bed, although he (comically) tried to be discreet. There wasn’t much to see — I wore a big, baggy, flannel Lanz nightgown, just so nobody could tell what I was wearing underneath. Super sexy.

The sense of its peculiarity passed for him as quickly as it had for me as a teenager. It became conventional, as interesting as me brushing my teeth. My fascination with his shaving lasted longer than his interest in my nightwear.

J was just like Mom: practical, compassionate and matter-of-fact. He was relaxed. He was reassuring. It didn’t mean anything to him. It just wasn’t important. And why should it be? It didn’t interfere with my life; there was no reason it should interfere with his (or ours together).

Then we got married. And really intimate.

Incontinence wear isn’t sexy. (I have Simone Perele and Eres for that.) I’m not ashamed of it, but there’s nothing to be gained by flaunting it. Last thing before going to bed, I go to the bathroom, close the door and put on a pad. First thing in the morning, I go to the bathroom, close the door, take off the pad and throw it out. The only thing J ever sees is the pad lines under my pjs. With the modern disposables and my baggy pjs, I don’t think he even sees that.

It doesn’t interfere with intimacy, any more than pajama bottoms do. If I’m in the mood, I don’t put on a pad before getting in bed. (Pretty good signal, no?) If we get in the mood, it comes off PDQ.

I’ve never slept unprotected with J. He’s never woken up in a wet bed. I would never want him to subject him to that misery, especially not to the misery of my wet bed.

I doubt my bedwetting crosses J’s mind more than once a month. Once in a while he’ll ask if there’s anything new, or joke about it.

Maybe I should ask him to make a guest post.

UPDATE: J has reviewed and approved this message, after making me take out some PG-13 material. He also pointed out that “protection” has a different connotation in the intimate context, so I changed it to “incontinence wear”.

Dating

I was sexually conservative. I didn’t jump into bed with guys, so I didn’t need to tell my boyfriends.

In addition to J, my husband, I had two boyfriends in college that were serious enough to tell.

I had dated the first boyfriend for months. It was something that he should know if our relationship was going to go anywhere.

I told him over a long, romantic, white-tablecloth-and-candles dinner. Over dessert, I took his hand, looked him in the eyes and told him that I wanted him to spend the night. No intercourse, just snuggling. And one other thing: I need to wear something to protect him, because I wet the bed.

I was so nervous I was shaking. My boyfriend laughed and said he thought I was nervous because I was afraid that he couldn’t be trusted to stick to the rules.

I had the same romantic dinner and the same talk with the other boyfriend and with J. Their reactions were, essentially, “That’s interesting.”

It didn’t matter to any of them. I had been close enough to each of them for long enough that it was an addition to a bigger, longer context. Of course, all three were curious — the cause, the prognosis, how I dealt with it.

It was a bond with each of them, as an intimate secret tends to be. All of them joked about it with me, as people tend to do with intimate secrets. But it wasn’t a big deal for any of them. It certainly wasn’t a cause for breaking up or drifting apart.