Excerpt for Fear And Joy: A Life In And Out Of Nappies by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Fear and Joy

A life in and out of nappies

Author: Ben Ingram (

Editor: Michael Bent

Publisher ABDiscovery

© 2018

Images copyright © 2018, Vincent Russo.

You can find more at


For the past forty years, I have had to keep a secret.

It’s in my existence every day. There is no escape from it and no cure for it. Unless you have a similar desire, pleasure or urge to do something harmless, but which modern society would frown upon will, you will never fully understand.

Some people might say, as would I, “What is normal and acceptable?”

Most have only been exposed to people like me who have non-conforming desires, likes or pleasures such as wearing a nappy through exaggerated representations in the media. What they don’t understand is that it isn’t simply a habit we can stop or break. In the mainstream narrative, people that wear nappies - either for comfort or desire - are usually described as freaks, weirdo’s or worse. For myself and other people like me, this behaviour comes with a deep shame and stigma, as we are told by society that it’s unusual, unacceptable and not normal.

Personally, from an early age I knew I was odd for wanting to wear nappies, and in a time before the internet and social media, I was very much isolated and alone with my feelings. Coming to terms with it has taken me on journeys of both laughter and heartache. I am fully aware through items I have read or watched on TV that if anyone found out, I would be ridiculed by most, as this is not an acceptable form of normal behaviour in society. Wearing a nappy is not a disorder for me. It doesn’t impede my everyday activities and in fact, I am just like most ‘normal’ ordinary people, working ordinary jobs and leading a somewhat ordinary life. I don’t look different on the outside. Unfortunately, it is human nature to associate these ‘peculiar’ lifestyles with more sinister roots. This however is so far from the truth! Our society’s narrow-mindedness for people who are ‘different’ means we reward conformity and normalcy and ridicule different lifestyles that we don’t or won’t understand.

In the past, attempts to fight this desire have often resulted in buying nappies and then throwing them away out of extreme guilt. This binge-purge cycle is apparently regarded as a symptom among those who haven’t fully come to terms with what they do, and the shame and guilt attached to it. In an ideal world, I wouldn’t need to hide who I am and I wouldn’t need to fear or worry about what society would say. When it comes to something (or someone) that is different from the world we’re used to, we fear and mock, sometimes with violence what we don’t understand.

This book, ‘Fear and Joy, A life in and out of nappies’ is a true account of the early parts of my life up until age twenty-four. To protect both my family and friends in this book, I have changed their names. I have no doubt that quite a few people can relate to what I experienced and how it moulded me to become who I am today. It has taken a long time for me to come to terms with some aspects of my childhood following the help of a trained counsellor in recent times, who has written a few words below. I now embrace the past and have learned to accept who I am today.

It took a long time for me to decide whether or not to put my memories into a book, as I was recalling some memories I would rather have forgotten. I must admit that while writing, I did also recall good times and memories that made me feel happy. There are a couple of people in the book that I would love to meet again. These are the people that helped me at a particular time or event that was happening in my life and gave me hope that nice people actually do exist. I do believe that these people entered my life for a reason. What they did for me were things I had not expected at the time. Looking back though, I’m just so glad they were there and were able to both lift my spirit and confirm that human kindness and acceptance for who or what you are is sometimes all it takes to bring a smile.

Do I blame anyone for what happened? Not at all. As an adult now, I do believe the punishments were a bit harsh and not necessary. Maybe if the internet had been around and my parents could have researched this, the outcome may have been different. With the exception of some teasing by my brothers and stares from people while out in public, even the parts that I thought were awful at the time, I don’t think were really so. After all, I was just a kid wearing a nappy, most people wouldn’t have even noticed me, let alone commented on what I was wearing. Would you?

I hope you enjoy reading this book. It has certainly been a good help to me, recalling my thoughts and memories from that time of my life as in some way it helps me to understand more of who I am now. If you did enjoy it, please let me know at I would welcome any feedback or comments about what you have read, both good and bad. This is my first time writing a book and I have other memories as I got older that one day I might write down.

Personally, I enjoy reading true accounts and stories as opposed to fictional stories. It helps if I can associate with the character in the story or account being told and I hope I have been able to do this for you in this book.

Thank you for taking the time to read my story and if you had similar experiences I hope it has helped you to know that you were not the only one.


After reading my book my close friend who is a professional Psychologist wrote this for me to include in the book:

Ben and I met many years ago when he had just started a relationship with my Auntie. At this point in time he was still finding it hard to accept himself and so he was introduced to me on a professional level to see if I, as a counsellor, could help him through that.

We started working through his feelings by email at first as Ben still found it very difficult to talk about these things face to face, but once we had made some progress he felt comfortable having face to face sessions. Our sessions, combined with the support of a good partner, helped Ben to understand himself better and really make good progress in accepting himself as a person.

Ben and I no longer need to see each other on a professional basis but we remain good friends and it has been an honour to be involved in this project. Since our sessions ended he has taken huge steps forward himself and, despite finding some areas of the book difficult to write, he has turned his bad experiences into a positive in order to try to help others that may still be struggling to accept themselves. I am extremely proud.

Jemma Harrison, Psychologist

Chapter 1 - Aged 6

Well, it’s 1977 and summer was finally here.

It seemed to take forever to come that year. I remember we had finished school on Thursday at dinner time and my brothers and I were now looking forward to a whole six weeks off.  This normally meant lots of playing outside with my brothers and friends who lived in the street, staying at my grandparents’ house more often, visiting my dad and basically not having a care in the world. Mind you, this also meant more trouble for my mum, as we did get into some scrapes. I must admit, I hated school from the start and I wasn’t a great pupil, even at a young age. I just wanted to play and have fun, and this was the case throughout my entire school years.

I remember it was 1977 because it was the Queen’s Silver Jubilee and there was bunting up in nearly every street we walked down. Spanning from house to house, bright coloured Union Jacks were everywhere, and all the local shops were selling souvenirs of the occasion. Numerous street parties were being held to commemorate this major occasion and the one I attended was amazing. I loved it.  

These parties were what living in a small community was all about. Everyone mucked in and had a really good time. All the kids sat at long tables in the middle of the road, drinking squash and eating like there was no tomorrow. My brothers and I always got carried away at these type of social gatherings, getting over excited and most of the time ended up getting shouted at by either my mum or whoever was her boyfriend at the time, or our local babysitter. I was nothing serious, just the normal “how many times have I told you?” and “if I have to tell you again” complaints. I dreaded hearing anyone shout that at us at the time, but now I find myself using the same types of phrases - only modernised - on numerous occasions.

My dad left not long after my younger brother was born, so I don’t really have any recollections of him being around.  We would visit him on weekends as he was back living with my Gran and Granddad around the corner. Mum was a single parent with a boyfriend now and again, so she relied on getting help from family members that lived in the area and family friends who lived nearby.  Money was very tight at this time, so having three kids to look after meant we didn’t have much. Treats were few and far between. Holidays never happened, but we got by and we were a happy little family. I can’t imagine that that being a single mum with three kids our age was a great turn on for any perspective boyfriend. Some were okay, some were non-descript.

The one of note and who is mentioned in this account turned out to be another total arse. His name was Robert, he drove a brown Chevette and lived nearby, and to be honest looking back now I don’t think he liked us but tolerated us, so he could be with my mum.

I was six years old now, my older brother was seven and my younger brother was five. We lived in Manchester in a two-up, two-down terraced council house in not a bad area. It was a nice street and everyone knew each other, helped each other out, and knew everyone’s gossip, but the one thing about everyone in this street, is that they all looked out for each other.  This is something that I miss these days. I know some people who don’t even know their next-door neighbours.

Our house was basic with no indoor toilet, but we did have an outside lavatory. Yes, an outside lavatory, and our back yard led into the back alley where we could play safely with all the other kids on the street. We got into some major scrapes and bother playing in the alleys. However, at least when you got caught by a parent or grown-up, they would give you a quick whack and that was it. You stopped doing what had gotten you into trouble and respected the adults. The whole street knew each other, as there were lots of young kids that all went to the same school or nursery, so it was like a mother’s meeting place in our house and on our street daily!

So, where do I start with my memory of this time in my life?

I was six years old and I was still put into nappies for bed. My mum had tried so many times to get me out of them, but with a wet bed most mornings, decided that putting me back into night nappies was the best option.  I think the constant hassle of taking my bedding to the laundrette every other day proved too much in the end. I’d wet the bed and we didn’t have a washing machine at the time. All the other normal washing went to my Grans each week, as they had a modern top loader!

Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t wet the bed every night, but sometimes it would have been two or three nights in a row, then dry for two or three more.  I must admit I hated waking up in a wet bed and dreaded my mum coming in and finding out, not because she would shout at me or anything, but the look of despair at yet another laundry trip was clear on her face. The first time I was put back in to nappies at night, I didn’t really think much of it to be honest, only the fact that my younger brother didn’t have to wear one for bed, but I did. It was also marginally better than waking up in a wet bed.

If I was ever staying over at anybody’s house prior to being put back into nappies for bed, I would always be made to put a nappy on “just in case”. Sometimes they were dry in the morning, sometimes not, but wherever I was, nothing was ever said by the family member or friend about a six-year-old still wearing nappies. It was what it was and the routine of getting ready for bed was always the same and I just accepted it, as I thought this is what other parents or kids had to do with this problem. I had been dry during the day since I was four, but I did struggle with the whole toileting concept, so I was still wearing nappies full time in the daytime well when I started nursery. Consequently, I had to go home at dinner time or my mum would have to come in to change my nappy every day. Again, I didn’t think anything of it. It was just the normal routine for me and no one said anything, or if they did, I never heard it and so, I just got on with life quite happily! I suppose my mum was lucky that the nursery was only around the corner from where we all lived.

At six years old, I was still having the odd day accident, but thankfully, as these were not often, it was pretty much overlooked.  This was during the same period that my mum decided to put me back into nappies for bed on a semi-permanent basis to ease the washing burden.  As it was 1977, a nappy consisted of the good old-fashioned white terry towelling cloth squares, two pins and a pair of plastic waterproof pants.  Not the comfiest of nappies when wet I must say, but not too bad when a nice dry clean one has just been put on.  Disposable nappies were available as I now know, but no one I ever saw had one on as they were very expensive and terry towelling was the traditional and cheapest way to nappy your kids. This was to change very soon, but having never seen one, I didn’t even know they existed.

 When I used to go around seeing a member of the family or if we popped around to the next-door neighbour’s houses, every garden I went into had a washing line up constantly during the good weather. Several pairs of plastic pants and at least half a dozen nappies would be blowing in the wind getting dry and funnily enough, most of the time, they were mine. Another obligatory item in these households was a white nappy bucket, either in the bathroom or in the kitchen. My mum must have gotten tired of our bucket, as I was still using it at six years old and there were always at least two used nappies in there soaking away ready to go to the laundrette to be washed properly - or my Grans, if we were visiting that day.

Thursday night was pretty much a normal routine kind of evening I suppose. The only exception was that this night we were very excited. The next day we were going for a long weekend to Blackpool, our first real holiday as kids.  As normal, we had tea watching the TV, which was only three channels then, so pretty much you watched whatever was on. There was never any arguing about who wanted to watch what, not like nowadays.  As normal, around 6:30ish most nights, we would all get ready for bed, pyjamas on and so forth. We were then allowed till about quarter past seven when my younger brother and I had to go to bed. My older brother was allowed a little longer. This crucial time was the interval for ‘Emmerdale’ and the only available slot for mum to get us ready before ‘Corry’ came on - an absolutely ‘must watch’ programme for years for my mum. At the allotted time of 6:30, mum came down as usual with the pyjamas and we all got undressed. My brothers dressed themselves into their PJs, I put my PJ top on then sat on the carpet watching TV waiting for my mum to put my nappy on, a ritual which I had gotten well-used to by now.  

Mum came in from the kitchen with the essential terry nappy and plastic pants and said “Right, buggerlugs. Lie back.”

Back I went still trying to watch TV, then with one swift movement my bum was lifted off the deck the nappy slid underneath me, pulled up between my legs and fastened securely into place with either two blue or white tipped locking nappy pins. My mum would then scrunch up the leg openings on the plastic pants on one side to allow one foot to go through it, then the other, then with one swift movement, positioned them ready to go over my nappy.  She lifted one leg and pulled up one side of my plastic pants then the other leg and the job was done.  I then stood up and mum helped me put my pyjama bottoms on, as these were bought for me when I had stopped wearing nappies at night so were not really big enough to accommodate a nappy. They were not that tight, but not loose either and unless you were blind, it was easy to notice that I was wearing a nappy underneath the bottoms.  As for how it felt, well, when you’re a baby and wearing nappies you don’t know any other feeling until you’re taken out of nappies and get big people underwear.  So, imagine wearing big boy underwear all day and then having them taken off you and a bulky nappy put in its place. What does it feel like at that age you may ask? Well, the only way you could possibly imagine it is if you go to your bathroom, grab a bath towel and pin it on yourself like a nappy then tape a black bin liner over the top. Then you get the feeling I had as a six year after my mum had expertly sorted me for the night.

Once we were all done we were allowed about 3/4 hour playing. It was a really nice evening, so we were allowed to play in the back yard as well, which pleased my mum, as she could have some peace and quiet in the house while she watched a bit of TV.  

As always, she would yell out, “Don’t get dirty and keep the noise down!”

As we played in the back, I could hear lots of other kids playing too. Summer was great and with the added excitement of our impending trip the next day, we were all really happy and having a great time playing in the yard.  It’s good to point out here that that this was the evening that I started to realise and became conscious of the fact that at six years old I still wore nappies to bed - something that had never happened to me before.  

Up until now I just put one on as normal and even when mum told me I was going back to wearing one for bed, I just accepted it as I had the many previous occasions it had happened. Coupled with the following few days - also being the first time I was made to wear the nappies in the day time again (although not as a punishment, but as safety option for my mum) - I started to become very self-conscious and at times embarrassed about the fact I was now six years old and back in nappies again day and night.

About seven pm that evening, I heard a knock at the door. As soon as mum had opened the door I could tell straight away it was Janet from two doors down. She was coming to Blackpool with us along with her seven-year-old daughter, Louise and two-year-old son, Josh.   We had been friends with them for as long as I can remember, each mum looking after each other’s kids when needed, babysitting, favours - the normal things neighbours did in those days.  It turned out that Janet had brought the kids around as well, as she needed to borrow a suit case, since hers had broken earlier that day while packing. Not having a spare suitcase, my mum decided to visit my Grans house which was about a fifteen minutes’ walk away, as they would have one. We didn’t have a phone in our house, so walking there was the only option.  My mum told us she was going to Grans for a while and Janet would look after us and we could stay up later till she got back.  I asked if I could go with her as I loved seeing my Gran and Granddad, but she said no as I had got my pyjamas on ready for bed.

“Go and play in the yard love, I won’t be long,” she said.

Brilliant news! More playing out time.  

We all went into the back yard, which included Louise, as she was my older brother’s age, so they knew each other well from school. Josh stayed inside with his mum, as it was past his bedtime anyway.  We had a good laugh playing and mucking about. We remembered that mum had told us to be careful and not get dirty, but as normal, while we were playing jump the paddling pool - which is a great game as the loser gets soaked - I had not quite made it.

It was pretty obvious to anyone that this would happen, given the fact that I was trying to run, jump and stretch while wearing a nappy with pyjamas that were a bit on the tight side. It didn’t quite work out. I landed on the side of the paddling pool with one foot and I fell backwards and landed on my bum in the water that was left from the previous day.  Good news for me though in one sense, as I was wearing the nappy. It broke my fall and whereas normally your bum would hurt for ages banging on the concrete underneath pool, it didn’t hurt as much, but my pyjamas were soaked. 

We all giggled and laughed like mad. I did too, as it had happened so many times before and is just as funny when you have seen it for the twentieth time, as when you saw it the first time.  It’s that look of instant shock as you hit the cold water. It didn’t take long for Janet to come out and ask what we were all laughing at, before she spotted me, standing in the middle of the pool with water dripping off me.  She burst out laughing too.  

Quick as a flash while still laughing, she shouted, “Get inside!. If your mum comes home and finds you like this, she’ll go mad, love!”

As I walked towards the house, it now became apparent to me that the water had literally soaked the nappy my mum had just put on me earlier. It was sagging quite a bit and made me walk noticeably different. It didn’t dull the laughter, even from me. As I got into the living room, Janet had a towel and beckoned me over.

“You silly boy,” she said. “Your mum will have a fit if she came back now. Where are your pyjamas kept?”

“Upstairs,” I said. “Under the bed”.  

With that, she went upstairs and came down with a dry set of pyjamas. “Take your pyjamas off sweetheart and put these on before your mum comes back and finds out”.  

As I dropped my pyjama trousers I couldn’t help but think, “My nappy is soaked and I can’t hide it.”

 As Janet turned towards me to help me put my top on, she glanced down and for a split second stopped.

“Oh! Your still in nappies love. I had forgotten. I thought it was only when you were away from home now. Are you still wetting the bed?”

“Yes,” I replied. “But only for bedtime though.”

I felt a bit embarrassed, as this was the first time someone had questioned the fact I still needed a nappy for bed.  

“It’s okay, love. Don’t worry. Are the nappies still in the cupboard upstairs?”  

Janet had babysat many times, so she had a good idea where everything was.

“Yes,” I said in a bit of a saddened voice.  

“Don’t worry sweetheart. I can sort you out and get you changed before your mum gets home. I’ll go and get a dry one and get you changed, okay?”  

She returned with a new nappy and plastic pants and just like my mum, she told me to lie on the floor. She took off my plastic pants and then unpinned the absolutely soaked nappy and with a smile she said, “At least it’s not this wet in the morning. You’d need swimming lessons if it was!”

Just like mum did, she pinned the cloth nappy on and very expertly lifted each leg to get the plastic pants up and over to cover all the towelling.  She ran her fingers around the leg openings of the plastic pants to make sure that all the cloth was inside the elastic and then finally gave a quick final pull up on the waist band when I heard a voice at the back door. It was Louise.

“Mum?” She said, but with a pant and puff, as she had still been playing outside for the last half hour, “what time are we going home?”

“As soon as Diane gets back, love,” she answered.

“Okay,” she said and then in all innocence, she asked “Why have you put Ben in a nappy? Isn’t he too old for a nappy now?”

“He still has accidents love. You did till you were four, if you remember.”

“Yeah, but I didn’t have to wear a nappy!”

“Well no, but it’s not a big deal is it? Go outside and play or I’ll put you in one!” she laughed.

With that she turned and went back to play in the yard with my brothers.  

“Shame Josh isn’t awake Ben. I could have done his nappy at the same time!” she said. Josh had been asleep for the last half hour on the settee and still needed to get his pyjamas on.

Once I had stood up, Janet then helped to put my pyjamas back on. As I expected, she struggled getting my pyjama bottoms over my nappy, but they went up in the end and with that, she very gently patted my bum a couple of times and said “There you go, sweetie. All done. I’ll tell your mum it was my fault, I spilt water over you okay? I don’t want you getting into trouble. Big day tomorrow, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” I replied quite excitedly. “I can’t wait!”

“I bet you can’t,” she said. “Well, go and carry on playing now, Ben. Your mum should be home soon.”

With that, I waddled back outside, the pyjamas bottoms being a little bit tighter than the others, clearly indicating to anyone that saw me that I had a nappy on. I mentioned earlier about starting to become conscious that I still wore nappies. Hearing Louise say what she did and Janet being a little shocked when she first saw me standing there with a nappy on was possibly the start of it. Not that I blame her in any way at all, but it’s the first time I had realised that at my age, wearing a nappy was maybe wrong or something.  I was kind of hesitant to go outside, but I went towards the back to carry on playing none the less, thinking that well, she didn’t laugh at me, and Janet was really kind about it, so it’ll be okay.  

As I continued to wander outside I heard my mum return and it was a perfect way to get out of going outside and I returned into the house to say hello to mum.

 “What have you been up to?” she asked. “It’s okay Diane. It was my fault. I took the kids a drink out just after you left and I slipped and bumped into Ben, who was standing near the paddling pool.” She was laughing as she said it.

My mum laughed and then looked at me and asked, “Did your nappy get wet love, or is it okay?” 

I could see Janet looking at me and again she interrupted.

“It was soaked Di, but I found a dry one upstairs and changed it.”

“Ah, thanks Janet. He’s been back in them for about two months now. Too many wet beds, weren’t there, Ben?” She gave me a kind of woeful look.

“It’s okay,” said Jane. “Louise was the same for a bit. He will grow out of it when he’s ready.”

“Bloody hope so!” my mum said, “I’ve changed enough nappies to last a lifetime, thought I’d be done with washing nappies by now!”

“Right Di, I’ll get Louise and I’ll shoot off. I’ll be back tomorrow morning about nine. Come on Louise, we’re going!”

And with that, Louise came running in and gave me a kind of weird knowing look - or what I thought was one anyway.  Janet bent down to give me a kiss and hug and while doing so, winked at me, confirming her original intention that she was saving me from the earlier incident I had found myself in and all was well.

Janet grabbed my bum and gave it a squeeze and a pat saying, “See you tomorrow, squishy bum!”

The rest of the night continued as normal and about 8:30 we were all in bed, looking forward to the trip tomorrow. It was going to be great. Our first proper little holiday. The weather had been good for the last few days and I was so looking forward to seeing the beach, the sea and the famous tower which my granddad had been telling us all about for the last week.  

This is what my mum probably thought, having to put a six year old into nappies every night.

The following morning, we woke up about 8ish. The big day was here, and my brothers and I were up and about in no time.  As on every other day, we all went downstairs and into the parlour. This was the room at the front of the house where all our toys were and where we were told to go and play if my mum had guests or family were around and kids were to be out of sight.  It was also a similar morning for me as there was no dry nappy this morning, which meant sitting around in a wet nappy until mum got up. I would then be put back into big-boy underwear, but as I needed to be washed first, I had to wait for mum to do it for me.

Wet nappies in the morning were always a bit uncomfortable and as I got older, were getting even more so, as I was more active and wanting to do stuff a child in a nappy wouldn’t normally do.  In the winter or cold months, wet nappies were even uncomfortable as they made you feel cold, which only added to the misery of either sitting or playing with a wet towel wrapped around your body with plastic pants holding the sagging nappy in place.  It wasn’t long before we heard mum coming down the stairs.

“Morning kids!” she exclaimed.

“Morning mum!” we all replied together, not looking up from what we were doing.

“Come here Ben,” was her next routine sentence.  

I got up and walked over to my mum standing in the doorway. She was always dressed in her pink dressing gown and flowery slippers. She leant over me and pulled my pyjama pant waist and plastic pants away from my waist, so she could have a feel of my nappy.

“Wet again,” came the inevitable reply. “Come on, love…”

And with this, we wandered into the kitchen.  I stripped off to my nappy while mum filled the sink with warm water.  She would then pull down my plastic pants, unpin the nappy and then lift me up in the sink while she washed me.

“I really hope you’re going to stop this soon, Ben.” she exclaimed with exasperation. “You’re six years old now and should be able to keep your bed dry. Alex is five and he doesn’t wear nappies anymore, does he? “

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