I've got a lot of experience with regression in children. Moving, traveling...any disruption to a boring daily routine generally results in my under 5 crowd having a mental breakdown. We are almost through the latest installment, and I'll get a few weeks of respite before the new baby, the new disruption, and more regression.
Back when Fritz was little, I read all the warnings about toilet training a toddler when another baby was on the way. Don't do it, they all so wisely and confidently said. The child will just regress and make your life even more difficult. So, even though he had been starting to use the potty here and there from 18 months, I gave up, figuring there was no point. Billy was born when he was 21 months old, and I had 2 in diapers.
Then I starting hearing about this concept of "waiting until the child is ready" to do potty training. Today, I can tell you that I'm not really sure why parents buy into this theory of child rearing. I don't wait until my child says "teach me" before encouraging the use of tableware. I don't wait until my child has a cooperative attitude before working on the virtue of obedience. And if my kindergartener doesn't know her alphabet, I don't wait until she says "I want to learn to read" before I begin working on basic letter recognition and phonics.
But back then, I ignored my common sense that nagged me that my own generation was toilet trained before the age of three and that it was really possible to do it even with newborn babies around, and I waited for signs of "readiness." Looking back, I can tell you who wasn't ready: me. It's not that I wanted 2 kids in diapers. It's that potty training is messy work. It was so much easier to change a diaper at my own convenience than to mop up a puddle before somebody started playing in it. Or before it soaked into the wall-to-wall carpeting in our rented apartment.
And then, the next thing I knew, he was three, and I had another baby due in a few months, and I worried about wasting my time because he would just regress anyway. Katie was born when he was 3 years and 3 months old, and I had 3 in diapers.
Fritz never did show signs of readiness. Three months later, I decided enough was enough and I knuckled down and trained him. But this experience didn't make me any wiser. I waited for Billy to be "ready" until he was past his third birthday...nothing. In fact, he was rapidly approaching 3 1/2 when Katie, only 18 months younger, started using the toilet all by herself (my one and only "ready" child). Jenny was due, Bill was deployed, my life was crazy (I lived a whole year full of regression), and it looked like I was going to have 2 in diapers - but it wouldn't be the youngest two.
Again, I knuckled down, and I ended up with just one in diapers, except for Katie at night. There were accidents (there still are accidents), and I just got used to keeping a change of clothes for everybody in the car, but we got through it.
With Jenny, I expected that she'd be like Katie - only because she's a girl and a younger sibling and not for any really good reason. I expected her to train herself around age 2. Nope. But I moved my personal timeline up, and managed to have her out of diapers by the time she was 3. I also developed a greater sense of humor in training her.
And now, my fifth child, has an entirely different mother than my first child did. Waiting until a child is ready just might be good advice, but this mom has different criteria for what "ready" means. If my child's preferred mode of dress is au naturale, it just might be a good time to begin potty training. If my child is capable of attaining that goal of bare nakedness by undressing himself, it just might be a good time to begin potty training. And if my child indicates that he understands the connection between the bathroom and the liquid coming from his body, then it really just might be a good time to begin potty training.
As for the regression monster, that fear that I would work so hard only to have to begin anew? Eh, I figure they have to regress somehow when the new baby comes, it might as well be toilet training as anything else. Besides, regression means that there was initial success. And if I could have one single month in nine years of parenting with zero children in diapers, that would be an amazing thing indeed.