Saturday, January 10, 2009

How Our Experiment with EC Has Changed Our Relationship:

Even though we are still in the early stages of practicing elimination communication (EC), I would like to take a few moments to dedicate a post to the ways in which it has changed our relationship as a family, already. We have barely scratched the surface, and are just now introducing the potty during today's sessions. Today, Jonah seemed to be giving cues that he needed to urinate. Rather than grabbing a cloth diaper to catch it, as I have been (rather successfully, only false predicting two times and never missing a stream!) I decided it was time to introduce the toilet. I took him to the bathroom, held him onto the seat and made the "sss" sound. Jonah looked at me and smiled, but he did not urinate. I decided to be patient and sat with him, making the "sss" noise anytime he seemed to be giving cues of needing to urinate. Each time he smiled at me and cooed, as if amused at my attempts. After about twenty minutes, I decided that I had falsely predicted, and took him back to our flannel blanket to play. He did not urinate for the duration of our activities. I had noticed a pattern before, during our observation, that he seemed to urinate directly following waking from nap. After his naptime, I felt his diaper and it was dry. Back to the toilet we went, and we repeated the episode from the morning: me "sss"ing, and Jonah smiling back. If it weren't for all of the soaked diapers that I've been changing between EC sessions, I would be concerned about him not urinating, but I suppose I just have to fine tune my understanding of his schedule and his cues before he will successfully eliminate in the toilet. I have chosen a more suitable trainer toilet for him, and as soon as it arrives I am anticipating having an easier time introducing him to eliminating in the bathroom. For now, I suppose it is enough to introduce him to the idea of being in these surroundings.
As I said above, I would like to dedicate this post to what EC has done for our relationship, even in these early stages. I want to do this to let my readers realize that EC is more than merely taking the diaper off of the child. I realized before we began that EC was a way in which to nurture and encourage communication from child to mother, but I did not expect it to change the way in which we bond. EC, for us, has helped point out many points in my (old) daily routine that were not at all conducive to the nurturing environment I wanted to promote for my son. For example: upon his waking every morning, I would nurse, change his diaper, and often his pajamas, bring him out to the living room where he would sit in his bouncy while I made my coffee and breakfast. Sometimes I would wear him in my sling as I ate breakfast and browsed the web for news stories, daily weather, and other unimportant items, but most often I would sit with him bouncing in his seat. If he fussed, I would pop a pacifier into his mouth, hand him a different toy, and bounce the seat vigorously with my foot. This seemed to make him happy, "plus," I told myself "I need this time to gather myself, so I can spend the rest of the day being a good mother." This behavior of mine stemmed from my preschool teaching days, when I could relish the moments of the morning quiet, sipping my coffee reflecting on current events, before the mad rush of reality came over me when I entered my classroom. I needed my morning routine then. It helped me to thrive as a teacher. What EC has pointed out to me about this, is that Jonah is in fact NOT happy, patiently waiting for his mommy to start the day. In fact, he can get very distraught over it. I had no idea before EC, because I was not in the habit of watching his every cue, his body language as well as his verbalizations. As soon as we began our observation periods, our morning routine changed drastically. Upon waking, Jonah would be nursed, his diaper removed, and warm clothing placed over his upper body and legs only (leggings became a fast style in our household!) We would then come out into the living room, where I had created a "safe zone" of a large fleece blanket covered in cloth diapers. We would choose some toys, and have quality one on one time. Sometimes, because I do recognize my need to eat, I would snack on granola bars or cereal, but as opposed to our old morning routine, the focus remained on Jonah and the activity that we were doing together.
As I grew more experienced with his cues, we could make our activities more complex. We practice rolling, and sitting up, and there are quite a few occasions when I do in fact put him in the sling so that I can have breakfast or coffee, but again the focus of activity is on Jonah and his communication to me rather than keeping the focus on me and my own desires (wanting to read web forums or the news, wanting to "drink my coffee in peace" etc.) If there is something that is so important to me that I need to do it while diverting my attention away from my child, I now do that during his naps or bedtime, like updating this blog for example.
I do promote independent playing, often times laying him in our "safe zone" with a selection of toys. He rolls around, scooches all over, and explores the toys I have set out for him by reaching for them, groping them, and mouthing them. He does all of this while I lovingly sit back and watch him play. He entertains himself now, with the security of knowing that I will be there when he needs me. At this age, an infant does not merely want his mother, or to be held, it is his need. By answering his cues quickly, I am giving him the assurance that I am there, he will not be left behind. EC has done a lot to help me follow his cues, and see that in fact he was insecure about a lot of situations that I was not paying attention to. It has helped me become a more attentive mother, and more thorough in my caregiving. It has come a long way from the lines of merely dealing with waste and dirty diapers. It has become an extension of my parenting, and as such it needed to make some changes along the way.

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