Friday, March 27, 2009

Elimination Communication: a crossroads

I can't help but feel that we've done a great disservice to ourselves by taking too long of a break from EC. I wonder with every puddle I have to sop up, if this chapter in our journey may soon come to a close. As Jonah has become more independent during playtime, his cues are becoming subtle and harder to pick up. It is also difficult to contain the results of missed cues as he is becoming more mobile. Jonah is wanting to have more activity throughout the day, and as I have not been able to reliably predict each elimination, with more activities has come a heavy reliance on diapers. In several ways I feel that we have made great improvements on our communications the past couple of weeks, and in several ways I feel that we are beginning to communicate less.

Trying to see Jonah's cues for urination through all of his hand clapping, rolling across the room, and pulling apart pop-beads, has become increasingly difficult. Yet, as we have increased Jonah's solid food intake, spotting the cues for bowel movements has become extremely easy. Even while Jonah is wearing a diaper, I am able to spot his cues. He begins to fuss, but not in the same way he does when he is tired or hungry. I have noted that his fussiness before a bowel movement is very similar to the way he fusses when something is causing him physical discomfort. This makes sense to me when I think about how a bowel movement feels. It does cause a bit of discomfort physically. When he begins to fuss in this way, I remove his diaper and either carry him to the toilet (if we are close enough) or simply hold his bum up over his cloth diaper. In both situations, I press his knees to his chest and give him the signal "Poopoo!" I have noticed that now when he hears this signal, he bears down, as if he is understanding that I am telling him that he can go. I am very excited that he has made this connection, and hope that soon we will be able to have the same communication about urination.

Currently, most communication about urination is occurring during or after. I can tell just by looking at him when he is fully clothed that he is urinating or has just urinated in his diaper. This is good, because I know that he is not sitting in a soggy diaper. While I am pleased at this, I am also saddened to know that he will be crawling soon, and if we don't have our communication about urinating fine tuned by that time it will become even more difficult.

Because we have made so many triumphs in our EC endeavors, I cannot throw in the towel just yet. We are at a place where we must begin thinking about either practicing EC full time or committing ourselves to diapers full time. If we choose to use diapers, it will not be the conventional way that diapers are used. We will still be able to communicate effectively about exactly when Jonah needs a diaper changed, or when he is about to eliminate so that he will not sit in a soiled diaper for any amount of time. It would be a modified version of EC that includes the convenience of having the diaper for "backup" in case there is a misjudgment, or too little time between Jonah's cues and the actual elimination.

I feel confident that our family would be very successful with this modified EC with the use of diapers, but I would like to see if we could be successful without using diapers at all.


  1. Hi Jonah,
    lovely reading about your experiences and thoughts.

    Just remember you are still EC'ing even if baby is in diapers and pants - it is all about the connection, about your striving to help them stay dry, your openness to their fledgling and sometimes fleeting communication...

    A corner may be turned tomorrow, you never know. 8 month old Jett, my gorgeous itty bit astounds me at what he communicates at times! Other times, eh, he just wets - no worries, just change and go on... At the moment he is in Bonga Baby pants, he's just done a giant wee after a long sleep on me.

    Really, don't get worried about committing to one or the other - do that on a daily basis instead - say, have an easy day at home using no diapers, on another day, use all diaper backup. EC is flexible like that.

    It'll come together! I always find after a few days when our connection thins, I strive to ditch the diaper and baby wear a lot to get back together in our communicating.

    Part Time Diaper Free!

  2. Oh yeah, he did that wee in the potty!

  3. Thank you for the encouragement! I never thought of it as still being EC even if he does have the diaper on, but I guess it is still communicating!