Saturday, November 12, 2011

Elimination Communication Round 2: Evie's Review

When I was pregnant with Eve, a question I got often (and found odd) was whether or not I'd do anything differently with my second baby, than I had done with my first. Obviously, I had known that this baby growing inside of me would be a different child, a different personality- a different parenting experience! Not only that, but I would have two children instead of one, so of course things will be done differently! I didn't make certain plans for it; I would just wait and see how this baby likes things.

However, one thing that I just knew was going to be done differently, was our use of elimination communication. We started this practice with Jonah when he was six months old. While it wasn't flawless, I consider it successful because Jonah was fully using the potty on his own at an "early age" and there was a long period of time when, even though he had to rely on me to recognize his need to go and to take him, he would use the potty on  regular basis even before he was fully "trained". It had its frustrating moments as do most processes in parenting, but I believe the benefits were well reaped.

Elimination communication is a relationship between mother and baby regarding Baby's need to urinate and defecate. In basic terms, we all have seen a baby making "that face" grunting and squirming. We all have knowingly said "oooh, you're making a stinky surprise in your dipey, aren't you!?" or something along those lines. Or when an older baby wanders off into a corner alone, we KNOW that they are up to something in their pants. Adults, more often than we think about, pick up on the cues that our babies are sending us about their bathroom needs. If you are vigilant and tune into your child during these times, you can pick up on the subtle cues that happen before your child needs to use the restroom, you can take them there, and acknowledge their need to go. No more diapers. This is the best way I have found to describe elimination communication (EC) to western parents. When I describe it this way, I usually am met with more understanding, and more "Oh yeah, I always can tell Little Johnny is up to something!"

The difference I was going to make with Eve, was that I was determined that we would do EC from birth. And that the first 48 hours, she would not use a diaper at all. After she was born, I nursed her on the couch, both of us naked under the warmth of blankets. Taking in eachother's skin, breathing, smell. Exhaustion was setting in and the late night was beginning to turn into early morning. The midwife said it was time to get cleaned up if we were ready. I wanted to stay cocooned like that for forever, just me and my suckling baby, warm with each other. But I was tired and I knew it had to end some time. I was asked where the diapers were. Diapers??? We're not going to... oh but I'm so tired... and mother in law bought the cutest pink sleeper adorned with cupcakes for her to wear on her birth day... but.. no, baby had to be dressed. "Daryl knows where the infant prefolds are, he knows how to fold and pin them." I said, more as a direction to him. So Eve went to be diapered and dressed, and I went into the bathroom. And that was that.

Morning light danced through our bedroom window and Jonah tapped on the door. He wanted to meet the new family member. Today, I said, Today we will take the diapers off. But my mom was there, my brother in law flew in from California, my sister was on her way as well. Okay, tomorrow, when it is just us.

Family gone, finally quiet. No diapers today! But I don't feel so well. I feel pretty awful. In fact, I feel like death. Fever, chills, disoriented, a pain in my right breast. I was threatening to get mastitis. I was sick for several days after. Eve stayed in her diapers. And that is how things pretty much remained.

I did do quite a few trial runs as she got older. She was more mobile than Jonah, at a younger age, so it was difficult to keep track of her. I also find that girls are messier when they urinate without a diaper on. I have always found this to be the case even when I was working in the day care nursery. If a boy peed on the changing table, it had a clear landing point, it stayed in one area. Usually only his pants, and maybe the wall, would get hit. When a girl peed on the changing table however, it would just kind of ooze everywhere. It would wick up her shirt all over her back, sometimes her hair. Roll downwards to her feet, soaking her pants and socks. An entire wardrobe change was typically in order, and sometimes a bath! So with this in mind, clean up while watching for Jonah's cues was MUCH easier than cleaning up while doing trials with Eve. It just wasn't working.

I did, however, continue to acknowledge her elimination needs. I still gave her the "cue" words. When I notice that she is soiling her diaper I give the proper cue that we had designated with Jonah, either "Poopoo" for pooping, or "sssssss" for peeing. And then we would change her immediately. So even with this partial version of EC, she has kept awareness of her elimination and learned to communicate when she is about to or has just gone.

Currently we are to a point with her where she will tell us that she needs to go. She will come to me and grab her diaper, saying "Poop?" Sometimes we are able to catch it either in the toilet or just while she is laying over the diaper, other times we simply are not fast enough. We are currently in the middle of a move across town, and once we get settled, we plan on breaking out the trainer potty to teach her to go there. I am amazed that considering how little we actually followed through on our plans, we (Daryl and I, as well as Eve!) are still seeing the benefits of even just PARTIAL ec. She is not as consistent as Jonah was, but she has maintained an awareness and the ability to communicate to us what her needs are. I am honestly stunned, because I didn't think anything would come of what little we have been doing with her.

I think we might have hit a middle ground for parents who want to try EC, but are not able to make the full commitment required. With Eve, all that we did were two simple things.
1. acknowledge that she is eliminating (Oh, you peed, you're peeing!)
2. give her a means to communicate her need to eliminate (a cue such as "sssss" or "poopoo" that she can easily mimic. We used a sign as well with Jonah but not with Eve because she is much more vocal)

Even if we didn't see her eliminating, we did these things during her diaper change. It took almost no extra effort or time. I do not know if we will do full EC with any more children, if we have the opportunity. I would like to say that yes, we will try harder to make it work if we should be blessed with another baby. Unfortunately we find out that things we thought were the best plan, really aren't going to fit into our lives. But if we decide that EC just won't work with future babies then I don't see any reason not to at least continue to do the two steps above. While the results aren't as bold as when we had done full EC with Jonah, they are still pretty impressive.

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