I wanted to just offer a few more reflections on the experience, and share whether we would do it again, and if so, what we’d do differently and what we’d do the same.
I figured now was probably the best time to consider the pros and cons, now that we’re done with the worst part but not so far removed from the experience that we’ve forgotten what it was like. Now that we’re out of it, my opinions aren’t under the influence of crushing frustration, but neither is my memory clouded by nostalgia.
Because, as I mentioned in my last post, there were LOTS of times when I regretted ever having started. It felt like way too much work for not enough payoff. I still had to wash just as many diapers as anybody (since I had to change her diaper after every single pee, rather than letting them accumulate in her diaper), but I was also putting way more thought and effort into caring for her elimination overall. We just didn’t seem to be getting the hang of it. It felt like I was wasting my time.
There were plenty of days when I just wanted to call it quits. To just strap on a diaper and forget about it. Nobody else bothered to pay attention to their kids’ elimination for the first 2-3 years; why was I doing it?
But then I would remember why I’d started in the first place:
- I just couldn’t let me kid sit in her own waste, knowing that there was another way. It just felt gross and wrong.
- Sticking with EC would still mean fewer diapers in the long run, because she would (hopefully!!) be done with diapers much sooner than if we took the conventional route.
- I rarely had to clean up poop. We at least had that part fairly down-pat.
On those bad days, I had to remind myself that it was working, and I was succeeding, in many of the ways I’d hoped . . . even if it didn’t feel very successful sometimes.
Even on our worst days, I had to acknowledge that I was experiencing many of the benefits of EC. I had sidestepped a whole host of common diapering and potty training problems:
- My daughter knew, from the very start, that pee and poop belonged in the potty. That’s not something I ever had to teach her. The potty was never a source of confusion or anxiety. It was a natural part of her life from day one.
- Because she never, ever sat in her own urine for longer than a few seconds, she never had a speck of diaper rash her entire life, and I never used a speck of diaper cream.
- I never had to deal with diaper leaks at night. She was dry through the night starting at four months. (I think we just got lucky here. I pottied her at night for the first four months, but then after that, she just didn’t pee at night any more.)
- From 3 – 18 months, I probably had to change about one poopy diaper a month. All the rest went straight into the potty. I don’t think I have to expand on why that was awesome.
And finally: I was completely done with diapers before she was even 19 months old – a full year earlier than the national average. How many parents get that? Not only is there the obvious advantage of not having to personally handle another person’s waste, but this is so much better for our bank account and for the planet (the same planet that your kids and mine will have to live on, I might remind you. You’re welcome.)
But like I said: there were plenty of days when none of this felt worth it. I got so very, very tired and frustrated some days.
So the question remains: would I do it again?
The thing is, I don’t think I could not do it. I just can’t see myself ever being content to let a baby in my care pee and poop herself. I couldn’t be one of those moms watching her baby and laughing in a sing-song voice, “Are you pooping?” and then just sit around and let it happen, only to have to clean it up later. It just doesn’t make sense to me. It boggles my mind when I see other moms do it. If you know she’s pooping, why don’t you do something about it? Do you like wiping poop off her bum? Do you like throwing out your money? Do you want your kid to grow up in a world piled high with toxic garbage? (My inner monologue can be a little melodramatic.) You want her to think her diaper is a toilet?
So yeah – I don’t think I have a choice but to practice EC in the future.
However, I would do a few things differently.
1. I wouldn’t start from birth. Newborn babies just pee and poop way too dang much. I remember Lydia wetting or dirtying all 24 diapers in one day when she was a newborn. It was just way too much headache to try to keep up with that. I would maybe start with pottying around 3 months, when peeing and pooping slows down significantly.
2. I would lower my expectations DRAMATICALLY. Gone are my expectations to be done with diapers before my baby’s first birthday. That’s just crazy. It might work for some people, and in other cultures, but it didn’t work for me. I wouldn’t ever place that expectation on myself or my child again.
Instead, I would aim to just get some or most pees in the potty, and to keep using diapers until two. If we managed to be done earlier than that (as we did with Lydia), that would be an amazing bonus; but I wouldn’t count on it.
With Lydia, because I assumed we’d be able to go diaper-free so much earlier, I felt like an utter failure when we weren’t. I went so crazy, wondering what we were doing wrong, why we sucked so bad at it.
In the future, if I let go of these expectations, I would be able to enjoy the benefits I was already granted.
It would have made the whole process immeasurably easier and more enjoyable if I’d known it would take as long as it did.
Any thoughts or questions? Have you tried EC? What was your experience?
Linking up with Your Green Resource on Red and Honey.