An Honest Update on Elimination Communication

elimination communication(Note: this first part was actually written last Thursday. Also, for those who haven’t been following the saga: we started practicing elimination communication with our daughter basically from birth, and I’ve updated from time to time. She is now a year and three months old.)

This past Monday, we finally mastered elimination communication.

When Ben got home from work just before supper, I was able to proudly announce that Lydia was still in the same dry diaper we’d put her to bed in the night before. Amazing!

Using a combination of timing and intuition, I’d gotten her to pee in the potty every time for the last 20 hours. At last! (Side note: She doesn’t cue me at all when she has to pee. She never has. Some babies do; but I’ve had to rely solely on timing.)

It felt SO GOOD to finally see all that dedication pay off. At fifteen months, she was finally using the potty full-time. We could switch to underpants! I could start putting her in full pants, rather than the leg-warmers she’s lived in since her third month of life to facilitate easy diaper removal for pottying. I couldn’t wait! Pants! Normal pants! Like all the other diapered kids! I’d teach her to pull them down and then back up by herself. And I wouldn’t have to buy the next size up in cloth diapers, which was a relief. Yes! This was great news.

I was going to write a post about why EC is so great, and why it paid off. I was going to enumerate all the benefits of starting with pottying in the first year of life rather than the third.

(You can probably see where this story is going.)

Lydia peed in her diaper a couple of times that evening, but it was no big deal. I’d been distracted. Tomorrow was a new day.

The next morning I got her first pee in the potty, as I always do; but I missed the second one. I was pretty sure she had been signing “potty,” too; but I’d been eating breakfast. Oops. Dang.

My mom took her for most of the day, so no pottying then; but oh well, we’d start again tomorrow. Maybe with undies!

She peed in her diaper that night, which was weird but not unheard of. But then I caught her wake-up pee again, as always.

I missed her second one – it was earlier than usual. Dang. I sat her on the potty 45 minutes later, the usual interval. . . . and nothing.

She peed in her diaper two minutes later.

Dang it! What the heck? What was wrong with us today? We’d get the next one.

We didn’t.

This went on ALL DAY. And then THE NEXT DAY.

@#$%&*!!!

What the heck was happening? We’d just mastered it! But today? Wet diaper after wet diaper. AFTER WET DIAPER. We were back to an 80% failure rate.

I was seething.

I knew that EC WORKED! I’d read all kinds of stories, and I’d experienced it firsthand! I knew that before the 1960’s, most babies were potty-trained by 18 months, and around the world, that’s still the norm (if not earlier). And I’d JUST done it three days earlier!!

So what the bleepity-bleep was I doing wrong?!?!?!

What AM I doing wrong??

I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m losing my mind over it.

*Deep breath.*

And you know what?

I still don’t regret practicing elimination communication.

Here’s why.

1. I get the sense that potty training is this frustrating for everyone. That’s just the nature of toilet-training children. I’m just dealing with it earlier – at 12-15 months, rather than 29-36 months.  So what I’m doing isn’t harder than if I was doing it the conventional way; just different.

I’m hoping I’ll get over this whole transitioning-from-diapers thing sooner, too.

I’m still confident that we’ll be done with this diaper business earlier than the national average. We at least have to be close to done by the time she’s two, which is when most people only start to potty-train. (Please, God. Please let us be done before then.)

I still believe it’s perfectly reasonable for kids this young to start using the potty. History confirms it. We Westerners, who typically start so much later, are an anomaly. Maybe I just need to get more creative.

2. I still believe that waiting to start potty-training until kids are older actually makes it harder. By the time they’re two, children are starting to become defiant, wanting to exert their independence. And they’ve  had two years to associate elimination with their diapers. That’s gotta be hard to reverse.

By contrast, at least my daughter has been able to associate urination and excretion with the potty since birth, instead of having to learn it at some arbitrary point in her later life, when she’s used to going in her diaper.

3. We have avoided at least half the poopy diapers in her life so far. Between five and nine months, we had to deal with maybe three poopy diapers. When you’re using cloth, that’s a HUGE benefit. And if you’re using disposable, that’s a lot of organic waste not going to the landfill in expensive, non-biodegradable packaging.

4. We’ve avoided lots of other common diapering problems, like diaper rash. We’ve never had to use a single dab of diaper cream.

5. I’m grateful to have always been so in tune with my daughter’s body. Even if I haven’t always managed to get her to the potty, at least I know exactly how many times she’s peed every day of her life (minus a few spent with grandma).

If I were to start potty training her a year from now without this information, I wouldn’t have a clue how many times to put her on the potty, or when. But I do have this information, which I hope will serve me in some way. (And if not, that’s OK too.)

So I’m still glad I’ve done it this way. But I do need to make a couple of changes.

First and foremost, I need to RELAX.

This is supposed to be liberating. It’s supposed to be about following my daughter’s lead, listening to her cues, keeping her comfortable, and keeping her wastes off her body. It’s supposed to be about saving energy, not using more. If it fails to do these things because I’m getting anxious and irritable, I’m missing the point.

I chose this method of dealing with my child’s elimination because it was supposed to be easier and more pleasant (and usually has been). If I’m turning it into something hard and unpleasant, I’m doing it wrong.

It’s not supposed to be about being able to wear cute pants or getting her out of diapers before her peers. So if I’m making it about those things, I’m missing the point.

I also have to remind myself that changing and washing diapers really isn’t all that difficult. (Unless it’s poop . . . but we usually manage to get poop in the potty). Seriously. I need to chill out.

I also need to switch my mentality.  I need to start thinking of what we’re doing as “part-time EC,” rather than “full-time EC with an incredible failure rate.” If we’re just doing part-time EC, then we’re actually doing quite great. Just think! Half of all the pee and almost all the poop goes into the toilet! That’ not bad.

I also need to keep in mind that when she pees in the potty, that’s awesome; but when she doesn’t, that’s fine and normal. No need to get upset. Peeing in her diaper is what all the other babies do.

* * *

Now it’s Tuesday again. Most days since I wrote this have been a happy medium between the two extremes: we’ve generally caught about half her pees, and all her poops.

I can deal with that, as long as I don’t let my perfectionist tendencies overwhelm me. We don’t have to be 100%. Part-time is A-OK.

SO. Have you ever tried this? Have I completely scared you off? What are your thoughts?

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