Friday, March 13, 2009

EC... Yes, I potty trained my 1 month old!

(Here's Hannah at about 6 months using the potty. She's about 13 months old in the bottom picture.)

I haven't talked about my "initials" for a while... so with all my recent posts about the potty... I thought I'd discuss EC.

Elimination Communication is one of those bizarre things I discovered and decided to do while I was pregnant with Hannah. The concept is that from birth, babies do not like to have their waste stuck to their bodies and can be taught to eliminate into a potty or somewhere else you indicate. The interesting note that convinced me it was possible was an article that mentioned tribal moms in Africa who wore their babies on their backs without diapers and yet, they didn't have poop and pee running down their backs. That meant they had some means of predicting when their babies were going to do it.

I figured it was worth a try even if it didn't "work". At the very least, my plan was to leave my daughter sitting in her own waste a minimal amount of time. Tiny babies cry and cry when they need to be changed but, by the time they are toddlers and we want them to use a potty, we've trained them to be comfortable going in their diapers. I've seen toddlers wait till they've got on a pullup or a diaper and then have a bowel movement. John could hold it all day and then ask for a pullup and go within minutes.

It is hard to change your ideas on where you go to the bathroom. If you doubt this, try to go in the woods. Or try to convince yourself to go in your bathtub, just as an experiment. It may be impossible for you to go somewhere other than the toilet. We are asking our children to make the same fundamental leap. I liked EC because the concept was that one could avoid the trauma.

I have one other friend in real life who has done EC. Her daughter is several months older than mine and we would secretly take our children potty hoping no one would notice. Such a stigma and confusion over doing something this crazy. But we both knew our daughters would let us know they had to go and then hold it till we got them there and then were relieved when they could potty. Hannah used to sigh happily as she released the pee she'd held.

I started "catching" pees and poops when she was one month old. I learned what signals she used when she needed to go and what times of day she was more likely to. She learned my cue to let her know she was in a potty place.

I used to convince myself from time to time that I was the one being trained... like I'd heard people say. But the truth is that we are trained to change diapers when soiled anyway. If I could be trained to take her potty before the diaper was dirty, then that was one less diaper to wash or buy. Plus, I had a happier baby with almost zero diaper rash in her lifetime.

I also thought it might be coincidence until we were driving back from Indiana one time when Hannah was 3 months old. She cried a distinctive cry as she woke from a deep sleep in her carseat. Even Theo said, "Hey, that's a pee pee cry! Should I pull over?" We started looking for an exit. The next exit was three miles away. I told Hannah it was okay to go ahead and pee in her diaper that we were going to stop in just a minute and I'd change her. She continued to cry for a few minutes and then suddenly stopped. I knew for sure she'd gone.

So we pulled into a gas station parking lot and I got her out of her carseat and put her on my lap and removed her DRY diaper. I was shocked and quickly reached for the gladware we kept in the car for this purpose. I held her over the container and whispered, "Sssssssss." She took a deep breath and the muscles in her back loosened and there was a large pee stream going into the container. She immediately turned her face to nuzzle my chest and cuddled back to sleep before the diaper was back on. That's how I knew I was doing the right thing. I was meeting my daughter's needs in the same way I did when I bathed her, nursed her, and held her. This was just one more way I could be there for her. And she let me know she appreciated it.

At five months, I was so used to taking her potty that I accidently did it with a friend in the room. Remember, I tried to keep some of my weird behaviors on the down-low. Marie was amazed, impressed, scared? as she said, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING? Did she just pee in a potty?" I know for certain she would have never believed me if she hadn't seen it for herself.

The developmental specialists and doctors in our country say that babies aren't even aware of their elimination until around 18 months and certainly don't have sphincter control until then. But that isn't based on medical information but on population statistics. Babies are very aware of their elimination needs and are happy when you pick up on their communication about it.

In the end, Hannah is not completely independent at pottying before her same-age counterparts. (Though many haven't even started the process.) But I've had a lot less diapers to deal with and she certainly hates to have wet pants. I've never had to bribe, cajole, teach or threaten about using the potty. She's just slowly gotten better and better at it. She also slowly has gotten better at walking and talking and eating as well. It's been a gradual process.

I love EC and now that I know how to do it better, I look forward to doing it whenever God grants me another child. If this concept fascinates you, search the internet. There are all sorts of sites and books out there to help you in this journey.


Chloe said...

We loved our EC experience as well. It was amazing how in tune we were during the night. As we co-slept, we would cycle through deep and light sleep together. In the periods of light sleep, I woke up as I felt Lauren start to squirm. I'd take off the dry diaper, put her on her potty, she'd pee and then we'd put the dry diaper back on and nurse on the other side back to sleep. Once I figured this out, she almost never had any wet diapers at night. Even though we'd get up 2 or 3 times per night, I felt very rested because I was never being jarred out of deep sleep by a screaming baby. I can't wait to EC our next baby!

Carissa said...

I know that I should comment here, but I really don't know what to say. With the bladder size (or lack there of) that my DD had, EC was a love/hate relationship, to say the least.
The true test will be to see if I do this with my next one. And I can already answer that (I think).... How can I not?? I don't think I can ever go back to just letting him/her wet themselves when I know that we can communicate.
And least the next child will have different genes, and therefore -hopefully- a larger bladder!!!