Our EC Journey, So far
Let me just start by saying that babies rock! Really, they do! Before we started this whole Elimination Communication (EC) thing, I really didn’t imagine it would be all that successful. I mean, I read all the books on EC, with little babies peeing on command. But when I imagined how I could make that work with my own little baby, I initially had a little trouble imagining it.
But here I am with my 12 week old baby, and today I took her outside on 5-6 separate occasions and cued her with a “pssss” sound and she peed! I even caught my first poop today! I can’t help but be incredibly impressed that I’m having a whole communication process with my 12-week-old about peeing and pooping, and she really understands. Not only that, but I reduced the amount of diapers that I used today quite a bit. And B’s butt was dry for quite some time. I’m sure that feels great to her.
We aren’t ECing full time right now. Right now, on a good day, I’ll have B diaper-free for about half the day. The rest of the daytime she wears cloth diapers. Sometimes she’ll be in a cloth diaper and I’ll just take it off when I sense that she needs to pee. Other days I get really busy or exhausted, and B will spend the day in cloth diapers. At nighttime, we don’t EC at all. I use a few disposable diapers at night. Right now, I just don’t have it in me to sit up in bed and do the EC thing.
This is how we started ECing:
The first week or so of ECing I viewed as an observation period. I started this when B was about 8 weeks old, which was when things calmed down enough after the birth that I thought I could handle trying this. Whenever I had time, I would lay B down on a waterproof changing pad and take off her pants and diaper. I’d put a cloth prefold diaper under her to absorb any pees. I would pay careful attention to what she was doing and when she was peeing. I would try to notice what sorts of facial expressions and body movements she was making when she peed. And whenever she peed, I would make the cue noise (psssssss) and tell her, “Yes! You are peeing!”
After those first observation weeks, I decided to give the cuing a try right around when I thought she might have to pee. I’d take her outside and put her in a supported squat against my back and make that same “psssssss” noise. I was shocked to find that she had learned the noise, and she peed most of the time when I took her outside. I think she is peeing partially because I am so in tune with her and I can tell when she needs to go. She is also partially responding to the cue noise. So our communication is going both ways.
Of course, sometimes I am wrong in my guesses, and she doesn’t pee. When that happens, no big deal. Other times I’m not really paying attention, and she sometimes pees on me. Again, no big deal. I have changes of clothes, and pee isn’t that gross or anything. When she pooped on me at the beach, that was pretty gross, but I got over it.
One nice part about ECing is that I feel like our family has recaptured the ancient wisdom of the past. Arp tells me that he thinks his grandmother practiced Elimination Communication. She lives in India, where EC was typical, but may be dying out due to the influx of disposable diapers. By the time Arp came along, his mother tried making the cue noise with him, but combined it with some regimented, power-based, traditional potty training. It is clear that the wisdom had been lost in Arp’s family. Sadly, breastfeeding in his family has also become a lost art. Like many developing nations, the new generation seems to be following in footsteps of the west, with reduced breastfeeding rates combined with the (wrong!) belief that formula is easier and better than breastfeeding. Ditto homebirth. Arp’s mother was the last member of his family to be born at home. My children are changing those trends. We are going back to some of the old ways with ECing, breastfeeding, and homebirth. Now, if only we can convince a few of Arp’s cousins to give them a try, too. Unfortunately, Arp doesn’t hold much hope that they will.