EC in Practice
EC the Second Time Around
by Kylene Grell (Mentor, Portland, Oregon, and mother to 3 children)
I have 3 children, 2 boys and 1 girl. I did not begin Elimination Communication (EC) with my first boy, but started with my second son and continued with the birth of my daughter. I found out about EC before I became pregnant with my second son. I had great dreams of having a potty independent 1 year old which did not unfold as I had planned. I have been ECing my daughter since her birth, and I have noticed some differences in my approach and results.
Personality does play a part in the second time around, having a third baby makes me realize this every day. My daughter has a very particular personality and she lets you know when she does not like something. Consequently, wet and dirty diapers will not be tolerated and she gives ample warning signals before nearly all of her elimination. My son did not give such clear signals and tolerated wet diapers more than his sister.
I never used disposables with my daughter. She does not pee as frequently as my first did, she seems to hold her pee for quite a while and generally poops only once a day. She is still very young, sleeps a great deal of the time, she is not mobile yet so there are less opportunities for misses.
When my son was born I used disposables until the meconium passed. I got hooked on using them and was afraid of using my pile of brand new cloth diapers and ended up using the disposables for three weeks. With my daughter's birth I was adamant about only using cloth. I was rewarded with catching all but one of the meconiums and most of the pees in those early days. I waited for several weeks to physically put my son on a potty. Up to that point I cued him when he eliminated in his cloth diaper. With my daughter, I didn't wait until it was easy for me to start. I plunged right in as soon as I recognized the first signal when she was about 5 hours old.
My VPPS (very portable potty system) is getting much more use this time because when we are away from home I am more confident in my ability to listen to her signals and I am not relying on her waterproof clothing to do the job. I am much more apt to pull out the VPPS whenever the need arises. We often return from an outing of even several hours clean and dry.
I find having a small potty bowl very useful. I keep one near me wherever we are so there is no excuse for allowing my daughter to go in her diaper. This way we don't have any misses because I'm unable to get up and potty the baby in the bathroom.
The first time I did EC I experimented with many diaper and diaper alternatives until I found items I was comfortable using. I am now less focused on finding the perfect training pants, small undies, or waterproof gadget. I now know what I like and don't need to spend time thinking about underwear, because the perfect underwear isn't as important as the communication.
Communication is half of the term "elimination communication" and it is at least as important as the elimination if not more. I don't feel like I really achieved the kind of communication with my son that was necessary for the kind of EC success I now enjoy with my daughter.
Now that the newness, excitement, and novelty of a baby peeing in the potty has passed I am more able to focus on the real communication. When my daughter was born, instead of having no outside help, my mother came to stay for 2 weeks. This allowed me to focus on the baby and not worry about my other children and the household. I took the advice of my midwife and actually stayed in bed for 7 days allowing me time to really rest and focus on the baby. We really established a good communication in those first weeks and I feel it would be hard to break that bond.
Having three children keeps me very busy and at times it feels like my daughter isn't getting the concentrated attention that my sons did. Sometimes I feel badly about this and wish I could change it. I have realized that our communication is much stronger than with the older children even though they received more one on one time. I no longer feel like I have to be holding the baby to recognize her signals. Our connection is such that I just need to be in the vicinity to know she needs to go or needs another type of attention. My hope is that by the time she is mobile, our communication skills will be well established and pottying associations will be solid, so that pottying will be just a part of life, not a challenge.
My mindset has changed with each child. Today as I gabbed on the phone; I recognized my baby's cue, pottied her, re-dressed her, emptied and rinsed the potty. I didn't even realize what I had done until it was over. It has become that routine to me. With my son I would have had to be waiting vigilantly for a cue, wait excitedly for a pee, then grin all the way to the sink...never mind talking on the phone.
Another value ECing a second child has brought me is insight into other cultures. I think I can more fully understand how in other cultures pottying a baby is a natural part of life. Just as my mindset has so changed with each of three children (conventionally diapered, ECd from a young age and ECd literally from birth); I can only imagine how one's mind would be different if one lived in a culture where EC was the norm.
ECing my son took so much concentration. All I thought about was pottying. There were great thrills when we had a catch and despair when we missed. I was so proud of our little trick. I looked for opportunities for people to see us pottying or to show off our cute undies. This time we are taking it easy and staying ultra mellow. Misses are no big deal, hey, they happen! There aren't many of them either, or maybe it just feels that way. I also don't take every miss as a personal failure. I apologize to my daughter for being so obtuse and ignoring her yelps and violent writhing or call her on not telling me at all; then I change her and we move on.
I had always hear "just relax" from other more experienced ECers. I thought I was relaxed, now I know that I was not. I really relaxed and just do it. No more anxiety over misses and catches. I repeat the sage advice given me,"RELAX!"
The sight of a one day old relieving herself on the potty is still an awe inspiring event, but to me the communication is just as awesome, and more valuable than dry pants.
I still like to show off the cute undies!