Personal Experience

By Marie Colantoni Pechet (Contact, Massachusetts)

My Reluctant Partner and How I Got Him on Board with EC

The first thing you should know about my husband is that he showers at least twice a day. For a long time, he insisted that I shower after a yoga class. (This was Iyengar, not Ashtanga, for anyone who might think I came back sweaty.)

You should also know that he has since accepted that fact that I don't shower after a yoga class if I didn't sweat, so he does have the potential to change his mind and actions.

When it came to our son, he had absolutely no problem with the idea of changing dirty diapers. He did, however, have a pretty impressive process for the whole procedure. For any diaper change, before the old diaper came off, he had a new one positioned on top of it, and he immediately covered the baby's penis to protect himself, the changing table, the walls, and the world, I guess, against any spontaneous spray. We joked that the poor baby's penis never got any fresh air. For poop, I swear that the whole area was cordoned off and sterilized. I stayed away from watching those diaper changes, as I just couldn't keep my mouth shut, and told myself that I should welcome and appreciate the break.

Then I heard about EC. It seems that once you have this knowledge, you just can't go back!

When I started EC, he thought it was one of my offbeat ideas, which he is now used to and tolerates. They also kind of amuse him at times, I think. To his credit and my relief, he never resists them.

But he did react to the dirty mess he thought it would create. Pee on the floors completely grossed him out, and required a complete sterilization of the area. Poop on the floor, much less the carpet, was too awful for him to even consider. Oh, and it horrified him to think that our child might touch the toilet in the process.

This was my project, and our unspoken agreement was that it was okay as long as he wasn't expected to do it too. I could do it during the day, when he was at work and didn't see any resulting mess. When he was in charge, he would use disposable diapers.

To be honest, I had no clue what I was doing with EC, but it felt right in my gut and I was determined to try it. So, I started for about an hour a day, in the morning when we weren't rushed, and our son would either be naked or have on underwear. I would do it each day either until I was tired of cleaning up, or, after I got better at reading his signals, I would do it until the underwear got wet.

After awhile, our babysitter started practicing EC as well, and between the two of us, we generally got up to a full day of confidently dressing him in underwear, even if we didn't catch all the pees and poops. Our son also became comfortable with letting us know when he had to go and expected that we would respond.

It wasn't always a smooth process, and it was especially hard to go through the frustrating times because I felt like I couldn't complain about it to my husband, and couldn't effectively brainstorm with him. Thank goodness for EC discussion groups!

I think this part was important: I never asked my husband to do it, and tried not to talk about it too much or push it on him. Gradually my husband saw EC going more smoothly. Also, over time, our son was clearly taking more control of his desire to use the toilet rather than a diaper. One time, we were on a flight and our son insisted on using the airplane bathroom. They feel filthy even to me, but I took him, he peed, we flushed, returned to our seats, and my husband took note.

It was only a matter of time before my husband was ready to respond to our son's requests. One day, the three of us went to a concert together. My husband had been in charge of dressing our son, and had put him in a diaper. The concert was almost over, and our son said, "Need to pee!" We wanted to hear the last songs, and my husband said, "Just go in your diaper." But, our son would have none of that, and insisted on finding the bathroom (and bringing my husband with him). I think that event helped to convince my husband that our son really could reliably communicate the need to go and, moreover, actually preferred the toilet to the diaper.

One success, and I thought he'd be hooked. But I forgot about the mess factor. Back at home, our son would insist on using the toilet, my husband would take him, and there would often be spray everywhere. I could feel the tension as I sat in the next room. My husband would then get out an arsenal of cleaners that I didn't even know we had, and I laughed to myself, thinking that this part was more difficult than EC itself!

EC reminded me that "this too, will pass". Our son is now almost three years old, and has been reliably using the toilet for longer than we can remember. My husband still gets grossed out if our son's aim isn't perfect, but helping him use the toilet is simply a way of life now.

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