Thursday, December 13, 2012

Elimination Communication

Elimination Communication. One of my favorite parenting discoveries ever. And most people have probably never even heard of it. I didn't until a couple months ago when I read Beyond the Sling by Mayim Bialik (aka Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory).  She dedicates one whole chapter in this great attachment parenting book to it, and with good reason. 

Elimination Communication (EC) is not potty training. (I hate using "training" anyway when dealing with human to human interactions. I train my dog, not my baby.) Elimination Communication is, to steal from Wikipedia, "a practice in which a caregiver uses timing, signals, cues, and intuition to address an infant's needs to eliminate waste."

At first it sounds crazy...can I really get my infant to go on the potty instead of a diaper? We've been taught that we need to wait until the infant is "ready" to learn how to use the potty, often not until two or three (*shudder*), but here we have this small (but growing) group of mothers saying they get their one month old to pee on cue. It makes sense if you think about it--no animal in the natural world eliminates in the same place it sleeps, and babies don't want to either! That's why newborns like to wait until you are in the middle of a diaper change to pee all over you. That is, until they lose the sense of knowing when they are going, which we then have to re-introduce when learning to potty train.  

You don't need any special equipment, other than a potty (and you'll have to get that eventually anyway) and some cloth diapers if you want and don't have any. Plus, most ECers report that their children are out of diapers by eighteen months. Um yeah, I'll give it a shot.

Lizzie, on the potty at
6 months. I'm including
this picture more for
future blackmail than
anything else. :) 
Lizzie was five months when I started--and she peed on the very first try! What I noticed those first few days was that she was peeing about twice as much as I thought so I was only changing her every other time she needed.  She doesn't pee in her sleep or in the sling, so it was and is really easy to get her to go (with a hiss sound) as soon as she is done with either activity.  I didn't "catch" any poops for almost two weeks as she doesn't really make any noise or signal. I had to learn to rely on intuition and timing before I could catch any. Now, a month and a half later, I am able to catch at least two poops a day and five pees.  And that "catch" count gets higher every week. So that's at 600+ fewer poopy diapers a year. Yeah, I'm not too disappointed about that.

Practicing EC is very, very low stress and you can do it as often as you feel like it. I only do it part time, and keep Lizzie in her cloth diapers the rest of the time. As with any parenting practice, some people get a little more serious about it than I would. For example, I don't plan on squatting my baby over a bush, but that might be your thing.

If you're interested in learning more, there are a couple of other great books to help you get started on ECing. Diaper Free! The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene is by Ingrid Bauer and she coined the term "Elimination Communication" some time back, though she now prefers to call it Natural Infant Hygiene. This is a good book if you are interested in learning about how she re-discovered ECing and why it works. The other great book about ECing is The Diaper Free Baby: The Natural Toilet Training Alternative by Christine Gross-Loh. If you don't car about a detailed how or why to EC and just want to get to the what-do-I-do-and-how-to-do-it this is for you. It show you how practice EC whether it's once a week or full time, how to EC on the go (no bushes!), and even deals with things like "potty pauses." 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Cold Turkey

It always starts innocently.  

For me, it started one night when Lizzie was around two months old. I have a lot of patience, I really do.  Except when I'm tired. And I was tired.  She was crying...and crying...and crying.  And I cracked. 

That's when we got addicted to Paci.

It was so easy, it worked so well that I didn't think anything about it. Just pop it in. I didn't even buy those first ones. They were a gift, just lying there, waiting for my moment of weakness. I didn't want to be that mom with the diaper bag full of pacifiers, with the clips, and the special binkie wipes. I vowed that night to only use it on a need-only basis.

My sweet baby high on Paci.

At first I didn't realize I had a problem.  Even when my sister-in-law jokingly remarked a month later that we had a Paci addiction I shrugged it off. I really only used it to get her to sleep. Oh, and when we were in the car. And I guess if we were going on a walk. Crap.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against pacifiers in general.  They can be a great tool, and I understand not everyone is blessed with the easy-going baby I have. My hatred is personal.  I hate trying to find them in the dark. I hate cleaning them. I hate trying to keep the dog from chewing on them. I hate having to constantly have one on me "just in case." I hate buying them. And I hate-hate-hate that Lizzie needs one to get to sleep.

So last night I decided to go cold turkey. Problem is, I've said this in the past, only to cave bleary-eyed at three in the morning. I needed to do something drastic. They all had to go. Not even a church/doctor's office/meeting emergency paci could be allowed to survive. Not even that one that's been stuck behind her crib for a month and a half that I just haven't gotten a chance to dig out.

Throwing them in the trash wasn't enough. I didn't currently have anything gross enough to ensure I wouldn't do something desperate when exhaustion kicked in. They had to be cut. 

Oh God. Did I just cut up all my pacifiers?


Update: We've just made it through the first night in four months without the paci. Yes, it was a long night but when I woke this morning and checked on my baby she was smiling in her sleep. I had no idea she did that. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

DIY Christmas Baby Photo Shoot

I'm pretty picky about my pictures, so I'd hate to spend a lot of money on a photographer and come out with something I'm not happy with.  The result it that I end up doing my own shoots most of the time. I did Lizzie's birth announcement a few months ago and decided to do a simple Christmas one this week with a few easy props in my house.  (Lucky we moved into the "new" housing on base and have a lot of natural light with some monster-size windows to help.)

My first shot was to do one of the typical Christmas lights in the background shots but I couldn't get the lights to where they looked just right. I hung a flat white sheet over our counter and floor and hung the lights on top.  I used a low aperture setting to focus in on Lizzie's face.  After several minutes of this however I wasn't satisfied and only managed to get one "tester" shot I liked which I converted to black and white with Photoshop.

My next attempt was to use one of my Christmas tablecloths in the background.  I wanted a more classic Christmas look so I made a quick King's Crown for Lizzie with some old Stampin' Up! scrapbook paper I had. I also added some beads to get a little shine.  I liked how these turned out a little better, but didn't think I wanted to use any for my Christmas card. 

My weird sheet/light setup.
Finally, I had a good idea. What I really wanted was some really, really great background light.  Unfortunately, all the windows have grids (is that the right word?) in them so I would have had odd criss-cross shadows in them. I also was not in a professional studio. The sun was low in the sky and at just the right angle to come in nicely through my front door. I decided to string the white sheet between two chairs just where the light hit. I had Andrew standing by in case of any baby tip-overs. I got Lizzie dressed, and I started snapping.  Success! (This all seems a little more epic in my head as I'm writing this with my Two Steps from Hell Pandora track.)

This was my most successful attempt. I got quite a few pictures I was happy with, all using a lower aperture on my digital SLR. 

"Wow. What a great idea using the sheets and sunlight Mom!"

I finally selected the picture I liked the best for our Christmas cards. Luckily, I didn't find that I had to use Photoshop other than to crop to the right dimensions for Shutterfly and add the text.  I drew from the colors in her dress and the lights for the text color.  Not your typical Christmas colors, but I am SO HAPPY with how they turned out. 

Whoo! Done! Ordered! And it's only December 4th...just 52 weeks to come up with next year's Christmas card.

Check out my more recent Christmas cards too!

2013 Toddler Pictures
2014 Toddler Pictures