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Rough days and great days with EC

I practiced Elimination Communication (EC) with my first child and now I’m 10 months in with my second child. For those that aren’t familiar with EC, it’s a gentle form of baby pottying that allows babies to eliminate (poop and pee) in a potty. It’s safer, more hygienic, bonding, and wonderful.

Let me go on now. There is a BIG difference doing EC with my second child: my attitude.

With my first, everything was new. Using cloth diapers was new. Babywearing was new. Breastfeeding was new (and extremely painful at first). And the lack of sleep was DEFINITELY a new phenomenon in my life. Despite all the drastic changes a baby brings into my life, I pottied my baby from birth (well, as soon as I got home from the hospital and wasn’t drugged up. More on that here). I was the only one (that I knew of) doing this. NONE of my friends even cloth diapered. I had to constantly explain what I was doing to basically everybody. My sole comfort was that I believed in it and my husband supported me.

I think I felt that I had to prove that EC worked to everybody around me with my first baby. I wasn’t even sure of it because I didn’t know a single soul who successfully did it in real life (as in, not on the internet or in a book). EC seemed to make so much sense to me. However, I’m sure that my community thought I was slightly insane. But it’s okay. I’m kind of used to being odd or wierd.

Because of the added pressure of subconsiously feeling like I had vindicate the practice of EC, I would react strongly if I felt things weren’t going as I imagined.

EC, like anything else related to tiny babies, is a lot of work. It has ups and downs. For me, the highs and lows seem to cycle in weeks. It’d kinda go like this:

  1. STEADY PROGRESS FOR A WEEK. Some catches, some misses, doing alright.

  2. AN AMAZING WEEK. Barely any misses and only when I was being lazy. No poop misses. Dry nights. I think about buying loads of baby undies.

  3. A ROUGH WEEK. 4 poop misses suddenly for seemingly no reason. Peeing everywhere. Waking up wet from naps again. Upping my laundry game.

  4. ANOTHER ROUGH WEEK. Losing hope that things will get better. It seems like I’ll be unsuccessfully pottying baby for years or that baby will be pooping himself until he’s 3.

  5. A GREAT WEEK. Suddenly, baby has a miss-free day! A distant hope sparks again. Relief floods in. I start taking diaper-free walks again.

My 9-month-old using the big potty!

My 9-month-old using the big potty!

My mind would play tricks on me, alternating dreams of being truly diaper free very early and nightmares of having a child who is still wetting himself and not being able to share it with any of my friends who just did conventional potty training. Whatever week I was currently on, I would feel that this would be my reality forever.

It’s just like my first birth. I was in labour for a good 36 hours or so. I felt like I’d be in labour for the rest of my life. Ha ha ha… Funny now. Horrifying then.

I’ve tried to summarize the factors that, I believe, contributed to I struggled with these feelings with my first:

  • Lack of emotional maturity. It’s naive to think your reality must be your reality forever. But, I had just had an unpleasantly surprising birth experience with my first, so I was pretty moodly for about a year.

  • Lack of experience. I didn’t have a wise mentor or mother who could support me and tell me that this was all normal. I thought I was just doing a bad job when things weren’t going well. I didn’t have an EC village. And not even my own mother who passed away 2 years prior to me giving birth. Any motherly mentor could have told me that children constantly change.

  • Fear of failure. Like I mentioned before, I was trying to prove to myself and my community that EC really worked. Fear of failure really doesn’t contribute to growth.

Now, I need to share that I didn’t have these emotional struggles with EC exclusively. I had them with breastfeeding. With SLEEP. With laundry. With my life in general. Let me expound below:

  • Breastfeeding. When nursing was painful, I worried about bleeding. When my breasts were engorged, I worried about mastitis and having to wean. When my breasts became smaller, I worried about my supply dwindling. When nursing was going great, I thought I could just do this for years. When it was tough, I worried.

  • Sleep. When baby fell asleep on his own, I celebrated and imagined all the free time I would have in the near future to read, visit, and drink tea. When baby was waking up constantly, I thought I would never sleep for more than 3 hours straight for the rest of my life.

I fretted about these things when things got tough, then I felt amazing when things were going well and I could see the fruit of my labour. As a new mom, I didn’t know what to expect. We were figuring out everything as time went on basically on our own as we both didn’t have parents that could guide us.

Now, let me share the good news: how I am now.

I’ve been ECing my second baby, a girl, for about 10 months now. The biggest difference is my attitude. I’m more relaxed. I KNOW EC works. I’m not trying to prove anything to anybody. I have experienced the good weeks followed by tough weeks and know that if we have loads of misses, a huge improvement is probably just a few days away (probably after a developmental leap). I no longer think about my baby being in diapers forever, longer than other children. I no longer pounce on the dream that she will be done with diapers completely in a month. I’m more realistic.

EC works. EC is a journey. Learning takes time. Communication takes practice. As baby developes and gains new skills, she’s learning how to apply them to her pottying. I’m here to guide her a gently meet her needs.

My positive affirmations for a first-time ECing parent is:

  • EC does work. Enjoy the journey and don’t think about proving yourself to others.

  • EC takes time. Just like basically everything in life. There’s no “3-day” program here. It’s a gentle transition from you doing basically everything to support baby to your toddler doing everything on her own.

  • Your baby will be independent. You will not be holding your child in the EC hold and having misses forever! One day, your child will say “I need to pee” and do everything on his own. Even wiping. I promise.

  • Every child is different. Some seem to have babies that are reliably diaper free as early as 13 months. Others, past 2.

  • A good week is just around the corner. Maybe it’s just a week away. Or 2 weeks. But surely, it will come. As long as you’re consistent and keep offering without pressuring baby, it should come. Have hope.

  • Learn the art of chilling. Have positive expectations, but be chill when things seem to be crappy. Pun intended.

I’ve learned to chill out and take the days, one at a time.

I’ve learned to chill out and take the days, one at a time.

My last point I’d like to touch on is that the reason why ECers may experience these frustrations is our expectations. People who leave their babies in diapers expect to change dirty diapers. We don’t. Or at least we expect to change very few of them. We see that baby understands, then sometimes we prematurely expect no or very few misses. Here is the reality (at least my reality): there will be periods of few/no misses then periods of loads of misses with a gradual improvement until baby has graduated.

I hope this post can encourage somebody out there. Can you relate to how I felt? Share your experience below!

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