July 20, 2010

on the potty.

yesterday i caught our first morning pee.

and i'm not talking about taking a pregnancy test.

i'm talking about elimination communication - that wild and crazy thing that parents do nowadays across the world have done for millions of years. i had dabbled with it when pea was a baby but i was really comfortable using cloth diapers and saw no reason to take EC (as the cool kids call it) seriously. it didn't help that the first time i sat him on the baby bjorn (at four months old), he looked at me like, "are you serious, lady?"

i'm not even kidding.

we pretty much kept the potty seat in the bathroom from then on but i wasn't trying to "catch" anything - except on his second birthday he made all the tell-tale signs of making poo, so i whipped the potty seat out into the hall, took off his diaper, sat him down, and he completed his business on the without incident. however, (for lots of reasons i can get to later) he was well past three before he used the potty regularly and cooperatively.

when sprout was born i had no intentions of trying EC. i didn't have a potty seat in the house. i even talked a little shit when a friend whose daughter is just two months younger than sprout mentioned she was starting EC. i am sort of an all or nothing girl and after hearing that she was going to commit to an hour a day i thought, "why bother?" but i listened to her reasoning and learned that her two older daughters had potty trained really late and she simply wanted her youngest to recognize her body's signals and associate them with the potty much sooner.

no harm in that, however, i firmly believe that children don't have to "learn" to recognize those signals or "taught" to associate them with the toilet in order for potty training (or learning, whatever) to be successful.

see, i've had two completely different potty training experiences with the bean and pea and i have a pretty good idea of what to do and not to do in order to have sprout out of diapers by 2 or 2 1/2. the whole "waiting until the child is ready" was probably a tactic developed by the disposable diaper industry (sorry, had to get some conspiracy theory-esque drivel in here). in a way it appealed to the busy or working parent and it's a heck of a lot easier to stick a kid in a diaper (or pull-up, more on this later) than devote the time and effort it takes to be consistent until the child is steadily using the toilet.

needless to say, i still felt inspired to get another potty seat and introduce the concept to my 15 month old. the first day we got it, i took off his diaper and sat him down on the potty despite his minor protest. he started to cry, stood up, and that was that. i tried it again, the next day and the scenario was nearly the same as the first time. BUT the following morning i went to pee and sprout followed me and sat down on his potty seat all on his own. i wasn't focused on trying to catch a pee since he'd likely already had a first morning pee in the diaper, as we'd played in bed a while. but he had fun sitting and standing, repeatedly, while i washed my hands and brushed my teeth.

later that day, before a bath, i sat him on the seat without a diaper and caught a pee. another time, after a poo, i sat him on it just so i could rinse off his cloth diaper in the toilet and he pooed a little more in the potty.

then i sort of slacked off and didn't put him on the potty for two weeks but yesterday morning we caught a little morning pee. then he stood up and peed a little on my very thick, hard to launder, very absorbant cotton rug, so i sat him back down on his potty and he finished.

will i continue? eh, i don't know...i still don't see any huge benefit unless EC is a way of life but there's nothing wrong with introducing the potty to an infant or toddler.

you may be wondering how i am so confident that sprout will be diaper-free by age two. well, i'm not 100% sure, but close, and this is why...my first son was potty trained using the "run naked and free" method when i had the time to stay home without interruption. he is a winter baby and i was attending community college full-time so instead of trying, as soon as he turned two, despite my grandmother's insistence, i waited a few months until spring break. i had two weeks off and decided that would be the perfect time. he was twenty-seven months old and the process was complete in four days. i say complete, because on that fourth day i woke up to the sound of him going pee, all by himself, without prompting. from then on, he communicated his needs perfectly. by the end of the week, he insisted that i put underwear on him at night and he never woke up wet.

i didn't use bribes, i didn't use a reward system. i just put him in underwear and sat him on the potty every hour or two, increasing the time by day three.

with pea, it was an entirely different story. when he successfully pooed on his second birthday, i should have made the commitment then but i was getting my bachelor's in psychology and he spent two days a week with my husband while i was at school all day. that inconsistency in his schedule kept me from the dedication required to potty train. i thought similarly to bean, i'd potty train around twenty-seven months, during yet another spring break (they were both born in january) but i honestly can't say what happened then...it was my last semester and i was taking a full course load, which included the most difficult class ever (brain and behavior which could be described as the most in-depth, fascinating, yet boring, class on the anatomy and function of the brain and every single one of the hundredbazilliongazillion cells it contains) so i'm pretty sure focusing on or recovering from midterms was all i was up to. but after graduation, it would be summer, i'd have all sorts of time on my hands, it would be great. except it wasn't.

pea was closer to two and a half and, though he had been cloth diapered nearly full-time, he had grown accustomed to disposable trainers while hanging out with his papa. i must also admit, i'd grown just as attached. they were easy, he refused to pee in public, and they afforded me a few hours out of the house without having to take a kid to pee every half hour or worse, having to change wet clothes. so i didn't push it and by mid-summer we were planning a ten day trip to connecticut. because pea was strong-willed and refused to even try to pee in the potty most of the time, by this point, i figured there was no sense in trying before the trip because the thought of taking him to pee on an airplane made me very nervous. yay. pull-ups (or rather seventh generation trainers) were easy, surely they'd be easy to ditch once we were in connecticut. we'd hang out in the hotel for ten days while papa was in doing business stuff. he could pee on the hotel carpet, who'd care? but that's not what happened. we actually didn't stay holed up in the hotel at all, and really? who was i kidding? teaching a child to potty train in unfamiliar territory is like a huge not-going-to-happen.

so we come back home, it's nearly august. pea's dependence and attachment to disposable trainers is stronger than ever and we had a case to finish. then i got pregnant again. and i was tired and ill and before i was out of my first trimester i was having difficulty walking (which only worsened with time) thanks to pretty severe SPD so potty training was my last priority.

we were still using cloth diapers around the house because i didn't feel great about the environmental impact or the financial strain of using disposable trainers but he wore one to bed and one when we left the house. because he generally pooed first thing in the morning, he grew accustomed to doing his business in a disposable trainer, and by the time he was three, he would specifically ask for a pull-up if he was in a diaper and needed to poo.

long story, short (too late, as my husband and some of you might say, i know) pea wasn't potty trained by the time sprout was born. he knew what i wanted but was strong-willed and determined to get his way and i wasn't motivated enough to potentially damage his self-esteem for life, just to get mine.

he did not poo again in the potty until he had no choice but to hang out at grandma's for a few days. despite our lack of preparation and plans for a homebirth, sprout decided he didn't care, and he came four weeks early. we had to stay in the hospital for 48 hours and even though pea was good at holding it in, my mom coaxed him into avoiding intestinal blockage. the first poopy pull-up i had to change when we got back home was the last. i looked pea in the eye and said, "i know you went poop for grandma and you know you can do it. i will not be changing the poopy diapers of two kids. i just can't." and he looked up at me and said, "okay, mommy."

that isn't to say it was all cherries from then on. he's a different child than sprout. we didn't have completely dry nights. even still. and he would not pee in public until, like two weeks ago. but what i've learned from these experiences is that there comes a point when a child will ignore their natural ability to recognize their own signals and they get comfortable using a familiar item (diaper or pull up) in familiar position (standing or squatting) and that point potty training becomes hellishly difficult.

so. regardless of whether or not i keep up the ECing with sprout, the plan is to introduce formal potty training well before he forms an attachment to his diapers. and we're not even going to buy disposable trainers. nope.

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