Elimination Communication has been a continuation of my remembering the Ancient Wisdom of the Goddess. Learn how to use it and its gifts...
Elimination communication has proven to be pivotal to my re-memebering the Ancient Wisdom of the Great Mother within me.
I often say that my first son came to me to help me clear the mess from my life. Well, my second son came to help me remember my way back home to the Goddess.
Elimination Communication (EC) was truly as primordial as my unassisted birth experience. It is difficult to explain but using EC allowed me to tap into a part of myself that I don't know exactly how I could have if I had not used this process.
When I began using elimination communication, I had just began to consciously study the energy of the Divine Feminine. As I look back on it so much of what had happened up until this point was the Energy of the Goddess in the form of the Ancient Mothers leading and directing me to my initiation into the Sacred Feminine Mysteries.
This is a process that helped me hone my intuitive abilities as well as lead me to trusting the innate Divine Intelligence that resides within each and every Human Being.
Truly, this is a process that lead me to decide that children and adults are equals and that babies and children deserve more trust in their abilities.
Again, I share this story, written in 2004, to illustrate how I have continued to evolve even with limited knowledge of my inner Goddess at times. I just trusted my inner feelings with elimination communication most of the time.
And most certainly, I share this story to advocate for all the babies in the world...that parents and care takers will better understand that Divinity within each child and help children to remember this truth.
Please enjoy my story called:
How I am Helping My Son Learn How to Use the Potty: Part 2- Elimination Communication
Before I can begin explaining how I am assisting my second son with learning how to use the potty, I need to give you some history. Despite the fact that I eventually found a system that worked for helping my first son learn how to use the toilet, it was really hard.
When I look back on the entire process, it seemed too taxing and overwhelming at times. So when I found out that I was pregnant with my second baby, I was determined to not take the same route to toilet learning that I had taken the first time. I would start the process sooner and avoid disposable diapers as much as possible.
As a result, I decided that I would use cloth diapers full-time with this baby as opposed to part-time which is what I did with my first son. I had heard that children tended to potty train more quickly and easily if they were in cloth diapers.
I talked extensively to my friends who used cloth diapers and even ordered extra diapers from my favorite diaper company. When my second baby was born, I began using cloth diapers full-time.
All was going well for about two months until he began to break out in a rash. I used all kinds of creams to get rid of the rash to no avail. Because his skin looked so irritated, I decided to abandon cloth diapers until I could figure out what was causing the problem.
The kicker was that nothing I tried worked. I changed laundry detergents, air dried the diapers in the sun and used a water softener in the wash cycle. My son continued to break out after very short intervals in cloth diapers.
I was so disappointed because I had truly committed myself to using cloth diapers. But there was no doubt that it was the diapers because his skin was perfect in the disposable diapers. At that moment I felt that I had lost the battle but not the war. But what was I going to do to get out of this dilemma?
In the meantime, I had joined an online group called "The Continuum Concept" inspired by a book of the same name by Jean Liedloff. While reading discussions on various parenting issues, I ran across the letters "EC" and saw that it had something to do with babies, the elimination process and being diaper free. My interest was piqued immediately.
After I researched, I began to realize that this was the answer that I had been waiting for. "EC" stands for elimination communication. I had first heard about this process when I read The Continuum Concept during my older son's first year of life.
The author, Liedloff, had lived with, studied and published her findings on the Yequana culture in South America. One of the parenting activities she noted was that Yequana infants were always on their mothers' bodies usually in slings.
This close contact allowed the mother to be so in tune with her baby that at the exact moment the baby needed to pee or poop, she would take the baby out of the sling, hold her off to the side to eliminate and then place her back into the sling. I had also learned of the same activity in various African cultures and found it to be fascinating but never thought to use it with my children, at least not until I was having problems with cloth diapers.
The basic premise is that infants are born with the ability to communicate their needs even about their need to urinate and move their bowels. Although initially they cannot hold their bladders for long periods of time, they will cue their parents that they need to eliminate.
One of the primary signals is a sudden cry and babies have this ability until they are about 6 months old. If the parents are in tune with the baby and are willing, they only simply have to hold the baby over a toilet, bathtub, bowl, or the grass and cue the baby, who will then pee, poop or both.
The baby learns the parent's cue because when the parent begins taking the baby to the potty, she will make a specific sound while the baby uses the potty, usually the "SSSS" sound.
So this process boils down to communication. The baby communicates the need to use the potty, the parent responds, and then communicates to the baby that they are in a place where the baby can pee or poop. The cue and response between baby and parent is no different from the baby crying to communicate the need to eat or sleep.
The beauty of this process is that there is no pressure. Parents can let the baby go diaper free, which is the quickest way to get the baby to signal consistently and achieving 100 % toilet learning.
Another option is that parents can use diapers to avoid accidents when they are away from home. But, the main principle is to be open to responding to the baby's cues and not letting the baby ever get used to feeling wet. If the baby eliminates in her diaper, it is no problem. There is nothing punitive about this process.
The more I learned the more fascinated I became.
My son cuing me to use the potty?
It almost sounded too good to be true until I began to think about some things I had observed. First, I had noticed that there were several times when my infant son would awaken from a long nap and his diaper would be dry. At first I worried a bit but then began to notice that this was a pattern.
Second, I also had noticed prior to learning about EC that he would have sudden cries that seemingly came from no where. So as I thought about what I was learning, I knew that my son was already living proof that babies do have bladder control and that they can communicate their need to use the potty from birth.
At the time, my son was 5 ½ months old and I was unsure that elimination communcation would work because he was so close to 6 months old. But members of the Yahoo Group, Elimination Communication, which is a list devoted to parents who are interested in or utilizing EC, assured me that this was doable for my son and me. In my mind I felt I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.
I reminded myself that one of the major disadvantages of my first son's toilet learning experience was that he was in the habit of peeing and pooping in his diaper, which made the entire potty training experience about changing this habit.
I thought that even if I do not get my son to the potty every time, I could at least put him in cloth diapers and change him after he urinated only once.
I began by setting myself up for success. I had learned that babies will hold their bladder while sleeping so an optimal time to EC the baby is immediately upon awakening.
One morning at my son's 5 a.m. nursing, I decided to take him into the bathroom and hold his bottom over the tub. Sure enough, he was dry when I checked his diaper so I held him in a squatting position over the bathtub and as he began to urinate, I made the "SSSSS" sound. He looked a bit startled as I did this but continued to urinate despite.
Over the course of the next few days we went through this routine after he awakened in the morning and from his daily naps. It was so amazing that he naturally held his bladder for several hours as he slept.
I then began to notice that at times he would engage in what I had learned is called the "pee-pee" stare. In the midst of being very active, he would stop abruptly and stare at the ceiling for a moment and then return to playing. When I would check his diaper which, had been previously dry, sure enough it was wet immediately after the stare.
Also, I began to notice that he would get really fussy in what seemed like an instant. Two additional cues that I used were timing and intuition. Often I would take my son to use the potty because I knew that it had been a while so he was due to urinate soon. At other times words would pop in my mind like, "Kamau needs to pee" or "Poop" and based on those thoughts, I would EC him.
So with these cues, I began taking him to the potty and cuing him to urinate or move his bowels and each time he did. After only a couple of weeks, I was truly amazed at such quick success! Even my husband who thought that elimination communication was far fetched, was impressed that this process was working.
Although I began with much success, I cannot lie, EC has not been the easiest activity to incorporate into my busy lifestyle. My biggest obstacle has been me, which is a carryover theme from my toilet learning experience with my first son.
At times I was ultra busy with too much to do around the house. Additionally, I am often on the go running errands, going to playgroup, La Leche League meetings and church activities. And although I wear my son often, being so busy prevents me at times from really tuning into what is going on with him with respect to his elimination needs.
I am also not a big fan of having pee and poop on my floor. But one day I had a heart to heart with myself and had to decide just how important this process was to me. I was committed to constantly changing his diaper but was negligent in picking up on his cues and using my intuition to determine when he needed to use the potty.
However, I felt that I needed to decide once and for all if I was going to just talk about elimination communication or actually do it consistently. When I thought of the energy that it would take to be successful in this process, I remembered the effort it took to help my older child learn how to use the potty. I understood that there would be a price to pay either way, so why not pay early on when my baby still had his God-given ability to cue me regarding his elimination needs.
As a result I decided that I did want to EC my son but needed encouragement from other ECing parents. Because I have never met anyone who used this process, I read works by Laurie Boucke, author of Infant Potty Training, and by Ingrid Bauer, author of Diaper Free: The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene.
Additionally, I religiously read the posts of ECing parents at the Elimination Communication Yahoo Group. All of this gave me the motivation I needed to move forward with using EC.
For me it has been a slow process but one that is paying off. My son is now 12 months old and we are having more "catches" than "misses" everyday. There was a time that on my least "successful" days, I would use about 15 diapers in one day.
But now, I am using about 5 diapers a day. My son and I are so in synch that I am now considering using training pants more.
Elimination communication has proven to be a beautiful part of my relationship with my son. First, I am in awe of how magical children truly are if we give ourselves a chance to see it. As a result, I appreciate and respect my son for this innate ability.
Second, during my research phase, I read that EC creates a bond between mother and baby very similar to the bond created through breastfeeding. I thought, "No way, can anything come close to breastfeeding!" But I have found this analogy to be true. Elimination Communication has given me a closer connection to my son because I must stay in tune with him in order for this process to work.
Also, taking him to use the toilet is quality time. We talk, laugh and really enjoy each other's company.
So, I have achieved my goal of doing it differently this time thanks to elimination communication. Toilet learning is fun, fascinating and pressure free.
A bonus is that once again I have found yet another way to connect with the Ancient Mothers, who used this process, and hence connect with myself. Elimination Communication contributes to my feeling evolved as a mother and a woman.
And although this process may not be for everyone it is something to think about: "Imagine there are no diapers, it's easy if you try."
Special Note: Elimination communication can be used at any age. Although using this method before the child is 6 months old is optimal, there are many parents who have begun using this in babies as old as 24 months and had great success.
Addendum: Shortly after I wrote this article, my family went on two family vacations within two weeks when my son was 13 months old and moved suddenly to another city when he 15 months old.
This led to a downward spiral that many EC parents go through when children begin to move into the toddler stage or have major changes occur in the household.
ECing was moved to the back burner during the move though I continued to change his diapers after one pee.
It took months for me to get my barings back because I got really discouraged. The only thing that kept me going was reading posts on the Eliminication Communication Yahoo group. Many parents were experiencing what we call potty pauses.
I even got into using disposable diapers heavily when were out of the house.
One day when my son was 19 months old, I decided that I through was diapers. I gave away all of my disposable diapers and put away all of the cloth dipes. I bought him several pairs of underwear and decided that I would just have to change his clothes if he peed and pooped.
What happened amazed me. Immediately, he began to use the potty on his own at home. All I did was set the potty out and he went.
It took a couple of weeks of changing his clothes when we were out. But because I was more in tune to his need to potty, it was soon that we were having no accidents in public. By the time he was 20 months old, he had received what is known in the elimination community as "Graduate" status. This is the level of ECing when a child gains independence over this process.
ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! As I write about it to this day EC is such a gift. I never truly celebrated my son making it to graduate status because those of us who us use elimination communication know that at any moment a child may stop using the potty.
So this page of my web sancturary is my formal celebration of Kamau graduating from Elimination Communication school! It is also a celebration of me graduating from yet another mommy training workshop!
For more information on elimination communication go to the following sites:
Infant Potty Training by Laurie Bouke Diaper Free! Books and Information by Ingrid Bauer My favorite Yahoo Group for information on Elimination Communication This Company has the BEST products for all your EC needs! Click here to learn more about my Journey through Motherhood