Phoebe is an extrovert. I am an introvert. It’s complicated, staying at home with my little extrovert. We are around each other all day, every day. I’m trying to find balance, a way to meet both our needs, while still completing housework, finding time to work, and investing in Phoebe’s education. Here are some things I’m learning, and some areas where I am struggling… (more…)
Tag Archives | parenting
Phoebe is a hard worker.
There are some things Phoebe is expected to do for the joy of helping, or because she is a member of our family. Things like…
- brushing teeth
- cleaning up her room before bed
- feeding Scooter
- putting a toy away
Phoebe also has the opportunity to work. We used to try paying her with change, but money is a concept she is still learning to grasp, so a coin was never a big enough incentive for her. (more…)
It’s easy to feel like today was a failure. I screwed up making fudge. Twice. I messed up a piece of artwork I was going to give a friend. Phoebe ate NOTHING so she was in a bad mood from being hungry. I wanted to take a break from “Christmas prep” to have a fun family moment and sing carols while I played guitar, but Phoebe kept saying, “No! No! No!” and then started twisting my guitar strings out of tune. Plus, we’re having a ton of issues breaking down a table we need to move into the living room, because we’re hosting Christmas Eve dinner tomorrow. And I feel sick.
I’m most anxious about not having gifts for people I care deeply about. Because of the fudge flops and the art flops and the LIFE flops, there are no gifts made for any of the family that is coming over tomorrow. Not even the kids. STRESS! We had *plans* for gifts, and we’d budgeted time to make them, but it’s just turning into an impossibility. On top of that, I have no gifts for a few local friends that I hold very dear in my heart. “How will people know I love them if I don’t give them gifts?? How will they know I care?? It’s Christmas and I owe it to them to show them that they are special to me! If I don’t get my special gifts made and delivered by Christmas, it’ll be a disaster!!” THESE are the thoughts and fears racing through my head.
Say a prayer.
Complain to Matt about it.
Say another prayer.
Ok, God. Maybe I’m not supposed to make the gifts I’d wanted to give today. Maybe I’m just not supposed to give gifts this year. Is that ok? I feel uneasy about it. But right now I’m out of time & there are more important things.
Like playing with my daughter.
And kissing my husband.
And family time.
And opening gifts from Grandma & Grandpa Healy a little early (Thanks guys! Phoebe was super sad for a bit, and your gifts were a life saver!)
And, mostly, leaning into the greatest gifts that surround me: my dear family, a home warmed by love and spirit, and the grace of my Lord.
I hate being incomplete and imperfect. I hate not living up to my standards. But, I guess if Jesus came to Earth to forgive me for not living up to His standards, who am I to overrule the mind and heart of God? If Jesus can forgive me, I can forgive myself (I have to forgive myself…I need to forgive myself…).
Thank you, Jesus, for the gift of taking me just as I am and filling me with the goodness that You are.
A few pictures from the day…
We had really fun family moments today, too!
Nursed to sleep by the light of the Christmas tree. By Erin
Posted using Tinydesk blog app
Phoebe doesn’t stop moving these days, so most of our photos look like this:
Phoebe has been cranky the past couple days. Really cranky. And nothing seems to help. She’ll act like she wants to nurse, then she’s cry when I try to nurse her. She’ll be super tired, but she won’t go to sleep. Not even if I babywear her to sleep (i.e. put her in the ring sling and walk her till she drifts off). Not even if I lie in bed with her and nurse her to sleep. This behavior is very unlike her. And then, last night, while checking out her gums, I noticed a little tooth peeking through. (You’ll probably have to click on the picture to see the tooth, at which point you’ll also be able to see a bugger in her nose. ^_^)
My daughter is cutting her first tooth. What a great way to celebrate being three months old.
I have to say, when I saw the tooth peeking through, I was relieved, because there was a reason for her recent odd behavior. Otherwise, Phoebe and I have found a groove together this month. She wakes up at about the same time every day; she goes to sleep around the same time. She almost never poops in her diaper, and often cues me to pee as well.* I let her nurse when she wants to, on what side she wants to, and for however long she wants to; to be honest, however, she’s more interested in the wide and wonderful world these days than in nursing.
*(We’re doing infant pottying. I talk about it more here.)
This is the landscape of our lives these days…
(Starting at 5:30am or 6:30am) Wake; pee and poop; hang out in bed with Mama and Papa (often diaper free). Nurse in bed; giggle at the window; giggle at Papa; spit up a lot (always in the morning). Hang out while Mama makes breakfast, either sitting on the counter or in the ring sling. Take a short nap (35 minutes).
(8am or 9am) Wake; pee; hang out on Papa’s lap while breakfast winds to a close and Mama and Papa say a prayer to start the day. Hang out under the mobile; yelp to pee; sit in the baby potty and play with toys or read books with Mama. Hang out in the ring sling while Mama does chores. Start getting sleepy, usually in the ring sling. If Mama’s going out, transfer to carseat and take a short nap. If Mama’s staying in, transfer to co-sleeper for another short nap. Or, if Mama’s tired, take a longer co-sleeping nap.
(Next time we arise) Wake; pee; nurse; play. Sometimes we’ll do this a couple times before the end of the day. Sometimes there are only 3 naps before bedtime. Phoebe use to stay awake for 1h35 minutes between 45 minute naps, but recently the world has been so interesting, she’ll stay awake for 2 hours or more, and often only take a 25-35 minute nap.
When we’re out and about, she used to block out the world and fall asleep in the ring sling at any chance. Now she’s much too interested for that; she whips her head from side to side to see what’s going on, and saves the time in the car for her mini-naps.
(Around 4pm-6pm) Bedtime routine starts. Phoebe is put into a diaper (if she had been diaper free up till that point). Clothing change: we put her in her nightgown. If she’s too active, I may sing a lullaby or read “Goodnight Moon” to help her calm down. Once she gets cranky or sleepy, I’ll sit in the rocking chair and nurse her till she starts to drift off. We transfer to the bed, where I lay beside her and let her nurse to sleep. Some nights, I transfer her without nursing, but lately (due to the teething) she’s been too upset for that to be effective.
By 6pm or 7pm most nights, Phoebe is asleep for the night. She wakes around 9pm-11pm for a diaper change, but never truly awakens. And she does the same a few times in the early morning.
Those are our days.
We don’t have a schedule. We don’t even have a routine. What we’ve got is an understanding of each other. I know when Phoebe is having a tough day and needs me to be more hands on. On those days, chores and cooking take a back burner. Then, there are other days when she’s happy to play while I fold laundry or do dishes. She’ll hang out in the same room as me, and squeal to cue me if she wants to be peed.
I try to be with her as much as possible, talking to her or touching her so that she knows that I’m always nearby. I like to think that my constant presence is part of the reason she feels confident enough to explore as much as she does. She loves pushing off my chest to get a better view of her surroundings. She loves to talk to artwork that is in her nursery. She loooooooves looking at the baby in the mirror. She likes to grasp her toes. She loves it when I help her stand. She never chooses to be on her belly, but when I position her belly down, she loves to prop herself up and thinks it’s super-silly when she immediately rolls onto her back. She loves looking at the Wee Gallery animals and she loves her Lamaze toys (we have 1 on the carseat, 1 on an activity gym, and 1 set up for her to play with on her potty).
What else is there to say? This blog post feels a lot more like a journal than the last two (month one; month two). Phoebe’s finding her groove in the world, and Mr. Wetzel and I are finding our groove as parents. There are still challenges and things are always changing and developing. But we do best when we trust ourselves, dig into our intuition, and make time to enjoy the budding personality and growth in our little babe. We are all in relationship together. We are growing with each other. We are changing as we dance together through the rhythms of life. We don’t know where we’re headed, but we’re together, and we love being together.
I’m gonna just come out and make a prediction. You and me? We’re gonna be friends.
I love making you laugh. I love it that my kisses make you laugh. I love it that, when Papa comes home, you giggle with glee, then bury your head in my chest, then look up to see if he’s still there, then giggle with glee and burry your face over and over again.
I cannot tell you how cool I think it is that you understand me and that I understand you. When I ask you, “Do you need to go to the bathroom?” I love it that you smile if my intuition is correct. I think it’s beyond cool that you wait to pee until you’re out of your diaper, even if we’re out running errands.
The first three months are often referred to as “the fourth trimester,” and I’m a little sad to see them go. This is the first time I’ve felt a twinge of “mom sadness” at seeing you grow up and grow away from me. You are not independent yet, but I can see you laying the ground work; and while I’m proud of you and I cherish your growth in my heart of hearts, there is a part of me that is sad to see our beginnings fade into memory.
I wish I had written more poetry.
I wish pictures were as true as the moments they tried to capture.
I am only sad because things are so quick to change. I am only sad because I am nearly catching my breath, nearly losing sight of who we were in light of the crazy beautiful dance that we are currently living. I am only a little sad, but then you giggle at me and deep joy rushes over me; I am showered with gratitude and hope; I am quickened to a new place where I become a new person, and you become a first person, cradled in my arms.
My daughter is 11 weeks old, and she pees in a potty. That’s right: my infant pees in a potty. And she poops in one, too. Not all the time, mind you; but these days we catch most of her daytime potty needs. Plus, in the last two weeks, I’ve changed 3 poopy diapers. The other 32 times she’s pooped, our little baby has waited until she had her diaper off and was in a “potty place” in order to go.
This is all thanks to something called “Elimination Communication.” Weird name, right? Yeah; the name sounds all stuffy and clinical, but what it boils down to is inherent right in the title: when Phoebe lets us know that she has to pee or poop, we take her to a potty spot to do it so that she doesn’t have to soil herself.
I know. I know. There is a lot to unpack with this idea. Few people in America are aware this is even possible. Or that babies are capable. But Elimination Communication, or “EC” for short, is a widely used practice of infant pottying all across the globe. Typically you find it in places that are less westernized or Americanized, the same places where disposable diapers are too expensive for the common person. But if you ask me, peeing your pants is a far more primitive way to grow up than learning to pee where the big boys and girls go.
EC presupposes the following:
– Babies are capable of bowel and bladder control from birth.
– Babies prefer to be clean; it is only through desensitization that they come to accept sitting in a dirty diaper.
– Babies give cues to let you know when they need to relieve themselves. These cues can be reinforced by parents so that they become a form of communication.
– Parents, in turn, can establish cues to let the baby know they understand the baby’s potty needs and that help is on the way.
There are all sorts of applications of EC. Some families do it from birth and never use diapers. Some start at 3 months or 6 months or one year of age. Some families do it at one time of day but not another. There is no magic formula for how EC should be incorporated; each family has to find what works for them. So, I’m going to share with you…
OUR ADVENTURES IN INFANT POTTYING!!!
The first place I heard about EC was when I was reading “Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering” by Sarah J Buckley. You can read an excerpt that she wrote about her experiences with EC here: Mothering, Mindfulness and a Baby’s Bottom.
Before Phoebe was born, I read “Diaper Free” by Ingrid Bauer. Bauer is a total hippie, but a lot of the book was well researched, and it laid out EC in a clear and accessible manner. Mr. Wetzel also read excerpts from the book and we talked about it. A lot.
We gleaned a lot of encouragement from Emily’s blog post Elimination Communication / Infant Pottying–Our Start, showing a common sense way normal people could incorporate it into their lives without being total weirdos.
We concluded that EC sounded difficult and time consuming, but we were going to try it, for the following reasons:
– We liked the idea of establishing communication with Phoebe about one of her basic needs.
– We didn’t want her to become desensitized to discomfort in her “private area.”
– We wanted to help her develop her use of the muscles in her bladder and bowels, instead of losing control over them.
– We figured potty training must be just as hard, so if we put in the effort now instead of later, we could avoid years of dirty diapers.
– It’s environmentally friendly.
To start, we decided we’d change Phoebe’s diapers as quickly as possible, to help her keep the preference for a dry bum.
We established cueing sounds that we would use with Phoebe anytime we observed her “eliminating.” If she peed, we went “psssss;” if she pooped we grunted (I don’t really know how to write out the characters for a grunt). At the beginning, all we did was make the cueing sound if we observed her in action. That meant we almost never cued her to pee, because we had her in diapers except for diaper changes.
As Phoebe got a little older and we got more confident about being parents in general, we’d give her more diaper free time on the changing pad while we dressed her or changed her diaper. This would give her the opportunity to have an open air “accident,” which we loved, because it was an opportunity to make the cueing sounds for her. Our changing pad has washable cloths on it to soak up pee and poo, so the accidents were not really messy; in fact, they were easier clean-up jobs that most dirty diaper changes!
Phoebe went through a period of really bad gas, so we’d often have her on the pad, diaper off, and we’d bicycle her legs to help the gas out. This was another great opportunity to let her relieve herself. She loved time on the changing pad, and eventually started to pump her arms and legs in excitement whenever she was lying there with her diaper off.
I took Phoebe into the bathroom a few times to hold her above the sink and see if she’d pee or poo there, but she cried and screamed, so I gave it a break. On June 6th, at 7.5 weeks old (and on her Papa’s birthday), we held her over the sink, made the cueing sounds to let her know she could go potty, and she peed and pooped on cue.
The next day we had success “catching” pees and poos again: she pooped once and peed 4 times in the sink, upon cueing. At this stage, we didn’t expect to catch most of her potty needs; we considered each “catch” a win; each time she peed or pooped in the sink, it was one dirty diaper we avoided.
Over the next week, we noticed trends: Phoebe didn’t pee in her sleep, but always needed to pee shortly after a nap. She tended to poop around the same times every day.
I started to realize that if she popped on and off a lot while nursing, it was because she either had to burp or pee…and most often it meant both.
As Phoebe’s vocalizations have developed this month, we’ve come to recognize the cry she gives when she needs to relieve herself. Unless she’s overtired, it’s the only time she’ll cry as if she’s upset or in pain.
Just this last week, I picked up on the fact that she often twitches she foot while nursing if she has to pee. And a friend pointed out that if I’m babywearing her in the ring sling, I can feel her stomach muscles flex when she’s gotta go.
Phoebe is happier when she doesn’t have to wear a big bulky diaper all the time. She loves moving her legs around. This week, we dug out the bloomers that came with her dress outfits, and we give her “underwear time” periodically throughout the day. She’s peed on a lot of things, but each time a blanket or outfit (or parent) gets soaked with pee, we take it as an opportunity to learn, to understand more what body language and cues from Phoebe precede a pee, and we grow from there.
Where does Phoebe pee and poop? Sometimes, she goes in her diaper. And that’s ok! This isn’t about shaming her or forcing her to go somewhere else. It’s about offering her the opportunity to not have to defecate on herself. She also pees in the sink, in a little baby bjorn potty in her bedroom and in the backyard. When we’re out running errands, if she has a dry diaper and I suspect she needs to go, I offer her an opportunity to pee. She has peed: in the bushes near Target, in woodchips at the Costco parking lot and even in the sink at the Chiropractor’s. (Are you thinking: “Ew! That’s gross!”? Well…relax. Pee is sterile. The cigarette butts on the ground are grosser. And I washed out the sink afterwards.)
The hardest thing about EC is the fact that it’s uncommon and countercultural. Thank goodness for twitter; using the hashtag #ecchat, I have found a community of other EC parents who offer encouragement, moral support and advice…as well as shared enthusiasm. Then, one day on twitter, my brother dropped me a line saying he and Eli (my sister-in-law) did this method with my niece. By 6 months, she was basically potty trained. I had no idea! Eli is from Bulgaria, and just about everyone in Bulgaria practices EC. It’s a cultural thing. It’s just the way infant pottying is done. I was so grateful to realize I had someone locally AND in my family that I could now talk to about it!
These days we do EC with Phoebe during the daytime. At night, we share our bed with her, and she has a specific way of hitting me with her arm to wake me up when she needs a diaper change. I give her a fresh diaper a few times a night, changing her right there on the bed, then we nurse back to sleep. She rarely wakes up during these sessions. Then in the morning, she awakens bright eyed and bushy tailed and giggles at us as we cuddle and yawn together in bed. We take her to the bathroom for her morning constitution, and she almost always poops. Sometimes she’ll poop up to 3 more times in the day. She almost always lets us know she has to go, and we almost always understand her in time to catch it.
Do you have questions about EC? I’d love to hear them!
Do you EC or have a fun EC anecdote? Join the conversation and share your experiences!
Two weeks into parenthood, I was starting to read Phoebe better. I knew when she was tired what her “tired cry” sounded like; however, I had no clue what the difference was between “I’m hungry,” “Change my diaper,” as well as other cries. It was frustrating for both of us: I’d often give her the wrong thing late at night, and it would only make things worse. Further crying would ensue. I’d feel bad for my unhappy baby & she’d feel bad for her unhappy self.
Then a couple friends told me about Dunstan baby language. The premise is quite simple, actually: when a baby needs something, they’ll naturally form their mouth a certain way: a yawn if they are tired, for example. When the baby adds vocalization, the cry vocalizes this mouth position, giving it a distinctive and recognizable sound. Not all cries are exactly the same, but using this basic principle, Dunstan distinguished between 5 different cries that appear is almost all babies, cross-culturally.
(You could buy Dunstan’s dvd, but I just pulled the info from wikipedia. Verbatim. This is my “I’m not plagiarizing, just quoting” disclaimer.)
I’m hungry – An infant uses the sound reflex “Neh” to communicate its hunger. The sound is produced when the sucking reflex is triggered, and the tongue is pushed up on the roof of the mouth.
I’m sleepy – An infant uses the sound reflex “Owh” to communicate that they are tired. The sound is produced much like an audible yawn.
I’m experiencing discomfort – An infant uses the sound reflex “Heh” to communicate stress, discomfort, or perhaps that it needs a fresh diaper. The sound is produced by a response to a skin reflex, such as feeling sweat or itchiness in the bum.
I have lower gas – An infant uses the sound reflex “Eairh” to communicate they have flatulence or an upset stomach. The sound is produced when trapped air from a belch is unable to release and travels to the stomach where the muscles of the intestines tighten to force the air bubble out. Often, this sound will indicate that a bowel movement is in progress, and the infant will bend its knees, bringing the legs toward the torso. This leg movement assists in the ongoing process.
I have gas – An infant uses the sound reflex “Eh” to communicate that it needs to be burped. The sound is produced when a large bubble of trapped air is caught in the chest, and the reflex is trying to release this out of the mouth.
I wish I had known these “baby sounds” from day 1! Having the knowledge of these tools has helped Mr. Wetzel and me meet Phoebe’s needs more quickly and to understand her better. I can tell when she’s uncomfortable or hungry that she is less stressed about it now that we understand her better.
If you’re an English major geek like me, it also makes you wonder about the nature and history of language and how the phenomenology of words and sounds influence each other’s development and meaning over time. These baby sounds are a universal form of communication; and yet our actual words for hunger, sleep and discomfort vary widely from tongue to tongue.Except for one word: Mama. I think that’s the same everywhere. Because Mamas rock. Universally.