Oldies but Goodies

I have a few posts in the works to start off my new blogging adventure, but in the meantime check out some of these old favorites that I have moved over!

Birth Stories…

Evangeline’s Birth Story

Stephen’s Birth Story

Natural Infant Hygiene…

Elimination Communication

Pottying a Newborn


The Sweet Sound of Sleep

When Nighttime =/= Sunshine or Roses

When Nighttime =/= Sunshine or Roses

After my last post I had a friend comment how happy she was for us that our transition to two littles was going smoothly in the bedtime category.  Oops!  I guess my relative silence on the matter of the sleep transition followed by a glowing review of our dear daughter’s sleeping habits may have been a little misleading.

It’s so easy in the blog world to read all of those rosy details we bloggers like to announce on a regular basis and to slip into thinking that our favorite bloggers’ lives are full of shiny details complete with sunshine and a bouquet of fresh roses.  (Not that I claim to be anyone’s favorite blogger… but maybe one day…)

But, truly, that is not the case.  Alas, for every shiny detail there are hundreds of not-so-pretty ones I just happen to run out of time for at the end of my posts.  So today (to be fair) I am going to dedicate an entire post to all of those nitty gritty details I would rather leave out…

The transition from one to two was easier than expected, with one glaring exception: bedtime.

Let me give you a bit of background…

Newborn Evangeline sleeping peacefully...

Newborn Evangeline sleeping peacefully…

After you have a baby the first thing everyone wants to know is “Are they sleeping through the night yet?”  Well, this was a complicated question for me because I didn’t *think* my baby was sleeping through the night… but I was sleeping through the night!  So… how do you tell a myriad of acquaintances “Oh I don’t know… I sleep all night, so I’m not sure.  [awkward silence] Cause ya know… we’re co-sleeping so if she needs to nurse she just latches on herself.”

So instead I just always answered “yes” and left it at that…

And then I started nighttime elimination communication with Evie around 16 months old.  And guess what?  She was not sleeping through the night.  She needed to wake up to go potty at least 2 or 3 (sometimes 4) times.  And guess who got to wake up to take her?  So, for the last year or so I have had a total of one… yes one… full night of uninterrupted sleep.  We have had lots of dry nights, but in order to do that I just need to wake up and take her potty.

I have gotten used to not having 8 hours of continuous sleep, but it did become problematic when Stephen came along.  See, Evangeline still nursed herself back to sleep, and Stephen (being a newborn) was unable to wait long between nursing sessions.  On top of that, Evie was anxious with all the change and her nursing back to sleep in 5 minutes or less became 30… 60… 90 minutes or more.  We ended up getting 3 or 4 hours of sleep – on a really good night.  This went on for weeks.

Some nights I was so exhausted and so distraught over our predicament that even with both children asleep on either side of me all I could do was sit in bed and cry.  What was I doing wrong??  For two years I firmly believed that we were doing the best thing for our daughter, and now she wasn’t sleeping.  She was anxious and most nights consisted of plenty of tears for both of us.  This was not good for her!  I began second-guessing myself and retracing my steps to figure out exactly where we had gone wrong.  But I couldn’t see it; unless my entire philosophy of mothering a baby was bankrupt (and I could not believe that) there was no way to make this work.

And then, I was blessed with a conversation with a very good friend.  They have four children, and much the same parenting style.  I explained to her what was going on and she let me in on a couple good secrets that I would like to share with all of you…

1. All children are different.  One of their babies didn’t WANT to co-sleep.  They happened to have a crib on hand and they finally tried that; he slept perfectly there.  He just didn’t like being in bed with them!  He wanted his own space!  Go figure… so yeah, co-sleeping is wonderful, but it isn’t the goal, it’s just one way to care for your child.

2. All children have hard times.  The mistake I was making wasn’t in my parenting style, it was in my expectations of what that style would do for my child.  My good friend also told me the story of how their best sleeper since birth suddenly stopped sleeping – for an entire year.  There was a lot of stress and outside anxieties that probably attributed, but even with attachment parenting techniques and a clear track record – he just stopped sleeping.  And her sister who had the total opposite philosophy on sleep training?  Eventually some of her kids stopped sleeping well at night too.

So why don’t children sleep through the night?  Not because you’re a bad mom!  But because we live in a fallen world, and despite all our efforts, our children are never going to be free from adversity.  Back to my mistake… I thought that by co-sleeping, nursing on demand, baby wearing and all of those wonderful practices (and they are wonderful) I could protect my baby from being introduced to the difficulties this life brings at too young an age.

And so, when her little brother was born, creating upheaval and adversity in her life that I couldn’t fix – I thought I must have done something wrong.  Should I have protected her less?  Should we have waited until she was older to have a baby?  No and NO!  I was asking the wrong questions, because I had the wrong presuppositions.  We live in a fallen world, and it is impossible for us to protect even our babies from hard times.  Adversity comes with the territory in this life, and we very rightly wish we could eliminate that from our lives and the lives of our children.  But we can’t.

What we can do is love them a little more.  Hold them a little tighter.  Reassure them always that they are loved and that they will never be left alone in the hard times.  Pray for them and point them away from this broken world and toward the things that are above.  That is all you need to do and all you can do.

Sometimes nighttime does not equal sunshine (or roses), and no matter what your parenting philosophy is – it’s not going to change that.  So, at 2am when all we want to do is sleep but we can’t seem to do anything but cry – we can let our crying children cling to us for comfort as we cling to Christ for strength.  My daughter has cried herself to sleep.  But she has never had to cry herself to sleep alone.  Our family has trials and difficult times, but we walk through them together.  My children are not independent, and I don’t ever want them to be.  I want our entire family to always share a relationship of interdependence on one another.  And eventually they will grow and have their own families and begin a new cycle of depending on their family for that unique fellowship of walking together in this life.

Likewise, as Christians, trials are a part of our existence until that Glorious Last Day.  Jesus never promised us that carrying a cross would be easy, He only promised us that we would never have to carry it alone.  And so, we come together once a week and receive His promise in God’s Word.  We commune with Christ and the whole Church as we eat and drink forgiveness, life and salvation.  And as the Body of Christ we always strive to bear one another’s burdens so that we never need be alone.

Pottying a Newborn

prefold diaperI knew from the time we got pregnant that I wanted to start elimination communication with this baby right from the beginning.  We did it with Evangeline, but not consistently until she was 15 months old.  I’m so glad we potty trained her this way, but I wish I had started earlier!  So this time around, we started at 3 days old.

I had my dear hubby go pick up some cheap prefold diapers from the store, and we used those instead of disposables.  We haven’t gotten our nifty prefold belts yet, but I did find a long piece of felt fabric that was used to wrap a baby blanket from when Evie was born (who says being a pack rat is always a bad thing?) and we have been using that to keep the prefolds around Stephen.  Using the prefolds (or another similar material) is important.  You have to be able to tell when they are going potty.  Often with disposable diapers it is very easy to ignore or miss when they are eliminating, making it difficult to communicate with them about it.

We do use disposables sometimes, but not often and not for the first few days of EC.  I mainly wanted to stay out of the habit of disposable diapers, so we don’t use them daily.  And when I do use them I still work on watching his cues and catching his elimination when I can.  Cloth diapers are a little better, but they can also prevent you from noticing the moment when elimination happens.  They are also more difficult to take off, increasing the amount of time before you can put them on the potty if you notice they need to go.

The first week I didn’t try to get many catches.  If I thought he was going to go I might put him over the potty, mostly just to get used to the hold and find a way to put him over the potty that we were both comfortable with.  Even without really trying to catch his elimination, we did get our first catch when he was only six days old!  I was SUPER excited – and hooked!  There is something about catching a pee or a poop that just makes you want to keep going.  It must be one of those mom things… but I love being able to put on the same diaper more than once!  In any case, I kept trying to get more catches as the week went on, but I reminded myself to take it slow.

Those first couple of weeks I just wanted to concentrate on two things.  First, giving him cues when he is eliminating so that he begins to associate those sounds with going potty.  The sounds we use are a “sssssss” sound for pees and an “eeeeee” sound for poops.  The second goal was to start learning Stephen’s potty cues.  All babies know when they need to potty and they do communicate that need to us.  Some babies’ cues are quite subtle, but Stephen’s are very clear.  He’s such a happy and content baby that if he’s fussy it usually because he needs to potty or because he’s hungry.  Fussing with rooting = hungry and fussy without rooting = potty.  How easy is that?!

So, needless to say, these first two weeks of ECing have been a great success.  I have even started (sooner than I expected) actively trying to catch all his eliminations.  This is mostly Stephen’s preference, as he’s figured out there’s a place for his eliminations and he is now in the habit of squirming and fussing until I give him the cue to go!  Daddy has yet to make a catch, but I am hopeful that he’ll get his first one this week.

Elimination Communication

Elimini-what-a-ma-bob?  Isn’t there an easier way to say whatever you’re saying?  Well, yes, there is infant potty training, or ECing for short.  But I think it’s important to define terms, especially when charting unfamiliar territories.  Elimination communication is a mouthful, and no it does not mean eliminating communication, just the opposite! (Sorry that was my token lame joke attempt for the day…)

Infant potty training is probably the easiest way to describe what ECing is; I am teaching my baby how to use the potty instead of training her to go potty in her diaper.  However, although infant potty training is a convenient term, I don’t particularly like using it, and here’s why: The main purpose and goal of having Evangeline use the potty is not so that I won’t have to change diapers anymore.  Yes, yes… that is a very  nice perk… but it’s not the main goal!  The goal is communicating with my baby and strengthening those bonds.  And what Evie and I are learning to communicate to one another about is elimination.

How does it work?  Well, there are many different ways to do elimination communication, and really you tailor it to what works best for you and your family.  Some families prefer to use a timing or schedule based method, offering the potty at specific intervals (this is working well for us), where others simply just don’t introduce diapers at all!  If you would like to learn more this is a great place to start.  For today I will just tell you a little about how I was introduced to ECing, and what our journey has looked like thus far.

When I was still pregnant with Evangeline, my good friend and I, were talking about all kinds of natural, crunchy, sorts of things.  She mentioned elimination communication off-hand; I had never heard about it, and it was crunchy so, naturally I wanted to learn more!  I went online and started my research.  You mean babies don’t need diapers?! *Gasp!* And, of course, my next thought was… You mean I don’t have to change diapers? Yes!  Haha… just kidding… but really, it is a nice perk.

Evie 5 monthsIt seemed logical to me that I would not like sitting in my poopiness all day… so my baby probably would not enjoy it either.  I also recalled my poor husband’s stories of changing his nephew’s diapers when diaper rash reared its ugly head and I was hoping to avoid that as much as possible.  Plus, getting potty training out of the way instead of battling toddlers, who are usually much too busy to be concerned with such things?  It didn’t sound like a half-bad idea.  So, we went out and got a little mini baby potty (as you can see Evangeline so graciously modeling on the right) and decided to give it a go!

My first few weeks postpartum I was not at all interested in trying something new.  I was exhausted and overwhelmed and really… just not interested.  So I stuck with the familiarity of changing diapers, and that worked for us.  (Which is what’s beautiful about ECing; it is so easily tailored to you!  There are no hard and fast rules about when to start or how much time you have to spend on it!)

Then when Evie was about a month old, I decided to give ECing a try.  Every time I noticed her eliminating I would make a “ssssssss” sound, so that she would start connecting that sound with elimination.  Then, after a few days of observation, I realized that she almost always eliminated while nursing.  So, whenever we nursed I would hold her over the little potty bowl without a diaper and voila!  She would go in the potty!  I tried getting her to go in the potty at other times, but it just frustrated her.  And I also began working during the week, which made it more difficult, so I put EC on the back burner for a few months.

After my summer job was over, and we were home together all day again, I decided to try it out.  We started out the same way, making the “ssssssss” sound, and observing her elimination cues.  Evangeline was no longer eliminating while nursing, but normally right after nursing and upon waking up.  For a couple of days I offered her the potty after waking up.  I was able to catch her off and on, but not very consistently.  I hadn’t had any luck catching her pooping, which is what I was trying for, as I had heard that once babies learn they don’t have to poop in their diapers, they won’t anymore!  I figured that was my key to motivating her, but I simply was not fast enough to catch her.

The third day I decided to put towels all over the living room and let her be naked.  I watched her intently; (I was so determined to catch her going!) it was actually quite exhausting.  But I finally caught her, that evening, going #2 and put her over the potty making the sound.  She went in the potty!  And, honestly, I think I saw a light bulb go off in her head!  She figured out that she did not have to sit in her poopiness!  After that, she would poop in her potty on command when I made the “sssssssss” sound.  I was so proud of my little girl :)

The only times we miss #2 now is usually when she has looser stools, like the week she was sick.  She will pee on command, but I have not been offering her the potty frequently enough to catch most of those.  And, I think because the disposable diapers pull moisture away from her bottom, she doesn’t mind going in her diaper as much.  I am hoping that next week I will have a better schedule set up to try and catch all of her eliminations.

What a Week!

I am exhausted!  In a good way though; it has been a crazy week for us, but it’s been a good one!  School is just getting in the swing of things and I’m trying to find my groove at home.  I haven’t been able to just stay at home all day since Evangeline was born, so it has been a good change of pace.  But it’s so much different now with a baby!  Who knew babies took so much time and energy? 😛

In any case, I’ve managed to get some things done, although you might not believe me if you took a look at my house right now… hmm… But honestly, it was a productive week for having a sick baby!  First and most importantly I finally cured baby girl’s diaper rash which lasted for a very long time and had gotten pretty awful.  I tried everything to help it go away; finally we just had to spend a day without diapers and that gave it the air it needed to start clearing up.  I only really had one big clean up after an accident, so I consider that to have been a good day!

It also helps that we have already started loosely working on elimination communication (ECing or infant potty training) with her the last few weeks, so she almost never poops in her diaper anymore!  We have a cute little potty she sits on and she just goes!  How adorable is that?  Ok… so there could be more adorable things… but babies with no diapers are certainly cuter when you know they’re not going to poop on you :)

Also, in case you hadn’t heard, I started up my new blog last week.  Which has been loads of fun!  It could get addicting; I must be careful.  And last but not least I officially launched my new home business!!  It was perfect timing as the seminary had showcase for businesses, talents, crafts, etc. that seminary families can share and thus support each other.  It was a lot of fun, and I’m really looking forward to my chocolate tasting next week!  Feel free to join us if you can; it will be at my house on Tuesday evening; call if you need directions.  The more the merrier!

cute-hatOh!  And before I forget my Mom is in Germany!!! She just got there yesterday and they’re already sightseeing!  She’s there with my grandma and my aunt to see the live Passion play that happens only once every ten years.  An entire town puts it on!  How neat is that?

There she is on the right… isn’t she cute?!  I love that hat!  Perhaps later this week I will post some more of her pictures.  Germany is absolutely beautiful!  I told Jake he had to take me one day :)  Isn’t it cool that with technology I already have pictures of the places my mom went to today??

Anywho, I should probably go do the dishes or something.  Remember what I said about my house?  Yeah, I need to fix that… thanks for stopping in!  And if anyone is interested in donating to my Germany fund let me know 😛

Auf Wiedersehen!


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