the Vernon Journal

Serving the Kingdom in Southeast Asia

Filtering by Tag: EC

Introducing Izabel

On October 13th at 6:55 am we welcomed Izabel Ruth into our family. She was born weighing 3.9 kilograms (8 lbs. 10 ounces) after about 2.5 hours of natural labor and childbirth. Both Izi and Lori are doing great. Thus far (she's only 5 days old as I write this) she's been a wonderful baby; she sleeps well, she eats well, and we've never seen her cry for more than 15 seconds. She's already using the toilet a couple of times a day as we are continuing with our EC practices. Abigail loves her little sister and making the life adjustment well. Our family has been staying in our city home in Chiangrai for all of October and we will probably remain here until the month is over as we adjust as a family to our new addition. We're excited to get back into our normal ministry pace, but have really enjoyed this time in the city preparing for Izi, spending time as a family, and working on our city-side projects.

We have been tumbl'ing images of Izabel over on her own blog - Our Izi Ruth - rather than fill up this blog with tons of kid pictures (actually we all have Tumblr blogs if you would like to follow our lighter and more personal posts: Izi Abi Lori Paul) but wanted to share a few pictures here as well:

Just Born Izabel RuthHappy Mommy and DaddySweet SleeperCalling our Parents in America with the Happy NewsIzi AngelI'm getting hungry!Sister KissesIzabel, Abigail, Paul and Lori VernonFirst time Abi held IziSister SnugglesTen Ticklish ToesSistersIzi going potty : 5 days oldYou can see a little bit of Izi's eyes as she works the potty

EC Update: 1 Year

Abi on her little potty

Well, things are still going great with our Elimination Communication. Since Abi is a busy little bee lately (and is keeping me busy chasing after her), I'll keep this update short and simple!

The Potty: As you can see from the picture(taken at around 9 months old), Abi is already using this little potty and is loving it! At about 8 months she started getting fussy when we held her in position over the big potty, and for a few days we couldn't figure out the problem. Well, it turned out she was just getting bored and didn't like the confinement... yes, she is a very independent little creature! Now, on her little potty, she can sit and play with toys on the floor for as long as she likes!

Going #1: Abi totally understands the connection between her potty and her elimination. Almost every time that we sit her on the toilet, she pees. Even when she doesn't really have to go, we usually find a tiny little dribble showing us that she at least tried!

Going #2: Abi is like clockwork with her poos! She goes poo in the toilet every morning upon waking! Most of the time, we only have to worry about catching the pees for the rest of the day! The only "misses" (that's EC lingo for going poo or pee in the diaper/pants) that we have had are when she's had teething related diarrhea (and really, who can blame her for that?!)

Diapers? In the city, we have started using disposables as a bit if insurance during the day; partly because we're generally a little busier in the city and less able to "tune in" to Abi's potty cues, and partly because she out grew her cloth diapers and we just never got around to buying the next size up! But we try to stick to a one-diaper-a-day goal (both for budgetary and environmental reasons) so potty times are still a big part of our routine. Of course, in the village, she only wears thin cloth pants (like the ones in the picture). We are still using disposables at night both in the city and the village. However, I'm happy/amazed to report that in the past month or so we've had four mornings where she woke up COMPLETELY DRY. So I'm hoping that's a good sign for the future.

Potty Trained? Not quite there, but we're moving towards it! (Although, I guess it really depends on how you define "potty trained". Eighty to ninety percent of Abi's elimination happens in the toilet. I bet that is better than some "potty trained" toddlers.) For me, "potty trained" implies that the child initiates going potty. Since most of our potty times are still parent initiated I don't think I would say Abi's potty trained yet. However, she is catching on and several times we have noticed her walking towards the bathroom when she needs to go. I'm betting she'll be pretty much on her own by 18 months, but we'll just have to wait and see!

Diaperless Update

You may remember a post a few months back about our plans to "go diaperless". Many of you have been asking how it's going, so I thought I'd take a few minutes to fill you in. First of all, "diaperless" is actually a bit of a misnomer for us. I guess that's why so many people using this method prefer the term "Elimination Communication". While we're at home in the city, we use a combination of cloth and disposable diapers; cloth during the day and disposables at night. The cloth diapers (without plastic covers) allow us to really tune in to Abi's timing, since we can feel immediately when she is wet. Also, the cloth diapers provide a bit of extra motivation for us to pay attention to her signals and give her plenty of potty opportunities, because, let's be honest here, no one likes to get peed on! When we're in the village, Abi doesn't wear diapers at all during the day, only a loose fitting pants. We use these because all our laundry in the village is done by hand and absorbent cloth diapers would be a real pain! However, even in the village we put her in disposables at night, because we all like sleep just a little to much to be fussing with anything else!

We started sitting Abi on the toilet for her morning-pee when she was just seven days old, so, as you can see in the pictures, she's pretty comfortable with the whole process. In fact, we suspect she even likes it! Paul and I really like it as well; it's such a good fit for our lives, especially village life! It is so amazing to practice EC in the village where it is second nature to everyone (except us, that is!) For example, whenever I'm letting Abi "go potty" in the village, one of the young girls will automatically run to the well for a pan of water to wash her bottom with. Honestly, I probably wouldn't even think to ask for water, but theses little girls totally know the drill because it's absolutely normal for them! So many aspects of our lives seem odd to our friends in the village, so it's really nice to do something that's viewed as completely normal!

Beyond enjoying the cultural relevance of the EC method, we have to admit that we really love not having to deal with too many poopy diapers! By now, I would say that we catch about 90% of "twosies"; in fact, in the last two months I can only think of 4 instances where we had to change a poopy a diaper! And now that Abi is starting to have stinkier, sticker grown-up-baby poops (I know you all wanted to know that), we're especially happy that most of that poo goes directly in the toilet!

For those of you who are still skeptical, here's proof! I think she's about 6 weeks old in this video.

Little Abi (about two weeks old) going potty at home in Chiang Rai!Going potty at home in the villageAbi going potty outside before her bath.

A Million Butts Can't Be Wrong

Recently, many of our friends and supporters have been asking us whether the Akha use diapers. Of course this question is inevitably followed by the other pressing question on people's minds, "What will you do for diapers when the baby comes?" If you had asked me this question two years ago, I would have said "Disposables!" with out hesitation, but two years on the mission field has significantly changed my answer!

Akha toddler without diapers

To answer the original question, the Akha, in general, do not use diapers at all. When I first arrived in the village I was somewhat disgusted at the thought of babies without diapers. However, after living in the village for several months I began to realize that I never saw the horribly messy situations that I had envisioned when I thought of a world without diapers. For some time, this was a great mystery to me. Then, one day, I saw it. Right after feeding her son, one of the young mothers in our village, stepped aside to a nearby bush, pulled down the baby's pants, held him in a bit of a squat and made a "shushing" sound. Magically, as if on cue, the baby, who was just a few months old, peed.

Over time, I continued to observe this phenomenon with awe. I even began to notice that it not only applied to "number one", but "twosies" as well. While impressed and amazed, I was also baffled. How did that mom know her baby needed to go just then? How did the baby know to hold it until mom got his pants off? When I asked the mothers these questions, they were even more baffled at my ignorance in the matter. Unfortunately, they usually couldn't come up with an answer to my questions; often saying things like "I just knew that she needed to go".

As the reality of having a child set in, I began to toy with the idea of trying to mimic this diaperless style with our own children. After all, it does seem almost cruel to put diapers on a baby in this heat; I'm certain we would be constantly battling diaper and heat rash! However, the whole concept seemed pretty "out there" to my American mind, and I doubted that I could actually pull it off.

Naked Baby

Recently, however, I ran across a small community of westerners who have embraced a similar diaperless method, which they've cleverly dubbed "Elimination Communication" or "Natural Infant Hygiene." I began to read up and found that most of China and India (and many parts of Africa) use similar diaperless techniques! Seriously, that's a LOT of undiapered bottoms out there!!

I also found that these western mothers were able to put into words things that my Akha friends could not. This method of caring for babies is so much a part of Akha culture, that Akha moms don't need to discuss all the ins and outs of when, where and how to allow their children to pee on cue. However, for westerners this information is vital.

I know that by now many of you are feeling intrigued, but skeptical. This post is already getting quite long, so I'll try to quickly sum up how this whole diaperless thing actually works! There are three main techniques that facilitate the process:

Rhythm and Timing: This is as simple as recognizing certain times when the baby usually pees and offering an opportunity to "go" (in a toilet, bucket or bush) at that time.

Infant Signs: This involves watching the baby for subtle signs (body language) that usually precede urination or a bowel movement... often, a facial expression. This allows mom or dad to give the baby a potty opportunity whenever he/she notices those signs.

Parental Cuing: When the parent notices the baby "going", (either in the toilet or otherwise) he makes a particular sound like "pssss" or "shhhh". The baby learns to associate this sound with the release of the muscles that control urination. Then, when "potty opportunities" are given the parent can make this sound and if the baby has to go, she will!

So, there you have it folks! The Vernons are going diaperless... or at least they're going to try!

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