Sunday, July 24, 2011

First pics in Congo

Here are some photos of Maria's first few weeks in Congo! They include a lot of other firsts for her, such as eating, drinking, and growing teeth! There are also some from our favorite annual Independence Day bash at the American Embassy. That wasn't a first for Maria because she attended last year in utero :o)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Diaperless Baby

Have you heard of diaperless babies? Infant potty training? Elimination Communication? These are all terms referring to a wonderful method I am beginning to discover by which you teach your baby to go to the bathroom when prompted rather than passively in a diaper. I had heard that in some places this is a traditional wisdom that has been passed down through the years. In China for example babies wear split pants, so the mom can just open them up when the baby needs to go. They make a sound like “psssss” which signals to the baby that it’s time. I first heard about Americans practicing this from a missionary here in Congo who did it with her baby. She piqued my interest with the words, “By 10 months she never went poo anywhere but the toilet. She still had occasional potty accidents, but she didn’t need a diaper, just underwear.” Fascinating!

I looked it up online while I was still in the US and tried it out a little when Maria was just 3 months old. The first try was very encouraging! I took her to the bathroom just after she’d eaten, which is a typical time they need to pee. I held her over the sink and a few seconds later she pooed! That was a lucky break which gave me courage and interest to continue. I would occasionally take her to the bathroom after she’d eaten and she would usually potty, but beyond that I didn’t know how to catch when she needed to go.

So I’m here in Congo now and with the tile floors feel like it’s a good place to try out the practice more thoroughly :o) But I still haven’t been quite sure how to get started. Today EspĂ©rance noticed that Maria’s buns were a little raw. That would be my fault because I’m becoming more and more stingy with changing her disposable diapers in anticipation of running out and needing to make the painful change to cloth diapers and all the fun that entails. So I spontaneously said, “Well, just leave her diaper off so she can air out a bit and we’ll see about this whole diaperless thing.” You don’t really have to go diaperless because you can just remove the diaper when they need to go, but so long as she’s wearing one I’m not sure when she’s actually going. I need to learn approximately when she goes and how she indicates that she’s about to go and also be able to make the sound while she’s going so she’ll learn to associate it. It’s called “Elimination Communication” because you learn to recognize your babies’ signals about her need to eliminate and she learns to recognize your signal for her to go.

At the beginning of the day I was only able to anticipate the obvious times—just after eating and upon waking from a nap. I would take her to the bathroom and set her over the sink and say “Ts ts tssssss” a few times, wait, and say it again when she would actually go. A few times I also saw her going while she was lying on top of a cloth diaper and was able to make the sound while she went. Much to my great astonishment, by the end of the afternoon I was able to take her to the bathroom a few times when I just thought maybe she might need to go and made the sound and she instantly went! The things I read did not indicate how long it would take to learn, so I had no idea that it would only take one day of this practice for her to already associate the sound and be able to choose to go!

It makes me marvel at my little baby, realizing she’s probably capable of much more than I give her credit for. It also makes me wonder why we either spend a ton of money on disposable diapers or else a ton of work dealing with cloth ones?? Even if I only do this part-time, it could still cut in half the number of diapers I either throw away or have to wash. Plus, if a baby is capable of this, why would I want to stifle that? It makes both her and me more aware and less passive, and I feel like it’s creating a special bond between us already.

I confess it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. It does take a lot of attentiveness and some trial and error. There were a few mishaps today (including some pee on the couch…), but overall it was an exhilarating debut to our diaperless endeavor.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Cute pictures

Here are some really cute pics of Maria that my friend Crystal took just a couple days before we left for Congo. She is still in the editing process, so these are mostly rough ones, but they're already adorable!

Maria is now 5 months old (had to think twice when someone pointed out she's almost half a year already...crazy!). They grow fast at this age, so even just in the two weeks we've been in Congo it seems like she's changed so much. She can now put her pacifier in her mouth by herself (sure, it's a little hit or miss...). Whenever you stand her up on your lap she immediately starts bouncing, which expends an unbelievable amount of energy....the person holding her gets tired before she does though! Thankfully we brought a jumper seat that hangs in the doorway, so sometimes she can get her energy out all by herself. She has now eaten avocado and started drinking apple juice (I was going to wait until 6 months at least to give her anything besides mama's milk, but she's not pooing anymore and the doctor said to increase her liquids because of the climate change). Surmounting the time change wasn't as painful as it could have been; I was imagining her going to bed at 6am (10pm Oregon time), but usually by midnight we've been able to settle in for the night. Just in the past couple days she seems to be showing some preference for mom over other people. Of course it's been great the way she'll just go to any old person and smile at them, but it's also kind of sweet to know she likes me especially :o)