Thursday, August 30, 2012

Getting Closer

I've been documenting this process of potty training both for my own future reference and because I know I have several friends who are going to be entering this world soon. I thought I'd offer my own experience for what it's worth. So, my apologies to all those family members or friends looking here for a general update. You're getting the nitty gritty right now. :)

Over the last few days we've stopped the free-for-all method and introduced "big girl underwear." Ellie was at virtually 100% success with nothing on and even though some accidents are happening with the undies, she can't go clothes-free forever. We're all going a little stir-crazy and it would be nice to have an outing soon.

Despite more accidents with undies, I have to focus on the positives:

First and foremost: Ellie has gone #2 on the potty for several days in a row! (YAY! Break out in applause here!) It seems easier for Ellie to get to the potty for this than for peeing. I'd rather have it this way for clean-up purposes. I know this can take a lot longer for some kids to master, so I'm counting my blessings.

Second: Ellie is starting to tell me "potty" when she needs help getting her undies off. Sometimes. I still feel like I have to be only a few steps away with the potty but so far it's working. Out next goal is to have her hold it longer so we won't need the potty right on hand. As cute as a mini-toilet is, we'd like to move it to the bathroom and not keep it in the middle of our living room floor.

The most difficult times are when I'm feeding Hazel. Sometimes I have Ellie sit on the potty while I'm nursing. Sometimes I just take the undies off. I've had to stop mid-nursing to help Ellie. Hazel is learning patience as I have to set her down to deal with an accident or another part of the process. I'm still coming up with a system for this. This is probably the hardest part about being at home alone and potty training while having an infant.

Third: Ellie hasn't gotten a sticker or an M&M in the last day or two. Not because I'm not willing to give them to her but because she stopped asking or caring. When I do offer she says "nope" in that matter-of-fact toddler voice that is her answer for everything these days (even when she means "yes"). This shows she's going potty more out of habit or training and not simply for the reward. (Going #2 still gets the reward of watching a short episode of Curious George on my phone...a BIG reward for Ellie and totally worth it to have her going consistently).

Sometimes she runs right to the potty and wants to go and other times it seems like she treats undies like a diaper, having accidents on occasion. I'm wondering if this is because we are still doing diapers at nap time. Maybe it's "diaper confusion." You know, like "nipple confusion" is for babies who switch between pacifiers, bottles, and breast. OK. Maybe not. Or maybe I just came up with a new phrase.

She doesn't really like to be "forced" to sit on the potty. If she doesn't have to go, she won't go. Some  kids will go at least a little if they sit on the potty. Not Ellie. If she has to go, she goes. Otherwise, she'll sit on the potty for 10 minutes reading book without a drop, even if it's been an hour since the last time she went.  I'm starting to believe her when she says she doesn't have to go because so far it means she doesn't. I'm still having her sit on the potty at crucial times: first thing in the morning, before/after lunch in the high chair, before/after nap, and anytime I see her doing the potty dance. Otherwise, she initiates most of the trips to the potty herself. 

I'm feeling fairly confident about this process though we are nowhere near being fully trained. Ellie is doing well and every day there are even the tiniest improvements and successes. Yesterday before her nap I took her temperature and she had a fever of 101. 8. She might be teething because she has no other symptoms except not eating well yesterday. Either way, I think she gets bonus points for doing this even while feeling yucky.

Good job Ellie! We can do this!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Slow and Steady

Yesterday was a rougher day. Ellie seemed to be fighting us more throughout the process. I've heard the third or fourth day can be harder, and despite knowing this, I still started to question the process.

I think it was because she was starting to figure out the whole process and we were pushing her to sit on the potty when she didn't need to go, and she was getting frustrated.

This morning we tried training underwear on Ellie. It lasted through one accident and we decided that she wasn't ready for them yet. I was feeling doubtful and even asked Michael, "Are we pushing her too much? Maybe she isn't ready yet..."

A few minutes later Ellie suddenly stopped playing, ran to the potty and sat down, totally unprompted. She pooped! It was pretty incredible since she 1) realized she needed to go and 2) got to the potty in time to go without us saying a word. Her big reward was that she got to watch an episode of Curious George. This incentive seemed to work well!

That set a precedent for the rest of the day. A few different times she stopped completely on her own, ran to the potty and went. A couple times she would do the "potty dance" and I'd tell her to run to the potty (sometimes as she was already heading that way) and she made it every time. She didn't seem nearly as interested in her M & M and stickers as she had been. I had to remind her about them which showed me that she's going without the reward always on her mind.

Michael took her outside with the potty after dinner and she randomly put down what she was playing with, sat down and went.

Today I tried to ask a lot less often if she needed to go, and only made her sit on the potty a couple times when it had been over an hour.  She never went when I made her sit. I think she's at the point that when I ask her if she needs to pee and she says "no" she really means it. She definitely knows when she needs to go, and gets frustrated when I ask her to sit on the potty if she doesn't need to.

Obviously we have quite a way to go. We need to have Ellie learn to wear clothes and be able to go potty, but one step at a time! Today's progress was very encouraging for this Mama. Michael reminded me it may be two steps forward, one step back for a while, but slowly we are moving forward. I'm very proud of my big girl!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Training of The Pot, Dos and Tres

Day 2 of Potty Training had a few interesting hiccups.

Hazel and I had doctor appointments so Michael stayed home with Ellie yesterday. While I was in the shower Ellie had her first #2 accident. Michael was cleaning up a mess and coaching Ellie through the accident, all with a screaming baby Hazel in the background. (I have a trooper of a husband). The rest of the day she had a few accidents but almost always stopped them and ended with a success on the potty.

Then there was yet another traumatic poop incident last night where Ellie ended up crying for Mama (I was gone) and was upset. Michael managed to fling just a tiny bit into the potty as he tried to get her to it in time, encouraging one little sticker on the potty chart (see picture below). Fortunately, the night was redeemed with another successful potty time before bed.

Three Days of Potty Training Successes
Today was a nice change because there were two parents at home. Ellie had a few more accidents where she had drops on the floor, but she always ended on the potty.

At moments we asked ourselves, Are we doing this right? Are we pushing her too much? Is this working? We've been trying to read her body language and not force the process. She seems to understand and is making progress.

We've been trying the let-her-run-around-naked from the waist down method. We weren't really sure what to do at meal times, so we decided to keep the pants off, put a towel in her high chair, and go for it. So far she's been dry at every single meal, which is a sign of progress.

Other signs of progress:

Even if she starts to go on the floor, she stops and tells us she is peeing and makes it to the potty. If we aren't in the same room and she starts to have an accident she finds us and tells us, "I peed!" or starts fussing because she doesn't like the "mess."

Tonight's biggest success was during bathtime. She'd been in the bath for quite a while and suddenly stood up and said, "potty!" We grabbed her potty from the living room, pulled her out of the bath dripping wet, and plopped her on the little toilet.


To me this signified that she recognized her impulse to go, told me about it, waited for the potty, and then went. This gave us hope that it's working! I assumed she would have just gone in the bathtub.

We expect more accidents but tomorrow we have a slight change of plan.

Up until now she has received an M&M and a sticker for every success, even if she had an accident first. Tomorrow we are going to try only rewarding when there is no accident first. We're also going to not ask her as often to sit on the potty to gauge if she can tell on her own.

We're still working on an incentive for going #2 on the potty. She's obsessed with watching Curious George ("Monkey") so we might use that. I have a feeling that one may take a while. Any tips or suggestions would be welcome!

And just to include our little one: Michael and Hazel having a conversation.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Bye-Bye Baby/Hello Big Girl:Potty Time

This was a big week for my first-born.

On Tuesday, Ellie got her first haircut.
And then there was today,
Day One of Potty Training.

Ellie has showed "signs" of being ready. I thought I'd wait longer after having a baby, but I've been feeling good about my new routine and decided there was no reason to delay.

We bought a potty several months ago and Ellie has used it a few times with success. Since we use cloth diapers she's been aware of what's been going on for a while. 
(It's been said that cloth diapered babies potty train a full year ahead of disposable babies-yet another reason to use cloth diapers!)

Last night Ellie and I took a special trip to Target and bought some big girl underwear, stickers, and M & Ms. I told her in the morning we'd be saying goodbye to her diapers.

This Morning,
When Ellie got up we took her diaper off and put her straight onto the potty, now strategically placed in the living room, in the center of our small house.

And Then,
It was no pants time!

She had her first accident on the floor right away. That helped her figure out what was going on. 

After That,
She had several successes on the potty. She got a sticker for her potty chart and one M & M each time. At the first mention of the colored candies (which she has only had once before) she headed straight to the potty.
They were a great motivator today.

At least one sentimental moment:
We watched an Elmo video called "You'll Use the Potty" and I actually teared up. 
Yes, Elmo made me cry
as I realized my baby is becoming a big girl.

She had that first accident right away,
And two other times she started to go on the floor, stopped, went to the potty, and finished there.
She peed 8 times on the potty, in total.

I Am A Proud Mama.
I feel like it was a successful day because I made a hot dinner,
washed our cloth diapers, 
nursed our 6 week-old several times,
watched my oldest daughter slip further away from babyhood.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

First Comparison (of many)

Hazel Jane, age 5 weeks. Discovered the mobile on her swing.

Ellie Grace, age 5 weeks. Discovered the mobile on her swing.

Apparently, they even like the same swaddle blanket.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Eating and Sleeping

Michael and I have noticed how much my mood is dictated by how my girls are doing/eating/feeling.

I first noticed this phenomenon with Ellie, way back when she was first born. Whenever she had a solid feeding I felt relieved and confident. If she had a weird feeding where she didn't latch well or didn't eat as much as usual, or if she was crying for an unexplained reason, I found myself stressed, frustrated, and distraught. This often led to tears for us both.

Now this scenario is on repeat with Hazel. I've had several feedings where Hazel is acting strangely-instead of a calm, "solid" feeding she might eat for less time (when an average feeding is only 5-7 minutes anything less makes me pause) or be extra gassy and therefore be frustrated, resulting in a shorter, stressful feeding.

The result of a poor feeding is that I feel frustrated. I start to over-analyze everything.
 Is she eating enough?
Is my milk supply going down? 
Is she gaining enough weight? 
Is she too gassy? 
What am I eating that's causing her to have tummy troubles? 
Should I move positions?
Should I pump?
What can I possibly do differently to solve this issue? 
Is this EVER going to get easier?

Recently a friend wrote to a few fellow moms on facebook because she was having nursing issues. She admitted to several tears during nursing, and I noticed several other moms concurred. 

Even though I'd say nursing is going night and day better than it did with Ellie, there are STILL moments when it's so frustrating I cry. I still went through an extremely painful patch where a less committed mom would have thrown in the towel. It's encouraging to know that almost every mom I know who has attempted to breastfeed has had moments of tears.

Today, I'm feeling good. Hazel has had several good feedings. I'm calm and relaxed. Even Ellie ate a great lunch. (My mood-connected to feedings didn't end with nursing...I still feel much better when Ellie eats well. Thankfully, I have a great eater most days).

I know I need to learn to relax and not let these things influence my mood. But it does and I just have to learn to be aware of when my poor mood is because of an off day with one or both of the girls.
 By naming it, I can learn to release it.
Happy One Month Hazel!
On another note, I have an amazing sleeper! 

I thought Ellie was a great sleeper, sleeping 4-5 hours at night by one month. 
Hazel decided to welcome her fifth week of life by sleeping for 7 hours straight. I woke her up at that point to feed her because I wanted to make sure she had enough feedings (see questions above).

Last night I decided to see how long Hazel would sleep without me waking her up, since I wake her up for almost every feeding. I fed her at 10:30PM, put her down to sleep by 11:00, and when I woke up at 7AM I decided I needed to wake her up and feed her. Yup. She went for 8 1/2 hours between feedings, skipping her middle of the night feeding, which recently has been 5 or 6AM. I just couldn't let her go any longer. Maybe tonight.

I thought I had it good with Ellie, but now I know I'm beyond lucky with Hazel. I have friends with babies several months or even years older than Hazel who are still waking up in the night to feed.

 I will count my blessings and appreciate my good night's sleep while it lasts. And I'll try not to worry if I have a weird feeding or two.

(I refer to a couple of good books that help me with an eating/sleeping/activity time routine. I credit at least some of my good eaters and sleepers to these. I'd be more than happy to share them if you're interested.)