Nice to meet you, Cloth Diapers!

When I had my first son a couple months after turning seventeen I wasn't really running on well-researched paths. I pretty much raised him in a manner heavily influenced by three things: mainstream child rearing culture, the ever-present advice of my ex-husband's parents, and the way that I was raised myself. Suffice it to say that a lot of my parenting beliefs and approaches have changed over the last several years, and all I believe to be positive steps toward the outcome of better relationships with healthier more confident children.

Some of the differences between what I affectionately refer to as my my First and Second Waves (of motherhood) include issues of circumcision, breastfeeding, babywearing, elimination communication, diapering, sign language, sensory learning, screen and media exposure, and issues surrounding 'discipline' when the children 'act out' (aka now I'm not always a huge jerk when my kids are slamming down on my buttons in a developmentally appropriate way).
One of these subjects tends to lend itself to less inflammatory discourse than some of the others, so I'd like to start by sharing a little bit about my venture into cloth diapering.
Though I had seen my step-mom cloth diaper my little brother when I was around ten years old, I remember it being a cumbersome task involving pins and covers and hand wringing shitty diapers in the toilet. Par for the course in many cases, sure, but to me as a child--totally disgusting. Koa and Cedar were raised in disposable diapers due to a number of circumstances ranging from resources to knowledge, but mostly due to lacking exposure to the practice. Jump forward almost a decade to find me living in Tiny Town, a great place to be born. Here I learned about Doulas and Midwifery and natural birth and birth centers... And about cloth diapers.
Elvis is everywhere, even on a tiny Birch.
Once I found them I was hooked. There are so many amazing companies and hard-working Mamas with home businesses to choose from; children look adorable in them; they come in almost any print or color you can imagine; after the initial sticker shock wears off they pay for themselves quickly and retain a strong resale value; and using them creates a lower impact on the Earth than using disposables. With all that on the table it was hard not to get hooked. Those of you who've been following along well know that once I get excited about something I don't really look back until the guilt or regret not only nips at my heels, but actually tears a chunk out of the back of my thigh. Such is the life of a borderline hoarder. That is how I wound up with a stash of diapers that numbered 120+ at one time for just my two youngest boys. I know, I know, it sounds crazy, but like I said Tiny Town is really into these sorts of things so finding used cloth diapers in excellent condition to bulk up on was an easy task. Besides, mathematically speaking, this obscene amount of diapers really only amounts to purchasing one every three days or so... Which kind of doesn't make me sound any less impulsive, I realize, but it's a noble cause to get behind. 

Birch wore cloth a solid 93% of his diaper days and Aspen started in them, but we finally caught on to elimination communication with him and drastically decreased the need for a lot of diapers in the process. I was rotating through an immense diaper stash and washing a less-than-full load every two or three days, had finally perfected my dry pail and wash systems, and I felt great for acing something plenty of other people are intimidated by. That is until the day a tiny baby Aspen got the diaper rash that changed everything.

Looking for some pep.
Maybe I'll tell the tale another time because it's a doozy and deserves a full post with lots of informational links and statistics, but basically when Aspen's diaper rash refused to respond to the usual course of treatment at home, I took him in to see another doctor in his pediatrician's office who had room on his schedule on a Sunday. It is enough for now to say that the doctor did not respect me or my son, resulting in formal complaints and investigations with the State that nearly took us to court for a malpractice suit. Then, because of a need to apply heavy creams to his rash that would compromise the absorbency permanently in the cloth diapers, I started using disposables. Simultaneously I battled a depressive bout of my own while also processing a lot of other internal family stressors, and I couldn't find the energy to think about returning to the cloth diaper ritual after a month, then two. Now it's nearly seven months later and I can say that my fetish for the fluff has quelled considerably. My expectations for myself at this juncture are much lower when it comes to my ability to manage regular weekly laundry, even with the help of Brian and the older boys, much less the added two or three loads of diapers. Part of me feels lame for throwing in the towel, but more of me recognizes the breakup with cloth as a simple way to practice self-care. When everything feels like it's caving in on me, or like it's incredibly heavy or busy, or we have a week heavy on the nighttime accidents or daytime art projects (which seems to be, well, pretty much every week), removing a few loads of laundry a week actually feels like removing a few tons of brick off my back even if I do understand the social, environmental, and financial implications of the decision. We all have to arrange our priorities based on our circumstances, and I feel no shame in reevaluating them according to my latest self-revelation. In fact friends, reevaluation driven by self-reflection and revelation is a really refreshing practice. It helps me remember that the whole world is fluid, even me, and that it is okay to be so.

I do, however, still love cloth diapers--especially my Fuzzi Bunz stash. I sold off my tiny ones as soon as Aspen was out of them since he is the final baby in our home, but I still have a huge stash of medium and large sizes in all the colors of the rainbow. While I could likely sell them for $5-$8/ea in Tiny Town and recoup some of my investment, I've decided I would rather share the benefits of cloth diapering with other families who have or are expecting a little one and who may or may not otherwise consider using them due to cost or other factors. And plus, remember the Great Purge of 2014? I have to hold up my end of the deal. The diapers are beautiful, insanely useful, and totally storied--they were part of every day of my children's lives for 2+ years--but they are not doing any good just sitting in IKEA storage bins.
The most glorious remnants of our cloth diaper days.
Stay tuned for the full details on how you can win a dozen of my Fuzzi Bunz diapers and inserts, along with both a pail-sized and a travel wet bag. Sure they're used but they were well taken care of and recently stripped, they are free, and they will be catching shit so I don't think it really matters that much. Plus, you are under zero obligation to enter to win something you wouldn't actually cherish and use. For the rest of you, save about $125 and change the way you handle bio-waste forever. It's actually a really sweet deal, and one which I will have delivered to your door if you win and live in the US.    

Details coming Wednesday (or maybe sooner if I get ambitious and am not just being pushed around by caffeine and sleep-deprived delirium) so stay tuned, spread the word, and be sure to LIKE ME for the most up-to-date announcements as I hammer out a plan...         

No comments