Archives for August 2013

Adventures in Cloth Diapering…Or How I Saved the World

(Warning: This post contains lots of bad poo puns.  I  couldn’t help myself.  You can use it like a drinking game if you want.   Whenever you see a poo pun down a glass of Pinot.  Or, just down a glass of Pinot.  Still totally fun.)

I’ve been debating about writing about this for some time. First, because my story involves poo, and all the moms I know seem to have had their fill of poo stories.

Second, because I really want to keep my seat in the crunchy moms club and things are very precarious right now. I figured I was in the club for LIFE with my home birth and all. But then I couldn’t breast feed, and I nearly got myself kicked out by dropping the ‘F’ bomb on my baby. (Formul-AH!!) I made up to them and earned a probationary membership back in the club when I agreed to cloth diaper.

And third, I feel like a failure – too selfish and tired and sick of touching poo to care that I am destroying the Earth irreparably with each baby, to the tune of something like 5 tons of dirty dipes per kid. But. I couldn’t keep it up. I  gave up on cloth diapering because I did not have the patience for it or the energy to wash all those dipes or the desire to bring extra outfits with me everywhere because inevitably someone was gonna leak their shit.

Oh, at first it’s fun. I convinced my husband to let me invest in the whole shebang up front because we were going to “save so much money,” and then had a grand time spending $500 on the cutest little diapering things you ever did see!! CD moms (that’s ‘cloth diapering” moms to those lay folks out there) call CDs “fluff.” And little baby bums look so friggin‘ fluffy cute in huge ass cloth diapers with patterns like dollar bills on them!1mos-RagababeEasyAIO1-1

First one I tried was gDiapers, probably the most widely recognized CD.  I put it on Noah and it was so adorable. He instantly became a gBabe! Pictures, pictures. He was gonna be an Instagram sensation! gDiapers would want him for their spokesbaby!

Within an hour it leaked. I hopped on the internet. I spent hours reading gDiaper blogs and getting to know the ins and outs of the gMom community (yes, I am a gMom now!!) and ordering my gDiaper diaper bag so that everyone who saw me would know that I am gDiapering.

Ok, of course, user error. I tried again with Noah and put the leg holes in the crease and “made a seal” and made it tight but not too tight and let him loose. Leak. Back on the internet, doubled up the inserts, leak leak leak. I tried that sucker 5 or 6 times and couldn’t get it to work. I am bombing at this already and it’s only the first day.

Now I’m on the internet reading the “I hate gDiaper” blogs and going, yeah! Those suck! No wonder I couldn’t get it right! And start researching other cloth diapers with a better reputation. After hours and hours and hours of research I decide that BumGenius diapers are what I need. I order 15 of them. These are great because they are one size fits all and so Noah and Lola will both be able to use them and I am saving so much goddam money Mat is gonna buy me a diamond because he is in such awe at my frugalness!

I also order a cloth diaper pail because you can’t use a Diaper Genie, duh! I order cloth wipes because you can’t cloth dipe and toxic wipe. I order a special cloth wipe warmer because you can’t just go using the disposable wipe warmer! I order flushable liners so I don’t have to touch poo!  I order special detergent to wash my cloth diapers in because you cannot use regular detergent!

Noah gets it first. It’s orange, his best color, and adorable, and I take more pictures of his cute behind. In 90 minutes his diaperIMG_0242 IMG_0243 has leaked all over my pants while I read to him. Back on the interwebs. Some people birth heavy wetters, it seems, and I happen to be one of them. I ponder the likelihood that this trait is genetic while I search in vain for a pair of cleanish non-holey replacement yoga pants.

Change every hour! the helpful CD forums say. This makes cloth diapering more inconvenient than my still out of shape pubococcygeus (I hate Kegels) muscles but okay. Nothing more I’d like to do all day than spend my leisure time changing (and washing) two cloth diapers every hour.

Wash them better! Okay, buy some special stripping detergent to strip the special cloth diaper detergent I already bought. Nope. No go.

Load that baby up with extra inserts! I layer two, then three inserts together and now, once they get slightly soiled, they turn rock hard and bulky and Noah can hardly utilize his legs and is walking like a robot. A freakin‘ cute fluffy butt robot, but a robot nonetheless. The layers stop the leaking but.  Not winning.

I finally make this happen by using gDiaper inserts in the BumGenius diapers.  So we go on our way for a little happy while. I’m washing all 15 diapers each and every day and letting them air dry every night all over my dining room chairs.

How do you handle the poo? I heard often when I told (bragged) to people I was cloth diapering.  Gotta get your hands in the poo, no way around it.  Little baby poo, like Lola’s was at the time, tends to be water soluble so it will just wash out in the laundry. But Noah’s poo was toddler poo. This had to be dumped into the toilet first and flushed and then the diaper could be washed. But who has ever had a kid that does awesome perfect poo patties every time that just flip right out into the toilet? Not me!

Near the beginning of this escapade Noah takes a truly nasty poo. This is not a flipper. Now some CD moms have this handy sprayer that attaches to the toilet that you use to spray the diapers off. This is the one thing I did not invest in, because hello, I bought the flushable liners that are supposed to take care of this for me.

My choices are: A) dip the whole thing in the toilet with my hands and let it soak out, or B) wash it in the washer twenty times and hope that the poo comes out and doesn’t poo-ify every load of laundry I ever do from here to eternity.

Neither are acceptable scenarios, so I chose C.  I know I need a sprayer for this job, and where do I have one? Aha! The kitchen sink! So I bring this double-pounder to the sink and start spraying. And bits of poo start flying.

You know that moment where you realize you’ve just made a terrible decision, but there’s no taking it back?  Like hypothetically, when you sent that pic to your new boyfriend’s phone, but you don’t know him well enough to know that he for sure won’t show his best friend?  Or in fact, you do know him somewhat, and what you do know points to the very likelihood that he will show his best friend? Hypothetically?

That’s how I felt.  I immediately realize this is a horrible idea, but I’m in deep doo doo now and there’s no taking it back.  I need to just bear down and get it done.

I eventually manage to get most of the poo off the diaper, but now the drain is stopping up and the sink is starting to fill with poo water.  What do I do?? I’m gonna have to use the garbage disposal.  I reach over with my elbow because my hands are biohazardly contaminated and flip the switch and shoot poo water up into the air and all over the counter. I have in effect now just used my sink to blend up a splattering poo milkshake. Omg I will barf right now!

The whole kitchen smells like a bloated rotting carcass and invisible poo particles are swirling through the air and landing on everything within five feet! I make a quick inventory of everything within five feet. All of Lola’s bottles, nipples etc. Vomit in my mouth. Bananas, apples, Mac and cheese still in the pot from earlier. I realize then that I myself am covered not only in invisible poo particles but actual poo particles and I would pay big money to stand in an acid bath right about now.

I finally get the poo dipe in the wash and throw away or bleach the shit out of everything in the vicinity including myself. The entire house has floating invisible poo particles in it that make it smell like a dirty gas station bathroom and even though it’s ten degrees outside I bundle the kids up and open all the windows. I wipe myself down, take a (mouth) breather, and recoup. That was seriously nearly the most disgusting poo experience I’ve had, though since I can think of two other poo experiences of mine that are horrific as well, and don’t involve children, I strangely start to feel better about this whole thing.

And yet. I still continue to cloth diaper! If I can handle that I can handle anything! At this point Mat and my babysitter are sort of not really into this yet, especially after my poo milkshake mishap, and so I have two diaper pails going, two wipe warmers, and two different piles of diapers to choose from. I ask my mom if I should bring the cloth diapers on vacation to Phoenix and she says – I’m paraphrasing here – Fuck No.*

So I’m still buying disposables and I’m still researching for hours searching for the perfect cloth diaper to convince everyone I have not lost the rest of my mind by trying this. After checking out several other brands, I do end up finding the holy grail of cloth diapers. Ragababe.

These are highly rated on all the diaper blogs and raved about on the forums and I must have one! Or 15-20 to be exact. I go to the website and end up on the ordering page where to my chagrin there are five or six paragraphs explaining exactly how, in 10 Easy Steps, I too can get my hands on one of these buggers.

It seems that Ragababes are the shit, and everyone wants them, and the tiny little mom-run company cannot keep them in stock. You have to sign up for their Facebook page where they will notify you of the date of the next stocking. The website then explains how you must go to the website a few minutes early with your trigger finger ready, constantly refreshing the browser until the slated time, because if you, say, have to deal with a screaming baby whose brother just now wanted to use his bulldozer to bulldoze her butt out of the way to make room for his burgeoning rail line you will miss the start of it and within seconds they are all sold out.

Shut the front door.

Who has time for this? Well apparently a lot of people. Including me. And I score! One diaper! And let me tell you, this diaper really is miraculous. It came in a cute hipster print and can be DRIED in the DRYER and actually holds up to my heavy wetter’s best shot and I fall in love.

Now I have to get many, many more. And I can’t. I follow the 10 Easy Steps to no avail. They hardly ever stock Noah’s size so he’s out. I finally do manage to get a couple in Lola’s size and they make me fall even harder. I’m becoming obsessed! How do I get more of these? Now my BumGenius are total has-beens and I can’t even stand to look at them. I’m looking lustily at thenull_zps62abd1cb photos of the out of stock diapers on the website. Pink leopard! Newspaper print! Camouflage! My babies’ butts would be the envy of the town.

I search and search and find there is a black market of resale Ragababes on eBay and a couple of other sketchy sites and these things are going for like 25 more bucks than the original $35, which is nearly twice as much as the $19 BumGenius diapers. Should I? I shouldn’t. That’s stupid to pay 60 bucks for a diaper. Right?

I nearly fall under the eBay auction spell but I manage to control myself. I don’t buy. Because at this point I’ve also realized the dirty little secret of cloth diapering. It really doesn‘t save you that much money. It takes a bunch of tries to find the right cloth diaper, and besides that freak Ragababe these things don’t resell well or at all, so the money spent on dipes that don’t work is a loss. And if you do find something that you like, you want them in every freakin‘ color and design they come in because just like tattoos and Gucci bags, what you’ve got doesn’t satisfy you for very long.

In the end I never did get enough Ragababe love to be able to fully extract myself from clingy, psychotic BumGenius. And I started to loathe the BG. Because I could deal with just about anything with the diapers, but in the end my kids just started…smelling. And I couldn’t figure out how to stop it. Apparently, once the diapers have been used a few times they start retaining this excrement smell. And as soon as your kid pees even a little, the diaper lays on a full-frontal assault of the senses and reeks, and also makes your kid reek even once the diaper is off.

You are supposed to be able to strip these with the fancy stripping detergent to solve this problem, but it never worked. I did more research, tried a few other things, washed the shit out of them, and eventually gave up. Because even with cute little fluff butts, my children will not be the envy of the town if they permanently smell like a bloated rotting carcass. That smell was truly the last straw.

From here, after eating crow with my husband and returning the diamond in my mind, I put my stash of cloth dipes in storage and decided to try some eco-friendly disposable diapers. Research, internet, blah blah blah, I find some that are made in Turkey with paper lining and wood pulp absorbing pellets on the interior. Perfect!

Except. Since these don’t have super-absorbing powers of the “toxic” crunchy mom Unapproved Huggies you are technically supposed to change them more often. Didn’t totally figure this out until we went to our good friends‘ one year old’s birthday party. They have an awesome farm with awesome huge bouncy slides for the party. Noah is bouncing and sliding and having an awesome time. But, the thing with paper, as opposed to say plastic, is that when it gets wet, it doesn’t stretch.

Noah’s three hour old diaper – I mean you try to pry a two year old away from a huge awesome bouncy slide to change his eco-dipe – rips in half and all the millions of pee-soaked wood pulp pellets spread from the top of the slide where Noah is launching to the bottom where he ends his descent. Next is a frantic evacuation of the contaminated, formerly awesome bouncy slide.

Fortunately, our friends conveniently had a leaf blower in the shed, and Pete frankly seemed almost giddy to be able to break it out to blast all of Noah’s wood pellets from the scene of the crime. Also conveniently, as aforementioned, these are made of wood will biodegrade and not harm the environment. So, you know.  Points for that.

And I thought I was ostracizing my kid when he smelled like a carcass. So, we are back to Huggies. These babies can last for 12 hours straight and will withstand all the excremental abuse my kids can throw at them. I get them super cheap at Costco. I sold my Ragababes for more than I paid for them, on eBay, and am saving up for a nice new diamond.

I think of all the hours I wasted researching, then washing diapers. I could have solved world hunger with all that brainpower! Well. At least I could have spliced together someIMG_1081 cute kitten videos. I have reconciled myself to the fact that I am leaving the Earth full of trash generated by my spawn, and am trying to find ways to make up for it. Like buying recycled toilet paper. Mat’s not pleased about that, but I think he’s happy we aren’t washing poo cloths.

I realize that to keep from losing my mind I had to drop my expectations of what I can and can’t do. (Sense a theme?) I may not be able to save the world, but I have saved my sanity, which makes my world, and the people that inhabit it, a better place.

 

* My mom had the experience of cloth diapering in the 70’s without much choice. Like, the kind of cloth diapers with safety pins and plastic covers. Seriously? Sharp pins that will stab your child in his or her genitals? She can’t for the life of her understand why I would choose to cloth diaper. I print out lots of informative articles on the subject to bring with me to Phoenix.