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Friday, August 11, 2006

I'm no Super(wo)man

First, I wanted to tell you all thanks for all the positive feedback on our veggin' out experiment! Today was the last of the Ten Days Without Meat, and I can say I have learned SOOOOO much more than I ever dreamed possible. I am looking forward to having dairy and eggs in my life again (do you know HOW many recipes call for eggs?! Sheesh! Hats off to all the vegans out there - I am indeed inspired by your dedication to your principles). I am also looking forward to really, really focusing on using more whole foods in our meals. I cannot say enough how much better I feel physically since we started focusing on more whole foods, less processed food - and feeling better physically is always good for the ol' mental health as well.

Now, on to what is on my mind . . .

Yesterday, D and I went over to visit a neighbor who is new to town. She has a darling little boy who is a few months younger than D, so we tried to visit as much as is possible while refereeing two only children who are quite sure every object they encounter is surely for their amusement alone. Her son got into my purse and found a disposable diaper I had tucked in last minute - just in case. She noted that those were the same diapers they used, and so of COURSE I had to mention that we use cloth diapers - but that I carry disposables with me out of the house. She then did the Wayne's World-esque "we're not worthy bow" and went on about how awesome I am . . .

Well, as much as I would like to perceive myself as being awesome, I would be a big, fat, phony fake if I considered myself awesome for cloth diapering. The very real truth is that cloth diapering is EASY. Shamefully, surprisingly easy.

Let me share with you the few things about cloth diapering that I personally find challenging, and then compare that to how unchallenging the rest is (to me anyway):

(note to the squeamish: in-depth poop descriptions below)
1. I know you have wondered, and the truth is that yes - poopy diaper clean-ups can get tricky. There are two stages of a child's life when the poopy cloth diaper presents relatively few hurdles: the newborn/infant 100% breastfed stage and the older toddler stage. Babes who are exclusively breastfed have poopy diapers that are water soluble, so you simply toss the whole thing in the diaper pail (or wet bag) and everything comes out in the first pre-rinse of the diaper load. It washes down the drain, safe and sound. When a toddler is older and solids are well-established, poops are nice and solid and just roll off the diaper into the toilet and get flushed into the sewer just like yours does - safe and sound. However, gentle reader, there is a stage of life that proves to be a bit, ahem, icky in the arena of poopy dipes. And that is the stage dear D has been in pretty much since we started CDing almost a year ago. Because she is still breastfed and because she is a very picky eater, her poopy diapers are almost always of a sort of very thick mashed potato texture. And that means in order to get it into the toilet to flush away, I have to use a Poop Scraper (an old kitchen spatula that is now clearly and boldly labeled POOP ONLY). And to be honest, there are some poopy diapers that I wish I could just wrap up and throw away -- but since I have paid anywhere from $10-$20 for each diaper, I resist that urge and power through. But it ain't pretty. BUT, my house never smells like stinky toddler poop either! (more on this later)

2. Aside from icky clean-ups, it can be tricky when one first starts CDing to find the system that will work for you and your babe. This holds true as babe grows and her body shape changes, her poop consistency evolves, and her ability to soak a diaper with a power jet of pee reaches off-the-chart status. So there is always some trial-and-error involved in building and maintaining a workable diaper stash. (But, sometimes, that's half the fun. Or more than half for me! More later)

3. Finally, some people encounter laundering problems that can be very frustrating. Those who have front loading washing machines or water that is too hard or water that is too soft . . . these things can throw a wrench in getting diapers nice and delightfully clean. Again, it's just a matter of trial-and-error to find a laundry system that works for you, but once you get there, you rarely have to make adjustments.

(for me anyway)

1. I will openly confess while I originally started CDing to save money, cloth diapering quickly became a hobby of sorts for me. I love diaper shopping! One of the glorious benefits of CDing is the CUTE factor! No boring, standard, utilitarian paper dipes for our sweet D. Her cute buns are almost always in something pink or lavender or flowery (hmmmm, that reminds me - I might like to find something pink AND lavender AND flowery!). I kind of suspect that moms of girls tend to find the CUTE factor to be more alluring than moms of boys, but I could be wrong. But now on the odd occasion D is in a 'sposie dipe, I feel kind of sad for the lack of cuteness covering her booty region that day.

2. I think it's pretty fun to be doing something good for the earth. Yes, yes, yes - there is GREAT debate out there as to the actual environmental benefits of CDing. Many diapers are made from cotton and standard cotton growing practices are not kind to the earth. (The most posh and lovely of diapers are made from organic cotton which is both delicious to the touch and generally grown in an earth-respecting way.) Then there is the fact that most of the more convenient and popular diapers have polyester laminate outers - and polyester is made in factories . . . factories that contribute to pollution and other un-earth-loving things.

But what I like to remember is that every time I diaper D with cloth, that is one less 'sposie in a landfill somewhere. Remember the Oprah show on Global Warming 101 ? She made a huge deal over the statistic that "Americans throw away 49 million diapers every single day," and that "the diapers end up in landfills and could take 500 years to decompose." That's a lot of ick for a long time to come. Yes, parents could choose Elimination Communication or letting baby go "diaper-free," but the odds of that movement taking hold in Western culture seem a bit slim to me. CDing, on the other hand, seems to be the lesser of two evils.

3. As I mentioned above, since D's poop goes down the toilet, our house never smells like dirty diapers! Self-explanatory as to why that rocks.

4. It's great not to worry about the chemicals next to D's most delicate skin.

5. And it's really, really wonderful when I think about how uncomfortable I would feel in paper underwear and to be able to know that the vast majority of the time, the materials next to D's skin are much kinder to her very sensitive skin.

Please know, friends, that all of this is just my explanation as to why for US, the choice to cloth diaper is so fun, so easy, so worth it that I feel extremely embarrassed when people assume I am some kind of Super Mom for doing it. I am not - far from it, in fact! But I also know that it is not a choice for everyone and I highly respect every parent's right to make the best decisions for their babes and their homes.

Buuuuuut, if you ever wanna know more about the ins-and-outs and ups-and-downs of diapering with cloth, I am here for ya!