When David and I found out that we were expecting our first baby, we were not exactly well off, financially speaking. In fact, we were both in school and working part-time. When people asked me how we would manage, I would tell them that I planned to breastfeed and cloth diaper. I then received all kinds of funny looks from everyone but Grandma, who said cloth diapering was the only option available to her and it worked out just fine.
Well, we were blessed by numerous showers and gifts during my pregnancy. I had more diapers than I knew what to do with. They literally were stored in the attic for a while. Nora was almost 3 months old and we still had not had to think about purchasing diapers. Then there came the day when I realized we were down to the last box. Where do we go from here?
It was during this very week that I realized we would soon have to buy diapers that we had dinner with our then acquaintances, now dear friends. Our baby girl was about three months old, theirs seven months, and would you believe it...they used cloth diapers! Of course I was thrilled to talk to another mom who could encourage me to try it out, and even had experience to boot! After a few days of thinking and calculating, we ordered our "stash" (don't you just love that word?) of cloth diapers and have never turned back. Now that isn't to say I haven't LOOKED back, but we haven't TURNED back. See the difference? Okay moving on...
Cloth diapers started out as a purely economical decision for us. But it didn't take long for the novelty to wear off. First there was a transitional diaper rash. Then it took me months to figure out the perfect wash routine. We would (still do) forget the wet bag. While I was in nursing school, we would run out of clean diapers and have to wash at odd times of the night. Nora started eating solids and things got messy. Then there was the stink issue...It didn't take longer than six weeks to realize that this was certainly NOT less hassle than disposables. I almost threw in the towel. But I just couldn't. (And, for the record, things have gotten lots easier as I've gained experience!)
|Baby Ava in one of my favorite newborn cloth diapers|
Cloth diapering has seriously changed me, in more ways than one. First, they have helped me find my way as a mother. This may sound like an exaggeration, but I can explain. I still haven't figured out how the "baby industry" finds an expectant mother's mailbox, but once they do, there is a flow of solicitation. Coupons, savings, samples, advertisements...having a baby means a huge list of THINGS you have to buy. Diapers and formula are just the beginning of the commercialism, but separated from the necessity to purchase those items, I have found simplicity in motherhood. It seems the only thing my newborn baby really needs is her mother's presence, arms, love. We can both survive, even thrive, without the bucket list of accessories.
Second, cloth diapers have changed my lifestyle. One day during one of the previously mentioned "we're out of clean diapers" episodes, I changed a disposable and went to toss it in the trash. I don't know what came over me, but I HATED the way I felt throwing that diaper in the garbage. It wasn't just the money. See, using cloth diapers was my first real experience with novel ideas like "reducing waste" and "re-using." Tossing that diaper in the trash just felt wasteful, and I didn't know how we would handle a situation where we didn't have reusable diapers and ran out of disposables. What if the store wasn't open? What if there was a shortage? What if we fell on hard(er) times? Cloth diapers gave me a sense of security.
I like to say that I want to live a simple life and get back to my roots. I have a long way to go, but I have come a long way, too. Using cloth diapers was the first step I took toward that goal. In fact, cloth diapering led me to set that goal. I haven't always been into this kind of back-to-the-basics lifestyle, but using changing a cloth diaper has changed me.