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Confessions of a Cloth Diaper Dropout

By Stacey Greenberg

I’m not sure where I first got the idea to try cloth diapers. It certainly wasn’t from my family or friends in Memphis. Most likely it was from an online discussion or an article I read in a natural living magazine. I know I spent quite a bit of time researching and reading. I was interested in cloth diapers because I believed they would cut down on diaper rash and be “better” for my baby. My husband, a crunchy guy, was all for cloth diapering too, mainly because he thought that they would be cheaper in the long run and environmentally friendly.

I think that ultimately I was sucked in by the consumerism involved. It is absolutely unreal how many cloth diapering products there are on the market. I must have looked at 20 or 30 websites and consulted with 50 or more women online before deciding to go with Chinese prefolds and an assortment of covers. http://www.earthbaby.comA bunch of my girlfriends pitched in and got me a starter kit for a baby shower gift and I was all set to go when Satchel was born.

For the first week of Satchel’s life, my husband changed his diapers and washed them. I was too scared to pin them on him (he was too small for the covers) and too exhausted to wash them. However, as time passed I got the hang of them, ordered a few extra supplies, and got a good routine going. I even ventured out of the house and got used to using them on the go. I like to think I was just doing my own thing, but I was secretly feeling superior. I turned my nose up at women in restrooms using disposables. I cringed at the paper ruffles protruding from toddlers’ onesies at the zoo. I was a cool mom doing right by my boy and the earth and everyone else was nowhere near as cool as me. HA!

On occasion I would receive free samples of disposable diapers in the mail. I was never once tempted to use them. I passed them onto a friend or sent them to the pregnant woman at my husband’s office. I was strong. I was a self-proclaimed expert on covers, liners, wipes, and washing techniques. People were asking me for advice. I was hardcore.

By the time Satchel was eight weeks old I was a pro. My husband and I had planned to drive from Memphis to California and back over a months time to visit family and friends. No problem. I was prepared to stop at laundry mats along the way. I was thinking it might even add some fun to our trip. You know, exploring quaint little towns, doing laundry while talking to the locals, spreading the word about the beauty and simplicity of cloth diapers. Not. My husband said he refused to drive 3000 miles in the middle of summer with a bag full of smelly, wet/poopy diapers in the car. He is impossible to argue with so I compromised. I would use disposables while on the road and cloth when we got to California. (We planned to be there for a two week stretch.) Fine. I called a friend to see which brand of disposables she recommended and bought the biggest pack I could find. Then I washed every single diaper, cover, liner, and wipe we owned and put them in a bag to go on top of the car.

Satchel wore his first disposable diaper June 15, 2002, the night before we left for our trip. Seriously, I almost cried and was embarrassed when some hippie friends came by to wish us bon voyage. (Satchel actually had the icky paper ruffles sticking out of his onesie.) Our friends said, “I thought you were using cloth?” I quickly explained that it was just for the road trip and that it was my husband’s idea. I made it very clear that I was still a cool mom who was concerned about the earth and my baby’s butt (and what other people thought of me).

The next morning when we woke up I’ll admit that I was a bit stunned by the amount of pee that Satchel’s disposable diaper was able to contain in the night. Not having to change him in the wee hours also resulted in him sleeping much better. It was somewhat exhilarating to toss the dirty diaper in the trash. When I got him dressed I couldn’t help noticing that he looked so much cuter in his little shorts now that he didn’t have a big, poofy cloth diaper booty. (Can you believe the things that run through my mind?!)

On the road, we did have a few incidents of poop shooting up the back of his diaper and all over his onesie, but in general I was beginning to like using disposable diapers. I didn’t have to change Satchel every hour, I didn’t have to worry about finding a laundry mat, and Satchel didn’t get diaper rash despite my fears. Once we got to California, I decided I deserved to be officially on vacation. No housework, no work work, and no washing diapers. I never once opened the bag of freshly folded and laundered diapers. My husband teased, “Which state do you think the diapers liked best?” but I ignored him.

When we got back from our trip I had just a few disposables left. I told myself that as soon as they were gone I would go back to cloth. On July 18, 2002 I used my last disposable diaper, or so I thought. We gave Satchel his bath as usual and started getting him dressed for bed. Like before, I put him in standard night time attire: a cloth diaper with a fleece liner and a fleece cover. Looking at my boy in these giant bulky items suddenly seemed comical. He couldn’t close his legs and he looked really silly. My amusement soon ended when I tried to nurse him to sleep and he began screaming and protesting. He was clearly not happy to be swaddled in three layers of material. I completely panicked. (I was and am obsessive about bedtime and Satchel’s sleep.) I screamed at my husband, started crying, and eventually demanded that he go buy some disposables immediately. Amazingly he gave in, got the diapers, and I got Satchel changed and asleep in record time.

The next morning I started thinking about returning to work. I wondered how I was going to feel about lugging diapers to and from childcare. I wondered when I was going to have time to wash them. I also realized that while we were gone on our month long vacation Satchel had grown quite a bit. I was going to have to buy the next bigger size diapers and covers, which would cost about $200-$300. I tried to regain my initial sense of pride in using cloth, but my enthusiasm was gone. I didn’t want to go back. It was hard to admit to myself. I felt guilty. I felt like a failure. My husband was disappointed in me. I knew I would hear an endless stream of “I told you so’s” from friends and family. I wouldn’t be the cool earth mother anymore. But you know what? I am the one who changes the diapers so I should get to decide! The disposables were clearly having no negative effect on Satchel’s butt, just my ego. So I let the mama guilt go and never looked back.
About The Author:
Name: Stacey Greenberg

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