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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

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"Why does your baby look like a Who?"

This is what my brother asked me within minutes of meeting my then-2-month-old baby Oskar over the holidays. My husband and I, baby in tow, made the eight-hour trek by car (typically five hours, but baby adds three) specifically to introduce our new bundle to my family. The highlight of this visit was that Oskar would have the opportunity to meet my brother's baby -- Oskar's cousin -- for the first time, along with a host of tittering aunts and fawning uncles and fussing grandparents. We arrived and made the whirlwind of introductions, barely surviving the onslaught of camera flashbulbs that went off when the babies held hands upon meeting. Then, not long after,

"Why does your baby look like a Who?"

"What?" I asked.

"A Who," my brother replied.

"A which?"

"A Who. You know, from Dr. Seuss?" he clarified.

"Oh," I said. "As in, Horton Hears a..."

"A Who." My brother pointed at my baby's butt.

I looked at Oskar and realized what my brother was trying to say in his typically colorful way. Oskar did look somewhat like a Who, one of the tiny, cheerful, and vaguely pear-shaped inhabitants of Whoville, with his one-piece romper stretched over his little body and his especially rotund bottom. That's because Oskar was sporting our pocket diaper of choice, a Smartipants, double-stuffed for the long car ride, and was looking extra-fluffy that evening.

Since he was about a month old, Oskar has been in cloth. We never planned on cloth; it never even occurred to us. We figured we would have enough on our plates with a whole new person living in our house, leaving a trail of soiled laundry in his wake. But a few things happened right after Oskar was born. We became tired of the constant trips to the baby store for diapers and wipes, just in the few weeks our baby lived in disposables.

We were appalled by the sheer volume of garbage we were tossing into our trash can several times a day -- made even more embarrassing by the fact we were tossing said garbage into the can directly next to the recycling bin we proudly frequent, the one right behind our hybrid car. We educated ourselves and I spent lots of time over at educated; I spent lots of time on Kim’s website, Dirty Diaper Laundry.

I was shocked at how different cloth diapers are from how I'd imagined (in other words, they didn't necessarily involve giant safety pins and a backbreaking laundry routine). We became sentimental; how could we possibly have been prepared for just how much we could love this new little person, for just how fervently we would want to give him the very best we could?

And so I explained to my brother that Oskar looked like a Who that night -- and in fact always looked like a Who -- because he wore cloth diapers. I waited for the standard response.

"Poop? In your washing machine?" He raised an eyebrow.

And, as I always do, I resisted the urge to reply, "Chemicals? Against your baby's skin?" or "Trash the planet your baby will inherit?"

Instead, I simply smiled and said, "You bet."

By Patti W-C.

Dr. Seuss photo courtesy of PBS


Kayla said...

I laughed so hard at the "Chemicals? Against your baby's skin?" thought. Love it!

T Rex Mom said...

That's a great story. Thanks for sharing. We chose to cloth diaper for financial and health reasons but I guess I never reflected on the condition we are leaving our planet in and passing along to our children. Thank you for the reminder.

Arizona Girl said...

My sister looked like Cindy Lou Who, we called her Kristy Lou Who and after years we call her Lou.

Krista said...

I have a "who" baby too...and also love the Smartipants OS pockets :)

James, Andrea, and Clara Smith said...

Cute! I love this writing style--so lyrical. Adorable Baby too. :) I wish I could somehow be a cloth diaper cupid and infect everyone with the same Cloth Diaper Love Bug. My mother just doesn't get it. I will probably always be the only one in my family "crazy enough" to cloth diaper. But it brings me joy! Who would've thought?

Cari said...

I love your answer to the "poop in your washer" question. :). We started cloth with our second child and I always say, can't be worse than potty training accidents (and it never has been) :).

Rose said...

This is a great story! I am always amazed at how little faith people have in the ability of their washing machines to WASH things. A new mom friend of mine, who uses disposables but knows I use cloth, recently exclaimed to me how surprised she was that her machine got the poo out of her baby's clothes with just one wash, after one of their frequent "blow-out" experiences. Uh, yeah, how did she think we wash diapers? :)

Katie said...

That's such a cute story! I love hearing stories from other mom's who cloth diaper. Your sentimental comment hit home for me! Thanks for sharing :)

Beccalynn said...

That was well put! I love it!!!

Hannah said...

You're a funny writer! And your brother sounds like a funny guy too. Way to go for traveling with your cloth diapers!

Jill said...

That is so funny!

thelion said...

first time i put smartipants on my 2 week old, i thought the same was a much needed laugh at a 2am diaper change

Wade&Sarah said...

LOL this is funny!!! I too love that my babys bum looks big cloth diapers are so cute!!!