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Sunday, January 19, 2014

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Zen and the Art of Cloth Diapers

I have never been a very “zen” person, nor have I ever been very frugal. So, I was surprised when both those terms came into my head during a late night feeding session with my nearly two-month-old son. You know those deep thoughts you have between the moments you realize your head is back, mouth hanging open and you are snoring slightly while your little one just nurses away. I was thinking of those words in terms of describing myself and was shocked. I’ll explain.

I’m a strange cross of many things. I will pay for convenience but secretly want to live in the house from Little House on the Prairie and tried this during my first marriage. I like simple things but am not frugal and far too impatient for coupons and would rather have too many things to do as opposed to one or none. When I found out my husband and I were having a baby, I was very excited as I felt like our little family, which included my daughter from my first marriage (my husband happily adopted) and two cats, would be complete. I knew I wanted to breastfeed as I had with my daughter and was determined to be more successful at it this time. I was horrifically awkward with my first and while I kept at it and kept at it, she weaned earlier than I had hoped. I was a single parent then, working and getting by with tons of help from my supportive family. I also decided I wanted to use cloth diapers. I had tried with my daughter (now 6 and a half years old!) but had almost no funds, had done little research and did not have my ideal laundry set up. I soaked up the information for months during my pregnancy this time. I was going to be PREPARED. I had a blast shopping for diapers online and deciding what to use or try. I was saving money! I was being frugal!

Our new baby arrived. A Boy! We had not found out the gender ahead of time so everything I had purchased and prepared was gender neutral but so fun. I was chomping at the bit to try all the cute diapers on him but had not really considered the healing circumcision. I once again researched and researched how I might deal with this. I went with disposables for about 5 days to let the healing start and then I couldn’t wait any longer. I diligently glopped Vaseline on a gauze and placed it on him, protecting the diapers from the goop at the same time. It worked, I was happy!

Then all of a sudden, he was two months old. I was in love with my boy, my diapers, the laundry routine and we’d made it through the toughest weeks of breastfeeding. I’d overcome blisters, flat nipples and soreness. I’d battled diaper rash without my favorite rash cream from the days of disposables and I had conquered nighttime pee leaks! This boy could pee. It was then, in the dark, waiting for my little guy to fill up and sink back into a happy slumber that I realized I had found my “zen.” I was at peace. I had actually refrained from working (mostly) during my maternity leave, I hadn’t taken on any new projects (not really…maybe a small one) and I had focused on my new baby. I perfected my laundry routine. I enjoyed hanging the diapers out to dry and so did my daughter. It was quality time no disposable could match. She loved to help fold them and bring them in if it started to rain and I was feeding her brother. It was peaceful, it was frugal, it was …… fun. In a weird way, it was fun. I used a couple disposables here and there when I was saving certain diapers for trips we were taking and every time I did I was completely disappointed. A good prefold and a wrap with leg gussets are bullet proof in the face of a breastfed poo blowout and even my guy could pee through a disposable in a naptime. I rarely had to do wardrobe changes on him and remembered going through so many outfits in a day with my daughter.

And then it was time to go back to work. I dribbled back. I had a daunting one and a half hour drive each way and so much pumping to do. It would be OK, it was only a couple days a week. Right? What about diapers? I wanted to keep my cloth routine going and hoped I could prove to the grandmothers that it was going to be easier than when they had cloth diapers. I used my new powers of frugality and found as many of my favorite all-in-ones on sale or used, as seconds and at a crazy reduced price. I’d win them over and they would never want to use disposables again, right?! My mother takes pride in getting a wrap on properly and getting through a naptime with a dry grandson, so I’m willing to deem that a success.

I don’t have to worry about running out of formula or diapers and this is my new zen. I do feel a little bit like a super hero. With the powers of thriftiness and zen combined we’ve saved money and conquered many cloth diaper fears. We’ve been out and about all day, we’ve gone CAMPING for days on end. I washed diapers in the shower and hung them dry with no issues. I’m sure my secret desire to be Laura Ingalls Wilder makes it more of an adventure than it really is. But in all honesty, in our busy world of smart phones and constant connectedness to a digital world, this makes me feel like I am doing my part to keep things simple and remember how to do things in a way that doesn’t require a wi-fi connection.

Bio: Stacy Stevenson is a mom of two and a program administrator at Kent State University. Stacy is also finishing her PhD in Instructional Technology and staying home with her kids as much as she can.

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