Sunday, June 5, 2011

let's talk about poop

Our main reason for deciding to do cloth diapers for Liam was cost. After I moved from full time to part time at work, we needed to cut expenses, find more ways to stretch our money and to save more. Hence, I began researching cloth diapering. There are many things I never imagined I would do/say/try before becoming a parent. But that is for another post. Cloth diapering was certainly on that list, if not at the very top. Previous to having a child, I even mocked/half-judged my best friend for giving it a shot. Now I wish I had been more supportive, since she did not continue with cloth diapering after a short go of it. Many of my friends now use cloth diapers on their children and many other friends of mine have asked about it. So below I've outlined our system and noted things I've learned along the way.

Cost: Nate and I estimate, by the time Liam is out of diapers (sometime around 3 years or before), we'll have saved roughly $1,940. That might not seem like a ton over 3 years, and I'm sure some would gladly pay that amount for the sake of convenience. However, on a weekly basis, that puts $15 back in our budget. With all the other expenses having an infant incurs, $15 back into our wallet each week was very welcome and needed!

Names/Acronyms: It amazed me how overwhelmed I got just beginning my search online. I felt like it was a special club. Finally I was able to find them all listed out for me. I also put some of the terms in acronyms in parenthesis throughout this post.

Types: There are many different types of cloth diapering (CD) systems out there. The one that's right for you depends solely on your lifestyle and preferences. I found this site very helpful in explaining the positives and negatives of the most common diapering systems.

Initial Stash: For our initial stash, after purchasing a few other brands and experimenting with those, we chose Best Bottom Diapers from Nicki's Diapers online. We found this system the fastest, easiest and most convenient and purchased 10 covers and 24 liners. This quantity means we wash diapers about every 2 days or less. (We also tried The Flip by Cotton Babies and one diaper from GroVia.)

Reason #1: Overnight Leaks.
Since Liam pees like a horse at night, we needed something that wouldn't leak. Even disposables couldn't contain his peeing overnight. Best Bottom never leaked. Not even overnight. Some people only cloth diaper during the day and switch to a disposable (sposie) for night time because of the leaking problem. But we never had that problem once we tried Best Bottom.

Reason #2: Drying Time.
Although an all in one diaper would seem to be the obvious first choice for convenience, the fact that they were harder to get clean and the drying time was longer, was a drawback for us. We wanted something quick and easy, especially since we decided we were gonna wash/dry them at home so we didn't have to pay for a diaper service.

Reason #3: Reusable Cover
We very much liked the idea that all we needed to do was wipe out a used (with pee) cover with a wet wipe, snap in a new insert and go! This meant less laundry as often and also meant the covers would last longer because they would not wear down as fast due to many cycles in the washing machine. The cover is also very thin and lightweight which means it air dries in hours!

Reason #4: One Size Cover (OS)
Many of the diapering systems we researched were pre-fit. Which means you have to buy the size diaper your baby is at. Then when they grow out, you have to buy the next size up, etc. One size covers fit your baby from infancy thru potty training. This helped us save money.

Reason #5: Diaper Inserts
The Best Bottom system requires that you buy three different sized, snap-in inserts depending on your baby's size. Although this was a slight draw-back at first for us because it meant spending more money each time Liam grew to the next size, it also meant the diapers could remain very trim and small. (Many other diapering systems leave baby's with the biggest bum ever! This is also the reason we did not go with The Flip. Flip diapers do not taper in like Best Bottom diapers do.) Another reason it was only a small drawback is because there are only 3 sizes max we'd need to buy. In addition, we loved that the inserts snap into the cover. After trying The Flip (cloth insert doesn't snap into the waterproof cover liner), and with all the energy Liam has, we were sure all that movement would cause some problems. In the least we thought it would be more difficult at diaper changes when he became really squirmy. Which we found out later, we were glad we chose Best Bottom for the snap-in for that very reason!!

Reason #6: Cover with extra gusset
Time and time again, the extra gusset has prevented a major blow out.

There are many cloth diapering accessories that help to make the whole cloth diapering process a bit easier. We use the following…

- 2 Diaper Pail Liners (for soiled diapers at home)
There are two options for storing soiled diapers at home until you're ready to wash them. Putting them in a dry diaper pail or soaking them in a wet diaper pail. We use the dry diaper pail option because Liam's room is upstairs and again, it was easier and more convenient than dragging a pail of water up and down the stairs all the time. I haven't researched the wet pail method, so I can't talk knowledgeably about it. However, with the dry pail, all we did was get a foot pedal garbage can from Target at the appropriate height and lined it with a diaper pail liner. We got two so that we could use one, while the other was in the wash. It washes along with the diapers, then air dries with the covers. You don't want to put it in the dryer because the waterproof lining will melt (same with the diaper covers).

- 2 Medium Size Wet Bags (for soiled diapers on the go)
These are great for on the go. Again, one for the wash and one for the diaper bag. Medium seems to be perfect for an all-day outing.

- Rock In Green Detergent
Cloth diapers must be washed with detergent that is free of ALL additives. Otherwise, the brighteners/additives, etc. stick to the cloth diaper and over time the absorbency decreases. We get Rock In Green locally from the new Cotton Babies store here in Vancouver. I am addicted to that store!

- Disposable/Flushable Diaper Liners
In the beginning when you're solely breast feeding or formula feeding your baby, their poos are completely water soluable and there's no need to rinse the diapers before washing them. However, once you start introducing solid foods, then you get (you guessed it) solid poos! Or at least more solid than before and usually more sticky. This is where either flushable liners and/or a diaper sprayer (attached to the toilet) come in handy. We have yet to buy a diaper sprayer but it's on my list. The liners I linked above (Bummis) are the brand I prefer because they are really soft. I tried Imsi Vimsi first but they were just too scratchy for Liam's sensitive skin (he got that from his dad). Diaper liners are nice because all I need to do is dump the poo with the liner in the toilet and flush. If the liner weren't there, it would stick to the diaper and I'd need to dunk it in the toilet multiple times to get the tough stuff off the diaper before running it through the wash. Dunking is no fun!! Hence, we use the liners. (Update 11-27-12: We solely use a diaper sprayer now.)

Reusable Cloth Wipes:
You don't have to use cloth wipes if you decide to cloth diaper your child(ren). I am currently using disposable wipes. However, I do own enough cloth wipes to solely use cloth wipes. There are a couple of reasons why cloth wipes are handy. The biggest incentive to me, is the ease of using them when on the go away from home. I know that sounds opposite what you might think at first. But think about it, when changing a diaper, what's the first thing you do with the wipe once you've used it? Yep, you put it inside the disposable, wrap it up and toss it. Many a time I've found disposable wipes in my dryer because of it. Instead of trying to break that habit and dealing with having to sort your wipes from your cloth diapers (which is what I'm doing now), why not put them all in the same place and wash them all together? It's also easier on the go when you aren't changing your child right next to a toilet and/or garbage can. Wether it's easier or not also depends on wether your child is eating solids or not. You'll need a toilet to dispose of the solids if so. If your baby is exclusively breastfed (EBF) however, you don't need a nearby toilet.

So then why, you ask, am I not using cloth wipes? Well, when we first started cloth diapering Liam at around 4 months, we also decided to try out cloth wipes for the reasons I wrote about above. Unfortunately, I tried a cloth wipes solution that didn't bode well with Liam's skin and he got a rash. He's like his daddy and has very sensitive skin. We took a break from cloth wipes until his rash cleared up. When we decided to try cloth wipes again however, Liam was 6 months and by then we had started introducing solid foods into his diet. This is when his diaper rash really started acting up again, as a result of the foods he was eating. We didn't want to try cloth wipes again until that was all clear, and now just have yet to try it again. When we do, I'm not going to use a cloth wipes solution at all, and instead I'm just gonna try using water only. (Update 11/27/12: We are now using only cloth wipes and Liam is potty training with the Best Bottom Trainers.)

In the end, we are very satisfied and impressed by our cloth diapering system. Yes, it's a little messy at times. But if you're honest with yourself, you'll realize that no matter what, when dealing with babies, you're bound to get peed and/or pooped on at some point anyway. It's really not all that bad (another thing I never thought I'd say).

P.S. Even if you're using disposables you're still supposed to dump the poo in the toilet before tossing the diaper in the garbage.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Brother Lawrence

I've found that I read The Practice of the Presence of God much like I read C.S. Lewis books. I find my brain wandering again and again, and over and over again I must read and re-read what seems like the same sentence until finally, I think I am grasping the point. Ug. It's difficult work. But I've found it well worth it and rewarding. I like that my brain has to think harder. I like that I'm not being told exactly what it means apart from the few sentences at the beginning of each conversation or letter. It means that I must seek God and connect with Him to decipher the message He has in it for me. Almost each paragraph begins with "That…" which threw me off at first. But after awhile I went back and chose sentences that stood out to me from the second conversation and jotted down my thoughts on them.

"That he had always been governed by love, without selfish views; and that having resolved to make the love of GOD the end of all his actions.."

This statement reminds and challenges me to drop all (absolutely all) prejudices, judgments and preconceived notions about people and to simply LOVE first and foremost. Leaving all else behind. Leaving my own thoughts aside. It's way too easy to judge people upon first glance. This is another reminder to me to pray for God's help in showing His PERFECT love to people. Not my fake love, albeit sometimes well intentioned. Other times I must admit, not well intentioned at all.

"So, likewise, in his business in the kitchen (to which he had naturally a great aversion), having accustomed himself to do everything there for the love of GOD, and with prayer, upon all occasions, for His grace to do his work well, he had found everything easy, during the fifteen years that he had been employed there."

That which I absolutely LOVE to do, I get to call my job. To be creative, and design, and use the gifts God has given me AND get paid to do it, is an incredible blessing! There are times however, I find myself complaining at parts of my job that aren't as pleasant. Don't we all? This is a true wake up call for me. If a person can remain at peace and actually call a job they abhore "easy" then what place do I have complaining about parts of my job that are unpleasant when I LOVE what I do?

"That he expected after the pleasant days GOD had given him, he should have his turn of pain and suffering; but that he was not uneasy about it, knowing very well, that as he could do nothing of himself; GOD would not fail to give him the strength to bear them."

A couple things come to mind when I read this.

The first: I don't know why, but when good things happen in my life, somewhere in the back of my mind my brain thinks exactly like this. "Good is happening now, but pain is to come later." Whether or not that will be true at some point or not, I don't believe this thought comes from God. Furthermore, I believe it pains Him when I cannot just truly appreciate, grasp and accept the good things He's sent my way.

The second thought that comes my way is the last part of the quote. "GOD would not fail to give him the strength to bear them." This sentence urks me just a bit. Not because it isn't true. I believe it is. But because of how well-intentioned people have used it to console friends who are going thru tough times. I really prefer the way Bethany Hamilton put it when asked why God would allow her arm to be taken by a shark. "God knows what he and I can handle together…" I LOVE IT! It's not about what God is putting me through. Or poor me. Rather, we're a team! God knows what we can do together. God knows I can't do anything without Him. He provides the strength. But not to withstand the heavy burden He's placing on me. It's that He knows what we can do TOGETHER! Not of my strength, but His, if only I am a willing participant in His Story.