Cloth Diapers: Diaper Service vs. Launder Your Own

Stuff makes me claustrophobic. Moving houses, packing the car for camping, having to carry luggage literally causes a physical reaction in my body. I want to shove everything to the curb regardless of whether or not it’s useful. Who cares if I use it every day? It’s dragging me down!

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So when we found out we were pregnant a definite panic came over me. Babies come with endless stuff. I didn’t want to buy a lot of plastic toys or send garbage bags full of diapers to the landfill. But also, I was worried about money. Daycare costs alone are terrifying but then you thrown in diapers, wipes, clothes, toys and formula if you need it.

We’ve gotten incredibly lucky with most things. People have gifted us clothes and we’ve gotten quite a few hand-me-down toys to get Haines started in life. I try to mainly shop at second hand stores. We’ve got a long way to go with breastfeeding but so far I haven’t had to buy formula. All those things are just luck and the kindness of others. Diapers I knew would be another story.

Despite being the one who insisted on cloth diapering, I was really skeptical about our ability to do it. Tyler didn’t protest the idea but he also didn’t jump on board. I think he was hoping I would eventually just change my mind. Between going back to work, breastfeeding, and the plan to make our own baby food I had some doubts about how well this would go over. The idea of making a significant financial investment only to be left with a pile of diapers we weren’t going to use, would be devastating. Still we moved forward.

After getting a few recommendations we added Rumparoos to our Amazon registry. At the end of my pregnancy though we also discovered a diaper service in town that laundered traditional cloth diapers.  We’re currently using the service, Green Baby, at the generosity of my mother and eventually will switch to laundering our own.

Diaper Service:

Pros

  • We’ve been with Green Baby Diaper Service since Haines was about 4 weeks. We started with 6 diaper covers and 2 plastic Snappies which was fine initially. It really couldn’t be easier- after each diaper change you just toss the diaper into the pail with a liner bag.
  • Once a week I place the liner bag full of stinkiness out on the porch and a man comes and collects in the morning.  A bag full of fresh one is always waiting when I come home from work!

Cons

  • Our daycare treats each cover and cloth diaper as one. They take the whole thing off and throw it into a plastic bag. So a cover that we would use over and over again until soiled gets used once and then sits with a dirty diaper all day. Initially this really grossed me out but I got past it. I wipe out the covers each evening and hang them to dry overnight. Every second or third (it’s hard to make it to 3 days) I wash them all.
  • We did have to invest in a lot more covers though so they could do this. 11 has turned out to be our magic number.

We use Thirsties and Best Bottoms covers. Both are great but Best Bottoms definitely seems more durable. Whatever you pick I’m anti-velcro. The velcro deteriorates faster than the snaps (which look perfect) and also sometimes get shifted so it rubs Haines’ belly.

Wash Your Own:

Pros

  • They’re incredibly easy to use. We opted for Rumparoos and like them a lot. Slide in the insert and snap on to that baby bottom. To remove and wash you do need to take out the insert. Can be a wee bit on the gross side, but it’s manageable.

Cons

  • It’s hard to go more than one day without washing. We don’t have many of these so that plays a part but the longer you go between washings the harder it is to face the task. It’s kind of a bite the bullet situation.
  • It’s just more work. No way around it.

Overall:

Several friends have complained about the number of poop blowouts they deal with every day using disposable diapers. While we do encounter them, it’s pretty rare, regardless of the cloth diaper we use. HEB is much more likely to need an outfit change due to excessive spit up rather a diaper leak or explosion. We also always keep a few disposables on hand for babysitters. Most people aren’t familiar with cloth diapers, even our pediatrician.

One thing to keep in mind is cloth diapers make for big booties. HEB is not a big baby but he goes through some sizes more quickly just because of his big ol’ cloth covered bottom.

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Please note enormous booty area.

The expense of cloth diapering is undeniably more up front, although if you’re laundering your own the overall cost is definitely less. Cloth diapers are one size and intended to last until potty training. I don’t know if we’ll make it that long but it brings me some relief to know we won’t be impacting landfills as much as we could be!

Get on the Meal Train Train: Why to Join and What to Bring

When a coworker first offered to set up a meal train for our family when HEB was born, I was hesitant. Sure we had a new baby but I wasn’t incapable of making meals. Tyler wasn’t either. This brand baby honestly didn’t do anything. He just slept, cried, ate constantly, pooped constantly and all the other baby past time faves. Sure, we were changing diapers every hour and each feeding lasted 45 minutes and occurred every 2 hours but I wasn’t exactly busy per se.  I felt like we were taking advantage of people’s generosity and excitement over our new cutie.

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Haines on Christmas Day, 11 days old

Still, I’d never passed up a free meal and this didn’t seem like the time to start. Thank goodness! When it comes down to it here’s the deal:

  • Yes, new parents, you are capable of making meals. BUT even the simplest of meals is easily derailed by baby. For several weeks I really didn’t know what to do with Haines during meal prep. I couldn’t wear him while I cooked at the stove and we didn’t have a swing so I just kept him in his bed or his car seat when I needed my hands. There’s nothing (hopefully) wrong with this but I constantly questioned it. Plus every movement and sound he made was new and unnerving to me. Is he okay? Is he mad? Is his brain developing properly? Will he need therapy one day from how I’m ignoring him to make pasta right now? In the end meals were made. So far he doesn’t seem to resent me for my need to eat. But the burden and stress of getting fed greatly eased by the twice a week delivery of food we received.
  • More importantly, this is a time period that you can never get back. It will never again be you and your partner and this tiny baby, all brand new, figuring this out together. As much as I have struggled during this time I also know that I need to soak up every baby cuddle, every coo and giggle, every new discovery, every pool of drool because this just happens once. You’re only young once and so are your babies.

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Sometimes you end up on the other side of the meal train which means it’s your turn to repay the favor. Last week I was delighted to bring food over to a friend’s brand new baby and this week I’m setting up a meal train for a coworker. I’ve discovered that meal planning for others is stressful! I can’t help but worry if I’m bringing over something they’ll like. At the end of the day, every meal is appreciated but I’ve learned from my own experience the types of meals that were the most helpful.

Nutritional: Many of the meals we received were centered around carbs and cheese. Carbs and cheese represent the best things in life so this is not an issue, but it was really nice when someone also brought over a salad or a dish that centered around vegetables. Since I wasn’t being very active it helped me feel less slob-like.

Wine & Desserts: I gotta admit those kind folks that included a bottle of wine or a box of cookies with my meal were true winners. It was a total novelty to see alcohol and know I was allowed to drink it! I appreciated all those who understood how much I missed it and brought it directly to me.

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If you choose to bring over fancy doughnuts, they will be decimated before a photo can be taken. 

Take-out: Obviously not everyone can do take-out meals from restaurants. It’s certainly not within my meal train budget for others, but it was a huge treat when others did this for us. One person had a pizza delivered to us while two other individuals brought us take-out from some of our favorite restaurants. Since going out to eat is hard to do on a maternity leave budget, we really appreciated this!

Breakfast: The beginning of the day was always the hardest for me. I always had Tyler in the evenings but in the morning I was typically on my own for eating. I’ve heard of people bringing breakfast casseroles, muffins or other options that make for easy eating in the morning. I will definitely be gifting this to someone else down the line!

Snacks: While all the meals we received were wonderful, the best night was when a friend showed up with individually packaged snacks along with dinner. She brought over a bag with Ziplocs of pretzel sticks, snap pea crisps, mini-cookies, and homemade energy balls along with a few protein bars. It was heaven. I’d been struggling with foods that I could easily eat while nursing or holding HEB. The answer had arrived! It was something easy for her to do that was enormously helpful to me.

 

Postpartum Body Struggle

I’ve been working on this post for weeks struggling to describe how pregnancy and childbirth has affected me physically. Where do I even begin? What stereotypical path should I start with? Should I tell you how insecure I’ve always been about my body? Or should I just dive in to a tired old diatribe about the baby weight?

But this isn’t the years I hated my body or about baby weight. It’s not about any of things I expected. It’s about feeling out of place in your own body. The midwives described the baby as a very effective parasite, leeching my body of nutrition. I was impressed rather than put off by this until I realized all the energy it (the baby) was taking, how incapacitated I felt. I felt frail and heavy all at the same time. As I walked down the stairs I always reached for the railing or traced my hand along the wall. Never before had I considered I might fall but I stopped trusting myself. I didn’t know this body.

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The last few weeks of pregnancy, I lost my positive attitude. I beached myself on the couch and wallowed in self-pity. It was pretty much all wallow and waddle. After giving birth, I eagerly waited for my body to return. I thought there were four stages for my body: pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, the days or weeks of recovery and then the return to pre-pregnancy body. Um, no.

The fourth trimester was a strange trip. I was desperate to be active again in the hopes of feeling like myself. After about a week we started venturing outside the house, walking around the school across from my house and then eventually down to the lake and back and so on. It was a month before I walked the 4 mile lake trail I’d typically done every week.  It did not feel good. It is a whole new world when it’s your vagina that says you’re exercising too much.

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This is the first time I wore regular jeans. I busted out of them about 4 minutes later.

Everyone had told me that breastfeeding would cause the weight to drop quickly. Obviously I have nothing to compare it with but for me it was true. The first 25+ pounds were gone in 5 weeks. My enormous belly first became soft, then drooped, then starting to fade away. Only a couple weeks after childbirth I could find my belly button easily. A tiny dip reappeared where it was once flat. But it doesn’t take much to go up a size or two and I still can’t fit into most of my clothes. I’ve started to exercise regularly again but I can see these last pounds will be a long process. To be honest at this point my belly feels like a souvenir or a badge of honor. A light tan line still marks me down the middle proudly announcing “new mama”! I’d embrace it all if I could just wear my dang old pants and shorts like I want to.

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NEWSFLASH- You may think it’s a waste to buy maternity clothes since you’re only going to wear them for nine months but chances are that’s not true!

What I truly didn’t anticipate was the boobs. Sure the Internet said all kinds of silly things about needing bigger bras when your milk comes in but who can understand what that means?! Well, it means that your T-shirts are too short, your button-ups are too tight and your cleavage is full on out there. There’s a reason nursing shirts are a thing.

Exercise, hormones, my hair, eating habits, sleep schedule, sex, who I saw in the mirror – nothing escaped the experience of childbirth. Nothing felt recognizable in the weeks and months that came after.  Haines is getting ready to hit 6 months in a week’s time which is absolutely wild. Last night he tried avocado. He’s on the verge of crawling. He watches everything and becomes less of a baby and more of his own person every day. But I still struggle to appreciate all that my body has done and continues to do- carried a baby, gave birth, provides milk. I struggle to give myself time to recover and figure things out. But here’s goes nothing.

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Irrefutable Proof that May is the Best Month Ever

I think everyone is inclined to like the month they were born in but if you’re born in an extra good month, all the better. May has all the best things.

May means being outside:

I was born in May. Growing up in Piedmont Triad in North Carolina it’s a no-brainer that May is a great month. It starts out with everything in bloom. Azaleas are finishing up. Tulips are popping. Dogwoods are in their prime. By the end of the month you’re at Memorial Day weekend. It’s getting hot but the nights still cool off. The pool is open and you leap into summer. In Wilmington the temperature tends to be a little hotter and a little more humid but it still falls under the range of feels good to be outside.

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It’s hard to work in the garden with a bambino but I’m trying to figure it out!

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May is my birthday month:

I have to admit I’m one of those people who loves their birthday. I’m not looking for gifts or being princess for a day or whatever.  I just love birthdays. I love other people’s too! People send you really kind cards and messages online. It’s the one day of the year where you don’t take your friend or family for granted. You remind them that you love them. I love reminding people and I love being reminded.

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Birthday party goodness stolen from Better than Never blogger’s instagram.

May is for Mother’s Day:

This year May was extra special. I also had my first Mother’s Day. I know I talk more often here about struggling with motherhood than about the joys but there are also so many joys. Writing this, thinking about HEB, my chest tightens. I can feel a physical space where our connection lies. It’s not in my heart or my now empty womb. It’s in my lungs. He is so much of every breath I take. I cannot think about loving him without tears.

My first Mother’s Day is exactly what I might have hoped. I got to sleep in (although not through the night) and woke to an enormous breakfast. We were in Virginia visiting Tyler’s dad so we went on a boat ride before heading home. No one threw up on the car ride home and we finished the night with cheese and crackers. It was all the best things in life.

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Best Mother’s day gift!

May is for baby milestones:

Baby milestones can be difficult and wonderful. We’ve stopped swaddling Haines which has been difficult. He’s started rolling over regularly which is wonderful. He can’t roll back over from his stomach easily (particularly in the middle of the night when apparently that’s important to him) which is difficult. He’s paying attention to everything which is wonderful. He’s getting more mobile which means we need to baby proof our house. This is wonderful and difficult. He babbles nonstop. This is adorable.

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Almost there!

May is for family and friends:

As I anxiously await a friend’s arrival from California for the weekend, I’m reminded that I saw so many wonderful people in May. There was the impromptu visit of my Austin bud, LaDonna, as well as our first trip to see “Poppa” in Virginia. Plus my mother came, which is pretty much all I want/need in life.

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“Poppa” Earl, Haines Earl and Tyler Earl. That’s a whole lotta Earl. 

 

Where is the Me in Motherhood?

 

These past two weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind. Work has picked up quite a bit which has left me working late and skipping my lunch time workouts. A year or so ago I would have found this mildly annoying but this is a new era. This is the era of baby. Working late means I can’t spend much time with HEB in the evening who goes to bed at 8. Skipping workouts at lunch almost entirely eliminates exercise from my life since putting HEB in the stroller equals sleep. No evening runs/walks for me.

It’s more than that though. There’s the sleep deprivation for sure as the wee babe has taken to sleeping mostly through the night only once or twice a week (yes, sleep training is soon to come), but that’s not it either. It’s me time. I feel selfish just saying it but that’s what it comes down to. That’s where my daily struggle lies. I miss my time. I came into parenting with the misconception that all babies nap. I knew I’d feel tied down at times but then I thought that there would be naps and I would blog or sit on the porch alone and feel like a human. Well…. bullshit. There are no naps.

I miss riding my bike to work.

I miss writing this blog.

I miss working in the yard.

I miss staying up late just hanging out by myself.

I miss doing crafts and knitting.

I miss my house being passably clean.

My mother continues to tell me, “This, too, shall pass,” and I know she’s right but I should clarify.  It’s not that I want my old life back. I’m just searching for some balance. Where is that minimum I can use to get by? What parts of me can still be present as I learn to be a mother? What parts are still mine?

After a couple weeks of struggle, today I went for a run walk (where there was a moment of running). I went up a path I’ve never gone before. I was in the sunshine. I listened to music. I didn’t worry about anyone else. It was only 30 minutes but it was glorious. Now I’m off work early and sipping a beer. I’m almost a person again.

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Still there is so much guilt in writing this. I pull up my photos to look for one for this post and I see a pictures of HEB on my recently passed birthday and mother’s day. He is the best baby! Those were wonderful days! And yet here I am still feeling the way I do. There are many circumstances that make motherhood way more difficult and I have none of those. My point is though that this is all hard even when everything goes your way. My hope is that if someone else is feeling terrible about feeling terrible, if someone else is not sure who they are now that they’re responsible for another, that you know I’m right there with you.

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Okay, he sometimes sleeps, but only for about 10 minutes at a time. 

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Pretty much my favorite photo ever. 

 

10 Baby Shower Gift Essentials

Baby shower season is upon us. Okay, I don’t actually think there’s such a thing as baby shower season but I’m attending 3 baby showers in 6 weeks so it feels like a lot. Three baby showers also means quite a bit of gift giving. This should be simple but… I hate registries.

This seems ridiculous. Registries are very helpful tools. You are told exactly what a person needs and how to purchase it. You’re even told how many they need of each item! This is too easy for me. I want gift giving to be personal. I want you to know I thought about your gift. Sometimes this works out very well and sometimes I fall short. Normally it just means I’ve taken a simple task and made it extra complicated. Instead of buying something straight off the list like any sane person, I have to put a lot of thought into it. I look into all the items I rely on or those I found surprisingly useful.

Baby Survival Items:

1. Burp cloths- You can’t have too many. We probably have twenty. We use cloth diapers as burp cloths primarily. To be honest every single one of our cloths has been sewn on by my mother. She’s a overacheiver and it’s awesome.

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Happy baby with cutie burp cloth! 

2. Changing pad liners- The changing pad cover will get gross quick so protect it with a liner and that’ll give you some extra time between changing it. We have 3 of these.

3. Toys- Mortimer the Moose is definitely Haines’ BFF right now with lots of parts to chew and grab. A close second is Infantino Hug and Tug Musical Bug. This was easier for Haines when he was younger to grab onto and be captivated.

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Devouring Mortimer while trying out headphones. 

4. Soothie pacifiers– Not every baby digs on pacifiers but Haines definitely still wants one. We use the 0-3 month Soothie pacifiers.

5. Hand sanitizer- Although boring this is a reasonable gift for new parents. Now that our lives are 90% poop we go through a lot!

6. Wipe warmer– After the first couple diaper changes Tyler went out and bought one. Our December baby wasn’t handling cold wipes very well. A lot of sensitive hiney jokes ensued.

7. Boppy protective cover- You think you’ll skip this one. Save the money right? Okay well, just wait until your baby pukes several times a day on it and you feel it seeping into the pillow. Yes, just go ahead and wait.

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90% of my photos have this boppy in the background. Pick a pattern you’re really going to like. 

8. EndIt! diaper rash cream– We learned about this in our second venture to the hospital. It’s made in NC and primarily available online. It smells like campfire or Beggin’ strips. That part is super weird but it works wonders! Cloth diapering parents beware- this stains. If we need to use it I switch Haines to disposables for the day.

9. Wet bags- I’ve mentioned these before but they’re so darn useful!! Drop in dirty cloth diapers or wet swimsuits or pukey clothes. The list goes on!

10. Swaddles- A lot of babies only sleep if they’re swaddled. I am terrible at swaddling so I relied almost entirely on SwaddleMes and Woombies. You can get the kind with arm vents so your baby can still utilize it even when they’re not being swaddled anymore.

Hopefully my new mama friends will forgive the gifts that aren’t on the list. Otherwise, that’s what gift receipts are for!

From College to Career: Taking the Long Road

Between graduation weekend recently passing and my friend Chrissy’s recent blog post on being a late bloomer I’ve been spending a lot of time considering my college to career path. I should preface this though by letting you know I’m an internship coordinator. This basically means I spent 50% of my time speaking to primarily undergraduate students who have one of two attitudes:

Option 1: I’m just getting started in my career and am trying to figure things out. I’m hoping this internship will help me determine the focus I want my career to have in the long-term.

Option 2: I know exactly what I want. I’ve always known what I want. Even if I haven’t, I have come to my current conclusion by a series of logical steps including shadowing, internships, volunteer activities, school projects and so forth (Sidenote, overacheivers always provide examples.)

I can safely say I didn’t fit either of these options when I was in school. When I interned during my sophomore year of college, I was… terrible. I thought I would connect quickly with my work reading the slush pile at a children’s publishing house. Uh, no. I was incredibly intimidated by the constant silence that permeated the building. No one ever seemed to walk through the old converted house. No one stopped by to chat. No one exchanged humorous stories about their weekend. My mentor tried to offer me some guidance but mostly kept to her incredibly quiet self. I started to shrink beside the staggering pile of papers. By the time the summer ended I had learned very little, mostly due to my own inability to ask questions, and still wasn’t sure if I wanted to be an editor.

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I may have totally lacked direction but sometimes I looked like Nicole Kidman back then. So there’s that. 

Since I didn’t have a plan B I just kept working at my hospitality jobs and my anxiety grew over what to do next. I spent most of my senior of college depressed that I had no sense of direction. It worsened during summer camp and the months I spent living with my mom afterwards.

There is this expectation when you come out of school (or perhaps this is just millennials) that you should know what it is you want to do. You should be focused and forward thinking. If you don’t know what it is you want then at least create some sort of awesome app/non-profit/small business in the meantime to prove you are kicking ass at being an adult.

One of the other somewhat acceptable options was to travel after graduation, which I did. I assumed that traveling would help my destiny emerge. In reality it took another 5 or 6 years of customer service/hospitality work before I landed a job in a publications department finally putting me on a career ladder towards an editor role. It was then and only then that I found out where I was most suited- human resources.

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I found my way to cycling and HR all at the same time. 

Although it was shocking to discover, I’m really social. I like working in teams with lots of collaboration. Problem solving? Strategy? Love it! I’m all about process improvement and trying new ideas. If you’d told me that ten years ago, I would have never believed you. Turns out I prefer books for fun not for livelihood. I wouldn’t make a great editor.

Most of the interns I work with find my career path unnerving. They are focused overachievers and the idea that their internship won’t put them on the path to success completely throws them off. They nod suspiciously as I suggest there may be alternate routes to finding their path. For the rare few though my zigzagging journey gives them breathing room. Their graduation panic starts to subside. One of our best interns is taking the summer off to travel before applying for full-time positions with us in the fall. When we talk about strategies for how to present her time traveling to employers, I know she’s making the most of both worlds: her ambition and her need for more.

As you might guess there are times I wish I started my chosen career path earlier. Maybe I’d make more money or be in a position with more influence. But just as often I think about how I could have traveled more and taken my time. It leads me to think I struck the right balance after all. Looking at today’s college students and their ambitious inclinations I have to wonder what Haines’ generation will be characterized by. I hope we’re able to share with him the importance of the journey over the destination.

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First stop coffee shop. Next stop the world!