By Erin Barrette Goodman
When I was pregnant with my first child, I reluctantly registered at Babies R Us even though I was absolutely sure there was nothing beyond a car seat that I needed there. What I wanted, and tried not-so-subtly to direct generous gift-givers towards were handmade toys, hand-knit clothes, slings, cloth diapers and beautiful wool covers to go over cloth diapers.
I remember wandering the aisles of Babies R Us with the little registry gun when a helpful employee started conversing with me.
“Are you going with a Diaper Genie or a Diaper Champ?”
“Ummm…neither. I’m going to use cloth.”
“Oh wow. Good luck.”
I felt so strongly about cloth diapers that I wrote them into my birth plan. Seriously.
No eye drops. No Hep B shot. And we will be bringing our own cloth diapers and prefer to do all diapering ourselves.
My husband, who wasn’t totally on board with cloth diapering but decided early on to just go with the flow of the wife’s crazy parenting ideas, completely took charge of diapering in the early days, schlepping dozens of dirty diapers home to launder and reappearing in our hospital room with nicely fluffed clean ones hours later.
And for a long time I truly loved everything about using cloth diapers–the comments from strangers, choosing outfits to best show off my baby’s cute cloth bottom, seeing them hanging on the line in my backyard, knitting wool diaper covers. Everything.
I even went so far as to call ahead before visiting my aunt in Vermont to be sure that we would be able to launder our cloth diapers at her house, or if not, to find out if there was a laundry mat nearby that we could use. Because I just couldn’t fathom traveling without our beloved cloth.
It went on like this for quite some time, me and my love for my cloth, until somewhere in the middle of my second pregnancy, when despite flirting with the idea of using the potty, my toddler was still very much using diapers. And removing the deposits made in these diapers, no longer the sweet-smelling breast-milk poops of the early months, nearly put this pregnant mama over the edge.
It was then that the miracle known as Pull-ups entered my world.
A couple of months later when our son was born, my passion for cloth was reawakened. But this time, with nearly two years of parenting under my belt, I decided to ease up on my standards a bit and aim for full-time cloth use, but have some Seventh Generation disposables on hand, just in case.
With two kids in diapers, two frequent night-wakers, two nurslings, a mama who was still clinging to her TV-free ideals, and a two-year-old who decided she was no longer going to nap, just in case became whatever it takes to just get through the day.
And after a short while, chasing down the chlorine-free Seventh Generation diapers gave way to picking up whatever giant-box-o-diapers was on sale at the grocery store.
Eventually, as our daughter graduated to the potty and gave up nursing, and I finally surrendered to the TV, life got a little more manageable and our cloth diapers came back into service. A little. When we were at home or nearby to home.
But my passion for them never fully returned. And the disposables never left.
So there you have it. I am a natural birthing, co-sleeping, extended breastfeeding, birth-network-founding, Birkenstock-wearing, organic-garden-growing, yoga-teaching, crunchy-hippie mama, who has read all about the perils of disposable diapers for the babies wearing them and the Earth that later absorbs them.
And I am also a cloth diaper drop-out.
Erin Barrette Goodman is a writer, yoga teacher and mother of two in Southern Rhode Island. She is the founder of the Rhode Island Birth Network, which promotes empowered decision-making during the childbearing years.Â Goodman’s essay, “The Greatest Gift” about her decision to return to work part-time, will be published next month in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Power Moms. She blogs at exhale. return to center.