Monday, April 23, 2012

Veni, Vidi, Nos Mutata (and Other Things...)

Well! Missed a week, didn't I? My brain just wouldn't focus to blog. I'm forcing it to tonight!
In recent news:
Great Cloth Diaper Change 2012
We Came, We Saw, We Changed... A diaper.
And had a ball! It's always nice to know there are like-minded people in your area, even if you don't encounter them often. There were about 100 babes changed into a cloth diaper at this year's local event! Triple the number from last year. There were booths with awesome natural products galore as well. Mr. Man was awesome, as well. Despite the change being smack in the middle of naptime, he just "read" me a book while he set a world record.
How cute was he? And look at all the coth babes in only half the room! Just awesome.
It totally inspired me to get my butt back in gear and get back to making my cloth diaper safe butt butter. (ahem! SnoogaBoo Baby "BooButter") I even talked to a retailer or two about the possibility of carrying it. I only need a couple more hours in the day...

Other things...
ICLW is going on! I am loving checking out all the blogs! Extra awesome finding I have much in common with so many of the bloggers, too. My personal nightly blog-perusing roster is quickly gaining new ones! Yay!

It is National Infetility Awareness Week (NIAW) right now (April 22-28). I am going to try very hard to blog a bit more about my experience with infertility. It is still hard. It was not 'cured' when I had Boogs. Conceiving, carrying, and delivering him took a tremendous amount of effort and resources - emotional, physical, and financial effort and resources.
I still suffer from infertility. I have not forgotten, even for a minute, how difficult our journey to becoming a family was. I look at my child and know his existence is a miracle. He is worth ten times the pain and heartache it took to get him here.  I am acutely aware of couples still trying who have gone and are going through ten times ten the difficulties we encountered. Those families-in-waiting deserve awareness. Support. Love.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Cloth 101: Pocket Diapers

Let's talk pockets today. Pocket diapers, that is. 

A pocket diaper consists of an inner wicking material that goes against baby's lil bum with an opening for an absorbent insert and an outer waterproof layer. 
There are several stay-dry options for the inner wicking material. Some of the most common are suede cloth, anti-pill fleece, microchamois, and crushed panne.  When baby pees, these materials work by wicking the moisture away from baby, through the material, and pulling the moisture to the insert where it can be absorbed. Below is an open bumGenius diaper. You can see the solid layer of, in this case, soft suede cloth. 

The outer layer can be solid or printed. It can be cotton or polyester.Most often this outer layer is backed with a waterproof layer called PUL, or polyurethane laminate. Another popular option is a layer of blizzard fleece, which acts as a breathable waterproof layer. Neither option are like the rubber pants of decades passed. These are cute, soft, cushy, waterproof diaper covers. Below are some Swaddlebees diapers, examples of both solid and printed PUL fabric (Swaddlebees and Blueberry Diapers are awesome diapers - and they are a local-to-me biz! Awesome!). 
These can snap around baby, or close with hook and loop (think awesome Velcro). 
The last part of the pocket diaper is the insert. These can be made of many, many different materials.
Probably the most common material is microfiber (or MF), which absorbs quickly and is inexpensive. Many. many cloth diapering mamas are perfectly happy with their microfiber inserts. They are pretty easy to care for, you can wash and dry on hot until the cows come home, and they won't shrink. There are a lot of mams, however, (including me) who find microfiber to be, well, 'meh' in the long term. I need more absorbency than I get from one MF insert, but doubling them up gets bulky fast on my super big kiddo. I've also had issues with compression leaks in microfiber. I still have it in my rotation as part of some all-in-one diapers (more on those later), but I no longer stuff my pockets with them.
microfiber inserts
As an alternative to MF, many CDing folks stuff their pockets with cotton prefolds. Just a tri-folded prefold (which is about 16 thirsty layers) stuffed in the pocket works very well and compression leaks are at a minimum. Or you can use a folded up flat diaper as well.
Two more awesome options for inserts are hemp and bamboo. Both are very trim and very absorbent natural fibers. Sometimes I get saucy and add a little hemp to my prefold in a pocket. Below is a pic of some Hemp Babies doublers. Love them!
Most pockets are One Size, meaning the same diaper will fit from (usually) 9ish pounds to (usually) 35ish pounds. This is commonly achieved with a snap-down rise.
The above diapers are the same style. The green is snapped down to fit about a 9lb baby, while the blue has the rise completely unsnapped to fit about a 35lb baby. 

Of course, as with anything, these weight ranges vary by baby. And the same diaper can fit great, then not fit for a while, then fit awesomely again later on your little one. It all depends on their shape.

So, those are pocket diapers in a nutshell. I hope to get a couple pics of some awesome WAHM pockets I have and add them to the post tomorrow.

What shall I talk about next....? All In Ones! 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Ohhh, The Back!

I am really trying to finish up my Cloth Diapering 101 info series, but my back has gone into a complete spasm. Ugh.
I've seen a doctor twice about this in less than a week. Seems like everyone wants to throw muscle relaxers and pain pills at me, tell me to apply heat, to take it easy, and (my personal favorite) tell me not to lift over 5 lbs.  I will add that every person who has said this has been a man. Hah! How can I not pick up a toddler who has an ouchie?! Or who just wants mommy to hold him?!  But I am trying to sit on the floor and hug him instead of lifting him up so much until I heal. It's an adjustment to say the least! This kiddo loves to be carried or worn, so he's going through withdrawal!

My delay in the Cloth 101 series is partly finding a comfy place/position to sit in, and partly that when I am able to sit comfortable and type, I can't gather my thoughts because I have taken one of the aforementioned muscle relaxers. I can manage, "Tree pretty. Fire bad." Not very riveting prose.

As soon as I am able to type sans prescriptions, I will tackle the drafts I have saved on the 101. I'm hoping it's tomorrow or Friday at the latest!

Until then, I am going to relax, try to unclench my back, will a bulging disc into behaving properly, and stare slackjawed at the little sparkles floating around. (Yes, my mother is here during the day while Hubs is at work to help with Boogs since I can taste the color purple and hear plants whisper. I'm not Parenting On Pills!)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Cloth 101: Prefolds and Flats

Prefolds and flats. These are what most of our moms and/or grandmothers used on their babies. They would pin them on and cover them up with (usually) rubber pants. Well, the diapers are relatively the same, but the covers couldn't be more different!
First up are Prefolds.

There are basically 3 kinds of prefolds: Chinese, Indian, and Only-Good-For-Burp-Cloths. The picture above is of unbleached Indian prefolds. Chinese prefolds are basically the same, only they are made in China. Prefolds look like there are 3 sections to them, and are described as 4 x 8 x 4 or 4 x 6 x 4 - meaning there are 4 layers on each side, and 8 layers in the middle (some newborn or preemie prefolds will only have 6 layers in the middle). Both Chinese and Indian come bleached or unbleached and with different colors of thread at the end. They are usually 100% cotton (some are hemp or bamboo), and are a very, VERY inexpensive way to cloth diaper. 

When I put Boogs in a prefold, I like to pin it. I had a horrible time fitting a Snappi on him. He was a big, big boy.

Plus, look how stinkin' cute he is!

As much as I love my pins, many mamas prefer the Snappi fastener. They have little teeth that grab the diaper in 3 places and hold it fast.  

Or, once your little one has started solids, you can simply trifold the prefold and lay it in a cover. No fastener needed! 
There are several ways to fold a prefold, and there's a little trial and error involved until you decide what works for you and your baby. I googled "how to fold a prefold" when I started, but I plan to make a post about all the different folds at a later date.

Bleached vs unbleached  - well, that's just personal preference. And Indian vs Chinese - personal preference again. Although, I have noticed that Indian tend to be softer, but wear a little more quickly. Chinese may last longer, but aren't as soft as Indian. Both can get pilly  - I just gave mine a shave with a sweater shaver and they were soft and smooth again!

On to flat diapers...

Flats are one layer, usually a birdseye cotton (can also be hemp or bamboo), that average around 27 inches square. They have their own set of folds, and you can pin or Snappi them as well. When you first see a flat diaper, you may wonder how a thin little piece of fabric can possibly hold up to all the pee and poo your little can produce - but they really can! When folded, there are many layers in the wet zone, and they provide full coverage just like a prefold. You also have the option of adding a doubler (extra layers of absorption) when you fold them (I will touch on this later, too). I will make sure to include flats folding when I do my prefold folding post later!

And lastly, the Burp Cloth Diapers... Ugh. These are the Gerber or Carter's "prefolds" you see at WalMart and other big box stores. Some have used these in a pinch with success - not us! I really wish they would relabel the packages as anything but cloth diapers. There is poly batting in the center instead of more layers of cotton which really is NOT an absorbent material. Cloth diapers you order from a cloth diapering store are much thicker, with only layers of cotton (or bamboo or hemp), and absorb like crazy.

I keep talking about cotton with hemp and bamboo in parentheses after. Some manufacturers make hemp or bamboo prefolds and flats. They are pricier, and some people swear they are more absorbent. I think its mainly personal preference.

No matter which fabric you choose, you will have to prep your prefolds or flats when you receive them. This is to wash out the natural oils. You can wash on hot with detergent several times, running through the dryer about every other load, or boil them and then do a wash and dry cycle. Prefolds will quilt up quite a bit when you prep them, but they will also be a TON more absorbent than unprepped prefolds. 

With pricing anywhere from $1 to $3 per diaper for most prefolds and flats, these are truly a very economical way to diaper a baby. Toss in a few covers, and you are set!

I hope that was relatively easy to absorb (pun intended). If there is anything I left out, or that you have questions on, please let me know and I will edit this post to include it. 

 Next time, I will talk about covers.

Now I'm Going To Talk Cloth Diapers...

I have had a lot of people ask me (and The Hubs) for info on cloth diapering and/or how to get started. I have promised several people that I would blog a little Getting Started 101.
Here we go!

I will break this down into a series of posts with one or two types of diapers per post. I'm going to try and share all the information I wish I had been able to find when I started.

I can tell you it is completely possible to CD (cloth diaper) from birth to potty training for around $250. This is a huge savings when compared to $3500 for the average child in disposables from birth until age 2. The Diaper Pin has an awesome cloth diaper savings calculator I love sharing with people.

There are other reasons people choose cloth besides the cost savings. Some want to lessen their children's exposure to chemicals an d toxins. Some want to reduce landfill waste. Some think cloth diapers are just way too cute. And some choose cloth just because they want to choose it.

Cloth really isn't difficult or time-consuming. I will try to de-mystify it and make available everything that would have been super useful to me when I was jumping in the fluffy pool. If I leave anything out, please let me know and I will be sure to include it.

Happy reading! And welcome to the land of fluffy cuteness.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Things I Do For This Kid...

I just drove 52 miles round trip for this toy:

It came from the $1 bin at Target a few months ago. Mr Man decided he had to bring it with us this week when we went to see a friend. We left in a hurry between thunderstorms and it didn't make it back to the car. I didn't even realize it until Boogs was looking under all the furniture repeatedly saying, "Boo." This is the only toy he is attached to and calls by name. I looked at 3 stores for a replacement and tried six alternative cars. No dice.
So we drove 26 miles, met my friend, retrieved the toy, and came home today.
I have already stated that I assume it is made of horrible, horrible materials. Materials that likely cause polio, leprosy, and foot odor. Ideally, all his toys would be all natural and from renewable resources. They would promote early Algebra, perfect enunciation, and good credit scores.
But he's 16 months old. He wants his his blue truck.

Plus, I may be able to use this as leverage when I'm old and he's choosing my care facility. :)

(No, this will NOT be a pattern. This was his first favorite toy. I gave in. He's cute with it and I was weak. Flame me if you must.)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

"Are You Going To Have Another?"

Another baby.
That's what we (or at least, I) keep getting asked.
Are you going to have another?
I find it odd. It's a normal question for most, but we battled infertility to have Boogs. I mean BATTLED. It was horrible. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.
I had a surgery to clear away crazy amounts of endometrial tissue (thanks endometriosis - you blow). I tried Clomid (a little pill that works for millions of fertility challenged couples) - nada. Clomid plus IUI - nada (but a super huge thank you to Clomid- I got the spots in my vision that are STILL there :-/ That crappy eye doc lied when she said no one ever had visual side effects from Clomid. But she was a Bishh and  I don't like her).
After several cycles on the C word, and no BFP (that's Big Fat Positive, as in positive pregnancy test to you fertile folks out there), we moved on to IUI with Injectables.
IUI, or IntraUterine Insemination, formerly known as Artificial Insemination, is when a small catheter is passed directly into the uterus and the washed sperm are placed directly into prime position to meet an egg. It's a slightly uncomfortable, completely unromantic way of conception. But romance doesn't work for everyone. :)
Injectables are fertility medications that you inject. Or your partner stabs injects you. At home. In my case several times a day. In my arse hip. They are wonderful drugs that are NOT covered by insurance and are unbelievably expensive. I had mine shipped from the UK and they were still less than 1/3 of the cost of buying the EXACT same med in America.
Okay, so at that point we were jabbing me with needles several times a day, I was getting ultrasounds and bloodwork twice a week, and still no BFP (Big Fat Positive - look at all the new stuffs I'm learnin' y'all!). At this point, it was completely emotionally draining to ride the roller coaster of living life two weeks at a time, praying for a baby. The emotional side of it is an entire series of posts alone. It's borderline unbearable.
Our final cycle had failed. I got my period. I was beyond consoling at this point. So many cycles - all failed. Our RE, or Reproductive Endocrinologist, or fertility doctor said we had burned through all our IUI attempts. Time to move on to IVF.
I was crushed. It just was not financially possible. How in earth could we come up with up to $10,000 per freaking cycle? We had paid for everything out of pocket for our IUI attempts, and that was over $2000 per month. I had applied for IVF scholarships but we were turned down. There are just too many who can't afford it and not enough money out there to help us all. And I couldn't see asking my parents for potentially $30,000 or more to TRY- no guarantees.
We talked it over. We slept on it. We prayed about it. We were out. Time to start finding the money to adopt. And time to start the process of fostering to adopt.

Then, a week later, I was horribly nauseated. I wanted to take something for it, but for some reason I wanted to test just in case. I know Hubs was thinking I was just torturing myself with another pending BFN, but because of the church service we had just left and the commitment we had made there - he was open to a miracle.
A Dollar Tree pregnancy test said we were pregnant.
Hubs went and bought half a dozen tests because he didn't believe it.

We were pregnant.

It was a very high risk pregnancy - I have Lupus and Sjogren's and a MTHFR gene mutation that makes staying pregnant almost as difficult as us getting pregnant. But those are different posts for future days.

But I stayed pregnant! And after a terrifying delivery that ended in an emergency Cesarean Section complete with me being rushed full-speed to the OR with my doctor yelling and swearing at everyone, "Why are my hands not in her uterus yet!? Dammit people!!" ( I am totally not making that up. That man was our ultimate protector and guardian and we love him forever.) - after a delivery like that, we just feel blessed to have our little family.

So we come back to the question at hand: Are we going to have another?
My stock answer is: If we have more, we're thrilled. If not, we're completely fulfilled.

And it's 100% true. I am so very happy and honored to be mommy to my little Boogs. He is sweet and wonderful and amazing and I truly can't imagine having another at this point. It's a frightening prospect to say the least. But because of our past fertility issues, who knows if we would even be able to get pregnant again?

Are we going to have another?
I don't know.
And I'm not even thinking that way right now. I'm just so in love with my little family. The future will unfold as it does.


Why am I writing about infertility? Why am I so open about it? Because it is a disease (that isn't covered by most insurance). It is not shameful. It needs to be discussed openly. We went through this pretty much alone. I know I had no one besides Hubs and my mom to lean on. Most of my friends were awkward with me or didn't get it. I am not ashamed of it.  

Sunday, April 1, 2012

10 Minutes of Zen...

If you don't cloth diaper, you are going to think I am crazy. Heck, some of you who do cloth diaper will think I am nutso. 
But there are some out there like me... And this is for you!

I just spent 10 minutes before bedtime doing a fold, stuff, put away, and mini re-organization of my stash. And I am so happy. I hit this little zone of contentment when I am organizing the dude's fluff - I can't explain it to outsiders.

I get to fold and arrange some of the cutest little poo catchers in the world. Right now I am grouping within categories. So I have fitteds organized by WAHM, then I have all my PUL diapers grouped in hues with my WAHM diapers mostly in their own little section, all my covers, and finally my wipes and liners. My doublers and prefolds are in cute fabric bins next to the diaper bureau (yes, bureau). I may change my system after next washing back to grouping by maker - then type - then color. Or maybe I'll do a little ROY G BIV in reverse, types of dipes be damned!
Oh the choices!

So that was my 10 minutes of Zen.

(I have never claimed to be 'normal.' But I assure you I am not the only cloth diapering mama who loooooves her stash. I'm just out of the closet!)