Category Archives: Parenting

Lucia

flower in hand

This should be a different kind of Labor Day weekend for me.

Shortly before my last post in December we found out we were expecting, with a due date of Sept. 2. We were thrilled but a little nervous because we had recently had an early miscarriage (called a “chemical pregnancy”), but everything we read and everyone we talked to said those types of miscarriages are incredibly common, and not to worry. As this pregnancy progressed and my belly started to grow, we were repeatedly reassured everything was going wonderfully and normally. During the pregnancy it was discovered I had a large ovarian cyst and so there was an ultrasound done to look at the cyst and during it they also did a full anatomy scan of our baby at 13 weeks. I had never been able to see any of my babies so early and it was amazing to see our little one moving around! Little arms and legs, little face. We were in love. We were assured by the Maternal Fetal Medicine Dr. that the baby was “perfect” and that since we were now in the second trimester, the chances of miscarriage were now only about 2% so we could breathe easy and release our fears of another miscarriage. The ovarian cyst would be monitored but was not a threat to the baby in any way.

Shortly after the appointment my morning sickness finally eased and as a week or so passed I began waiting to feel the first “flutters” of fetal movement. I was feeling so much better physically and mentally and happy to be in the second trimester. In the middle of March (one day shy of 15 weeks pregnant) I had a tiny bit of spotting and called my Midwife’s office to check in. There wasn’t much concern but they recommended I come in anyway just to be on the safe side. They used a small in-office ultrasound to look at baby and immediately I could tell something was wrong. There was no heartbeat. My sweet baby, who just two weeks ago had been called “absolutely perfect” by the Dr., was gone. I sat sobbing in the Midwife’s office waiting for my husband to join me. My baby’s picture was left up on the ultrasound screen, completely still. I called my friend (and doula) while I waited and sobbed out the situation to her on the phone. Once my husband arrived we were sent to Maternal Fetal Medicine again, where it was confirmed that the baby had passed away, perhaps not long after our last ultrasound.

Flowers

It was five days until I had a D&E surgery to remove “the demise,” as the Dr. referred to it. We had to tell the boys what had happened. They didn’t completely understand, but they understood enough. They asked a lot of questions. They were frustrated. They tried to comfort me. I spent my time alternating between grief and overwhelming anxiety about the surgery. I had never been through surgery before and it seemed so invasive, so harsh. I was carried through the waiting time by an immense amount of love. Being a doula, I have many friends in the birthing community who understand the emotional gravity of pregnancy loss. Many people reached out by calling and sending texts or emails. The Midwife who delivered my two other children called personally to talk.  My friend and doula who I called in the waiting room checked in every day. She was like a lifeline in the darkness. She listened, she cried with me, she texted just to say “I love you.” My gratitude to her is immeasurable.

After surgery there was a sense of relief that the experience was “done,” but it was at this point that the finality of the loss set in. I experienced crushing grief. It was like all the wind had been knocked out of me. Again, there was an outpouring of love. A meal train was set up in a Mom’s group on Facebook and friends and even strangers delivered meals. Each meal, each text, each visit, helped carry me through. I am so incredibly grateful for the support we received.

Flower

A week or so after the surgery we received the results of the genetic testing done on the baby (the testing was offered to us since we had experienced a second trimester loss after a perfectly healthy ultrasound). They also tested me for some blood clotting disorders. Both tests came back as completely normal. They could find no reason for why this happened. The only piece of information we received was that our baby was a girl.  We named her Lucia Isabel.

This Labor Day weekend I should be celebrating the arrival or impending arrival of a sweet baby girl. Kissing sweet baby cheeks and counting little toes. There is a parallel life I can still see running along in my mind of “what could have been.” I realize miscarriage is still somewhat of a “taboo” topic, which is why I’m writing this blog. 1 in 4 mothers experience miscarriage. It is much more common than anyone thinks and many people suffer in silence, believing perhaps they haven’t earned the right to grieve, or that people won’t understand, or even not wanting to “burden” others with their sadness. Even though I didn’t get to meet my baby in person, she exists very much in my heart. I am so grateful for every single person who reached out, even in the smallest ways. I’m not sure I would have made it otherwise. If you are afraid of reaching out to someone who is grieving because you “don’t know what to say,” please set that aside. There are no perfect words you can say. But there are things you can do. Bring a meal. Drop off a bag of chocolate, tea, or flowers. Give a hug. Text randomly to say “I’m thinking of you and I love you.” Your presence and your love speaks a million times louder than the “perfect” words.

flowering tree

Today I have just a photo and a teaspoon of ashes to remind me of the sweet little girl who lives on now only in our hearts. Lucia means “light” and Isabel means “pledged to God.” She is a light pledged to God and the little flicker of her spirit continues on somewhere in the universe, maybe everywhere around us. I thank you for listening to my story. The words have been rolling around in my head and heart for a long time but it is not something I’ve wanted to revisit. But today, my due date, there is some catharsis in telling the story and getting it out. I thank you for listening, and I thank you for your love.

WP_20160902_10_19_26_Pro_(2)[1]

 

The flowering photos in this post were taken shortly after the loss. The boys had just read the children’s book “Forget Me Not” by Michael Broad and said that the purple flowers were Forget Me Nots to help me remember the baby.

Acts of Kindness

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” -Aesop

IMG_5373

Merry Christmas Eve everyone! In the spirit of the season, I wanted to share a little bit about a few things we did this year to help instill in the kids that the true essence of Christmas is not just the mad rush of opening and amassing presents, but in the sharing with and giving to others.

Inspired by an awesome post by another Mom in a facebook group about her family’s Random Acts of Kindness, I talked with the boys about ways we could show kindness to others this season. They were very excited to participate. I read them a long list of Kindness Ideas this Mom had provided. Unsurprisingly, the kids were immediately drawn to the ones that involved animals. They also were super excited about making treats to share with our neighbors (especially the neighbor kids they love to play with).

First we started by making big batches of treats to share. This included a delicious, very buttery Chex Mix, a huge double batch of pillowy soft Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Sweet Glazed Popcorn.

IMG_5362

IMG_5364

IMG_5370

 

IMG_5365

We contacted a couple of animal rescues to ask about ways we could help. The Dakota Dachshund Rescue said their dogs can always use toys, and they also invited the boys to come down to a Meet and Greet they were having so that the kids could walk the dogs and show off to prospective adopters how friendly and gentle the dogs were with kids. The boys were SUPER excited about this!! We made some handcrafted felt “dog bone” toys and put together a big basket of treats to share with all of the dog foster families who were working at the event. The boys also made cards for the foster families that said “Thank you for loving dogs.” And “Thank you for rescuing dogs and giving them bones.”  They had an awesome time giving their presents away and also walking the dogs. They are both huge animal lovers and always say they are planning to be “animal doctors” or “animal rescuers” when they grow up.

IMG_5369

IMG_5373

We also planned a trip to the Sioux Falls Humane Society to “pet cats” as the kids said. The staff at the Humane Society told us the cats ALWAYS need extra attention, especially the older ones. The kids were very excited about getting to play with the cats since Wyatt is allergic so we don’t spend very much time around cats otherwise. We put together a bag of cookies for the Humane Society staff and made cards that said “Thank you for rescuing animals” and “Thank you for our rats” (we adopted the kids’ two pet rats at the Humane Society).  We also brought a 50# bag of dog food as a donation.  The staff at the Humane Society awarded the kids with “Certificates of Appreciation” which made the kids just beam!

IMG_5377et IMG_5380 IMG_5381 IMG_5382

IMG_5384

Mathias’ nickname is Ty Ty and this is how he introduced himself to the Humane Society staff

We also made a big basket of treats and the kids took them around and delivered them to our neighbors and friends.  They loved having people open the door and the kids would shout “Merry Christmas!” and deliver the treats.

IMG_5375

I am so glad we did this as part of our holiday celebrations this year. It was wonderful for the kids to get to choose what they wanted to do and I think it really made an impression on them about what having the “Christmas Spirit” is all about.

Helping animals this year also touched my heart greatly as our little Pancho dog has been dealing with some serious health issues since about 6 weeks ago. At 13 1/2 years old he has been in and out of the vet’s office, on medications, and even overnight at the ER vet. Eventually our vet told us there was only so much we could do anymore. We processed that we likely have only a short time with him anymore and have been doing everything in our power to keep him comfortable fed, hydrated, and very, very loved.  Being able to channel some of our energy into helping other rescue animals felt fitting in honor of Pancho’s life. (Pancho was rescued from an abusive situation and placed at the Missoula Humane Society at age 3, where we adopted him 10 years ago).  Pancho passed away at home with Wyatt and I at his side the very same day we finished up with our Acts of Kindness at Humane Society. He spirit is now free of suffering and running free in the Great Beyond with his fur brother Reuben. Our hearts are very tender right now and we have been keeping the memory of his spirit alive by placing a flickering candle on his bed and near a piece of art that inspired his name.

Pancho’s bed and “house” (he liked to sleep under a desk near our bed). A flickering candle reminds us his spirit lives on.

Pancho’s bed and “house” (he liked to sleep under a desk near our bed). A flickering candle reminds us his spirit lives on.

A piece of art titled "Pouchie Villa Rides Again" inspired the name of our first pet, a little chihuahua named Pancho.

A piece of art titled “Pouchie Villa Rides Again” inspired the name of our first pet, a little chihuahua named Pancho.

May you have a wonderful Christmas and be filled with the spirit of sharing, giving, and love. May you hold your loved ones tight. May you be generous and kind. May you be thankful for all you have and let a spirit of gratitude and joy come into your hearts. This is your wonderful chance at life. It’s worth it to be kind to our neighbors, our friends, strangers, and the little creatures of the world. Amen.

Homeschool: Kindergarten First Quarter

IMG_5173

Fall brought an exciting new dimension to our lives: homeschooling! We “officially” started Kindergarten with Harper at the beginning of September. I will admit that even though we had been talking about doing homeschool for years, as the actual start date approached I started to question our decision. I started feeling overwhelmed by the task set ahead and began thinking way too far out into the future about the sustainability of such a seemingly herculean task. Luckily, we were able to make a deal with ourselves that we would just take it one year at a time and not get swallowed up by the enormity of long-term homeschooling. That truly was a great decision because it I don’t think we would have even started otherwise. I am so glad we forged ahead because homeschooling is going amazing well!

IMG_4781

Drawing “B” Butterflies

We are using Oak Meadow’s Kindergarten curriculum, having graduated from the Oak Meadow’s Preschool learning guide (which we had been using for two years, along with following the concepts from Simplicity Parenting). I had started looking into Oak Meadow many years ago as it is a gentle, “Waldorf-influenced” curriculum with a special focus on nature and the arts. The Kindergarten curriculum focuses on language arts through lots of storytelling and reading, introduces all the letters of the alphabet; introduces numbers and basic number concepts;  music/movement through songs and fingerplays; is filled with quality arts and crafts; and weaves nature and science into almost all lessons. There are no worksheets or copywork in the curriculum, although we do add in a few workbooks for math and language arts just because Harper finds them fun. Even though the curriculum is very gentle and doesn’t introduce reading yet in Kindergarten, Harper is easily picking up on reading so we just follow his lead. I have to say, it is absolutely thrilling to see him start to read!

IMG_4892

He asks for us to play this “game” all the time. He asks us to put a  “puzzler” on the board and he sees if he can sound it out.

IMG_5193

He needs help spelling but asks for help so that he can write sentences on the board.

IMG_5238

“Mom, can you help me spell Robot?”

IMG_5275

Turning “H” into a house

IMG_4876 - Copy

We read “The Three Little Pigs” alongside Jan Brett’s “3 Little Dassies” and the kids wanted to compare/contrast the stories

Oak Meadow encourages a daily rhythm, which I have to say has been the biggest component for success in our homeschool life, as well as our regular non-schooling life. Even though some days are wild and unstructured, most days we do fall into a regular rhythm (I will post on that soon for families who are struggling to find their daily routine). Having the kids know and expect that every morning we will eat breakfast, get dressed, do chores, and then start school has made a huge impact on their behavior and makes our day run so much more smoothly.

Mathias (age 3) has been doing Harper’s Kindergarten curriculum right alongside him, to the best of his ability. He absolutely loves it! He and Harper are basically inseparable so there is no way we could ever leave him out. He is picking up on so much.

IMG_4969 - Copy

Mathias surprised me when he jumped up and wrote this (backwards) “D” on the chalkboard when I asked if anyone could write one.

IMG_4776

Making his own contribution to the chalkboard

We start every school session with a “Morning Circle,” which includes songs and fingerplays, show and tell (the kids have added this at their request), and reviewing the concepts we’re working on. We then dig into whatever we’re doing for the day. We usually do language arts on M, W, F and Math on T, Th. Science, Crafts, and Music/Movement are interspersed throughout the week.

I do a weekly planning session the weekend before we’re going to start. Oak Meadow does not give a daily schedule but instead introduces the concepts and projects of the week. I usually go through the calendar of activities and combine that with the curriculum to create the daily learning objectives and activities. We do a lot of field trips and spend a ton of time outside in nature. Between hiking excursions with family, getting together with homeschooling friends, The Great Plains Zoo, the Outdoor Campus, Siouxland Libraries, and the Museum of Visual Materials, we manage to keep the calendar pretty full.

Completely engrossed in looking for insects in the fallen logs

IMG_4856

Digging for bones with some homeschool friends at the Outdoor Campus’ “Backyard”

IMG_5230

Whole family out for a hike

Because the curriculum is so gentle there is enough flexibility for improvisation and also for adding additional special projects. For instance, a couple weeks ago the Great Plains Zoo added a mongoose exhibit and Harper, the little scientist he is, became completely obsessed with learning everything he could about mongooses. So we researched mongoose facts at home, watched mongoose wildlife videos, and even read Rudyard Kipling’s “Rikki Tikki Tavi.” Harper was absolutely thrilled!

To me, this is a perfect example of the beauty of homeschooling. One of our main objectives in homeschooling was to let the kids “geek out” on whatever interested them and to follow down any rabbit hole their interests led them. The are both extremely curious kids who truly do love to learn. They are making homeschooling very easy as they are so excited to learn new things, to hear new stories, to work on projects, and to propose new topics of interest.

IMG_5239

“Rikki Tikki Tavi”…not for the faint of heart!

IMG_4842

The kids making crescent rolls for “C” week (C being the shape of a crescent, and the first letter of the word). Oak Meadow is very hands-on and often includes baking in the curriculum.

IMG_4849

Making homemade crescent rolls

IMG_4945 - Copy

Making and counting snake eggs

IMG_4949 - Copy

Giant “A” to walk around; One Sun with 1,000,000,000 rays

IMG_5181

On a field trip at the pumpkin patch with the OWL Homeschool Collective

IMG_4977

Running the Sioux Falls Area Running Club’s Kids Cross Country Series

IMG_5253

Checking out the Greenway after a heavy rain

IMG_5259

Making the most of rainy fall weather!

We’ve had a wonderful fall filled a with ton of learning and fun. We are looking forward to starting our Winter Quarter next week. We took out some of our winter decorations today to make a seasonal corner in the house. We will update on our homeschooling adventures as we go!

IMG_5270

Fast Forward

Hard to believe, but it’s been well over three years since I’ve kept up with the blog.  Life kind of turned on at warp speed for a while (our second son, Mathias, not-so-coincidentally turned 3 in May) and blogging just became hard.  But, the pace of life is feeling a little slower now so I’m going to attempt to revive the blog as there are some great radical homemaking adventures happening that I want to share!

So what has happened since the last blog post?

We built a new chicken coop…(March 2012)

Jan-March 2012 003-1

harper

The new chicken run

And spread the love of backyard chickens by getting involved in local organizing to ensure it remained legal to keep chickens…

Summer 2012

HGSF printmaking

August 2012 257

August 2012 265Kicking off the first annual Sioux Falls Tour de Coop…we were the first stop!August 2012 265

And welcomed, Mathias, our second child into the world….(it was a whirlwind!  Hopefully I can share his birth story sometime) May 2012

May 2012 130

May 2012 163

May 2012 149

And grew together as a family of four…

June 2012 066

June 2012 125

June 2012 309

Oct 2012 024

And grew other things….

August 2012 078

August 2012 084

And these boys…well they just kept growing too…

Summer 2013

harper 3 years oldHarper 3 years old

Mathias 1 year oldMathias 1 year old

halloween 2013Halloween 2013

And we moved to a ranch in the Black Hills (2013)….

Hermosa ranch

And because of Murphy’s Law ended up moving back to our old house 3 months later!

end of trail

End of the trail for that adventure.

I trained with DONA International to become a birth doula and started on my birth work journey. (Fall 2013)

1486768_388912517911049_623679290_n

And the next June (2014) we witnessed two milestones. Celebrating our 10 Year Wedding Anniversary…

wedding

And losing our sweet Reuben dog at the age of 10.

Rube

And the boys just kept on growing! (Here they are with some “cheep” entertainment)

cheep entertainment2014

wyatt and kids2014

And we took trips as a family….

Summer/Fall 2014

on the train in DuluthOn the train in Duluth, MN

bayfield wiHiking in Bayfield, WI

And in Jan 2015 I left my job as a community organizer to build my doula business and spend time more time at home with the boys.

IMG_4059

And this summer (2015) the boys turned 3 and 5…how can it be?

IMG_3979

IMG_4045

But despite the business we took a lovely vacation to CO and saw some old friends…

RMNP 2Rocky Mountain National Park 2015

RMNP

And currently we are just settling into Fall with a recent trip to the apple orchard with our local homeschool collective (more on that new adventure soon!)

Hoversten Orchard 2015

What a whirlwind! Thanks for this little trip down memory lane. I’ll admit I’m a little misty-eyed looking at all of these photos. But we’re all caught up now so I’ll be posting more regularly now! Look for updates soon.

The Great Cloth Diaper Review

Inspired by a couple of friends’ requests for information about cloth diapering, I am finally sitting down to write this review, something I’ve been planning to do for a long, long while but haven’t dedicated the time to.  Here is my Great Cloth Diaper Review, for all you families out there thinking about going with cloth.

This post is going to be split into three parts:

  • Part 1:  Cloth diaper pros and cons
  • Part 2:  Cloth diaper types, usage, and (a few) brand reviews
  • Part 3:  Cloth diaper care, tips, and resources

PART 1: Cloth Diaper Pros and Cons

First things first.

Cuteness! In a prefold with a Thirsties Duo Wrap cover

Do I recommend cloth diapering?  YES!!

Reason # 1:  $$$$$

Although using cloth is more of an investment up front (but not that much, in my opinion) and does take a little more work than disposables, it is far, far less expensive than throw away diapers.  We probably invested $250 in our cloth diapers (and I could have spent less) and last I checked a box of diapers at the grocery store is about $20.  So my investment (enough cloth to last through potty training) was the cost of about a dozen boxes of diapers.  And just let me say that when Harper was first born we were easily zipping through a box of disposable diapers in a week.  It’s estimated that the average parent spends about $1500-$2000 on diapers from birth to potty training.  Also, if you plan to have future children, you will have double savings by reusing your diapers for the next child.

Reason #2:  Environmental

I don’t think this needs much explanation as it’s pretty common knowledge that diapers are a MAJOR source of environmental waste.  It will take around 500 years for a disposable diaper to biodegrade.  If you’ve been using disposable diapers you know how quickly a mountain of diapers can accumulate (we know, we didn’t switch to cloth until Harper was 2 mos. old).  Now add in millions of other babies adding trillions of diapers to the garbage.  Not good.

Reason #3:  Baby!

I love wrapping my little one up in something soft, breathable and natural.  We do still use the occasional disposable diaper and I always feel like I’m putting a plastic sack on his body.  I feel like I’m giving Harper such a gift when I put a cloth diaper on.  I know it’s healthier and more comfortable than any plastic disposable.

Are there any drawbacks to using cloth?  A few.

#1:  Labor

It is more work to use cloth.  Obviously, diapers need to be laundered.  Though this isn’t a major issue, it does add another load of laundry that must be done every couple of days.

#2:  Clean-Up

When babies are exclusively breast-fed (as Harper was for the first 6 mos.), the soiled diapers don’t require much clean-up other than being put through a rinse cycle prior to washing them.  Once table food is introduced into the equation diaper clean-up takes on a little more effort.  Solids must be cleaned out of the diaper and put into the toilet before washing, and this can be a little daunting at first.  We just use a plastic spatula for this deed, though sprayer attachments can be purchased that would allow you rinse the diaper instead.

Now onto the diaper reviews…

PART 2:  Cloth Diaper types, usage, and (a few) brand reviews

Cloth diapers have come a long way from the days of pins and plastic pants.  There are so many brands of cloth diapers out there today, and many are made in the U.S. at small family-owned companies (for handmade options, check out Etsy).  There are several different types of diapers out there, including prefolds, pockets, and All-in-Ones (AIO’s).  I have used the prefolds and pockets, so that’s what I’ll be reviewing.

  • System 1:  Inserts, Prefolds and Covers

The least expensive option for cloth diapering is prefolds and covers.  Prefolds are a kind of baffled, multi-layer cotton diaper can that be folded in a variety of ways and covered with a waterproof cover.  When Harper was little (2-8 months) we primarily used prefolds or inserts with covers.  I purchased my premium cotton prefolds off Craigslist and paid about $20 for 25 prefold diapers.  They are super durable and the lady that I bought them from had also purchased them used.  They are major workhorses!  They were size large, so I would tri-fold them (fold them in thirds) the short way and lay them in his covers.

Thirsties Duo Wrap covers stuffed with prefolds (orange) and gFlappers (blue)

I also purchased some G-flappers inserts ($6 each from Elegant Mommy and made by The NappyShoppe) and would lay these in his cover as well.  The g-flapper is a two-layer insert with a fleece top layer and an absorbent hemp bottom layer.  The advantage of using this insert over the cotton prefold is that the moisture is wicked through the fleece and absorbed into the bottom hemp so that wetness is pulled away and baby’s skin stays nice and comfortable.

left: premium cotton prefolds, center: thirsties hemp prefolds, right: gFlappers inserts

I also purchased a few Thirsties Hemp prefolds, but I don’t like using these.  They are super soft and feel like jersey, but once they’re wet they basically take on the feel and shape of a sopping wet t-shirt.  They also take forever to dry since hemp is so absorbent.

I purchased about 8 Thirsties Duo Wrap Size 1 covers to use with the prefolds or inserts.  These run about $12-$14  a piece.  I like Thirsties duo wraps because they have an inner leg gusset that traps messes and leaks.  We never really had any issues with blow-outs or leaks (except for night time leaks–when he was very small we used covers and inserts at night, but in my opinion a cover and prefold/insert system isn’t absorbent enough for night time diapering).  My only issue with the Thirsties covers was that the Aplix (velcro) tabs seemed to wear out quickly.  A few of my covers had the back laundry tabs detach from the diaper.  I purchased one of the covers with snaps instead and though it’s not as quick as the velcro the diaper has held up much better.

gDiaper cover

gDiaper stuffed with a gFlapper insert

I also bought a couple gDiapers covers to use with a tri-folded prefold or the g-flappers. gDiapers covers have a detachable plastic liner and the cover itself is made of a stretchy soft fabric.  They are decently-priced and easy to put on and take off.  However, one of my covers kind of came apart early on.  I had to sew back on one of the velcro tabs, and later on the other came off.  For this reason I haven’t bought any more of these covers, though it might have just been a fluke with the one cover.

Besides being inexpensive, another economical reason to use the cover and prefold/insert option is that if the diaper is just wet, you can remove the insert, wipe the cover out and place a fresh diaper in the same cover.  This is great because it greatly reduces the number of covers you need to buy (especially when you have  very small baby who goes through a dozen diapers a day).

Thirsties make a two-size diaper cover, and when Harper was about 8-9 months he outgrew his covers and we sized up and I purchased about 4-5 new Size 2 covers all with snaps.  Since Harper is now much more active simply laying the prefold or insert into the diaper is still an option, but it’s hard to get the diaper in there straight (and stay straight) with the little one squirming all over, and it becomes more of a concern of leaks or blowouts. I bought a Snappi (a flexible 3-pronged device that “grabs” the fabric of the diaper with its teeth and allows you to fasten the diaper on without pins) so I could put his prefolds on like an actual diaper.  I use the angel fold to put on his prefolds.  It’s simple and quick (even Wyatt says so) but I must admit I kind of cringe having to put prefolds on him now.  My first reason is that he is really difficult to change–it’s like wrestling a flipping and spinning alligator and getting the prefold on, hooking the Snappi, and putting on a cover is just too many steps when alligator wrestling.  (Also, a few of my larger-sized Thirsties covers have snaps that don’t seem to stay snapped too easily)  My second reason for disliking prefolds and covers now is that he is much heavier wetter and I hate for him to be sitting in a soaking wet cotton diaper that is completely encircling his bottom.  For  this reason, I much prefer our pocket diapers for an older baby.

Harper with a prefold secured with a Snappi

Harper escaping from me before I can get a cover on

Bottom Line:  Covers (with snaps) and prefolds/inserts are the most inexpensive cloth diaper option and they were my cloth diaper of choice for a younger baby.

  • System 2:  Pocket Diapers

covers on the left, pocket diapers on the right

Pocket diapers are a system where you have a cover with an inner fleece or terry cloth liner that absorbent inserts are “stuffed” into (thus, the “pocket”).  Because pocket diapers are made out of a wicking material and have a liner, baby feels much more dry than using cotton prefolds.

Pocket diapers are more expensive (usually $16-$22+ each) and the whole diaper (cover and everything) must be changed each and every time it is wet.  This means you need to buy enough of these diapers to last you a day or two (for this reason I am finding it much more affordable to use these as the main diaper for an older baby who only goes through 6 or so diapers a day).  Pocket diapers are a very user-friendly diaper because they are put on very similarly to a disposable diaper, and many families with day care (myself included) have been happy to find out that the day care provider will use the cloth diapers.

Several of the most popular pocket diapers include FuzziBunz and bumGenuis, which are the two kinds I own.  A big advantage of pocket diapers is that they can be purchased in One Size, meaning they can adjusted to fit your baby from birth to potty training.  This means that you could just buy a stash of these when you baby is born and not worry about buying dipes again.  Of course, this is an investment initially, but as I illustrated above it will save you tons of money in the long-term.

FuzziBunz:

FuzziBunz One Size

FuzziBunz One Size are soft and snugly diapers that cost around $20 a piece.  They have an elastic band with button holes in the waist and legs that can be adjusted as baby grows.

Adjustable elastic for sizing the diaper

We own three of these and originally purchased them as night time diapers when Harper was small.  They worked well for this purpose, but now that he is grown and is wetting heavier we’re finding that they leak at night.  This might be because I don’t have the elastic adjusted perfectly for his size, or maybe we need to triple stuff them.  In any case, we like these diapers, but the biggest drawback I’ve found in them is the elastic sizing, which in my experience has required a bit of an art to figure out.  However, I know many people who use FuzziBunz as their main diaper and absolutely love them.

bunGenuis:

bumGenius 4.0: A quick shot before Harper yanked the diaper out of the picture

bumGenius 4.o is actually our most favorite diaper of all.  They are a little less expensive (around $18) and I found a deal from CottonBabies to buy 5 and get one free (making them $14.50 a piece).  I bought all six of my BumGenius diapers with snaps, since I had heard that the main complaint for people with bumGenius diapers is that the Aplix tabs wore out.  I’ve been using these for about six months and they have worked fabulously.  They are super durable and the snaps are strong and easy to use.  Changing  the diaper size is super simple– all that is required is adjusting the three sizing snaps on the front of the diaper.  We very rarely experience leaks (just sometimes if a night time diaper is overloaded) and I don’t think we’ve ever had a blow-out in them.

In a "Bum Genie" as Wyatt calls them

Bottom Line:  Pocket diapers can be more expensive but are very user-friendly and a better night-time diaper.  I recommend buying diapers with snaps rather than Aplix.  Pocket diapers are my diaper of choice for an older baby.

PART 3: Cloth diaper care, tips, and resources

Washing Tips:

Cloth diapers should be washed with a detergent free of petroleum products, oils, etc.  I use a homemade laundry soap for all of my washing and the recipe can be found here.  Covers and inserts can be washed together.  I do one pre-rinse, then a hot wash.  Sometimes I do a rinse again at the end if the dipes seemed like they needed it.  I also try to add a little half-scoop of an oxygen cleaner to the load for extra cleansing.

Some covers can be dried in a machine, but others need to line dry.  Be sure to read the instructions when you buy your diapers.  We dry all of our covers on hangers rather than in the machine to reduce wear and tear on them.  In the summer I like to dry all my diapers outside since the sun works miracles as a bleaching agent and erases any stains you might have.

If my diapers ever develop a smell, I put JUST the inserts or prefolds in the wash and add a little bleach to the cycle.  DO NOT wash your covers with bleach unless it says you can on the washing instructions.  Bleach can ruin the waterproofing on your covers.  However, adding a little bleach to the inserts has taken care of any smells or staining that might develop.

Storage:


We use a regular diaper pail to store our diapers in until they are washed.  A 1/4 cup or so of baking soda is added to the pail to keep smells at bay.

I keep all of our diapers organized on a little shelf near where we change Harper.  As you can see, as the little one grows this area is now a point of interest for him and as fast as I can fold and put the diapers away he pulls them out again laughing wildly at the fun.  Oh well.

Resources:

Elegant Mommy is a great local resource for cloth diapering.  Shelly, the owner, carries a variety of brands and is happy to talk you through your options as well as provide information on care.  Even if you don’t live near Sioux Falls you can order through their website.

Mothering.com is a fabulous resource on cloth diapers.  There are many articles relating to the subject on the website, including this video resource and this article.  Mothering is an amazing website in general and has a lot of information on subjects like natural living, healthy eating, parenting, breastfeeding, etc.

Well, I hope this has been helpful!  It’s been a labor of love to get this blog written, but I’m glad to spread the good word on cloth diapering!  Please share your own experiences in the comments section, and feel free to ask questions.  I love to hear about how other people are doing things.  If you have a favorite diaper or method, please share!

Happy cloth diapering!

Mother’s Day

Here we are, the night I became a Mother.  Harper is about 25 minutes old.  Not quite strangers,  but meeting each other face to face for the first time.  Looking at him and feeling like I have known him forever.  So many overwhelming emotions running through, yet peace and connectedness at the center.

Motherhood has been a wild adventure.  Thank you, Harper Samuel, for the gift of being a Mother!

On the mend

Harper became ill a week ago…starting out with a fever and vomiting, and then morphing into horrible congestion, drainage, and eventually, an ear infection.

Having a child sick is so very hard on so many levels.  Beyond the emotional drain of watching your precious child suffering, and the physical drain of  tending a very unhappy baby day and night, is the halting of all activities beyond the confines of the home.  There is no daycare, so work is left to pile up.  There is no happy baby playing while supper is prepared or dishes washed, so frozen pizza is eaten and dishes are stacked on the counter.  Nights are a haze as the one fitfully wakes, cries, sleeps, coughs, wakes, sleeps.

Time slows down and there is only the babe nestled in your arms, each congested breath causing the heart to ache, the worried brow to furrow a little deeper, and the arms to wrap even more tightly around this tiny bundle.

But with healing love, patience, and time, the sickness passes.  The energetic child returns, and the sun begins to shine once more.

Today we are seeing the sun.