For nearly two years, we've been an exclusively cloth diapering family. We got into it for a variety of reasons including long-term cost savings, environmental impact, and concern for our daughter's health, and although it's occasionally felt burdensome, we've never regretted the decision.
Since Poppy's birth, we've assembled a sizable diaper stash made up of a variety of styles and brands. We rely primarily on prefolds + covers because they're the cheapest way to diaper, although not the simplest. Our other staple is the significantly more expensive, yet easier to use pocket diaper, which we reserve primarily for overnights and for other people. People who have babysat for us have always had an easy enough time with the pocket diapers (and some of the more adventurous have even given the prefolds a try) and I'm pretty sure we've inspired a couple of folks to try them themselves after seeing how simple and straightforward cloth diapering can really be.
Sure, we have to wash them, but it's really not a big deal (even for city folk like us who rely on shared commercial machines in our apartment building). And, yes, I suppose we change Poppy's diaper more often than some who use disposables (though I have to say that the length of time I see many kids spend in one disposable diaper really grosses me out sometimes). But really?
Cloth diapers are economical. They're simple. And, frankly, they're just plain adorable.
So, why, after all this time have I (temporarily?) abandoned cloth diapers? Because my pregnant stomach can not handle it. At all. And I feel terrible about it.
I'm lucky enough not to suffer nausea during pregnancy, at least outright. I spend a chunk of the first trimester feeling a little off sometimes, but I'm never knocked out with morning sickness the way some are. My overall sensitivity to things does get significantly heightened, however, and my gag reflex goes on overdrive. This wasn't such a big deal during my first pregnancy, when I was still living life an a child-free adult, but now? With a toddler in the house?
You know how gross toddlers are, right?
I went out and bought my first pack of disposables somewhere around week 8 of my pregnancy. I'd just spent the day changing multiple dirty diapers (what did she eat?!) and nearly threw up on the kid each and every time. As soon as I pulled the diaper down and saw the mess inside, I gagged. Then I pulled out the cloth wipes and started to clean up the mess, and I choked back vomit. Then I had to take the diaper and rinse it out in the toilet and I lost it. The texture. The smell. The very thought of what I was handling and I was a goner. I washed my hands, tossed the kid in the stroller, and walked to the nearest pharmacy.
And then I waited for my husband to get home -- my husband, the die hard cloth diaper devotee. Oy.
Initially, he didn't understand what the problem was and I had a hard time explaining it.
"What's the difference between cleaning up poo in a cloth diaper or a disposable? You still have to look at it and still have to wipe her," he asked.
"I know, but it's just… gross all of a sudden. It's in the cloth. I can't just sweep the diaper away, seal it up with a quick swish of tape, and never think about it again. I have to deal with it longer. I don't know. I can't explain it. I just can't do it. My stomach can't take it. Even just talking about it is making me nauseous. Now can we please move on before I throw up my dinner?"
Even now, three months later, I still can't quite explain what the problem is because it's true - I do still have to deal with the nastiness, but somehow it's less offensive in a disposable diaper that just goes away when I'm done with it. Trying to minimize the gross factor and convince me to stick with cloth, my husband even volunteered to rinse all the diapers out himself if I would just leave them in a basket in the bathroom for him. But then they just sit there all day, stinking the place up, reminding me that they're still there. And there I go, getting nauseous again just thinking about it.
Pregnancy is so irrational.
Since that time, I've done my best to stick with cloth when I can and only rely on disposables if I'm feeling especially queasy, but it's hard. A kid's digestive system doesn't always work on a perfect schedule and on an iffy day, I'm just not interested in taking a chance. Especially a day where I'm tired, moody, frazzled, or otherwise less than 100%, which, when pregnant, is most days. Even the good ones. I'm hoping that when the next babe arrives, my stomach will settle back into its normal routine and I won't have any physical hang-ups about diapers any longer because, right now, the promise that I am willing -- and planning -- to go back to cloth with the newborn is the only thing keeping Tony off my back. That, and the fact that he knows better than to nag a cranky pregnant woman.
So we're using disposables regularly unless my husband is home and willing to take over full diaper duty (i.e. the weekends). But since I still can't admit to myself that I'm really giving up on the cloth for the time being, I'm still buying diapers bag-by-bag at the local pharmacy rather than thinking ahead and ordering from somewhere cheaper online because somehow it feels like doing that would be like putting up the white flag and surrendering my beloved cloth diapers once and for all. And I'm not quite ready for that.