When I was pregnant with Liam one of the most thoughtful
gifts I received was a three-month cloth diaper delivery service. I received
the gift from a wonderful friend who is very pro-cloth diaper. The service literally pulled up to my curb, delivered a diaper pail and a stack of
cloth diapers and plastic pants. They'd drive away and come back a week later
to pick up all the crap-filled cloth diapers. They didn't even require that you
rinse them - you could throw chunks and all into the pail, it made them no
difference. It was Diaper Service for Dummies. Simple to use, no excuses.
Except that this was me, and my firstborn shat more than any
human baby on planet Earth has ever shat. Whenever he grunted or smelled Chris
and I looked at each other in terror. Which one of us was going to change
I tried nearly every different kind of plastic pant on the
market, I varied the way I wrapped the cloth around Liam's bottom, I did
everything humanly possible but lo, the dam broke every time. I was at the
supermarket when I picked him up to check and saw a pool of nastiness filling
the bowl of his carseat. Another time I held him at a friend's house while acid
seeped out of the sides top of his plastic pants. I kept this up for three
reasons, none of which related to saving the planet:
1. I was going to Le Leche League meetings and they would
tar and feather me if I used disposables. When I did start using disposables and I showed up, they all gasped and
whispered at my Satan pants consumption. (I have a post about this in my
archives which will be fully restored shortly.) It was almost like the women in
my group who used cloth diapers believed that they loved their children more
than the moms who used disposables. It was fruity. A whole new world of mom
politics to which I was oblivious until I had a kid.
2. I didn't want to disappoint my friend or have her think
that I didn't appreciate her gift. She was one of the first mom-friends I'd made and I didn't want to come up short in her eyes.
She was one of the first mom-friends I'd made and I didn't want to come up short in her eyes.
3. I liked the way my neighbors reacted to the diaper
service that pulled up to the house. I was using cloth diapers? I must be a
SAINT. Selfish and weird, but I wanted to keep up the charade.
After Liam crapped on me during a trip to the zoo I threw my
hands up. I was done. I went to Target and bought the biggest package of
Pampers I could find (the babies seemed happier on their packaging, I don't
know) and the rest of the week was uneventful and I wasn't leaked on once. It
And then Monday morning the diaper service knocked on my
I stared at the unused package of cloth diapers in panic. I
still had three weeks of service left. So I did what any rational person would
do: I told the man at the door to hang on and I changed Liam and wiped him up
with every cloth diaper in the pack. I wasn't sure it was entirely believable,
I mean, would the diaper people look at each diaper and conclude that I was,
gasp, faking? I shook the thought
from my head, capped the pail with the freshly dirtied diapers, and handed them
to the diaper man.
I did this for the next two weeks because I was too big of a
coward to say "You know what? These really aren't my thing. I'm going to roll
with the disposables." When the gift ran out I declined to continue the
service. My friend asked about it and I told her that while it was definitely
appreciated and interesting, I wasn't going to do it. She smiled. "OK!" She
That was it? No Le Leche League protest about how I was
killing - nay raping - our Mother
Earth with my use of disposable diapers?
When the neighbors, who were a talky bunch, saw that I was
no longer getting the diaper service they asked if I was still using cloth
diapers. "No," I admitted, watching my sainthood slip away.
"Those things are a pain in the butt, literally," laughed one woman. "I was wondering how you did it. Sometimes I wonder if they really do help, if it saves any time, or what." She leaned in to whisper "Sometimes I think it's all for show."