Sunday, March 27, 2011

the cloth diaper chronicles (a 5 month review).

today my baby boy is 5 months old.  aside from the oft-asked, "is he sleeping through the night?," the next most common inquiry generally involves cloth diapering.  people's expressions generally range from complete shock and awe to disgust (i think there are lots of images of me, elbow deep in baby poop) to general curiosity about the whole process.  sooooo, without further ado, i have decided to break down my cloth diaper experience.

we have now been padding tiny man's bum with cloth for 5 months.  we didn't necessarily intend to start using cloth diapers from day one (in fact, i figured we'd use those preemie disposables for the first few weeks), but since jack was so teeny tiny, cloth was the best option because we could manipulate the pre-folds to fit him as tightly as we needed them to.  so anyway, we've been using cloth since the first day we brought jack home from the hospital, and now... for my rave review.

i love, love, love cloth diapering.  no, really.  i do.  it has been the easiest part of parenting thus far.  i guess the only reason i'm even taking the time to type this is because pre-baby i worried about cloth diapering and whether it would be worth it in the long run, and i want other people who might be considering it to know -- it's definitely manageable and totally worth it.  i definitely think all the options could leave a person feeling overwhelmed and a little lost.... i mean, i certainly felt that way.  and so, months before the peanut arrived on the scene, i spent lots of time researching options, thinking about what would be best for our little family and making (what i hoped would be) smart decisions.

i think the vast variety of options when it comes to cloth diapering definitely leads to intimidation about the whole process.  there are all-in-one diapers, prefolds, diaper wraps, diaper snaps, liners, fleece inserts, wet bags and more.  our cloth diaper solution would probably not work for everyone, but let me be clear: we do not have some fancy, expensive washer and dryer (we have an old, run of the mill top loader) and we did not spend hundreds or thousands of dollars creating a diaper stash.

i use cotton pre-folds with thirsties diaper covers over top of them.  we have 24 pre-folds (more than enough),
fastened with snappis,

topped off with 7 covers (four with velcro and three with snaps; we could definitely make do with less, but 7 was great when jack was pooping much more often "back in the day.").
the nice thing about the thirsties covers (besides the fact that they are adorable, hello!) is that they adjust to your baby's size.  you can move the velcro to a wider setting (or adjust the snaps) as your baby grows.  the gussets fit snugly around a skinny baby's legs (which was wonderful for my 5 lb. peanut in the first days home from the hospital), but could easily adjust to be comfortable for a more chunky little munchkin.  we can custom fold the cotton pre-folds to fit jack as snugly as necessary, and then we fasten them with a snappi.  (don't get me started on my love for the snappi, the modern day equivalent of the diaper pin.)

but here's the takeaway: my husband changes 95% of the diapers in our house, and he's on board with cloth.   when i was going back to work, i told him that we'd see how cloth went with one of us out of the house.  i promised him we could switch to disposables if it was too much work.  it took one trip and one blow-out with a disposable for him to start singing cloth's praises to anyone who would listen.  

now for the washing routine, which i'm sure is where most of the anxiety lies.  contrary to whatever people might think, i don't spend my days with baby poop smeared all over my hands.  we have a kissa's antibacterial liner tucked into a simple white plastic trash can with a lid.
we own two liners (so we can use one while washing the other), and they work perfectly.  they wick away moisture and keep odors to a minimum.  we wash diapers (and the liner) approximately every three days.
we do use a special laundry detergent for cloth diapers.  i read lots of horror stories about laundry detergent build up on cloth diapers and the awwwwful consequences (horrible diaper rash, lack of absorbency, etc.), so i invested in thirsties pre-wash and super wash. 

five months in, and we're still on our first bottles of each.  you only use 1/2 oz. of each, so it does last a long time.  we use 1/2 oz. of pre-wash and do a cold wash first, then 1/2 oz. of super wash with a hot wash.  the diapers come out soft and clean.  cloth diaper laundry is the easiest laundry we do, honestly.  we just place the clean diapers in a little plastic crate; we don't even fold them.

yes, we do use cloth diapers when traveling (unless we're going to be gone for several days).  when we're out, we store dirty diapers in this fantastic contraption: the wet bag.
the wet bag keeps the moisture inside and repels odors.  it's amazing.  we received two of these, along with 12 cuteybaby cloth diapers (see below).
we have not used these yet because even though they are supposed to fit babies that weigh at least 10 lbs, jack is still too skinny for me to be comfortable with the fit.  once jack chunks up a bit in the thighs, i'll report back on the results.

anyway, we've not had any diaper rash to speak of, no blow-outs or anything of that nature in cloth.  they're easy to use and launder, and quite cost effective. we spent less than $100 on our cloth diaper stock, and we haven't had to buy anything else five months in.  (jack is a few pounds away from needing a larger pre-fold size, but i swear by this osocozy brand, and you can get 2 dozen on amazon for $24.)

so, there's the skinny on our cloth diaper experience. definitely worth it, in my humble opinion!

Friday, March 25, 2011

on being a mom (or, what a difference a year makes).

one year ago this past tuesday i found out i was going to be someone's mother.  so many things have changed over the past 365+ days that that fateful morning seems so long ago and yet, as the cliche goes, it seems like it was just yesterday.  i can still remember the rush of emotions as i looked at that stick, my hands shaking, pure joy, excitement, anxiety washing over me.

one year later, and things just seem different.  which is still odd to me because in so many ways, i am the same person i was a year ago.  i have essentially the same haircut, i live in the same house (at least for a short while longer), i drive the same car, work at the same place and watch the same tv shows.  but motherhood changes you... in a way that i can't necessarily describe.  things are just different.  motherhood makes you responsible for the life of a little person, and suddenly the view changes.

there are, of course, the obvious changes, which i've mentioned a few times here on the 'ole blog [ahem, breastfeeding].  there are the expected changes (like the whole not getting a ton of sleep and usually having a bit of baby spit up on all your clothes).  but then there are the things i never expected.  i can't watch intervention now.  i just can't.  it hurts my heart to watch those lost souls and think about how they're somebody's baby.  there's a broken-hearted mom out there, and it pains me to think about what that might be like.  there's the endless worrying.  i have woken up in the middle of the night not to a crying baby, but to ponder the benefits of starting a 529 plan for jack.  i sometimes find myself staring at his tiny little face, wondering what he'll look like at age 5, at age 10, at age 25.  i wonder if we'll be able to teach him everything he needs to know, if we can instill in him the importance of being kind and good, while helping him learn confidence and self-respect.  i think about him growing up, and making friends, and finding love and starting his own family (i know; i'm insane... he's only 5 months old).

besides being bombarded with irrational and insane worries, i've noticed that i just think about things differently.  and this week, that manifested itself in my work.

when i started practicing law, i never intended to practice family law.  in fact, i was very vocal with my colleagues about not wanting to work in that area.  but there were some personnel changes at my firm, and voila!  it just so happens that i do a fair amount of family law work.  not that i wasn't caring and compassionate and all that jazz pre-jack, but having a baby has certainly changed the way i feel about my work.  whenever i meet with a new client, i always find myself thinking about jack, and what he would go through if he were in the situation.  maybe this was a good thing, maybe it will make me a smarter, more conscientious litigator.  but it's certainly keeping me up at night.  i have a case right now that is just.... hard for me.  because i believe in my client, and i believe that he has his children's best interests in mind.  and yet, that isn't enough.  the attorney on the other side doesn't give a shit about helping this family navigate their way through this tumultuous time.  i don't know if he cares about the money he's making, or if he just enjoys putting on a show, but he's certainly not thinking ahead.  he can't be remembering that two little kids have to move on from this divorce.

but i do.

the other day, after a particularly rough day in court, i thought about my client's kids, and then i thought about jack.  i thought about what he'd go through if (god forbid) john and i were to ever divorce (just a disclaimer: we're not).  i can't even really imagine it, but i can say that i hope we'd both be mature enough to cooperate for the sake of our son.  there are always easy ways out.  and there are always people willing to take those roads, even if doing so will mean destroying the lives of a family under enough stress as it is.  i never liked this notion before last october, but it sickens me now.  i almost can't bear it.  i almost lost it this week when i came face to face with opposing counsel who chose to turn what should have been an orderly hearing into a desperate mud-slinging contest.  it was sad.  it was uncalled for.  i couldn't stop thinking about the hearing, or the unfortunate consequences.  i woke up several times in the night, worrying about those kids.  and i began to wonder if mothering and the practice of family law are compatible.  oddly enough, you'd think they'd be perfectly attuned to one another.

the thing is, when opposing counsel employs tricks or uses dirty tactics, i have to similarly engage in order to stay in the game.  but the truth is, i don't want to practice law that way.  i want to help people resolve their issues.  i want to be fair and compassionate.  i want to be just and kind.  it is hard to see this sort of behavior rewarded with results.  it's hard to explain to a client who's world just got turned upside down that he has to be the bigger person.  it's hard not to take this personally.  it's hard not to feel a mother's heartbreak.  because that's what i feel.

a little over a year ago, i found out i was going to be someone's mother.  what a difference a year makes.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

my breast frenemy.

sometimes i feel like i'm in one of those unequal "friendships" with my breast pump.  i feel like i give, give, give and get nothing in return.  and i totally know that's not fair because the trusty pump allows me to feed my baby, and that's all well and good.  but i feel like the pump expects so much out of me.

forgive me.  i can't promise this is going to be my last blogpost on the topic, but i do apologize for bringing up the subject again.  i am just having one of those weeks, and decided to vent.

i do not mind breastfeeding my baby.  this week, however, i really, really mind pumping.  it's cramping my style.  i know it's beacuse i'm busy, and running to client meetings, settlement conferences and court hearings.  squeezing in pumping sessions is adding another layer of stress that i wish wasn't there.  i know that once the weekend comes, i'll calm back down and be fine.  but damnit!  it is SO flipping annoying to have to clean the parts after each pump.  to add extra sessions in when i have to skip a regularly scheduled pumping interlude because of court.  it is grating on my very last nerve that there are individuals with whom i work that still have not figured out that when my door is shut, i'm pumping.  (yeah, there's no need to stand there knocking incessantly and TURNING THE DOORKNOB BACK AND FORTH in an attempt to jimmy the lock and walk in on me and my exposed boobies, thank you very much.) 

i am at the point in my career where i have become increasingly busy.  this is a very good thing because it means that my clients are referring new clients to me (which is honestly the most rewarding thing about my practice, so far) and my bosses find me to be competent enough to handle more work.  however, with each new file, project and case, pumping becomes more of an inconvenience.  i wish it wasn't this way.  i wish there were more hours in the day.  every time i get to working on something and i look back at the clock, thinking "shit, i'm late.  should have pumped 30 minutes ago," i feel a pang of guilt.  it sucks.  being a pumping working mother is damn hard.  carrying that medela backpack everywhere, seeking out abandoned parking lots to pump in while on the road, i mean, you've heard it before from me.  don't wanna be a broken record, but this is a CHALLLLLLLENGE and a half.

on saturday, john, beebee and i went to madison to watch my brother play in his hockey playoffs.  we visited my parents at their hotel afterwards and somehow the talk turned to breastfeeding/pumping.  my dad (bless his heart; i know he meant nothing by it -- he just totally does not get breastfeeding, and really, how would he?)  seemed to think that pumping and the practice of law were completely compatible endeavors.  why couldn't i just ask the judge for a pump recess?  couldn't i just excuse myself from a client meeting to express some milk?  i think that's a lot of people's thoughts on the topic.  i mean, you hook yourself up to the pump, you do your business, and there's milk.  supply issues aside, what's the big deal?

the big deal is the constant burden of providing every ounce of sustenance.  it is hard work.  it is my choice to do this, yes.  i could quit, and i could feed jack formula, and he would be 100% fine.  i know this.  somehow i could probably work through my mommy guilt.  but i am dedicated to this choice, it's just hard.  i try really, really hard not to let people's comments about how "it's not that big of a deal" or "it's completely natural and easy" get to me.  i know they probably just don't understand, and that's a-ok.  there are a whole host of things i haven't experienced, don't understand, and certainly have biased, pre-conceived notions about. 

i don't know what i want.  acknowledgement?  no.  i don't need a medal; i'd do this anyway for my baby.  a thank you?  jack can't talk and john is, and has been, very vocal about telling me that i'm doing great and being supportive.  a revolution in our society that affords breastfeeding moms the kudos they deserve for sticking with the whole process despite the constraints on their time and schedule?  maybe.  it's recommended that you breastfeed your baby until they're like a year or something.  when i think about doing that, it's still too far away, and i'm far too annoyed right now to commit to it.  in truth, i don't know what i want.  to vent, certainly. 

my pump is a buuuuurden.  for real. if she were a "friend," she'd be the one that always wants to order an appetizer, but never wants to pay for it.  she'd be the one who shows up to brunch and, in the middle of you talking about your news, would turn the conversation back to her and her issues (ahem, carrie bradshaw?!)  she'd be the old high school friend who doesn't get you anymore, but that you somehow can't exclude from your life.  to quote a phrase my husband hates, "it is what it is."  and it really is.  it's annoying.  it's time consuming.  it's necessary.

fade to black.  rant ends.  exit stage left.

Monday, March 14, 2011

an update from draft central.

today marked the beginning of my husband's fantasy baseball league.  we've been enjoying "the league" on fx, and i believe the fervor with which john embraced this new undertaking was due, in part, to his love for the comedy.  anyway, he's been reminding me for weeks that tonight was the big draft night.  when i came home from work, i noted a sign on the door ("draft central") along with a makeshift work station he'd fashioned at the dining room table.  he had taped cardboard boxes together to create an easel of sorts, and his stats and notes were organized around the laptop.  hours later, i can report: the draft is over, and the league is excited for the upcoming season.  i, however, am less than excited about having to run home early from every shopping trip or dinner out so that john can set his line-up before games.  i am not necessarily looking forward to 6 months of john bogarting the laptop to do critical research for his team.  but i do hope john's fantasy league is as hilarious to watch as fx's "the league."  if it's anything close, we'll have a good 6 months.

and speaking of 6 months, guess who's getting bigger?  
that's right... my little wee one is getting bigger by the day.  he's such a happy, good natured little peanut.  i love coming home to his sweet little smile.  
sometimes i find myself just staring at him in amazement.  i remember when that little 5 pound peanut arrived on the scene over 4 months ago, and now he just seems so huge!  he's developing his little personality, and i just love watching him grow and change each day.  such an adventure!

we celebrated jack's baptism over a week ago.  it was a great day with family and friends, and we were so touched that so many of our loved ones made the trek to be there for the day.  we are so loved, and feel so blessed and lucky.

but from lucky... to yucky.  i always had an uneasy feeling when my eyes would rest on this bib of jack's.

it occurred to me a few days ago that this bib reminded me of jigsaw from the saw movies.
you see the resemblance, no?  uuugggghhhh, freaky.  the bib's been tucked away in the dark recesses of our spare bedroom closet, thanks.  

on a lighter note, i've joined a book club.  the books are poignant, quick reads (generally done in about 7 minutes) and the messages are heart-warming. 
ok, you've got me; they're children's books, and jack is the true beneficiary of this new club.  in an effort to vamp up his book collection, we've been buying jack a new book each month.  (well, i am making a concerted effort to buy only one book a month, but children's books are too wonderful, aren't they?)
somebody's pumped about the very hungry caterpillar!

my personal favorites are olivia saves the circus and olivia!  that little pig is adorable and such a sassafrass. seriously.  go buy a big ole board book.  you won't be sorry! :)

here's to a great week! 
xoxo, steph