I am Mama, Hear Me Roar

I’ve been 100% open and honest about the challenges and less than pleasant parts of motherhood,  so I felt it was only fair to be equally as transparent about the good stuff.  I know, I know, you read all the flowery stuff on your Facebook newsfeed, but I mean there is a reason people continue to procreate.

If you’ve not read my other posts, the first few months were rough, and not in a normal newborn/first time mom kind of way.  She had a tongue tie which made nursing all but impossible, we learned when she was around 4 months old that she has reflux, and she was, still is, a high needs baby.  Everyone told us that it would get easier, that we would eventually wish that time would slow down.  When she screamed all day and stayed up all night, I called those people liars (that’s the G-rated version of what I called them anyway) but they ended up being right.

My sweet Ellie is 7 months old now and despite all the hard times, I really do wish I could put time in slow motion because it’s all going by so quickly!  I’ve grown to truly, madly, deeply love being her mother.  Nothing else I do in life will ever be as meaningful as caring for and raising my tiny human, and I think that has finally started to sink in with me.

Everyone says that you can’t imagine the love you have for a child until you experience it for yourself, and while it’s a massive cliche, it’s completely true.  I was drinking my morning coffee in her bedroom floor with her a few days ago, watching her play, and I was in awe of what her little hands were capable of doing.  She has gone from being my 8lb 15oz newborn to being this inquisitive little creature who crawls and uses her tiny hands with impressive dexterity to turn the pages in her books and inspect whatever she can reach.  She noticed me watching her, looked up at me and smiled before crawling up into my lap and jabbering.

She’s mastered dada and recently learned how to blow raspberries -she’s especially fond of the noise she can make by blowing onto hard surfaces which she thinks is hilarious- but the rest of the time she babbles like we’re having a conversation.  Her little eyebrows furrow and raise as though she’s experiencing a thousand different emotions during her monologue, and I can’t wait for the day that we can have a real conversation.  Nothing I’ve ever done has ever felt as fulfilling as raising her, especially when I have had the gift of watching her learn and grow over the last 7 months.

The world is still brand new to her and I get to experience everything through her eyes.  She views everything with such wonder and excitement that I can’t help but marvel at her.  The love I have for this child is too intense for words.  I sneak into her room at night just to watch her sleep and, in the morning, I make a fool of myself just to see her laugh.  Her eyes crinkle up, dimples form in her cheeks, her mouth opens wide enough to expose her two bottom teeth, and she buries her face in whatever is closest because she can’t control her laughter.  And my heart swells.  And I know that I’m doing something right because she’s thriving and happy, which makes me thriving and happy.

Ellie is beautiful and smart.  She’s curious, funny, adventurous, bubbly, social, and sweet.  She’s independent, sassy, and expressive.  She’s a Texas-sized blessing in a petite little package, better than any baby I could’ve ever dreamed up, and God knew exactly what He was doing when he put us together.

She is a ton of work –a full time, unpaid, no days off or vacations ever, kind of job, but the benefits are worth it.  I am the center of her entire world, and the smile she gives me over the edge of her crib when she wakes up in the morning lets me know it.  I am her comfort, I am her life source, I am her caregiver.  I’m a milk making, pattycaking, lullaby singing, bedtime story reading, peek-a-boo playing superwoman.  I am Mama, hear me roar!

 

Say Say Oh Playmate

“Some women pray for their daughters to marry good husbands. I pray that my girls will find girlfriends half as loyal and true as the Ya-Yas.”
― Rebecca Wells, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood

In 1996, a wire haired dachshund named Mitzy changed my life.  My dad had gotten her for me from the local shelter when I was insanely sick as a way to make me feel better. The problem was, the saying ‘have legs, will travel’ definitely applied in this situation because she ran away constantly.  Fed up with having to go back to the shelter on a regular basis because animal control had picked up the little fugitive again, my parents suggested that I give her to the little girl whose house Mitzy had chosen as a regular hideaway.

“This little girl has a fenced in back yard.  Her mama said she’s been outside playing with her all day, maybe we should give Mitzy to her.”

I thought it was a complete injustice because Mitzy was supposed to be my dog.  I didn’t give a rip if that little girl had a fenced in back yard.  Good for her, what does that have to do with me?  I thought to myself.  After being told that I was free to visit whenever I wanted and it was explained to me that the fence would keep Mitzy from potentially being hit or taken into the Humane Society for the umpteenth time, I agreed.  And I immediately took the family up on their offer to  visit Mitzy, which is when my best friend, Tabi, came into the picture.

As it turns out, the fence did little to suppress Mitzy’s gypsy soul because she ran away from their house too and never returned, which devastated her dad but had no effect whatsoever on our friendship.  Because of that awful little dog, she and I became best friends instantly and for the next several years we practically lived at each others houses.  We were nearly polar opposites, but we got along like siblings.  She was very athletic and I painted my nails to match her softball team’s colors.  I played with Barbies, she collected them and tortured me by keeping them in their boxes.  I insisted on arts & crafts, and her mom banned those sorts of things because she knew we’d ruin the carpet. She tanned easily, I fried like bacon, which leads me to my first anecdote.

Like all southern mamas (and probably moms everywhere, I can only speak for those in KY), her mother told us to ‘quit running in and out’ and forced us to pick one or the other.  As I said before, Tabi was very athletic and never endured a sunburn, but I agreed to play outside anyway because she had a trampoline and my mom would never let me have one because I was accident prone and she’d seen a kid break his arm on one when I was still in diapers.  (Honestly, her swing-set was way more dangerous.  The only time I ever got close to having a swing level with the top of a swing set was at her house.  I stopped trying to do that because the chains broke and I hit the ground with a solid thud that knocked the breath out of me.  Thinking I was dying, she took off running to her house screaming, “Daddy!  Daddy!  Manda’s hurt!”  I swear, if ever a child came close to being as clumsy as Eugene from Hey! Arnold, it was me.) We spent hours on that trampoline competing to see who could jump higher.  Mom didn’t know until recently that we hosed it down with water because we thought it was more fun that way and it kept us cool.  No one ever got hurt, though Tabi did end up nearly falling off at one point; her bathing suit strap caught on the springs on the way down and kind of yo-yo’d her, but she never actually hit the ground!  On one occasion, I fell asleep on that trampoline… in the middle of the day, in the middle of the summer, and she never woke me up.   Once marshmallow white, I became Mattel logo red and experienced sun poison for the very first time in my life.  My lips quadrupled in size and my mom slathered me in aloe for days after that.  Fear not, reader, Tabi got hers.

My brother used to race motorcycles in the AMA Midsouth series, which just means he raced in the woods instead of on a motocross track, pretty much every weekend and my dearest Tank (if you’ve not read my older posts, my iPhone used to correct Tabi to Tank and it stuck) would tag along to keep me company.  As long as we didn’t wander too far, my mom let us explore the woods to keep ourselves entertained, and during a race when the weather was just starting to turn cool, we discovered a little creek.  While exploring the bank of the creek, we noticed that it narrowed a bit and there was a hill on the opposite side we wanted to climb.  Slightly taller than me at the time, I convinced Tabi that if she got a running start, she could probably make it across and we could explore some more.  Unfortunately for Tabi, she listened to me.  In my defense, she did make it across, but she lost her balance and windmilled her arms for a few seconds before landing in the middle of the creek like she was about to make a snow angel.  Like I said before, it was starting to get a little chilly out so she needed to change clothes, but didn’t have any with her since my mom didn’t expect us to get wet.  Luckily (or unluckily, depending on how you look at it) for Tabi, my mom had some garbage bags full of clothes to be donated to Goodwill in the trunk of her car, and Tabi had to sport a teddy bear sweater and green stretch pants for the rest of the day.  I like to think it was the universe paying her back for my potential case of skin cancer later in life.

So much of my childhood was spent with the girl I still call my best friend that I can, and likely will in future posts, go on and on with stories like these. Tabi was and still is like a sister to me; her family is my family and vice versa.  We were in each others weddings.  If

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Say say oh playmate, come out & play with me…

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…& we’ll be jolly friends forevermore

not for her, I may not have met Phillip because it was her idea to go out that night.  She was there the night he proposed and she was one of the first people I told when I found out I was pregnant.  She keeps Ellie for me on a regular basis and she gets it when I don’t immediately respond to texts because she, too, is busy raising a tiny human.

Last week after I went to pick Ellie up from her house following an out of town meeting, we went to eat lunch together along with our munchkins.  When we were getting ready to leave, Tabi told her little boy to give Ellie a hug bye; Ellie grabbed his face with both hands and gave him a slobbery kiss.  Later that day, I was telling my mom about it and how precious it was and she mentioned how she loves watching as the generations continue, and it really put things into perspective for me.

I don’t know many people who are able to say that they even speak to their childhood best friends, but I’m blessed enough that our kids adore each other and will grow up together.  I’m so blessed that I can lean on her for prayer or just someone to listen to me rant about the same things I’ve been ranting about since the ’90s.  She’s my brutally honest voice of reason when I need it (she couldn’t lie to me if she tried, the girl doesn’t have a poker face, bless her) but she listens without judgement.  Out of all I’ve been given in life, my best friend is one of my biggest (and oldest!) blessings, and I am just so very grateful for her.

And I guess I should also be grateful for the Amazing Disappearing Mitzy: official sponsor of a 20 year friendship.

 

Nightmares

Last night was a long night, and unlike months past, it had nothing to do with the little one refusing sleep.  Around 4AM, I woke up nearly in tears because of the nightmare I’d just had.  It was so vivid and realistic that I’m positive this one is going to haunt me for a few days, if not longer.  This was not like nightmares of my childhood that often involved monsters or leprechauns (long story, basically I saw the movie Leprechaun at a very early age and not gonna lie, I still have a little bit of an irrational fear of the creatures because of that creepy, low-budget movie) after which I could wake up and tell myself it wasn’t real.  This one was terrifying because it was filled with things that can and have happened.

This is the second dream in a week in which I was terminally ill.  It started a few days ago with a dream that I was at a wedding and suddenly couldn’t see or walk straight for no apparent reason, and though it was never directly stated, it was implied that I was not well.  In last night’s dream, similarly, I had vision issues but I was also having serious difficulty talking and no one could tell me why.  Phillip drove me from doctor to doctor and not a single one had an answer for my sudden loss of motor skills.  He helped me onto and off of multiple elevators in various hospitals, tests were run, symptoms were noted, but nothing got better.  Towards the end of the dream, I strained to say to the doctor seeing me, “Please help me.  I don’t want to die.”

While en route to the last appointment, there was a bombing locally and we didn’t have Ellie (our daughter) with us so I instantly started to panic because we were not safe and I wasn’t sure she was either.  I didn’t know where she was, who was watching her, and if they had been affected by the bombing.  People were dying all around, violence ensued and I was still dying with no way to protect her from any of it.

Fast forward to real life:
I kept thinking about this terrible dream all morning including while I watched her play.  She is so innocent and blissfully unaware of the horrific realities of the world around her, and it crushes me that I won’t be able to protect her from it forever.  The kid was not even 24 hours old yet, and the Dallas shooting was plastered all over every news station imaginable as I ate my breakfast from the hospital bed.  The NY Times called it, “…the deadliest [attack] for law enforcement officers in the United States since Sept. 11, 2001.”

When I look back on 2016, I don’t have a lot of fond memories aside from the birth of my daughter.  The year was peppered with mass shootings, violence, natural disasters, and division nationwide on virtually every major issue.  North Korea tested nuclear weapons, ISIS still exists, and racial tension still exists. I am terrified of the world in which my daughter will grow up and all that she will experience along the way.

Just in the last week, there was a major fire in the Smoky Mountains leaving the death toll (so far) at 14 with 130 injured and 17,000 acres of some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen were destroyed in a fire they believe was man-made.  Her dad & I hiked through those mountains on our honeymoon and she will never be able to see them the way we did, even if the trees were replanted today.  There couldn’t be a more appropriate symbol for 2016 than that.

I don’t want her to live a life full of fear, sorrow, and suffering.  I want the world to be a better place for her, one that allows me to sleep at night knowing that she’s safe.  My only hope is to raise a child who is genuinely good, who not only cares about the world around her, but does something to change it for the better.

My life was simpler when my nightmares stayed tucked away in my imagination.

 

The 12 Hour Date

Every year, I retell the story of how Phillip & I met because I’m still amazed after 5 years at the fate of it all.  It’s a good story, but it’s been told.  What hasn’t been told is the story of our first date.

I can remember asking my mom when I was little how you are supposed to know when you meet The One.  I don’t think she ever gave me a direct answer aside from, “You just know.”

Her answer was not very specific but the meaning behind it, much like the love you experience for your child,  never really sank in with me until I was much older and experienced it myself after finishing up my 12-hour first date with Mr. Cooper.  There hasn’t been a single day since we met that Phillip & I haven’t spoken, and that includes the week after we met leading up to our first date.  Every day, I found myself looking forward to talking to him and I can still remember how my heart jumped each time my phone dinged because I hoped it was him.  I had just gotten out of a 4-year relationship, so the prospect of something new was equal parts exciting and terrifying, and I had a lot of nerves about that first date.  Thankfully, it went far better than I ever could have anticipated.

The date started with us going to eat Chinese food because earlier in the week he had asked me what my favorite food was.  When I say it’s Chinese, I mean that I kept the lights on at my favorite buffet, Imperial Garden, for a couple of years with my regular trips for cashew chicken takeout.  I had joked with my best friend’s mom, “That’s it!  I’m going to marry him!” based entirely on him saying that he, too, loved Chinese food.  However, the plan was to eat Hibachi (which I know isn’t Chinese, but it still falls into the Asian category) and that plan quickly went awry.  Folks, this was the end of July in Kentucky.  If you’ve never been here, know that it gets hotter than the hinges on the gates of Hell in the summer here and the humidity only makes it more miserable.  You combine that with the heat off of the hibachi grill and you end up with a recipe for the sweatiest first date known to man.  Approximately 5 seconds after entering the doors, we decided to go next door for some cashew chicken & general tso’s instead.  We ate, we talked, we laughed, and I loved every minute of it.

When we finished, he paid like a gentleman and we went back to my house for movies and more talking.  He showed up to my house promptly at 6 that Friday and that date didn’t end until 6 the next morning.  Now, I know what you’re thinking, but there was no walk of shame happening.  In fact, nothing physical happened at all aside from a goodbye kiss at the very end.  Instead, we talked for half a day and would’ve kept going had it not been so late/early.  It was after he’d left that I realized the length of the date, we hadn’t run out of things to talk about and I hadn’t been bored even for a second.  Nothing was forced, nothing was awkward, and I’d had a genuinely good time with a genuinely good guy who had a charming smile and a great sense of humor.

Speaking of humor, mine is either loved or people don’t get it at all.  Phillip laughed at my jokes and didn’t look at me as though I might be a little off in the head. He appreciated my taste in music, though he admitted he was surprised by it because apparently I look like a Billboard Top 40 kind of gal and he was impressed when I recognized his Eric Clapton references.  I liked the new music he introduced me to, but the fact that everything was new wasn’t even the most appealing part of this blossoming relationship, it’s that it all felt old like the perfectly worn in sweatshirt we all reach for on lazy Saturdays. And I knew.

I originally wanted to detail every moment of our first date, but I realized in typing everything that the details aren’t important.  When I look back on that time, I remember some of the stuff we said, that we played Super Nintendo, and that he introduced me to Edward Sharp  & the Magnetic Zeros, sure.  I remember what we wore and how his cologne smelled.  I remember the lingering feeling of the  goodbye kiss on my lips too, but what stands out to me the most was the ease of it all.  It felt like we’d known each other all along and I understood what my mom had told me when I was little.  I just knew.  I was able to be myself around him and we just clicked.  He got my references, I laughed at his jokes, we filled each other in on the parts of each others lives we had missed and it was like we just picked up where we left off even though that was the beginning.  When he left that morning, I just had this overwhelming sense that it would work, and I was right.  That 12 hour date  led to 3 years of marriage (and counting!) and a 4 month old baby with his eyes.  Has it been easy?  Not always.  But I wouldn’t dream of sharing this life with anyone else, because even after all this time, he’s my best friend, my other half, and I’m so so glad I agreed to that first date.

 

The Escort

If you read the title of this post and assumed you’d be reading about a woman who ‘dates’ men for money, you’re sadly mistaken, my friend.  This is the Ford kind and I promise this story is better!  When I was little, my mom drove a gold-ish Ford Escort and good grief at the stories that came from it!  This thing was the biggest lemon ever made, not in the sense that it didn’t run properly -that wasn’t the problem- rather, it seemed to be a magnet for destruction.

It all began one afternoon in the dead of winter when I was playing in the living room.  I heard something crack and when I looked out the front window (which was a straight shot to our driveway), I saw a massive limb drop out of the tree in the front yard and onto my mom’s trunk.  I swear it was like something out of an insurance commercial!  My mom thought I was joking when I told her what happened, told me it wasn’t funny, and then promptly realized I was being serious when she saw the limb and her fresh dent.  It only went downhill from there.

Shortly after the tree limb incident, my mom had to stop by the store to pick up some things for a church potluck we were headed to, so my cousin, my brother, and I waited in the car.  Evidently, the lady  in the minivan a few parking spots down didn’t see us, because she rammed right into us when she backed up; then she pulled forward, backed up and hit us again.  She did this several times before she realized she was hitting a car full of screaming children and finally stopped.  Maybe it’s the flawed memory of an 8-year-old, but I remember the wheels coming off the ground on the side she hit every time she hit it, accompanied by our screams and flailing arms.  It went a little like this: *boom* “AHHH!” *pause* *boom* “AHHH!” so on and so forth, which was terrifying at the time but hilarious looking back on it now.

Evidently, the impact from the woman in the minivan wreaked havoc on the back windshield, because even after the damage from her backing into us several times had been repaired, it didn’t stop.  I was not present for this particular incident, but my mom was about to put my brother in his car seat when she opened and closed one of the doors, and the back glass absolutely shattered.  We were still finding glass shards in the back seat well after it had been repaired, and the repair only led to more problems.

The back glass had these little strips of tape looking stuff that attached to the glass and the body of the  car when my mom got it back from that repair.  I’m not sure that it really served any purpose, but when they peeled it off, the strips took the paint with it.  I wish I could say that was the end of the bad luck streak, but that is not the case.  After that, a woman that my mom worked with hit the front end of the car, and not long after that (or was it before?) my mom rear ended my dad’s truck on the way back from the lake one Memorial Day weekend.  On that specific occasion, I had been in my dad’s truck with him and my brother, who was maybe 4 at the time, was with her. She had told him not to get out of the car while they assessed the damage.  Did he listen? No.  Instead, he somehow managed to slam his thumb in the door.  He lost a thumb nail, my dad’s bumper crumbled like a pop can, but the Escort was still completely in tact, which is ironic since it was the only accident during which mom had actually been behind the wheel.  The cherry on top of the crap sundae was when the cassette player ate my mom’s favorite Beach Boys cassette.  No more Escort jam sessions to Help Me Rhonda. Then it was like something in her snapped and she just didn’t care anymore.

The escort had been her first brand new car, but as you can tell, it wasn’t really a pleasant experience.  So after everything I just mentioned, mom decided instead to have fun with it.  We raced people in sports cars at red lights and would usually win… not that they were aware we were racing, but still!  Every time the opportunity presented itself, we jumped railroad tracks and usually got a decent amount of air.  I mean, it didn’t really matter what we did, the Escort was just cursed.  She wasn’t even behind the wheel for the majority of the accidents!  If this car was a person, it would be Eugene from  Hey Arnold! and that’s putting it lightly.

I sometimes wonder what happened to that car and if the next owner had terrible luck with it too.

Ah, memories.

I Want My Life Back

Before I even begin this post, let’s just make this one thing clear: I love my daughter and I love being a mom, but sometimes I’ve had my fill of motherhood for the day and today was one of those days.

Sometimes, I’ve had all I can take of being elbow deep in crap-filled diapers.  Sometimes, I’ve had all I can take of wiping spit up off my left shoulder and the floor.  Sometimes, I can’t handle one more second of her incessant fussing and fighting at bedtime, the constant scratching, touching, & hair-pulling, or her never ending need to be fed or entertained.  Sometimes, I just want to be me again and it feels like that’s never going to happen, at least not for several years.

Today was one of those days where nothing truly terrible happened, but everything from the last several weeks  just kind of piled up and by 8 o’clock -which is generally when our bedtime fight begins- I just didn’t really want to be a mom anymore for the night.  She has been by my side, or propped up on my hip, since 6:30 this morning.  I had been looking forward to having some time with my husband tonight downtown because the city has been putting on some fall festivities.  That didn’t happen.  Instead, he worked on the bathroom that we’ve now been 2 years trying to get in working order (don’t worry, we have two) with my dad and by that time it was getting close to bedtime for Ellie, so we decided to make a run to Lowe’s for the last couple of things he’ll need to finish up and to grab a bite to eat.  That didn’t happen either.  Ellie threw a hellacious fit because she was hungry, so I nursed her and went to change her into weather appropriate clothes.  She screamed even louder, red face, sweat, tears, and all.  It was clear that I was not going anywhere and instead Phillip & I got into our nightly this-kid-is-driving-us-both-bat-shit-crazy-at-bed-time argument where I tell him for the umpteenth time that he’s lucky he gets to leave the house and I need a break.  Fun stuff.

He squealed out of the driveway to go to Lowe’s while I took my place on the couch to watch Netflix while I gave Ellie her bedtime bottle, not because he didn’t offer to take over wrestling her to sleep.  In fact, he offered to take her with him to Lowe’s (not happily, but it was an offer nonetheless) but I reminded him that it was 7:45 and taking her would only make her even more unbearably crabby.  I realized while feeding her that I now spend more time on that stupid couch with her and Netflix than I ever spend with my husband or long lost friends these days.  It’s to the point that the cushions on the couch are breaking down from all the time I spend confined on it, nursing or consoling her, and my nerves tonight are in similar shape.

She finished her bottle and I took her to her nursery to begin the routine: swaddle her as tightly as I can get her, turn out the light and turn on the sound machine, begin pacing the floor while simultaneously bouncing at the knees, rock her back and forth on my forearms, and pat her diapered butt until she appears to be completely knocked out, put her down.  Repeat in 30 minutes when she wakes up again for 4 or 5 hours. Except tonight, there was uncontrollable sobbing on my part and I couldn’t help but think:

I want my life back.

There is nothing spontaneous about my life anymore.  Everything is routine or revolves around her and her needs.  I am needed every second of every day because she is entirely dependent on me.  I work from home, which truly is a blessing, but it’s also incredibly difficult.  She has been refusing naps during the day, so not only is she in a terrible mood, I don’t have the opportunity to get a ton of work done and instead I find myself entering notes at 11PM when I should be taking time for myself.  Facebook has become an all out addiction because it’s my main interaction with the world outside our house. I miss my crafts, I miss not taking two weeks to write one blog post, hell, I even miss going to work.  I miss being me.

I miss when I had things to talk about other than whatever Ellie did that day.  The most time I ever get to myself now is when I have to go out of town to a meeting and I leave Ellie with a friend or family member, but even then it’s a challenge to find someone to keep her so I can work.  And that’s another thing!  What happened to all of the people who said, “Aww! I’ll babysit when she gets here!”?!  Huh?  WHERE Y’ALL AT? Thank God for the handful of people who made good on that promise.

I especially miss being able to spend time with my husband. If we continue our trend of having one night a month to ourselves (which usually beings at about 6PM and ends around 8 or 9 the next morning), I’ll get a whopping 12 nights with him where we get to be us again. 12. And we wonder why we’re both so on edge, except like I said before, he’s lucky enough to leave the house.

My entire life changed when I had her and most of the time this isn’t the case, but tonight, I miss my life before.  The one where I was only responsible for myself, well-rested, and shaving my legs wasn’t a freaking treat.  My child is not one of those babies who is entertained by staring at the ceiling fan.  She requires constant stimulation which almost always includes being held, and if I do manage to put her down, she instantly screams.  She hates her swing, her bouncy seat, and all of her rattles.  The only bright side is that I occasionally get a 20 minute break when she is busy kicking her $1 balloon I bought her.

Tonight, I can’t for the life of me remember what it feels like to want a house full of kids like I did before Ellie arrived.  She’s not a terrible baby, but she is a difficult baby and as sentimental as I am, tonight I can’t wait for her to be self-sufficient so I can at least pee without her on my lap, even if it means she’s still in the bathroom with me.  Tonight, I’m not looking for reassurance in things like, “This too shall pass,” or “It gets better!” or my favorite guilt-inducing, “You’ll miss these days!”  Instead, I just want to vent or have someone else say, “YES! This is me today!”

Either I’m the worst mother on the planet or there are others out there who refuse to take off their social media mask long enough to admit it.  What is this bull that society has made us believe as mothers that if we have even one thought about self-care (the real kind, not a 10 minute shower while the baby screams in the next room) that we’re somehow selfish?  It’s ridiculous!

So tonight, I’m done being a mom.  My husband is home and it won’t kill him to parent for more than an hour today.  This mama needs a break or she’s going to break.  Tonight, I’m going to have my life back… even if it’s only for the 30 minutes it takes him to run across town to get supper, ’cause it’s 10PM and I’ve managed to eat once today.  And in case you were wondering, yeah, Ellie’s back up even though she was sound asleep by 9.  *Sigh*

Cloth Diaper Q&A

Our sweet Ellie is nearly 3 months old, so I thought it was about time to do a follow up post on cloth diapers.  You can read the original post about cloth diapers here.

So, I’ll be honest, despite my hours and hours of research on the things, I was still a little nervous to actually implement the cloth diaper stash I assembled in preparation for her arrival.  To sum up this entire post, though, they’re not hard to use, they work even better than I ever expected, they fit her so well, and I am absolutely in love with our fluff!  You can pretty much stop reading now if that’s all you were after, but if you want more details, read on!

When did I start using them?
Ellie was a very large & in charge baby -she weighed 8lbs 15oz when she was born, so they fit her much earlier than I expected.  I believe she was around 2 or 3 weeks old when I put the first FST on her, and I chose that over her pocket diapers because I had more control over the fit.  The pockets would’ve been too bulky on her newborn frame, but the FSTs worked nicely.

What fold do I use for her FSTs?
I love the kite fold.  When she was first born, the mini kite fold was my go-to and it worked beautifully.  However, I wish I hadn’t folded every single FST into the mini kite fold because babies grow at the speed of light, and it was almost as if she outgrew that fold over night… then I had to refold them all.
Learn the fold here!

What brand of diapers do I prefer?
I own cloth diapers from Urban Baby Boutique as well as Alva (both pockets & covers) in addition to my FSTs and some prefolds I bought at a yard sale.  As far as the AIOs/pockets, I honestly can’t tell a difference in the performance.  The boutique diapers cost nearly double the price of the Alvas, and they work exactly the same. Prints are cute and all, but at the end of the day my kid is pooping in the things.  I will likely not be investing in any more pricey diapers when I can get the same performance out of a cheaper brand.
HOWEVER!  I will say, I have a friend who just started using cloth for her toddler and she has had a lot of issues with leakage.  Honestly, I think it depends on the build of the baby.  She loves Luvs disposables, my kids poops out the side of them nearly every time I put them on her.  It’s trial & error, so when building your stash, buy a couple of several different types and brands ’til you find what works for you.
Note: If you buy Alvas, don’t buy ’em on Amazon.  Go to their site and browse the US stock so that shipping doesn’t take as long -it’s cheaper! 

Do they leak?
I’ve never had a blow out experience with a cloth diaper.  Disposables, on the other hand…

Do I use cloth 24/7?
For the most part, yes.  I work from home so it’s not a big deal for me, but sometimes I have to leave her with friends & family for meetings, and I usually put the disposables from our showers in her diaper bag.  They’ve all used cloth once or twice with her and don’t seem to have any problems with it, but disposables are less of a hassle for the folks who are keeping my kid for $Free.99 so I don’t push it 🙂
Since I’m still working on building up a bigger stash, I don’t have a ton of extra inserts for her night time diapers, so we use disposables occasionally at night as well.

What’s my wash routine?
I have enough diapers that I don’t really have to wash for 3 days or so.  However, I run out of covers for my prefolds and FSTs, plus it’s a giant wet bag full of human waste, so I tend to wash every 2-3 days.  Ellie is exclusively breastfed, so I don’t rinse the diapers beforehand (this will change when she begins eating solids.)  I just remove the inserts from her pocket diapers while I’m changing her to make it easier when I wash them.  Typically, I have enough diaper laundry after 2 days that I don’t really have to add anything to the load so that it all agitates properly.  I do my machine’s shortest wash cycle with laundry detergent up to line 1, peel the laundry off the walls of my washer once the first cycle is finished, and then I do the longest cycle with a cup full of detergent.  I use All Free & Clear because it was bought for me, and since it’s a plant based detergent, I wash in hot water to make sure it’s doing the job.  I dry everything (including covers) in my dryer on low heat. Done!

Is it a lot of work/more work than I expected?
Not at all!  The most time consuming part is stuffing the pockets & folding the flour sack towels, but even that takes less time than a load of regular laundry.  Considering the money we save and the fact that Ellie doesn’t get diaper rash in her cloth, I think the tiny bit of extra laundry is worth it.  Using them is no different than a disposable, there are just snaps instead of velcro, and that’s just a personal preference.  (Velcro is still available on cloth diapers, but I prefer the snaps.)

What do I do for night time cloth diapering?
I always use one of the pocket diapers rather than a prefold because of the material that lines the pockets (she doesn’t feel wet as quickly).  I stuff the pocket with a charcoal bamboo insert in addition to a microfiber insert.  She sleeps for about 12 hours a night (please don’t throat punch me, other mommas!) so the inserts are pretty much at capacity by morning, but we’ve not had any leaks!  I imagine I’ll have to use two charcoal inserts once she gets older, though.  The only issue I have with cloth diapers at night time is the bulk.  This kid has a badonkadonk because of all the fluff at bedtime.  She’s a pretty sweaty baby, so we usually just swaddle her in her Swaddle Me with just a diaper, but if she wore PJs like a normal baby, we’d be in trouble.  I’m not sure that big ol’ fluffy butt would fit in any pajamas!

What about when you’re out with the baby?
We have a wet bag for our back pack and I pack pockets instead of the flour sack towels & covers because they’re faster on the go.  There’s really no difference in changing her.

Is there anything I don’t like about cloth?
They can sometimes fit a little awkwardly underneath her clothes.  If the onesie I put on her is a little snug to begin with, fastening it around the diaper tends to pull the neck down, and I have to put her in pants that are a size bigger than what she would normally wear.  It’s also difficult to tell when she’s wet since they don’t have the magical color changing line like her Huggies have, but I check her every 2 hours or so if she hasn’t pooped.  They can also take up more room in the diaper bag, but that’s about it!

Is there anything I wish I’d done differently?
Nope.  I have a decent sized stash for starting out so we’ve saved a TON of money (although we do have several packages of disposables from the baby showers we had) and they work so well!

Have more questions or want more info about something specific?  Comment below!  Cloth is one of the best decisions we’ve ever made and I’m kinda obsessed with it 🙂