About a month ago--shortly after Zuzu turned 2--I gave up on cloth diapers.
Don't get me wrong--I loved using them for the past two years. Well, loved may be too strong of a word, considering what they were used for, but seriously, cloth diapers worked really well for us. Yes, it meant more laundry, but I would totally do it again (in fact, I hope to be doing it again very soon with Rerun).
The problem was that since Zuzu has gotten older, her, um, projects, arrive in her pants with less frequency and more volume.
They are also super effing gross. (Especially since she loves fruit so damn much--let's be real: I haven't seen a solid turd in months. She is possibly the least constipated child on earth who doesn't have some kind of terrible water-born parasite. Not that I'm saying she has diarrhea [OH MY WORD I just wrote that--I'm sorry--I understand if you are totally done reading this blog now and forever] It's more like the consistency of hummus [Okay, now you're done, right?]).
ANYWAY, it just got to the point where our trusty cloth diapers required a hemp insert for regular use (previously we only needed it at night) or we were getting leaks. Mama does not deal super well with leaks.
And probably being pregnant also had something to do with a lower tolerance for the super disgustingness, especially when we'd bring home a bag of dirty diapers from daycare. There was always one (or two!) poopy ones that I then had to deal with (since I'm the one who picks her up and also the one who does the laundry). So I would have to try not to gag while spraying old, cold, hummus-textured poop out of her diaper(s) and then taking the whole stinking bag down to the laundry, while David enjoyed the non-poop-smell of his office hours and commute home.
When leaking overnight became a nearly every-day thing, that was another deal breaker. Changing the crib sheet is a total pain in the ass anyway, but struggling to do it with an enormous baby bump made it virtually impossible, and also I hated the idea of her sleeping on pee-soaked sheets for part of the night.
Let's also remember that I had NEVER planned to have two babies in cloth diapers. I think if I were a SAHM mom whose laundry hours weren't limited to the evenings, I might consider it. But even with a semester-long maternity leave, I'm just not tackling it.
In order to get Zuzu's diapers cleaned to my satisfaction, I run them through the washer three times:
(1) quick wash on cold with just a pinch of detergent
(2) hot wash, extra long, regular scoop of detergent (we still use Charlie's Soap for everything and subscribe to regular deliveries of it through Amazon)
(3) warm wash, no detergent to ensure thorough rinse
That process takes a while (a little more than two hours, total), especially because I have to go down to the basement to start each cycle. So if I forget to set a timer on my phone or don't think about it, the 2 plus hours stretches out to several hours and we end up with a load of diapers that doesn't get put in the dryer before we're ready for bed. If they finish the last cycle and sit in the washer wet overnight, then I want to give them another hot rinse before drying them, which stretches out the cycle even longer. And that's super annoying.
Of course, having to wash diapers at home is obviously an inconvenience no matter what, but for me personally, it was worth it. I have NO REGRETS about cloth diapering for two years. I'm actually really, really glad we did it. I still hate thinking about the environmental impact of disposable diapers (although I do realize there is an environmental impact to extra loads of laundry). Once the initial stink was dealt with, it's not like it's hard to punch a few buttons on the washing machine. So it wasn't until the disgustingness factor got amped up and the leakiness became an issue that I decided I just couldn't deal.
(Very) long story short: I finally declared that we were DONE with cloth diapers.
(There might have been a little more rage, angst, and dramatic dumping of all cloth diapers out of her dresser drawer, but you get the idea).
My plan now is to have them professionally cleaned by a diaper service and then re-use them all for Rerun as soon as his/her little thighs chunk up enough to fit in the one-size diapers. I need to schedule that deep-cleaning soon, come to think of it! We have never had issues with ongoing stink, but we have had some staining--mostly because I've been too lazy to dry the diapers out in the sun. So we'll get a nice fresh start with Rerun. As I recall, we have a little bit of time. I think Zuzu was about 7 or 8 weeks old before her legs were chunky enough to switch from the teensy newborn disposables to cloth diapers.
While I wish we could say that Zuzu made a seamless transition from cloth diapers to BIG GIRL PANTIES, alas, that is not the case. We tried pull-ups and she seemed really excited about Minnie Mouse on her undies but not excited enough to not piss all over Minnie (literally).
So I decided to forget about that nonsense of "big girl panties" that I still had to change like a diaper and now we're back to Seventh Generation diapers (They are ugly and brown! They may be filled with mulch!). Also: EXPENSIVE! Damn. I'm remembering why I wanted to cloth diaper to begin with. It's like pissing away money (literally and figuratively) while also clogging up landfills. Makes me itchy on both levels.
And yet, I'm still buying them.
Honestly, I worry a little that we're taking steps backward in potty training since cloth diapers are supposed to help kiddos potty train faster. But since potty-training has been half-assed at best around here, I'm trying to cut myself some slack and just work with what we've got going now.
There was a time when I thought we might do the 3-day intensive potty training that people talk about, but the truth is that I haven't had the energy for it. I would get SO annoyed about "false alarms" when she'd say she had to pee-pee on the potty but really just wanted to mess around on the potty and then run through the house with her pants off. With Rerun being breech for so long, I have been much more physically uncomfortable during this pregnancy than my first two, and bending over to wrestle a two-year-old in and out of pull-ups or training pants or whatever was just beyond what I was willing to endure.
Not to mention the fact, that her interest has been, let's say, limited and at times she seems genuinely confused by the fact that she just peed herself (see the "run through the house with her pants off" moments above), so maybe we're just not quite ready.
Confession: I wanted to have her potty-trained by the time she was two and I wanted to feel very smug about it. So far, our potty-training experience has been an ENORMOUS readjustment of my own parenting expectations. Oh, Zuzu. She likes to keep us guessing.
And, really, that's fine. We've been dealing with some other transitions here: gently weaning from the binky, trying to cope with crib-climbing, realizing that we are SO NOT READY for a toddler bed, figuring out how to deal with a child who naps beautifully at daycare and does not nap consistently at home, fighting bedtime...
Remember, we're keeping her in her room and her crib even after the baby gets here. Part of my plan for an easy adjustment to new sibling! I wasn't planning on dealing with ANY of this sleep/nap/bed/binky stuff until after Rerun was here and we'd figured out that transition.
(NEWSFLASH: Parenting is actually "Realizing that your kid doesn't care about what you had planned, making up shit as you go along, and frantically googling it to see if someone out there who doesn't seem totally insane might also agree with your strategies").
I ordered a few cloth training pants and old-school plastic training pants covers from Amazon, but I just haven't had the energy or enthusiasm to seriously tackle potty-training yet. For now, my plan is to chill out until we've all made the new-baby adjustment, and then see where we are.
In the meantime, we'll talk about how awesome it is to pee on the potty and see if she decides to do it. We still have her sit on the potty when we do diaper changes at home (always too late--always!) and first thing in the morning and right before bed. We'll keep up this routine and maybe one of these days something will click?
The random and incredibly infrequent pee-pees that have happened in the potty get much praise and celebration; however, our Zuzu is many wonderful things, but she is not much of a people-pleaser. Whether we praise her for peeing or screech at her for putting herself in harm's way, she pretty much does what SHE wants to do.
Here's hoping that pretty soon SHE wants to pee on the potty as much as we want her to.
Alternatively, I suppose I could start teaching her how to do the laundry...