Sunday, January 5, 2014

Cloth Diapering a Newborn From Day One- Meet Emma

Read on to get to know Emma as she gets ready to add another little Rock Star to her family. She will be sharing with us her experiences cloth diapering a newborn.

Meet Emma

Cloth Diapering a Newborn From Day One

Guess who's pregnant!?!
Welcome to my fascinating 2nd birth story!  My name is Emma, and I am planning a home birth this time around, and to do many things quite differently than I did with my first child.  With my first baby, now a walking, talking toddler at 20 months old, I did not start cloth diapering until about her 2nd or 3rd month of life.  This time, we are preparing to cloth diaper from the very beginning, with very low income and coin-operated laundry!  It has been a fantastic adventure so far and there have already been some great (and some not so great) surprises along the way.  Let me begin by explaining a bit about my first experiences as a pregnant and new mom, and how with the 2nd baby, we have shifted our thinking and situations to have an entirely different experience the second time through.  Just goes to show how much you can grow and learn from the first baby and how quickly you can change a difficult situation to a positive and easier one.

My first pregnancy was in Hawaii. Just before I got pregnant, I was a teacher in a low-income school and I loved it.  I had taught 3 years of kindergarten by then and had developed a solid curriculum. My husband and I (newlywed that summer after 4 years together) planned to get pregnant at the beginning of the school year, so I had prepped all those little shape cut-outs, holiday prep, etc. for the coming year to make my pregnant teaching year the easiest possible.  That summer before school started, we had a fabulous wedding and were on the way to our honeymoon when I got the call that, unfortunately, the Families for Real program had been cut and since both teachers teaching it had 30+ years of experience, I was bumped from my position, regardless of how much they wanted to keep me (union protocol).  I was to be relocated to another school a few miles away and to teach 5th grade.  Upon returning and entering my new classroom, I found it gutted.  No curriculum.  Minimum supplies.  And on top of that, on the second floor with no AC in 85 to 90 degree year-round weather.  I went home crying.  All the work I had done to make my pregnancy easy was thrown out the window.  This was going to be a very stressful year.  But I had the drive, energy, and the determination to make it happen.  Until first trimester morning-sickness kicked in.

By the time I hit 3rd trimester, I was a wreck.  I was sweating nonstop through all my clothes.  I needed a fellow teacher to watch my classroom while I peed every hour.  I starved through the morning block and then scarfed down my food and collapsed during my break on my classroom floor for a nap and to relieve the elephant ankles that were forming due to standing too long on my feet.   Every night I would stay up way too late creating the next day’s curriculum or grading papers.  Or, I would fall asleep doing them and then wake up to finish at around 3am when the heartburn woke me up again.  It was a nightmare.  But I did survive.  However, my pregnancy was anything but easy.  My placenta started calcifying for unknown reasons, my fluid levels were extremely low, and my baby turned breech just when things started getting more hectic at school.  And then, at 28 weeks, I had preterm contractions.  I had to go on unexpected bed rest, and for a teacher, this is even more stressful than teaching to the end.  My OB got me on meds to stop contractions and I begged to go back to school to prep for my long term sub and get my students’ affairs in order once the meds started doing their job and after a week of bed rest.  It was the wrong decision to make.  At 32 weeks the contractions came back, and I was on bed rest again.  Then, at 35.5 weeks pregnant, the combination of low fluid and strong contractions caused my daughter’s heart rate to drop, thus resulting in an emergency c-section, when all I had wanted was a natural drug-free birth.  Although I ended up with a wonderful healthy daughter, it was not the experience I had hoped for.  I had decided that I would not go back to teaching, to the stress that may have likely caused my daughter’s premature birth, until after my 2nd child was born.  I did not want to go through that again.  We, as a family, decided that it would be best for all of us if I took time off to raise our daughter with a good start at home, and live on minimal income until I was ready to go back to teaching. 

My husband transferred to California to finish his PhD and by the time my daughter was 2 months old, we flew back to the mainland.  Due to all the changes, we used disposables her first few months of life.  Every day we cringed at how much waste they created and how much money we were wasting on something that would be used for a few hours or less and then thrown away.  We couldn’t wait to switch to cloth, and when we finally settled down, at 3 months old, my daughter was in cloth diapers we were given or bought used from friends.  We have never regretted our decision to switch to cloth.  Now at 20 months old, my daughter is getting very close to being potty trained (one benefit of cloth: early potty training!), but we are still using cloth diapers about ½ the time.  Due to my need for teaching and the extensive research I have done on caring for different kinds of cloth diapers, I started teaching a monthly “Cloth Diapering 101” class downtown last year to help mommas of all kinds get to know their cloth diapers, or to try out different types in our “lending library” of donated cloth diapers.  There are so many options out there, and every baby seems to have different needs!  I have found it interesting how much you need to know to cloth diaper.  And then I found Rock-A-Bums diapers, which seemed to make it easy to cloth diaper without all the how-to and mumbo-jumbo that takes almost 2 hours of explaining in my class.  New moms need easy, not complicated.  Especially with a newborn!  So I had 4 diapers shipped to me to test out on my toddler, and to try as the first diaper on my soon-to-be newborn.  I can use the same diapers for both my toddler and my newborn!  How easy and simple is that?!

Stay tuned for “The Adventures of Professor X: Mom’s experiences during Baby #2’s life in the womb and immediately upon exiting!”  I will continue with the changes we have made during my 2nd pregnancy, the differences between home birth midwifery and standard OB care, a few funny stories along the way, a surprise gift, a trial run of my new diapers on my 20 month old, and ending with the birth story of my new baby, named “Professor X” until born!  Will it be a boy?  A girl?  Will I get the home birth I planned for?  Only time will tell!