Saturday, February 23, 2008

Diapers. Yes, diapers.

In the past, when I wrote a blog entry, I liked to really take my time with it, play with the words, mull the ideas around in my mind for a few hours before clicking that "publish post" button. Having a five week old baby, however, somehow robs one of that luxury. I still love blogging and writing, so I want to keep it up, but I am finding it necessary to warn my readers that my thoughts may seem remarkably unpolished and/or scattered compared to my pre-baby days. My mind no longer enjoys long stretches of uninhibited freedom. Case in point: this first paragraph was already interrupted by 20 minutes of soothing and changing baby. My creative writing pursuits will never be the same again...

So, where's my head at today? Well, this week we have been making the painstaking transition to cloth diapers. Oh, I could go on and on about the joys, the simplicities of a disposable diaper. Stick it on. Then, a couple hours later, roll it up and toss it. Never think about it again. Keeps your baby so dry she's happy to sit in her own stench for hours. Wonderful! Never mind the million gazillion diapers sitting in garbage dumps around the world. Or the thousands of dollars you shell out for this convenience.

Yes, that was our mistake. We did disposables for the first month. So we know their joys. But for matters both environmental and economical, we decided to make the switch. It's been an interesting week.

First of all, with most of the world choosing to do disposable, I didn't even know where to begin: how do I even find out where to find cloth diapers? So I started with an ad in our local Kijiji... Wanted: cloth diapers. Anyone have them? Anyone know where to buy them?

After getting some replies, I continued my research. I looked into two local suppliers: Motherease and Peekaboo Bottoms. And I quickly discovered the not-so-economical side of diapering: beautiful, fitted disposable-esque diapers with velcro or snaps, made from your choice of wool, organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, even luxurious velour. Each diaper costing you a good 15-20 bucks! Yikes! And don't forget the covers... another 15-20 bucks a pop.

It costs a lot to be environmental sometimes. It's like, ya, I'd love to drive a Toyota Prius, but till you find me one for the same cost as my shitbox 2001 Cavalier, well, it's the Cavalier I'll drive. At least, for now...

So we turned to the prehistoric world of pre-folds. What your momma used to use. Take a cloth, do some fancy folds, and voila! Diaper. There was a definite learning curve involved in this process. Luckily, Amy from Peekaboo Bottoms helped us with this. We learned the "bikini twist" is most suited to girls, while the "newspaper fold" works best on boys. A dozen pre-folds and a few covers later, we were off to the races.

If only it were that easy. We soon realized that Kaiya does NOT appreciate sitting in her own stench when it is not sucked away from her skin by the fancy technology of disposables. She soon developed a sad, soft cry that we learned meant, "I'm wet, and this is gross." We also realized that leaks were now a much more frequent part of our life, leading to a marked increase in the number of diaper changes a day. And finally, we realized that Kaiya literally seems to pee all the time, a fact that was somewhat obscured by said technology of disposables. In fact, she often feels so much relief at being changed out of her wet duds that she likes to go and pee just as you're trying to slip on the dry duds. We've gone through a lot of clothes and diapers this week.

But you know, it's still worth it. I feel immense satisfaction at the massive reduction of trash going to our curb. I no longer have to tell Jeff to take out the garbage every day. Plus, it really is a cheaper option, especially since we've received some hand-me-downs and bought some used covers. And we're getting better. We've learned that a quality cover goes a long way. And we've even had a couple of leak-free days in a row now. I still have a couple of kinks to work out in our laundry system, but it's all good. That's nothing compared to the learning curve I've just come through.

So if you ever want to know about cloth diapering, especially in the Niagara region, just ask me! I'd gladly pass on my hard-won knowledge.

Oh, and this post wouldn't be complete without an adorable Kaiya picture:

Cheers!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Just a Big Suck

So I had plans to actually go out for a bit today. Get out of the house, get some fresh air, maybe feel like a normal human being for a few hours.

But this is what Kaiya had planned:
  She was a funny one today. Usually if she fusses, she fusses for a while, and you have to walk around with her and jiggle her a bit to make her happy. But today was different. As soon as she was against my chest, she was happy and immediately fell into a sound and adorable sleep. This happened continuously throughout the day. Maybe she knew I was kind of ticked with her for her bassinet shenanigans from the night before. Whatever it was, she was a suck, my heart quickly melted, and all plans were thrown out the window.
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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Check out that SMILE!

So Jeff finally convinced me to buy a point and shoot so that I can easily take pictures of Kaiya without dealing with the cumbersome "photog" camera. This is the wonderful result. She's sitting in one of her favourite spots, the little chair that my LINC 6 class bought. Finally, I was able to capture some of the smiles she's been sharing with us this past week.

And on another note, we went to our midwife appointment today, and she's now a whopping 10 pounds 9 ounces. Growing beyond everyone's expectations... that's our girl.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Sweet Moments

There are times I catch myself in the moment, in awe at the beauty that I hold in my arms. Last week, after a feeding, holding her, suddenly nose touching nose, her eyes closed, her breath warm and quick. I found myself inhaling her sweet little exhales, and I was overwhelmed with the realization that this child is mine, all mine.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Some hopefully coherent thoughts from a not entirely coherent new mom

Sleeping beauty is, well, sleeping, so I take this opportunity to share some thoughts that have been bubbling around in my brain.

Kaiya being only eighteen days old, our trips into the outside world have been, granted, limited. We've done a little shopping and seen some family. Our only other major outing has been to church, twice now. Each time though, I've had some interesting interactions that have caused me to... pause.

Last week my pastor asked me, with a sense of wonder in his eyes, whether I found giving birth to be a spiritual experience. I thought quietly and said, "No." Sensing that this might be a somewhat disappointing answer, I quickly added, "Well, if it was, I certainly wasn't aware of it. I was just so focused on what I had to do."

This week, also at church, a woman asked me, "So now that you have her, don't you find it's hard to remember and imagine what life was like before she came?" This time, remembering last week's conversation, I kept the "no" internalized. Instead I said something like, "Well, it's all very surreal really." This answer didn't seem to fare any better. "Oh really? Still?" she replied.

Perhaps I need to work on being a little less honest.

The fact is, I used to think that I was a romantic, but I'm not really. A month or so ago, a friend used the label "pragmatic" to describe me, and I felt like a bit of a light switched on. Yes, pragmatic. That I am. This pragmatism keeps me from being able to romanticize motherhood. It is what it is, and I do what I have to do. Yes, I have my dreamy moments... the blog does betray me, but for the most part, I'm just too practical.

I'm sure that birth is an incredibly spiritual experience, but anyone who knows me knows that my one area of expertise is focusing on the task at hand. "Get 'er done" is my personal mantra. And so went Kaiya's birth for me. Don't touch me; don't talk to me; can't you see I'm busy right now? I don't think I really opened my eyes the whole time. The story goes that when the midwives came to the house and saw me sitting alone in the dark on the toilet, eyes closed, deep breaths interspersed with chanting, they said, "This one won't take long." And it didn't. That's my specialty.

And as for conversation #2, I've often heard people refer to having children in this manner, and maybe I too will soon feel this way (it has only been 18 days), but well, the fact is that Jeff and I will have been married 10 years this September. Ten freaking years! We've done a lot of living and a lot of learning in those years. Study, work, family, friends, fixer-uppers, tons of travel. Life has been rich, full. We've only gotten better. We have strong identities, both together and as individuals. I like to think of Kaiya as the icing on the cake. She hasn't erased those years and experiences or rendered them selfish or meaningless. She's just adding to them. As only she can. And we're very glad.

But in the midst of all these thoughts, I can't help but get a little insecure. I often hate how task-oriented I am. It seriously inhibits me from being able to really connect with people sometimes. I'm such a perfectionist, and before Kaiya came, it was all just work, work, work. Even now, I find myself getting frustrated if I don't get around to say, the dishes. It's like I have to tell myself, "Okay Kath, it's sit down and chill time now." I worry that I'll always be telling her, "Later, sweetie. Mom has to (fill in the blanks) right now." Cause you can take away the teaching job, but you can't take away the task-centered perfectionism.

I also worry about being too pragmatic. I get these nagging, niggly feelings that I haven't fallen in love with her enough, that I should want to just spend every moment staring at her. That life, as I knew it before, should just have stopped, replaced by HER, and everything about HER. But the fact remains that I want to get the laundry done, dammit. And I miss the banter of my work relationships (although, admittedly, I don't miss work!) And yes, I still want to travel again and take my little girl to Japan. Sorry to burst your bubble, but I do.

I remember what my "Yoga for Birth" instructor said. It gave me great comfort at the time, and it still does now:
When I was pregnant with my first, everyone always told me, "Oh, you're life is gonna change! You're never going to be the same again! You won't be able, or want, to do the things you do now!" And I worried that I would be this strange person. I wouldn't be Rhegan anymore. I'd be "Mommy." And then I had my child, and I realized that it wasn't like that. I was still me, and I could still do the things I did before. My child simply added another layer to who I was.
Being a mother, you enter a whole new realm of society's expectations. Sometimes subtle, as in the above examples, sometimes blatant and rude. Mothering is very political. I feel it already. My actions, my style will be monitored more closely than ever before. I can't say I like that. But I trust that in spite of these expectations and my own insecurities, I'll find my way. And I hope to have the grace to let other mothers find theirs.