Saturday, January 14, 2006

The dirt on diapers

What seems to shock most friends my age who do not have children, is the frequency of feedings and diaper changes. Maybe I should let them remain ignorant, because the truth is daunting. Yes, you really do kiss sleep goodbye for a long time - no exaggeration. Yes, feedings happen on average (at least, in the first few months), about every 3 hours. Of course, sometimes the baby cluster feeds and wants food on the hour. Fortunately, that is not the norm for Rebecca.
Now... let me delve into the controversial topic of diapers. In the first month, you can go through as many as 15 diapers in a day. No joke. That's a lot of diapers. You get to be an expert diaper-changer and you also become inured to being covered in poo, pee, vomit, spit and your own milk. At any rate, my Mom had me exclusively in cloth diapers because my sensitive skin could not tolerate the 1970s diaper materials. Well, things have changed. Before having Rebecca, I researched both options. Environmentally, there appeared to be no clear winner. While disposables took a long time to degrade, they were made of some natural materials. Cloth consumed a lot of energy for washing (and time). Cloth is more expensive, especially if you have a diaper service (which also means you buy diapers and get random ones back - not your own). I suppose you could wash them all yourself, but time is really at a premium (at least in the early days). I had been advised that if I opted for cloth, I might still want to have disposables for the night time.
At any rate, we are currently using disposables and I am quite happy. I think cloth for the daytime might eventually be something we do - when her number of bowel movements are considerably lessened. In that case, I would wash them myself. Right now, just getting on top of regular basic chores (eating, laundry, showers and baths, sleeping) is enough of a challenge.
At the beginning, babies have this gross tar-like and slightly green poo. This quickly becomes (in breast-fed babies), the liquidy yellow seedy poo - which remains until they start eating solids (at about 6 months) or until you introduce formula (which makes things more solid and brown). For the first 4 weeks, basically every diaper had poo and pee in it - you have to remember that the baby digestive system is tiny. Happily, we are now at the strange where there are only 2 or 3 major poos per day and most diapers are pee. It makes life a lot easier.
We have learned the hard lesson that there should always - without fail - be a diaper under the baby. Even so, sometimes Rebecca manages to bypass a diaper during a changing. The thing is - when you are cleaning the baby during a diaper change, the act of wiping their bum and other bits tends to stimulate them to pee or poo, so most major accidents happen during the change. On one particularly scary day during the Christmas holidays, Rebecca was being changed and managed to hit the wall, the floor, the hamper, the night table and Greg with a stream of yellow poo. I couldn't stop laughing (sleep deprivation), and Greg was rather nonplussed.
They say the first two weeks are hell - and they really are, but you have to learn not to lose your cool or get discouraged. It does get better.

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