Throwback Thursday: On the Line

When  you step into the cloth diapering world you will find that there are some pretty heated debates.  Bring up the word dryer and you will get as many sides to the story as there are cloth diaper types. Put your PUL in the dryer on hot- it needs heat to seal it.  PUL should never be put in the dryer it delaminates.  Similar story for cotton, hemp, bamboo and microfiber. Most of the cloth diapering world seems able to agree on one thing: line drying saves you energy, money, and is probably better for your diapers.

I don’t know about you, but I just love the look of laundry out on the line. Especially all those pretty cloth diapers.  The cute patterns- or the old fashioned look of flats.  Maybe it just brings me back to a simpler time. Either way- this post has some serious eye candy if you like the look of hanging diapers.

Now I put all my diapers in the dryer, on low, all winter.  Drying the wipes and microfiber on hot after the pockets were done.  No ill effects. But I did this because I thought line drying was out of the question- most days the thermometer never got above freezing. No one wants frozen diapers.  But it turns out- you don’t need a big yard.  Or a yard.  Or a fancy system. Or nice weather. Or really, anything special at all, to line dry your diapers.

This Momma found a drying rack at a thrift store and puts it on her small porch.  When the weather is bad she brings it in.  She adds a fan to speed up drying and keep them from getting stiff.

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These next two Momma’s use their decks to hang diapers.ImageImage

Hanging diapers can get you outside, enjoying the sun, if you have the space to do it like these next Mommas. ImageImageImage

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Those are some pretty places to do your laundry, no?

But I don’t have a place to hang a clothes line! This Momma doesn’t have a line- and doesn’t need it! she uses her fence and some hangers. Image

But I don’t have a yard, you say.  Or a porch.  Or a deck. I just have to use a dryer. No, you do not! This next Momma hangs diapers indoors.  She has them in front of the windows.  I never knew this, but guess what? The sun will take out spots even through the window pane.ImageThis next family clearly figured out the hanger and the window trick, and combined the two.Image

Ah, but my weather is so unpredictable! It may rain on my diapers.  This system is a hybrid- start them outside in the nice weather, and move the whole thing inside when the weather acts up.ImageThis next Momma shares a space with extended family.

She writes: “We are temporarily cohabiting with my in-laws, so space is limited. There are 3 dvd racks holding up the coats and bags in the back. And a baby gate supporting the front rack. And the rods are cheap curtain type rods. Hence two being taped together”.  Not only is this Momma not able to hang outside, but she is cramped for space too.Image

Oh, my HOA would never allow such a contraption in the yard!  This Momma’s doesn’t either.  So her line is retractable- that way she can pull it in when the diapers are done and none are the wiser.Image

 

So now I think I’ve eliminated just about every excuse to not hang dry your diapers.  And I hope I’ve inspired you to figure out a way to hang dry your diapers. Never underestimate the ingenuity of cloth diapering families!

 

I want to send out a big thank you to all the Momma’s who sent in their pictures of diapers on the line (or fence, or deck, or cd rack, for that matter)! Could not have done it without you.

 

Disclaimer: I had permission to use these Momma’s photos.  YOU DO NOT.  So please, no copying! These are all property of the kind Momma’s on the cloth diaper support group. Thank you.

A Letter to the New Momma’s

Dearest Momma;

You had plans. You had goals. You had expectations.

You would breastfeed, right from the start.  No formula for your baby. And it would come easily,  you were sure.

You would give birth naturally and quickly. You read somewhere that some women even experience pleasure during labor and delivery.  That would be you.

Your house would be clean.  All natural wooden toys for this baby.  All organic too. You would have this baby sleeping through the night in their own bed from day one.

Your hair would be done. You would lose the baby weight right away.  Get back into that workout routine.

You would babywear, and look good doing it.

You would cloth diaper.  From day one.

You would be the hip momma- the one with the newest and coolest gear and know-how.

Your baby would be so well cared for he would never cry.

She would be potty trained at just a few months.

You would not be that crazed looking hectic mom in the store.  You know the one.  She’s wearing yoga pants and her hair might actually have something living in it.

You would be different. You had expectations.

And then baby came. And everything changed.

Now you just want a hot shower. By yourself, with the door shut.

You want to eat a meal sitting down. Undisturbed by dirty diapers or grabbing hands.

You want the baby to just stop crying. For five minutes.

You want a conversation. With an adult. In which poop is not mentioned.

You want a shirt not covered in milk, spit up, baby poo and some weird mystery stain.

You want to sleep for more than two hours in a row.

You want to find a bra that doesn’t hurt.

Everything makes you cry.  Even that Huggies commercial. Especially that Huggies commercial.  You would like that to stop, thank you.

Suddenly, your goal is to become that momma in the store.  The crazed looking one.  In yoga pants, remember her?  Somehow, she got to the store.  You would like to do that too. Someday.

I just want to tell you: it’s OK.  You will get there. Those goals you had? They will become reality.  Maybe not as soon as you had hoped. Maybe not even till your baby hits that one year birthday.  Wait, how did that happen? When did that happen? Maybe it will be approaching your baby’s second birthday.  Or tenth. Parenthood is a journey, it starts with the positive pee stick.  It lasts indefinitely. You won’t become the parent you wanted to be overnight.  With a lot of work and dedication you can become that momma you wanted to be. Or something close enough to it.

So don’t give up on those pre-baby day dreams. They are possible.  Or at least most of them.  And those that aren’t, are probably not all that important any more. You do not become the momma you wanted to be overnight.  It takes time, and practice. It might just take longer than pre-baby you planned on.

So hang in there new momma. And give yourself a break. You are doing a pretty good job, even if it’s not exactly like you envisioned while rubbing your baby bump.

Baby wearing: For the Plus Sized momma

When I was pregnant with Moppet I knew I wanted to baby wear.  New mommy hood is just so overwhelming- I didn’t know where to start. Without an actual baby to try on I was really lost.  And all of the terminology had my head spinning.  It didn’t help that there just doesn’t seem to be all that many resources out there for plus-sized momma’s to figure out what works for them- I spent hours trolling through forums looking for answer.  All of the models wearing slings, wraps, ergo’s and the like are a size 6 or under.  I am not.

In fact, after having baby I was more like a 20 in pants (I just didn’t wear any of my pants till I fit my 18’s, just resorted to wearing my maternity clothes.  The easy up down of the elastic was nice after having a baby anyway).  In the top? I’m not even sure.  It would have been too depressing to measure.  Bigger.  I have wide shoulders and big boobs, and after baby, a big tummy.

Before baby I decided to put a Maya ring sling on my baby registry- size xl. That seemed like I could comfortably fit it.  And my husband found a baby Bjorn for 20 at a resale.  So that’s where I started my baby wearing career.

Over the last year I’ve lost some weight.  In fact, it took about a year, but I’ve lost all of the baby weight.  But I’m still a plus sized momma.  And I still baby wear.  Just about every day. In the last year I’ve learned a lot- about what works and what doesn’t. So I’m going to share a few things with you in the hopes that they help you in your journey.

First off, the Maya Wrap (a ring sling).   

Since this is more or less a long piece of fabric with a metal ring at the end you can get it in multiple lengths.  For the plus sized momma get a large or extra large to make sure you have enough fabric to go around.  Mine has lots of extra tail, but I would rather have that then not be able to wear it. Get the padding in the shoulder as well.  I’ve found this to cushion the weight nicely.

Now that Moppet is 13 months and 20 pounds the Maya is more or less in retirement.  I use it for small trips still, but she is heavy enough that I don’t like all her weight on one shoulder for too long.

This is a great choice for a plus sized momma and a new baby.  You can do a tummy to tummy carry (legs in for a little one), or a hip carry for a bigger baby.  A back carry is a possibility, but only for an over one baby. If you want a back carry I’d go with a wrap or ergo (see below).

Ergo.

I bought a used Ergo, old style, off of E-Bay.  I got it around 5 months post pregnancy, and the waist just fit.  If I didn’t mind feeling like I was being cut in half.  In order to use this carrier (a soft structured carrier, or ssc) I would need the waist extender belt.  I got one off of Amazon for 8$.  Even though I don’t need it anymore I still use it.  The buckle broke on the original Ergo, so I have to use the extra belt for the buckle end.  The new Ergo’s are not compatible with a waist belt, but are supposed to have extra inches in the belt so that you shouldn’t need it.  But some momma’s still do.  My suggestion? Measure your waist.  If you have any doubt that the Ergo will fit, skip it for now.  I think the new ones go to 45″ and 50″ depending on style.  Check with the manufacturer on the sizing before buying though.

While I love this carrier because it is fast to put on, supports my daughter well, especially during naps, and my husband and I both can wear it (he has a long slim frame), it has drawbacks.  You can front carry, hip carry, or back carry. But when I back carry in the Ergo it tends to cut me in half, leaving weird bulges.  This is not desirable.  And I’m really  not sure this carrier was made for bigger people- the straps tend to cut in under my armpits for one thing.  But despite all this, I have gotten many many hours of use out of my Ergo.

A picture of Moppet in the Ergo, 7 months postpartum.  My husband says if you didn’t know there was a baby in there you would just think I had a crazy big stomach.  Thanks honey.

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Wrap

My wrap has become one of my favorite carriers.  See my  post https://relaxmomma.wordpress.com/2013/06/30/why-oh-why-was-i-so-scared/.  I am still getting the hang of wrapping, but I would highly suggest it to any momma, especially a bigger one.  They make wraps in all lengths, I got mine in the longest option so I would have more length to go around myself, because many carries require several passes over your body.  Do not be scared of these.  You do not need a ssc to keep your baby safe and secure, you really don’t.  Before trying a wrap I was very skeptical.  Before baby came I thought these wraps were for experts only and I wouldn’t be able to do it.  I now highly recommend them. Especially to a bigger momma.

A wrap is just a very long rectangle of fabric.  This means that you don’t have to worry about the fit, or adjusting the straps, or extra waist bands. It keeps baby secure, spreads the weight out well, and packs tightly into a diaper bag.

For a brand new mommy and baby wearer you may want to try a stretchy wrap like the Moby or Boba.  These are just like a woven wrap, but they have spandex stuff in them so they stretch out.  This means you can put one on, then put baby in.  BUT it means that a heavier baby sill sag, and that you CAN NOT do a back carry in one. You will eventually want to buy a woven wrap.

A woven wrap costs a bit more, but will last from your newborn through toddler hood.  Or until they no longer want to be carried. So if you are a bit braver, go ahead and try the woven wraps.  These are just like the Moby’s and Boba’s, only not stretchy, so you can do well over a dozen different carries, including hip and back carries.  And since you can choose from dozens of different back carries alone, you can choose where to put the fabric in front- so no weird lumps.

Here is a picture of Moppet asleep in her wrap.  13 months postpartum.

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Make Your Own.

I have a mai tie that I made myself.  If you can sew at all, on the machine, you’ll want a machine for this, you can probably make one. It really is very simple to make, just make sure to reinforce the straps extremely well.  Since you’re making it yourself, you can make the straps as long as you want, and measure for your own personal preference.  This way you know it will fit.

Here’s a linkto some patterns http://www.sleepingbaby.net/jan/Baby/index.html: I used one of these to make my own.  I had to use a lot more fabric than suggested for the straps, and measured them before cutting.  It cost a little under 12$. Here’s the best shot I could get of baby in her mai tie 11 months postpartum.

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Baby Bjorn

Do yourself a favor and just skip it. I could just barely make this fit- the x thing in back wanted to sit on my neck. It felt like I was squishing baby.  And all of baby’s weight rested on my shoulders.  This thing was so uncomfortable.  It is supposed to work up to 20 pounds.  That must be a joke.  I think my kid was around 12 pounds when she started looking squished on the sides in this thing.  And it was uncomfortable even at that weight.  Pass on this baby carrier and spend your money on something else.

Final Word.

If you are a plus sized momma and looking to baby wear- kudos.  I hope this post helps you decide on a carrier, and what will work for you.  Whatever you choose stick with it and persevere. Not all babies like to be carried right off the bat.  And if you are nervous putting your baby in a carrier, I know I always am with a new style of carrier, they will pick up on that and get fussy themselves. If things don’t work the first time, try again later.  Baby wearing is a great resistance workout and can help you get back into shape after pregnancy.

Quick money saving tip

Do you cloth diaper? If you have stepped foot into the cloth diapering world at all you will know about covers.  And wool covers.  Did you know that fleece works pretty darn well, too? You can buy fleece covers, almost always made by work at home moms, for cheaper than wool.  

But I discovered an even cheaper method to cover my daughter’s fitteds at night.  Fleece pants.  Did you know that polar fleece pants work as a diaper cover? Wash with a dryer sheet and it will be even more water proof.  I usually pick these baby’s up used for under 5$ a piece.  Just wash in  your regular laundry or diaper laundry. 

Not as fancy as wool.  And I’m growing to love wool.  But when I need something long and warm, and cheap, I pull her fleece pants out of the drawer. Just make sure it’s synthetic, polyester.  

You’re welcome :).  

Baby Sign: What They Don’t Want You to Know

There are a billion products on the market that are supposed to teach you and your baby how to sign. Many want you to put baby in front of the TV so they can “learn”.  Now, while your baby will probably love watching TV of other babies, they will NOT learn language this way. That’s not how baby’s learn (trust me, I am a professional.  Or used to be).  Baby’s learn language through relationships- by talking to, playing  with, and interacting with, others.

  You can spend a lot of money on all of these baby sign products and just plain get nowhere.

So you want to know the secret? You sure? You ready for this?

“Baby” sign is just American Sign Language.  Yup.  ASL.  And no, you don’t have to be fluent, or even familiar with it to teach your baby.  You can learn it as you go, just like your baby is.  

A simple how to:

Start with one, or maybe two, signs.  

Don’t go crazy with it, start simple and easy.  If baby seems at ease with the first signs, then feel free to add another.  They will build vocabulary quickly and so will you. 

Don’t expect too much, too soon.

While you can start showing your baby signs from day one, don’t expect them to understand it till at least 6 months.  You may see a 6 month old signing.  But realistically don’t expect anything till 8-10 months old. My daughter has seen a few signs since birth, but her signing didn’t really take off till just before a year old.  

Baby signing isn’t magic- your child still has to understand language and be able to use it.  The signs just make it easier for them to communicate when their tongue is still too unwieldy to produce English.

“Baby” talk.

Just like your baby’s first words, your baby’s first signs will probably be a bit awkward and hard to understand.  Let’s face it, these guys have small hands, short and stubby fingers.  Many signs are tricky for those cute little hands.  Just like you would accept “dah” for “dog” in English accept an approximation of a sign in ASL.  Don’t worry, baby will improve with practice.

Common use.

Don’t start with the sign for Raven, or tree, or dish, or cow.  Unless you say those words all the time.  Pick something you use, eat, or do a lot.  For an infant I would suggest milk.  Those suckers need milk like a dozen times a day.  The more frequently they see the sign the faster they should catch on.

Reward.

Initially choose signs that will reward baby.  I started with milk.  Once Moppet had that I added on more, bite and all done. The point of signing isn’t too discuss Shakespeare and the stock market.  It is to teach your baby that words have power and that they can use language to communicate needs. Give baby words she can use!

Say it.

Unless you are deaf and ASL is your primary language, then say the word in your primary language as you sign it.  Baby sign is meant to bridge the gap between your baby’s receptive language (what they understand) and expressive language (what they can say).  Their hand coordination develops before their tongue coordination, so they can often learn to sign a word before they can say it.  In fact, they are probably trying to say it but it keeps coming out gibberish.

Watch it, don’t read it.

ASL is a very visual language.  It is three dimensional.  DO NOT DO NOT DO NOT learn it from a book.  You will learn it wrong.  And you can make some very embarrassing mistakes.  Trust me. For example: there is a very small difference between the word “late” and “naked”.  It looks  more or less the same on paper, but very different on film or in person.  Signing “I arrived naked” when you meant to say “I arrived late” is kind of embarrassing.  

Go online, save your $.

There are a million sources for ASL online, including video dictionaries.  Use these.

My favorite for learning sign has been the podcast by USI (it’s free on I tunes).  It’s titled “USI- EDUC490: American Sign Language”.  They even have a whole podcast on signs you may want to teach baby, like milk and mommy and daddy.

If you can’t go online, or the online sources aren’t enough, check your local library.  

Get a visual medium- a dvd with a book is preferable.  Choose something that is more than just a series of vocabulary if you can- maybe a book of songs with the signs to go with for example.  You can sign “Mary Had a Little Lamb” while singing it. Fun! You and baby will learn better if there is music and grammar attached to the vocabulary.

OK, that’s all great, but it sounds like a lot of work.  Why should I bother?

Fewer tantrums.

 When  your one year old can just tell you that they are hungry, they want a snack (not milk mommy, a snack!) they are empowered.  They don’t have to wait for you to figure it out. You can avoid a lot of the frustrations your toddler has when they can’t communicate clearly with you.  Signs won’t eliminate tantrums (so far, there is nothing legal or ethical that can do that!) But they will decrease the amount of tantrums.  Your toddler may be having a fit over not getting more cookie, but at least you know they are crying because they want a cookie!  

They have to power to tell you all done, as well as more.  They can stop an activity, or tell you they are full.  Instead of pulling away, shaking their head, screaming or throwing food your toddler can just sign “all done”.

You are making baby smarter.

 ASL is an official language, and teaching them signs, especially if you end up enjoying it and learning more of it yourself, goes a long ways towards teaching them to be bilingual.  This comes with all the IQ raising benefits of learning a second language.

They will talk sooner.

 It is a myth that teaching a baby sign will keep them from speaking.  In fact all of the research shows that infants that are taught sign learn to speak their primary language sooner than baby’s who are not taught.  Sign teaches your baby the power of words and how to use language.  They will want to use it more and more once they get the hang of it.  Your baby will speak the language they have been exposed to since their time in uterus, sign will not take over.  Unless of course ASL IS the primary language in  your home.  

 

ASL is a fun, interesting and complex language. Don’t put pressure on your or your baby to learn too much too fast, just enjoy the process.  Those first signs are just as exciting to see for mommy’s as those first words- even if baby is over a year before their first one appears. 

Happy signing.

Taking the Plunge

TV has been my drug of choice for some time. I love it.  It’s company when I’m home alone all day with a one  year old.  I have shows (mostly guilty pleasure ones, I’ll admit it) that I always look forward to. I grew up with TV on every evening.

When I thought about dumping it I was actually nervous.  That’s when I knew I had to get rid of it.  I kept breaking promises to myself.  “Only on while baby is sleeping.  Only an hour a day.”  I recently downgraded to a smaller, cheaper package, but my viewing habits stayed the same.  Simply couldn’t stop.  I considered getting the lowest offered package, but the only channels it offers are the shopping networks and Evangelical channels.  So I wouldn’t be watching anyway.  Why pay that much a month not to watch TV? No, it had to go.  It’s not good for me, the baby or my husband (who, believe it or not, is on board with dumping it).

I went through this two years ago, when our previous contract was ending.  Somehow I ended up with a DVR instead of dumping TV.  Hmmm.

I’ve been thinking how nice the extra 50 a month would be.  I could buy more cloth diapers! And if TV isn’t an option than I’ll get out more, do more things.  I hope.  At least it won’t be droning on in the evenings.  If I have it, I’ll watch it.  So I contacted the TV dealers (company) yesterday.  I needed to know how long we had on our contract, to see if it was worth paying the cancellation fee.  It must be something in the Cosmos, because our contract is up at the end of the month.

I was actually nervous about telling the online chat guy that yes, I would be canceling at the end of my contract.  It really felt like telling a drug deal that, no, I do not want any more from you, thank you.  It’s not the cost, really. No, you can’t get me a discount.  I don’t want it.  I just can’t help but feel that I’m paying for something that is bad for me.  Did you know that you think at a 4th grade level when the TV is on? Or that you burn more calories sleeping than watching TV? I no longer want to pay to be stupid and fat! (I’m a life long addict, so no judgement here if your TV is on as we speak.  Promise).

I’ll be waiting it out till the end of the month, to save the small cancellation fee (might as well, we already paid for the month, right?).

And you know what? My initial fear at letting it go has turned into excitement.  Nervous excitement, but still.

I’m doing it because it scared me. If I’m scared to get rid of it then it really has a hold over me.  And I need to break it.

Do you watch TV? Does it have a hold on you, or do you have better self control than I do? Would you ever consider dropping it?