Sunday, March 29, 2009


So I was reading through some of my old blog entries from a year or two ago, and I came across this picture, which I thought I would share. The photo is from Thailand, and it really made me ponder how different our cultures are. I actually had a terrifying nightmare a while back--I could not find my ring sling. Or a pouch. Or the mai-tei. Or a moby, the ellaroo, or any long piece of fabric to tie knots in. In the dream, I grabbed a sweatshirt and tried to tie Esme to me, that's when I woke up.
When Esme and Eva were younger, I wore them for an average of two to three hours a day. It made life so much easier. I could get chores done while they tagged along or nursed. I did not have to worry about them getting into something they shouldn't. I could play with them, talk to them, sing with them while we did whatever needed to get done. They were constantly part of my life and were exposd to so much. They were always learning! Even now that Esme is two years old, I still wear her, especially if she is tired or in need of mama-love and I still have chores to do or errands to run.
But let me tell you, having an older child, I cannot fathom staying sane without babywearing. It is soooo easy to not have to worry about picking one up and having to find a place to put the one down to pick up the other one. I can wear Esme and pick up Eva at the same time without dropping one or the other. We all can go to the park and swing together, Esme in the pouch or ellaroo, tagging along for the ride (don't worry, I don't go too high). How would we go to crowded school events with a squirmy toddler? Or worse--a gigantic stroller that everyone has to squeeze past or trips over? And almost every day, I learn something new about babywearing--especially like a new position to wear Esme as I do this or do that. There are so many things I can do because of babywearing. And not once in four years of babywearing have I regretted it! I wonder how I could live without babywearing!
Not only does babywearing make life with an infant/toddler convienent, it also has added developmental benefits. When an infant is worn, he is close to his mother, and is able to nurse on demand in an environment that extends the sensation of the womb. The gentle movements of the mother (or father) and the closeness remind the baby of the movements he lived with for nine months in the womb, making for a more content baby, and often lulling baby into a peaceful, uninterrupted rest. Wearing a baby also keeps the baby close when in public, keeping strangers and potential germs at bay and keeping a toddler from wandering away. Also, babywearing helps babies developmentally by encouraging strengthing of neck muscles in the early months, and, because they are at an adult level, they are more easily able to observe what is going on around them and participate in life, which promotes social development and extending entertaining activities.
The environment also benefits when parents decide to babywear. Baby carriers generally contribute less envirnmental impact than other manufactured baby products some parents use, including plastic and metal swings, playpens, strollers, bouncy seats, activity centers, etc. Baby carriers are also substantially cheaper than many of these items, saving your pocketbook, as well.
Now, I was a dedicated slingin' mama when Eva was young, and I wore her until she was nearly two, but I did not discover the wonders of other babywearing devices until I was pregnant with Esme.
There are four main styles and several good name brand carriers available, though many WAHMs (work at home moms) make slings and sell them at very reasonable prices (which is a major plus if you want to pick out your own fabric!).
The first, and most common, type of carrier is the Ring Sling. This is basically a piece of fabric with two rings sewn at one end. The rings sit just below your shoulder. The fabric wraps around your back and across you like a sash and then feeds through the rings. The baby sits in the sash part. The pros of the ring sling are that it is very adjustable and can fit a variety of sized people, allows for a number of holds, it is easy to pop the baby in and out, and the sash/tail provides good coverage for nursing. Cons, the one-shoulder carry can be hard on your back, especially as the baby grows. The beautifully hand-woven Maya Wrap is my favorite, though the following picture is of me wearing Esme in a WAHM sling.
The second type of carrier, and the style I use most often because it is quick and easy, is the Pouch, which is a sewn fabric loop that you wear across you like a sash. When folded and worn, the baby fits into the "pocket" of the pouch. It looks a lot like the ring sling with out the rings or tail. Pros: easy to use, easy to get baby in and out quickly (great for rushed errands), allows for a number of holds, folds compactly and fits perfectly in the diaper bag, easy to nurse "discreetly" with practice. Cons (depending on how you look at it): it is not adjustable, but it is custom sized to fit one person perfectly (which is what I actually like most about it—I never have to readjust it); also, the one-shoulder carry can be hard on your back. The most common brand is Hot Slings (limited patterns are available at Target), but a friend of mine makes beautiful pouches; the following is a picture of me wearing Esme in one of her creations.
The third type of carrier is the Asian-style Baby Carriers (Mei Tais, Onbuhimos, and Podaegis fall into this category). The Mei Tai is a Chinese baby carrier. It is the carrier that most closely resembles the Bjorn, though it is pretty different. It is essentially a square of fabric with waist straps and shoulder straps coming out. The square is the baby's seat, and the straps are tied around the babywearer. The Mei Tai is far more adjustable than a Bjorn and does a much better job of distributing the baby's weight over your body. You can carry much larger babies much more comfortably and in several different positions. It also holds the baby's hips in a far more ergonomic position. Onbuhimos and Podaegis tie differently but are similar to Mei Tais in many ways. Pros: easy to use, comfortable, cool for hot summer days, the two shoulder straps helps to distribute weight more evenly, easy nursing, one size fits most. Also makes for the fastest and most secure back-carry. Cons: the straps often hit the ground before you get the carrier tied (ick factor), takes more time to get baby in and out, awkward to wear without a baby inside. If you decide on an Asian-style Baby Carrier, look for one with wide straps, which are far more comfortable than narrow straps! For a while, the most sought after Mei Tai for me was Babyhawk, but I prefer Maya Wrap's Maya Tie much more! Here is a picture of me wearing Esme in a homemade Mei Tai:
The final style is the Wrap. The Wrap is far and away my favorite carrier style. Wraparound style baby carriers are just one long strip of cloth, 18-30" wide, in varying lengths, made of different types of fabric. There are three main fabric types: stretchy (good for new babies, because it is comfy and poppable; try Moby Wrap), woven (all around wrap, supports more weight and distributes weight well; brands include Didymos, Storchenwiege, Girasol, Easy Care, Bebina, Lana, Hoppediz, and Ellaroo) and gauze (cool, comfortable and THIN, which means it is perfect for summer heat and humidity, transporting in the diaper bag, and perfect for back carries; try the beautiful Gypsy Mama Bali Baby Breeze). Whatever you do, do not buy the Ultimate Baby Wrap from Babies R Us, as it is extremely stretchy and does not provide nearly enough support and comfort. Pros of the Wrap: super comfortable, flexible, one size fits most, works for more holds than any other carrier, can be worn without the baby, comfortable for long babywearing excursions and for wearing toddlers and young children. Cons: major learning curve—it takes a lot of practice, there is a lot of fabric to juggle. I specifically like the Ellaroo. Here is a picture of David wearing her in a Maya Wrap:
And a picture of me wearing Esme in my favorite, my woven Ellaroo:
There are also structured carriers like Ergo or Beco. Some people I know really love these, especially men, as they have clips or buckles instead of straps to tie or lots of fabric. I can say for sure that if it is a choice between a Bjorn and an Ergo or Beco, do not take the Bjorn. You can find a ton of resources at, including galleries, videos, instructions, and reviews. Etsy, eBay, and Craigslist are good places to hunt for WAHM-made slings at reasonable prices, as is I have coupon codes for a ton of babywearing sites, so if you find something you like, I will see if I have a discount for it. And, so you know, a lot of the name brand slings and wraps hold their value well for resale when your little one grows out of it (especially Ellaroo, Maya Wrap, BabyHawk, Ergo, and Beco)!

Friday, March 27, 2009

stockpiling for catastrophe

I was sorting through some papers on my desk, and I flipped to a list of the Top 100 Items to Disappear First During a National Emergency. I don't remember where I found the list, but it is circulating.

Top 100 Items to Disappear First During a National Emergency
1. Generators (Good ones cost dearly. Gas storage, risky. of thieves; maintenance etc.)
2. Water Filters/Purifiers
3. Portable Toilets
4. Seasoned Firewood. Wood takes about 6 - 12 months to become dried, for home uses.
5. Lamp Oil, Wicks, Lamps (First Choice: Buy CLEAR oil. If scarce, stockpile ANY!)
6. Coleman Fuel. Impossible to stockpile too much.
7. Guns, Ammunition, Pepper Spray, Knives, Clubs, Bats & Slingshots.
8. Hand-can openers, & hand egg beaters, whisks.
9. Honey/Syrups/white, brown sugar
10. Rice - Beans - Wheat
11. Vegetable Oil (for cooking) Without it food burns/must be boiled etc.,)
12. Charcoal, Lighter Fluid (Will become scarce suddenly)
13. Water Containers (Urgent Item to obtain.) Any size. Small: HARD CLEAR PLASTIC ONLY - note - food grade if for drinking.
16. Propane Cylinders (Urgent: Definite shortages will occur.)
17. Survival Guide Book.
18. Mantles: Aladdin, Coleman, etc. (Without this item, longer-term lighting is difficult.)
19. Baby Supplies: Diapers/formula. ointments/aspirin, etc.
20. Washboards, Mop Bucket w/wringer (for Laundry)
21. Cookstoves (Propane, Coleman & Kerosene)
22. Vitamins
23. Propane Cylinder Handle-Holder (Urgent: Small canister use is dangerous without this item)
24. Feminine Hygiene/Haircare/Skin products.
25. Thermal underwear (Tops & Bottoms)
26. Bow saws, axes and hatchets, Wedges (also, honing oil)
27. Aluminum Foil Reg. & Heavy Duty (Great Cooking and Barter Item)
28. Gasoline Containers (Plastic & Metal)
29. Garbage Bags (Impossible To Have Too Many).
30. Toilet Paper, Kleenex, Paper Towels
31. Milk - Powdered & Condensed (Shake Liquid every 3 to 4 months)
32. Garden Seeds (Non-Hybrid) (A MUST)
33. Clothes pins/line/hangers (A MUST)
34. Coleman's Pump Repair Kit
35. Tuna Fish (in oil)
36. Fire Extinguishers (or..large box of Baking Soda in every room)
37. First aid kits
38. Batteries (all furthest-out for Expiration Dates)
39. Garlic, spices & vinegar, baking supplies
40. Big Dogs (and plenty of dog food)
41. Flour, yeast & salt
42. Matches. {"Strike Anywhere" preferred.) Boxed, wooden matches will go first
43. Writing paper/pads/pencils, solar calculators
44. Insulated ice chests (good for keeping items from freezing in Wintertime.)
45. Workboots, belts, Levis & durable shirts
46. Flashlights/LIGHTSTICKS & torches, "No. 76 Dietz" Lanterns
47. Journals, Diaries & Scrapbooks (jot down ideas, feelings, experience; Historic Times)
48. Garbage cans Plastic (great for storage, water, transporting - if with wheels)
49. Men's Hygiene: Shampoo, Toothbrush/paste, Mouthwash/floss, nail clippers, etc
50. Cast iron cookware (sturdy, efficient)
51. Fishing supplies/tools
52. Mosquito coils/repellent, sprays/creams
53. Duct Tape
54. Tarps/stakes/twine/nails/rope/spikes
55. Candles
56. Laundry Detergent (liquid)
57. Backpacks, Duffel Bags
58. Garden tools & supplies
59. Scissors, fabrics & sewing supplies
60. Canned Fruits, Veggies, Soups, stews, etc.
61. Bleach (plain, NOT scented: 4 to 6% sodium hypochlorite)
62. Canning supplies, (Jars/lids/wax)
63. Knives & Sharpening tools: files, stones, steel
64. Bicycles...Tires/tubes/pumps/chains, etc
65. Sleeping Bags & blankets/pillows/mats
66. Carbon Monoxide Alarm (battery powered)
67. Board Games, Cards, Dice
68. d-con Rat poison, MOUSE PRUFE II, Roach Killer
69. Mousetraps, Ant traps & cockroach magnets
70. Paper plates/cups/utensils (stock up, folks)
71. Baby wipes, oils, waterless & Antibacterial soap (saves a lot of water)
72. Rain gear, rubberized boots, etc.
73. Shaving supplies (razors & creams, talc, after shave)
74. Hand pumps & siphons (for water and for fuels)
75. Soysauce, vinegar, bullions/gravy/soupbase
76. Reading glasses
77. Chocolate/Cocoa/Tang/Punch (water enhancers)
78. "Survival-in-a-Can"
79. Woolen clothing, scarves/ear-muffs/mittens
80. Boy Scout Handbook, / also Leaders Catalog
81. Roll-on Window Insulation Kit (MANCO)
82. Graham crackers, saltines, pretzels, Trail mix/Jerky
83. Popcorn, Peanut Butter, Nuts
84. Socks, Underwear, T-shirts, etc. (extras)
85. Lumber (all types)
86. Wagons & carts (for transport to and from)
87. Cots & Inflatable mattress's
88. Gloves: Work/warming/gardening, etc.
89. Lantern Hangers
90. Screen Patches, glue, nails, screws,, nuts & bolts
91. Teas
92. Coffee
93. Cigarettes
94. Wine/Liquors (for bribes, medicinal, etc,)
95. Paraffin wax
96. Glue, nails, nuts, bolts, screws, etc.
97. Chewing gum/candies
98. Atomizers (for cooling/bathing)
99. Hats & cotton neckerchiefs
100. Livestock

With unemployment and recession hitting us at home, we were happy to have stockpiled some of our basic necessities, including grains and beans, flour, frozen and jarred veggies and fruit, olive oil, paper products, batteries, borax and baking soda, vinegar, and a number of reusable (versus disposable) products. We have put a dent in our stockpile, and need to boost it up again. I would ideally have 3 months supply of food to fall back on, if needed.

Here are a couple of useful links:

Basic food storage guide lines
Prepping guide

Saturday, March 21, 2009

educational children's music

Now that Esme is two, she has really taken off in her interest in music. For her birthday, we gave her a Makala Soprano Ukulele and her second homemade handdrum, both have really inspired her to play and practice like Daddy. The uke is a very solid instrument for a very reasonable price, nearly equivilant to some professional ukuleles.
Esme and Eva are both singers by nature. It is actually strange for there to be quiet in our house--someone is always making music, whether it is David practicing or recording, Eva and Esme singing, snapping, clapping, drumming, playing their ukes or Eva's guitar. Music is terribly important to development in children, especially in relation to spacial, mathematic, logical and kinesthetic intelligences. We encourage musical expression in our home and lives--and musical development is as important to our children's basic development as walking and talking.
Our latest find, thanks to a friend, is directed specifically at pre-school aged childre, The Cool Alphabet Song by Didi Pop. I have to share it because Esme loves it so much:

Monday, March 16, 2009

cloth pads: yes, women do have options!

I absolutely LOVE cloth pads. I have used them since dear Flo returned nearly a year after Evelyn was born. I actually came across them when I was searching eBay for cloth diapers, and I became absolutely excited about the idea of wearing something fun, interesting, and comfortable during the few days when I was usually crampy and, to be honest, itchy from the paper irritation.

I have not had my period in a good long while, and when Esme was postpartum, I used mostly the larger cloth pads that came in my birth kit. Since I was only just pregnant back when we had our house fire, most of my pads were lost in the fire. I still have four or five that were in my purse at the time--luckily they are my favorites. But Esme is 11 months old, about two weeks older than Eva was when Flo returned for her usual visits. And from what I understand, Flo returns about the same time postpartum for each child a mother has (depending on a few factors, including exclusive breastfeeding duration, among other things--though I have not had any signs whatsoever of my cycle starting up again). So, I figure--better to be prepared! I'm shopping for pads!

I mentioned the prospect to a couple of friends recently, and they were shocked--"Cloth pads! Eeewww! What? I've never heard of such a thing! Why?"

I attribute this response to isolation and lack of knowledge. So, to spread the wealth...

The official definition: A cloth menstrual pad is a reusable menstrual product that absorbs the menstrual flow. It is an absorbent pad made from layers of absorbent fabric such as cotton flannel, hemp, terry cloth, etc.

So, why use cloth pads, you ask? There are countless reasons.

Because they are made from natural fabrics, cloth pads are more comfortable, being softer, more breathable, and less irritating than their disposable counterparts. There is also no chance for any unwanted and painful sticking to sensitive skin and hair.

By using cloth pads, you can improve your health by reducing your exposure to harmful chemicals. Disposable pads contain a variety of chemicals, bleaches, and additives, all of which are easily absorbed into your body through your sensitive genital tissue, causing irritation and discomfort, as well as increasing cramping and bleeding, and lengthening duration.

Cloth pads are better for the environment. By using (and reusing) cloth pads, you are not contributing to the obscene amount of waste going into landfills. Disposable menstrual products do not break down, nor can they be recycled. In many cases, cloth pads can be made from recycled materials, such as old cotton pillowcases or pajamas, and, years down the road, when they are thoroughly worn out, they can go into compost rather than the landfill. And, with proper care, cloth pads can literally last five to eight years--or more--costing you a fraction of the amount you would have otherwise spent on disposable menstrual products.

Perhaps the most satisfying reason to switch to cloth pads--you will feel more in touch with your body, empowered by not throwing away a part of your body. Women who use cloth pads feel better about themselves, more connected with their cycles, and have a more positive attitude to themselves and menstruation--not to mention the self-expression that goes into picking out the fabrics and designs of your own cloth pads!

Cloth pads have been around for a very long time, but have changed dramatically from what they used to be. Cloth pads of the past were nothing like the designer cloth pads made today. Instead, they were generally made from old sheets, scraps of cloth, toweling, etc. Women of the past would fold the fabric into a rectangle of many layers and some would use pins to secure the folded fabric into place. Some of the "nicer" pads were sewn together with loops and tied at the hip or waist to secure it into place. While these types of pads are examples of what women of the past used, women still use cloth pads similar to these in some areas of the world. Here is an example of what they look like:


There are many styles of cloth pads to choose from nowadays, however, most commonly either AIO (all in one) or holder/insert construction.

AIO (all in ones) pads: The AIO pad consists of only the one pad, usually with attached wings to secure it to the undergarment. Advantages are that it is just one piece, with no assembly required. Disadvantages are that you need many different sizes since they are not adjustable to your flow like the holder/insert style. Because they are one piece, they are generally thicker, which can make it difficult to tell when a change is necessary (unable to peek between layers). The thickness also makes thoroughly washing them a little harder (in the center/core). They also take longer to dry. Here is a picture of one of a few of my own cloth pads:


Holder/insert pads: The holder and insert pad has the holder which is secured to the undergarment and the inserts which are separate absorbent pads that are secured to or inside the holder. Advantages to this style is it allows you to adjust the number of inserts to accommodate your flow. With this style, it is easier to see if a change is necessary by checking between the layers. The layers are thinner (although there are more pieces) which makes thoroughly cleaning them easier. They dry faster since the layers are separate. Disadvantages are having several pieces to assemble and clean. The following images are courtesy of Sew Green's Cloth Pad Insert tutorial:





Women have alternatives. We have a choice. We do not have to be dependent on corporations and chemicals. We owe it to ourselves to not be bullied or embarrassed by those who are close-minded or unwilling to be different from what society has told us is acceptable.

And caring for your cloth pads is easier than you might think. Follow these simple steps for your handmade pads, or your manufacturers guidelines.

Before using your cloth pads, they must be washed. The more you wash them, the more absorbent and the softer they will become. To wash your pads, place them in a mesh laundry bag and wash them on the gentle cycle in cold water or wash them by hand. Cloth pads can be dried by laying them flat to air dry, hanging them to dry, or tumble drying them on medium. Do not use fabric softener or dryer sheets as they can interfere with the absorbency of the pads.

To use your cloth pad (which depends on the design), secure the pad to your undergarment. Most cloth pads have wings and are secured with a snap. When you are first learning to use cloth pads, it may be necessary to check the pad often to prevent leaking through until you are comfortable in knowing that you are using the correct size pad for your flow and how often to change your pad.

After use, rinse your pads in cold water as soon as possible to prevent stains from setting and place them in a soaking container filled with cold water until they can be thoroughly washed. Be sure to replace the water daily. On wash day, simply remove your pads from the soaking container and place in a mesh laundry bag and wash as suggested above. To prevent stains, remember to rinse your pads immediately after use and soak them in cold water until they can be washed. If pads are allowed to dry, then they are likely to stain, and the stains will be very difficult to remove.

Using cloth pads when you are away from home is simple. Most cloth pads fold up nicely and snap with wings and can easily be placed in a purse or pouch. For used pads, a leak-proof bag, known as a "wet bag," is ideal. A wet bag can be anything from a small cosmetics bag, a pouch made of a water-resistant fabric, or a zip-top plastic bag. Simply fold the used pad and stow it discretely in the wet bag until you get home.

Some suggested websites:

Make your own cloth pads:

My new favorites:
Mommy's Touch:

Monday, March 9, 2009

the shape of a mother

One day I sat in a restaurant in Anaheim, California eating breakfast, when a woman passed by my table with her infant carrier in tow. As she lifted it up to fit between the tables, her shirt raised and I saw that, although she was at a healthy weight and her body was fit, she had that same extra skin hanging around her belly that I do. It occurred to me that a post-pregnancy body is one of this society's greatest secrets; all we see of the female body is that which is airbrushed and perfect, and if we look any different, we hide it from the light of day in fear of being seen. That makes me want to cry. Sure we all talk about the sagging boobs and other parts, but no one ever sees them. Or if they do, it's in comical form, mocking the beauty that created and nourished our children. It is my dream, then, to create this website where women of all ages, shapes, sizes and nationalities can share images of their bodies so it will no longer be secret. So we can finally see what women really look like sans airbrushes and plastic surgery. I think it would be nothing short of amazing if a few of our hearts are healed, or if we begin to cherish our new bodies which have done so much for the human race. What if the next generation grows up knowing how normal our bodies are? How truly awesome would that be? -The Shape of a Mother

A couple of years ago, I met Bonnie on MySpace. Shortly after that, she launched The Shape of a Mother, the amazing online photographic community dedicated to loving the body of a mother, what her body stands for, and the beauty of life created. You can add the lovely lady who started this wonderful following as a friend on MySpace or join her group on Facebook. Showing my mama-tummy in public does not make me feel ashamed. Sometimes, yes, I get less than kind responses, but the positive far outweighs anything otherwise. I really enjoy the positive responses I get when I sport my own mama tummy when I bellydance and drum for dancers. I occasionally have henna art on my tummy, which highlights the mama-swirls and lines.

I cannot find many not-nude photos of me baring my tummy without henna, but here is one from when I was about three months pregnant with Esme, in our shoppe at Bristol:

Most of the sculptures David has done of me feature my mama tummy--and they are usually the favorites of the year when they are introduced. Done in May 2005, the following drum is the very first sculpture David did of me, what he titled "My Guardian Angel." Dispite the crack through the center in the finished version (which happened during the first firing), it is always a public favorite at shows: It may be difficult to see with the glare from the glaze, but notice the mama swirls on the tummy and breasts. A more recent sculpture of me, from January 2007, pregnant with Esme, is David's favorite sculpture ever. It is an abstract-ish figure centered on a drum with a tiger face carved on the top. The figure has a full baby-tummy and is "holding" the tiger. The tummy is also full of mama swirls:

David constantly uses this drum for recording and for playing live, so it travels with him. It has even made it on stage for gigs. Women should feel empowered by the shapes of their bodies. We are not a one-size fits all Barbie. No. We are slender, curvy, voluptuous, lovely, fertile, real women. We are both scarred and flawless. We are mothers. Our bodies have changed along with the wonderful changes motherhood has introduced us to. We need to be proud of the thin

I will close with a strip--one of my favorites, actually--from dear Hathor, published years ago: Photobucket

remembering esme's homebirth

I love love love Esme's birth story. Since her birthday is upon us, I found myself flashing back to my last couple days of pregnancy, how exhilarating it felt to meet our new baby girl for the first time, in our living room. After she was born, I had a lovely book printed with the following story along with the beautiful photographs David's mother took of the event. I pulled the book out this evening to reread by myself, which always makes me tearful. We will enjoy it again, as a family, on Tuesday night, as part of our birthday celebration.

Enjoy our story and take pride in your own birth experiences. I would love to hear them, so please share them.

From the beginning of our pregnancy in June of 2006, we planned for a homebirth. We found a fabulous midwife, Debby, who would provide us with prenatal and postpartum care, as well as help us through labor and delivery in our home in Racine, WI. We met with her several times in the months and weeks leading up to Esme's birth. In the fall, we went to a dinner event sponsored by Dr. Renee Welhouse, David's mentor and former employer, in Madison, WI. Skilled in many of the naturopathic arts, Dr. Renee announced to us that we were having a girl. Soon after, we visited Dr. Bates, an obstetrician who supports homebirth, to confirm Dr. Renee's prediction with an ultrasound. He agreed. We were pregnant with a girl. After throwing a few names around, we decided to name our baby girl Esme Victoria.

The last few months of our pregnancy were spent in preparation. David began remodeling the upstairs bathroom in hopes of finishing it in time for the delivery. We wanted the opportunity to have a waterbirth in the claw-footed tub. Since we were not sure if the upstairs bathroom would be finished in time, and because it would be difficult for me to walk up and down the stairs to use the toilet during and after labor, we did not know if the baby was going to be born up- or downstairs.

As we got closer to our due-date, March 17, work became more and more exhausting for me because I spent most of my days on my feet. Though I still felt energized, by the end of the day, I was ready for a massage from David and a good night sleep. I planned on working until I had the baby, and work was what helped me keep active. On March 8, David received a phone call. Dr. Renee had died the day before in a car crash. David was devastated. When we found out the memorial service and funeral was to be held on Saturday, March 10, in Madison, we decided we would drive up for the morning if I was feeling well enough. On Friday, David took Evelyn to drop her off in Indiana for a weekend visit while I went to work.

I felt normal all day--good even--though a little tired. Around 6:00, I started getting cramps in my midsection. In the meantime, David was stuck in Chicago traffic on his way back from dropping Evelyn off. He was in the process of making arrangements for Dr. Renee's funeral the next day. About halfway through my dinner break, I went to the restroom to find bloody show in my underwear. David insisted I call Debby, though I was hesitant. I was not due for another week, still felt fine, and David was stuck in Chicago. I could not be in labor yet! But he convinced me--I called Debby, and she said the baby would make her appearance within the next 24 hours. She suggested that I go home from work and get some rest before active labor kicked in. I told Franz, the manager on duty, and then headed into the storm outside. One my way home, I began feeling contractions. Some were long, some short, lasting anywhere from a few seconds to thirty seconds. There was no pattern.

Since David was still battling traffic in Chicago, his parents met me at home around 7:30 to help prepare for the birth. Mom washed dishes while Papa timed my contractions--still no pattern--and I cleaned, changed the sheets on the guest room bed (the upstairs bathroom was not done yet, so we would be laboring downstairs), and gathered supplies. David was still in Chicago, canceling plans for attending Dr. Renee's funeral the next day. Finally arriving home at 9:30 pm, and he and Papa took Minnie and Sonny to Betty and Ray's house for a few days. Sonny ended up coming home because he and their new puppy did not get along. David's folks went home to get some rest while we finished some last minute preparations around the house. David set up a futon mat on the living room floor for comfortable laboring, and then we went to sleep at about 11:00 pm in the guest room bed. Around midnight, we woke up to strong, patterned contractions. After timing a few, we called Debby and our folks to let them know labor was picking up. I had a feeling the baby would be here within two or three hours. Debby arrived at 1:00 am, and Davids parents shortly thereafter.

Labor was progressing quickly. I spent some time on the futon in the living room. I found comfort in rocking back and forth on my hands and knees during contractions while moaning softly, and lying down between contractions to catch my breath.

As labor pains picked up even more, I had to use the toilet frequently. David helped me walk there and back again. With David holding me, we swayed back and forth, doing a type of slow dance to make it through the contractions.

My clothes began feeling uncomfortable and restricting and I shed them one item at a time. Soon I began feeling the need for a bowel movement, but had no luck in releasing. Christy said the pressure was from the baby's head moving lower. Debby checked my cervix at that point and found I was nine centimeters dilated. The baby was dropping rapidly. She gave me the thumbs up to begin pushing when I felt ready. I could not sit or stay still. I continued to rock in David's arms, chanting, "Baby, baby, baby," through contractions.

Esme's Arrival

I had to keep moving. I leaned into David and we slow danced through contractions until Debby suggested I turn around so she and her assistant, Christy, could monitor the baby with the fetal Doppler without disrupting me. They listened to the baby frequently between and during contractions.

Soon, as a reflex, I felt myself pushing. I leaned back into David while I squatted, still upright. He balanced me and held most of my weight while I squatted through contractions while pushing. I began to feel burning at my perineum as the baby's head crowned (burning is a sign of tearing). I tried to push a little at a time to ease the baby's head slowly down and give my perineum time to stretch and accommodate her head. Debby used a warm compress and massaged with olive oil to help my perineum stretch as the baby moved lower still.

After another slow and gentle round of pushing, and with a giant GUSH! my water broke. I immediately felt the baby's head as it crowned. In the blink of an eye, her head was out, the rotation, and Esme Victoria Renee was born at 2:43 am on Saturday, March 10, 2007.

Welcoming Esme

We planned for David to catch the baby as she was born, but she came so quickly that we could not rearrange ourselves in time. He was too busy holding me instead. After Esme was born, Debby and David eased me back onto the futon so I could lean against David. Debby set Esme on my stomach so our family could begin bonding. David and I held our new little bundle close in those precious moments after her birth, on the futon, in the living room of our home.

In the moments after Esme was born, so many thoughts swarmed through my mind. Esme was beautiful and soft, like butter or water, smooth and warm. Her fingers were long and slender and she had a head full of dark hair. I wanted to cry and laugh at the same time. I was overjoyed, relieved, in love. I felt thankful for the strength present in the room, the strength of my husband, myself, and our new little girl.

Esme was not interested in nursing right away. About twenty minutes after her birth, I worked with her to latch on, and when she finally did, she nursed well for about twenty minutes.

Our midwife, Debby, was amazing. I was relieved to have her as a part of our birth experience. She mostly allowed me labor how I needed to, and her expert guidance helped me to concentrate through pushes, communicate the burning sensations, and prevent my perineum from tearing. Debby helped to make our homebirth the meaningful experience that it was. Debby's assistant, Christy, was just as amazing. At Esme's birth, Christy did most of Esme's examination and filled out the paperwork. Because of our conflicting schedules, she could not make any of our prenatal appointments at Debby's house. I met her for the first time that stormy evening.

Christy examined Esme after she finished nursing while Debby checked me over for tears and skid marks (no tears, but a few skid marks). Esme looked good. She measured 21 inches long, had good coloring, and was relatively alert.

Debby cut the cord and Christy clamped it. Then, Christy gently loaded Esme into a cotton sling. She attached the sling to a fish scale to weigh the baby. Esme weighed in at 7 pounds 9 ounces. After the weight was recorded, Christy dressed Esme, then swaddled her snugly in a receiving blanket and handed her to a beaming grandmother.

We decided to give Esme a second middle name of Renee in honor of Dr. Renee Welhouse, who influenced David's life so significantly. In addition to David and myself, Daivd's parents, our midwife, Debby Studey, and her assistant, Christy shared our birth experience. While Minnie (our Blue-tick Coonhound) was hurried off to Betty and Ray's for the week, Sonny (our English Mastiff) remained upstairs during the labor, birth, and immediate postpartum (he kept sticking his nose in the sterile supplies). Sandy (our mellow Yellow Lab) was actually only about five feet away from us when Esme was born.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

eating a wholefoods diet

I went grocery store to get some produce yesterday--fresh nectarines, avocado, spinach, cabbage, cilantro, asparagus, tomatoes--and the cashier commented on the amounts of fresh fruits and veggies I was buying. After I explained that our diet consists mostly of wholefoods, she asked me, "What are wholefoods?" I was sort of dumbfounded. Then I thought she was joking. Apparently, I was wrong. She really had no clue that it was even possible to live without processed junk and soda pop. I guess that is what I get for visiting the supermarket. So, what are wholefoods, anyway? Wholefoods are edible substances which are as close to their "whole" or natural state as possible. They have not been pre-processed in any way which would disturb their nutrition or flavor. They are therefore free of all processing additives or subtractions. The overall idea of wholefoods, is to prepare foods which are:
  • As whole and in their most simple form as possible.
  • In season from as close to the source as possible.
  • As chemically and additive free as possible.
  • In bulk and not pre-packaged.

Over 95% of illness and disorders are due to faulty and incomplete nutrition. A wholefoods diet provides necessary nutrients and prevents (and cures!) cronic illness. To have true health, a person should have a balanced wholefoods diet, which ensures that every aspect of digestion works properly. A wholefoods diet does not count vitamins and minerals since a healthy wholefoods diet will naturally provide all that a person needs. And since a wholefoods diet revolves around locally-grown foods, your produce will be fresher, and thus be loaded with more nutrients.

As for environmental impact, if you buy locally-grown produce in season, you actually prevent the environmental damage that is caused by shipping food thousands of miles, and you also support your local market in that you are able to buy directly from local farmers--they get the business, large corporation (or the "middleman") does not. Of course, growing your own produce is the sustainable ideal.

What does a dialy wholefoods menu look like?

Well, every person requires different nutrients. To Eva, at seven years, diet is especially important to achieve optimum growth. She should be taking in about 1700 calories a day, and protein and Vitamin A are especially important. To me, a lactating mother, my calorie intake should be around 2500 calories a day, and iron is a must.

For a typical day, however, I might make a menu as follows:

Breakfast Whole grain oats and barley Molasses for sweetening Frozen peaches

Mid morning Fruit smoothie (live-culture yogurt; orange juice; banana; frozen strawberries, raspberries, blueberries; cashew butter)

Lunch Asparagus, onion Rice and oil or butter Salad: lettuce, spinach, sprouts, tomato, cucumber Post-Lunch Mixed nuts, seeds, and dried fruit Apple juice Tea Avocado, walnut & carab snack Herbal tea

Dinner Vegetable bread: Millet, onion, celery, red pepper, zucchini, garlic & herbs

Post-dinner Fruit salad: nectarines and apples

As for what foods are in season at different times of the year, you should get to know your growing and harvesting schedule. During the late winter months in Ohio, it is difficult for me to find locally grown produce. Unfortunately, that means I have to give in a little, and eat either jarred or frozen food or buy produce that I know is in season in other areas of the country.

Check out Sustainable Table's list of seasonal produce to find out what is available near you during which seasons.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

ethical consumerism

Within the last year, I have consciously undergone a major consumer overhall. I guess it started when David bartered for just about all of the gifts he gave me for my birthday last year. Bartered. He hates the ideology of money, so he is constantly looking for barters and trades. Recently, he traded for a new set of tires for his work van, for a laptop, for my birthday gift this year, for massages and home repairs and a new banjo. It is amazing to me that he is so talented. At about this time, though, I read, Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming by Paul Hawken. The following is a brief video Paul Hawken speaking about his book and the WiserEarth movement: I initially thought about boycotting money, but I could not figure that into the Big Picture, with filling up the car, and a few other relatively necessary odds and ends. So I decided to leap head-first into ethical consumerism. I made a point to buy products and services that are sold and provided by companies who are publically making an effort to promote the greater good (as opposed to fattening their wallets). My personal guidelines for following ethical consumerism? I look for organic, cruelty free, locally produced, fairtraded, reused and recycled products. So, how do I do this? Well, first of all, I am vegetarian. I chose this path originally about five or six years ago, not only for nutritional reasons, but also for a variety of ethical reasons. Eating meat has a major effect on the earth, but more importantly to me, it has a major effect on the quantity of food that is available for human consumption. I do not remember where I originally read these statistics, but they changed my complete outlook on life, so here they are anyway: it takes approximately 4.5 pounds of grain to make one pound of chicken meat, 7.3 pounds of grain to produce one pound of pork. The world's cattle alone consume the amount of food equal to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people, which is more than the entire human population. Around 1.4 billion people could be fed with the grain and soybeans fed to cattle in the United States alone. Wouldn't it be far more benificial to use these grains for human consumption, to fight the hunger and famine that is plaguing billions of people around the world, rather than to feed farmed animals for rich, fat Americans? You do not have to give up meat entirely to make a difference--just eat smaller quantities. Not only am I vegetarian, I also seek out locally-grown, in-season fresh fruits and vegetables. Locally grown, organic foods have less impact on the environment (chemicals are not sprayed on them, no hormones; they are not shipped far, so we save gasoline and energy; and freshly picked is more likely to mean "vine-ripened," and will be more nutritious). Check out Local Harvest for organics, farmers' markets, and co-ops near you. Products that I buy MUST be cruelty free. The dairy and eggs I buy must be from free-range, naturally fed animals. No animal testing. I do not purchase commerical cleaners or personal hygine products, which also cuts down on animal cruelty as well as pollution. Fairtrade items are a little harder to come buy, though more and more companies are surfacing who offer such products. What is fairtrade? Wikipedia defines fairtrade certification as "a product certification system designed to allow people to identify products that meet agreed environmental, labour and developmental standards." Fairtrade products include items that are made without child labor or forced labor, without unsanitary or dangerous working conditions, and for which workers are paid decent wages. Reusing items is important. I try to buy second-hand when possible. I shop thrift shops and garage sales. When I no longer need an item, I either pass it on, resell it, or trade it for something I need, want, or can use. Also, then the item does not end up in a land-fill, rotting away--and someone else can use and enjoy it. We have a collection of cloth bags I keep in my car for produce and groceries. We use cloth diapers, pads, and napkins rather than their disposable (and costly) counterparts. In the kitchen, we reuse glass jars for food storage and glass bottles for taking beverages along with--and we use dish cloths and rags in place of disposable paper towel. I also use family cloth over toilet paper--and toss it in the cloth diaper pail until laundry day. I also recycle whatever I can. I also pay close attention to items that have a lot of packaging that cannot be recycled, and choose to buy items with little or no packaging instead. As an ethical consumer, I have also taken it in turn to boycott companies that I believe are unethical. What especially comes to mind is the companies who disregard the International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes, corporations that provide unsafe or unethical working conditions, and companies who impose their will on indigenous cultures. Some of the industries to watch out for/companies on my boycott list include: the gasoline, timber, mining, paper, dams and waterways, and coca eradication industries, Disney, Nestle, Coca-Cola, World Bank, Chevron, and the USDEA are all various culprits. There are so many levels of ethical consumerism, and I am learning more and more every day. I hope to increase my support of the little people out there, who ever they are, decrease my dependence on corporate America, and improve and preserve Mother Nature. Every little thing I do will make a difference in the long run.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

breastfeeding during pregnancy

Recently, I have had a lot of questions about breastfeeding during pregnancy. While I have not had the opportunity to nurse while pregnant (Eva self-weaned when she was three-and-a-half, and Esme was born two years later), I did pull out books and done some research on the subject. Unfortunately, it seems as if the only book actually dedicated solely to tandem nursing and breastfeeding during pregnancy is Adventures in Tandem Nursing: Breastfeeding During Pregnancy and Beyond by Hilary Flower. Flower's book is a great read and has plenty of useful information. I recommend it as required reading for all mamas who are nursing while pregnant, and for those who plan to tandem nurse. I also found even more useful information and resources on breastfeeding during pregnancy on the Nursing During Pregnancy and Tandem Nursing page at No surprise there. provides extensive evidence-based information on many breastfeeding and parenting issues. In our society, many women do not consider nursing during pregnancy, and because of this, not much information is circulated. While many OBs tend to caution against breastfeeding during pregnancy--usually due to mis-information and lack of knowledge on the subject--it is perfectly safe for a pregnant mama to nurse a baby or young child, considering the pregnancy is a healthy one. Women may find that midwives are more knowledgable and supportive of nursing an older child beyond the first trimester of pregnancy. A mother may want to continue the breastfeeding relationship throughout her pregnancy in order for her nursling to continue receiving the many wonderful benifits of breastmilk, benifits which continue even when the child is past two years of age. During the second trimester of pregnancy, many nursing women (and their nurslings) notice a decrease in milk supply. It is at this point that pregnancy hormones take over and a mother's mature milk begins to shift back to colostrum in preparation for the new arrival. In some cases, nurslings may notice a change in the flavor of mama's milk, while in other instances, neither the mother nor the nursing child notice any difference at all. However, it is not uncommon for some nurslings to wean themselves during this supply/flavor shift. If a mother has a young baby who is solely dependent on breastmilk for nourshment, she may have to supplement another form of nutrition during this shift in supply; supplements may include more solid foods, infant formula, or goat, soy or cow milk, depending on the age of the child. If weaning does occour, it is also not uncommon (and perfectly natural, actually) for the child to "un-wean" either later in the pregnancy or after the birth of the new baby. Many women complain of minor "ailments," if you will, in breastfeeding while pregnant, the most common being nipple irritation. It is normal for pregnant women to experience soreness in the nipples and breasts, and this tenderness can be intensified by breastfeeding, often making nursing sessions uncomfortable. While this may be an indication to some women to wean, there are other steps that can be taken to relieve some of the soreness. Varying nursing positions may help, as can shortening nursing sessions. Also, reminding the nursling to open wide and latch properly will help greatly. Nursing around a growing belly may also become a challenge. Again, check out Adventures in Tandem Nursing: Breastfeeding During Pregnancy and Beyond for some good suggestions and helpful photo illustrations. Many mamas find that they must experiment with different nursing positions in order to find the most comfortable. What is comfortable for some may not be so for others. Uterine contractions are another accompanying side-effect of breastfeeding while pregnant. These contractions are a normal part of pregnancy, regardless of a breastfeeding relationship. The act of breastfeeding triggers the release of the hormone oxytocin, which, in turn, triggers uterine contractions. Similar normal contractions may also occur during sexual intercourse and orgasm. However, these contractions may be intensified by nursing, and thus may be unnerving to the pregnant mama. Arguably, some professionals believe that complications may arise in women who are breastfeeding while pregnant, the most serious of which is pre-term labor, which may be a result of nipple stimulation after the twenty-fourth week; this should only be a concern if the woman has a history of pre-term labor, such as in previous pregnancies. If a woman encounters strong contractions, she should, of course, consult her care-giver. The pregnant-nursing mama must consider proper nutrition for herself, her nursling and her fetus. Eating for three is not complicated. A pregnant-nursing mama should gain weight in the same parameters as for pregnant women who are not nursing. Eating and drinking when the need arises are good guidelines, as are following the body's cues. Fatigue may be an indication that the mother is not receiving enough calories and nourshment. Also, if the mother has special dietary considerations (veganism, anemia, etc.) additional nutrients and supplements may be required in order to promote optimum health. Mothers who choose to breastfeeding during pregnancy are able to have happy and healthy pregnancies while simultaniously providing unparalleled nourishment to their nurslings and fetuses at the same time. Continuing the nursing relationship provides the mama and the older child additional oppertunity to bond and connect before the new baby arrives. Many mamas also find that breastfeeding can be a way for an older sibling to accept and welcome the new baby. Overall, breastfeeding while pregnant can be a very rewarding experience for many women and children. Image credit: Gina Casamenti-Brooks, Public Domain fine art

Sunday, March 1, 2009

cloth diapers: easy, green, fun

I got this message about cloth diapering in my inbox a while back. It is from a young woman who is interested in attachment parenting and environmental protection:
I am planning on using cloth diapers with my newborn. I never have before. What are the best brands? How many should I start with? Where do I buy? Any washing tips would be great. I would also love ideas on "transporting them". She will be with granny during the day and granny stay in an apartment with no washer and dryer. We do have a washer & dryer at home.

I have been cloth diapering since my two year old daughter was born. I work full time and my daughter stays with either daddy or my mother during the day, so I have the transport issue, too. Let me give you some tips on what works for us. Seriously, CDing is a joy. I love it, my hubby and older daughter love it, baby loves it. The new styles that are out there are absolutely adorable, too. Cloth diapers are so much softer than paper diapers, cost effective, good investment (good return on selling used diapers), and they are great for our Mother Earth, too. Of course, you already know all this! When my youngest daughter was born, for our newborn diaper stash (from birth through 15 pounds), we went the inexpensive route and invested in two dozen prefolds (flat diapers to fold and fasten) and four waterproof covers (which can be reused between diapers unless soiled with poo—just set the cover over the side of the bathtub to dry for an hour), one dozen fitted diapers (like disposables, but need a waterproof cover) for outings, and six inserts/doublers for overnights. I use Snappis (left, rather than diaper pins) to fasten the prefold diaper on baby. This was the best way for me to stretch my modest budget, and the stash last between 2-4 days, depending on how often your baby needs to be changed. When you are shopping for diaper covers and fitted diapers, make sure to get diapers that have laundry tabs for diapers that fasten with hook-and-loop closures. The laundry tabs make it so the tiny hooks will not attach and ruin the cloth of other diapers during the wash cycle. I also invested in three dozen cloth wipes. I like the style with a cute flannel fabric on one side and a layer of extra soft cotton velour or cotton fleece on the back, but baby wash cloths work well enough, too. I make my own wipe solution, too. I pour the wipe solution in a little spray bottle and wet a wipe or baby's bum as needed. Be wary of using any commercial diaper ointments to treat diaper rash, though, as they may permanently prevent absorption of the diapers. I highly recommend buying or making some stay-dry liners to put inside the diaper, between the diaper and baby's skin. Fleece has worked wonders for us as it wicks away moisture so her bum stays dry until her next diaper change. The liner also helps with poo clean-up as poo is usually contained in the liner and will not stain the diapers. I got 1/4 a yard of fleece from a fabric store and cut it into rectangles to set inside the diaper before I put it on baby. There are also several brands and styles of liners on the market, in both natural and synthetic fabrics. You can even get disposable/flushable liners, but to me, they defeat the purpose of using cloth. This original newborn stash worked well enough for us, but the prefolds were challenging to get the hang of at first. If I had to do it over again, I would stick with one dozen prefolds for overnights and at-home use. I am a big fan of fitted diapers, too, especially for daytime, but two dozen in quantity, and I would find a One Size Fitted Diaper to last from birth to potty training. But for going out, I would have invested in one dozen One Size Pocket Diapers. They are more of an investment up front, but think of it this way: they last from about 8-35lb and are totally convenient, extra-cute, and attract a lot of positive publicity for the cloth diaper movement. Here is how a pocket diaper is designed (image above): there are two pieces to the diaper, an outer cover and the insert. The cover and attached liner create a pocket; inside the pocket go the stuffin', or an insert. Once the diaper is soiled, you, you remove the insert for washing. Dry time is very quick, and when you are out and about, you only have one diaper piece to fiddle with (since you just put the stuffin' back inside the pocket after it has been laundered). They are also daddy and grandma friendly--but keep in mind that grandma probably used cloth on your bum. As for laundering, I washed every third day when DD was newborn, though now that she is older, needs fewer changes, and thus a smaller stash of 25-30, wash day is about every five days. Invest in one or two Wet-Bag Pail Liners, which are washable diaper pail liners that are made out of a waterproof fabric (like that of a cover). You might get one for home and two for grandma's house, and a smaller size for your diaper bag. After you change a diaper, just drop it into your diaper pail, lined with a wet-bag liner (remember to separate your insert from your pocket first, if needed, and heed laundry tabs). On laundry day, I grab the Wet Bag from the diaper pail. Since I separated all pockets and set laundry tabs before I tossed the diapers in the pail, they are ready for the washer and I do not have to dig through smelly, wet diapers to make sure everything is washer-ready. I just turn the wet bag upside down and empty it right in the washer. I set the washer on a preliminary cold soak and add a scoop of baking soda; the cold soak will loosen any clinging poo particles and prevent stains from setting. For the wash cycle, I add a shot-glass amount of laundry detergent (there is some debate over what type of detergent to use--check out this cloth diaper detergent chart from Diaper Jungle for more information). Do not use a lot of detergent because detergent is prone to building up in diapers and preventing absorbency. I wash on hot and then rinse on cold. I do a second rinse cycle, and I add some white vinegar (to balance the pH from the baki,ng soda used on the soak) and a drop or two of tea tree oil to the cycle for sanitation purposes. As for drying, I usually hang my covers and pockets to dry, but machine dry my diapers for about 15-20 minutes to get some of the moisture out. Especially if it is sunny out, I like to hang the diapers on the line outside; the sun will naturally disinfect the diapers and remove some of the stains, too. If I need to dip into the newly laundered stash before the diapers have time to air dry, I machine dry them on low. When the baby goes to grandma's house or to a sitter for the day, I take along a hanging wet bag for dirty diapers. I really have the sitter do the same thing as I do at home--just have her toss the diapers into the wet bag. At the end of the day, I take the wet bag, full of soiled diapers, home with me and wash them with my normal load of diapers. Next time, I bring fresh diapers and a clean wet bag back. The sitter (or grandma) does not have to do any laundry or extra work. You may want to keep a few extra emergency diapers at grandma's house, too, maybe 3-6 extra and a spare cover or two--or 3 pocket or All In One diapers (a style similar to a fitted diaper, but with a waterproof outer layer; no cover is needed--I do not care for AIOs because of how long they take to dry). A few extra points on cloth diapering:

  • I cannot say enough about breastfeeding, especially when it comes to breastfed baby poo and cloth diapering. You do not have to worry about cleaning Breastfed Baby poo off the diapers, as it comes right off in the washing machine.
  • Be sure to wash your natural fabric diapers several times before using them for the first time; this will make them fluff up and become more absorbent. Wash cotton diapers a minimum of three times, hemp three to five. You may notice that even after 10 or 12 washings, the diapers are still becoming more absorbent!
  • If you are starting out in Cloth Diapering, find a store that carries a variety of styles, so you can actually be hands on. You can see and feel the diapers before you put any money into your stash, figure out if you like snaps vs. Velcro, cotton vs. hemp vs. bamboo, prefolds, fitteds, if you prefer organics, natural fabrics, synthetics, etc. Every major city usually has at least one natural parenting store. They usually have a variety of diapers in stock, as well as breast pumps and parts, slings and other babywearing devices. Seeing the diapers in person gives you a better idea of what you want and what will work for you and your baby.
Over the months since I built up my newborn stash, besides having to build up a medium size (15-25lb) stash and again a large size (25-35lb), I have collected about a diaper (or lot of diapers) a month, depending on what deals I find. Now, our toddler stash consists of a half an dozen premium size prefolds, a dozen one-size fitted diapers, a dozen pocket diapers, and five covers.
Here is a list of good cloth diapering resources:
  • Diaper Pin A cloth diapering website that has a ton of tips, reviews, and more. On their Sales and Announcements page, you can find a ton of great sales and coupons from various cloth diapering and natural parenting retailers.
  • The Diaper Jungle One of the best cloth diaper resources, with information galore, listings of WAHMs and patterns for do-it-yourself-ers.
  • Diaper Swappers A community of cloth diapering parents sharing tips, experience, and support. The For Sale or Trade forum is a great place to find good deals on used diapers.
Online retailers that I frequent:
Links to my favorite brands:
  • Bella Bottoms One-Size Fitted My favorite fitted diapers, which just happen to be One-Size Fitteds that fit from birth to 35 pounds. Bella Bottoms are absorbant, trim, and economically priced! Check out Faith's eBay store for great deals!
  • Happy Heiny One-Size Pockets David's favorite pocket diaper, which fits from birth to 35 pounds. We like the snap closures (which are toddler proof--no naked toddlers around here), but their hook-and-loop closures are durable and have laundry tabs. Comes in wonderful colors and patterns that do not fade over time!
  • Thirsties Diaper Covers My favorite day-time diaper cover, which comes in a variety of colors and has happy little laundry tabs.
  • Bummis Diaper Covers David's favorite day-time cover. We like the Super Whisper Wrap and the Super Brite for their adorable patterns. Also has laundry tabs, though I do not think these covers hold true next to Thirsties.