March and a haircut

If you’ve been following along, you know that the election sent me into a deep, persisting feeling of hopelessness, and that after an initial burst of inspiration to become an activist, I settled in to wallow for the long haul, because what difference can I make?

That remains to be seen, but I decided to march in Cleveland’s sister march to the Women’s March on Washington this Saturday. I also decided to bring The Baby.

Unpaid protester. #womensmarchcleveland #lovetrumpshate #whyimarch

A photo posted by Reanna (@arkayokay) on Jan 21, 2017 at 8:16am PST

I’m so glad I decided to go. I walked with a few friends (one of whom was also wearing her baby), and was surrounded by thousands upon thousands of peaceful but defiant women (and plenty of men!) There were amazing signs and an amazing vibe. Cleveland Police confirmed that about 15,000 people marched.

#womensmarchcleveland #makeamericaclevelandagain

A photo posted by Reanna (@arkayokay) on Jan 21, 2017 at 8:27am PST

I remember reading somewhere on Instagram as I perused the #womensmarchcleveland someone talking about how the election had made them feel lonely, and that the march was an antidote. I related very much to this sentiment. My values may not be represented in the White House right now but they’re sure as hell represented by the millions of people who are angry, sad and worried enough to protest around the country and around the world. I need to keep this in mind in the coming days, months and years as I do my best to fight for these values.

Okay, enough politics. That was the exhilarating part of my weekend. Now onto the traumatic.

We cut The Baby’s hair today. (And by “we,” yes, I mean his father and I actually did the cutting after watching a few Youtube tutorials. The results are not terrible considering how much a 13-month-old moves.)

The Husband has been pushing for this trim for awhile now, and I pushed back. The Baby’s bangs were starting to get in his eyes, and he had what appeared to be wings sprouting from the sides of his head. And also some sweet curls in the back that I liked to cradle in my palm like the feathers on a baby bird or twirl in my fingers while he nursed. I’ve heard moms get sentimental about baby hair before, and I GET IT NOW.

The resistance to cutting his hair felt almost visceral to me. Once it was over, my fears were confirmed: He’s really, really, really not a baby any more. I know hair grows back–maybe the curls will return–but time only marches forward, and babies don’t keep.

At the start of the haircut, we dropped one wispy curl into a little silver keepsake box someone gave us at our baby shower. It’s a lovely little box, and a beautiful little curl, but altogether it’s just a time capsule, an inadequate memento from a time I wish I could freeze forever and step into whenever I want.

 

March and a haircut

Revisiting cloth diapers

 

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Image via Amazon

A few weeks after The Baby was born, The Husband and I tentatively got out the stash of cloth diapers we had accumulated leading up to baby’s arrival. We were hoping to save some money and reduce the environmental impact of our family, ¬†and, if I’m being honest, prove wrong the people in our family who told us we’d get sick of it and give up, as they had.

When we finally braved the transition at around four weeks, I realized it really wasn’t a big deal. There was already a mountain of laundry, so it didn’t feel like much of an extra burden (although our second-hand all-in-ones that made up the most of our collection took¬†forever to dry). It felt really good to not have to run to the store when we were out of diapers. We stuck with disposables for nighttime, and I expected smooth sailing at least until The Baby was no longer exclusively breastfed.

The Baby, however, had other thoughts on the matter.

He hated having a wet cloth diaper, so much so that it would rouse him from each and every nap during the day.

Finally, after about two months of trying to power through it, in the midst of our big, overwhelming move, I conceded. We started using only disposable diapers, and I sadly packed away the cloth diaper stash in hopes our next baby might be more amicable to them. While the rational side of me knows that The Baby’s comfort, and above all, SLEEP, are more important than my proving a point, I am also really stubborn and didn’t want to hear, “I told you so,” from the people who had told us so.

Nobody really did that, but I still felt a little sour about having to give up this thing I had been pretty sanctimonious about.

About a month ago, The Baby and I were visiting the library when I saw another baby, a little older than him, crawling around with a big fluffy butt–obviously cloth diapered. I had honestly forgotten about them. A few days later, running low on diapers and not particularly wanting to go buy more, I¬†unearthed our stash and decided to get back on the proverbial cloth diaper horse.

It worked! The Baby sleeps soundly through a wet diaper (though we’re still disposable at night, I’m not¬†crazy!) and we’re back to saving a million dollars a month on diapers and not throwing away so much.

To be clear, I totally get that cloth diapers aren’t for everyone. I was one of those people for most of The Baby’s life. The further into parenting I get, the more I realize I really like the path of least resistance… for me, that’s eliminating a Target trip here and there to buy diapers.

I’m so glad I decided to try again. It’s probably a good lesson for parenting in general–I’m not going to get to decide how everything goes, and I have to be flexible; but also, just because something doesn’t work during one stage of our lives doesn’t mean it’s off the table forever.

In case you’re wondering… here’s my gear list:

My cloth diaper stash

Diapers:

11 Bumgenius all-in-ones (bought secondhand on Craigslist for ~$100)

2 Motherease fitted diapers

2 Econobum covers plus 6 prefolds (Honestly, these work great and are very cost effective, but I can hardly get The Baby to hold still long enough to get them on)

I also use these liners now that The Baby is pooping more than just breastmilk (I’m thinking about getting the hose thing that attaches to the toilet, but for now, these have been working pretty well.)

Wipes:

Two dozen Bumkins flannel wipes

For wipes solution, I use these great Baby Bum Drops by Knickernappies

Holding dirty diapers:

1 Planet Wise large wet bag and small wet bag for taking wipes to-go

1 Kanga Care pail liner (suspended from the door, rather than using a pail, because my baby is essentially Godzilla in his room)

Laundry:

Charlie’s Soap for the diapers – I haven’t had much issue with staining; actually, we started using this soap for all our laundry and I’m really happy with it. You only need like a tablespoon for a whole load! I wash in hot/warm and run everything through a presoak and extra rinse cycle

I also dry everything with wool dryer balls (except the pail liner, which hangs dry). As I mentioned, the downside of the all-in-ones is they take 300 years to dry, but when the weather is nice I’ve been hanging them out to dry either straight from the washer or after an hour in the dryer to finish them off. There’s something so nice about seeing your laundry swaying in the breeze, and the sun also helps with staining.

I wash whatever is in the wet bag at least every other day, or when we start to run low on the all-in-ones. Now that The Baby is almost 10 months old, we’re going through probably six cloth diapers and one disposable a day (which feels like nothing compared to those early days!)

Now here are a few questions I have for you:

  • Do you use cloth diapers? Any tips and tricks or favorite products?
  • What’s something you had your heart set on for parenthood that didn’t work out the way you hoped?

 

Revisiting cloth diapers

The misogyny of “get your body back”

My mid-morning errand today involved going to Target to buy things I needed (diapers, coffee) and a few things I didn’t¬†really¬†need, that nevertheless will make my life a little easier (Dollar Spot mini binder with abundant list inserts to replace my near-full daily to-do list notebook, underwear that isn’t so old and stretched out that it barely stays up – sorry, I have no dignity).

What I came across, and what should come as no surprise yet still filled me with rage and dismay, was something I really, really didn’t need: a glaring¬†reminder that I personally and new moms across the Western world owe it to society to GET OUR BODIES BACK after baby.

I was meandering through the baby aisles looking for a non-plastic sippy cup option (no luck) as The Baby has taken to clanking his bottom teeth on the shot glass I fill with water to offer him at meals. At the end of the bottles and breast pumps aisle, there it was, shining like a beacon of judgment: A rack of fitness magazines showing off the extremely fit, glowing bodies of women.

Body shaming at Target
While you’re worried about making sure your baby is thriving, don’t forget: You’re not good enough!

To this I say (and here comes some French, with no apologies), FUCK YOU, TARGET.

Like just about any woman with a pulse in America, I have fought my whole life to come to a place where I can love and accept my body as it is. It took me marveling with wonder and gratitude at my body’s ability to grow and push out and feed another human being. I’ve finally been able to quit grimacing at the way my thighs spread out on a seat or glowering at my arm hair or wishing I were different, or better. I am finally content with who I am, and while I have never had to endure the¬†stigma¬†of being extremely overweight or otherwise extremely far from conventionally acceptable appearance, I feel something almost like grief at the first 30 years of my life spent looking in the mirror and not feeling like enough.

And I have nothing against exercise. In fact, I credit exercise with helping me maintain my sanity and maybe having an almost obscenely quick and easy labor. I have been craving a chance to go running again and take every opportunity to walk around the farm or get a good stretch in, because it makes me feel good.

But this display isn’t about exercise. It’s about exploiting¬†the vulnerability of women whose bodies have been stretched and taxed and transformed in ways that definitely don’t always feel comfortable or normal or acceptable. Society seems to think pregnant women’s bodies are public space, open for any remarks or criticisms that might come to mind. And then when baby actually arrives, even though life is 1000% different and priorities have shifted like tectonic plates, there’s that shitty expectation that if you don’t get your body “back,” you have tumbled headlong toward permanent fat frump town and your worth as a woman is forever revoked.

Exhausted new mothers who face fear and judgment and limitless guilt in every direction. It’s not enough to keep a baby alive and fed and happy and appropriately enriched.¬†Better make room in your cart for instructions on putting yourself back together, because you’re (still) broken.

How dare you, Target.

How dare you strategically place this column of manufactured perfection in this spot, amplifying those insecurities for new mothers who are just trying to find a pump so they can go back to work or the right bottle in hopes of easing colic.

I know Target didn’t invent this expectation, but they certainly have no problem taking advantage of it to sell more magazines.

This makes me angry and sad, and makes me want to say to new moms who come across this and other post-baby fitspo and feel the monstrous weight of inadequacy:

You are good enough.

You’re more than good enough, in fact.¬†You are a goddamn superhero, and you don’t owe it to anyone to look a certain way.

Dear New Mom: You're good enough.

I know this may seem like a big soapbox for a small transgression, but this and every instance of post-baby body pressure is yet another form of misogyny that we shouldn’t have to fucking put up with. If we don’t call it out when we see it, if we don’t condemn it for how it makes us feel and for how it reinforces society’s apparent say in how women must occupy space in a certain way, then it’s never going to get better.

Target, you don’t get to make me feel bad about my postpartum self. I’m good enough.

 

The misogyny of “get your body back”