30 January 2011

I feel like a total failure.

A lot of women are unable to breastfeed for one reason or another and often feel an extreme degree of guilt because of it. It makes them feel like they are not real women, like they have failed as mothers for not being able to feed their children the way it was intended. Some women do not feel like women because they have not given birth naturally, the way babies are supposed to be born (I am one of them, but that's not what this post is about). Why is it that I feel like a failure? Not for as noble a cause as the ones I listed above but for one that, in writing, seems so petty. I feel like a failure because I have yet to successfully cloth diaper my daughter.

I started cloth diapering in June of 2010 when Heidi was a year and a half old and Piper was four months. I made the decision largely because having two children in disposable diapers was going to be an amazing strain on our finances and I really wanted to do something that was better for my children. I started out with a wonderful homemade detergent recipe that I thought was perfect to help save even more money since I could use it on all of the laundry. Since it was summer, I could even let the diapers dry in the sun, which is the best place to dry anything. All was wonderful, for about two months.

In late August, Heidi developed a rash. Piper, on the other hand, was perfectly fine and has generally remained fine throughout the duration of cloth diapering. Heidi, on the other hand, was suffering horribly while I tried to get this rash to go away. Of course, I did not have any cloth diaper safe creams on hand so she was between cloth and disposables whenever I put ointment on her. My first reaction to this was to switch detergents. Heidi had been diagnosed with eczema, so I knew she had sensitive skin, and someone told me that borax (which was in the detergent) was often an irritant for sensitive skin. So, I switched over to Rockin' Green. I stripped the diapers according to what a Rockin' Green representative told me and once the rash was completely gone, I put her back in the cloth. Lo and behold, no problems! At least, for a few weeks.

Suddenly, the rash came back. This time, it was even more horrible and I felt like a terrible mother for putting my child through this pain. Her diaper area was bright red and blotchy and even got to the point where it was almost entirely open sores. And I mean, open, bleeding sores all over her little bottom. So once again, I moved her into disposables in order to load her up with diaper cream and I decided to switch detergents again. She was also diagnosed with diaper dermatitis, basically meaning that she was allergic to her diapers.

This was the real kicker for me. How is it possible that horrible, chemical filled disposable diapers never gave her any problems but when I put a real, cloth diaper on her, she gets bleeding, open sores? I tried to do something good for her and it blew up in my face. Twice. I went to the wonderful Jillian's Drawers in Ithaca and spoke to their staff on several occasions. I went home with some RLR to strip the diapers again and some Allen's Naturally detergent, which they recommended for sensitive skin. Once the rash was gone, again, I put her back in the newly washed cloth and amazingly, we had no problems for two months!

Just when I thought there would be a happy ending, I get a curve ball. Ever since the diagnosis of diaper dermatitis, I've been wanting Heidi to use the toilet so I could just forget about the diapers on her and never have to see her suffer again. Unfortunately, we've hit a stalemate recently with potty training and while I am following her lead and leaving her alone about it, I also wanted to help her better understand her urges. For a few days, I had her go diaperless for most of the day and amazingly, she wouldn't pee for 3 or more hours at a time. Then, she would ask for her diaper and promptly soak it through. Yay for being able to hold your bowels! Unfortunately, I started to notice that her skin in her diaper area was so dry it looked like the desert floor. Thinking she may have had too much exposure to the air, I promptly put a diaper on her (a pre-fold so it wouldn't be too tight) and I did notice a slight improvement from being exposed to moisture. However, even with some cream (using a washcloth as a barrier between the cream and the diaper) it got better but kept coming back. So, since I was just about at the end of my Allen's detergent, I decided maybe I should switch again because that might also have been part of the problem. I read tons of posts about what detergent other moms use and looked at all the cloth diaper sites' detergent sections and finally decided on Charlie's. I started to regret it a day or two after I placed the order because I then found out it has been reported as causing rash or burns in some children. But, I figured I'd give it a try anyway.

So after stripping with RLR again, I used Charlie's. And bam, she has a rash again that I cannot get rid of. The ONLY cream that works for her is A & D. Desitin, buttpaste, california baby cream and even calendula all make it worse. I was at my wits end with this the second time it happened. Now, I don't even know where I am.

I have changed my wash routine a million times. I constantly hear conflicting reports about how to wash diapers and whether or not to use vinegar. Every time I've used vinegar with every load, I seem to have had better results so it was stupid of me to stop doing that. I think vinegar with every load may be the only reason Allen's worked so well for so long. Anyway, I've decided to go with All Free and Clear, since it was on a list of cloth diaper safe detergents and got 3 stars. I'll take that, since I already have it and don't have to spend more money on things that don't work. On a positive note, I won't have to buy laundry detergent for the next year between the Rockin' Green I still have, the tiny bit of Allen's and the Charlie's.

The bottom line is I do not want to see my child suffer any more. No one wants to see his or her baby in pain. I don't want to see her walking crooked because she hurts so much she can't walk straight or hear her scream when she sits down because of the pain. I don't know what to do because I absolutely, positively do NOT want to go back to disposables! I would rather stick needles in my eye! (OK, that is a bit excessive, but I just want to get my point across.)

Right now, she is in a disposable night-time diaper because the 3+ applications of A&D cream today did not work that well. I am praying, PRAYING that maybe the All Free and Clear will finally be the answer I've been looking for. I don't understand how so many people can switch to cloth and have perfectly lovely experiences when I have had so much freaking trouble.

OK, my rant is complete. In the morning, I shall take Piper's dirty diaper and wash the few others that are still dirty and strip the remaining ones I did not strip tonight yet again. If this doesn't work, I guess I'll be back at square one and one step closer to losing it.


  1. You're not a failure by any means....in fact you're an amazing mommy for taking on the extra hassle of cloth in the first place for the sake of providing your child with the best. I'm not going to give you any wash-routine suggestions because it sounds like you've tried a bajillion already. I really really hope things work out with the cloth, and you don't have to watch Heidi suffer ever again. If you do end up needing to use disposables though (which hopefully won't be the case), I'm a big fan of the 7th Generation. I used to use them when Aaryan went to daycare (they wouldn't do the cloth) and back when we were transitioning into the cloth. They veeeeery rarely leaked, and they didn't burn Aaryan's diaper area the way Pampers used to. I really really hope the All Free & Clear works out for you though, and that Heidi and you can enjoy a pleasant cloth-diapering experience. :-)

  2. P.S. I re-read my comment, and I just want you to know also that I'm not trying to upset you more and make you think that disposables are the only answer. I'm just trying to say that in the event that the cloth just isn't for Heidi, there diapers out there that you could use on her that aren't full of crap (haha...no pun intended!). ;-)

  3. Thank you :) I think the 7th Generation ones are the ones I have now, shoved in the back of one of our bathroom cabinets :). I do like them and I also liked the Huggies Natural ones, but the Earth's Best were just OK. Unfortunately, I'd have to use a regular diaper (disposable) at night because she's such a heavy wetter she destroys everything else lol. I totally understood what you were saying, don't worry! And don't think I was insulting the wash routine you told me because I definitely wasn't...I was just angry that nothing I've tried works. Well, the one routine sort of works, most of the time :)

  4. Yeah, I agree--the Earth's Best are ok, but I they did leak quite a few times. Also, I didn't think you were insulting my routine...I figured that you were just frustrated because nothing seems to work. Like I said though, I really hope the All Free & Clear is the answer and that the diaper rash isn't such a problem anymore. :-)

  5. I am one of those women who struggled with guilt. I couldn't breastfeed, which was hard enough for me to accept, but then after 11 months of formula feeding we found out he was allergic to it and it was the reason for all his painful digestive problems... I angrily switched pediatricians, who all 11 months had always insisted it was "normal" for him to be that way. I really struggled with my feelings of failure and guilt.

    When something means so much to us, it can be hard when it doesn't work out, especially when it affects your little angels. But hang in there! It'll be okay! Never doubt your a good Mom! No matter what ends up working for her, sposies or cloth, you know you've given her whatever is best for her specifically. Every child is different and what is best for each child is different.

    Just a note: I'm not sure which CD's you use, but I discovered my eczema baby was allergic to polyester (microfiber) and gets terrible terrible rashes from it. I realized this when I went from all cotton diapers to adding some bumgenius AIOs & tiny tush elites to his stash. I put a thin preemie pre-fold in them to line them or a homemade flannel liner and it (and diaper cream)solved the problem.