Friday, January 27, 2012

The Exciting Ultrasound.

Yesterday I had that long awaited anatomy ultrasound.  I think I will just get right down to it.  I've mentioned it before, but seeing your child on that screen NEVER gets old.  What an amazing joy.  I could see the facial features, arms, legs, hands and feet.  Oh and not to mention that bold image of the spine and detailed picture of the heart.  The heart is what amazed me the most.  The tech had enlarged the image and there we saw the perfectly formed heart with the four chambers and you could see the valves pumping and the blood flow.  Truly amazing.  Baby is said to be quite healthy.  My dates are pretty much the same.  By LMP my edd is June 7 and by ultrasound my edd is May 31st, so in my book, I will stick with my "early June" answer.  

So now the long awaited answer.  We are having another BOY!  And let me tell you, there was no hiding it too!  It was very obvious that we are having a boy.  Many people already know, except for the oldest two kids.  They want to be surprised, but I'm not sure it will be kept for the next 20 or so weeks.  Did you also know that it is very difficult to explain to a 3 year old that the 2D images in the black and white picture is a little brother?  She tried to set me straight that it was a girl, but I eventually convinced her with his picture.  

So now the naming begins.  We were all prepared for a girl (and I even have girly diapers, thankfully they are fitteds so they can easily be covered by boyish covers), but I guess that name will have to wait. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Half Way There.

Today marked my 21 week OB visit.  And once again my doctor laughed and asked me what he should be doing.  After all this is my fourth baby with them since '08 and it is my sixth child!  Yeah, made me laugh too.  

It was a very good visit though.  No mention of, "let's just keep an eye on your weight" though I will proudly announce that I have only gained 5 pounds in 21 weeks!!!  My blood pressure is great.  Though I did learn something new.  He said that the blood pressure going down a bit in the early stages of pregnancy and then coming up is physiologically normal.  I just figured that when I get pregnant mine just steadily climbs.  Baby's heartbeat was wonderful, though the little bean was feisty.  Baby gave three good thumps at the doppler wand and made the doctor work at finding the heartbeat which was in the 140s.  One of the thumps was hard enough that I felt it on the outside at the top of my belly!  That was one strong kick because I have plenty of padding up there!  

I have not yet had my ultrasound done yet because the machine has not been working right.  However, I just got a call and it is scheduled for Thursday morning at 11am.  WOW!  I am so stinking excited!!!  Hearing the heartbeat, that first ultrasound, and the anatomy ultrasound NEVER get old. 

All Is Not Lost: Yet.

I know my diapers are not clean.  When your nose curls from the waft of ammonia from your child's night time diaper, or the lingering smell from the diaper pail, you know you are not doing something right.  I came across a very enlightening conversation on on when ammonia is normal and to be honest, ammonia is not normal when talking about cloth diapers.  Ammonia is normal in that it is a product of urine, but in your cloth diaper ammonia is a build up which needs to be washed out completely.  

Okay, so pretty much every diaper I own has been holding onto ammonia.  So I started with all my pockets.  Those are my go to diapers.  They are the easiest to use, my husband can use them, even my 9 year old is able to use them.  So I decided to start with a soak.  I unloaded all of my pockets and inserts into the tub and began to fill with hot water and three scoops of my homemade detergent.  I did this in hopes that the borax and washing soda would penetrate into the microfiber and release the ammonia crystals.  I soaked them for most of the afternoon occasionally going in to agitate them a little bit.  After the soak I put them into the washer (and here I think I may have goofed) and simply ran a hot wash cycle with no extra detergent.  I'm starting to think that I should have either added a half a scoop of detergent or maybe some bleach.  I don't know.  I haven't used the diapers yet!  HA!

In the mean time I decided to use my stash of flats and prefolds.  In light of the DiaperSwappers conversation, I decided to take any flat or prefold that smelled like ammonia after use and put them in a wet pail with 2 caps of bleach.  I pretty much knew right away that all of my unbleached cotton prefolds were going to have ammonia.  So those along with the flats used for night sat in a wet pail.  Also, I decided to pre-wash any unused flat by adding 2 caps of bleach to my pre-wash on cold, then a hot wash with detergent.  The pre-wash with bleach seems to have helped with the flats.  I smelled many of my son's pee diapers and there was no ammonia.  What I have also learned is that bleach helps break down the ammonia as well, but bleach is something I'm trying to avoid using so often.  However, if using it once a couple weeks for maintenance, then I can handle that.  

The verdict so far seems to be pretty positive.  My flats have no ammonia smell.  What they do have (including the prefolds) are stains.  Stains were not very common when using Tide, so that may be something to consider.  When I bury my nose into the stains, there is no smell.  Stains I can handle.        

Thursday, January 19, 2012

I Will Win the Battle.

I finally took the big step the other day and I had to wash a load of diapers.  I'm not sure if I have mentioned it in any previous posts, but I have been fighting the dreaded ammonia monster in my diapers.  I've tried vinegar when I was out of bleach, and though the diapers didn't smell like ammonia, they still had a very strong odor.  I knew that Borax and Washing Soda help take out odors, so I was hopeful that using my new homemade detergent was going to work.

I've been having a feeling that I was starting to get build up.  Not just because of the odors, but because of the way my diapers felt.  They still felt some what soft, definitely not brand new soft, but I still felt okay putting them on my son.  The ones I really wasn't too thrilled about were my bamboo fitteds and pockets.  No matter how I washed/dry them they felt scratchy.  

I try to keep my wash routine simple.  Unfortunately, my old machine (it is almost 10 years old) does not put out much water.  Yes it is a front loader, and many people say you can trick it into adding more water, but I have not been successful at that.  So I do a cold short wash with no detergent, a hot heavy wash with detergent (in the past with bleach as well) then a cold short wash with no detergent to make sure everything is rinsed out.  

This last time I used my homemade detergent.  I instinctively reached for the bleach, but I really want to get away from that.  I didn't add it though in hopes that just the new soap was going to be enough.  When the diapers were done in the washer, they smelled wonderful.  There was just a light scent of the Fels Naptha and not a single scent of funk or poop.  Even with my beloved Tide, there would still be odor problems especially with my AIO.  So to smell an actual clean diaper coming out of the washer, well I felt really stoked!  I decided to hang my covers this time; yeah I know, I shouldn't be putting them in the dryer, but I really felt that maybe drying would help with the stink.  I tossed the inserts, prefolds, and my AIO (since they take forever to dry) into the dryer on low and hung the covers.  As I was hanging them, I happily smelled every one.  

Once the dryer finished I was happy to pull them out and start stuffing, and for me this is big because I kind of get weary of stuffing diapers all the time.  Anyway, I would bury my nose into all my inserts, prefolds, and my AIO.  I was thrilled!!  My AIO smelled clean!  No scent of even the detergent in them.  Everything felt, looked, and smelled clean.  My bamboo fitteds were as soft as they were when I first got them in the mail.  I even had my husband stick his nose in an AIO and take a deep breath.  He was surprised too!  I knew that I couldn't get too optimistic about it because the true test would be when I put the night diapers on my kids and find out what happens when they pee in them.  

In the morning I didn't have to even take the diaper off to know that it didn't work.  I could smell the unforgettable scent coming from those two little bodies.  I still had ammonia.  To say I was mad was an understatement.  I even muttered the words that I was ready to give up on these dumb diapers.  Anyway, after coming back to my senses (and the fact that I refuse to pay $20 for a box of diapers) I began to think about what else I can do with my diapers to fix them.  So here is what I am thinking.  I mentioned earlier I think there is build up, after all I have been dealing with stink for months now.  So if one wash can strip the surface clean, I wonder if a long hot soapy soak will get down into the prefolds and inserts.  And I want to say that it is not just my microfiber that stinks.  They all stink including my cotton prefolds and flats.  Yeah even my flats smell like ammonia.  

So here is my plan.  I have enough flats to get through at least a day.  I will send my dirty diapers through a cold wash with just a bit of detergent then soak all my pockets, AIO, inserts, and prefolds in the tub with hot soapy water.  Not sure how long.  I will start with a few hours.  Maybe for the afternoon.  Then I will toss them into the washer for a hot soapy wash and end with a cold rinse.  Now this is just my thoughts on the issue and I really have no idea if it will actually work, but I have to try something.     

Took the Plunge, Made My Own Soap.

On my journey towards "cleaner" living (and if anyone knows me I still have a long way to go), I've decided to take a big step and make my own laundry detergent.  My motivation actually came from my good friend Sharon when she shared a recipe from the diyNatural website.  I won't post the whole recipe here since you can get a detailed instruction from the site.  Basically it only requires equal parts of three ingredients:  Soap (like Fels Naptha), Borax, Washing Soda.  Simple right?  

The making and mixing of it was fairly easy.  I used an old cheese grater and started shaving away.  No one told me that making my own soap was also a muscle toning workout.  After what I thought was an eternity and 20 questions from my 3 year old as to what I was doing with the cheese (yeah, she kept calling the soap cheese), I finally had it all grated.  I then added a cup each of the Borax and Washing Soda.  And in case anyone was wondering there is a difference between Washing Soda and Baking Soda (I actually had to research it because I didn't know the difference).  The Diaper Pin has a great article about the differences between Washing Soda and Baking Soda.    

I then began the recommended 5 minutes of mixing.  So I actually set my timer and began mixing.  Again with my 3 year old on the stool asking various questions about my "cheese", I mixed away.  However, it just wasn't combining like they showed on the site.  They had used a bar of Ivory soap, so don't know if the type of soap matters, but I just was not able to get a fine looking powder.  Well, and it doesn't help that the Fels Naptha is yellow and the Borax and Washing Soda are white.  Anyway, so I did some more reading and came across a post by on making your own laundry soap.  They recommended cutting the soap into chunks and put it through a food processor.  So that is what I did. 

After getting it all through my little machine, I finally had a decent "powder".  You can still see the Fels Naptha in it, but it all looks much more incorporated.  At the time I still had one load worth of Tiny Bubbles for my diapers, and I really wasn't "bold" enough to try it out on my diapers right away, so I used it on all the clothes that were piling up in my kitchen.  So far my clothes have turned out very nice with this soap.  I was concerned that it wouldn't work in cold water, but it seems to dissolve just fine.  

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Just Another Visit.

I guess since I committed to write about my journey to a hospital birth, I should give an update on my last visit.  It was Dec 28th (yeah, that was a while ago) but since I didn't write about it, that should tell you that there really isn't anything to report.  I'm totally cool with that!!  Again my bp is good, I'm sure not fantastic compared to the norm, but for me it is good.  Weight gain has been somewhere around the 2-3 pound mark (depends on which scale you listen to).  However, there is a pattern I'm starting to see.  My weight is always mentioned.  Now normally I wouldn't stress it, but when you hear about it every visit it becomes a little annoying. 

Anyway, my blood work all came back negative so that is good.  And now we wait for the call for the 20 week ultra sound to be scheduled.  In this small town with a small town hospital, they don't call you until the day before your u/s is scheduled and they tell you the time.  My next visit is Jan 25 which will be my 20 week visit so sometime that week hopefully I will have my u/s.  

Night Time Diapers.

Well it looks like it is time to revamp my night time solution.  *sigh*  For quite some time now (at least a year) I have been using KaWaii Goodnight Heavy Wetters.  That is a fairly bulletproof cover, by the way.  Stuffed inside were two microfiber inserts.  I thought that was the greatest thing ever!!  Can you tell I've never had a heavy wetter yet?  So, this worked great for a while.  Then we started to have leaks.  Eh, I'm no stranger to leaks so I started researching for more absorbent inserts.  I found the amazing soakability powers of hemp.  I've heard many moms swear by hemp for night time solutions.  So on the search I went.  I really didn't need to look far as I had 4 hemp microfiber combo doublers stuffed away in my closet.  Remember my last blog about the 188 diapers in my closet?  Well I found these among that pile.  I had put them away because I bought them when I was using only prefolds with my two girls.  I would put them in my prefold for their night time diaper.  And it worked awesome too; why did I ever forget them?  Oh I should mention that they were made by Blueberry, but unfortunately I can't even find them on their website.  

So after having to actually research how to properly use them (microfiber on top, hemp on bottom) I decided to give them a try in my KaWaii.  Once again, problem solved.  Now it may sound like a lot, but I used that doubler along with a microfiber insert in my pockets.  It was a fluffy bum, but not gigantic.  With my new found love for hemp I decided to find some other hemp products and came across Hemp Babies Prefolds.  I tried stuffing this into my BumGenius AIO and for my 2 year old it was magic!  She went 12+ hours in that diaper.  Unfortunately it was too big for my son, so I had to stick with the KaWaii pockets.  

Well, now we are back to square one (sort of).  The KaWaii are no longer working for either one of my little ones.  My daughter is 2 and my son is 1 and they are peeing right through it.  My son is a tummy sleeper, and I try to keep the inserts up front, but even still, the front of the cover is soaked.  I know part of the problem is that the Blueberry doubler is only a medium and I need a large.  That may fix it but they don't make them anymore, or at least I can't find them.  I need another solution, so to my diverse stash I go.  My son is big enough that the AIO are starting to fit him, so my AIO are now my go to night time diapers.  

The hardest decision was to decide what to stuff in them.  I only have two Hemp Babies, so that will work for one night, but I don't wash every day.  In my own store I have Thirsties Hemp Prefolds.  Wow, these things are just awesome.  I had grabbed one from the store so I could simply see how well it worked.  I was skeptical at first.  This prefold looked like some cotton jersey sewn together.  Well it sort of is.  It is made from hemp jersey and it is one of the softest hemps I have ever felt.  My only complaint is that it is not very big so it really can't be used like a normal prefold where you can snappi or pin around your baby.  Well I should clarify that.  If you have skinny or smaller babies, they could be used that way, but for my big babies I can't.  However that is not a problem.  I think these diapers were made primarily for trifolding use.  So that is exactly what I did.  I stuffed it into my BG AIO and put it on my 2 year old.  Once again, I was not disappointed.  In fact I was very happy in that it is slightly a trimmer option than a regular prefold in an AIO.  I was equally surprised to find that this prefold works wonders in a flat even for night!

My final solution that I came up with is simply using a prefold.  I have some Green Mountain Diaper brown edge, Econobums, and one OsoCozy from my store.  The GMD are too big to stuff so I don't use those.  The Econobums are too small to pin or snappi on my son so they work very well to stuff with.  However they are a bit narrow when trifolded, so when I trifold it in the AIO, it makes it a bit bulky.  My favorite prefold for stuffing is the OsoCozy Indian Unbleached prefold.  These can seem a bit deceiving in that they don't look very thick, but they are.  Once they have been prepped enough and they are used in your stash, they fluff up nicely and absorb well.  

My night time stash has had to evolve over the last few months.  With growing babies, and yes let's face it, growing bladders, things have to change.  Here then is the running list of my favorite night time solutions.  

BG AIO with Thirsties Duo Hemp Prefold
Birdseye Unbleached Flat with Thirsties Duo Hemp Prefold
BG AIO with Hemp Babies Prefold
BG AIO with OsoCozy Prefold
BG AIO with Econobum Prefold

Now the BG AIO does get substituted once in a while with flats on those rare occasions of, "oops I didn't wash diapers today."  

Monday, January 9, 2012

Finding and Fulfilling a Need.

The following post is copied from my personal blog from back in January of 2011.  I share it only in hopes of giving someone another idea for any unused diapers.  

A couple of weeks ago mom and I had gone to a impromptu "Meet and Greet" in Omaha (yeah, a 2 hr drive) to meet Kelly Wels. She is the previous owner of and owner of KellysCloset (she also has a blog ). And through her facebook I came across the last minute meet up and I just couldn't pass up such an opportunity. Imagine my surprise that I would meet someone there that I would know! A question Kelly asked was how many diapers do we have. I clarified the question wanting to know the number we use or actually own. Off the top of my head from a previous count and conversation with my brother Jay, I thought I had about 96 diapers. Yes that's right, just under 100 diapers are under my possession.

The young woman I met at the Meet and Greet was from the Lincoln area (we met at our Lamaze class just a few months ago). She had written a note on her facebook about her stash and how many she had. She too had around 100 which were not all in use as some were newborn and others like Gerber prefolds are better as burp rags than diapers. So I sat with my calculator and added up how much I really did have. Imagine to my surprise I actually own 188 diapers. Now granted some of these are Gerber (39) and some are newborn, but really, 188!?! Hm, that's beyond addiction I'd say, that's borderline hoarding! So I realized something needs to be done with all these diapers. In reality I only use 48 (8 being night diapers only). Each kid (Veronica and Michael) have 19 diapers which gets me through an every other day wash routine.

Okay, so back to what to do with all these diapers. I had considered selling them, but as someone who really only buys new (actually I've only bought new diapers) I was hesitant to sell them. We could definitely use the money, but it was feeling like selling was not what I wanted to do with them. Part of my procrastination in getting rid of them is that emotionally I couldn't part with them. Yep, that's right. I'm emotionally attached to my diapers. I've spent many many hours on the internet reading and researching diapers trying to find that "perfect" diaper for my babies. I keep thinking, "But what if I want to use it again? Switch things up again from my pocket diapers?" However, deep inside I knew I wasn't going to go back to the two part system of fitteds/covers or the three part system of prefold/fastener/cover. I like my pockets and my new love of AIO (but that is a whole different blog). So, I've been sitting on these 188 diapers wondering what I'm going to be doing with them.

A few weeks ago, I read a blog by Autumn Beck (love her blog All About Cloth Diapers) Selling Cloth Diapers to Help Orphans in Ethiopia. And she had spoken about two women who have/are adopting a child from Ethiopia. With over 30 babies in diapers, the orphanage did not have enough to diaper all the little bottoms. Their greatest need is prefolds, microfiber inserts, and covers. Well hot dog!! My stash (minus the pockets and AIO) are mainly prefolds, covers, and a few fitteds. So after supper the kids and I pulled out all my tubs in storage. When I came across these blogs, my heart sang! THAT'S IT!! This is what needs to be done with my diapers! The thought of plastic bags and disposable diapers being rinsed and reused broke my heart. For a fleeting moment while I packed them, I thought, "But oh, I may want to try these again." But I quickly squashed that thought remembering what I read. So my diapers have found their calling. Hopefully later this week I will have a chance to get them all mailed.

Getting it all in one place really shocked me. I was amazed at how much was just sitting there being unused. So in my collection I had the following:

Gerber Flats/Prefolds: 39
Gerber Pull-on Pants: 13
Snugglebottoms Fitteds: 18
Kissaluv Fitteds: 18
GoodMama fitteds: 2
Thirsties Duo, Bummis Whisper Wrap, Blueberry Wrap Covers: 16
Green Mountain Prefolds: 11
Diaper Rite Prefolds (S/M/L): 12/12/12
Unknown Prefold (I know I blogged about it but can't find the name): 6
Snappi: 5
Diaper Pins: 7 pairs

After counting (and Rachael being a dear and keeping a list) I got it all boxed up and ready to be mailed.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Could This Be My Answer?

Hard water.  I loathe it.  It crusts up my pipes, clogs my faucets, spots up and films on my dishes, and makes my diapers retain stink.  I'm also not too thrilled with my front loader, but I think my wash routine gets enough water to the diapers.  As a quick re-cap, my wash routine goes something like this:  pre-wash cold with no soap, hot heavy wash with soap and bleach, cold short wash with no soap.  Yeah, sounds like a lot of water, but my machine does not put out much, so in the end I think it is okay.  

Anyway, due to our hard water I have been battling ammonia stink in my diapers.  Suggestions for wash routines in the cloth diapering world are a dime a dozen.  What works for one does not (unfortunately) work for another.  I've done a lot of reading about keeping diapers clean and stink free.  I'm going on almost three years of straight cloth diapers and within the last year or so is when I've been dealing with ammonia almost constantly.  I pull much of my knowledge from an awesome site and the ever so popular thread on washing diapers.  

From what I have gathered, heat is your best friend.  Wash in hot water and dry (inserts and prefolds) on hot to kill the bacteria.  Bleach I'd say is number two.  Some do it once a month to sanitize and keep diapers fresh.  However, I have been using it with every load.  Yeah, that's a lot of bleach.  Every other day I was pouring about 2 caps full of bleach into my machine in hopes of killing the stink and ammonia.  Needless to say though, I don't think it really effects the absorbency or the PUL on my diapers, but it is totally killing the elastic in my covers.  When I pull the diapers out of the washer, they smell heavily like bleach (even with the extra cold wash) and from the dryer some of them will have a bit of a funk smell.  Not to mention come morning time the unforgettable waft of ammonia from a heavily peed in nighttime diaper.  I figured this was the best I could do.  I didn't think anything else would work.  

I've done extensive reading (and unfortunately though, I totally love the very informative blogs, I didn't bother to bookmark them so I can't share where I found them, sorry) and there seem to be other alternatives to bleach.  I've had a bit of a feeling of hypocrisy when I say that cloth diapers are better for baby's health and then I'm practically drowning them in bleach.  So, the word on the street is there are three "natural" alternatives to bleach.  The first would be baking soda, then vinegar, and borax.  I can't speak for borax as I've not used it.  I've tried baking soda with little success.  The ammonia went away for a couple of washes, but then it came back.  The last time I used vinegar was when we had a stacked washer/dryer unit and I was using only prefolds.  I hadn't perfected my wash routine, so I don't know that vinegar was really all that useful.  At any rate, I began using vinegar again.  Now I have only used it for two loads, tomorrow will be my third, and so far so good.  The only thing I have noticed is that heavily urinated diapers have a concentrated urine odor; no ammonia, but definitely a strong urine smell.  

So, this may be my answer.  I think the true answer won't come for another couple of weeks when I have done this several times.