Over the past months, we have received many a great baby-related gift — incredible hand-knit sweaters, body- and heart-warming blankets, gorgeous hand-written checks…the works. We’ve also purchased more than a few items ourselves — swings, tinctures, salves, batteries. But out of this blessed mountain of lovely and practical stuff, possibly the most valuable acquisitions we’ve received so far are the dozen or so plain old cloth diapers that (I think?) Natalie recommended we register for, and that (I think?) Erin and Adrienne actually purchased for us.
Above and beyond their intended use as a catchall for a baby’s hindmost quarters, plain old cloth diapers, it turns out, have no end of ingenious uses.
They swab up spit-up, clean up coffee spills, and protect the changing pad when the changing pad cover has already been soaked in pee yet someone (Marco! Or wait…no, that was I. Many apologies from Past Me!) forgets to replace it. They prove handily absorbent for tears shed over Anne of Green Gables, a happy rediscovery from a box of childhood books recently rescued from my parents’ attic.
They also help the baby sleep. Per Van Halen, our cradle indeed rocks. Unfortunately, rather than sooth Desmo to sleep, all that the traditional side-to-side rocking does is stimulate him into bright-eyed, bushy-tailed wakefulness. But! By wedging cloth diapers under both rockers, we have been able to totally take back the night:
Plain old cloth diapers are even powerful enough to keep the baby asleep during a deafening nail storm:
Note: As you can see, longitudinal rocking (vs. the cradle’s latitudinal rocking) as produced by his swing is for some reason fine. He is a very particular baby. We try to use the swing only sparingly, however, because my gut tells me the sleep it provides isn’t as wholesome as the zzz produced by more stationary bedding. But sometimes the swing is the only thing that works. Parenting, I’m finding, is full of last (vs. tropical) resorts.
Did you know that babies can go three, four, even five days without shitting? Apparently their little bodies become so efficient at processing knockermilk that their bottom ends slow to a virtual standstill. This marked lack of productivity can be alarming for new parents (such as yours truly), but according to the baby-shit experts, it’s perfectly normal and not in any way cause for concern. However if, at day five, you can stand the suspense no longer, simply place a call to your pediatrician. As I discovered firsthand, one panicked phone call to your baby’s doctor is all it takes to make said baby’s ass explode in a fit of excellent “oh, wait…nevermind” timing.
On one hand, the shit-delay feature is pretty nice, since the pee-focused diapers that occur during the quiet before the storm are relatively scent- and mess-free. (Mess-free with the notable exception of the occasional surprise moments-between-diapers urine geyser. Ask Marco to tell you about the time he thought Desi had a piece of string stuck to his penis, a piece of string that somehow disappeared when Marco when to grab it…after a number of sleep-deprived attempts, Marco finally figured out that the string he was trying to grab was actually an elusive stream of urine. Ah, parenthood, etc.!)
On the other hand, when the day of reckoning ultimately arrives, it’s pretty spectacular. Shit Day cleanup involves a complete outfit change for both the baby and whoever was unfortunate enough to be holding him at the time of detonation. And cleaning up the baby is positively sisyphusian, with any progress you make repeatedly undermined by his shitted-up heels, which he bicycles gleefully, thereby redistributing the wealth of excrement over any areas you may have already managed to swab. It takes many, many wipes, and possibly a rinsing in the bathtub, to finish the job. Sometimes even the floor even needs to be mopped.
The whole process is usually a two-person job. Whoever’s holding the baby will yell, “It’s HAPPENING!” and the other person sprints into action.
Which is why, when Desi cut loose today — as indicated by his suddenly red, red face followed by an audible trumpeting from his hindmost quarters — rather than rush him to the changing table, I picked up the phone and called Marco.
Me: “What’s your ETA?”
Marco: “Traffic is awful…should be home in about an hour. Why?”
Me: “Do you think, if I sit here absolutely motionless, Desi’s shit-packed diaper can maintain its integrity long enough to wait for your return?”
Or maybe I should just wait until his nanny share begins in November to change him?