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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Prematurity and over-coming the odds with the help of cloth diapers.

Having 3 kids has truly been the happiest moments of my life. Each of them is uniquely special and each of them bring a different and fulfilling joy to my heart everyday. Our life changed when one was born prematurely. Needing medical care, medications, ventilators. I would do anything at all to protect her. Need me to walk on water in order to save my child, I WILL find a way to do that. Give me any suggestion, anything, what might help, a slim chance that is ok I will try it all. I just want my baby to be healthy. You want me to use cloth diapers, rubber pants and prefolds it is. Thankfully there was this brand new internet thing. Remember the days of 48 K downloads being super fast, good ole AOL paid by the hour. In the short time we had to be online, I spent it on a variety of parenting boards. I had a preemie I needed advice, I needed help. Who could share with me how to get over the horror of watching your child die. The horror of doctors doing CPR and trying to save your baby. Please help me to move on and out of this nightmare. How do I care for my other 2 older children while my baby is laying lifeless in the hospital on a ventilator. Struggling to take each and every breath. My sweet girl makes it through the most harrowing days of my life, she comes home, and we go on with our life, attached to heart monitors, doctors appointments, breathing machines, one sniffle and suddenly near death once again. We need to stop this vicious cycle, how do we stop it, what can I do?

In a moment the answer came, try switching her to cloth, it might help. I could not get to the store fast enough I would do anything yet this is such an easy solution. Prefolds and rubber pants here I come. Hey they work, it's not quite as bad as I thought it was. Time to do a little more research, there has to be something a little easier, something less time consuming, something a little less rubbery. Something that would fit my big and chunky little girl without leaving the red marks on her legs. The red marks that were far better than the breathing problems.

Amazingly, immediately, there was change, there was health, there were fewer needs for medicine, no longer driving to the children's emergency room pulling on her hair so that she stays awake for the entire drive, so I could hear her and know that she was alive and breathing. A cry was far better than the alternative.

Our searching for the perfect product never produced anything for us so with a little help from my daughters grammie we made her some cloth diapers. Just like walking on water for her, I was sewing for her. Something I really had never done before. I didn't take a home ec. class. Although my mom made our clothes when we were little by the time I was old enough to learn to sew she stopped. I knew how to hem a pair of pants or fix a whole as long as it is on a seam. I even had a sewing machine, thanks to Costco and their great prices it was a pretty decent one with lots of different stitches but I only knew how to use one of them, the straight stitch. But all of this was OK. I didn't need anything else. All I needed was a few supplies and the pattern made by grammie and it was going to be done.
Those first few diapers were not the best. They worked well, they fit her perfectly, they were cute prints and that was all that mattered to me.

In 3 months that little girl who struggled to breathe and had to make the decision whether or not she wanted to live this life or not is doing wonderfully and will be turning 8. She is a big girl, tall just like her daddy. She is beautiful and full of joy and spunk. She loves to run and play. She loves school, especially art. She is mommy's girl, daddy's girls, brothers girl.

If I knew then what I know now I would have never ever put a disposable diaper on any of my children. How do we know that these diapers exasperated her problems? After we switched my Sarah to cloth diapers in the beginning I just did not have enough to last, it was new, plus I had some extra disposables. So I would use one here and there and each and every time she would have breathing problems, remove the diaper and the issues resolve, add the diaper and it gets worse. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that she was allergic to the diaper. Her allergy though did not present itself like most diaper allergies. She never had a diaper rash, she just could not breath from the off-gassing of the chemicals.

Fast forward again to nearly 8 yrs later. We have a mission, a mission to keep babies safe. In the early 1970-1980's many parents lost their babies to car accidents. Their mission was to protect children, enforce car seat and seatbelt laws. These are simple acts that can save a child. Today my mission is to keep as many babies as possible away from the chemicals. Yes I know that sounds harsh but if my baby had such problems related to disposable diapers then how many more do as well. I know we are not alone. I look at the babies with the recurrent rashes that nothing will help. Constant redness, blisters, crying, medications, different brands of diapers. One of the last things looked at is the diaper itself, why not try cloth. Just like walking on water, we will do and try anything for our babies. Epidermolysis bullosa acquisita, the disease that causes babies skin to be in a constant blister, painful, diapering makes the condition worse. The simple act of switching to a softer, less irritating product, cloth helps to decrease the severity of this. Will it make it go away, no but does it help, yes.

Having been blessed in being able to make that switch for our child and finding that something as simple as making a switch to cloth diapers can make many positive changes. Right now I am focusing on the severe health benefits. Not everyone thankfully will ever be in the same position that our family has faced. But every family has the choice as to how they care for their child, cloth diapers, environmentally safe diapers, regular ole disposable diapers. This is a personal choice and one that each of us should sit down and seriously think about. It is not an easy cut and dry answer like it used to be, today you do have a choice. Make the one that works best for your family and your baby.
Linda Byerline

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