I rubbed my eyes and switched on the lamp. It was 3:18am. I leaned over the bassinet and gently lifted my baby to my shoulder. She bobbed her little head against my cheek, looking for the breast. I inhaled her sweet, snuggly, newborn scent and whispered, “let’s change your diaper.”
I laid her down on the bed in front of me. Moving quickly, yet slowly, I memorized every inch of her tiny body. I unzipped her sleeper and gently massaged her legs, feeling the warmth and softness of her dark pink skin. I opened her diaper and was proud to see a half dollar sized dollop of poop. I poked my husband awake so he could see.
My baby kicked her little legs, spreading her toes, enjoying the freedom she received every two hours or so. I rubbed her soles, smelled her toes and kissed her tiny feet. She spread her arms wide and brought her fist to her mouth. It was time to hurry on now. I reached over her and grabbed a clean diaper from a fully stocked diaper caddy. I neatly folded and discarded the soiled diaper and put on the new one. I zipped her back up and lifted her to my breast.
I have changed my daughter’s diaper countless times since then. And every time, it is special (even, now, in the midst of a three-week-long-diarrhea spell). Every time, I get an uninterrupted moment to study her. To kiss her belly. To smell her piggy toes (though, now, she much prefers if I tell her how stinky they are). To tickle her perfectly plump thighs. To care for her in a totally selfless way. To respect her. To nurture her.
Diaper changes are the butt of a lot of jokes (pun intended). But, at their core, they are an incredibly special moment between caregiver and child.
When I first toured Sweet Cheeks, I had to fight back tears. I didn’t know we had the 5th highest child poverty rate in the country. I was shocked to learn about the 16,600 Greater Cincinnati babies whose parents cannot afford to purchase enough diapers every day. My stomach turned imagining the dread these parents must feel, waiting for the next bowel movement. Imagining the pain another mother goes through as she drags rough toilet paper or a wet rag across an angry diaper rash before putting the soiled diaper back on her baby. Or the father who rushes to the convenience store, discovering he has enough money for just 18 diapers.
To last a week.
Diaper need shouldn't be responsible for parental depression, child abuse, and adverse health affects. But it is.
Diaper changes should be a rite of passage for parents.
An opportunity for bonding. For tickling, and kissing, and piggy smelling.
They should not be a source of stress.
But for 16,600 children and their parents, here in our backyard, they are.
You can help eliminate diaper need in our city. Register for the No Child Wet Behind 5k now. Then, take the #CincyDiaperDriveChallenge and tag your friends.