Thursday, August 02, 2007

Travelling with Cloth Diapers

At eighteen months, BabyG was, for the most part, potty trained. She consistently told us when she needed to go to the bathroom by saying pee pee, making the pssss sound, picking up her little potty, or grunting while squatting. She would try to take her diaper off and sit on the potty without assistance, but we usually needed to help her out. When she was done, she stood up, tried to pick up the potty, and walked it over to the toilet, but I helped out because I didn't want any spillage. We thought that maybe we wouldn't even need to take diapers when travelling to India and Thailand, but BabyG did occasionally wet a diaper (but always did #2 in the potty).

It was, of course, really difficult for BabyG and MaGreen on the fourteen hour plane trip from the US to Asia. During the first half of the flight, BabyG went through all of the diapers in the handbag and MaGreen used the maxipads from the airplane lavatory to line the diaper cover. BabyG seemed to sense the diaper situation at that point and during the second half of the flight she actually used the airplane toilet with her mommy's help.

When MaGreen and BabyG walked out of the airport terminal in Bangkok, both had this look on their faces, like they were trying their hardest not to cry. When BabyG got sight of me, she did start to cry. Not a full throttle, but bewildered and weak. We gave the diapers to the hotel laundry service and they charged $1.50 per diaper! So when BabyG wet a few diapers over the next couple of days while sightseeing in Bangkok, I promptly soaked them in the sink before they started to stink and tried to dry them in the window. They didn't dry well in the window so MaGreen found a spot on the roof near the hotel's solar water heaters.

During the flight to India, BabyG wet a few more diapers and we decided to wash the whole batch in my aunt's washing machine. Until recently, none of my family members in India had washing machines. They don't have dryers. All the lines strung in the balcony and all the bars across the windows were hung with our laundry.

I like the picture above. There are BabyG's diapers, slowly drying despite the monsoon rains. It rained for three straight days when we arrived. It's so cloudy, the energy-sipping, tube light seems brighter than the natural light. My cousin's wife is there quietly arranging things. She has a degree in statistics. She says that it's difficult to find part-time work in India and concentrates on raising two children and running the household, which she does very gracefully. As we toured the state of Gujarat, I noticed the laundry hanging from all the homes, nearly every balcony festooned, some with saris billowing out. BabyG returned to her Elimination Communication ways and it was over a week before we needed the diapers washed again. We were staying at a house where a young maid did the wash by hand and I saw her make a face at the diapers but she washed them.

So we travelled to the other side of the planet using cloth diapers. In case you were wondering, it can be done. It wasn't especially hard. I washed them myself by hand, sometimes we had access to a washing machine, and other times a professional washer woman did the work. And they dried, even during the monsoon. I feel good about not leaving a trail of soiled plastic across Asia.


Fiddler said...

Good job :) I get so inspired when I check in with your blog...

John Powers said...

Hey, I agree with fiddler about the inspiration.

I found your blog searching for "Incompetent Gardener;" I was looking for some old writing on mine on the Web. I laughed with this post because I too like the look of clothes drying.

Shrijnana said...

That is devotion!!! Traveling with cloth diapers! Thanks for the remonder that with will, and some ingenuity, these things CAN be done.

GreenDaddy said...

I think it's a little funny that y'all used "inspired" and "devotion" to describe our using cloth diapers abroad.

The Monreal said...

Nice Job. Good for you!