Not a Square: Modified Kite Fold for Birdseye Rectangles

So, once I got my first batch of cloth diapers home, and gave them an inaugural wash, I went looking for directions on how to fold the things into usable diapers.  After some searching, and weeding through a whole lot of directions on how to do prefolds (but google, I don’t have prefolds!)…  I found this page, which was extremely helpful. She lists two different sets of instructions: origami fold and kite fold, both of which seem very easy and practical. Unfortunately, she was working with squares. My diapers are all distinctly rectangular, and it’s not like I have a lot of other options. But I experimented, and came up with a slight modification of the kite fold to make it work for rectangles. It looks like it could work, but it’ll be months before I know for sure. In the meantime… I’ll practice my diaper-fu and hope for the best.

My first attempts all came out looking like this:

I couldn’t help thinking something was not quite right. Eventually, I figured it out: no leg holes!  I had left out a crucial step.  So here’s my slight modification of the nice cloth diaper lady’s instructions, to work for rectangles:

Step 1

A flat rectangle.

Step 2

Fold top left corner in. Exact proportions are negotiable, which is good because both diapers and babies come in a lot of sizes.

Step 3

Bring the bottom left corner up to the center of the fold from step 2.

Step 4

Bring the top right corner up to the fold from step 2, but since it’s a rectangle, it’ll go somewhere past the center, maybe even all the way to the other end of the fold.

Step 5

Take that excess bit that went past the middle, and fold it back so it’s symmetrical.

Step 6

Take that tab at the lower right, and bring it up to the opposite edge, or just short of it.

Step 7

That fold you just made in step 6? That’s now the bottom edge. Fold the sides in at the bottom, but not the top, to make this lily shape– if you leave out this step, the leg holes will be missing.

Step 8

Bring the bottom edge up to the top again.

Step 9

Fold the side corners in.

Well, they look like diapers. I sure hope they work like diapers, too!


Cloth Diapers: They DO Exist!

Yesterday marked a wildly successful trip to the local mercado. I had given up on finding cloth diapers anywhere but my midwife’s office, and was just about to give up on basic cotton receiving blankets, when we stopped by a tiny, hole-in-the-wall baby shop and lo! There on the shelf, down by the floor where I happened to glance, was a cubby packed to the edges with neatly folded white fabric things labeled “pañal” and “bombasí”. Pañal is a word I know! That’s diaper! And those were definitely fabric, not anything disposable, so we inquired about them, she pulled them out for us to look at, and they were in fact non-prefold birdseye cotton diapers. The “bombasí” turned out to be cotton receiving blankets! They were sturdy woven cotton on one side, and very, very soft flannel on the other: plain white with two narrow red stripes. Both were ridiculously cheap compared to back-home prices, and we came home with a stack of them. I’ll probably go back for more, now that I know where to find them. Without a washer and dryer, I suspect a dozen diapers will not be enough.

I’m not a huge fan of shopping, especially not as a recreational activity, but it is thrilling to be this close to having all the baby stuff squared away. The most difficult item we have left is a bed for the baby, and we have a lead on that.

Rising Blood Sugar

I was skimping on blood sugar testing, because I didn’t have enough test strips to last me until the end of pregnancy, or the end of our trip, if I was checking it every day. But my post-meal numbers have been rising, and I finally realized it was too important to skimp on. My Mom is sending me more test strips, and I’m monitoring more closely. It started a few weeks ago, when, for the first time during the pregnancy, I got a reading over 100. There is nothing bad about a reading of 103. The important thing is that it marked a change in the pattern. And it has kept rising. 112, 130, and yesterday, a whopping 152, after eating a very, very tiny chapana and some plain unsweetened yogurt. No more chapanas for me! Fortunately, it was still early in the day and I immediately dragged my husband out for an hour-long walk around the neighborhood, which got me back down to 98. But it gave me a good scare. Over 150 is BAD.

I’m not diabetic, and I’m trying very hard to stay that way. One of the major problems with diabetes diagnosis in the US is that using the official guidelines, you CANNOT get a diagnosis of diabetes (and therefore professional medical help for it), until your blood sugars are so bad that you have already done permanent, irreversible damage to the beta cells in your pancreas. Modern medical practice will not help you until you are very, very sick. It will not help you avoid getting sick in the first place, even if you have all the risk factors and are showing the early signs. If you can see it coming, there is no excuse for not taking charge of your own health: nobody else is going to do it for you.

So rather than use the diabetic guidelines, I try to stay in the optimal range for people who are actually healthy: that means a fasting blood sugar under 90 (and my fasting blood sugars always look good at 74-84), and a post-meal range of under 120. 152 is way too high, and could have negative consequences for the baby, especially if it happens repeatedly or stays that high for an extended time period.

I really enjoyed the grace period during the first half of pregnancy, where I could eat oatmeal and not get high sugar readings. But that phase is over, and it’s back to finger-sticking and no cheating on my diet. Oh, well.

The Layette: Halfway Done

25 weeks and 2 days: I can’t believe we’re at 6 months already. I have not learned enough Spanish yet to be going to prenatal classes!

We jumped on the ochenta bus to the mercado today, and for about $30 managed to cross off most of the basic clothing items on our necessary-baby-stuff list. Seven pairs of cotton socks, two hats, and six unisex onesies to go with the three we’ve already got, plus two spare towels. I sat and de-tagged everything after we got home.  It’s nice to have a few things crossed off the list.  The shop where we bought most of it even threw in an extra onesie in the next size up “gratis” because we bought so many. This after they turned out to sell onesies for about half the price of all the other shops we’d explored.

We’ve checked out several baby-stuff shops, but so far we haven’t found any newborn-sized sleepers of any sort. Maybe babies here sleep naked? Blankets are also more difficult than expected. There are plenty to be had, but they are all– every single one of them– polar fleece. I hate that stuff. Someone’s got to have regular cotton receiving blankets, don’t they?

I’m waiting for it, but so far I have not been afflicted with the “OMG it’s so cute I must buy it!” syndrome that seems so common to pregnancy. I dislike shopping, and I stick to the list. Maybe I lack maternal instinct. Maybe leaving the baby’s gender a mystery is protective: unisex baby stuff tends to be the plainest. Maybe that “cute” instinct is inborn, not triggered by pregnancy hormones– you either have it or you don’t, and I don’t. That would be nice: it’d save me a ton on baby stuff. My criteria for clothes run along the lines of: “It must fit if our child has a giant head like its father” and “No pointy edges or non-removable tags”.

There’s a lot of stuff we still need: blankets, urp rags, diaper supplies, nail clippers, sleepers, someplace for the baby to sleep…   but it’s progress, and I feel victorious. At least our baby will not have to go naked.


Pregnant Stick Lady

Now, I’ve even got my husband taking pictures of them! He says this version of pregnant stick lady bears a vague resemblance to the Panagia icons of Mary, with the circle in her torso containing the Christ child. I’d say the child in question here looks more like a Mickey Mouse logo.

Baby Stuff: What do we actually NEED?

Yesterday, at the mercado, we acquired our first baby supplies: three plain newborn-sized onesies.  I realized while we were out and about, that I really didn’t know what basic things we should have on hand already, when the baby arrives. I mean, obviously we’ll need some sort of diapering provision, a place for the baby to sleep, and some basic clothes, but…  beyond that I feel out of my depth. I’ve taken care of a newborn before, but he wasn’t MY newborn. Certainly, his parents had a lot of stuff for him, but most of it was unnecessary: toys, mobiles, nursery decor, cartloads of “soothing body wash” and baby lotions that we never even opened…

For me, for us, here in the tropics, in an efficiency apartment, without a car… what DO we need?  We plan to stay here for at least a month after the baby is born, to give us time to sort out all the tedious paperwork that goes with having a baby in a foreign country– passports, registering with the embassy, etc.– but beyond that…   I have no idea.  Maybe we’ll go back home to the states. Maybe we won’t. With such uncertainty, and also with the tiny apartment, I certainly don’t want to invest in anything huge and expensive. I mean, we could be moving halfway across the world when the baby is only a month old. Or not. Until we know…

The baby needs somewhere safe to sleep. I’d love to just have the baby sleep in our bed (seems soooo much easier than getting up three times a night to nurse– I often wake up in the night, and it’s a heck of a lot easier to go back to sleep if I haven’t actually gotten out of bed), but I’ve checked the guidelines and our bed is not safe. Too much space between the mattress and the headboard.  And since it’s a furnished apartment, we don’t really get a say in the large furniture. There is just not space to fit a crib, even if I did want one. So… maybe a bassinet or one of those Moses baskets I saw for sale in Cusco?

The baby will need clothes, but…  what kind, and how many? Temperatures in summer here range from about 65F to 80F, so in the immediate term, we don’t need any big fluffy pajamas or coats or anything, but… 65 is still kind of chill for a baby, so probably onesies aren’t quite enough either. What about hats? Do babies really need socks? If I’m doing laundry by hand and drying it on the line…  how much clothing do I need in order to have something clean and dry at all times?

Diapers… ack. I want to do the cloth diaper thing, but I don’t know how many I’ll need to buy/make, given our laundry situation.

Carriers: One thing I don’t need right away is a stroller. I see lots of moms with babies in our neighborhood, but hardly ever any strollers. I know it’s possible to do without. I really want a couple of those shawls like the Cusquenas carry their babies around in. I’m pretty sure I can get those in the city, even though they are not used much here. They’re sold more as “native handicrafts” than as baby accessories. We also don’t need a car seat, since we have no car. It’s not like you can use one of those on the bus, and horrifying as it would seem to most folks back home… nobody uses them in taxis either (it’d be a total waste of money and hauling effort, as most taxis lack seatbelts).

I know there are other things we wouldn’t want to be without, but what are they? How many do we need? And where in Lima can I find them?  We’ve got less than four months to figure it out.