Ten years. 3,650 days. That’s how long I have been buying and changing diapers. Ten hard, amazing, exhausting, incredible years spent purchasing and changing these small synthetic symbols of baby-life. Up until now, every time one of my toddlers graduated to an adorable pair of character-covered undies, I had a fresh new babe to diaper-up. But today, when I reach for a pair of Minnie Mouse underwear for my two-and-a-half-year-old fourth born, there are no more diapers in sight. God, it’s bittersweet.
This is going to sound weird, but the meconium poop is my favorite. So much so that all my friends know to mention it when I am really struggling in the last leg of pregnancy as an incentive to get me through. Those teeny, tiny newborn diapers and the sticky, molasses first-day poops! Those are hard to say goodbye to. And then the seedy, sweet-smelling breast milk diapers. The ones that sometimes blow-out the sides and stain your shirt because they’re so loose but also smell kind of good. It feels impossible that I will never have one of those again.
Then there are the toddler poops — thankfully those come last as a bit of a push toward potty training. The big, sometimes adult-sized logs that smell up the entire house and need to be put directly in the outdoor trash for disposal. I guess I’m not really sad to see those go.
And there were some real horror stories over the years. Like when my toddler had an explosion that needed immediate cleanup and required me to quickly remove his diaper and put him in the shower and I returned to find my eight-month-old elbow-deep in said diaper, playing in it like it was a sand box. Or the time my daughter awoke from a nap and decided to play Picasso all over her walls and crib rails using the contents of her diaper. That was a fun one.
And there is a lot to gain from life without diapers. I’ll save myself some trips to Target and hundreds of dollars a year. My family adventure bags will be significantly lighter without the weight of the heavy diaper wipes. No more rashes. Summer swimming will be cleaner and much less stressful without the constant poop-check and very messy, inconvenient cleanup of dirty swim diapers.
But still, I am emotional. Saying goodbye to diapers means saying goodbye to my babies and closing the door on my favorite phase of life. It included hours of sitting in the corner crook of my couch with a snoozy baby on my shoulder, breathing in their breath as they slept. It included hours of playtime on my floor, learning to crawl, walk, and run. It was long walks wearing the front carrier, midnight nursing sessions, and carseat naps. It was long, exhausting, and messy, but it was so good. The days were slower with more physical connection and isolation. It’s not everyone’s ideal — but it is mine.
So if you are reading this in the middle of the night, just having changed a seedy, sweet-smelling diaper, enjoy it. That teeny bum will be strutting around in a pair of undies before you know it. And you might just really miss this phase.
Samm is an ex-lawyer and mom of four who swears a lot. Find her on Instagram @sammbdavidson.