Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The #ClothDiaper that Traveled the World

Since my little one’s eczema problems became particularly pronounced during the winter months this year, I have switched to using fitteds full time. Most are natural fibers that I find to work best for her very sensitive skin. I am feeling a very keen sense of urgency to try out different diapers and brands, knowing that this may be my very last year ever cloth diapering. She will be 2 in June and before long we will be embarking on her potty training journey. So, I find myself on the swap groups on Facebook, drooling over adorable prints.  I must splurge now before it is too late! As good a reason as any to buy a diaper, if you ask me (but from addict to addict I may not be the best DAA adviser on the planet). I had never tried a Little Fancy Pants before, so I joined the LFP b/s/t group. A cute mermaid print going for a reasonable price caught my eye one day and it hadn’t been claimed yet, so I bought it!

But I made one, very big mistake. Perhaps many of you have made this mistake. We had just moved and I had neglected to update my PayPal address.

2 weeks after I had paid the seller, I still had not received my diaper and began to suspect something was amiss. I looked into the tracking and quickly realized my mistake. The package had been delivered, but to my old address! I panicked because I had my mail forwarding and wondered why this item had not been forwarded to me. I called the post office in my old town and, after some Saturday morning detective work, we discovered that the package had been out for delivery on a day when there was a substitute mail carrier. Our regular mail carrier knew of the forwarding, but her sub did not recognize names and had not been given the notice of forwarding mail. So our tenants had my package in their home (and naturally had said nothing to me for over a week). 

During the next week, I received a phone call from my very wonderful ex-mail carrier while she was stopping by my old house. She told me that she was picking up my package and that it would go back into the system from which point it should be forwarded to my new address. I hung up the phone happily expecting my diaper to arrive within the next week.

The next week I checked my mailbox every day, excitedly expecting the arrival of my new diaper. When it didn’t come for another whole week, I checked the tracking again. It was stuck at a processing center in Florida. It was stuck there for two whole weeks and I began to wonder if it was ever going to leave that facility, and at what point it would be considered “lost” in the mail. 

Would I ever receive this elusive diaper?

Inwardly, I began to mourn the loss of a beautiful diaper. It wasn’t just my money and my own desire for the diaper that made the situation so sad, it was the fact that a wonderfully made, functioning, and super cute diaper would never see the smooth side of a baby’s bottom ever again in its textilian lifespan.

I was determined to get to the bottom of this mess, and to see this diaper on a bottom where it belonged once again. I tried to call the USPS 1-800 number several times, but it would not allow me to get past the automated system. Yes, even dialing “0” did not direct me to a live postal worker. I began to despair

The next week I decided it was time to contact the seller and let her know what was going on. I thought we should look into requesting the insurance that is included up to $50 with any paypal printed label. I didn’t really want the insurance: I wanted the diaper. But what else could I do at this point?

The seller was very kind and understanding, and she went out of her way to help me track the package. Together, we watched it travel from her house in Weston, Florida to my old house in Hinesville, Georgia then back to the sort facility in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and then up to Virginia and then Boston, Massachusetts, and then again to a sort facility in Albany, NY. What was it doing all the way up in New York? I live in Texas. It should have come across the country westward from Florida. No matter how convoluted a mail route might be, it wouldn’t go north.

Ah. I knew why. For one week in between our living in Georgia and Texas we had been traveling across the country and were not 100% sure of our new address. So I had had our mail forwarding to my parents’ house in Pattersonville, NY during that week. As expected, a week later (finally) the package was “out for delivery” in Pattersonville. I called my mom and told her to expect the package soon. When the package did not arrive several days later, and the tracking had not been updated at all, I grew suspicious and called the post office. Frustratingly, the post office in my tiny hometown is so small that it has very limited office hours, and living in a new time zone 2 hours behind the east cost, it was suddenly very hard for me to place a phone call at the right time during their morning hours. I was never able to connect with that post office.

The Great Cloth Diaper Change 2014 was looming on my calendar that weekend, and so, like other hosts, I quickly abandoned all other pursuits to focus on The Change. Head spinning, mumbling in public, and surviving off coffee and granola bars I stumbled into Saturday April 26, 2014. At 11am I changed my baby girl on the dirty, dusty floor of a pavilion amongst 32 other local cloth diapering parents and friends… and a switch flicked on in my whole being. I glowed. A paged turned. All of that and I felt a million tons lighter like a baby I’d been carrying for a 3 month term had been birthed strong and healthy and I was on the birth high and happy again!

On the drive home while my husband drove and I gibbered non-stop on the phone with my friends who had hosted The Change  in other cities (my dear, dear husband…), I thought of my now Legendary LFP unluckily lost in the mail. I had not lost hope, but it had now taken on Legendary status. (I give ridiculous titles to my diapers… I’ve had since February 2011 an original GoGreen pocket with one row of snaps, that I call a “relic”…). I decided to check the tracking.

I could not believe my eyes!  The screen in front of me said

“April 26, 2014…. Delivered in El Paso, TX zip code 79908.”

I did a double take fully believing that my sleep-deprived self must surely be looking at some other El Paso thing on Facebook. No. It was my Legendary LFP, home at last!

I excitedly wrote to my seller friend, informing her of the update. Saturday morning it had been in White Plains, NY (my grandma could have picked it up for me…) and mere hours later (perhaps the time zone change assists postal workers in daily time travel?) it was magically in my mailbox in the armpit of Texas 2,214 miles away. I officially love you, USPS.

Back in our neighborhood, first stop was the mailbox. The package was there! I took my time. Fully enjoying opening the door slowly, reveling in the suspense. I took the white package in my hands and sat down on a nearby bench. I felt the warm sun on my neck and smelled the fresh air. Ok ok it’s just a diaper people!

I opened the package. It was faded. It was pilly. It had bleach stains on the inside. (This all had been disclosed to me). It was perfect. A smile on my face as big as the one I’d worn while changing my baby as she was counted that morning into the Guinness World Records attempt. This could not possibly have arrived on a more perfect day, or at a more perfect moment. This was my reward for all the hard work I had put into co-hosting GCDC this year. I felt it in my being. Yes, I’d paid for it, but that fact was long forgotten and beside the point.

This diaper had wanted to see the world, and it certainly had. This diaper had taken a 2 month road trip across the country. This diaper now had a story to tell. And this diaper was now no longer just a diaper. It was a piece of my history and it meant something very special to me.

Back home I showed the diaper to my little one. Despite the fact that mermaids are the most prominent figures in the print, the first word out of her mouth was “fishy!” I laughed. But the diaper certainly didn’t smell fishy. It smelled fresh and fantastic. I have owned many diapers throughout the 3 and a half years I have been cloth diapering, but this diaper, the diaper that traveled the world, is the most remarkable diaper I have owned yet. 
Regular Contributor: Stacy Mojica is an accredited Real Diaper Association leader, founded the Low Country Real Diaper Circle, Sun City Real Diaper Circle, and Cloth for Everybum, Inc. She has two daughters born in 2011 and 2012. Stacy has a degree in English and ran a small artisan cloth diaper shop via Etsy for one year, but has made her career in cloth diaper advocacy and education. Stacy has a tendency to hyper-focus.  Give her a coffee and a kid-free hour and she will do amazing things! 

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