Adventures in diapering with cerebral palsy

I still can’t look at a chicken leg quite the same way….

The night we got to bring Anaia home after a week of being  without her was amazingly wonderful. She was in the NICU after she stopped breathing several times during her first 24 hours here on earth. As you remember from “Adventures in CP Motherhood,” the doctors thought it was because she was going through withdrawal from my epilepsy medication. Praise God, after only a week, she was released from the hospital and could finally come home.

The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? ~ Psalm 118:6

While that is a great bible verse, I didn’t have a ‘mere mortal’. I had a newborn. Totally different, completely intimidating beast! I was incredibly happy and terrified. Both emotions mixed together with excitement and joy. I was going to be the main person to take care of this five pound beautiful creation; the gift from God who couldn’t do anything for herself. (Anaia, by the way, means gift from God).  It was so overwhelming and different than the week before. In the hospital, as I held her while she slept and fed her, nurses were hovering at the ready. As nervous as I was about coming home, I think my husband, Ryan, was more so.

It was raining the night we took her home, and that didn’t help. Ryan drove our Buick le Saber (aka The Boat) two miles per hour all the way home. With a hospital 45 minutes away on a good day, you can imagine how long that took.

We made the trip home in silence because Ryan had to concentrate and our voices, according to him, would make him veer off the road. Honestly, a part of me believed him. Thankfully we made it home without the car coming to life and killing us all.

My Mom and Anaia

I felt certain I was going to break my newborn.  Rest assured, Anaia is still in one piece to this day. I have to thank my mother for staying with us for two months.  That night, Ryan and I got a taste of what life was going to be like with a baby in the house. My mother, Ryan and I, were up every two hours feeding and changing the little being that now ruled the house. My mother was in awe of modern day diapers with the self-sticking tape closure on the sides.

I guess she used something called safety pins on my cloth diapers…

She showed Ryan and I how to take off the dirty diaper, wipe clean our amazingly dirty daughter, put on diaper cream, and secure the new diaper on the never-ceasing-to-stop-wiggling baby.

Ryan was a fast learner. He was very aware of the whole wiping front to back thing. He made a point to remind me of just that when it was my turn to change her. Speaking about me changing diapers… I’m sure it was a sight to behold. I was constantly dead on my feet from being sleep deprived which made me even more uncoordinated than I already felt.  I was afraid I was going to pull an arm or a leg off my baby, or worse, one of each! There I was, looking down at my baby, who was in desperate need of a new diaper, and me with images of a chicken leg in my hand.

I wasn’t physically able to change her diaper the way my mother showed me, so the lessons were out the window. Most of the time I asked her to do it for me. That is until the faithful day that God said, “Linda, for the love of me, she’s your baby, you change her diaper!”

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness ” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

Ryan was at work and my mother was out grocery shopping. Nobody was at home except me and a newborn with a blowout poop of a diaper! My first thought was, Sweet Jesus! My second thought was, where, for the love of God, is my mother? I mean, it doesn’t take that long to get groceries. It was probably only an hour, if that. So, I did what any grown woman would have done….

I called my Mommy in a panic.

“Mom, you gotta come home now! Anaia pooped and it’s everywhere!”

My mother (trying to be supportive but yet fighting back  fit of laughter) said, “I’ll be home as soon as I can”

As soon as she can? Not good enough! Now! Come home now!

The famous diaper pail sausage. I’ve ruined sausage for many people this way…

Panicked thoughts turned into, Ok Linda what are you going to do? Your newborn needs you.  Umm… maybe I can wait until Mom gets home? Sniffing the air quickly told me that was not an option.  Talking out loud, I said, “Ok, little one, here we go. If I pull off your arms or legs, Mommy didn’t mean to.” I put Anaia on the changing table and unzipped her onesie. By the way, onesies were my best friend. They didn’t go over the head; less of a chance for me to turn my daughter into KFC. Such made it easy for me to get her clothing on and off, and when she started to crawl I could reach down and pick her up in the middle of the back by the onesie.

But back to changing diapers…

I unzipped her onesie, burned it, and took off the dirty diaper wondering how breast milk and all natural formula could ever have that kind of  effect on a baby’s stomach. I used at least a half a pack of wipes to clean her (making sure I wiped in the proper direction, thank-you Ryan) and, in the process of wiping, I filled up the diaper pail making a diaper pail “sausage.” I then got a new diaper, laid it open, picked up a clean, naked baby and put her butt on the diaper. While taping that diaper onto her and finding a clean onesie, my heart was pounding like mad…until I looked at my baby.

“I didn’t rip off any of your limbs!” I exclaimed.

When my mother got home Miss Anaia was happy, clean and in one piece.

The moral here? Don’t be afraid to live your dreams. Every problem has a solution. Your children don’t need you to be perfect, or fearless, they just need your love and guidance.

I promise you won’t break them.


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