Friday, January 16, 2009

My Best Worst Diaper Story

We've been changing diapers for 19 years. That's 19 years straight. Surely that puts us up in some sort of record category. A lot of that time we've had two cute little rumps in diapers. I tried to do the math on it and by my calculations (Warning: I'm a journalist whose last dalliance with math was as a high school sophomore, so any mathematical undertakings are subject to ready suspicion.) we've changed in excess of 60,000 diapers.

I'm going to let that marinate for a minute. Ruminate on it even. Sixty-thousand. Diapers. Probably more.

I work at home so I've changed diapers in a pinch while writing articles on deadline, interviewing sources, even while telling my editor why I might have gotten something wrong in a story I just filed ("Dude, I was changing a diaper. Cut me some slack, eh?"). I'm not sure what size of dumpster 60,000 diapers would fill, but I'm sure it would be an extraordinary sight. In a disgusting sort of way, I reckon. With a 9-month-old and an un-pottytrained 2-year-old in the house, we're still going strong diaper wise. I've got plenty of bad diaper stories. What parent doesn't?

But here's my best `Worst Diaper Story.' We got married at the onset of my senior year of college and lived in this drafty shack, er house, in North Portland. It was a tough neighborhood. A few houses down was a 24-hour pharmacy, or a `drug house' as some people call them. We were in a cloth diaper phase (Hey, we were young, had no money and concerned about the environment. We got over it.) and we stored the diapers on the back porch in a plastic 10-gallon pail with a lid on it. It worked out ok until February, when an Arctic Blast hit Portland. We're talking sub-zero wind chills. Inevitably, we ran out of cloth diapers. I bundled up, trundled out to the porch and grabbed the pail and headed down to the basement to the washer and dryer. The washer was a top-loader and when I went to dump the diapers in the wash, out came a ... frozen solid brick of diapers. "Clunk," it went on the washer.

When the initial shock and horror wore off, several thoughts went through my head. "Do I get a blow dryer and thaw it out?," was my first original one. "Grab a hose?" was another. I was at a loss. This wasn't in my parent handbook. I couldn't Google "brick of diapers" and "how to thaw out" because Al Gore hadn't even invented the Internet yet. Let alone Google. I looked around the basement. Hmmmm. There's a hammer over there. I grabbed the hammer and went to work, taking apart that brick one whack at a time. The worst part about it? The frozen slivers of, well, you can imagine what that went flying. After the first whack or two I was shielding my face with my left arm and swinging away with my right. Needless to say, it wasn't long after that experience that we changed to plastic.


  1. In addition to my e-mail...
    ...Yeah...we went through the cloth diaper phase. In Miami...for three months. We didn't have room in our freezer to turn ours into popsicles, and in that climate you just couldn't let them go...the aligators would complain. You're my hero Matt. And while I laughed at all of the funny spots like everyone else...I had no problem seeing a young Matt Sabo, (with hair) in the laundry room, wailing away at a giant diaper-sicle with a hammer.
    Give your bride a hug from us here in Washington...give us a couple of days warning and descend upon us at your leisure. Keep your head up, bottoms wiped and your diapers dry. And may the dumpster always be down wind.

    -Marty & Maria. Diaperless in Seattle.

  2. Wow, that was a pretty crappy situation.

    (Yes, someone had to say it.)

  3. Hey Marty,
    Great comment brother. Better than my story. thanks for reading and hopefully we'll catch you diaperless in Seattle soon. Gotta go change a diaper. God bless.

  4. Did you guys even have computers back then?