“You’ll never be truly ready to have a baby.” I was told this for years and I heard it said recently to a friend. It’s true, you can’t prepare and, until you have a baby, it’s difficult to comprehend the financial need they demand.

I had my twin girls at the age of 26, married for 5 years, and my husband had an amazing job. We thought we were “ready.” Nothing could have prepared us for the needs of two babies. Originally, I planned on using prefolds and covers to cloth diaper and I bought a stash ahead of time for this. Three baby showers later I had enough disposable diapers to last 3 months, even though I specifically asked for cloth diapers in both my registries. My sister was the only person who gifted us with cloth diapers, on top of her crafty disposable diaper cake. Once the disposables ran out I began my journey of cloth diapering. After a day of using the prefold system it seemed to be more of a hassle than helpful diapering my twins and so I went back to disposables. A couple days later I spotted the pocket diapers from my sister and I decided to give it another shot. This was the system that fit our family and I immediately bought the rest of our stash on pocket diapers and never considered quitting cloth again.

After a lot of confusing calculations, I found that in a year of cloth diapering by day and using big brand disposables by night we saved over $500, all after our stash of 24 at retail price cloth diapers paid for themselves. That $40+ a month meant quality fresh fruit for us or even the Internet bill, improving our quality of life! My experience has inspired my sister to cloth diaper her second child – ironically enough prefolds and covers fit her family much better than the pockets I bought her to return the favor. I’ve also had several friends contact me for advice to either start cloth or maintenance issues with diapers. I feel honored to pave the way for families to help their financial situations.

As my twins come closer to potty training I have started to appreciate my diapers much more. The thought of no longer using them is bittersweet. I’ve realized how much of a blessing quality diapers have been to my family and sharing this “secret” with families in need is my next goal, besides successfully potty training twins and staying sane. Becoming a Share the Love host has enabled me to do this and I’m excited to bring this program into my local community. I personally have lived on unemployment compensation when I was transitioning into civilian life after 5 years of active duty in the US Navy. I was unemployed and attending college full time when my girls were born. When I look back and remember the stress of trying to budget bills and food, all the while keeping our moral high by allowing space for family outings, date nights, or splurging on a pedicure, I know that volunteering for Share the Love and helping families will be more than worth my time and energy.

The Share the Love program, providing loaned cloth diapers to families in need, brings to Central Illinois an avenue to educate parents about the option to use cloth diapers and the many ways that their families can benefit. While the cost of living in my state is just under the national average, the unemployment rate is still 1.6% higher. Though the unemployment rate is dropping in America many families are still seeing hard times and my community has not been immune to it.

I met one such family during my first distribution. When I first was assigned the case I had only just become a host and was still trying to generate a donation of diapers so I was forced to deny the family. The next day I received my first donation and quickly reopened the case to arrange to meet and distribute diapers. Because I cloth diaper my twins I know what a difference even one day can be diapering two children full time; they had 3 children in diapers, the oldest just under 4 and still needing a diaper for nighttime. They were already cloth diapering using cheaper and lower quality diapers that were failing, causing leaks and more cleaning and laundry. With neither parent bringing in steady income the family was relying on extended family that lovingly helped with bills, rent, and other necessities. When we met for a distribution the children were happy, healthy, and well loved. I could tell that they meant the world to these parents and that they weren’t very comfortable sitting with me and explaining that they had a need. With that diaper distribution the family would be able to fully diaper their children for 3 days, lowering the stress of doing laundry and needing to supplement with disposable diapers. Like many parents, they wanted to be able to do something to help their own family and applying for a cloth diaper loan did that.

I understand that cloth diapering isn’t for everyone and I won’t deny the convenience of disposables. However, cloth is a real option and one that can provide relief for the 1 out of 3 families that are choosing between buying disposable diapers and paying for living essentials, like bills and food. Providing the education and connection to this option has been very rewarding on a personal level for me and I hope I can continue to do this for my community.

Margie Carter
Share the Love Host
Tuscola, IL