Seven years old today!
That's the age of Little J, the defender of my bin. It's his birthday today and it's such a special time. When I think about it, it doesn't seem that long since he was born.
I remember it so well, as though it were yesterday. He was born at 35 weeks into the pregnancy, which was classed as a "borderline" premature delivery.
On the morning after his birth, I remember lying on my hospital bed sobbing as quietly as I could so nobody would hear me. I was just coming around from a very hard labour, having experienced an emergency caesarean at some bleak hour in the night.
Mr A had gone home to rest after an intense 48 hours in the hospital, leaving me with our new baby at my bedside. The drugs from the caesarean had made me woozy and I was only half-aware of the nursing staff sneaking my baby away into the darkness of the night, gently whispering that they needed to check him over. When I woke in the morning I panicked because he was still gone.
The pain prevented me from getting up. So I desperately rang the bell for the nurse. She came and told me my baby's blood sugar had dropped, so he'd been taken to Special Care. It was only when Mr A returned to the ward a couple of hours later did we go down and welcome him properly into the family, with kisses, cuddles and his first feeds. The interim wait felt like agony.
He remained in SCBU for two very long weeks. While I, after 8 days in hospital, returned home without him, feeling emotionally fraught about our temporary separation and not knowing when we would bring him home.
As I said, I remember it well.
But why share this story on such a happy celebratory day? I hadn't planned to reminisce. I was going to tell you all about the very average birthday tea we're planning for this afternoon, with a handful of children from school. An event with few frills, but lots of good old-fashioned fun and jolly celebrations.
But thinking back to the birth and the early upset, has brought back a number of other memories, including the panic over buying emergency nappies. I suppose sharing the story now provides a backdrop for a confession as well as a contextual setting for understanding human nature.
You see, I'd planned on using washable nappies. I'd been working right up to the 34th week of my pregnancy and was looking forward to spending some time before the birth to decide on which nappy system to use. With a pregnancy-addled brain, it had all looked too complicated to consider whilst still juggling my professional duties.
But no-one expected the 35 week drop, so to speak.
So reusable nappies dropped too, right off the list, as I coped with the emotion of an early arrival, the painful caesarean, a separated baby, followed by troubles with feeding as well as painful colic that lasted three whole months.
From a new mum's perspective, you really do know that you should use washables, but the urgency of life with your new baby takes priority over the urgency of landfill, which lies in a distant hole far far away from home.
And as habits formed, with the convenience of disposables, new issues arose such as teething, weaning and so on, until it was time for potty training, when at last I breathed a huge sigh of relief and an even bigger sigh of regret that I hadn't been brave enough to switch nappies earlier. The guilt of landfill loomed large and the savings I could have made seemed enormous. So I shrugged my shoulders with the promise of next time.
And when the secondary pregnancy arrived, almost three years after the first, I rushed off to our local baby store, bought a washable nappy system, including a bucket! I felt as pleased as punch that at last I was actually doing the right thing.
Little T was born, on time, but again by an emergency caesarean. We were soon whisked home and he donned his washable nappies with an air of success.
For three weeks I was as ecstatic as a mother can be. The baby was comfortable. The nappies were easy to wash and the stains came out brilliantly too.
Success you might think.
But if only it had been so easy.
He started being sick about four times a day, vomiting over himself, over me and over the sofa or at least the towels covering it. After a number of medical checks, and a huge backlog of washing, he was deemed to have something called Reflux which continued for almost nine whole months!
And this is where this confessional ends, as I hold my head up high and say that second time round I failed miserably too. The nappies were like the straw that broke the camel's back. With a very sick baby, there was only so much washing a woman could do without moving permanently into a launderette.
At least by then the scope of my failures was lessened by the emergence of Nature Boy & Girl nappies, made from cornstarch.
So to all new mums out there who may be struggling to live up to the same expectations, with the same guilt that follows, I just want to say "I understand". I know what it's like in a "been there, done that" kind of way.
So don't feel guilty.
But don't be like me either.
I got into my routines, I got used to my habits and I stopped thinking outside the box.
So if you've still got the urge and if you've still got time, check out the alternatives while you've got a chance to try something new. I lost my chance a long time ago and am now responsible for burying about 9,000 nappies in landfill.
Just think, it won't be long until your baby's potty trained and out of nappies and very soon you'll be celebrating their seventh birthday. They'll even have teeth falling out all over the place. Such joy!
On that note, I've remembered I've got a birthday to celebrate and I can't wait. So I'm off to join in the fun! Perhaps I should apologise for the shop-bought cake before I go. But nah...that's one thing that won't be zero waste!
Now where did I put last year's candles..........?
**** For a guide to reusable nappies, visit The real nappy campaign. ****