Written by Melissa Gorley
In our postpartum season with each of our first two children, I wanted to use cloth diapers. They are more economical in the long run; less waste is better for the environment. My mom used them. I tried … but the laundering! I was a busy young mom, struggling with breastfeeding issues and a fussier second baby, also with a busy husband who was not motivated by the same cloth-diapering desire. In fact, he thought the storing of the dirty cloth diapers awaiting the wash was unsanitary, even “just gross.” (“They’re rinsed!” I argued.) He also thought I was injecting a lot of unnecessary stress into an already stressful postpartum time.
My mom reminded me that she had used a diaper service, which was both cheap and readily available for her back in the day. Refocusing on my primary goal to have a relatively healthy, peaceful, joyful postpartum time, I made a judgment call and finally pivoted away from the beloved cloth diapers for good. “Maybe one of these children we’re giving to God on this earth will come up with an entirely better solution to the diaper issue…” I told myself.
There is a fair amount of practical wisdom in the way my husband challenged us to solve our postpartum diaper dilemma. It was practical wisdom informed by Church teaching, even. It is springtime on the earth and spring for the Church during the extended Easter season of the liturgical calendar. During this time, we can experience in a special way the sacred truth that all of creation is “good” and that “each creature possesses its own particular goodness and perfection.” The Catechism teaches us that creation and creatures are interdependent so as “to complete each other, in the service of each other” but it is “man who is the summit of the Creator’s work.” After all, Jesus himself said: “You are of more value than many sparrows.” He also said he “came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (Jn. 10:10). Priceless value and abundant life. God’s plan for humanity is a great one that includes stewardship of natural and personal resources, to the best of our abilities and, above all, trust in God’s grace.
Pope Saint John Paul II commented on John 10:10 at the very beginning of his encyclical The Gospel of Life. “ Man is called to a fullness of life which far exceeds the dimensions of his earthly existence, because it consists in sharing the very life of God. The loftiness of this supernatural vocation reveals the greatness and inestimable value of human life even in its temporal sense.”
We cannot overestimate the value of human life, of one single human soul- whether that life was perfectly planned, blessed with health in the womb, naturally delivered, exclusively breastfed, diapered in cloth, or … <<insert your own postpartum parenting ideal here>>. Our human minds and hearts often desire more understanding and control than is good for us. God always has a plan that is for our greatest good: union with Him.
Our family is blessed to experience daily the supernatural beauty of an “imperfect” reality: our fifth child and youngest daughter has multiple medical special needs that include a diagnosis of L-CMD, a very rare and degenerative form of congenital muscular dystrophy. She is the joy of our days and the light of our family life. She has an indomitable spirit that we able-bodied family members envy and we all look forward to hearing her hilarious and insightful toddler prayer intentions at grace before dinner each night.
What if we had known her diagnosis and were of the mind that it was somehow better for her not to be born? The loss- to us, our local communities, even the world- is unfathomable. What if we had decided that we had done enough damage to the earth by having two disposably-diapered children and closed our hearts and bodies to God’s further inspiration for any children after our second? Again, the loss- to us, our local communities, and even the world- is unimaginable.
And what about our second child mentioned at the beginning, the difficult nurser who sealed the deal on disposable diapers for our family? His name is John Paul. He heads to college this fall, intending to study… biomedical engineering. He has been, no doubt, influenced by life with his youngest sister and the abundant medical supplies and equipment that help us to care well for her. Maybe our John Paul really could craft a better solution to infant diapering after all. Thanks be to God for His mysterious plans.
Man is called to a fullness of life which far exceeds the dimensions of his earthly existence, because it consists in sharing the very life of God. The loftiness of this supernatural vocation reveals the greatness and inestimable value of human life.Pope St. John Paul II, The Gospel of Life
Originally published in Family Foundations May 2022.
 Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 339.
 CCC, 340.
CCC, 343; Cf. Gen. 1:26.
 Lk 12:6-7