For the past eight months, I’ve been struggling with the cloth diaper issue. I know cloth diapers are less expensive than disposables, that they’re better for the environment, that they’re better for the baby. It never occured to me for a second to use anything else for Rio. The question was, “Which diapers? And where do I get them?”

I don’t know a lot of moms. I don’t know a lot of babies who wear cloth diapers. My word-of-mouth sample size was pretty small, and honestly, with all the choices out there, I was pretty confused. At my childbirth class I found out that I’m not the only one – the other proto-mom there was also having cloth diaper drama.

Basically, there are about five hundred cloth diaper supply websites out there, hawking a really wide variety of diapers, diapers covers, mysterious things called “pocket diapers”, diaper liners, …and they all have their own “system”, and they all use different materials, and there are all these little abbreviations like “PUL” and “AIO” and “DSQ”.

It was clear I needed, if not a graduate degree in the subject, at least an intensive seminar.

Enterthe diaper lady. Last weekend, I found this woman’s website. It was a nice shade of purple, and dramatically more professional and informative than most diaper sites out there, though not all. I liked it. I came back to it a few times. And I noticed that the woman running the site lived in Massachusetts, and offered to host workshops for folks new to cloth diapering.

I dropped her an e-mail. I explained that I had no friends who were in the market for diapers, but wanted to attend one of her workshops. She wrote back, and offered to schedule a one-on-one session in my home at my convenience. She meant it. I picked a time that was convenient for me, and she came. She was five minutes early.

The other couple from my childbirth class also came, which was great for me because they asked questions I would not have, and great for them because they got to meet the diaper lady. Her real name is Joanne.

She arrived with a suitcase full of cloth diapers, and, beginning with your basic cotton prefold, taught us all about them. How to use them, what all those funky abbreviations stood for, what the different materials are and why some people prefer, say, hemp to cotton. She had a little demo bear, and we all learned how to put on and take off the different types of diapers. We learned about costs, about longevity, about care. She spent two hours with two very bewildered couples, and left us with little brochures so we didn’t have to rely on our own bleary notes the next day.

As a salesperson, she was almost too low-pressure – there were no order forms, she just included business cards listing her website with the little gift bags she gave each of us. She told us where everything she carries was made, and which ones were made by women working at home vs. in factories. The stuff that was made by other at-home mom’s she encouraged us to buy either through her or direct from the makers, and gave us their websites in case we wanted more products from these folks that she didn’t carry.

She left, and we thumbed through our little gift bags and pamphlets and spent a few days deciding what we wanted, and how much we wanted to spend. We fussed ridiculously over things like whether to buy our wool cover in purple or red. I confess now, we spent about 20% more than our agreed-on budget when it came time to place the order, because there were so many useful little tchochkes we thought, “Oh, we’ll just throw one of those in…” (I didn’t say she was a poor salesperson, just low-pressure).

Anyway, here is the piece de resistance: I placed the order for the diapers last night around 6 pm, through the internet. I paid with my debit card. I included a note saying I’d like to take advantage of her offer of local delivery, because I’m full term and wanted the diapers ASAP, and suggested she could drop the diapers off at M’s office in Cambridge if it was more convenient than coming back out to The Sticks.

WHEN I CAME DOWNSTAIRS THIS MORNING, THERE WAS A BOX ON MY FRONT PORCH. It contained my full, entirely correct diaper order, minus a few things she had warned me were on backorder, and a little note saying she hadn’t wanted to disturb me on a Sunday morning, so she just dropped the things off, and she hoped that was OK.

This woman is the rock god of my universe today. If you, or anyone you know, might need a cloth diaper, you should really check out her site, which I’ve littered throughout this post. Even if you don’t have kids, these things make great dust rags.