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On location with Jess and James, part 1.

July 23, 2013

Sometimes treasures unbury themselves from the most unexpected of places. This treasure was unearthed in an inbox.

“Hi there. My boyfriend and I live on a sailboat and we’re expecting our first child in Mexico at the end of July. We’re both British but have clocked up nearly 11,000 miles on our boat since leaving the UK in October 2011.

We decided to have our first child while still in this crazy lifestyle as it allows us to both play a more equal part in parenting and get back to some child-rearing fundamentals. Obviously, life on a boat with a baby raises the question of what to do about nappies given that our water supplies are limited. Also, we’re keen to use a method that is not damaging to the environment.

– Jess, James & 32 week bump”

a sea level love story

Jess and James would have limited space onboard, and didn’t want to fill it up with conventional disposable diapers (both clean and dirty). It was tricky. How to live simply on a boat with baby, with waste reduction in mind. Jess and James were at port in Mexico when they contacted us. They didn’t have access to stores that sold gDiapers, but they knew that this was the product that they wanted to use on their baby, who was expected to arrive in just a few weeks.

This was a project that we were interested in exploring with Jess and James. How would gDiapers fare on a boat? How would the disposable inserts be discarded? Would it be safe to dispose of them at sea? We didn’t know for certain, but we would be sure to find out from our friends at 5 Gyres. What about onboard composting? Or using cloth inserts without easy access to a washing machine?

“Living mostly at anchor has taught us to reduce our non-biodegradable waste considerably as we simply have too small a capacity to store it. Who wants garbage bags building up on their boat, especially if they’re full of dirty diapers. You wouldn’t want us showing up on your island! Not to mention the long-term financial costs of disposables for a family on a tight budget. Yet the alternative, which we thought were the cloth diapers that we’d both had as children, wasn’t really going to be practical either. Our home is one where our washing machine is a bucket and we have a total 410 litre (110 gallon) fresh water capacity. We subsidise this by using cheap laundrettes in towns where that is possible but the number of nappies that a newborn could potentially use per day was making that option a daunting prospect.

It was then that some backpacker friends of ours travelling with their 14 month old daughter showed us our first gDiaper. We saw that there was the option of a much smaller cloth insert to launder or to use a disposable insert instead and both these methods seemed like they could work for us and our new baby.”

In addition to wanting to get the inside scoop about using gDiapers on a boat, we wanted to help share Jess and James’ story of life with a brand new baby. Having a baby is a game-changer. It’s a full-immersion into a transformed life. And while no two stories are the same, it is within these stories that we find our own power as parents, affirmation that we as parents have abundant instinct to grow incredible people.

Jess and James have been documenting their journey on their website. We will share snippets of the story here as we go along, and, we’ll be completely honest, we have no idea what’s going to happen. And neither do they. While we may not all live on a boat, the uncertainty of becoming a parent is universal.

“I had a picture in my head of what our life would look like as we prepared to have a baby. In this assumed image I’d be starting maternity leave from a stable job, spending weekends decorating the nursery with my husband, buying adorable little onesies and chic maternity clothes from the shops in town while seeing my family doctor for regular check-ups. The reality so far has been that my pre-baby to do list includes spending three months travelling over two and a half thousand miles to where we want to give birth, preparing our home for the onset of storms and hurricanes, dealing with a medical system in a language we’re only just learning and being an ocean away from our family.

Welcome to our life, expecting our first child on a sailing boat. Which, incidentally, is something that neither one of us could have predicted would happen.”

Wild optimism.

Just when you think you’re ready for the unexpected you realize you simply can’t be. But you can prepare yourself to be adaptable.

“Perhaps even though we’ll be novice parents we’re at least used to shaking up our lives. We go into this next adventure with that same wild optimism that got us here in the first place.”

Jess and James prepared to leave the marina and head to Guadalajara, to a birth center where they would welcome their new baby in a few weeks. But just moments after stepping onboard the bus that would take them there, Jess went into labor.

Adventure has arrived.

At 0040 Mexican time on Friday, July 12th 2013 Jess and James had a baby girl, in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. She was 3 weeks early but is perfectly healthy and happy. She was 5lbs 2oz and 46 cm long. She calls herself Rocket Amélie.

Jess, James and baby Rocket are settling in for a bit before re-embarking on their next voyage. And we’ll keep you clued in as often as we can. Right now, Rocket is still a bit too tiny for the newborn gPants. They fit best starting around 6lbs, and she’s still a tad under, having come into the world on her own schedule, ahead of schedule. She’s ready to rock this boat, that’s for certain. And it’s pretty clear that her adventurous parents are ready to delight in the ride.

*gDiapers does not currently have distribution in Mexico, but we felt strongly that this was a project we should explore. We offered to send some product to Jess and James to get this story started. We provided them with gPants and inserts to cover the first few months’ of Rocket’s life.


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