As I whip through revisions of my memoir about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, I’m sharing deleted scenes. Even though these scenes do not make the final cut, I do believe that knowledge is power. Something from my story might relate to your story, and if this helps just one person, I want to share.
I thought everything would be fine if only I bought the right things. Specifically, I needed a fabulous nursing wardrobe, a magical diaper bag, and The One True Sling.
I ached to leave the house but thought it was impossible unless I acquired clothes that would make breastfeeding in public a breeze. There are nursing covers that you can drape over the baby. I bought one. It made me feel hot and sweaty, and I could not see what I was doing or make eye contact with Pippa. I used it maybe three times.
I needed a dress that I could tug down, just so, and then handily feed Pippa while eating sushi and chatting with my socialite friends. (I do not have any socialite friends.) I had a vision of myself in the perfect wrap dress: shapely calves, glossy hair, rosy cheeks, and a flat stomach. The perfect wrap dress would vanquish all my extra pounds, help me sleep better, turn me into a productive cheerful whirlwind, make everything I said sound witty and smart, and give me a charmed life. Above all, it would make breastfeeding easier than brushing my teeth.
I ordered several different dresses from several different online stores. Each time I clicked the BUY button, I knew that this was the wrap dress that would make my life perfect.
Then the dress would arrive and break my heart.
One was made from cheap flimsy fabric that practically disintegrated when I tried it on. Another had weird ties in the back. The blue one made me look like a cow. The red one made me look like a pregnant prostitute.
I put the dresses back in their boxes and stacked the boxes in the living room. I would return them later.
My dream diaper bag also eluded me. When I was pregnant, I did not buy a diaper bag because the whole idea seemed silly to me. I was just going to use a large tote bag.
Then postpartum depression rewired my brain AND MY LIFE WOULD END UNLESS I FOUND THE MAGICAL DIAPER BAG.
The magical diaper bag would turn me into an all-star mom. I would be able to fit inside its pockets everything I might possibly need for an outing: pacifiers, plural, even though Pippa never used them; diapers and wipes; two changes of clothes in case of a vomit or poop attack; a light cardigan in case it was a little chilly; a heavier cardigan in case it was very chilly; a backup cardigan in case it was chilly and the vomit/poop attack damaged the cardigan; toys to amuse Pippa; a notepad and pen in case someone told me something important and I had to write it down; my phone and wallet; a large water bottle; two swaddling blankets; Purell; a special pad for diaper changes; bags for soiled diapers; and hand lotion to counteract the drying effects of too much Purell.
The magical diaper bag needed to house all these items and still only weigh two pounds.
I spent hours reading descriptions of diaper bags and agonizing over The Optimal Pocket Situation. This was not a mere numbers game. There was also the question of size and placement. Were there pockets on the outside of the bag? Did they have zippers? Was there a special pocket with a hook for my keys? And another pocket to sequester the unused pacifiers that Pippa shunned at home but might decide to use as soon as we left the house?
Everything had to be waterproof, urine-proof, poop-proof, and vomit-proof, and above all, the diaper bag had to scream “COURTNEY IS AWESOME.”
I added multiple bags to my Amazon Wishlist and looked at them several times a day. I spent more time debating which diaper bag I should buy than I had spent choosing a law school to attend.
How was I supposed to carry my magical diaper bag? Over my shoulder? My back still hurt and a diaper bag would aggravate that injury. I needed a diaper backpack!
I finally ordered a diaper backpack with a pink pattern. I convinced myself it was practical and stylish.
It was hideous, cumbersome, and all around awful. But it was mine, and the idea of returning it was unbearable, so I convinced myself it was awesome and turned to my next quest.