I am getting closer to publishing my memoir about postpartum depression (and postpartum anxiety) (and postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder) but in the meantime, here is a deleted scene.
In early April, my iPhone gasped its last gasp. It had been sputtering its way towards the Great Electronic Waste Dump for several months. I knew I should have bought a new one when I was pregnant, but I like to run my electronics to the ground.
Now I felt like an idiot-asshole. Why had I allowed such a catastrophe to unfold? I needed a functioning iPhone. How else could I take photographs and videos of Pippa? And if I did not share photos every day, everyone would think I was a monster who did not care about her daughter’s precious first days. Or worse, what if there was an emergency and I needed to call 9-1-1? We had disconnected our landline ages ago. I had to get a new phone IMMEDIATELY or terrible things would happen.
On the day my phone died, my father-in-law was visiting and Nathan was home from work. I would not have to schlep to the Verizon store with Pippa. I would not have to expose her to the cesspool of humanity that would surely be lurking there. While I got my new iPhone (stupid, stupid, stupid), Nathan and his dad would happily watch Pippa and complain about the Huskers football team. I should have been relieved that my iPhone chose such an opportune day to perish.
I was not.
Or, to be more accurate, I did feel a tiny pebble of relief but that relief was quickly buried beneath an avalanche of guilt and anxiety. I felt guilty that I had to inconvenience my husband who surely did not want to be stuck at home with a newborn and anxious about what my father-in-law must think of me.
But despite all my shitty feelings, I still needed a new iPhone; so I breastfed Pippa and as soon as she finished her last suckle, rushed to the Verizon store. I did not even take the time to stick a book in my purse and I am the sort of person who always has a book in her purse. No time for such luxuries! I had to be back in time for Pippa’s next feeding. She often needed to feed every two hours, and feedings could last an hour, leaving only an hour to complete my mission.
Of course, we were still giving Pippa supplemental formula, but I wanted to wean her off the formula. She needed to breastfeed exclusively. I was not the sort of mother who contaminated her darling’s stomach with formula. According to the breastfeeding experts, she might as well be drinking laundry detergent.
This was my first solo excursion since Pippa’s birth. I should have relished the free time. Instead, I silently willed the salesperson to work faster whiles waves of adrenaline crashed against me.
What if Pippa was hungry?
What if she refused the bottle?
What if she cried the entire time I was gone and Nathan hated me for leaving him alone with a screaming baby?
What if my father-in-law thought I was a terrible mother for leaving her to do something as selfish as buying a new iPhone?
What if the Verizon store did not have any new iPhones in stock? What if it was crowded?
What if my breasts started to leak milk everywhere?
What if there was an earthquake and a chasm opened up between my home and the Verizon store?
What if what if what if?
After what felt like an eternity but was actually only forty-five minutes, I raced home to discover … a happy, quiet baby.
But what if she had cried?
What if she had been hungry and refused her bottle?
What if Nathan secretly hated me for leaving him alone with the baby?
My adrenaline did not settle down for several hours.