I bought my diaper bag when I was barely five months pregnant. It was the one everyone seemed to have, and it was on sale. I kept it in a closet with all its packing tissue untouched until the baby came. There would be times in my pregnancy when I would need some sort of large vessel to ferry goods from my Brooklyn apartment across the East River and several New York City blocks toward the Hudson, but the diaper bag never crossed my mind. It was a diaper bag. Not a computer bag. Not a sack lunch bag. In a sense, the bag didn’t even belong to me. It belonged to diapers.
When the baby came, I was deeply in love but also deeply in shock. The hospital was really going to let us take her home? Did they not understand that we, like, didn’t know how to do anything? We drove 18 miles per hour the entire way back to our apartment.
Those first two weeks, I didn’t leave the house. While my family was concerned about me getting some fresh air, I was concerned about my diaper bag. Would it ever get a chance to do its thing and shine bright? I wasn’t ready to leave the house for a diaper-bag-worthy excursion, but as I sat on the couch watching countless episodes of Below Deck with no sense of up or down, day or night, Captain Lee or Captain Sandy, I could feel the diaper bagpulse like a tell-tale heart beneath the floorboards. Use me, it bellowed.
I took it out from its place in the closet, unpacked the tissue and explored its every nook and cranny: a neoprene slip for a bottle. A bungee clip here, a bungee clip there. Several mesh pockets. A secret zipper. It had been designed with such specificity for diapering, all of which went over my head. Not only did I have a baby I didn’t understand how to work, but the internal organs of this diaper bag further complicated my understanding of parenting. I called my friend in a panic.