Packing or, more accurately, re-packing Harper’s diaper bag is serious business in the Powell household. If The Guy or I come in with a trunkload of groceries, Chihuahua wearing a Cone of Shame, Harper practicing her Dying Screech Owl routine and enough dry cleaning to outfit Nicole Richie for three days, then by God, we will repack the diaper bag before we even put the milk in the fridge. There’s good reason for this.
I’m kind of preoccupied with
the Zombie Apocalypse preparedness under normal circumstances, so you can imagine that this tendency took on obsessive proportions during the last weeks of my pregnancy. Amazingly, though, the diaper bag went largely ignored – I never even got it out of Harper’s closet. My rationale was that it would be a couple weeks before I took her anywhere that I might need one, so what’s the rush?
Famous last words, as they say.
If it weren’t for the fact that we had Harper, I would call the 10 days immediately following her birth the worst of our lives, hands down. People, there was NO END to the number of things that went horrifyingly, ridiculously wrong. It was practically BIBLICAL. Here is just a small sample:
–We had to take Harper to the emergency room in the middle of the night TWICE. (My boobs weren’t working and she wasn’t getting anything to eat.)
–We had to take me and The Guy to the emergency room once each.
–I got so sick with a sinus infection that I couldn’t hold or even touch Harper for about 14 hours.
–I had what the lactation consultant declared was the single worst case of engorgement she had ever seen.
–Our house caught fire.
–Which caused us to basically have to empty our savings account and give all the money to electricians, appliance-repair people and an unscrupulous heating and air-conditioning guy.
We had been up all night with a starving and therefore screaming baby. We called the pediatrician’s office at 6 a.m. on Sunday when we realized her eyes were dull, her lips were chapped and the inside of her mouth was bone dry. The doctor told us to give her a bottle of formula, which was, at that point, the single best thing we’d done for her. She took two ounces and passed out in the most blissful milk coma either of us had yet seen. We three were content, and we were exhausted.
After putting Harper in her bassinet, Blake and I laid down together in bed for the first time since we’d gone to the hospital to have her. We were both on our backs – oh, how delicious it feels to stretch out on your back after not being able to for months – and as we sank into the mattress, our feet touched.
It was an ordinary, insignificant gesture, but over the preceding year, it was a comfort we’d begun to take for granted. Now, that tiny moment of telepathy between our pinky toes communicated just how profoundly – and how magnificently – our lives had changed in only a few days. We both had tears in our eyes. Less than a minute later, our new little family of three was happily unconscious.
Exactly one and one-half hours later – I know because I looked at the clock – we woke up to howling smoke alarms. It must be some malfunction, we both thought. We didn’t leave the stove on. Heck, we haven’t had time to even USE the stove! Thankfully, the baby continued to sleep. Blake and I stumbled out of our bedroom, headed toward the kitchen, where we assumed we would whack at the smoke alarm a few times with the broom to turn it off, then return to bed.
The house was filled with acrid smoke.
The Guy turned to me. “GET OUT,” he said. “GET HARPER, AND GO OUTSIDE.”
I ran back to the bedroom and scooped up the baby, my mind racing.
I’m not dressed!
I didn’t see fire.
It smells like an electrical fire.
How long until the fire department gets here?
Is our house going to burn down?
Should I grab picture albums or something?
I need things for the baby!
Wait, what kind of things?!
Thus, Harper and I waited outside for the fire department with her wrapped like an eggroll in four blankets and me wearing a short, sleeveless pink nightgown, an entirely-too-thin-for-the-weather cotton shortie bathrobe and a pair of gold ballet flats with my leopard-print handbag slung over my shoulder, into which I had shoved five diapers.
That was my contribution to my newborn baby’s health and welfare: five diapers.
Turned out the fire was caused by a deteriorated electrical cord on the back of the fridge (I KNEW it wasn’t the heater!). We had it repaired, then I set about ensuring, so far as I can, anyway, that Harper and I never again wind up waiting for emergency personnel with nothing but five measly diapers to our name.
The diaper bag stays packed at all times, and it’s always in the same place, which is a location that is distinctly unlikely to burst into flames. Unless one of my dining-room chairs spontaneously combusts. Which, in my world, is not at all outside the realm of possibility.
Here’s what’s in there:
Five disposable diapers. We cloth-diaper Harper most of the time, but let’s be honest here, disposables can’t be beat when you’re faced with a spectacular blowout.
One or two cloth diapers.
At least one small wet bag, preferably two.
Plastic grocery sacks.
Wipes. Lots of wipes. It’s almost impossible to have too many wipes.
Hand sanitizer. See above re. “spectacular blowout.”
A change of clothes for Harper, which I switch out seasonally or when she has a growth spurt. Right now, since it’s summer, I just carry an extra onesie, but during the winter, we had a long-sleeved onesie, stretchy pants, a pair of socks and a hat. A onesie and a pair of Baby Legs are really all you need for the spring or fall, at least in Louisiana.
A bib or two.
A couple of burp cloths.
An extra shirt for me. Just a ratty grey t-shirt from Old Navy, but it’s better than sporting poop and/or barf all down my front (or back, as the case may be).
Pacifier(s). Harper’s not much for pacifiers anymore, but there was a time when we didn’t leave the house without at least three.
Pacifier wipes. These are also great for bottles, of course.
Small, thin flannel receiving blanket. (This IS Louisiana, after all.)
A Dr. Brown’s bottle filled with purified water. Maybe two, depending on how long we plan to be out.
Containers filled with baby formula and rice cereal.
A pair of travel scissors. These come in handy more often than you’d think.
“Hygiene products” for me. Look, momma’s gotta be prepared too.
It sounds like an overwhelming amount of gear to schlep around, but I roll everything, and it all fits easily in my diaper bag with room to spare. These are baby items, remember, so most everything is quite small.
Blake, by the way, has his own plain black diaper bag that has pretty much everything in it that mine does. And yes, he actually likes carrying a diaper bag. In fact, he says he loves it. (He and Harper usually have a daddy-daughter outing of some sort on his day off.) No, he does not care if you laugh at him for wearing a murse. He said that if you see him wrangling a baby and a stroller and you still think that black bag slung over his shoulder with bottles hanging out of it is a murse, then the joke’s on you, my friend.
So now I’m curious:
Whether or not you have a baby, what do you carry to be prepared?
Your Girl Scouting (not really – I didn’t like the uniforms)