the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Returning a favor and a tiny peek behind the scenes

Back in 2010 I signed a year-long contract with HGTV to write and curate content for their website. They had floated the idea of filming a pilot for a television series, but I happened to sign at a time when the network was enduring the death of an entire season of new shows. Much more famous faces than my own were tanking in the ratings, and here I was making patently terrifying iPhone videos celebrating a flesh-eating disease.

How else are you supposed to celebrate a flesh-eating disease? Can someone point me to the right Pinterest board?

It wasn’t the first time I experienced relief that I would not be starring in a reality television show. Two years earlier I filmed a pilot for Lifetime.

Yeah. That happened.

I didn’t ever tell you about that, did I? It’s not because I don’t love you. I love you a lot. I love you bunches. I didn’t tell you because the whole thing was scripted and flat and wholesome—nary a “fuck” or reference to “taking it up the pooper” to be found. And still, Lifetime came back and said, “My heavens, no! She’s too edgy.”

I’m probably going to make someone over there very upset, but seriously. Whoever saw that pilot and thought it was too edgy is someone who has never dared touch their own vagina. And that person would probably benefit greatly from one or two up the pooper.

I dodged that fucken bullet.

During my time with HGTV, however, I got to meet a ton of incredible people including David Bromstad, Genevieve Gorder, Candace Olson, John Gidding, and Sabrina Soto.

Also, I took a ton of headshots for that contract when I had just pulled a Felicity Season Two with my hair. Remember this dooce?

Never again.

I have a whole post dedicated to this topic because Leta and I just watched Felicity cut her hair off, and I had the most involuntary, visceral reaction to it. Even though I had seen that episode at least three times before. Some things clicked for me. Some themes, if you will. I have a lot to say about hair, apparently.


Sabrina Soto and I hung out a few times that year—a couple of times in NYC and once in Denver—and she’s a lot like my mother in that she makes you feel like you’re the most important person in the world when she’s talking to you. And that makes her absolutely mesmerizing. She’s kind and gracious, stunning to behold in person, and she always created an atmosphere in which it felt like we’d known each other all our lives.

My contract with HGTV ended at the beginning of 2011, but over a year later when I was going through one of the roughest patches of my separation and divorce—the patch were local and national news outlets were dissecting the dissolution of my marriage, and I got to read comment sections full of people gleefully celebrating my pain and “failure”—Sabrina reached out to me. I opened my inbox one day in the middle of all that to find a message from her, one sharing her own experience with the loss of a relationship and what that had done to her life. She wanted to assure me as someone who had made it to the other side that I would, too.

And that brought me so much comfort. She let me know that anyone going through that kind of upheaval is going to fall apart and cry for days on end—possibly months or years—and feel like a total wreck. You’re going to wonder if you’re losing your mind and believe people when they tell you that you are. Even if you’re an exquisite, seemingly flawless host of your own television show. I once said this about Soledad O’Brien and I’d say it about Sabrina: no way in the world does that woman take shits. Not a possibility. There’s no better way to sum up the other-worldliness of this kind of person.

Knowing that Sabrina had survived the same kind of disfiguring pain that I was going through gave me some hope when I really needed hope.

About a month ago I got a message from a PR rep that wasn’t even addressed to me; I was BCC’ed along with who knows how many other bloggers and influencers, probably several dozen if not hundreds. That’s how a lot of these things work: PR companies send mass emails about new products hoping that some of us will be interested in promoting it. Most of the time they want us to promote things for free or in return for the product itself. The problem with this—and this is what so many PR people butt up against when doing their jobs—is that a baby stroller or a duvet cover or tickets to a new movie don’t pay the bills. And many of us have invested several years of our lives building this thing that supports us, this platform and the trust our audience has placed in our character.

I usually delete these emails—I get hundreds of them a day—but I saw Sabrina’s photo and it immediately threw me back to 2012 when I saw her name out of nowhere in my inbox. She’s just released a line of stylish diaper bags that look like a high-end leather carry-all more than the traditional, clunky duffle that I carried all those years ago when I was a new mother.

You mommy bloggers these days and all your newfangled gear!

Back when I was mommy blogging we didn’t have any of this stylish shit y’all have got going on. We only had maternity pants that made us look like an aggressive, waddling duck who just swallowed Steve Bannon. We waddled and we liked it!

So I wrote the PR person back and said, “Hi. My name is Heather, and I’d like to return a favor.”

This post is not sponsored. I’m not even keeping the product for myself. I genuinely think Sabrina is one of the most generous people I’ve been lucky enough to meet through this website, and I’m sure many of you out there are still in that stage of life when a stylish diaper bag might come in handy. So I asked if they’d give me three bags to give away to my readers. I can’t think of a more appropriate way to say thank you to her and to you at the same time. The fact that Mother’s Day is less than a month away makes the timing all the more perfect.

Important to note: you can find these bags at Target and Nordstrom and Amazon if you’re not interested in waiting on the results of a giveaway.

I have one bag in each color: black, taupe, and cognac.

No requirement to enter this giveaway other than leaving a comment below using a valid email address. I’m shipping the bags myself, so this isn’t necessarily constrained to those of you living within the states. And you don’t even have to leave a comment about why you need the bag, but seriously? Don’t be a douche and leave a comment unless you really need the bag or know someone who does. If you do that, I hope you have to endure several ill-timed nipple twists on behalf of every mother out there who has to pack a giant diaper bag just to leave the house for 10 minutes.

You can comment as many times as you like. I will close comments on Sunday night April 23rd at 9PM EST and then choose three random winners from those comments whom I will contact via email. Once I have determined that those winners are not spambots, I will update this post with the identification of their choosing.

Thank you, Sabrina. You’ve been an inspiration and a friend. And isn’t motherhood just fucken nuts? I’m not biased at all when I say baby girls are the best.

  • RzDrms

    2017/04/21 at 6:45 am


  • meghan

    2017/04/21 at 6:46 am

    This would be great for an expecting friend!

  • Kelly Whelan Burke

    2017/04/21 at 6:49 am

    Great to have you back Heather. I’ll give it to a frazzled new mum who would love it.

  • Kelly Planer

    2017/04/21 at 6:55 am

    I’m not a new mother, but am friends with a lot of lovely women who work with CareNet, an organization supporting young unwed moms who need some support and love. I would be grateful for the bag – and they would be the recipients. Thanks!

  • Alecia Ramsay

    2017/04/21 at 6:56 am

    I would love to send this to my dr cousin who just had her first baby!

  • Brooke

    2017/04/21 at 6:58 am

    Would love a big, office appropriate tote like this for when I go back to work after my mat leave ends next month. So much baby and pumping gear to wrangle!

  • Christine Smith

    2017/04/21 at 6:58 am

    Perfect for my daughter and my week old granddaughter!

  • Miss lee

    2017/04/21 at 7:06 am

    These are diaper bags? Really?

  • Ashley Gresham

    2017/04/21 at 7:07 am

    Expecting number two, and this looks perfect for hauling all the preschooler’s stuff and the baby’s stuff and my pumping supplies to work every day!
    (Sidenote: So glad you’re back!)

  • Janet McNally

    2017/04/21 at 7:07 am

    Hi there Heather, my friend has just become a Grandmother to TRIPLETS ( three premmie but healthy girls), PLUS her daughter already has a two year old. It’s a very busy house at the moment!!! I’m sure one of these bags would. One in handy thanks. We are in the U.K. though so if you would like me to pay for shipping or donate the postage to charity I can do that. Best regards JM

  • jrpm

    2017/04/21 at 7:10 am

    Love these! Welcome back Heather – it’s nice to read you again.

  • Kelly B

    2017/04/21 at 7:12 am

    Commenting for my cousin.

  • H Buchanan

    2017/04/21 at 7:13 am

    My future SIL is expecting her first baby later this year. I would just love to be able to gift her something like this. Thanks for hosting!

  • Nicole

    2017/04/21 at 7:16 am

    I have several baby showers to go to this year and this would make a great gift. And I won’t have to decide between pink, blue, or whatever neutral is “in” at the moment! Win win.

  • Akosua Arkoh-Okyere

    2017/04/21 at 7:16 am

    Hi Heather, I am a maternity health care worker in West Africa. And I would love to gift one of these to a new Mommy I know who works to help her family and community.

  • BR

    2017/04/21 at 7:19 am

    I’m still using the bag they gave us at the hospital that had a set of diapers, wipes, a nose sucker bulb, and a thermometer in it. It’s not pretty like these, I’ll tell you that.

  • Katy Svec

    2017/04/21 at 7:19 am

    Due in August with baby girl number 2, and would totally love a bag this stylish this time around!

  • Casey Warner

    2017/04/21 at 7:20 am

    Due in September with my 2nd … 5 years after my first. Very happy to see that diaper bags have come a long way since then!

  • Dona Hightower Perkins

    2017/04/21 at 7:21 am

    My coworker is expecting in August and she’s having a REALLY difficult pregnancy, so I know she would love one of these! Thank you for your generosity and paying it forward. 🙂

  • Deidre

    2017/04/21 at 7:21 am

    Lovely bags, just had my second and would love to sport this so I can look like one of these “hip moms” I hear so much about. 🙂

  • Liz Marquardo

    2017/04/21 at 7:21 am

    My daughter is not a newborn. In fact, she is closing in on two (in July) and so I unsuccessfully trying convince myself that a new diaper bag is not necessary. (its not – in the most basic meaning of the word). But I have grown to resent my current diaper bag (gratefully received 6 years ago as a gift when my son was born) and I have at least another year of diaper bag in my future before I feel comfortable leaving the house with kids and without a change of clothes, diapers/pull-ups/snacks/drinks…so this bag would certainly be well used and maybe make me feel a little more stylish too.

  • Aunt B

    2017/04/21 at 7:22 am

    I love when I see someone is “being kind” or “being supportive” (these are not air quotes) brahaha because they genuinely believe in someone.
    This is for my niece Molly, this ship has long sailed for me.

  • Jenny Petersen

    2017/04/21 at 7:23 am

    Hi Heather! I’d love to gift the bag to my brave friend, a fabulous mother, opera singer, and general badass woman.

  • Tracey McGee

    2017/04/21 at 7:23 am

    I am so so tired of my diaper bag and how it screams of sleepless nights and unwashed hair. Please, baby Jesus, let me be a winner. 😉

  • Brianna

    2017/04/21 at 7:25 am

    What nice diaper bags.

  • Tamara Jennings

    2017/04/21 at 7:28 am

    My sister in law would be more excited about this bag than surprise baby #3 at the moment.

  • Ellen Ranck

    2017/04/21 at 7:30 am

    I would love one for my daughter-in-law

  • Ashley Burns

    2017/04/21 at 7:30 am

    I am thirteen weeks pregnant and the diaper bag I used with my first is in tatters. This would be wonderful!

    Also, thanks for all you do, and it’s *so good* to have you back.

  • Teresa Fabbro VanDyne

    2017/04/21 at 7:31 am

    Both my nieces are expecting. This would be nice for one of them, although it would probably make the other one jealous.

  • Jenny Germann

    2017/04/21 at 7:31 am

    Hi Heather, I am 6 (almost 7!) weeks pregnant with our first child. Due to a medical issue with my husband we had to use a fertility specialist and were lucky enough to get pregnant on the 4th IUI. I found out the day we received the packet of information to start the IVF process. I was 24 hours from taking a loan out to cover the IVF cost ($17k with only a 50% success rate, ouch!). Since we’re newbies to this pregnancy game it would be wonderful to start out with such a stylish diaper bag.

  • Jeanna Hoffmeister Powers

    2017/04/21 at 7:31 am

    I would love to gift one of these bags to a couple who just had twins, one of whom has many medical struggles ahead of her.

  • Kathy Carlin Beaver

    2017/04/21 at 7:33 am

    I would love this for a friend’s grandchild.

  • Mary Cook

    2017/04/21 at 7:33 am

    I would love one, thanks! (p.s. So glad to have your words back in my feed reader!)

  • Kim

    2017/04/21 at 7:36 am

    My niece with her new baby and “oh my GAWD when will my vajajay ever stop bleeding???” would be so uplifted by this on her first mother’s day!

  • Natasha Onken

    2017/04/21 at 7:38 am

    Soon to be mom having a terrible time finding a diaper bag…these look so fantastic!

  • Jaime

    2017/04/21 at 7:40 am

    Thanks for the opportunity to win one of these. It would certainly come in handy when going out with both of my kids.

  • Superfantastic

    2017/04/21 at 7:44 am

    Baby girls ARE the best! Mine is nine months old and while my Craig’s List diaper bag is perfectly functional I would love to have one that was actually stylish.

  • Stacy

    2017/04/21 at 7:45 am

    My diaper bag is from my last child which is 5 years old so I need a refresh!

  • Rachel Hazen

    2017/04/21 at 7:46 am

    I have a baby boy and a “dad bag” that I got so my husband would carry the bag around. Boy do I miss a purse though and having an accessory that looks good.

  • Kelsey Martinez

    2017/04/21 at 7:50 am

    This bag would make an amazing mother’s day gift for my sister, mother of an incredible kiddo.

  • Heather O.

    2017/04/21 at 7:51 am

    These bags are gorgeous, and I love your story about returning a favor. Baby #2 is on the way this July and this bag would be a wonderful addition to the chaos. 🙂

  • Nicole Lindquist

    2017/04/21 at 7:53 am

    Baby #3, our first boy, is due on Tuesday, April 25th. I’ve never had a stylish diaper bag as my husband feels backpacks are “more practical.” Simply put, this would be a treat for me. That’s all I got 🙂

  • SannaBanana

    2017/04/21 at 7:55 am

    I’d love to win one for my sister-in-law who is struggling a little (a lot, but she won’t admit it) with PPD and a 2 month old baby. I don’t know that this would really be “paying it forward” but I’d love to try to bring a little (practical, because that’s who she is) sunshine to her day.

  • Stacy

    2017/04/21 at 7:56 am

    Sister in law with 5 kids would love this as I think she has finally just resorted to throwing diapers in her purse. AKA “given up” on a diaper bag. I think this would be a nice upgrade.

  • Rebecca

    2017/04/21 at 7:57 am

    With an almost 3yo and 11mo, I’d love to try one of these bags and move away from the big, clunky bags. Over time, I’ve gotten better about packing the right amount of stuff (and not everything but the kitchen sink).

  • Babydoll Brea

    2017/04/21 at 8:11 am

    Whew! I’d semi-forgotten about all the HDTV drama.

    I would love to gift a bag to my Gina Bumblina who is due with her first baby in July.

  • Donna Slack

    2017/04/21 at 8:11 am

    Thank goodness styles have changed.
    My first daughter came in 1981 and I thought I was a fashionista.
    My 3rd Grandchild arrived 10 days ago and this beautiful diaper bag would be a fabulous gift to my daughter who is celebrating the arrival of her 1st daughter.
    Styles HAVE changed.
    TY for running this contest.
    You are indeed a true friend to your friend Heather.

  • Angela

    2017/04/21 at 8:12 am

    I’m so glad you’re back to writing! I have a single friend who just adopted a baby, this would be great for her!

  • Bailey

    2017/04/21 at 8:12 am

    I’d love a bag for my toddler and my future, not yet created, in the back of my mind baby.

  • Bailey

    2017/04/21 at 8:13 am

    Or I’d love a bag for my wonderful sister in law, who is due with her first baby in August. Gender TBD!

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Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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