A Solution for the Unexpected: A Stroller
We all know that when you have a baby on the way, there’s a lot to do to prepare. Many of my friends rose to that challenge, shopping and nesting (like it was their job!). A month or two before their due date, they were totally ready for their new addition, with the nursery perfectly organized, a hospital bag packed and the car parked just right so they could make the quickest-possible trip to the hospital.
Me? Not so much.
I’d made some purchases and started nesting a bit, but I was still mulling over some of the major decisions. There was a specific changing table I wanted (out of stock), we’d bought a crib (still in the box), and we figured we’d end up with a co-sleeper (not purchased yet). We’d signed up for parenting classes but had only attended the first one.
Then my water broke.
Our daughter was born nearly five weeks early, big and healthy, but she suffered from some of the complications normal to preemies, like high bilirubin and underdeveloped lungs. We spent five days in the NICU falling in love with her… and learning about phototherapy for bilirubin and how to deal with the bottled oxygen she would need to breathe for months (fairly common at higher elevations, like Colorado, where we live). I don’t think we could have done it without our awesome pediatrician and an army of caring, talented nurses. We came home from the hospital with our heads slightly spinning.
When we were preparing for our little bundle of joy, there was one item I had really strong feelings about: a stroller. I polled my friends with kids about their experiences, and there were a few common themes:
- If you travel a lot, get a lightweight, umbrella-style stroller.
- A jogging stroller is best for trails and general around-town outings.
- Families with newborns loved having a carriage where the baby can stretch out to sleep.
If you’re not careful, that adds up to three separate strollers, which we definitely didn’t have room for.
In Sweden where I grew up, baby carriages (liggvagnar—literally “lay down wagon”) are more popular than here in the U.S., and I was definitely attracted to the idea of one. I imagined sunny Spring days on maternity leave, taking frequent outings with my newborn and several of my friends who had their own. So, with that in mind, I spent a LOT of time researching the options.
I finally found the right stroller—a modular model that had a bassinet attachment, was small enough to travel with, and had wheels and suspension that were conducive to jogging. It was also convertible enough to accommodate an infant car seat or, later, a toddler. It seemed perfect ... except that it was expensive and hard to find in the U.S. We ultimately found a boutique that imported this brand and drove there (a few hours!) to purchase it.
It turned out to be one of the best items we bought.
Since we hadn’t settled on sleeping arrangements for our little one, we went home from the hospital with no plan in mind. Her breathing was a concern, and we wanted her close to us, but she was also wearing a nasal cannula and had tubes leading to a pretty large oxygen tank that had to be close by.
That stroller saved the day. On the first day at home, we wheeled the stroller into the living room, and put her in the bassinet attachment, where she promptly fell asleep. We actually carried the whole stroller upstairs and into our bedroom when it was time for us to sleep. She had enough room to sleep but not so much room that she’d get tangled in the tubes, and the lower storage area of the stroller was a great place to put her oxygen bottle. It was nice to have her up off the floor for those middle-of-the-night feedings, and she and her gear were out of the way of foot (and paw) traffic. It was so convenient, we just kept it that way for three months, then we moved her to a crib.
Two years later, we used the same setup for our son, who arrived mostly on-time and didn’t need oxygen or any extra equipment. We never did buy a co-sleeper or a changing table.
We used that stroller every day for four years. I’m so glad I talked to my friends, did my research, and took the time to buy the right stroller, even if it was expensive. When my kids got too big for the stroller, we gave it to another family so it can make their lives better, too.
Our daughter is six now. She has the standard love/hate relationship with her little brother. We’re grateful that they’re both smart, happy and healthy.