Wednesday, February 25, 2009

We got our stroller! --err, pram! um, buggy, puschair thing?!

And they drink "latte" too. :)

Once I figured out the whole healthcare aspect of being pregnant, everything else seemed like it would be pretty straightforward. It's easy to buy baby clothes, easy to choose the crib (cot?!) you like, easy to pluck freakish little stuffed animals from every child's store you wander into.
But there was one thing I found particularly stressful - especially in the London culture of "Yummy Mummies" and "latte-drinking-black-wearing-uber-chic-urban-babies," which is fierce and eagle-eyed enough to make even me cower a little bit - : choosing a stroller.

Or pram.

Or buggy.

Or pushchair.

Whatever the heck they call them here, I'm sticking with stroller. It just makes more sense to me (I'm a strollin' kinda gal) and doesn't sound like something you'd need to use in an insane asylum (please see the last alternative name above).
I think these little miniature, manually operated, luxury transportation devices deserve their own post for a couple of reasons, but mostly because they took me on the longest, bumpiest non-mobile ride of my life with regards to baby purchases.

* * *

My Long Long (SatNav-less) Ride Through the Land of Strollers
this is probably way too opinionated to be at all helpful

5. Which one is this again?
From what I can tell, since the time Matt and I were children, the number, types, styles and varieties of strollers out there and available to the common parent has more than exponentially grown. (It's just not bad enough that you have to choose between 10 different diaper brands, or 6 different burp cloth types.) In plain English: there are so freakin' many of them it makes your head spin.

At first I was naive enough to try looking online to get a sense of
what was out there. What a joke! Not only do you not get a good sense of size, smoothness, ease of folding, etc. - you can't see what color the thing really is. Not to mention, it's hard to decipher which brand provides quality vs. which brand provides bragging rights without seeing the other people looking at the things.

In a futile attempt to be politically correct and modern, I asked (well, technically "demanded"), that Matt make this his one task to decide on. I wanted him to choose the "travel system," having convinced myself it would appeal to his manly sense of practicality, that he
would be just as concerned as me with finding the perfect, light-weight, fashionable stroller to push his baby boy in. Let me tell you, even if he had been (which I don't think he was), I wouldn't have let him.

The moment my mom and I walked into the stroller section at
Peter Jones (one of my favorite places in London), nobody was making the decision but me. Sadly, even then, I was still too overwhelmed by all the choices to really make up my mind for another 4-5 months.

4. Logistically speaking, a nightmare.
Let's see, after I'd decided I did NOT want a Graco, Silver Cross, Quinny, Stokke, Combi, Phil & Ted's or Mamas and Papas, the pram department was a little easier to navigate. But before I could navigate the store, I had to figure out how to navigate my own house and neighborhood.

We have three flights of stairs inside our flat, and approximately 6-8 extremely
steep stone steps leading up to our front door. Plus we live a little over 1/2 mile from the nearest tube stop.

Imagine, if you will, a pleasantly plump, recently un-pregnant Brenda, standing at the front steps, trying to hold a newborn baby, a diaper bag, a purse AND a stroller while climbing the aforementioned 6-8 extremely steep stone steps leading up to the inconveniently narrow landing to enter the house. Not a pretty picture for anyone, especially not the man-child, but definitely not for any of the many valuable objects also held in her two hands either.

If it isn't going up the stairs, then it's going down: getting on the Tube, leaving the house, etc.. And if it isn't stairs, it's narrow people-filled corridors in shops, supermarkets, and buses, not to mention the Tube, once you've actually managed to get to the train.

Many of my suburban American friends (and family
members) looked at me slightly confused when I tried to explain this dilemma.

"But the so-and-so stroller rides like a dream."

"But the so-and-so stroller isn't really THAT heavy."
"But the so-and-so stroller folds up really easily once you take the wheel off!"

Yeah, that's all really, really great...when you have a car! Because when you have a car, you don't have to carry crap everywhere. You have a place to leave your child while you fold the
stroller (as opposed to, well, the floor, which would be my only option). You also have this really great thing called a "trunk" (or "boot" if you're British), where you can fold and put the stroller without having to lug it up even ONE flight of stairs. Not to mention, you don't have to deal (most of the time) with the exciting travails of public transport.

Public Transport-Related Mini-rant:
Last week I actually saw a fat, crochety, old woman curse at a new mother on the bus because of her "stupid giant pram" getting in the way of the aforementioned fat butt's sitting space. I was beyond myself. It was all I could do to stop myself from saying: Gee, Ma'am, couldn't it be that she ALSO has a right to take up a little (albeit LESS THAN YOU) space on this here public bus? Or is your butt just contributing that much more to the world than her un-obese-we-are-the- world-we-are-the-children human child?
I didn't say it. But I wanted to.

More to the point: I needed something light, bright, easy to fold, long lasting, manoeuvreable -

Everything fat-butt lady
wasn't, my stroller needed to be.

The "Poshness" Factor (a.k.a. "Why aren't you getting a Bugaboo?").
I didn't realize how oblivious to my surroundings I'd been until I became pregnant.

Suddenly, everyone has a baby. Everyone has this brand or that of this gadget or those things. Take a walk down King's Rd. in Chelsea one day and you'll be shocked at the amount of new,
high-tech and really, ridiculously expensive kid gear you'll see. Everything from designer baby clothes to designer diaper bags, to more full-time nannies than you can imagine.

Happily, the proverbial rat race for coolest urban baby doesn't really interest me. (Ludo's already got
that won, hands down anyway. :)) But seriously, though, especially once you start meeting other pregnant women your age (or slightly older, as is usually the case with me - I am, of course you know, a child bride and child mother compared to most big city dwelling females), it's hard not to get roped into the "what kind of ____ are you getting?" game.

After about the 27.39th time someone asked me why I didn't want to get a Bugaboo, I decided to just start acting like I hadn't heard them. It's much easier that way, because explaining practical
reasons doesn't seem to get you anywhere.

It's just a fact of life, so you move on and try to keep perspective on the things that really matter.

And then there were two: Maclaren and Bugaboo.
Not that there's an outright rivalry between the two brands, but they sure do seem to
compete head-to-head for the top position as "Posh Pram" in London.

You can't avoid crashing into at least two of them at any major department store in the middle
of the day. You can't walk by John Lewis without seeing someone propping a Cameleon or Bee into a cab. And you can't really miss some of Maclaren's more artsy-fartsy print designs, even if you wanted to.


I had eliminated most of the other brands based on the non-fatt-butt-lady criteria listed above. And when it came down to it, both of these brands offer beaut
iful, light-weight, long-lasting strollers, but they were still extremely different in my mind:

One of them seemed to fall into the camp of the understated. It reasonably, and in a British accent said to me, "I work well. I'm kind of expensive, but not so much that you'll have to take out a second mortgage. And I have the test of time on my side because people keep me - for years and children to come."

The other seemed to scream, well, everything. "Look at me! I'm expensive! I'm really bright!
I'm the coolest new-mom toy out there right now! And I'm Dutch - which by default makes me cooler than some stuffy English brand! Buy me or you're a real loser!"

And generally, my advice would be that if a stroller screams at you in any way, but especially a self-absorbed snooty way, you'd better not buy it.

Well that and if it's like twice as expensive as the other one, requires two hands to fold, is relatively bulky in comparison, and seems to constantly be listed on second-hand stroller sites, proving (in my mind) that it really isn't that long-lasting (not in a material sense) because people generally seem to want to get rid of it the moment they have a second child. The other, by comparison, is rarely being resold, sells-out online and at department stores immediately, and is good until the kid is like 4 years old.

My mind was made up. "Posh," or not.

1. "Our child is not a frog, Brenda."

Ah, the Maclaren Techno XLR. The new dream. My child's first form of non-human transportation.

I felt like I was buying a car for the first time (maybe because I've never done it?).
But seriously, this thing is a sweet, sweet ride. What other vehicle automatically comes with not one but two complimentary, fully, lifetime guaranteed dedicated chauffeurs who will also feed and love you unconditionally as well as push you anywhere you need to go? Granted, there's no leather seats on this one, but suede and a sun-roof ought to be good enough for a newborn, right?

From the moment we chose it, I became obsessed with finding the right color. Sadly, in this regard, the XLR is limited.

But I narrowed it down to two at first:
soft blue and coffee brown or soft blue and navy;
not the most exciting of choices, but somehow aesthetically pleasing

Until, of course, I came across this:

This picture does not do the green justice;
think lily-pad mixed with sweet peas mixed with crazy one-eyed monster

While I have mentioned my penchant for green before, I think pregnancy has exacerbated the obsession. My child already owns more green clothing and stuffed animals than humanly necessary or appropriate. And when I showed this picture to Matt, he repeated what he's been saying for the past four or five months already: "Brenda, our child is not a frog."

It's now sitting in all its green and brown glory in our hallway, where I stare at it, mess with it and stroke it lovingly, in turns.

Well, so what? :)
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1 comment:

  1. Brenda you said it right it is really to difficult to find best stroller in the market as there are many kinds of stroller in the market. You finally got the perfect stroller. I would suggest you to opt for Hauck speed sun travel system as it got all the best features with good looks.