The Stroller Debate: The Checklist(s)

think about a strollerI’ve recovered a little bit from my first stroller-shopping experience, and have come away with a little more wisdom and decision-making power.

Until I change my mind. Which could very well be in 5 minutes.

The first thing I realized about stroller/baby supply shopping is that you need to have a good understanding of your lifestyle and what your lifestyle is going to be when the baby arrives. Don’t try and shop for a house you might buy, a new apartment you might rent, or a car you are thinking about. That human puppy baby isn’t going to care that you were thinking about getting a different place to live, and cares about its comfort from the day it emerges. It was a big realization.

Related to this: you have your lifestyle and others (mom, friends, family, etc.) have theirs. When the good-natured, loving people in your life agree to go shopping with you and look at items from big to small they will, because they’re human, imagine the stuff in their house and in their life to some degree. It’s natural. You’ll do it too. It’s in your comfort zone and in your head. The problem is that you don’t have their house, nor their life. Remember that taste is not the same thing as lifestyle. So even if you have similar taste to someone, you might have a different lifestyle and thus, different needs. This is a GOOD THING. This is what makes people INTERESTING. But it also makes things frustrating when trying to pick out major lifestyle needs. So if, for instance, you live in an apartment and need things to be streamlined and multipurpose, even at the expense of something being a little less cute, that is your decision, and it is your apartment. Something that might accomplish two things but is less cute might fit better in your apartment, and you might not have the room of someone else’s 4-bedroom house. It’s almost impossible for people to grasp, but it’s something I’ve come to terms with being firm on.

So with that in mind, I’m going to give you the rundown of the decision-making lifestyle factors that the salespeople asked, I realized, and what other people seem to keep mentioning to me. Think of this as what I consider the “ultimate buying a stroller checklist that will probably need to be modified after I actually have a baby:

  1. How much are you going to stroll/walk around the city and/or parks? 
  2. Do you need to drive to get to your strolling destinations? 
  3. Do you do errands on foot (i.e., will be doing errands with a baby in tow on foot)? 
  4. How often are you going to need to drive the baby? (How often do you drive now?) 
  5. How many cars do you and your husband have? And how often do you need to transfer the car seat between them? 
  6. How big is your living space? How much storage do you have? 
  7. How often are you in smaller, crowded spaces (public transportation, smaller, city restaurants, etc.)?
  8. Is there any way you would want the stroller to have multiple uses? 
  9. What accessories do you know you’ll need and/or are important to you? 

It’s a LOT of decisions. But here’s my personal rundown.

  1. How much are you going to stroll/walk around the city and/or parks?
    A lot, hopefully. I love walking anyway, and getting a baby out and about a lot will be very fun for me. It’s literally one of the things I am most looking forward to. Right now I walk almost every morning with my husband and the dog to his work and then back again before I start my work.
  2. Do you need to drive to get to your strolling destinations?
    It depends. I live in a walkable area of a mostly driving city (Charlotte, NC). I have a great trail nearby and access to the downtown area, but sometimes I think I’ll need to branch out a little more and drive to some other trails, possibly.
  3. Do you do errands on foot (i.e., will be doing errands with a baby in tow on foot)?
    Mostly. I try, at least. I have a grocery store I can walk to, but prefer to drive once a week to the Publix 17 minutes away until the Publix goes up a mile away in 2015. But the drugstore, many restaurants, etc. I always strive to walk since I find it more enjoyable. There is a grocery store that is much more expensive and much worse in terms of quality, friendliness and choices (Harris Teeter) a mile away if I need to go there/walk as well.
  4. How often are you going to need to drive the baby? (How often do you drive now?)
    Right now I drive about 2-3 times a week, max. My husband walks to work and we try to truly limit our exposure to car time as much as possible. If we need to do errands like the mall, we’ll drive, but don’t plan on driving the baby much, since I don’t drive much on a day-to-day basis.
  5. How many cars do you and your husband have? And how often do you need to transfer the car seat between them?
    We have one car, a sedan, so switching the seat/seat base around won’t be an issue. (YAY!)
  6. How big is your living space? How much storage do you have?
    We live in an apartment that is huge by our (urban) standards that is 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, has washer/dryer (IN UNIT, which if you have never lived in a large, northern city probably don’t appreciate how awesome that is), and 2 walk-in closets. I love this apartment’s layout. So we have some storage, but do need items that are streamlined.
  7. How often are you in smaller, crowded spaces (public transportation, smaller, city restaurants, etc.)? 
    Acutally a fair amount. We try to live a pretty urban lifestyle, which can mean smaller spaces and more local restaurants. I do try and take the local light rail as much as possible, as well. In Charlotte the stroller thing isn’t a problem because there is usually plenty of room and the trains are quite wide and the access is easy. If I were back in Chicago it would be a totally different bag of tricks, with many stations not having elevators or escalators and the platforms being elevated and the trains and buses being quite crowded.
  8. Is there any way you would want the stroller to have multiple uses? 
    Definitely. It’s a big apartment, but I like streamlined, easy, multiple-use items.
  9. What accessories do you know you’ll need and/or are important to you?
    Cup holders and something to easily have my cell phone handy, ability to store stuff underneath if I’m doing errands at multiple stores, ease of use has to be high, and finally, they both have to be easy to push.

These are the things you’re going to learn why they’re important when you start shopping.

With these in mind, I narrowed my choice down to 2 options:

Baby Jogger City Mini GT UPPAbaby Vista


Price: $349.99


Price: $729.99

Big price difference? Right? I know. But it really isn’t as simple as all that. Here’s where things get tricky. I think that both of these are optimized for urban living in different ways. The City Mini is probably better in tight spaces, while the UPPAbaby has more features…and if you do ever drive, well, let me get to that. Both are equally easy to maneuver, can lie flat and be used with a newborn, and I have no doubt I would be more than happy with either option.

City Mini GT UPPAbaby Vista Point goes to…
Space City Mini takes up less space when it’s out and less space when it’s folded, BUT doesn’t stand when it’s folded. UPPA takes up decidedly more space in the trunk when it’s folded, but DOES stand up when it’s folded, which is a lifesaver when you’re in the apartment or need to fold it up in a restaurant, etc. Even. I think this one is a tie.
The actual fold Could not be easier. One handed, one and done. Just as easy to unfold. Two-handed and impossible on the first go and/or when explaining to someone else. People say you “just get used to it.” City Mini GT
What’s included? The stroller. Take it or leave it. A bassinet the baby can actually sleep in (!! see below), rain shield, bug shield UPPAbaby Vista (though things like cupholder, organization thing, etc. are still sold separately for both)
Storage Not bad. Definitely enough. The biggest I’ve seen of any stroller, and people rave about it UPPAbaby Vista
Other uses None The bassinet. The UPPA comes with a bassinet that can be used to sleep in overnight, which would eliminate the need for a separate bassinet while the baby is super young. This is a huge plus, as well as being able to wheel in the bassinet. UPPAbaby Vista
Car seat ease? You can buy an adapter and snap the carseat on, if you need, but my favorite carseat at the moment (the UPPAbaby Mesa) isn’t available You can buy adapters as well, but it seems to be a little easier on the UPPA. Frustratingly, the UPPAbaby carseat needs an adapter (puzzling!), too. Pretty even, but a slight nod to the UPPAbaby for ease of putting adapters in
Expandable later? No Yes – you can add another seat + a ride along step UPPAbaby Vista (this is the one “might” for later I want to think about, when considering the price)
Other nifty things? (Misc.) If you ever need to get on public transportation, this would be a phenomenal stroller The seat can be popped either front-facing or facing you, which is super nice and handy, and it’s easy to do to boot!

Like I said, the choice isn’t as clear as “bang for your buck.” A lot of lifestyle factors go into the stroller decision, which is why it was so overwhelming the first time. For me the strollers optimized for the “snap and go” just aren’t what I’m looking for, but I know that moms in more suburban worlds who drive a lot might like that more than I would.

I’ll keep you posted what I decide, but I know, deep down, I’ll be happy either way.

And if you have a favorite stroller, let me know in the comments below!! Love hearing from everyone!!

The 12-week Appointment: Mission is still a go

Did you know you can hold your breath for 4 and a half hours? You didn’t? Neither did I. But apparently you can, because that’s what it felt like the morning of the 12-week ultrasound.

TLH (Tax Law Husband) and I woke up early to get ready for our 8AM appointment. We tried to go about our normal routine, but conversation was forced, and our collective nervousness permeated through the entire apartment. I thanked myself over my morning coffee (the doctor said it was fine, it makes me so happy, so I HAVE NO SHAME) for making the appointment as early as I could. I can’t imagine waiting an entire morning for this.

An approximation of what I looked like eating my breakfast that morning. 

We got in the car and on the way over I think both of us had flashbacks of the “last time” we had this appointment 6 months ago and we were blindsided by an ultrasound nurse going, “uh oh”, rushing out of the room, and then after 4 more ultrasounds and a rush up to Maternal-Fetal Medicine being told our baby was “not compatible with life.” We had already lost a baby in this pregnancy – I think bad news at the 12-week mark…well I can’t even think about how we would have handled the news.

Our appointment came up fast, the ultrasound tech took a ton of images, explained every measurement and how the baby looked “perfect”.

Still no breathing from either of us.

No anencephaly. All measurements look “spectacular.” The doctor came in and confirmed, explained everything over again. Both the tech and the doctor were spectacular and eased our fears with smiles on their faces.

When they left TLH and I looked at each other, embraced….and cried a little. This was our secret big mile marker. This was where everything went wrong last time. We are officially one step closer.

We can breathe again.

You know what’s awesome? Breathing. Breathing is the best. 

Stroller Shopping: Round 1

In case you have never gone stroller shopping, I am going to help you imagine what it is like for someone who basically had no clue what they were getting into in their life.

Imagine suddenly being in the market for rutabagas. (In case you have no idea what a rutabaga is, please feel free to Wikipedia this root vegetable.) You may vaguely have an idea of what a rutabaga is, what kinds of things you’d like to do with the rutabaga, but really other than a broad, “my vegan co-oping friend who has never had refined sugar in her life talks about eating rutabagas” knowledge, you have no idea what you’re in for.

So you go to the root vegetable store. And your adventure begins.

This is apparently what rutabagas look like. Only slightly less scary than strollers.

This is apparently what rutabagas look like. Only slightly less scary than strollers.

Here you are confronted with more rutabagas and rutabaga questions than you have ever encountered. What types of meals are you going to create? What lifestyle would you envision yourself with your new rutabaga-eating habits in 3 years? What kind of storage do you need/have for your rutabagas? Do you need the leaves as well as the vegetable?

Here’s a hint to all these questions: YOU HAVE NO IDEA. You aimlessly start picking up rutabagas and feeling them like you have some idea of how they should look and feel. You imagine yourself cooking, mashing, slicing the rutabagas and then what your life will be like after 3-5 years of eating rutabagas. Then people will start giving you opinions about the rutabagas, and what worked for them, and what didn’t. Maybe you don’t NEED a rutabaga at all! Just go with turnips! Then what about the old-timers who will give you THEIR opinions about what rutabagas were like in THEIR days, and you don’t need any of these fancy rutabaga-prepping accessories, you sissywimp.

And so forth and so on.

You leave the store with a few ideas and some vague knowledge of rutabagas to think on, perplexed and very much wondering if this new rutabaga-consuming lifestyle you seem to have chosen for yourself wasn’t something you maybe should have put off for a while, and ohmygodwhathaveIdone.

This, my friends, is stroller shopping.

After the stroller section I couldn’t make it through the rest of Buy, Buy Baby despite the great sales people because honestly I just wanted to climb into one of the strollers and be wheeled out. I think I have narrowed it down to two choices, but I am sure that many more shopping trips will abound, and my pros and cons lists will be immense.

It’s honestly funny that you can’t drink while pregnant because the thing that would truly take the edge off rutabaga shopping is a big ol’ box bottle glass of Pinot.

Stroller Shopping: 1, Me: 0.

Twins…no more.

The one thing I know God has is one hell of a curveball.

Last week I went in for another ultrasound and some bloodwork for the first trimester. This was my third ultrasound of the pregnancy, which is unusual for being 9 weeks pregnant, but my first one came early due to my loss in a prior pregnancy, then after they saw two they wanted to see me the next week due to one of the embryos being a bit smaller. They told me that one of the embryos might “vanish” (vanishing twins is a real thing), and so at the second ultrasound they would know if it’s twins or not. They found both heartbeats both times and the second smaller baby had grown and its heartbeat was well within normal range at the second ultra. The doc told me she was “90% sure…barring anything freak happening because you can never say 100%” that I was having twins.  Continue reading