Whoever said that picking the perfect stroller was easy, has never done it.
Fantastic, we are now into the third trimester and things are starting to get real. Whoever said that shopping for your new baby was easy has obviously never been to the never-ending multitude of speciality shops, department stores and kids worlds that have a seemingly unlimited supply of must-haves that you desperately need for your baby, even if you didn’t know it.
My husband and I walked, well, I waddled, into the closest store to us with a mission. To buy a pram or stroller. It was one of the things that we must get, not something that you could put off like a baby bath. Who knew how big my baby was going to be? The way my belly was feeling I could have been spawning a giant and those plastic baths were so little, maybe my newborn would be able to fit right into a regular bath straight after birth and we could do without one of those plastic things and save some money. But not a stroller. They rated as high on the must-have list as a car seat or cot.
It was my husband’s first time in a store that was just designed for babies and young children. He took two steps into the shop and then stood stock still with all colour draining from his face and his eyes bugging out. He swallowed a few times as if he suddenly was in the Sahara Desert surrounded by layettes and newborn booties. Meanwhile, I had crossed into the land of make-believe, well not make-believe. I knew darn well that I had to embrace the trials and tribulations of baby shopping. For some reason I hadn’t been able to get into it before, maybe I was putting off the inevitable, until, the inevitable started kicking me in the ribs then I knew it was a place that I had to visit, and soon.
Noting that my husband was standing frozen in the doorway of Babyville I had to give him a terse, “Well are you coming in or not?” This seemed to shock him into some kind of zombie state and he shuffled into the store behind me.
Grabbing his hand, I pulled him past the blue, red and white onesies, steering him clear of the breast pumps and nursing pads to the back end of the shop where the prams and strollers are kept.
At the sight of the hundreds of contraptions, we both froze in horror. The choices were endless. There were pink ones, black ones, even polka dot covered ones. Some had three wheels, some had four and one for triplets even had six. There were fold-up, fold-down, and fold any which way but the way you thought that they would go ones. Some had bells, some had whistles, water bottle holders, docking ports for your iPhone and for the yuppie mommy, a safe spot for your latte and a low-fat muffin.
The shop assistant noticed our shocked state and took pity on us. She appeared beside us like a guardian angel and enquired us about what we were looking for. This saviour’s question knocked my husband out of his stroller stupor and before I knew it, he was comparing notes with the assistant on the advantages and disadvantages of each model: whether a three-wheeler was better than a four or was the national standard good enough for our first child.
I was stunned when their conversation turned to tyre pressure and tread wear and I found myself looking around trying to work out whether we were in a store for baby goods or a new car lot. It didn’t end there. Did we want a pram or a sit up stroller? Did we want a pram with a detachable capsule so we can carry the baby inside without unlocking her? Were we likely to go jogging with our new infant? Not bloody likely! Did we want the one that flipped around and reversed the capsule so our baby’s eyes were not ever in the sun? I started to hyperventilate and had to sit down. All I wanted was a stroller, no bells, no whistles, no place for my coffee, but my wants were not considered.
My husband and the sales assistant were in the zone and before I knew it, they had narrowed the choices down to three which were folded down and laying on the floor. The sales assistant whipped out a tape measure and confirmed to my husband that the measurements on the box were correct and she was confident that any of his choices would be the best choice for us.
Finally, my husband turned to me and asked whether I had a preference. Well, I did but by this stage, I didn’t want to have a conversation of why I liked the pretty navy blue one that stood by itself in the back row. I didn’t want to be challenged on its lack of docking port or latte holder and my ribs were getting sore from where our daughter was endlessly kicking me. So I gave in and sweetly said, “Whichever one you think is right, dear.” The sales assistant smiled at me, the perfect wife, while my husband hummed and harried until he selected which one would be perfect for us.
Finally, the ‘perfect’ stroller and we made it to the trunk of the car. It didn’t fit. My husband cocked his head and ran through all options of turning the box around and around, turning it upside down than sideways, until finally coming to the conclusion that our new stroller had to be removed from the box so that it could fit. Moments later, he returned with a packing knife and proceeded to strip away the outer packaging until eventually we were left with just a bare stroller and a few instruction manuals and accessories.
My husband sighed with satisfaction and lifted the new stroller into the trunk. It still didn’t fit. He grunted and strained then turned the stroller until the handles were sticking out of the open trunk lid. I wasn’t one to say that the pretty blue navy stroller would have fit perfectly, no, I know that that is not the answer to married bliss, so I kept quiet, chuckling to myself at his efforts, or lack of. After tugging the trunk lid down numerous times onto the stroller’s handles to ensure that the lid definitely wouldn’t close, he told me to wait and that he would be back.
Quickly, he was back out of the shop with newly-purchased cable ties to tie the trunk lid down. He wouldn’t listen to me when I pointed out to him that the stroller was too big and I wouldn’t be able to tie down the trunk every time we had the stroller in the back. His answer was that he’ll make it work. When I suggested returning the stroller for a smaller one, one that would fit, I was shot down in flames. Did I not trust him enough to have chosen the perfect stroller? Was I questioning his methodology? Finally, he had the trunk tied down to his satisfaction and we were in the car on the way back home. We were both very quiet. In my head, I was cursing the stubbornness of men and what I would have to do to fix this. I was turning ideas over in my brain when he suddenly shouted, “I’ve got it! We’ll buy a new car with a bigger trunk.”
With bated breath, I waited a week to see whether a new car with a larger trunk would arrive on our doorstep, to no avail. Eventually, I did what every loving, patient wife has to do and quietly returned the ‘perfect’ stroller and exchanged it for the pretty navy blue one, the one I wanted in the first place.
Even now after two children growing up in that stroller, my darling husband has never once in the 16 years we’ve been married, asked what happened to the one that he chose.