All the Prams are Great, but All the Prams are Rubbish

Being an expecting first-time parent is turning out to be a daunting and exciting journey into the unknown. Of course people have been having babies for a seriously long time so there’s a lot of experience and advice out there, which one might think, should minimise this unknown factor. In reality though this isn’t the case… what is actually out there is a million conflicting, emotional opinions… and this certainly extends to prams and buggies

For some months we’ve been asking all the mums and dads we know for their advice when it comes to buggies, as getting a duff can be an expensive mistake as they can be very, very pricey. I was hoping for some answers like “we have a Bugaboo; it’s expensive but really well built and folds down brilliantly” and “I’d go with a Silver Cross, they’re good value for money and will last for 6 years”… what we actually heard was “We have a Bugaboo, don’t get a Silver Cross; they’re s**t!” and “Get a Silver Cross and avoid Bugaboos at all costs”. It seemed that along with every recommendation came a damning condemnation of another make/model which had also been recommended by someone else. And whenever we said something like “We’re thinking of a Mountain Buggy as we like the way they handle” we always got an emotional, damning remark along the lines of “They’re crap” instead of a “They’re OK but too heavy I think”. It seems that parents have very strong views about these types of things. Perhaps the emotional ties to anything related to their children does this (understandable if that’s the case) but all I can think is that if I’d had similar conversations with non-parents about TVs or Mirowaves then I’m sure I would have had much more useful and unbiased responses.

So this left us very much to our own “try them and rate them” approach which left us making tables of pros and cons and a list of things that we felt would be important for us, our baby/toddler and our lifestyle and of course some things that we weren’t worried about so we cold disregard certain features that relevant for us… here’s that list;

  • The Badja is likely to do a lot of walking so it’ll get used a lot, thus build quality is important
  • Hopefully we’ll use this on rugged footpaths and beaches so large wheels might be useful
  • We’re not so worried about whether or not it’ll extend to cater for 2 children.
  • Would be nice if it could be used for many years.

Prams and Buggies that fell by the wayside include;

  • The Bugaboo Chameleon -although an early favourite they’re very pricey and have small front wheels
  • Phil and Teds Explorer – Slightly too heavy and there was no need to have the second seat extension
  • UPPAbaby Vista – Very nice but catered for weight up to 15kg only
  • iCandy (various models) – Very popular but the hood on the cot makes an incredible noisy sound when bring it up or putting it down… I could really see this waking up little ones.

So which Pram/Buggy did we choose in the end?

We ended up going for a Mountain Buggy Swift. It’s a smallish model by the ex-New Zealand company who have recently been aquired by Phil and Ted. It has 3, relatively large (10 inch), wheels and seems to be very well built. There’s easy access to an average size basket and it even has a water bottle holder. It also folds up pretty small and so far looks like it’s easy to fold up and convert between modes. We have also purchased the carry cot attachment to make it a pram for the first months.

The Mountain Buggy Swift also has a Pram carry cot attachement

I suppose that The Badja and I will find out pretty soon how well it really works in practice and I hope to let you know our findings of actual use. For now though all I can do is let expectant parents to be prepared that getting advice from existing parents means that you’re likely to get a very muddled overall response.

Peanut’s 20 Week Scan

Last Tuesday The Badja and I went along to St Albans hospital for Peanut’s 20 week scan. We were actually in the 21st week so had high hopes for getting some very clear images of the little one. Of course along with these high hopes were the ever present anxieties of what potential issues might be spotted… these issues are numerous and include such worrying things as malformed limbs and the missing top part of the head! Before the scan a list of possible ailments was posted to us, to be honest it’s a daunting read. I don’t know how most couples (or single mothers even) deal with such problems being identified but in our case neither The Badja or I brought the subject up at all. I suppose we would just have decided how to cross that bridge if we were faced with such eventualities.

image

Anyhoo, once again we were treated wonderfully by the staff and we were soon in position for the scan to begin. Clutching each others hands we began and we were once more faced with incredible images of our baby. The definition was incredible and I find it hard to describe what I saw to be honest… in fact at the time I remember trying to think of words to depict ultrasound images and at one point when looking at Peanut’s spine the only phrase that sprang to mind was “Jurassic Park”… I think I’ll be a great father!

As for the medical outcome I’m only too pleased to say that all boxes were ticked with ‘normal’, so far so bloody good!

With this scan out of the way The Badja and I can now start on the next set of tasks all in the name of preparing for Drop-day. Tasks include purchasing (hopefully) everything we’ll need to take the best care of post-drop-Peanut such as bedding, clothing, cleaning products as well as some more fun stuff like toys, books and nursery decorations. A long with all of these items we’ll also need to buy some of the more expensive items such as a pram and in our case a car too. The next posts are planned to go through these items, outlining our potential purchases, their criteria and our eventual choices. We’ll also be looking into Antenatal classes, possible NCT classes and also hypnotherapy classes. The Badja is also looking at doing some pre-birth yoga and aqua-natal classes so maybe I’ll convince her to write something about those too.

Until then… x

Scans – NHS Cost v Value

This week my partner Badja and I went along for our NHS provided 12-14 week scan and Nuchal Translucency screening… we were very excited to see how Peanut was doing since our first private scan.

Again as first time parents-to-be we were really excited and equally as anxious. We were hoping that the level of detail at this scan would be even greater than before, and we weren’t disappointed. We got to see a heartbeat, fingers, a rib cage, the 2 halves of the brain (in a beautiful butterfly shape) and even a tongue! To say that the images were mind-blowing would be an understatement… it’s incredible to think how lucky we are in this day and age to have the chance to see, in so much detail, how our baby is progressing.

Peanut Scan

2nd scan of Peanut

Of course having seen these photos of our little Peanut there was no way we were going to leave without taking a couple with us. At five quid a pop they are, at the same time, both very cheap but also very expensive. Cheap in terms of how much Badja and I will value them but very, very expensive in relation to the cost and value to the NHS. This feeling of, well I suppose of frustration, was compounded when the sonographer printed off 5 pictures and then sold us 2 for £10… what was to happen to those we didn’t buy? They weren’t going into the pregnancy file… I can only assume they were to be binned. And if they were, why not just charge a nominal fee for parents-to-be to take home all those that are printed?

If anyone knows what happens to these leftover scans I’d be interested to know.

Going Public – Becoming a Parent

Well it’s finally time that my partner (Badja) and I can let the world know that we’re expecting a new addition to our little team… that’s right, we’re going to be parents.

Scan of Peanut Halfpenny

Peanut Halfpenny

The journey all started last July when I instigated a chat with my other half about priorities in our lives. It was a somewhat grown-up chat for me and I think it surprised us both. The outcome is that we would start trying for a baby… bloody exciting times!

The Badja instantly took on the role of researcher and pulled a whole load of “best practices” together to aid our chances. This included things such as our diet, exercise patterns other lifestyle changes. Neither of us were smokers or heavy drinkers so this didn’t seem to cause any major upheaval. In fact the only stresses caused were the time-constraints of “we need to do it as much as possible in the next 24 hours”… and that itself isn’t exactly a bad thing.

We did, sadly, have a few “false starts”… these were extremely emotional and I can only wish that few people as possible ever experience them. They were hard to deal with from every angle, I shan’t lie about that.

Anyhoo, many months after 1st setting out on this life changing adventure we had finally made it to the 2nd milestone (the 1st being the positive test that was waved around with much excitement). We decided to have a private scan at The Verulam Clinic in St. Albans as we were anxious after our experiences up until this point. To say that what I saw on the monitor blew my mind would be an understatement… When I saw Peanut (as our bump is presently named) waving back at us it was the single greatest moment of my life. I wish with all my heart that everyone (who wants to) gets to have one of those moments. The clinic visit itself was very quick and professionally done. The staff were friendly and I’d recommend them for sure if anyone wants a private scan done. They also run other things such as yoga classes and I think the Badja might give them a whirl too.

With this extra peace-of-mind we hastened to put into place a plan of action for the next weekend which would involve telling as many loved ones as we could. We had the scan printed onto T-Shirts and we would use this visual aid to inform our friends and family, they will also make nice keepsakes once framed. Our “unveiling” weekend consisted of many hundreds of miles driving, numerous phone calls and an unforgettable Skype call to my drunken parents in France.

We have a few more appointments lined up in the diary for things like NHS scans, consultation visits etc so I’ll be sure to update you on those too.

Oh, almost forgot to say that we met the most lovely midwife at St Albans hospital, in fact all the staff there were lovely… erm… if I remember their names I’ll update this post too.