Wednesday, February 4, 2009


We've been really lucky to come across different gear over the past couple of years that have made raising a baby while in a wheelchair so much easier (well actually, it's stuff that I think any mom could use!). We have even purchased a few new things that I think are going to be even better than some of the solutions we came up with the first time around. Here are some of our favorites (hope they help you, too!)...

We invested in the Bugaboo Chameleon as our big stroller. It was rediculously expensive, but for our situation, worth every penny. With the carseat adaptor, I was able to easily get Caroline into and out of the car from my chair from the get-go. The telescoping handle was a godsend so that I wasn't bumping my face into the stroller as I wheeled my chair. It's easy to take apart and fold (you have to take the seat off to collapse it, which some people hate, but from a wheelchair perspective, it makes it less cumbersome), and is really versatile. The only other stroller I would consider if I were to purchase something new for this baby(which we're not) is the Peg Perego Skate, which has alot of the same features, with the addition of a really cool tilting handlebar that would make it even easier for me to push than the Bugaboo.
You've seen me post about this one before - we bought the Quinny Zapp as our lightweight stroller after Caroline got bigger. It's so easy for me to fold and lift into the car, and is very easy for me to push from my wheelchair. The only drawback is that you can't really hang much onto the handlebars (although there's a decent-sized storage basket underneath).
The Fisher Price Space Saver high chair was a great find for us. Not only does it not take up alot of room in our dining room or kitchen, but I also found it so much easier to pull up to in my chair when trying to put Caroline into and out of it. We looked at the Peg Perego Prima Pappa (as well as others that had adjustable heights), but this one just seemed to suit our needs just a bit better.
The Skip Hop diaper bags were quite the find, too. We first had - and eventually outgrew - the Duo. We upgraded to the Via Messenger, which is great because it is a bit roomier and has the flap that contains everything. I love this bag because it hangs so easily onto the back of my chair, and kind of blends in because it's black. Steve likes it too because it doesn't look too girlie.

I saw someone in Ben and Jerry's one night when I was pregnant with Caroline, and she had the Peanut Shell sling. She raved about it, and it was for good reason. It is so easy to pull on and off (not buckles to adjust or attach), so it's easy for everyone to use - even people who may have limited mobility in their hands. Although I mainly used my Baby Bjorn when we were out and about, this was a great way for me to easily have my hands free when we were in the house (which is especially important when you have to wheel a chair). Just throw it on and go!

This is a new purchase for baby #2 - the silver and black M1 Carrier from Lascal. I decided to find another option for my Baby Bjorn Original, which I liked but had a few complaints about. The M1 has much better back support than the BB, which is really important for all moms but for wheelers in particular because back and shoulder strain are some of the main causes of additional disability with in this community. Additionally, the weight limit for the M1 is several pounds higher, which means that baby #2 can use it for a bit longer, making it easier for her to stay on my lap when we are out and about. I'm excited to see if this was worth the money - I'll keep you posted!

At our house these days, you will find several of these Kiddie Guard retractable gates from Regal + Lager. They were more expensive than the standard pressure or swing-out gates, but so much easier for me to manage from my chair. They fit wide doorways and are simple to operate once you get used to them. They are also really unobtrusive, which means that we didn't have to sacrifice precious doorway width (with a chair, every inch counts!).

Caroline loved this Papasan Cradle Swing from Fisher Price, and so did I - for several reasons. The main feature that made my life easier is that the seat swivels, which means that I was able to turn it to face sideways and pull the seat onto my lap to put her into and get her out of it. My balance isn't great, so this was crucial for me. She just loved it because it was so snuggly!

When I had Caroline, I told my mom that I needed to invent a way for me to easily pick her up off the floor after tummy time, etc., and thought that maybe I could adapt a small duffle bag to scoop her up. Turns out the people at Lillebaby did just that, with the Eurotote. This contraption apparently has many functions (travel bed, alternative carrier, etc.), but for me, the main use would be to hoist the baby up from the floor without having to put her in her car seat, climb into my chair, pick up the car seat, take her out, blah blah blah (which is how I had to do it with Caroline).

I have had a link to this on my blog for awhile now. It's a car seat carrying strap from Flying Falcon. While I have a really hard time believing that my walking friends would really like this thing (I have visions of strained necks and sore hips), for someone in a chair, it's the best thing ever. I am easily able to keep the infant seat on my lap with no issues because of this strap. It's so nice to be able to have my hands free to wheel, open doors, etc.
So that's that for now - I promise to pass along any new finds as I come across them. Hopefully, if you or someone you know is in a chair, you'll especially benefit from this post. For those of you who might not be in a chair but are having a baby, maybe these products will be a good fit for you, too!


With less than two weeks to go until the arrival of "Baby Tummy" (as Caroline continues to call her), we are in full-swing trying to get things as ready as we can. I head in for a scheduled c-section on the 18th, which is fast-approaching! It still seems a bit strange to me that we actually have anything left to do. When Caroline was born, we were ready to go weeks before she actually arrived - I think I had myself convinced that if everything was in place then we would totally know what we were doing once this little foreign creature moved into our home full-time.

This time, I feel like we know better - the confidence we have regarding how to actually keep this little person alive and thriving makes it seem just a bit less important to make sure that every throw pillow is in place in the glider and that every room decoration is arranged just so. Combine confidence with the fact that we have a toddler running about and you now know why the painter is just now scheduled to come paint the nursery on Friday - exactly 1 1/2 weeks before the baby will be born (if she decides not to make her presence known any earlier than that)! Oh well - it will all fall into place. Having Caroline taught me that...

From the perspective of my wheelchair, I think I've been pretty lucky with this pregnancy. With Caroline, she was arriving in the late summer, which meant I had to endure alot of heat and humidity in the weeks leading up to her birth. My body was incredibly swollen, which is common in pregnancy but particularly of issue for women who are in chairs. Limited mobility means limited ways to relieve the fluid retention. My ankles and legs were huge towards the end, and I was so swollen all over that I developed carpal tunnel syndrome in my hands and wrists and couldn't feel my fingers a good deal of the time. Not only was it really uncomfortable; it also began to affect my ability to use my hands - writing by hand became almost impossible (I even had to be incredibly tacky and type my thank-you notes for my baby shower), transferring into my chair was really painful, and taking my chair apart to put it into the car was harder and harder every day. The perk to all of this, however, was that when I finally delivered, I lost so much water weight right away that I was well on my way to my pre-pregnancy weight - gotta look at the bright side, right?!

My issues with swelling, and specifically the carpal tunnel syndrome, made me initially reluctant to even have a second baby. Thankfully, however, this journey has been different! While I was initially nervous to have a winter baby, the toll this pregnancy has taken on my body has been far less dramatic. I've had swelling recently in my legs and feet, but nothing that I haven't felt I couldn't handle. And to my relief, the carpal tunnel syndrome that I dreaded has been non-existent. I am so glad that things have gone differently this time around, especially with Caroline to keep up with. It's also really nice to feel like we know what we're doing - we've got alot of the little tricks figured out where a newborn is concerned. Now if anyone could hand me an owner's manual for my toddler, we will be all set!