So while we were on our little trip recently, I hurt my knee. I don't know when I hurt it, or how I hurt it, but my right knee has been giving me quite a bit of pain since then. It's ok if I'm just sitting stationary or stretching it out, but bending and flexing, especially to get up or down, is really painful. I've had to resort to various old-person tactics to get myself up and down--pushing with my arms, leaning on my other knee, etc. It's pretty pathetic--I'm only 31!
My suspicion is that somehow I hurt it, or strained it, during a couple of inadvertent long walks we took while in this larger city. Twice in the same day we ended up walking nearly an hour (with me carrying heavy Chloe a good bit of that time) without truly intending to. The first time was after a wonderful lunch at Outback, when we all decided a bit of strolling would do us good. But after we had strolled awhile it seemed like our apartment was just ahead, we might as well keep walking. It was a beautiful day and the walk was nice, too--just the weight of Chloe in my arms got tiring. The second time we got off the subway, thinking that the restaurant we wanted to go to was right next door, but in fact were given bad directions by the restaurant staff, even when we called back to double check. What was supposed to be "right on that main street in front of you" ended up being more than an hour of walking. I wasn't the only one feeling strained--there were seven kids under the age of six among us, so everyone was a bit burdened down for that long of a walk! (To the kid's--and adult's--credit, though, I didn't hear any complaining from anyone that whole long walk! We all persevered with good attitudes and that made our food taste that much better when we finally arrived! Hey, it was a good character building exercise!)
So my theory is that in holding and carrying Chloe so much on my left side, I somehow threw things out of whack and compromised my right leg. I had a bit of soreness and pain in that leg even as we were walking, so that's where this theory was born. But who knows, it could have been something totally different.
Anyway, my knee pain, combined with being 22 weeks pregnant, combined with the fact that despite our plans we are still living in the apartment on the fourth floor with no elevator, made me think through a new plan of attack for going out with our children in tow. I just cannot carry Chloe much anymore--she has got to be at least 25 pounds and really isn't stable enough (or quick enough) to climb up and down those 58 stairs by herself. Clara Anne does better, but still, if we're in a hurry, she usually needs to be carried as well. I'm sorry to say the double stroller, so worth every penny when we were using it in the States, has only made it out a few times since we've been back in Asia. That's because I discovered that I could not carry the stroller down the steps and supervise a child at the same time. So taking the stroller out by myself, so convenient when it was in the back of our minivan in the States, is almost impossible. I have to bring it down first, then either carry Chloe and supervise Clara Anne or make two trips to get them both down the stairs, then by the time they're all settled in the stroller it's time to get a taxi and fold the stroller up again. Finally the whole process has to be repeated when we get home! Not quite as convenient as I was hoping!
And, since it looks like we may be living in this apartment for another 5-6 months (due to various factors) and no elevator will be magically appearing, and soon we'll have three little ones to carry out, we truly needed a new plan to manage this situation! And, here's what we came up with!
My friend Rebecca (herself a seasoned mother of five) had recommended strongly to me a baby carrier called an Ergo. [Actually, Rebecca, it was your comment on my blog after our trip that made me start thinking seriously about buying one! The power of suggestion!] She has one and let me try it on this past summer when we were visiting their home. The Ergo is different from other carriers in that it balances the weight of the baby on your hips, not on your back. I did some reading online, and many mothers who had previously used the Baby Bjorn (what we have) said they just could not manage their babies after about 7-8 months. That was exactly my case. By then Chloe was so heavy, and my back would start killing me, not to mention my shoulders sinking down with her weight, that I could only wear her in dire necessity or for brief periods of time. So the Ergo is supposed to be comfortable for a child up to 40 pounds! Wow, Clara Anne isn't even 40 pounds yet! The Ergo is also a soft-sided carrier, not a framed back-pack type, so it can be folded up and stuck into a handbag or whatever. Another plus is that the baby can be worn on the parent's front, back, or hip--three positions so you can find what is most comfortable for you.
So after looking it up online, reading and researching a bit, and realizing how this could free up my arms and deal with the problem of having to carry Chloe, I made a pitch to John. The only drawback--the price, seemingly rather expensive. But I was surprised by how quickly he thought it was a good idea and that I should get it! So happily I have placed my order and it will ship to my parents' home before Christmas, when they will ship it on to us.
Part 2 of the new plan of attack involved looking for a very small, compact umbrella stroller, to use especially when traveling. And we found one! It's a bit of a cheesy design, but otherwise fits our criteria and so I think will be helpful.
Now we have some options: for now, Clara Anne can ride in the umbrella stroller and John can carry Chloe in the Ergo, yet leaving his hands free. OR, Clara Anne can walk, the stroller can stay home and Chloe can ride in the Ergo. OR, Chloe can ride in the stroller and Clara Anne can walk. After the new baby comes, I can carry the baby in the Baby Bjorn for a few months while John continues to carry Chloe in the Ergo while pushing Clara Anne in the stroller. After we move into a new apartment, with an elevator, the double stroller can be used much more commonly, but for now we thought this was a much better plan than us both needing to manage an at-loose child. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, containment is the best policy!
So, going out and about in our city, though not having the convenience of walking a few feet into your garage where you strap your child into his/her carseat and then you are free to walk around the car, load other things, etc, all only a few steps away from your home, is still workable. We just had to get a bit creative in the solution! Can you tell I'm excited about my new purchase? My days of carrying Chloe are nearly over! Now if only I could get my knee to feel better . . . :)