Let’s go look!
With 13 weeks and 4 days until Baby Ball’s expected arrival myself and Kieran thought it best to go and find out what car seats would be manageable with my reduced function in my left hand. I knew I wasn’t going to have the “standard” experience that most expecting mother would have. I knew I wasn’t going shopping to find a car seat that was the most stylish or even have a wide range to choose from, I knew I didn’t have that luxury but that wasn’t an issue. I wanted a car seat that I was able to use with one and a half hands and kept baby safe. Simple. What was an issue that I hadn’t given a second thought was the dismissal and rude element that I received due to my disability.
Mothercare – ‘Welcome to the club’ is their tag line, if only I was welcome.
I started in good old Mothercare the home ground of all things babies, toddlers and children. We informed a member of staff we would like to be added to the queue to have a staff member help us in our search for a car seat, there was two people in front of us so we had a little browse before a specifically trained car seat member of staff came over and told us it was our turn. I informed the lady this was our first time looking at car seats for our first born due in June, I also let her know that I had a congenital hand deformity and showed her what she was working with. She immediately grimaced and said in an uncertain voice that she would try to help. I thanked her and explained my main concern would be the buckle element of the car seat. She showed and demonstrated a standard buckle using her two fully functioning hands, I reiterated I would not be able to copy her as I only have one functioning hand so she demoed the buckle again using two hands when my husband stated that I was unable to copy her method. The woman rudely stated that she knew that however did not alter her method. I tried her method myself and failed as we had presumed. I asked if there were any buckles that locked together or could be placed one in at a time. She said she would ask another member of staff, after I only tried one of the hundred car seats available, she came back with the responce “No, theres nothing you can use here” I asked if the manufactures sold different straps or buckles, she told me “well phone the manufacturers yourself to find out.” At this point Kieran had to walk away as he could not believe how rude and insensitive this woman was being regarding my situation. I stated that my baby will need a car seat regardless of where it comes from so I asked if Mama’s and Papa’s would have a different selection of car seats for me to try, she replied “No, they’ll have the same selection of car seats which you wont be able to use”. I left the shop and held back the tears in disbelief.
As a first time mam to be I’m so anxious of my ability to look after baby and preoccupied with how paramount the safety of baby is. As are most expecting mothers, imagine if you go into a supposedly safe place where you want to buy a baby item that keeps your baby safe to be told theres nothing for you. Nothing for me? So you have these items for everyone else just not for me? So my baby cant be safe? My baby isn’t worthy of a safe car seat because Im disabled? So my baby is suffering because of me? Fuck you. Fuck your making me feel this way. Fuck your words making me think my child will suffer because of my disability. Fuck your inability to want to help, even just to try. Fuck your ignorance. Fuck your discrimination.
Internal voice/perspective from the other side – If theres nothing there suitable maybe you will have to get something bespoke made. If they don’t sell an item that you can use thats not the woman’s fault.
After leaving Mothercare the place that made me feel like I was already letting my baby down we decided to have a look in Mamas and Papas in the hope that the woman was wrong and failing that to just look around cute granddad baby clothes to cheer me up. We entered the store me with a face like a slapped arsed and Kieran with the face of a canny husband who wanted his wife to not be sad. We spoke to a lovely lady who asked questions about what I can and cant do and what things I might struggle with when it came to a car seat. We soon ruled out the option of a carry car seat and any seat that required a seatbelt or an isofix that you had to simultaneously push a button with one hand and pull with the other hand. Nope nada, they just aren’t suitable for me or my ability. After trying multiple seats and buckles I was left with one option. The Cybex Sirona Baby and Toddler car seat (£400) which if we buy the additional insert (£50) will last from birth to 4 years depending on height and weight. Yes its expensive and I wont have the luxury of carrying baby in a seat if he’s asleep as its a fixed seat so I’ll have to lift him in and out, but if I can use it and baby will be safe Im a happy mama to be. I plan to go back to Mamas and Papas in a few weeks to buy the car seat alongside a thank you car to the lovely lady that gave me time and reassured me that I can do this and reminded me that I’m going to be a great mother because I care so much about his safety already.
Oh and as for my inner voice. You look for the good in everything which I love about myself but on this occasion I call bullshit. Why? Because Mothercare sell the EXACT same car seat that I COULD use but I wasn’t worth the time to find it.
After writing about how me and Kieran met a few people have said they enjoyed reading our story. Firstly – thank you and I’m pleased you approve, I have so many stories to write about us and our idiosyncrasies but I’ll keep them banked for now unless they become more relevant or if I need reminding of the days pre baby!
Also I just want to mention that it was made clear if you found this blog via my Instagram account that Im writing this blog mainly for me but also for anyone who it may happen to help. I know when I was younger I would have loved to have found a blog like this, just to know life is still normal even though I myself may not be considered to be. If you have not been directed through my Instagram account you may have been confused as to where SoleHandedMama came from. Well, I want a place where I can be me, write my thoughts, write my stories without having to filter. I filter my words on a hourly basis, ofter on a minutely basis at work. And it’s exhausting trying to say the right thing or wishing I could interject in a conversation but not because of worrying that I might come across or be perceived in a manner which I don’t want associated with my character. If you like reading about my life and the insides of the whirling thoughts that go on in my head then thats great and I’d like to thank you for the support. Ive already had people message me seeking support on topics that they wouldn’t have had they not read my SoleHandedMama accounts/blogs and thats amazing, it truly makes me happy knowing I can help people whilst doing something that gives me an outlet. This is a safe space so if you don’t like it – don’t read it and to quote Clark Gable, ‘Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.’ So if you want to piss on someones chips go to your local chippy and buy yourself some cause my chips are tasty and I’m not sharing. Well I’m being forced to share my food with the baby in my belly but I’ll allow that considering I get to taste all the flavour.
Going forward, I’ll predominantly be writing about my pregnancy, birth and adapting to the life changing event that is becoming a fully pledged parent/family. Im hoping to share my experience of finding ways to overcome any difficulties I may have due to my hand deformity and talk about any ways/products that help. Surely if I find anything that helps me then Im presuming it may help two handed parents! Other topics may creep up along the way that doesn’t stick with the theme but as mentioned this is for me so I can write about whatever the hell I want to!
Im open to suggestions and will write about things if people have a topic they are passionate about, or if you have any questions about anything I write about, or if you want my perspective on anything from accessible baby products to what my biggest fears are for the future. I have thick skin, so get in touch if you want!
Rewind back to April 2013, it was a sunny and hopeful day car shopping with my dad. I was 21 and looking half decent, only because it was a rare Saturday that I wasn’t hung over as I had returned home from uni for the easter break. We walked into Carcraft, a car supermarket brimmed with balloons and salesmen with pristine haircuts and tie knots. We were greeted by Kieran who assured me and my papa that he was there to assist us in anyway possible, after exchanging the rolling eye looks with dad we fobbed him off to go look to see if they had any Audi TT’s or a baby blue Fiat 500 in an automatic that didn’t cost the same price as my entire uni fees. We soon found out they did not. Kieran attempted to steer us into looking at manual cars. Now due to my hand I can only drive automatics which he obviously wasn’t to know, so I just played the “ahh nah I just took the automatic test cause it was easier” approach. He was trying to sell me a car after all – so he wasn’t going to question me. He seemed genuinely a bit gutted we were leaving without any goods and offered to take my number so he could keep an eye out for my specific requirements. I gave him my digits and thought nothing of it.
A few days later whilst sitting in the kitchen/living room/ dinning room/ landing of my tiny third year student house with my girl Becca this Car Salesman Kieran text asking if I had found a car yet. Naturally I replied saying no luck yet but was still looking, the following text changed it all. He only went and put a bloody kiss on the end. I double checked with Becca if this was standard service just incase I was reading into that little – x – Becca confirmed my initial thought of he’s wanting to get me in his car never mind find me one! I replied and played the game as writing my assignment had bored the shit out of me for a solid week, and plus I had nothing to lose!
I had to ask him to send me a picture of what he looked like as I had not paid him much attention due to the exciting blinkered thought of potentially buying a shiny new car. It was a dark photograph of him standing next to a life size character of Sully the monster from Monsters Inc. As an OT and a standard girl I analysed the crap out of this picture.
- Firstly why was he standing next to a child’s character. He must have a child.
- Secondly, why has he cropped it? He’s clearly cut someone out of the picture he doesn’t want me to see.
- Thirdly, he has really olive skin I wonder if he’s mixed race.
After a few weeks of texting here and there I agreed I would let him take me out on a date when I was back home in a months time for my Grandma’s birthday party. I got a lift home to Newcastle on the Friday, whilst on the road I got a text from him saying he had to stay back late at work so had to cancel our date that was planned for that night. Being the sassy 21 year old I was I replied saying fine, but if he didn’t see me that weekend he’d blew it like I was some big deal. Cringe! The following day I had the biggest bunch of flowers delivered to apologise for the cancellation and promise he would make it up to me. Later me and my family went to the casino for my grandmas birthday and the themed party returned to my parents house on the evening. I asked my Grandma for her permission to leave her party early to go on the date with the lad that bought me the flowers. I vividly remember her reply; “Of course you can, he may be the man of your dreams.” He picked me up and took me to some pub in Durham called “The Duke”, where he talked talked and talked about all his friends and family then randomly lent over the table and kissed me. He was a bold boy to say the least but he was cheeky with it and it was nice to be in the presence of such a socially confident man. After our drinks he took me to some park where you can drive into. An initial thought was this is rather creepy and I should have brought that pointless whistle they give you in freshers week but i just went with it knowing I have a mean right hook should it be required. Thankfully it wasn’t required and was a lush view over the city he knew so well.
It was a task in itself trying to keep my left hand from him as he was so darn tactile! However I am a full time professional at this, so if anyone needs tips on this task Im your gal! Historically I have always kept my hand a secret on dates because I don’t want my hand to overshadow me and if the date didn’t go anywhere I would know it wasn’t because of my hand. So like always, Kieran was none the wiser I had a little left hand, he had made it very clear he was into me so I thought I’d wait and let him know the following day. I built up to that text all day Sunday until I just HAD to press send after reading my composed ‘just thought you should know I have a little left hand, if that changes things thats fine, if it doesn’t then thats fine too’ text 100 times over. Keep it blase and chilled was the aim. He took a full 2 hours to reply the little shit. His response was ‘That doesn’t change you at all. Now I have something to tell you.. Im either a transgender drag queen or I may have fibbed and I do in fact smoke.’ One month later he officially asked me to be his girlfriend. Three years and three months after that he proposed. One year and one month later we got married where we announced we were pregnant. Three months later and here I am writing this blog with the ever so slightly more grown up version of the salesman with the pristine haircut and tie knots snoring on the sofa next to me. I bloody love the bones of him and wouldn’t change him at all.
Grandma you were so right! You are deeply missed and always in our hearts.
Shit’s got real, its time to open up.
Its so daunting to think people can read this, even worse – family and friends can read this. The people who you always ask how they are waiting for them to say “fine thanks, you?” like its a automated inbuilt response we all have as if we all simultaneously had our Apple iOS update in the middle of 2002. God forbid should your response stray from the norm, so like the good little sheep I am I too reply with “Im Good”. If you don’t know I’m having a baby, a lush little baby boy, due in June this year. Now id be talking out me arse if I said I’m head over heels and besides myself to be a mother. Don’t get me wrong, after being told it would be an unlikely event for myself to conceive it is a bloody miracle and i truly am thankful for the gift of life thats inside of me. BUT, there is that little voice at the back of my head thats saying “is the baby going to be disappointed or embarrassed that its mammy only has one full hand… is the baby going to be mad at me when they ask me to go rock climbing or go on a bike ride and ill have to explain that mammy cant… will the baby when he’s older get picked on because his mammy is different to everyone else’s mammy?” Its so easy to get locked into this organic grey mindset where everything is a bit shit and tainted, I have days like this and Im damn sure ill continue to have days like this. However, I also have days where I think our baby will be so mindful of the difficulties and the struggles thats its mammy face’s that he will always be kind and considerate of others. I hope our baby will grow up to be just like his daddy who has the compassion and love to look past the imperfections of people and love them for who they are and stand up for those people who at times aren’t strong enough to for what ever reason. Anyways my point is there is always a silver lining, and Im quick to point them out to myself but this does not detract or belittle the feelings I have whilst having a down day its accepting that sometimes I will have a pity party and wallow with my hair on top of my head looking very chav-esque but its also fine to say fuck it, this is me and Im going to boss all you two handed mothers out there!