Car Seat Shopping – The awful and the ray of hope.

 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.