I Sold My Triple Stroller Today

first walk

Our first walk

I sold my triple stroller today. I’m not gonna lie: I cried a little bit.

I hated that thing. I hated how much it cost. If I had bought it new, it would have cost more than our old pickup truck did! The market for triple strollers is extremely limited. At the time, there were only three triple strollers on the market. I was stuck buying a four-wheeled vehicle without a motor that retailed for more than one of our four-wheeled vehicles with a motor.

I hated that thing. I hated how much it weighed. It was 37 pounds *without* children in it. All I can think about when I look at it is how it broke my back to get it in and out of the van, and how it weighed more than I did with all my kids in it, and how it felt to push it uphill. I think of the friends who had to help me lift it or push it.

And now it’s gone… And so are my babies. They are three years old now.

I remember buying that stroller from another twin mom when I was pregnant with the twins. (Before the bedrest, obviously!) Her twins were three at the time. I was already huge and lugging a very unhappy two-year-old with me. I was scared – not scared of this rich lady I found on Craigslist, though. I was scared of the twins in my belly. I was scared to see if that triple stroller would fit in my VW. I was scared I wouldn’t be able to lift it. I was scared I wouldn’t remember how to unfold it. I was scared to pay the amount I would have to pay (which, at half the retail price, was still a staggering amount).  I was scared that my hyper-sensitive toddler would flip out with the commotion of her twins that day (he did) – and his twins in the future (he would).

Most of all, I was scared that I would never survive until my twins were three. I would never make it as far as she had.

I almost didn’t.

And then I did. I survived. My house isn’t as nice trendy clean as hers. I probably suck at twin-momming way more than she did. But I’m here. I did it.

And now I’m selling the triple stroller to another mom.

triple strollerI loved that stroller. It was my only freedom. It was my only way to leave my house to get fresh air, even for something as simple as a walk down the street. I was not physically able to maneuver three children under three with my own body.

I loved that stroller. without it, my only options would have been drive-thru fast food and drive-thru pharmacies. It was my only freedom.

My babies are gone. In their place, I now have strong, hearty three-year-old twins and a strong, hearty (and still hyper-sensitive) six-year-old son. They are beautiful and boogery and filthy. They are angelic and horrid. They smell like dirt. They smell like Burt’s Bees soap. They smell like snot. They smell like coconut oil. They smell like engine grease and sawdust like their father. They smell like rosewater and saffron ice cream.

cleaning triple stroller

The triple stroller was my albatross and my only freedom. Now my kids are cleaning it for me instead of being dead weight!

They don’t have wheels like that triple stroller. They don’t have an engine like the old truck that cost less than that fancy stroller. But, somehow, they have become completely self-propelled. They are fast and wild. They are slow and meandering. They sometimes hold my hand, but I never carry them. If they have a tantrum in public, I can’t carry them out: I have to wait them out while the whole world hears. If they get hurt and cry, I can’t heave them onto my hips: I have to sit on the floor/gravel/pavement/dirt and let them climb into my lap for comfort. They each now weigh more than that triple stroller ever did: 45 pounds, 40 pounds, and 38 pounds.

It’s another mom’s turn to have a turn with that monstrosity. I wonder if she is scared. Probably not, because she is having her sixth child. She will be fine.

So why did I cry? Of course it wasn’t really for the stroller. It wasn’t really even for the memories of my tiny babies in the seats. It really wasn’t even for my non-babies who are now so self-propelled.

It was for the future babies that I can’t have. As I drove away and left that stroller behind, I knew I would never have another baby to put in it.

And if by some miracle, I did have another baby, it would only be one baby… so obviously I would only need a single regular stroller anyway.

I really hated that triple stroller.

 

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This isn’t an affiliate link or anything, but since so many people have asked me, you can buy this Valco Baby stroller here. It is a twin stroller with an additional third seat called a “Joey” attached. And, since this isn’t an affiliate link, I’m allowed to say, buy that thing on Craigslist!

Bossy Okayest Baby Gear Advice, By Request

People keep asking me for baby gear advice. Not sure why… maybe my okayest attitude helps people know I would help them sort through the muck. Here’s what I have been telling those moms-to-be who have asked for my bossy opinions:

Everyone tells you how fast they grow, but it’s really hard to believe how true that is until you watch it happen. There is so much that you won’t need. For six months, he’s just a backpack. And then, he will be crawling away from you! With that said, modern life/ modern inventions do indeed make mothering much easier. This is a list of my favorite things and my super-opinionated opinions.

Please know that my first son came to us in a hurry, as we adopted him after only three days’ notice. One cool thing about that was that we were spared a lot of unncessary product comparisons and reading baby gear reviews ad nauseum. I just asked my favorite momma (my cousin’s wife) for a quick list and she didn’t waste any time. She just said which brand of bottles and which brand of this and that, and I loved it. When my twins came along, I had more time to prepare, of course, but I had no time for frivolous baby stuff. We had one mode, and it was survival mode!

My point is that you can take my opinions with a grain of salt, because they are just that: opinions based on my experiences. And my experiences haven’t been normal, because I have never had a normal one-pregnancy-equals-one-baby situation. I’ve had one pregnancy for three babies from two different moms.

Anyway, here’s my bossy advice, in no particular order:  

Feeding pillow: Must have a Boppy! It’s good for arm support for nursing and bottle feeding (or BOTH AT THE SAME TIME if you have twins). I had four when I had the twins (two on each level of the house), but you won’t need that many! I have noticed that my short friends and my extremely bosomy friends don’t need the Boppy as desperately as my tall friends and/or my petite-breasted friends. We just have a lot more area to cover between our laps and our boobs, okay?

Homemade Moby Wrap is good idea; carrying twins this precariously is not.

Homemade Moby Wrap is good idea; carrying twins this precariously is not.

Carriers: I love the Moby Wrap when they are infants (although I made my own from 18 feet of t-shirt fabric); I love the Ergo when they can hold their heads up. Both carriers saved my back more than that stupid Baby Bjorn. Wear the baby in one of those for all your chores, and you will get exercise and baby will be happy. If you decide you like the Moby, practice tying it often before the baby arrives. I usually wore it all day, often without a shirt, and took the baby in and out throughout the day. (I hear there are all sorts of amazing new hybrid carriers out there now, which kind of combine Moby with Ergo… You’re on your own, because my knowledge is already outdated!)

Swing: Must have. Get one that swings side to side AND back and forth. Babies with reflux can’t go back and forth, and you won’t know if your baby is fussy/refluxy until after you buy the swing! Also look for one that plugs in. DO NOT try to save space and get a “travel size” one or folding one or anything- they only swing one direction and none of my kids liked them anyway. I seriously think having a full sized swing (or two for my twins) was what kept me out of the mental hospital. My favorite was the Ingenuity brand, but it ran on hundreds of Costco batteries. My kids all slept in swings until they were 4 months or more. No guilt. No shame!

diapers in bulk

One month’s worth.

Diapers: Whatever brand is cheapest that won’t get poop on your clothes is what you want! I have decided that people have different diaper opinions that are based on their child’s butt shape. And they don’t even seem to know that. But some kids have tall butts, wide butts, whatever. We are generic Target diapers and generic Costco wipes people. Love generic! (However, when they were newborns, we gratefully used anything and everything because people gifted us so many different brands of diapers.) (Also, I will splurge on name-brand for night diapers.) If you compare prices as strictly as I do, be sure to do it PER DIAPER and not per pack. Unit prices, people! We have the Target Red Card, for 5% off, and then I wait for the sale where they offer their bulk packs of diapers at a discount and with a refund gift card. PS, You will know they have outgrown their diaper size when you get peed on.

The forward-facing age recommendations have changed since this picture was taken.

The forward-facing age recommendations have changed since this picture was taken.

Car seats: I got the cheapest and lightest. Not picky in that department! I liked the cheapest version of the Graco brand because they were light and basic. DO NOT get “convertible car seats” unless you have a giant van. I have heard that convertible car seats in the rear-facing position usually will not fit in regular cars. So buy a regular rear-facing seat, and later buy a forward-facing seat, and it will cost the same or less than a convertible seat anyway. (We seriously just have the $25 cheapos for forward-facing too.)

Our first walk

Our first walk

Stroller: I am a big fan of the cheapest and lightest strollers, called umbrella strollers. They are less than $20. However, baby can’t sit in them until he can hold his head up… So that’s where baby-wearing comes in handy. Usually, the more expensive a stroller is, the heavier it will be. I take a double or triple stroller in and out of my van everyday, so trust me when I say weight is a big deal!

Most worth-it splurge: That “Jumperoo” thing is a great splurge even though they only use it for a couple months. Totally not necessary, but I promise you will be able to make dinner if you have that thing.

Seats: My first kid sat in the “Bumbo” for months. I thought it was the greatest invention ever made. My second kid was too fat to fit in it, and my third kid was too wild to sit in it. He was flipping it over. So, if someone gives it to you, great, but save your money in case your kid is a bolt of lightening or super fat. (Again, a whole new generation of seat thingies has been born in the two years since I used baby gear, so I’m outdated already.)

First Aid Must-Haves:
1) forehead thermometer – You can even swipe it on their head while they sleep.
2) Infant Tylenol (generic is always fine) – you will use this A LOT.
3) Children’s Benadryl – Benadryl says it’s for ages six and up, but if your baby has an allergic reaction to something, the doc will tell you the infant dose. We have had to do that. No house should be without emergency Benadryl!
4) anti-gas medicine (simethicone) for infants

High Chair/ Booster Seat: Your kid won’t need a high chair until he can sit up. If you are feeding him baby food in a reclining seat, he is too young to be eating. Therefore, avoid fancy high chairs. My best tip is to avoid any padding or cushion on a high chair. Totally unnecessary, and you will be washing it every single day. Ridiculous. I have been through about three high chairs with padding, so trust me! When I switched to the $20 Ikea cheapo one, I was so.very.happy. You will want something that you can hose off outside if necessary. (Seriously, I have actually done that.) When the twins got older, we switched to the Ikea “Junior Chair”, which is simply a regular chair with taller legs. At $40, it costs the same as some booster seats, but there are no crevices to clean!

Clothing: People will give you all sorts of adorable things, and you will be grateful for every single thing, but take a tip from a twin mom: you will want as many jammies that ZIP as possible! For newborns, those sack nightgowns are great too. You will be so deliriously tired that you will not be able to maneuver snaps and buttons in the middle of the night. You really won’t. Unless your kid is some sort of freak who sleeps six hours a night from birth and you’re super well-rested. Anyway, zippered one-piece footed jammies, and elastic-bottomed nightgowns were my best friends. (Twin moms who are trying to nurse two babies sometimes have to lift/heave a newborn one-handed, and then all the snaps pop open. Zippers, people! Zippers!)

Swaddlers: I am a biiiiig fan of swaddling. All three of my kids were swaddled for every nap and every nighttime for at least a couple of months. One of mine wanted to be swaddled until he was six months old (but I had to leave his legs out when he was bigger so as not to injure his growing body!). Another of mine didn’t need as much swaddling because he was so relaxed already. Their personalities determined how long they needed it! They sleep longer and feel so secure. In the old days, when babies slept on their tummies, they didn’t need swaddling. Now that babies sleep on their backs, their arms flail and wake them up. Swaddle them tightly and they will feel like they are in the womb. Great for reflux too. My favorite was the Halo SleepSack, which is a cotton or fleece swaddler with Velcro. The Miracle Blanket was also pretty amazing.

Reclining Chair: Make sure you have a chair in your house that you can sleep in. Seriously. For my first child, I picked out a cute glider rocking chair situation. It didn’t recline. Guess what? He was super sickly and never slept – and had to sleep upright because of severe reflux. That meant that *I* slept upright in that dang glider for a few months. In retrospect, I now know I should have just begged/borrowed/stealed to get myself a dang recliner. I was too sleep-deprived to know what to do. When I was pregnant with my twins, I found two cheap recliners and made sure I could sleep in them. It turns out, *I* was the one with the reflux and had to sleep upright in those chairs during my twin pregnancy… and my twins turned out to be good sleepers who were satisfied with the swings and cribs and bassinets and whatnot. Oh, irony.

Diaper Bag: NO. Just no. If you have a baby on your hip, why do you want a big bumpy diaper bag bouncing around on your hip too? Most of them are even heavy when they’re empty. It’s ridiculous. I went through about 14 diaper bags, much to the dismay of my husband every time he opens the guest room closet and they all fall out. Trust me: just get a big backpack. Then you have free arms and nothing on your hip except your baby. And if you have twins, you don’t have a choice. Two babies on two hips means a backpack is a must. Plus, once they are a bit bigger, you’re just going to keep all your supplies in your car anyway.

I hope that helps.

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I have received no compensation for any of these recommendations (although that would have been kinda great). These items were really what I use for my own kids. This is not “a crummy commercial”!

Mom Secret: Gym Memberships are Cheaper than Preschool (and the Looney Bin)

I went to the gym yesterday. I feel like giggling when I say that.

Why does a thin girl who has never played a sport in her life, doesn’t know how to run, and can’t tell a treadmill from an elliptical join a gym? Well, thanks for asking. Let me tell you. All moms know this little secret: a gym membership is cheaper than preschool.

Also, the twins destroyed my body (no, not like that). But we’ll get to that in a minute.

Before I had kids, I had a good friend with five very small children, none of whom were yet in school. She worked out at the gym every.single.day. I asked her what in the world would possess her to be so hard on herself. She said, “Are you crazy? The gym is the easiest thing I do all day. This is the ONLY way I get a shower.” Huh.

Now that I have three small non-school-age children of my own, I see the light! I told my husband that we were gonna have to put the twins in preschool … or send me to the looney bin. However, this whole gym membership thing seemed like a more reasonable choice – even for me, the least athletic person ever.

I’m no slouch. I mall-walked four miles several times per week, while pushing a double stroller and carrying a kid strapped to my chest for months. I regularly trail-walked with a TRIPLE JOGGING STROLLER that weighed more than I did with the kids in it. And, I did yoga regularly for ten years before the twin pregnancy, so I’m not totally klutzy. But I have never played a sport … and the only way you will see me running is when my Hurricane Twin darts into parking lots. (My college roommate used to just burst into a run on the way to class, just as some people may spontaneously burst into song. She would burst into a run. I would not join her. She once asked, “Don’t you ever just feel like running?” No, no, I don’t.)

During this super long winter, I felt like a dog running in circles without enough exercise. Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer, always says that there is no replacement for “forward motion” for your dog. Going on a walk is so much better than running in circles in the living room. I’m going to make a leap here and say that the importance of “forward motion” applies to toddlers and moms of toddlers, as well as dogs. (Sorry to compare you to dogs again, kids!)

Mr. Okayest and I looked at several reasonably-priced gyms. I’m not a picky mom (duh), but some of the childcare places looked a little less than okayest. I didn’t exactly think I would be motivated to work out if the childcare facilities made me feel sad. My twin-friend joined a rather expensive gym that had the most amazing childcare facility I had ever seen. Skylights. Indoor jungle gyms. Mini-treadmills. Just kidding about that last one. And my friend swore that they actually cleaned their toys. And they had closed-circuit nanny-cams that you could watch while you worked out on the ellipticals (treadmills? I dunno). You could watch what kid hits your kid and then stalk his mom across the sauna. Just kidding. This was a place that I could imagine throwing my three kids in – until I heard the price. After hearing the price, I said “no thank you” for a whole year.

Then, we learned that the twin pregnancy had actually done some real damage to my spine. It turns out that carrying twins in your uterus and then carrying twins on your hips isn’t good for your back. Who knew?! The x-rays showed that adding 80 pounds to my 115 pound body was more than I could bear. I lost the weight, but I didn’t lose the damage. I’ve recently started going to doctors and physical therapy, but it seems that I have some permanent troubles. More muscle won’t cure me, but it will certainly help. (A little more muscle can only help with my day job, anyway.)

This back problem has also been making my lifelong migraines worse, and it’s all becoming a vicious cycle. And throwing my back out every couple of months (weeks) only makes life harder for my loved ones. My sweet husband and parents and in-laws have done more than enough taking care of me! I am so grateful for their help and so desperate not to need it.

I kept trying to get back into yoga, but my back problems would prevent me from doing the one thing that I knew would help. (Ah, the old familiar catch-22 of chronic pain…) Also, while I’m making excuses, let me add that the local rec center offered yoga at 8PM. In case you’re not familiar with being a stay-at-home mother of multiples, let me just say that 8PM might as well be 2AM. By the time the kids are in bed at 7:30PM, I am too tired to lift the remote or the phone. Seriously. (I made it there a few times over the last year, but it took superhuman strength.)

My twin friend and my husband both said that the only way the exercise was going to get done was if I took the kids with me. My twin friend and my husband both said that you couldn’t put a price on a gym buddy, or having time to yourself away from the kids. I said you can’t put a price on a closed-circuit nanny-cam that I could watch while I was on the elliptical (treadmill? I dunno).

I was terrified to go to the gym for the first time. I stalled for a few days. Or more. What do I wear? How do I maneuver three little ones into a new place? What do I bring? Where do I put my stuff? I had to convince Mr. Okayest to take me on a Saturday, to show me around, even though he had never been there either. (I have a weird quirk that going to new places alone for the first time makes me unreasonably nervous.) He helped me wrangle three confused kids into the childcare area. The good news about twins is that at least they always have each other.

Then he showed me the difference between an elliptical and a treadmill. He showed me which machines might be good for my back, even though I wanted to cry because I didn’t see any women on them. I’m only here for yoga classes, I said! I felt so self-conscious at first. Nobody looked like they were first-timers like me. Nobody looked like they had toothpick arms like me. And you know what else? Nobody looked at me, either. Nobody cares about me! They are just there to work out and get a break from their kids and fix their crooked backs.

And the best part? I got to watch my kids on the nanny-cam while I worked out. All three stuck together like glue. Often, they even sit in a circle, back to back, as if they are circling the wagons. “I’ve literally got your back, bro.” And the other best part? I felt great after working out… like I actually wanted to go again. Why didn’t you guys tell me I would like it?!

This whole gym thing won’t be forever. Once the kids are in school, I could switch to a less-fancy gym without the childcare from heaven. Plus, once I magically become a more athletic person, maybe I could ditch the gym and exercise on my own like Mr. Okayest. My okayest goal is to go once a week. Maybe I will get there more often, but we still have trails to walk.

Carts.

My whole entire life revolves around carts. Store carts. Okay, not my whole life, but most of my mother-strategizing revolves around carts.

When I had one child, the extent of my tactical planning about shopping was 1) bring some goldfish crackers, and 2) park near the cart corral in the parking lot.

Once I had three children under three, however, the logistics were cranked up to a whole new level. We’re talking The Situation Room just to leave the house. Intelligence analysis. I had one who couldn’t reliably walk through a store and two who couldn’t hold their own heads up. Shopping carts were not an option at all. My only option for shopping alone was to take my triple stroller. I could only buy what would fit in the basket of the triple stroller, and (I’m speaking from experience here) that was NOT a pack of diapers or a can of formula.

costco cartOnce the twins could, you know, sit up, my options improved dramatically. Then I could actually fit two kids in the front of a cart, and one kid in the back. The problem with this plan was that the only place that had double-seater carts was Costco. So, at least I could go to Costco, right? Right – if all I wanted to buy was maybe a can of formula. Not much else is going to fit in the back of a cart with a kid back there.

Once my oldest could reliably walk beside me in a store, my options opened up ever more. Then I could go to Costco, with the twins in the double-seater front of the cart, and my oldest walking beside me. (I still couldn’t go anywhere else, because nowhere else has double-seaters. And I can’t trust either twin to sit in the back of a cart yet.) I could fill up the back of the cart with all our groceries, instead of my kid. Well, I could do that… when I wanted him to whine “I’m tired. My legs hurt. I want to go home. I can’t walk.” through the entire store.

Another option that became possible was shopping with the double stroller, which is SO much lighter than the triple stroller, while having my oldest walk through the store (again, while tantrum-ing). I could only buy what would fit in the bottom basket of that stroller, though, or what would balance precariously on the top of the handles of the stroller.

I, of course, buy diapers in bulk, so I have to balance that bulk box on top of the handles of the stroller, while steering it, and while a grouchy kid clings to my legs. Suddenly, he will decide he wants to steer the stroller himself, which keeps him happy and then I can carry the big box in my arms… until he careens into innocent bystanders.

And SPEAKING OF BYSTANDERS,

Why does no one ever help me? I think I look pretty friendly and open. Maybe it’s because I have the look of a crazed animal in my eyes. Maybe it’s because I haven’t slept in years and my ponytail is always askew. I think if I saw a mother with three children careening around and a giant box of diapers balanced precariously on top of the extremely-heavy-and-hard-to-push stroller, I would offer to help. But nope. Never. What’s the point of living in the south if no one is going to be chivalrous? Sheesh.

Other options I have tried include:two carts

-getting two carts. I push one and pull the other. I look ridiculous, I crash a lot, I usually amputate one of my kids’ legs, and it really hurts my wrists. But it works in an emergency.

-asking a friend to meet me there and push a cart for me. This only works if you have friends without children. Or friends with children in school. Since I am mostly friends with other Mormon moms who have about 17 children each who aren’t yet in kindergarten, this option is a pipe dream.

-parking next to the BIG DADDY CART.

My oldest said, "Look, momma, we found a cart that fits all our children!"

My oldest said, “Look, momma, we found a cart that fits all our children!”

<— You know what I’m talking about. Each Target has, like, maybe one of these things.

The Holy Grail of Carts, The Big Daddy Cart, is the monstrosity with the cart and the wagon all together. This cart fits one child in the basket and two children in the wagon. Sadly, my Target does not have one of these. Sometimes, I will drive ten more minutes to the next-closest-Target, hoping against hope that I can get that cart. I believe the next-closest-Target has one of these crazy contraptions in its entire store. ONE TIME, I was lucky enough to snag it… and my husband happened to be there that time, so I didn’t even need it anyway.

And, the only possible way that I can even USE the Big Daddy Cart is if it happens to be in the parking lot cart corral. I will circle the entire parking lot in my minivan, looking for that thing. If that thing is in the store, how exactly am I supposed to get all three kids across the great expanse of life-endangering parking lot? One of my kids is a bolt of lightning who doesn’t hold hands. I would have to secure the twins in the double stroller just to get them across the parking lot, then hope that the Big Daddy Cart would be waiting for me inside. Then I could fold up the double stroller and put it inside the Big Daddy Cart with all three children. Then I could shop.

It never works. I usually can’t find the Big Daddy Cart and then I am just stuck with buying, again, what will fit in the basket or what I dare to balance on top of the handles, while my oldest yells that his legs don’t work anymore and he needs to lie down on the Target floor for a rest.

And, oh, yeah, he has to go to the bathroom now, too.

Just then, a mom with merely twins casually strolls by me in the only Big Daddy Cart in the whole store, with ONE EMPTY SEAT. How dare she? She smiles at me with her non-askew ponytail and I want to make it go askew.

 

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Just FYI, I don’t attempt any of these maneuvers on a regular basis. My husband took over the grocery shopping when I was on bedrest – and I will take it back when the twins go to Kindergarten. Or college. I do the shopping for the diapers/household goods/accidentally-purchased-cute-dresses when my sweet in-laws come for their weekly visit. I am a very lucky momma.