Thursday, April 30, 2009

Carfree birth. Sort of.

We got a request on our last post for more pregnancy news. In thinking back over the year, it does seem that my primary pregancy-as-it-pertains-to-being-carfree thoughts have to do with whining about not biking, about T delays and bad weather. Not a very good track record, is it?

I confess, I had been writing a wonderful carfree baby post in my head for after the birth (estimated due date for the baby is June 9, I'm at 34 weeks now). It was going to be all about how we had a carfree birth by having this baby at home (yes, we are that big of hippies, we really were planning a home birth and have the boxes of birth supplies on our porch to prove it). Of course, such a birth wouldn't have really been car free, because two midwives and a doula would have been driving to us, but still, I was kind of excited about not having to put the kid in a car seat right away.

Unfortunately, our plans have changed, and they will involve more driving. I was just diagnosed with some late-term complications that effect my liver function and can be quite risky for the baby if I don't deliver sooner than later, so instead of that nice home birth, we're looking at labor induction at a hospital in just a couple weeks. It certainly isn't what we had planned, but we're glad to know, glad we're getting excellent medical care, and glad that the risks in terms of outcome for the kiddo are pretty much nonexistent as long as we do what we need to do.

And now for the blog relevant part: we need to figure out hospital transportation. We are blessed to have many wonderful friends who are happy to drive us places every now and then, who'd be happy to get us to the hospital. But this morning, we got it into our heads that maybe we won't drive to the hospital. We'll need to take a lot of stuff, but hey, that's what our Xtracycle is for. If Angela bikes, then she'll be able to come and go easily after the birth to tend to H's needs without having to beg a friend for a ride whenever she needs to get somewhere. I can easily take public transit to get there (it's how I'm getting to prenatal visits anyway), and since it's a pretty early induction, it's not like I'm going to be in labor on the bus.

All of this news is only about 48 hours old, and we still have lots to figure out. We may well just throw our junk in a friends car since that's probably the path of least resistance. But there's something about the idea of getting to the hospital on our terms and our own power, that's really appealing in this situation. It feels a little like taking back a bit of control in a situation where we have none. It would be nice to land at the hospital V-C style, and of course, the thought of a photo of the bike, all loaded up with birth gear including one of those giant "birth balls," may be too exciting to resist. But please, don't worry, we're not going to strap the newborn into the panniers on the Xtracycle to go home. For that, we really will get either a friend, a cab or a zipcar. Though I have to say, some of totcycle newborn biking prototypes look pretty good (before you get hysterical, note the date on his post).

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Carfree toddler (and grown up) concerts this week

H's grandma (aka Angela's mom, aka "Baba") tipped us off about a series of great toddler-friendly T-accessible activities this week.

All this week there are free guitar concerts inside South Station hosted by the Boston Classical Guitar Society. Yesterday, H and I headed downtown on the red line to meet up with Baba, eat a pretzel (H's favorite part) and listen to Juanito Pascal perform flamenco guitar music. Tomorrow (Thursday) you can check out 20th Century music (not sure how that goes over with the toddler set), or Friday listen to some Music of Latin America.

We only really lasted through about a half hour of music, but H really paid attention there for a little while, and we probably would have lasted longer if the concert had started on time at 11:30 instead of 20 minutes late. Once we got there, I realized that a train station is the perfect place to take a toddler for a concert. It's easy to get to, there are snacks available, everyone is coming and going so no big deal if you need to leave early, and it's loud anyway, so you can introduce some concepts of concert etiquette without actually bothering anyone when your kid can't really pull it off. Concerts happen periodically at South Station, so keep an eye on that events calendar.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Biking with Kids in the Rain

Earlier this week, I was nearing the end of the day, which is the time when I pick up my daughter from daycare on the bike and madly rush home.

But it was raining. And the kid and I were completely devoid of rain gear.

I cursed myself a little bit for never remembering to check the weather. Then I decided to wimp out, go buy an umbrella (new, not even a used umbrella), and walk to daycare. Then I could walk the stroller home (as opposed to strapping it to the bike). Since the stroller comes with a rain cover, I wouldn't be subjected to any I'm-wet-and-its-the-end-of-the-world hysteria. My daughter and I would stay dry.

But being a procrastinator, I didn't ever leave to buy the umbrella and instead found myself needing to get to daycare as fast as possible, which means using the bike. But what to do about the water-phobic tot? I decided to go for the tried and true plastic-garbage-bag method. It works for keeping my computer dry in my backpack when it rains, so why not the kid?

I took a plastic bag, poked a hole in the top, put the bag over my daughter H, put her helmet on and put her in the bike seat like a little burrito. I didn't even pull her arms out. I poked a couple more holes in the bag so that I could thread the straps through, and I was done. Before I put her on the bike, H had noticed a worm on the sidewalk and we talked about how worms like the rain. So as I was getting her settled in, I told her that she was a worm and that she liked the rain too. She told me her shoes were getting wet, but she never really complained about that or the fact that her arms were pinned down. She was a trooper. I got absolutely soaked, but H only got her pants a little wet.

Once I got home, I thought about how embarrassing it is to claim to be a big biker with kids and not to have rain gear for myself or the toddler. OK, I do have that big blue poncho, but it only works if I remember to bring it with me. Where can we get pint-sized raingear (and can we get it used)? Can I rig up a bike-seat cover so that H never gets wet as I'm sure I should? I felt guilty for a while, and then Dorea and I decided that we should just embrace the plastic bag method.

So my new goal is to get a handful of cheap plastic garbage bags and some rubber bands (for securing bags to shoes and whatnot) and stash them in the Xtracycle (along with my poncho). If it's raining when we are on the way somewhere, I can throw in a change of clothes. If it's raining on the way home, we can just strip when we get home and get into dry things. Then I'll look for a time to try out the line that my parents used with me when I complained about the rain, "You're not made of sugar -- you won't melt."