I’ve known for a few months now that Lil Z’s pushchair is too small for her. It’s because she’s so tall – the seat isn’t deep enough and her feet are now well below the footrest. So, I’ve been working with Lil Z’s FECS physiotherapists to decide what we need next for mobility. The first question was: special needs stroller or wheelchair? Lil Z’s physio was a bit nervous to even raise the “w” word with us because she said it upsets a lot of parents by really driving home their child’s disability. I am quietly confident that Lil Z will walk someday. She’s doing very well putting weight on her feet, and even pushing up to straighten her legs. The few times she’s been in the gait trainer (walker) she has tolerated it well and I know that once she realises she can move herself, she’ll be motivated like crazy to learn to walk. But I’m also not kidding myself that “someday” will be soon. Nor do I think she’ll be able to walk everywhere without assistance. So, I’ve accepted that a wheelchair will be in our future. But, after lots of questions from me and discussions with her two physios, we decided that a wheelchair won’t be in her immediate future. There are two reasons for this. The first is that what she needs right now may not be what she needs in a year or two. By waiting another two years, we will have a better idea of her needs and the type of wheelchair that will fit those needs. The second is money. As temporary residents of Australia, we do not have access to funding for special needs equipment. And wheelchairs – good wheelchairs – are expensive. Very, very expensive. So we’ve chosen to wait until we are eligible for equipment funding to get a chair. That leaves us with the option of a special needs pushchair – which is still expensive, but at least we’re talking 4 figures instead of 5… Although having looked at quite a few online, what amazes me is that they come with no extras – you have to buy all the accessories. Want a net basket under the stroller, that will be $50 please. A pram liner to make it prettier and more comfortable? Another $100, thanks. Sunshade? Rain cover? Tray? All extras. After charging me over $3k for a stroller, you then want another $50 for a net basket? Seriously? The frustrating thing about buying a special needs pushchair is that you can’t look the various models and choose the best one. There are no shops where you can see them, take them for a little test drive, make the salesperson fold it up and reassemble it again. Instead, Lil Z’s physio and I looked at a list of the available pushchairs from two suppliers in Brisbane. She pointed out the ones that would have the appropriate level of support for Lil Z. We measured Lil Z and narrowed the field slightly by eliminating a few that didn’t have sufficient seat depth or that she would outgrow too quickly. I ruled out the potential three-wheeler special needs buggies because you have to remove the wheels to fold them up (a hassle) and I already have a three-wheel running pram (which luckily still fits Lil Z despite her latest growth spurt). Since I spend a lot of time getting Lil Z’s pushchair in and out of the car, I want something lightweight (or as lightweight as a SN stroller gets) and easy to fold. We have now narrowed the field to three contenders:
1. The Pixi
2. The Kimba Spring
3. The Medifab Zip
Now our physio will contact suppliers and see if they can let us have a look at them and see how Lil Z sits in them. Of course they aren’t all supplied by the same company, which means multiple meetings to check them out. And the supplier may not have a “floor model” of that particular stroller, which then means we either have to rule it out or buy it sight unseen. Then we pool our funds, place an order and wait for it to arrive. I can’t imagine that much will happen before Christmas, and I’d be surprised if we have the pushchair before February. Frustratingly slow, especially when Lil Z really needs a new stroller as soon as possible, but just part of the process.