Just fixin a flat.

As we near the end of this journey in the helmet, I can finally look back not in anger (insert Liam Gallagher vocal here) but in relief.  It was at the four month wellness check that I first really noticed the flat spot. His birth was so traumatic for me that for those first four months, I was just so over the moon he was home. I had no idea what lay in store. I was worrying about developmental delays and a brain injury. To me his sweet little head with shaved bald spots all over was perfect. So when our Pediatrician mentioned the flat spot and Plagiocephaly it was like someone turned on a light. There was no denying it, his sweet little head had a flat spot. He told us to try repositioning, use rolled receiving blankets and prop him onto his good side. He even mentioned this special pillow. Basically anything to get him off that side.

Now a diagnosis of Plagiocephaly usually goes hand in hand with Torticollis. I was aware of this the first few weeks he was home but honestly didn’t worry too much about it. After all, his big brother had mild torticollis and it eventually went away with mindful nursing positions. However, this was different. Our Pediatrician recommended us to a Physio Therapist. A week later, I was learning how to stretch my baby boy’s sternocleidomastoid muscle. Our awesome PT told us that in order to ultimately fix the Plagiocephaly, you need to address the torticollis first. Ok, this made sense. Everything about this felt wrong. That was my first thought as I held his little head in my hand and held down his shoulder with my other hand stretching his neck muscles. Thank God I have his big brother home instead of at daycare. He was a huge help getting baby to focus in the correct direction when we’d do our daily stretches and kept me grounded dealing with all this. He is the best big brother and loves baby so much.
A month later we had the first of many follow ups at Sick Kids Hospital. We met with a team made up of a registered nurse, physio therapist, orthotist and then a Neurologist. This was the first time he was assessed after being released from the NICU. They noticed the flat spot too and setup an appointment with Orthotics to see whether we’d need a helmet.
At this Orthotics appointment, baby was put onto this machine called a Star Scanner. It looked pretty harmless. This machine takes two seconds to capture 3D data of baby’s head. The first scan showed the obvious flat spot. He was measuring at 12 mm which is in the moderate range. We decided that we would keep trying to reposition and decide at his 6 month scan whether we would helmet.
Fast forward to the six month appointment there’s been no change and it’s time to decide. After doing research and talking about this extensively, we opted for the helmet. I took exactly two weeks for his custom orthotic helmet a.k.a. STARband to arrive. It was a plain white sterile looking clunker. I hated this thing. I had already sought out an artist to hand paint the helmet so I didn’t have to look at this thing for very long. Let me just say, it was a rough weaning in period for us. We had a heat rash that would not go away for a week. Then he got sick, another two weeks not wearing the helmet. Then issues shipping his helmet to the artist, another two weeks wasted. He was finally in the helmet full time, which is 23 hours each day just shy of his eight month.
Every day I blamed myself. How could I have let this happen to my sweet baby? This baby had already been through a lot and now I was stretching his neck every day and forcing him to sleep on his side which he hated?! And now add a helmet to the mix. It’s funny but after doing research and talking to other parents of helmet kids, you realize the parents are the ones who have a hard time. The babies get used to these things fairly quickly.

We recently had a positive Star Scan and his very last Physio appointment. He is so close to finishing treatment. I cannot wait to kiss that sweet little auburn haired head of his! I miss those the most.
I was probably most worried about nursing him in the helmet. It was actually no different. I can still babywear in the Solly Baby Wrap and the Ergo. Other than the odd head bash of clavicle crush, both he and I have gotten used to the helmet.
We’ve received our share of staring while out and about. Some people smile, I had one woman politely ask me while in line at Walmart what the helmet was for. I would actually prefer this type of interaction over the stares. I don’t blame them. His badass custom painted Cat in The Hat/Steampunk Aviator is badass.
So you’re probably wondering how the hell you clean this thing. Let me tell you, it’s like having a third child to bathe. Every three hours, I take the helmet off and wash his head with mild baby shampoo and wash the inside of the helmet with a baby washcloth and the same baby wash. If it’s really stinky and it does get pretty bad, I take a soaked cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and wipe the entire inside of the helmet. Then I use the cloth and baby wash to clean. I then take my hair dryer on the COOL setting, and dry his hair and the inside of the helmet completely. Before the helmet goes back on, I give him a bazillion kisses, brush his hair and rub Baby Cornstarch Powder into the inside of the helmet. This helps with the sweat.
I feel a little silly now worrying so much about him being in the helmet. He’s now 10 months old, has almost four teeth, can crawl and stand up and has full range of motion in his neck muscles. The helmet hasn’t stopped him one bit and why should it? This baby is tough as nails!


This is how we roll.

I finally have some free time to write my review of the new Contours Options Tandem stroller.
Up until now, I had the baby in the stroller and the toddler walking along side like a big kid.  Wouldn’t you know, even big kids get tired. So double stroller time it is!  Now like most Mamas beginning their double stroller quest, I gravitated to the Holy Grail of tandems otherwise known as the City Select by Baby Jogger. 

This is the gold standard in the Babyverse when looking for a double stroller .  I don’t know about you, but I want both my kids to go to university.  Which is why I opted instead for the more affordable but equally awesome Contours Options Tandem stroller.  The City Select will run you over $1k. Yikes! The Contours Options retails for $399.99. Hello!  I am a Peg Perego Mama through and through but after having this behemoth for almost a month now, I wonder how I ever did without it. 

At first glance, it’s a beautiful stroller. Black frame, red and black canopied seats with detachable infant head rests, lap bar, shitty cup holder, yup all the bells and whistles.  My absolute favorite feature is the storage basket.

I can fit a small diaper bag and bags of groceries with no issues. My kids are 4 and 10 months and both sit comfortably in their assigned seats.  My toddler is above average in height so he may graduate from this stroller by his next birthday.  But he still gets a comfortable ride and loves sitting inward facing the baby.   

The stroller comes with an infant seat adaptor which works with most brands of infant carriers.  I had no issues with our Peg Perego Primo Viaggio infant seat.  
This handles and turns exactly like you’d expect a tandem stroller to feel like.  Manoeuvring while shopping isn’t as difficult as I thought it would be.  But let’s be honest this thing is a beast.  I feel a little devil may care when pushing this thing through the mall.  The brake is a single bar, easy peasy.  

My least favourite thing about this stroller is the way this stroller locks.  It drives me nuts!  It feels like it isn’t secure.  The front wheels must be in the right position when folding in.  When standing upright, it looks as if it will split open despite the red latch/ lock.  Have no fear, it really is locked and won’t open up.  I’ve never used another tandem stroller so I don’t have anything to compare this too.  Given the size of the stroller, I’m guessing this is comman.

Let’s talk accessories.  This stroller comes with the ever popular inadequate drink/bottle holder.  I’ve had two other strollers before this and still haven’t been satisfied.  I hate these things.  They stick out awkwardly when you’re shopping.  They bang into those theft prevention metal entry bars at places like Toys R Us and Walmart.  Which is why I recommend getting a parent console/stroller organizer.  Again I was drawn to the pricey Skip Hop Grab N Go stroller organizer because I love their products.  The price for a simple black canvas one was $31.99, no bueno.  Instead I got one from 3Sprouts.  These are super cute and they come with a few different animal choices. 

My toddler chose the raccoon cause you know they’re cool.  The Velcro straps fit over the length of the stroller handle bar easily.  You have two drink/bottle holders, a deep pocket for your mobile, teethers or snacks and a small Velcro closure pocket to keep your keys, coffee money, etc.  The drink holders are great.  They’ve held bubble tea, Ninja Turtle water, you name it with no spills.  Contours makes a child tray, shopping basket and weather shield for this stroller.  I will definitely be getting a child tray for each seat.  This retails for $36.99 and the basket is a maybe which retails for $49.99.  

Getting this bad boy in and out of your vehicle is not for the faint of heart.  I am exactly 5’0 feet tall and it feels like I’m pulling a missile launcher out of the trunk.  However, this fits easily into our large suv. 

Overall, I love this stroller.  I wish I had it when I started maternity leave.  If you are a newbie Mama of two and don’t want to break the bank, get it.  

Next time on the blog it’s my back to school special.  Just kidding!  Although I will be reviewing the Yumbox Bento, Nalgene Off The Wall water bottle, etc. 

*All prices quoted are in Canadian dollars.  I am in no way affiliated with any of the companies mentioned in my blog.  All views and observations are my own.*