Make no mistake; this is by no means an admission of defeat.
I will never be defeated.
The pram has not gotten the best of me.
Emily might be 15 by the time I figure out how to power walk through the park like those designer yoga pants wearing mummies with the perfectly sculpted asses I talk about, but I will find a way.
Then regardless whether Emily likes it or not, I will pop her in the pram, and we will do our laps just as I have always envisaged.
In the meantime, I am choosing to leave said portion of Emily’s world experience to Michael, and whoever else would like to take her walking.
Yes, that is right, I am choosing. So take that universe!
Unless of course anyone is interested in creating a mama train, whereby Emily and I can follow along like one of those five little ducklings who went out one day – Over the hills and far away… Because in that case, I am so so so choosing to pram it.
The pram makes a great mobility and navigation device of its own accord, it is those pesky other people who understandably won’t recognise me as blind, where the biggest problem lay. At least in this context.
Normally I prefer people not to know. Which is why I have such a tumultuous history with my cane. However, that is another story.
Meanwhile I will take sweetie pie exploring using other means, and in other ways. After all, there is more to our life than designer yoga pants, a perfectly sculpted blind mama ass, and power walking through the park. I think.
It is the inability to accomplish such simplicity, which makes it so irresistible. Rather like looking at a giant cupcake through a shop window, and only being able to lick the glass.
We will read braille, so she can enjoy her books in the dark.
We will finger paint with chocolate on the kitchen bench. I mean, if it were already there anyway, it would be sacrilege not to make the most of said deliciousness and our budding creativity. Because of course daddy likes to clean up after his messy girls, yes.
We will hold hands when we walk, have cuddles when we sit, and call unashamedly loudly to one another in the playground. No doubt, I too will climb every inch of the equipment along with her without regard for others furtive glances and whispered judgements.
I will tie bells on her shoes, on her shirt, on her hair. Anything to know where she is and she is safe.
Moreover, no, microchipping her clothing is not out of the question.
Last week I took Emily to the local shopping Mall with Emma my orientation and mobility instructor in tow.
In my head, I was only doing this to appease Michael’s concern regarding my safety.
As usual, I thought he was being over protective. However, it turns out, he was right.
This is not to say he is not over protective, because sometimes he absolutely is.
However, I have to admit, my husband is right a lot. I really ought to start listening to him more.
Having Emma with us while I took the bus for the first time, and got used to navigating with Emily in the carrier was helpful.
As in really really helpful.
Certainly, I could have done it on my own, but it would not have been nearly as much fun. Moreover, who is to say what I would have said to the bus driver who asked for my identification if Emma had not been there to intervene.
I mean didn’t he know this was my first time on a bus with a baby?
Like seriously dude, shit, I had enough to think about.
I had already walked the three hundred metres from my house to the terminal, and that included one kiss good-bye for my I know you’re with Emma, but I am still going to worry about you husband, two sets of stairs, three roads to cross, and four oblivious teenagers.
I hate buses. Buses do not always stop where they are supposed to stop. At least with a train, there is a big ass designated platform, and they have to stop. Buses on the other hand, can just drive on by if they want.
Then there is that whole saying hello to the driver thing.
I mean sometimes a girl simply wants to mind her own business.
Asking a bus where it is going is humiliating. Especially because the technology is available to circumvent this ever-degrading ritual, but our government chooses not to utilise it. Preferring instead to waste money, time, and resources on irrelevant outdated token initiatives.
Big step up, cane in front, good morning sir, I chirp as I pass.
Oh God, how do I sit down with baby girl?
Shit, where is the seat?
Moving from light to dark is difficult, as my eyes do not adjust quickly.
Little was already asleep. Nestled under my chin. Her weight soft and pliable against my belly.
I am worried my little bundle of joy would not be warm enough.
My God! How do people do this?
Emma was directing me to a seat when the driver called to me. However how was I supposed to know it was me?
If someone does not use my name, or say something along the lines of hey you, blind mama, with the pink dotty cane… How would I know?
I did not respond, and the driver became more agitated. But what was I supposed to do?
There were so many micro decisions; I had no time or energy to worry about whomever he was signalling. Although whoever it was, I wished they would take notice.
Surely, it could not have been me; surely, he saw my cane, and watched my bumbling blindisms as I struggled into a chair.
After what seemed like an age, he finally caught Emma’s eye, and asked her to send me back to the front.
There was no way come hell or high water I was going to move without good cause. And by good cause, either I meant, there had to be a fire, or we were at our destination.
All credit to Emma she discretely explained the situation much to the disgruntled driver’s chagrin. However still he wanted proof of my disability.
Back and forth through the bus she went, until finally he was satisfied.
Good God, did he think I was faking?
I never quite get used to these small indignities.
Even as we disembarked from the vehicle, and I wished him a happy day in my sweetest most charming demeanour, he still did not seem convinced of my situation. It was not until our return trip when as luck would have it we had the same driver again, and I blindly peered in his vague direction as he pulled up and asked what bus number he was, and where he was going, did he realise the brevity of our encounter.
This time he could not have been more helpful.
He seemed surprised I did not recognise him, and asked the same series of questions I had first asked upon before embarking during our last encounter.
This time he lowered the ramp so I did not have to make such a big step up, and he made sure to ask where I would like to get out, as well as finding me a seat.
Again Little had once again fallen asleep against the warmth and safety of my body.
Sometimes she is such a sleepy head.
I was quietly relieved; because I had been worried, she might not have been able to sleep in the carrier.
I know It is difficult to believe, but in terms of envisioning our adventure, there were a couple of things even my over analytical brain had not taken into consideration.
Therefore having a professional beside me to bounce ideas off, or explain that I was not crazy, because no those mirrored pillars did not line up, as one would expect. And perhaps it is best not to bring up the great zebra crossing shemozzle, oops; I mean upgrade currently taking place outside my nearest train station was most useful.
Having Emma with me to discuss and facilitate different hypotheticals and scenarios was definitely worthwhile. Not to mention she was able to keep an eye on everything. And by everything, I mean us. Also, remind me to slow down.
Our trip would not have been nearly as productive, efficient, or easy without her.
O Admittedly, it helps that I genuinely enjoy Emma’s company, so it is sort of like going shopping with a friend, rather than a cold regimented exercise in navigating my environment.
It also helps that she likes to stop for coffee, and can find us a table, read the menu, and make eye contact with the wait staff without fuss.
One of the first things was getting used to walking with a longer length cane than I would normally use if I were not being a marsupial mum.
This in itself is easy, as I usually adjust my cane length in relation to the height of my heels. Thereby always ensuring the distance between my cane tip and my footfall is equal.
However, it is when a girl takes the heel out of the equation things can potentially come undone.
Not only do I need to use a slightly different technique than the old school centre of the body…, opposite arm to opposite leg… In order to keep Emily safe and comfortable, because there is nothing worse than an unexpected jab in the bottom or belly, when one’s cane inevitably gets caught in an uplifted tile, crack in the pavement, wayward tree root, or any number of tiny taken for granted obstacles, nooks, or crannies.
This also changes the weight of my stick slightly, and the angle of its approach. While also making the arc wider as I swing. Not to mention the tactility and feedback from the ground is a little more echoed and shaky as it reverberates up the aluminium shaft to my hand in order for my brain to register and respond appropriately.
Let us call it the blind mama butterfly effect. Minor shifts in the nuances of movement or the environment make a massive difference to a girl’s ability to engage with her surroundings. Let alone factors such as rain, wind, snow, construction, or coffee one can smell but cannot find.
Competent mobility is a skill, and one that it pays handsomely to master.
Anyone who knows me knows it is one of my most highly prised possessions. Along with the highest most sparkly stilettos ever, my mobile phone, and my ability to make mischief where previously none existed.
Add to this the discovery of things half a step sooner than a girl is used to, and a cutie cute cute wiggle bottom centre of gravity that needs periodic attention, then is it any wonder why Michael has been mindful of my trying to go places alone?
It is not merely that Emily is excessively adorable, that divides my attention. After all, I am not a machine.
There are also so many things I need to explain to her along the way. Then of course, there is my paranoia regarding her nose being squashed into my coat.
I try not to wear anything with buttons or zippers, because I do not want to inadvertently scratch her pretty face. However, even the softness of my scarf is a potential hazard. Thus, I am at a bit of a loss as how to match my attire to meet both our requirements.
I thought it would be as simple as strapping her on like a koala bear, and off we go.
However, just as with the pregnancy being full of surprises, there is just so much I had not expected or considered properly. Not that I would change it of course. Jumping in the deep end is my speciality.
However getting out and about with our little person is taking more forethought, planning, and practices than I ever imagined.
Something else I did not count on was Emily’s head being higher than the last time we tested out the baby carrier, and measured for an optimal cane length. So imagine my surprise when I could not see over the top of her head to the tip of my stick.
Yes, I do indeed think I can see that far. And yes, I may well be delusional, but let us just pretend everything is as I think, shall we?
Who knew she would grow?
This was disconcerting for about a second, until I realised the benefit of not being able to see, meant I could spend more time trusting my mobility device, and less time jumping over perceived obstacles and shadows.
That is the problem with having a little residual sight, is that one cannot help but use it. Or rather, attempt to use it. However, the brain is very good at playing games, and making it seem like something is there when it is not, or the other way around.
I am sure there is a direct link between what I think I can see, and how many trees jump out at me.
I swear to God they move like in the fairy tales. It has nothing to do with my weaving like an intricate tapestry thread winding its’ way all over the footpath.
Sometimes the landmarks just disappear, and I lose my place just as one might when they are reading a book.
It happens now more than ever before. At first, I thought it was my vision taking a turn for the worse, but since speaking to my friend Tamie, regarding the long-term effects of sleep deprivation, and her reassurances that there are days she refuses to drive because she too is so tired she cannot see straight. I am feeling much better about the entire situation.
Personally, I also find making sure there is plenty of good quality, as in I can eat it by the spoon full without it burning my throat olive oil, in my diet seems to help. Mind you, I have no medical or scientific evidence of this; it is simply an accidental antidote, which works for me.
The second thing I did not take into consideration was that when Emily inevitably fell asleep her head would flop to the side and rest on a hard plastic buckle.
Now there is something they failed to mention at the Baby and Toddlers Expo when I bought the top of the range apparatus.
Not to mention they made it look so easy to operate.
However, let me just say, a rag doll is nothing like a squirmy wormy baby. Even one as patient and with such a soft temperament as mine.
In fact, one of the reasons I do not like using the carrier, is because it is so difficult to put on and take off.
It is difficult not to have pram envy when Buckling Emily into that four-wheeled beast is just so easy.
Of course getting another baby wearer is an option, but considering the amount of money I dropped on said merchandise, I feel compelled to use it.
Michael says not to worry, because we will get plenty of wear out of it in later days.
I originally bought it because it was safe and sturdy, and perfect for hiking. However, we have not quite gotten back out on the mountain trails yet.
Recovering from my caesarean took longer than expected, and the weather has been freezing.
If it were only Michael and I, of course, we would go out, but how do I keep Emily warm in that beautiful crisp fresh frosty air?
I had not actually taken into consideration my love of café culture.
Well, I did, but I thought I would be using the pram.
Once again, I forgot I could not see. Moreover, I assumed navigating would be easy.
However, the game is not finished. Because courtesy of my friend Katie Lee, who is the embodiment of the ultimate earth mother, I am thinking a baby sling is the way to go.
I have been hesitant to try one, because it made me feel vulnerable. What if Emily couldn’t breathe? She hates having her face covered. Will it hold her close enough for me to manage?
Like any good parent in this day and age, I am thoroughly confused about which sling to purchase. Because as with every baby related product, there are so many options.
I wonder if I will ever become as adept at this, as I am at choosing fabulous shoes.
And more importantly, will it match my cane?