In the summer of 2016, a glance at the tide times, or a nagging look from the dog was all it would take. We’d sling the kayak on the roof or bikes in the boot, and off we’d go with the dog on an adventure. Skip forward to me pregnant with twins, when literally, a walk from the kitchen to the lounge was an achievement, outdoor adventures were suddenly off the agenda. I was doing an important job growing two little humans, so that was okay, but it occurred to how much I took for granted.
I have a vivid memory of my first outing post-giving-birth. It was a short walk around our local village green with my husband, dog and our three-week-old baby girls. I wasn’t exactly galloping along but it felt so great breathing in the fresh air and moving without wincing or feeling as though something was going to snap (if you’ve endured SPD during pregnancy, you’ll be able to relate). The physical and mental benefits were palpable. Cobwebs were blown away, along with a big huge pile of anxiety and I felt fortunate that my painful and debilitating pregnancy was at least temporary (with the best reward at the end).
Pre-babies, we were a family of three; me, my husband and our beloved fox red Labrador. A typical weekend for us would usually involve some sort of outdoor adventure together. We’re very lucky to have the New Forest National Park on our doorstep and are spoilt for choice when it comes to outdoor activities. Whether hiking, kayaking or mountain biking, we’d spend our free time exploring scenic areas of the forest or coast, and exercising ourselves and our boy.
In July, our lives were about to be turned spectacularly upside-down with our impending new arrivals, and while we were beyond excited about becoming parents, it was really important to us – eventually, anyway – to continue to be able to get out and do the things we love. This played on our minds a bit. People do this all the time, right? But the fact that not only were we complete beginners, soon-to-be first time parents, we were also having two! It was all a bit terrifying.
We needed to figure this out. Getting out of the house with one new baby can be challenging, so heading off on escapades with two in-tow and a big strong – let’s say, enthusiastic, dog to control, wasn’t going to be easy. We had some things to consider, so fairly early on in my pregnancy, from the comfort of my bump-friendly cocoon chair, I got researching stuff like robust off-road buggies, baby carriers/slings, and how to fit everyone and everything in the car safely.
We without doubt exceeded my expectations in terms of what we’ve been able to get out and do, and that’s partly because of our gear, but also our determination and team work. We’ve managed to get out on some adventures either using our Mountain Buggy Duet or carrying the babies in their slings. I’ve been chased around the car by New Forest ponies with the buggy, been stuck in a bog with a five-month-old baby attached to me, hauled our double buggy (with car seats and babies) over a few inconveniently-placed stiles and gates, but all in all, our exploits have been fairly incident-free and we remain undeterred. The biggest baby-related faux pas we made was forgetting to pack wipes and muslin cloths (how our lives have changed) when we were out on a 6-hour trek. We had to stop to feed the girls at a ford and needless to say, mud wasn’t the only thing we ended up covered in. The smeared-on-sweet-potato-and-carrot-puree look added a splash of colour on a grey day.
Our buggy has definitely been put through its paces and pushed to its limits over the months. We use a Northface rucksack as a nappy bag – it’s what we always used pre-babies and is much more comfortable to carry, more robust and practical than most standard nappy bags, and looks good covered in mud! The girls now use the Mountain Buggy as a side-by-side – as intended. It corners more confidently than the two-tiered, head-turning, conspicuous vehicle it was before.
We’ll get to work on the kayaking logistics for summer 2019, as we haven’t quite figured that one out.