Saturday, February 3, 2007

Strollers and the Subway


So, I am a new mom living in New York City. I have and 8-month old baby boy named Noah. I have lived in the city for 4 years while my husband attended medical school at Columbia University. He recently started his residency at Columbia and we will be living in the city for about 4 more years. We truly toiled over the decision to stay here weighing the ups and downs of raising a child in this city. We really love NYC -- there is always something to do... a good restaurant to eat at, a great museum to wander through, beautiful parks to enjoy, a broadway show to see, a random independent movie theater to go to... you name it! Living in this city also comes with many inconveniences -- living in tiny overpriced apartments, not having a car and relying soley on public transportation, carrying your groceries home from the grocery store, living under neighbors who play their music way too loud and move furniture around at 3 o'clock in the morning, etc., etc., etc. Now these inconveniences have been annoying but they never really seemed to outweigh all of the fabulous things we could do in the city. However, after having a baby, and not being able to do most of the things we did before, we quickly realized that the inconveniences were no longer just a nuisance but they were life-changing!

My biggest pet pieve so far as a NYC mommy has been having to carry my stroller up and down the stairs to get to the subway. I always knew this would be an issue. I had spent time with many of my friends who have children and helped them lug their baby gear around and I always lended a helping hand to a mommy in need when I saw her struggling at the stairs. But it wasn't until I was on my own for the first time at the top of a subway staircase that I realized the life-altering magnitude of this act. The first few times I was on my own, it took me awhile to figure out the best way to hold the stroller while balancing the diaper bag. I also realized that this was definitely going to limit my shoe attire when I went out (the most devastating reality, by the way). Yes, there would be the occasional "good NYC samaritan" to help me out, but much to my shagrin, not as often as I thought! I also quickly learned that there were only certain entrances that I could take the stroller in because there were a limited number of "service doors". So, at certain subway stations I would have to walk blocks out of my way just to be able to go through the correct entrance -- at times this would add at least 5-10 minutes to my transportation time, and as you New Yorkers out there know, those are precious minutes! I had spent 4 years in this city as a commuter figuring out ways to cut down my transportation time (i.e. knowing which entrances/exits were the closest and least crowded, knowing exactly where the subway train doors opened on the platform so I could be the first one in, walking down to a certain end of the platform so I could be closer to the exit when I got to my destination -- I could go on and on). Now I find myself going completely out of my way just to go to a subway station that has an elevator and a service door. **bear with me as I go off here for a second** I sometimes wonder how it is possible that NYC can get away with not having handicapped accessible elevators at every subway station. Then I realized that the answer is simple -- "because it's NYC, that's why! NYC can do whatever it wants!" Okay, I'm done. Anyway, one example of my new found subway routes goes as follows: On days that I have to go to church alone with the baby I will walk 7 blocks out of my way to go to a subway stop with an elevator and then take the subway one stop further than I have to go just to use that elevator and service door. Then I will walk 7 blocks back to where the church is. This whole routine basically doubles my travel time. I know what you're thinking -- "why doesn't she just suck it up and carry the stroller!" It's the principle of the matter! I shouldn't have to carry the stroller! Okay, I think you get the point.

However, there have been the occasional glimmers of hope. One Sunday morning I was running late so I couldn't do my usual routine of walking the 14 extra blocks and I was forced to take the stairs. To my surprise, I actually had 4 different people help me on the various stairs that I needed to take. And then as I got to the station where I needed to exit, I started to carry my stroller down the stairs to get to the other side of the platform in order to use the service door, when a nice man motioned to me to use the service door that was on this platform. I knew this door had been bolted up, so I never even attempted it, until he went ahead and pushed it open. I was in shock! How did I not know about this? This was possibly the best moment of my commuting life so far... When he opened the door an alarm was set off, but only for a few seconds and I was able to exit without having to go up and down 5 different sets of stairs! I can't tell you how liberating this was. Ever since that day I always use that exit. And every time I push that service door open and the alarm goes off, I just smile. Some of the other commuters give me dirty looks because the alarm is really annoying, but it's my own little way of "sticking it to the man". It gives me such a sense of empowerment!

And now for the most exciting news... (drumroll, please) I found out this week that the elevator that has been in the works for 2 years now is finally opening up at the subway station in my neighborhood!!!!! I cannot tell you how excited I am. I wanted to run up to the MTA workers that were working on it and kiss them! This is going to change my life completely! There have been so many times when I have wanted/needed to go out but just couldn't muster up the energy to get that darn stroller up and down the stairs. But now my mind can rest easy as I stroll my Maclaren Techno XT right up to the elevator entrance, press the down button, and roll right onto the subway!


elevator still boarded up on the platform

I will be posting photos of the elevator's progress as it comes along, for all of you that are interested... (which should be everyone!)



P.S. Yes, I'm aware that I really need to get a life...

12 comments:

lsnarr said...

I thought you told me that you didn't take Noah and his stroller up and down the subway stairs!
your mom

snizzle said...

Ayo sis. You still gotta use those devil ears too ya kno? You really don't want to kiss those guys. I've seen them. They're kinda gross.

P.S. You gotta link me!

Jordan said...

I wanted so badly to match in NYC. I fell in love with it my first visit. We matched in Phoenix AZ instead and now have three kids 3 1/2 and under! In ways I'm glad. But yesterday...I told my husband, residency is hard no matter where you are so why not be in the most exciting city on earth? Good for you for "sticking it to the man" and doind whatchya gotta do!

Claudissima said...

all i can say is that europe is just great for all those things...it is amazing you could litteraly get your baby on the pram leaving the house and never take him out of the pram until you return their public transit (subway/train/bus) is wonderful!

--wish we had it that good here! in the US--
ps know Julia from Jill

Christina said...

Is that elevator really working? I did have that in mind when I planned my pregnancy...!

Leila J said...

Jessica!

Neibaur and I are in the market for the perfect stroller to use on a subway. So I googled "best stroller on the subway" and your blog entry was the first one that popped up!

Still searching...

~Leila

manfriday said...

Hi Jess, Im a father of a 4 month old here in Sydney, Australia and its very similar here, little access and steps everywhere that I didnt notice before the bub came along.
Its so annoying that Im building a set of retractable skids so I can pop them out and slide the pram up or down the steps.
Obviously there were very few town planners with kids back then.

Brett.

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Engel said...

I'm a little late, but I just foudn your blog in a Google search and read this post. I'm coming to NY with my baby tomorrow and will be relegated to public transit. Any tips on which subway stops are easiest to navigate with a stroller AND luggage coming from JFK to Chelsea and such...?

Liisa Noel said...

Jess, have you looked into babywearing? This eliminates strollers completely and also keeps your baby close to you. There are so many different carriers too- ring slings, woven wraps, Mai teis, soft structured carriers,etc. I have fell in love with babywearing and hope to wear my 8 month old girl as long as I can. If you want to check out some cool sites go to theartofbabywearing.com (a site for babywearing mamas in NYC) and for some more awesome gear to heck out paxbaby.com. My personal favorites are the woven wrap and ring slings. Happy babywearing!!!

Liisa Noel said...

Jess, have you looked into babywearing? This eliminates strollers completely and also keeps your baby close to you. There are so many different carriers too- ring slings, woven wraps, Mai teis, soft structured carriers,etc. I have fell in love with babywearing and hope to wear my 8 month old girl as long as I can. If you want to check out some cool sites go to theartofbabywearing.com (a site for babywearing mamas in NYC) and for some more awesome gear to heck out paxbaby.com. My personal favorites are the woven wrap and ring slings. Happy babywearing!!!

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