Give yourself a break and take a babymoon vacation before the new addition to the family comes along.
When you’re expecting your first child, people will share intimate details of their lives that really just aren’t acceptable in social settings.
Like, for instance, the woman at my husband’s former workplace who spent 30 minutes during their lunch hour detailing the horror story of her “birthing process.” Yeah, because you want to hear about how you can almost die in labor THE DAY BEFORE YOUR WIFE’S ABDOMEN IS SLICED OPEN.
Or the check-out girl at the grocery store who feels compelled to tell you about the monster hemorrhoids she developed in her third trimester, while ringing up the six boxes of “supplies” you’re buying because every time you sneeze, you pee your pants a little.
Then there is my personal favorite: “Your lives will never, ever be the same again.”
This dire prediction is usually delivered with a pained look, and comes from people whose eyes have so much baggage that their pupils need a passport. These people are generally wearing dirty clothes and mismatched socks, and they look kind of feral, like cats that haven’t been fed in about 30 days. Sometimes, they smell.
And you know what?
THEY ARE TOTALLY RIGHT.
Your life never is the same. Your freedom is curtailed to such a degree that the first four weeks sometimes feel like a prison term. My husband and I had one of our All-Time Greatest Fights when he called me from work six weeks after our daughter was born and asked if he could go to happy hour.
I answered the phone just after emerging from my first shower in three days.
He said “happy hour,” and what my brain heard was “divorce him.”
We survived, but barely. Luckily, we’re quick studies and this time we decided to partake of some solo couple time before No. 2 makes his appearance.
Little did I know that our getaway qualified as a whole new segment of the travel industry—the babymoon.
Yup. It even has a brand name. We’re so hip and trendy, n’est-ce-pas?
Kate Ward, online director of TheNestBaby and herself a new mom, said these prepartum trips range from an overnight in town to a full-blown resort vacation.
This trend of couples taking a special trip together before their incarceration—uh, I mean, parenting—begins has increased significantly in the past two years, Ward says. It is so popular now that TheNestBaby has an entire section of its Web site dedicated to planning babymoons.
But this isn’t just a flash in the pan, she adds.
“I think it’s really based on word-of-mouth and is less of a travel industry-driven thing,” Ward says. “New parents are telling other new parents that they need to do this.”
And by “this,” she means taking time to be a couple before you become a family or add another child to the mix.
Ward asserts that babymooning is more popular now than, say, when our parents were having babies, because couples are waiting longer to marry and have kids.
“People are used to spending that time with their spouse, and it has become a way of life for them,” she says. “Also, because people are waiting so much longer and are therefore more financially stable, they’re able to take a nice trip together.”
According to TheNestBaby, some of the more popular babymoon destinations are Jamaica, the British Virgin Islands and Charleston.
Resorts and hotels are offering packages directly geared to the gestating, with perks like prenatal massages, information about infant care and even gifts for your unborn bundle of joy. [Read our Babymoon Deals article.]
Ward says the decision to add the information to the site was based on consumer demand.
“People were asking for it,” she says. “They were looking for information to help them plan their trips.”
Trips to all-inclusive resorts and luxury hotels may sound wonderful, but what if your budget is more bed-and-breakfast than Breakfast At Tiffanys?
Ward says babymoons need not be elaborate, expensive propositions.
“Even if you can just take a two- or three-hour car trip, you’re still getting out of your normal environment,” she says.
Ashley King, founder of Babymoonfinder.com, agrees. You don’t need to be Brad and Angelina to take a babymoon. In fact, her Web site offers more than 200 babymoon options, representing destinations all over the world, and some might just be in your backyard.
However, she cautions that package travel isn’t always one-size-fits-all.
A 29-year-old former music teacher based in Greenville, S.C., King says she and her husband were looking for something simple and close to home when planning their own pre-baby trip.
“For couples on a budget like us, I suggest creating your own babymoon if
you can’t find the perfect fit,” says King. “Even though now I have found several, at the time we were planning our babymoon, I could not find any South Carolina packages. We decided to go to Hilton Head and book our own spa treatments and golf outings—for him of course. We chose a location that we were already familiar with to cut down on the planning.”
King, who was eight months pregnant at the time, wasn’t up for flying, so fancy beach resorts in exotic locales were out of the question. In fact, most obstetricians forbid women to fly after the 36th week of pregnancy (and some may forbid it sooner than that, depending on your specific condition). But that doesn’t mean you can’t get a little prenatal pampering closer to home.
“Even if you want to stay in your hometown, many of your local spas probably offer pregnancy packages and prenatal a la carte services,” King says.
She adds that not all babymoons need to include pedicures and hotel stays. Be creative and try something fun like a cooking class or a couple’s massage class.
My husband and I are definitely in a budget-conscious mode these days, so we drove two hours north and spent two glorious, childfree days in Chicago. We managed to visit the Windy City during a blustery early spring snowstorm, all the better for getting into bed at 4 p.m.
And get your head out of the gutter. We wore our pajamas and watched first-run movies on demand. We even went a little wild and ordered room service.
It was, in a word, heaven.
And it didn’t require air travel, vaccinations or bathing suits. (Thank God there were no bathing suits involved.)
Traveling when you’re pregnant, of course, does require some precautions. Some doctors prefer their patients to limit their long-distance jaunts to the second trimester, when risk of miscarriage is lower and your energy level is higher.
And be sure to avoid traveling any significant distance as you get close to your due date—if you’re not careful, your kid could wind up with dual citizenship if you pop while you’re visiting Antigua.
You should also make sensible choices about your destination. Exotic locales may be romantic, but your health—and that of your baby—is more important. That dream trip to Zimbabwe can wait.
TheNestBaby offers a great list of pointers for any expecting mama who’s got a case of wanderlust, including keeping your obstetrician in the loop and checking to see if your destination has adequate medical care should—heaven forbid—you need it.
All in all, taking time to be a couple—for first-time parents or veterans—is a great way to avoid some of the feelings of frustration and resentment that can boil over into your relationship when you’re dealing with the stress of a newborn.
Gosh, don’t I make parenthood sound grand? It is, really. Our kids are the light of our lives—just as long as no one goes to happy hour.
Themes: Family Travel
Great Article!! My husband and I went to Kauai 3 months before baby #1 made his grand entrance. That was one of the best vacations ever! It was short (just three days), but we savored every minute knowing that it would probably be our last vacation alone for many, many years. I'm in my second trimester with baby #2, and we're heading to Mexico in a few weeks. We found a Club Med that will take care of our little one-year old. Aaahhh...I can't wait! I recommend a Babymoon to all expecting parents!