My husband tried desperately – and unsuccessfully – to convince me that a “babymoon” was not a real thing. Of course, I had read about it years ago and they do such things in the movies, of which I am an avid fan, so he was destined to fail. Having done it, I am even more convinced that it is something that every couple needs to do before they are joined by their little person – especially if it is your first.
It is a once in a lifetime thing, as it is literally the last time when it will be just the two of you alone together taking time out. Yes, there will possibly be times in the future – the far far future – where you could take a night or even a couple of days for “just you”, but you will know every second that there is another part of you out there, so it will never be the same.
There is another reason you should do it too. If you are anything like Brett and I, you have been focussed on nothing but the pregnancy and the baby since the moment you saw that pink line or plus sign appear. You may not even be aware of how true that is. Stepping away from that, even if only for a few days can really make a difference – focussing on the two of you and your relationship and quiet time for you to just be, without adding to a list or worrying about the endless existing list of things to do or things you need to get done, can be quite an eye opener.
For instance, if we hadn’t gone away, we would have known that we were 24 weeks pregnant on Saturday; but we may have completely blown past the fact that we were married 26 weeks (in real time – not pregnancy time – 6 months) on Sunday. People have asked what married life is like and we have laughed, since we fell pregnant 2 weeks after we got married and the focus instantly shifted to baby and becoming parents. This is not a loss for us, though it was unexpected. We were married on our 7 year anniversary because we wanted to start a family, so we had plenty of good “us” years before this came along and we are very aware how blessed we are that we got pregnant as easily as we did – apparently Charly was just waiting for us to make it official before joining us.
I really don’t think where you go or what you do matters, I think all that does matter is that you are alone and away from home. You can even just book into a B&B a half hour from home, but it needs to be just far enough away to stop you from remembering something urgent or unfinished that you need to pop back and do. If a half hour drive seems a “quick” trip for you, push yourself a little further away.
I would have loved to get on a plane and put that additional layer of distance into the mix – I may love flying, but my body does not. I have suffered from motion sickness most of my life and have only managed to fly happily by taking many motion sickness pills, which are not an option now. I also tend to be prone to swollen feet and ankles when flying, and needless to say I am getting enough of that already. Add to that the expense, and somewhere local was the winning choice for us.
Since 2010 I try to take Brett to a small town called De Kelders, just past Hermanus, once a year. My grandparents lived there throughout my childhood, my grampa designed and built many of the houses there and I have a very strong attachment to the town. The very best parts for me are the proximity to the whales and the quiet – nobody else seems to know it is there! Everyone talks about Hermanus and the whales, but they have no idea what they are missing. The bay in De Kelders is filled with whales and even dolphins this time round, and they love putting on a show for the few people who venture just that little bit further out; they roll and breech and slap the water with their tails and from where we stay you can even hear the sound of them blowing water and splashing – it is a magical place.
I like to wear pajamas or an approximation of pajamas near constantly when I am holiday, I like to lie in bed pretty much all day and read my books and watch the whales (yes, I can do that from the bed) and have as little contact with the outside world (meaning everyone but Brett) as humanly possible. We left the apartment twice after we arrived on Thursday – to go to the bookshop, the Wimpy (how else do you know you are on holiday) and the Spar to stock up on necessities on the Friday and to a gorgeous little restaurant in the adjoining town on the Saturday evening. Brett ventured down to the lookout deck directly under our balcony a few times to take photos, but I swear you can see more from our balcony than from the rocks themselves. It was the perfect place for us to completely unwind and literally put our feet up.
A few things I did not take into consideration – firstly, I am the driver in the family, I generally enjoy it and it appeases the control freak in me, where Brett is very easily agitated and avoids it at all costs. Apparently, when you are 6 months pregnant and carrying big, driving long distances does not agree with ones body – well, if one is me anyway. I had buffered myself with pillows in the hopes of alleviating potential back issues, but it did not help at all – I barely slept Thursday night and I was still walking as if someone had judo chopped me in the stomach for most of Friday. Sitting in the upright position while focusing and driving does not a happy baby-carrier make; from that Thursday until the day Charly makes her appearance, my driving days have been severely cut – sorry to those I usually travel to see, you will have to start coming to me.
Secondly – public toilets. I have made this 2 hour drive hundreds of times over the years and on occasion I had to stop once to use a public toilet and it was usually at a quaint little farm stall. I can actually hear all the expectant mommies laughing as I type this. Between the fact that I am now at that stage in pregnancy where I am back to peeing every few minutes and sitting in the driving position means squishing Charly firmly down into my bladder, finding decent places to stop without causing myself bodily harm was a true nightmare. Carry your own toilet paper (enough to cover toilet seats and sometimes even create toilet seats) and prepare to hold your breath, because holding it in is not an option.
So, in the end my advice would be – take a babymoon. It doesn’t matter where or for how long, just make sure it is alone time where you are not tempted to do anything productively baby related. I would also say try to take your babymoon earlier in the second trimester when your belly is still at a manageable size; your bladder is past the first trimester torture but has not quite yet reached the almost-third trimester baby’s trampoline stage, and you are generally feeling the afterglow of the disappearance of the nausea or morning sickness and the increasing discomfort, Braxton Hicks contractions and chronic heartburn have not taken up full residence as yet. Take advantage of months 4 and 5, they go SO fast!
And even if you have missed that gap and the third trimester trauma is barreling at you full tilt, if you haven’t managed to get away yet – do it now! Even feeling slightly rotten, some special quiet time with the one that you love with a little distance from the reality that is your transitioning home will be a revelation to you. The babymoon is a real thing – it is a necessary break that you have earned and you deserve and that will give you that little bit of additional energy you need to make it to the finish line.