This ‘babymoon’ thing is a relatively recently coined phrase to describe time away as a couple, before your baby arrives and stops you being able to go away as a couple/out for dinner/wash your hair ever again (I’m joking of course – sort of).
When I was pregnant with our first, my husband and I never felt the need for a babymoon. We were quite content spending all our spare hours at home together. We were sleeping ten hours a night (gosh, remember those days? No me neither – they’re too far away now) and could change into pyjamas as soon as we got home from work, eat whenever we wanted, drink warm drinks which were still warm and watch whatever we wanted on the TV (I genuinely can’t believe there was a time when I didn’t know the Sky channels for CBeebies and Nick Jr off the top of my head).
We could go out for dinner whenever we liked, to wherever we wanted and stay out as long as we wished. We could leave the house with keys, phone and a wallet. We could go to shops and just browse.
So for all intents and purposes, a babymoon first time around would have been us paying money to go somewhere and do the exact same things we were doing at home (but probably with less telly channels to choose from because, seriously, how many hotels have full Sky coverage?).
But when I was pregnant with the second…..Well!
About three months before baby was born we decided we had to go on a babymoon. Not to spend time together as a couple but to spend time away from our gorgeously exhausting eldest.
It’s one thing being pregnant and being able to go to bed at 8pm, sleep until 8pm the next morning, get up and laze around in pyjamas until midday, before finally getting dressed, popping to the local department store, having a wander round, ordering a coffee in the café and leisurely reading your book and then heading home to do nothing except slob in front of the tv.
It’s an entirely different thing to put your toddler to bed at 7pm, make it to bed for 8pm, to be woken at midnight because he needs a wee, to then lie awake in bed because you’re so uncomfortable, before finally falling back to sleep around 3am for said toddler to wake you for the day at 6am. No lazing in pyjamas until midday. No browsing the shops (my children have taken the ‘fun’ out of shopping and placed it neatly into ‘functional’. Shops have one purpose and that is to sell me things. I go, I pay, I get out and I hope that the crisps in my bag are enough to sustain them before we finish). No leisurely reading books in a café (I totally underappreciated this aspect of my life pre-kids) and no slobbing in front of the tv as soon as I get home.
So last November, my husband and I decided we needed a babymoon in Cambridge. We’d always wanted to go there as we’d heard it was beautiful. And it was. At this point I’m referring to the only cultural part of Cambridge that we saw and this was the university grounds and the river which we walked through (the grounds, not the river – there was a handy bridge). Because the rest of the time was spent mostly wandering round Next and frequenting Patisserie Valerie. And going to the loo.
And herein lies the problem with a babymoon; the mere essence of why you are on it; you’re pregnant. Pregnancy limits your enjoyment of a babymoon because….
Your bladder. We couldn’t walk anywhere for more than half an hour if I didn’t know where the nearest toilet was. This takes any kind of spontaneity or enjoyment out of browsing shops and wandering around admiring architecture.
You can’t drink! Going away as a couple, for me, means being able to celebrate on arrival with a glass of wine. I had to stick to tea – until I’d gone over my daily caffeine allowance and was stuck with decaf coffee or a smoothie. We went out for dinner twice and I had to have bloody tonic water.
You can’t eat certain foods. The second night, we went to this gorgeous country pub – the chef had been on Masterchef. On the menu was a beef wellington – heaven. Except this was one to share and was served pink because that’s how beef should be served. Husband desperately wanted it. I desperately wanted it. Couldn’t ask for it ‘well done’ otherwise it would have ruined husband’s dinner and, to be fair, the whole taste of the dish. So it came, it looked amazing, and I ate the very ends which were the most well done parts (and mostly pastry) whilst sipping miserably on my tonic water.
You have to avoid spas (the default ‘couple getaway’). You don’t really have to but you can only use the pool. Which renders the exercise pointless. You may as well go hang out at your local council swimming baths and you can imagine how relaxing that would be. We went to a spa when I was twelve weeks pregnant – we’d booked before we knew I was pregnant. Whilst the Mister enjoyed the steam room, the sauna, the ice cave (closes your pores) and had a hot stone massage, I was stuck bobbing about in the hydrotherapy pool, mostly on my own.
You can’t buy clothes. Usually a babymoon is taken towards the end of your pregnancy when the baby is soon to make an appearance. You can’t buy maternity clothes because you will only be pregnant for a few more months so you don’t want to waste money on clothes that you will only wear for a handful of weeks. But you don’t know how soon/when/if you will return to your pre baby size and so you can’t buy clothes for post-pregnancy either. You’re stuck with earrings, socks and, if you’re feeling particularly fruity, a new bag.
You get tired. I don’t just mean you want to go to bed at 8pm. I mean walking more than an hour means you need to recoup for at least two. Which we did and it was lovely. I bought magazines and laid on the bed reading. I even had a bath without someone asking me if I wanted Lightning McQueen to come in too before hurling Cars bath toys at me. But we paid a lot of money for that bed and that bath when we have perfectly serviceable ones at home.
And there we have it – the ultimate babymoon. Especially if you already have a child. STAY AT HOME! Send older children to grandparents, take the phone off the hook and lock the doors. Order takeaway and have a bath. Read magazines on your sofa in your dressing gown. Watch one of the hundreds of channels on your own tv. If there’s nothing on, choose from your extensive DVD collection. Make as many hot drinks as you want because you’re not limited to the sachets or the stingy servings of UHT milk the B&B has provided you with.
But the best thing about having a babymoon in your own home?
You know you’re always close to the toilets.