I'm currently pregnant with my first baby, and my husband keeps bringing up the idea of a babymoon. Suggesting locales. Asking about dates (will it be too late when I'm 32 weeks pregnant?).
Although the mental image of soaking up some sunny R&R along the California coast is beyond blissful, I keep wondering: do we really need to go on a babymoon? And also: can I maybe take a girls' trip instead?
Part of my hesitation with a babymoon is that I think the term itself is a little cheesy. (Same with "push present," though I fully embrace any excuse for a gift!) But it isn't just that. I'm sure I'm sold on the idea that my hub and I need to spend extra time together.
Don't get me wrong, I love time together, just the two of us — but we already have a lot of it. We cook together, walk the dog together, fold laundry together... I see him all the time. And maybe I'm delusional about what life will be like with a newborn, but I'm not worried about spending time with my husband once our baby enters the picture this autumn.
What I'm worried about is the possibility of our little family holing up in our apartment, having to schedule outings around baby's bedtime, and never seeing my friends again.
So I started thinking about skipping the babymoon and getting my girlfriends to go upstate with me for a weekend. We'd go for massages, get our nails done, sit outside by a fire pit with some girl talk. It sounds so peaceful and fun — the perfect way to unwind and update one another on our lives before my life gets completely consumed by my new little one.
It turns out my idea wasn't totally nuts or unreasonably selfish; there's valid, mental-health reasoning for wanting a friend trip instead of a traditional couples' getaway before baby. "Girlfriends reduce our stress, so it's a very therapeutic thing to do for you and your baby, to be in the space of love," said Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D., psychologist and author of the book Better Than Perfect.
But it's not just about relaxing. Connecting with friends before baby arrives is also an opportunity to try to hold onto who I am and maintain as much of my identity as possible during a transitional, potentially turbulent phase of life. "As individuals, we all have things we feel define us, but when you have a new baby, your primary, secondary, and tertiary identity becomes Mum," Lombardo said.
"Friends might get thrown by the wayside — not only for the first few months but for an extended period of time." A girls' trip beforehand is a way to say, to my friends and myself, that our relationship is still going to be a priority going forward. "It sets a precedent that this is something that you want to keep up after baby arrives," Lombardo explained.
Lombardo said the key to getting the most out of a babymoon with girlfriends is to be considerate when planning it. Your friends are likely already spending time and money on you for a shower; you want the holiday to feel fun, not like another obligation.
"Put the idea of a trip out there, give them the outline, and say if it doesn't work, you understand. Give them an out so they don't feel pressured," Lombardo said. And make sure any planned activities (pool days and pedicures? a weekend of hiking?) are things everyone will be on board with.
"Be aware of who you're including and the dynamics among everyone so you'll have a good combination of friends who get along," she said.
Of course, just because I want to sneak away for some time with my pals doesn't mean I can't plan one-on-one time with my SO before baby comes, too.
Lombardo suggested planning a nice dinner out together or a staycation (if a second getaway with husband in tow isn't doable). I'll make sure he and I do something special, too — it just probably won't involve pedicures.