By the third trimester, that ship has sailed so far that it’s fallen off the horizon.
Exhibit A. Women’s magazine babymoon propaganda
In the early stages of my lovely wife’s long, arduous gestation, during which she experienced no dewy epiphanies involving flowing sundresses, sun-kissed pastoral imagery or crappy Bon Iver jingles, she planned our babymoon.
“It will be a really nice last chance for us to spend some quality time alone together,” she said. “Before the baby comes and our lives change. Forever.”
But then, later, she said, “I am fat and hot and uncomfortable and I hate being pregnant. I don’t want to spend five grand going to a f__king resort where you go surfing all day and I can’t even drink a f__king cocktail. I look like a whale. You can go on a babymoon on your own for all I care. I am sick of this. I hate you and also bring me some chocolate and then die. Do you think our baby will have green eyes?”
My wife may be atypical but she is also very lovely and I think she is right. The babymoon is a terrible idea. It is a concept peddled by Frankie Magazine propagandists and Instagram fitspiration weirdos. An idea attractive mostly to vacationers aiming to populate their social media feeds, aka the worst kind of tourists who are not trying to join ISIS.
But there are loads of these people, and so babymoons are big business. Massive. Seriously. Search Google for the term and you’ll find 1.8M hits. An entire industry has sprung up to line its pockets.
Exhibit B. The internet
The awful truth is this: when your wife is heavily pregnant it is too late for fun. Strategically it is a time for appeasement, but even that is mostly futile. Late-stage pregnancy must be treated like a small but spiteful war.
More specifically, as the character of Captain Ronald Spiers told a novice soldier in Spielberg’s Band of Brothers (Spiers was a real person, and a bona fide American badass): “The only hope you have is to accept the fact that you’re already dead.”
“The sooner you accept that,” says Spiers, who is stoically bumping off German POWs, “the sooner you’ll be able to function as a soldier is supposed to function.”
Spiers was right – even if the scriptwriter was ripping off 17th Century philosopher swordsman Miyamoto Musashi. Pregnancy is a long, losing battle with a big last-minute win. You’re not dead, but your pre-baby life is. Deal with it.
Winning the War
This is not to diminish the miracle that is creation. Amidst the conflagration and destruction, the aches and ailments and mood swings, euphoria arrives in moments: squinting at the binary digital tangle of an ultrasound scan, like an ’80s image of Pluto from Voyager; telling the grandparents; the first palpable kick felt through her belly, a tremor that jolts your larynx and tilts the horizon.
None of these pleasures will be magnified by sitting in a Byron Bay Jacuzzi, wondering if your wife will be able to clamber back out. Nor, I expect, would they be improved by shuttering one’s partner inside – especially if, like mine, your partner is generally an active, bushwalking-holiday sort of person – after a short, uncomfortable plane ride, or a long, uncomfortable drive. To somewhere humid. With no shops. And no chance of following your birth plan.
Exhibit C. Nearest hospital – 5 bazillion km (approx)
Most airlines allow pregnant women to fly up until about 36 weeks. Most babymoons are taken in the third trimester. This is bonkers!
“One in nine babies are born prematurely before 37 weeks, and probably about one per cent under 30 weeks,” says neonatologist Dr Susan Ireland, of Townsville Hospital, where they’re forever dealing with bubs who come early (one woman, she told The Age, popped her sprog at 27 weeks in an emergency helicopter back from Hamilton Island).
“Usually it’s people who are having their first baby and they’re 24 to 30 weeks’ gestation. They’re on that one last holiday before you get tied down by crying babies.”
If you are babymooning, Ireland recommends traveling before the 20 week mark.
I recommend travelling before she’s even pregnant. Which is what we did.
Paris is lovely in the Spring but it is lovelier with an empty womb and ambitions.
You can eat whatever you like. Soft cheeses! Large, mercury-riddled pelagic fish! Breakfasts of pate and fois gras and oysters and raw egg mayo. Kronenbourg and champagne and rough €3 bottles of red and wallet-rendering expensive midnight cocktails in Pigalle.
Afternoon breakfasts and long meanders through marble-floored galleries on non-cankled ankles. You can go wherever you like: Some guy’s house at 4am. Asleep in the afternoon in a park. Rollercoasters, maybe!
Step lightly through the throngs of super-scuffed Citroen 2CVs driven by crazed Gauls and swarms of libidinous moped-riding insouciants! With a sexy, fertile woman smoking those silly stovepipe cigarettes at your elbow! Not fat! Not angry! Not for long.
And at no point concerning yourself with the wedge you’re taking from savings better directed towards the eye-watering expense of strollers, depressing family cars, the renovations you’re (insanely, inevitably) trying to fit in before the big day, and hospital fees.
Exhibit D. Epic selfies that cannot be attempted whilst preggers
The worst possible time to take a babymoon is when you’re expecting. The best time is when you’re expecting to be. If your babymoon fails because the kid comes early, the potential result is disappointment, pain, and unnecessary drama.
But if you’re impregnation vacation fails because you don’t conceive, the result is… you get to do it again.