Life changes dramatically when a newborn arrives — more so when it’s two at once! TV presenter Jenny-May Clarkson, pregnant with twins, discovers that a babymoon weekend escape is sweet preparation for parenthood.
Jenny-May Clarkson (née Coffin) is enjoying a healthy pregnancy while juggling the demands of delivering TV One’s sports news and continuing as assistant coach for the Mystics netball team right up to her due date in April.
Even when faced with criticism from a small (tiny, let’s hope!) sector of society who took issue with her pregnant body being on television, Jenny-May was graciously unbothered – life in the public eye is something she has become accustomed to. “My job is to deliver the sports news – and carrying babies doesn’t affect the way I do that.”
Jenny-May’s focus is on keeping her babies safe while they grow to full term. She also has her sights set on life beyond pregnancy, joining the Counties Manukau Multiple Birth Society in preparation for life with twins. It is here that she has found a wealth of information, with a community of parents ready to answer questions and share advice – and she says that there is plenty of buying, gifting and swapping of baby items going on as well!
“I’m really looking forward to seeing my babies grow and sharing this journey with my husband, Dean, and two step-daughters” says Jenny-May. In the meantime, however, with maternity leave on the horizon and the heat pressing in (as well as the swelling in her hands and feet making a regular appearance), being sent away for a babymoon in Rotorua seemed ideal. “Being an older mother, I have done most things that I want to do, so I don’t feel the need to cram anything in before the babies arrive” says Jenny-May. With that in mind, rest and relaxation were at the top of the to-do list as Dean and Jenny-May headed for Rotorua.
In February Dean and I celebrated the first anniversary since we met, and with just a few weeks left until our precious babies arrive, a babymoon in Rotorua sounded like heaven. This would be our last relaxing holiday for a while and Valentine’s weekend was the perfect time for a romantic escape. If you’re considering taking a ‘babymoon’ yourself, here’s my best advice:
We all know how tired and heavy pregnancy can make us feel (especially carrying twins!), so don’t leave it too late to enjoy travelling. The second trimester seems to be a popular time for many women – but I left it slightly later at 32 weeks, by which time I was getting quite tired. It was good for Dean and I to take a break from routine, get away from work, relax and just hang out away from the everyday stress of home life.
2. choosing your destination
Most of us heavily pregnant women want to be pampered at this point, so choose a location where there are facilities and activities on offer to suit the way you feel like celebrating. The best thing about New Zealand is we don’t actually have to leave the comfort of our own country; there are so many treats to be had right on our back doorstep. Rotorua was ideal for us – far enough away from home to feel like an escape, but only two and a half hours in the car from Auckland – with plenty of places to stay, great food to enjoy and relaxing things to do.
This is your chance to live like a queen! It was nice to get away from all that planning, forget about choosing nursery furniture or baby-proofing the house and, more selfishly, not make our bed! We stayed at the Millennium Hotel overlooking Lake Rotorua. They had beautiful big beds, marbled bathrooms and air-conditioned comfort, which was nice and cool during the hot summer we have been having. They also had plenty of pillows I could choose from to make sure I got a comfortable night’s sleep. What really made our hotel stay extra special was the amazing staff who were so helpful and accommodating.
4. spoil yourself
Spoiling yourself is the best part of a babymoon – that and spending uninterrupted quality time with your partner before sleep deprivation really kicks in. With my demanding television and coaching schedule, it was really valuable time for Dean and me.
Once we arrived at Millennium, we headed straight downstairs to the hotel’s spa. Once again, the staff were so friendly and helpful. I was treated to a wonderful facial, manicure and pedicure, which felt amazing. I can’t even see my own toes at the moment, let alone paint them, so it felt great to have someone else do it for me. I’m not much of a talker when it comes to pampering and I was left to enjoy the experience in relative quiet… I just loved this!
Dean had a relaxing massage, which was just what he needed. He also found the therapist picked up and worked on a lot of the relaxed. It was a great start to our holiday.
While hot pools are generally off limits during pregnancy, your partner will no doubt enjoy soaking their tired muscles in some therapeutic waters. So the following day we checked out Rotorua’s iconic Polynesian Spa. We arrived an hour before our massage appointments to enjoy the spas – and although I didn’t submerge myself in the water, it was nice to walk around and soak my feet and calves. Dean loved dipping in and out of the different pools and found it very relaxing ahead of his next massage.
I had a special pregnancy massage, which was bliss, and Dean had an AIX massage which uses jets of thermal water I know I keep mentioning this, but everywhere we went in Rotorua the staff were so friendly. Polynesian Spa even sent us on our way with a special gift pack for the twins. It was such a beautiful place and one we definitely want to go back to.
5. indulge in some romance
Romantic activities can be a nice add-on to any babymoon. It tied in nicely for us with it also being Valentine’s Day while we were away. We took a cozy ride on the gondola to the top of Mt Ngongotaha before dinner. It was such a nice time of day to take in the views overlooking the lake and city.
6. eating out
I’m always grateful for any meal I don’t have to cook myself. I was recently given some good advice to really enjoy the chance to eat out, as apparently restaurant dates are likely to be few and far between once a baby arrives. The best thing about the gondola ride was the amazing Skyline’s Stratosfare Restaurant at the top, which made the most of the views. We both enjoyed a really nice meal. There were so many different types of dishes on offer and it was great to have the choice. The meal was delicious – Dean especially loved the seafood and meat.
We also made the most of popping out to sample Rotorua’s best eateries: stopping in at Eat Streat with its cool atmosphere, Zippy Central Cafe for coffee, and of course Lady Jane’s for ice cream!
7. go for a walk
Friends tell me that, once a baby arrives, it can take longer to get everyone ready and out the front door than it does for the actual walk. Being pregnant with twins, I've found it hard to go from six days a week of Crossfi t to just walking. And, while it is getting more and more diffi cult to be on my feet, I couldn’t help but get out and about to take in some of the beautiful sights of Rotorua.
We popped out to the Blue Lake to dip our feet in the water and, on the way back, stopped in quickly at the Redwood forest. While not for me this trip, I loved the look of the Tree Top Walk. Our final stop was Government Gardens to put our feet on the grass. It felt so good just to be out enjoying the fresh air.
8. go shopping
I didn’t have a lot of time to shop on my trip, but a new city or destination can always deliver unexpected surprises when you explore the local shops. If there are any last minute baby or maternity clothes you need, this is a great time to browse. It doesn’t matter if you don’t buy anything – just enjoy walking around without worrying about needing to change, feed or entertain anyone.
9. get some sleep!
Let’s face it, there won’t be much of that happening in our house once the twins make their grand arrival. I loved sleeping in our hotel’s mammoth bed and took every opportunity I could to lie down, relax and get some precious zzz's.
10. enjoy each other's company
Our babymoon was a chance to really connect with each other before our big arrivals. Talk to your partner and focus on making your relationship as strong as possible. Dean and I are a team, but we both know our patience will be tested in the coming months. Thanks to our babymoon, we feel well and truly ready for the challenge!
Thanks, Rotorua, it was a blast!
Jenny-May and Dean Clarkson visited Rotorua courtesy of Destination Rotorua. For more info, visit rotoruanz.com.