Baby Yourselves

By: Melissa Betheau

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A babymoon on Amelia Island - one last getaway before baby makes three.

A week after our baby shower, my husband, Chet, and I dropped off our dog at my brother’s house and skipped town without a single parenting or pregnancy book in our bags. Leaving behind a crib to set up, clothes to wash and bottles to sanitize, we headed to Amelia Island for a long, baby-free weekend. It’s called the babymoon - a last-ditch trip for parents-to-be (or a reprieve for newbies) in need of some adult time and relaxation. I called it three entire days without having to explain why we hadn’t yet picked a name for our soon-to-arrive daughter.

We had first visited Amelia Island on our honeymoon three years ago, staying at one of the B&Bs in historic Fernandina Beach. But for this outing, Chet and I wanted to sequester ourselves near the beach. Omni Amelia Island Plantation spreads out over more than 1,350 acres near the southern end of 13-mile-long Amelia Island. Oak trees cloak visitors at the resort’s shops and golf courses. The main hotel overlooks the Atlantic Ocean, and the Plantation’s romance packages promised just the retreat we had envisioned.

On property, Chet and I traded our car in for an “island hopper,” Plantation-speak for golf cart. (We made a mental note that bikes, baby joggers and trailers were also available for rent.) One lodging option, a two-bedroom villa near the tennis complex, boasted a pool and proximity to the resort’s well-regarded steak and seafood restaurant, the Verandah.

Saturday morning, we rode over to the inn for an Art of Breakfast buffet in the Sunrise Café. In the dining room, several couples with babies glanced knowingly at my round belly. With supervised programs for children age 3 and up, the Omni Amelia Island Plantation attracts a number of families and reunions year ‘round.

After a brief walk – ok, waddle – on the beach, Chet dropped me off at the resort's nature-inspired spa, which offers facials, hydrotherapy and, of course, massages. For months, I’d been saving up backaches and swollen ankles for an hour-long session. My masseur found me lounging on a chaise overlooking a stone meditation garden. As we entered the treatment room, he assured me that my ankles and certain spots on my feet wouldn’t be heavily kneaded (some pressure points in those areas can initiate labor, creating an experience completely different from the one I was seeking).

For the next 60 minutes, I felt more relaxed than I imagined I would be for, oh, the next 18 years.

Chet and I met after lunch (he had spent time that morning on a guided Segway nature tour around the Resort). That afternoon, we hit Fernandina Beach to revisit some of the stops from our honeymoon. On Centre Street, the main downtown thoroughfare, we passed familiar shops like Fernandina’s Fantastic Fudge. For obvious reasons, we bypassed the Palace Saloon, Florida’s oldest, continuously operated bar (since 1903).

After dinner, Amelia Island Carriages picked us up for a horse-and-buggy ride through town. Our guide, Cindy, took us on a 30-minute tour, telling the history of the 1800s-built Victorian houses along with ghost stories and gossip from today.

The evening came to a close back at the Plantation’s Falcon’s Nest, an aviation-themed restaurant featuring build-your-own burgers and a full-service bar. I sipped a Shirley Temple as Chet and I watched locals and resort guests dance.

On Sunday, we browsed the shops, which offer an old-fashioned village atmosphere with restaurants, boutiques and gift shops. At the window of a children’s boutique, I turned to Chet, signaling that it was time to resume our countdown to parenthood. Soon we were on the road discussing diapers, crib sheets and how we’d tell everyone we were naming our daughter Amelia - at least until we made our final decision.

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