Mom-to-be tested travel When I embarked on my first pregnancy last March, I think I heard something about couples taking luxury "babymoon" vacations to celebrate their last days of child-free capriciousness, but I was probably too busy throwing up to pay much attention.
By late spring, however, I was a seasoned pregnant person, a good-time gal out to thoroughly enjoy her idyllic second trimester. Prenatal yoga classes and massages, baby-shower swag, maternity clothes that didn't drape like camping tents-they were all mine. A little sciatica every other day couldn't stop me.
Ensconced in my consumerist rampage, I wasn't about to pass up a night's stay as the guest of the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago for its brand-new "Expecting You" babymoon package. Rates start at $480 and include a night's stay, a visit from the ice cream man, breakfast in bed, a complimentary manicure when you book a pregnancy massage and an array of discount offers for upscale baby services at Michigan Avenue boutiques. To keep dad-to-be from feeling left out, the package also includes a "toast to fatherhood" cocktail and cigar from the Seasons Bar.
So I packed up my husband, Richard, and took the bus downtown for a day and a half of shameless pampering. We decided to save the cab fare for our child's college education.
Arriving fashionably late for my massage ($115 for 55 minutes) and manicure, I was immediately greeted by a gracious French woman who directed me to my waiting robe and slippers. After I'd spent a few precious minutes noshing on fruit in the plush waiting area with a group of lithe, tanned older women, Tammy, my masseuse, whisked me away for our session.
Tammy, it turns out, is a pro at working out charley horses, swollen feet and shoulder knots that come from sitting at a desk all day with your belly unnaturally tilting forward. Though she received prenatal massage training in massage therapy school, Tammy says she learned a lot about what to do-and what not to do-from her own pregnancy. She didn't like having her belly touched and felt uncomfortable lying on her stomach, even with a special pillow, because she couldn't stop worrying about the possibility of her placenta rupturing, so she avoids those techniques.
The massage was wonderful, neither too harsh nor too ginger. According to Tammy, it's OK to get a massage right up until delivery. Afterwards, wait about six weeks because the body needs time to realign itself.
Next was a manicure by Ludy, who grew up in Chicago with Mexican parents but spent much of her adulthood working at the Four Seasons in Punta Vita, Mexico. After the spa treatment, I met Richard in our 43rd-floor suite, which had a postcard-perfect view of Lake Michigan dotted with white sails.
We were greeted with a babymoon gift bag that included a Four Seasons teddy bear, a rubber ducky and a bunch of coupons I probably won't use for things such as a complimentary photo sitting for mom-and-dad-to-be or 20 percent off a customized delivery bag from Little Stork (again, saving for the kid's college fund). A dish of fresh fruit included two frosted cookies shaped like ducks-a nice touch.
Eating for two
Famished, we ordered room service, which while nicely presented, was lackluster food-wise. The sirloin burger I ordered was greasy and tasted a bit old. Considering the prices ($50 for two for lunch), I recommend going out to one of the many fine restaurants on Michigan Avenue rather than staying in. Maybe the bad meal was just a fluke, though, because the full breakfast we were served on Sunday morning was just right.
The rest of our stay was spent lounging in a sea of pillows on the king bed-every pregnant women's dream-and swimming under the skylight in the hotel pool. I would have preferred a bit larger pool, so I could do laps and actually get some real exercise, but floating on my back was nice, too. Richard was impressed with the spa's showers, which featured a little spigot for your feet so you can test the water temperature before you hop in. Unfortunately, we didn't have a chance to make good use of the well-equipped fitness center.
Around 9 p.m., there was a knock at the door. It was René Morocho, a cheery man dressed in peppermint stripes, pushing a stainless steel cart full of ice cream and toppings-including pickles, which elicited this comment from Richard: "That's a good pickle. That's a really good pickle." I've never heard him get excited about a pickle before. But for $480 a night, I wouldn't expect anything less.
Babymooner Laura Putre is editor of Chicago Journal, a weekly newspaper covering the South Loop, and a publication of Chicago Parent's parent company, Wednesday Journal Inc.