For My twins First Birthday I Went on a Cruise Without Them

For My twins First Birthday I Went on a Cruise Without Them

Last year, the week before my twins turned one, I packed up my breast pump and my bestie and I went on a cruise. I’m sure leaving your twins and husband at home isn’t for everyone; but that week away made me a better mom.

A hard pregnancy followed by twins was predictably exhausting

I was miserably pregnant the day I turned 40. We got more tough news at a doctor’s appointment. To try and cheer myself up I made my mother take me to a movie (Deadpool. Lol Imagine watching that with your 70 year old mom – who just reminded me she isn’t 70 yet, and was only 68 at the time.). Long story short; I postponed my 40th celebration a year (which is convenient for so many reasons). By the time I turned 41 I was the exhausted mom of 11 month old twins who hadn’t slept more than 4 hours in a row in nearly 14 months.

 

Cruise Ship hammock
Note the empty pool deck. My tropical vacation was 45F with high winds for our first day in Florida.

 

A cruise was a cost effective way to not be in charge of anything

My only criteria for my trip was to not make any decisions, do anything for anyone other than myself, and to get some sun at the end of a long winter (and pump – always pumping). A Caribbean cruise out of Baltimore was, dollar for dollar, the easiest way to meet my goals. I planned on going on some sort of trip since Christmas; so I booked for my babysitter’s spring break. I stashed every extra drop of breast milk for 2 months to feed the boys for seven days (500+ ounces). I wrote schedules and lists and backstopped as much as humanly possible. I left my 11 month old twins in the care of my husband, mom, and babysitter. I only missed them in a theoretical sense.

My bestie is not the cruising sort of person, but she signed up with me. We smuggled a bunch of Fireball onboard in wine bottles and braced ourselves for SPRING BREAK cruising… while pumping breast milk. So you know it was off the chain.

The Breast Milk Question

 

Woman in a robe in bed
My friend endured me pumping breast milk overnight with exceptional grace.

 

I contacted the cruise line about storing breastmilk while onboard. The first person I talked to (a younger man) didn’t understand the question, and after putting me on hold, told me it would not be a problem for me to dispose of my breastmilk down the drain. He was completely flummoxed when I explained that I needed a way to KEEP the breastmilk. It turns out all I had to do was make sure the milk was labeled with my name and room number. I printed a bunch of labels that said “HUMAN MILK” in red and I included a QR code that linked to my email and phone number. It looked quite official. I took a bunch of gallon bags and each time I filled one with breast milk bags I marched it down two decks to the nice folks at passenger services who took it and froze it for me. I cut my pumping back on the cruise from 8x a day to 4! I slept six hours at a time. It was heaven. I left the ship with nearly 300 ounces of frozen milk in a cooler.

A slight disappointment

Turns out we went on the coldest cruise ever. Our day in Florida was 45 with a 15 mph wind. Nassau was the warmest at a whole 70F. My tropical getaway wasn’t very tropical. I’m pretty sure I only put my bathing suit on once. Most of the time I wore leggings layered under yoga pants. And only laid out in the sun cuddled up with my friend under blankets. I’m not kidding. Between the days of pouring cold rain and the unusually cold temps I did not meet my goal to get much sun. But the hardest decision I made was picking what to eat at dinner. And I didn’t change a single diaper for 7 days.

 

Woman in hoodie on a cruise ship deck
Wearing all her outerwear at once, we huddled under blankets in the sun to stay warm.

 

selfie on a cruise ship hammock
The closest I got to some sun. Look at how pale I was.

 

I did think about my boys, every single time I pumped (a video of them crying helped with my letdown reflex). But I didn’t miss them – I mean, I missed their sweet faces. But not endless diapers and chapped nipples and the endless unceasing demands of mothering twins and running a household. For the most part, I did exactly what I wanted, when I wanted (praise!). Slept more than I had in way more than a year. Drank tons. Tried going to a few bad shows. Read books. Got a massage. I took showers as long as I wanted. Watched movies on the pool deck under blankets. And repeat.

 

Brightly lit selfie by the pool on a cruise
I ended up drinking a lot of fireball and hot chocolate. Not exactly the fruity rum drinks I had imagined.

 

Even without the sun it was worth it

Before I knew it, seven days flew by. While I was gone one of my twins finally learned to crawl. I’m glad I missed it. Because missing it meant I could love and care for them when I got back. I renewed my energy to continue pumping past 1 year. They were enchanting again, rather than feeling like a perpetual motion machine of endless work. I came back rested and ready to Mom again.

 

Window out onto a rain sea
It was raining so hard in this picture that water was accumulating on the covered pool deck and sloshing around with the waves. If you weren’t careful your legs got soaked. But it was nearly 60F that day!

 

Sometimes Mommas need to run away

I know I am lucky. Lucky to afford going on a trip. Lucky to have a partner and support to allow leaving twins for a week. But I also was determined. Determined to unflinchingly look every person in the eye who said, “you left your one year olds at home? I could never do that.” To which I replied, “I’m sorry. But I did.” I put my needs ahead of everyone else’s. Because I had to. And because I could.

I made it home before their first birthday. And, we all celebrated their second birthday this week. Next time I need to plan a trip with my husband and NO kids ~ but that might be a way off yet logistics wise. Our 20th wedding anniversary is this year, but I think the boys will go with us if we travel to celebrate.

 

 

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We share in Fort Birthday

2 Replies to “For My twins First Birthday I Went on a Cruise Without Them”

  1. I love everything about this article but I love you even more. Good for you for being strong enough to do what you needed to do for yourself. I say strong enough because Mama guilt is a very powerful force and it can be really tough to overcome. I went to New Orleans for my 40th and Cedie was 14 months old. I went for three days (I cannot trust myself in New Orleans much longer than that ;). I too pumped to keep my boobs from turning rock hard but was able to dump the milk because I only had one kid to contend with. But, I was very concerned that she would stop nursing when I got back. B stopped while I was in the hospital so it was very important that she continue. Of course, she got right back on as soon as I got home so all was well. Just because we’re mommies doesn’t negate our need to be adults too. Thanks for pointing this out because I still need remindersđŸ˜˜

    1. Awww – Viv – you know I love you back. Little do you know, you are one of my role models for remembering that being a Mom doesn’t necessarily mean surrendering your identity. K had already stopped nursing before I left (lazy bum – bottles were so much less work) and I would have been sad if that had happened when I was away. But I wouldn’t have regretted my trip. You cant give when you have an empty bucket, right. MWAH! Love to all of my lovely Portland women.

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