Your baby will be very popular. Trust me. Grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins and friends will want to come and meet your new bundle. This can be wonderful. It can also be difficult, depending on how much you like these well-wishers, how helpful they’re willing to be, and, in the case of new mamas and papas living in cities 0r small spaces, how able and willing they are to stay someplace other than your home.

(Those of you with large homes, a guest house by the pool or extra bedrooms that have not recently been converted into nurseries can disregard this post – unless you’re looking for a rock solid excuse to get Uncle Morty and his third wife off your couch and into the Hilton on their next visit!)

Having people on the sofa bed in your living room or an Aerobed in the front hall is not a recipe for a successful visit when you and your partner are up all night with little Tyler. Having them staying nearby in a nice VRBO or Air B&B rental is perfect. They can get some sleep, bring you coffee in the morning and, with all their well-slept energy, spell you with the baby.

You, in turn, will not be ready to send them home on Day 2 because your overnight routine is hard enough without having to navigate around sleeping guests (or cope with their crabbiness because Fuquan had a crying jag at 3AM that kept them up).

Trust me: it is time well spent while you are pregnant to locate a few reasonably priced rentals or hotels near your home and send out that list to everyone who offers to come and help or notifies you of their enthusiasm to meet your new little one.

Keep your guilt about being inhospitable in check by reminding yourself that you are being hospitable by giving them the gift of a good night’s rest while they are here and a visit with their new grandchild/niece/nephew/godchild that is not fraught with unspoken resentment and conflict.

Note: This will also be the case for all of your friends who have been super psyched to have a free place to crash in a city of over-priced hotels, e.g. my current home of San Francisco and former home of New York where many friends would not have been able to visit at all if they’d added a hotel onto the expense. Those days are over. At least for a while. You’re doing everyone a favor by communicating that gently but clearly when asked. It’s OK: they will still be your friends.

Good luck and happy hosting!

VRBO.com and Air B&B both offer a ton of options in most cities. 

Also check your local parents’ boards (listservs, Yahoo groups, Google groups). In my neighborhood alone, there are at least a dozen in-law apartments and rentals that other parents have posted that they don’t want to put up on craigslist because screening random people is more trouble than they want to take on or because the units are vacant irregularly. The rates for these can easily be $100 less than a hotel and even less than that if you’re looking for a weekly rental. If you’re in San Francisco and not on any of these parents’ boards, get on ’em and post a request for a short-term “visiting the new baby” rental. If you’re not sure how to find your local board, check out some of them here or send me a note and I’ll give you a hand.) 

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I just – finally – pulled together a list of San Francisco parents’ groups for some pregnant friends of ours, so I thought I’d share the information for those of you local to our city by the bay.

First, there’s Golden Gate Mother’s Group. It’s the most formally organized of all the ones I’ve joined. They started several years ago and are very professional and well-established – which means well-moderated forums, a snail-mail quarterly magazine (quite good), and hosted events year-round. (They use the word “moms” a lot but I assume it’s fine if dads join too.)

GGMG has a $75 annual fee, which I balked at but got over when I realized that they’re a deep resource for finding both gear and help (nannies, babysitters, doulas) and they offer discounts at places like Recess (indoor playground in Potrero), Peekadoodle (ludicrously expensive play and teaching space in Ghiradelli Square) and a number of baby stores in the city.

They also help set up local, age-specific playgroups for working and non-working moms/kids. (I went to one of those organizational events and it was super well-run but definitely skewed towards new moms, so you’ll have a wider array of moms and options if you go before your little one is six months old vs. when she’s 9-12 months as I did.) There’s also a lot of conversational advice and support on the forums (which I haven’t taken much advantage of since Astrid was born).

The main reason to join GGMG in my opinion is to have a wide and deep resource for finding childcare. We found our excellent postpartum doula, Caroline Kerherve, on their message boards, and the site has a dedicated recommendation board for nannies and babysitters, so you can read references and notes before you even talk to a candidate. (The site has recently standardized all submissions looking for or recommending childcare professionals. All posts are reviewed before going live and only first-hand recommendations and requests are considered, so it’s much more organized and reliable than the free-for-all on craigslist or even the neighborhood parents’ boards.)

The more local, more bare bones and free option are San Francisco neighborhood parents’ boards. The ones I belong to are all hosted on Yahoo and are message boards only. The sites do have “owners”, so you need to send a note requesting access, and the boards are usually moderated, albeit a little more passively than GGMG. You can get immediate email notifications of all posted messages (overwhelming!) or a daily digest (more reasonable) or just check the boards on the web site (you probably won’t, so if you want to keep up, get the daily digest).

The posts range from “I’m looking for [fill in the blank: a car seat to borrow for a week, a stroller bag, a wipes warmer, a high chair] does anyone have one to buy/borrow/give away?” to, “I’m selling/giving away _____ – does anyone need one?” to, “There’s a [kid-related event] everyone should know about,” to, “I need advice on [potty-training, kid-friendly holiday locations, brunch spots, switching to a toddler bed]!” to, “There’s a helicopter over my house – what is happening?”

You should definitely join at least a couple of these boards near you. Babies are expensive and go through their initial stages quickly, so buying or borrowing gear from other local parents is a great decision. I haven’t had a bad experience yet.

I belong to Noe, Potrero, Mission, and Bernal’s groups. Noe isn’t that active, Potrero and Mission are pretty active and Bernal is so insanely active I had to unsubscribe because of the volume. (I can still search or read online.) You can join by sending a note to the address listed on their home pages:

Mission
Potrero Hill
Noe Valley
Bernal Heights

I’m sure there are other neighborhood local groups as well, and sometimes they’re difficult to find by just searching online. If you’re a member of GGMG, post on their boards asking about a group local to where you live or – maybe faster! – ask a neighbor mom if she knows where your ‘hood’s is online. They’re a fantastic resource.

(Berkeley also has a very active parents’ group at Berkeley Parents Network. It’s a great source of information for non-Berkeley parents too on general subjects like flying with kids and so on.)

Right at first, it’s hard to know where to turn for answers. Over the course of your pregnancy and your baby’s early life, you’ll get a lot of recommendations and probably find books whose tone you like and some authors you trust. But before you’re telling anyone you’re pregnant and before you’ve even been in to see your doctor, where do you look?

The Internet. Let’s all take a moment to remember that time you decided you had scurvy because you had a foot cramp and went on over to Yahoo Answers at 11PM. As ever in matters subjective and medical, the internet is not your friend.

At least not until you’ve calmed down a bit. Which will probably be when your child is six or seven.

As we all know, the crazies are out in full force on-line and someone is always available to tell you that you are irreversibly harming your baby by getting out of bed in the morning. Skip it if you can. If you can’t (I couldn’t), try to only look things up online during the day when you’re well-rested and rational and can contact someone not pregnant right now for a sanity check when you go off the deep end because some nut job posted that eating yams will give your child a cleft palate.

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Books. Instead of the internet, get your hands on a good resource book as soon as possible. There are hundreds on the market but I quickly discovered that many of them were not for me. Prime example: someone will inevitably send or lend you a copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Not to be too blunt, but I hated this classic. I think the tone is overbearing, the advice overly paranoid and the authors are not doctors, so, bottom line, the advice they present as the word of law is, in actuality, their personal preference for the very, very straight and the extremely narrow. It made me tense just reading a few paragraphs. That’s not what you want when you’re pregnant. (Or ever, really.)

The book my OB recommended, we loved. 1000 Questions About Your Pregnancy  by Dr. Jeffrey Thurston answers all the basic questions expectant moms have as well as more complicated ones for conditions we thankfully didn’t encounter. When you’re worried at 3AM, a good index is a must-have and this book has that, albeit with a weird twist to keep in mind: the numbers in the index for each subject you look up refer to the question number, not the page number the answer is on. Other than that, the book was super reasonable, even occasionally funny and very thorough. The fold-out timeline in the back was a handy go-to for where we were and what to expect in the next few weeks. Loved it. Get it.

We also used the Mayo Clinic’s Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy but not often. As with many books and web sites, it frequently referred me to my doctor for an answer to what I thought should be a pretty straightforward question. I can understand their abundance of caution and unwillingness to set themselves up for a lawsuit, but it would be nice to get a little more specific information right this very minute.

See other “You’re Pregnant!” entries: What Not to EatWhat to Drink (Or Not)What Medications Can I Take?