Only what you need for your baby. Really. (OK – and some fantastic things you don’t that are pretty cool.)
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!
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.)