A few friends have asked whether our soon-to-be-born child will have Moldovan citizenship. The answer is no, unless Moldovan authorities have begun handing out citizenship documents to newborns upon arrival at the airport. With the exception of a handful of posts, mostly in Western Europe, the State Department encourages expectant mothers to deliver either in the United States or at a medevac hub, which for us is London. To do otherwise would be “acting contrary to medical advice” and would require us to sign a liability waiver, which we see no reason to do. This means that we will trade in a few months of cold Moldovan winter for cold New England winter as we return home early next year.
It also means that we have to find a place to stay. S will be returning to Maine for a full three months starting mid-January, so she has devoted the better part of the last month to researching short-term rentals. Initially she looked at properties on AirBnB, VRBO, and HomeAway after reading many positive reviews of people finding great vacation stays on these sites for a fraction of the price hotels charge. Unfortunately, most of the Maine properties listed on these sites are only available for rent during the summer months. During the winter off-season, Mainers apparently return to their homes. S saw plenty of rooms for rent, but few landlords were willing to give up their homes for several months, as they do in summer.
Also, while these sites are a great resource for vacationers, they proved less ideally suited to our situation. Prior to listing their properties, landlords post a set of house rules, e.g. no smoking, no loud parties, etc. We disqualified many of the condos S initially considered because the owners restricted occupancy to two people and wanted to be paid a hefty surcharge for every additional person who spent a night. We understand why this rule exists for short-term rentals, but it is a headache we did not want when we are sure to have relatives visiting to see our newborn.
After weeks of searching, both online and with the help of traditional property management companies, S compiled a short list of townhouses and condos, which her parents agreed to tour so that we did not have to book sight unseen. Their help proved invaluable. They immediately ruled out one downtown condo when they saw that it was located in a seedy neighborhood. Another property — a roomy Victorian townhouse that looked perfect in pictures — proved less than ideal due to the parking situation. We would have had to leave the car in a tight-fitting spot on a one-way alleyway that is easily snowed in. The last thing D wanted was to face the prospect of digging the car out of a snowbank while S went into labor.
While most of the listings were fairly standard, there was one urban home retreat that fit our budget and list of essentials that left us somewhat perplexed. It purported to be a two-bedroom but one of the rooms was designated as a multi-use healing arts studio. The photos left us guessing whether the arts studio could be used as a second bedroom; instead, the listing focused on the room’s east-facing windows and underscored that it had excellent cleansing energy. The property came with the longest list of house rules of any of the listings S had perused. Guests were required to wear indoor shoes, entertain gatherings of no more than six people, water plants, shovel snow (having just entered her third trimester, S was particularly excited for this rule), limit technology use, and “maintain clean energy in the healing arts space,” to name a few.
AirBnB requires all contact between hosts and guests to be handled through the site, and the owners of the healing arts studio refused to divulge their emails or phone numbers even after S had sent them her parents’ contact information. They set a time to show the house and then neglected to keep the appointment. S’s parents waited 45 minutes in the cold outside the dark house before heading home. The owners later wrote to apologize and reiterate that the house has very clean energy, saying that they could not imagine that we would not be delighted to stay there.
Intriguing as the house of clean energy was, we crossed it off our short-list and chose another residence. Having finally picked a place, we can turn our attention to other important pre-baby planning matters, such as picking a name.