Baby Bribes

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I’m a little thrown by this article about “push presents” — gifts given to new moms from their partners as a reward for birthing a baby. There’s nothing wrong with giving your partner a gift, especially after she’s just been through a trying ordeal. There’s nothing wrong with thinking it’s really nice that your partner bought you a present after you just lived through an experience that, as one woman describes, “redefines the meaning of pain.”

So it’s not the idea itself that bothers me. It’s the way it’s being discussed. The Times article follows the tired narrative of the greedy nagging gold-digging wife and the slightly clueless but well-intentioned husband handing over the cash to keep her happy. It’s stuff like this:

Push presents seem to have taken off within the last decade, particularly in the last couple of years. In 2005 the Southeast-based jewelry chain Mayors marketed diamond earrings with the tag line, “She delivered your first born; now give her twins.” Fortunoff, the jewelry and gift chain with a Fifth Avenue flagship, established a push present registry six months ago.

“She delivered your first born; now give her twins”? Mama isn’t a stork, and she didn’t miraculously push your sole creation out of her body.

And the rest of the article goes on about whether or not women “deserve” expensive baubles as a gift for child-birth, all while maintaining the argument that women en masse are demanding diamonds and men are patting the little dears on the head:

In general, women enlighten their men about push presents, not the other way around. Chris Beggini, a 43-year-old mutual fund manager in Radnor, Pa., didn’t know about the practice until his wife, Jennifer, straightened him out. “We talked about how she had nine months of difficulty, and ‘Aren’t I the good soldier?’ blah blah blah,” he recalled.

So when the Begginis begat Abigail in 1999, Ellie in 2002, and Julia last year, Mr. Beggini responded with earrings, a bracelet and what he jokingly calls a “suffer ring.”

“You have to keep mama happy,” he said.

…which is the other thing that bothers me: The persistent feeling that women are being bought. A woman is doing her husband this favor, see, by birthing “his” child, and so he pays her for her services. There’s also an aspect of infantilization — a little “there-there” for the whiny lady who just pushed a football-sized human being through a hole the size of pencil. The narrative is that he’s the provider and she’s the providee entrusted with creating a new generation of provider, and when she holds up her end of the contract, she gets the carat (har har). Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you think that parenting should be a strictly business arrangement. I’m not of that persuasion. And then I think, well, pregnancy is long and difficult, and childbirth really sucks, and she has to leave work and she isn’t as mobile as before and she’s risking her health to do this — why shouldn’t she be compensated?

…but with diamonds?

Like I said, I don’t begrudge anyone their presents. If I impregnated someone and he carried the pregnancy for 10 months, sacrificing his body, his professional life, and possibly his emotional stability to give birth, I would probably feel inclined to get him something really, really nice — and to be really, really nice to him. And I suspect that a lot of the interviews for this article were manipulated so that they would fit into the simplistic gold-digger narrative. But I’m also sure that there are people who feel entitled to expensive jewelry when they give birth (do I need to mention what socio-economic class these people probably belong to?). It’s a class thing that I’m not accustomed to, and that I find thoroughly out of touch — after all, the sector of the population that relates to this article is, in a global perspective, teeny-tiny. It’s a very privileged view to be able to worry about “push presents.”

To my ears, it sounds incredibly bizarre; but for some women, it’s a survival skill. When your social worth is dependent on how much stuff you have, and you’re in a situation where even greater status is conferred when someone provides you with that stuff, you adapt. It’s not a great system, but there it is.

Which makes me think that all of the men who read this article and wring their hands over the selfish, selfish bitches demanding demanding presents for labor should really start thinking about how to dismantle a patriarchal social structure thats puts a small group of men at the top, privileges men in accordance with their wealth, and otherwise screws over the rest of us.

But I have a feeling it’s easier to just blame the selfish bitches.

Thanks to Fauzia for the link.

59 comments for “Baby Bribes

  1. December 7, 2007 at 10:42 pm

    Okay, I commented on a similar post on Feministing, but what the hell, I’m still pregnant and still crabby, so here goes:

    The idea that women can or should be financially compensated for coughing up (well, you know) HIS baby or ‘ruining her body’ for him is just seventeen different kinds of squick.

    Also…look, here’s the thing. I’m in the middle of a very wanted, very planned, very oh-shit-turned-out-to-be-high-risk-and-indescribably-unpleasant pregnancy. Because of this, I’ve been on bedrest since about 23 weeks. This has forced my husband to not only take over all the family bills and stretch his salary to cover the loss of mine, but he also gets to (after working a full shift, or overtime if he can pick it up for extra cash) do all the laundry, dishes, cooking, cleaning, shopping, errands, drive me to the hospital, rub whichever parts of me need it aaaaaand bring me endless glasses of water, etc.

    So, which one of us gets the present?

    No piece of jewelry could compensate either of us for this kind of experience, and I’d rather have my husband’s support and assistance than a damned pair of earrings.

    On the other hand, if my husband were some flaming dick who wouldn’t or couldn’t step up in this kind of situation, um, a damned pair of earrings reeeeeeeeeeeally wouldn’t cover it, you know?

  2. Rebecca
    December 7, 2007 at 11:00 pm

    The phrase ‘push presents’ is always accompanied by the chink-chink of coins on the surface of a worn bureau as the client pays his whore. My interpretation, of course.

  3. December 7, 2007 at 11:03 pm

    She delivered your first born; now give her twins

    This read to me as “she delivered” (the medical jargon for gave birth to) “your” (belonging to the two of you) “first born,” not “she delivered” (like a package) “your” (belonging to just you, Mr.) “first born.” It’s ambiguous because stupid English doesn’t have a second person plural, but I think it’s worth assuming good faith on the part of the jeweler.

    The Times article is pretty careful to point out that the mother deserves something nice, even if it accuses her of guilt-tripping the father in the same breath. Sure, that plays into a traditional narrative of the clueless man and the manipulative woman. But I don’t know that it plays into the idea that women are being bought. Rather, I think if someone does you a huge favor—in this case, bearing the brunt of the work in whole child-making process—they deserve a token of appreciation, within your means.

    I wonder if the men who wring their hands at the selfish bitches are strawmen. Are there—and this is an honest question, not a rhetorical one—are there really that many people out there who get their boxers in a wad over the gifts rich people give each other? Or, more concretely, are conservative bloggers complaining about push presents?

    The proposal that Dad spend the money on something actually worthwhile is a pretty good one. Or better yet, how about he take care of all the 3AM crying for the next nine months while she gets a decent night’s sleep? That might begin to even things out in a much more relevant way…

  4. December 7, 2007 at 11:29 pm

    My friend’s husband gave her the best baby gift of all: not only did he take three weeks of leave, he changed to a different nursing field that allows him to work on weekends only, which means that he’ll be able to stay home with the baby during the week when she comes back from maternity leave.

    Oh, wait, I’m sorry, demonstrating to your wife and the entire world that you want to be an equal parenting partner by re-arranging your entire life the way she’s going to be re-arranging hers isn’t a “real” gift. I’m sure that if he’d just left things the way they were and thrown her a pair of diamond earrings after she finished labor, that would have been the same thing, right?

    Of course, now I realize I’m going to be bashed for even hinting that re-arranging his career is a gift and not something that every man should do routinely so I shouldn’t even mention it as a good thing. My bad.

    (Hey, if people can bash me for thanking my husband for cleaning cat diarrhea out of the bathtub, they can bash me for anything.)

  5. zuzu
    December 7, 2007 at 11:35 pm

    But I’m also sure that there are people who feel entitled to expensive jewelry when they give birth (do I need to mention what socio-economic class these people probably belong to?). It’s a class thing that I’m not accustomed to, and that I find thoroughly out of touch — after all, the sector of the population that relates to this article is, in a global perspective, teeny-tiny. It’s a very privileged view to be able to worry about “push presents.”

    This isn’t exactly new (though, surprise! It’s a Times trend piece. Of course it’s not new). I have a mink coat* hanging in my closet that was the first-baby gift my mother got back in the mid-60s. Just nobody called it a “push present” back then.

    * Spare your hyperventilating about the fur, thank you. It’s been around longer than I have, it was my mother’s, she’s dead, and that’s that.

  6. M.
    December 7, 2007 at 11:39 pm

    Am I supposed to give my hubby a “seed present” then?

    “He gave you your sperm, now give him cufflinks.”

  7. antiprincess
    December 7, 2007 at 11:42 pm

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.

    the day I give birth, I want a BEER. a delicious, refreshing pretentious microbrew. maybe a cherry wheat.

    not a diamond.

  8. Rosehiptea
    December 8, 2007 at 12:06 am

    I had never heard of this before. Not just the term but the whole concept of giving a woman an expensive present as a “reward” for giving birth.

    I’m not exactly into over-romanticizing pregnancy and birth but surely the whole thing should be more positive than “women do it because men need their spawn.” That’s just creepy.

  9. December 8, 2007 at 12:13 am

    antiprincess- if you have trouble nursing after giving birth- a beer is just the thing. Relaxes you, pumps you full of b-vitamins (I don’t know if that’s true- it’s what my mom says) and helps your milk come in.

    Having a beer was the best damn thing I did after birthing the kid.

  10. kate
    December 8, 2007 at 12:21 am

    Will asked:

    are there really that many people out there who get their boxers in a wad over the gifts rich people give each other?

    Yeah, me. I mean, I don’t wear boxers and I really don’t worry too much about the Great Social Meaning of what rich assholes in NYC do, but I do ponder the reality that often their spending knows no bounds. And they have the audacity at the same time to call poor people stupid.

    Just sayin’. Carry on with whatever.

  11. Cecily
    December 8, 2007 at 12:31 am

    Wow. When I was a tyke, I liked the movie “Big Business”. I thought it was SOOOO FUNNY that the mom of the Bette Midlers was getting a beach villa from her millionaire husband for being pregnant. And was awarded a diamond tiara during labor. It was so, “Rich people say the darnedest things in movies!”

    I guess we scratch “in movies”. I am so sick of this “I wish I were rich, so I should do the stupid shit they do” stuff, and it seems like the NY Times is its chief purveyor.

  12. sunburned counsel
    December 8, 2007 at 12:47 am

    The article was very much about the NYTimes yuppie demo, but “push presents” are something I have seen in many many demographics. Often times more then people can afford.
    I said this over at Feministing, but the actual idea of giving a woman who has just had a baby a present that is just for her- and not baby-centric, seems like a really nice, and possibly progressive, way to acknowledge her effort, honour the major life change, and celebrate her continued independent person-hood. Something that’s not baby blankets and onesies, but is for them- the person, not the mother.
    When my friends have babies, I usually give them dinner for the freezer, and a gift certificate for a massage or facial, for all those reasons.

  13. Roxie
    December 8, 2007 at 1:03 am

    It reads like something out of a historical novel about a smart aristocrat young girl trapped in a loveless marriage to a much older man who thinks a simple baby factory and thinks dangling something shiny in front of her will be enough. Enough as well as incentive.

  14. Michelle
    December 8, 2007 at 1:12 am

    Currently pregnant here.

    Y’know, it’d be nice to be aknowledged on the day this little one is born. But as Akeeyu said above, which one of us gets the gift? I was nauseous and miserable for 4 months– my husband worked 12 hour plus days, and returned home to do all the housework, cooking, and cleaning.

    In our darker moments we joked that we were *both* suffering– just in different ways.

    I’m looking forward to a glass of red wine after the baby is born, and perhaps a bit of awe for my role in this process from my husband– but generally he’s here and supportive– and quite frankly, if he bought me jewelry we couldn’t afford instead of things we (or the baby) needed, I’d be pissed!

    I want (and get) the respect– not the money!

  15. December 8, 2007 at 1:14 am

    Red Queen–antiprincess just really, really wants a beer :)

  16. December 8, 2007 at 1:27 am

    The not only is the idea of a push present repulsive, but the phrase itself is awful.

    The best presents I received after giving birth was a flat of mixed berries and a bag of fresh bagels. They were absolutely perfect. The only thing I might have wanted aside from that would’ve been sleep. Diamonds would’ve been worthless.

  17. Nell
    December 8, 2007 at 1:58 am

    Like Zuzu said – ‘push presents’ are an old tradition, only, of course, for the NYT everything old is new again when their preferred demographic discovers it. Again. Then gives it a new name.

    In the same way, hovering, controlling parents aren’t anything especially new either – especially for daughters, until the 1960s most daughters in the US were *expected* to live in their parents home until marriage, as minors, under their parents direction and authority. Or, how about, stage mothers, anyone? Say Rose Lee of Gyspsy ? Which is about a woman born in the 1890s?

    There may be an uptick in visibility right now, perhaps because parents are able to spend the time to hover, perhaps because of fears over the economy, perhaps because the world has turned into a much more dangerous place (or, at least, the perception of danger for children increased dramatically in the 1980s and 1990s).

    The conditions have changed for who can and how they act on the impulse to hover, but I’m not convinced the phenomena is all that new or all that unfathomable.

  18. Ipomoea
    December 8, 2007 at 2:05 am

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.

    the day I give birth, I want a BEER. a delicious, refreshing pretentious microbrew. maybe a cherry wheat.

    not a diamond.

    When one of my best friends was pregnant, her biggest craving was for beer. Her husband would come home and open one for himself, and she’d sit next to him and smell it.

    So when it came time, her push present was a cold Coors. While I might have picked a different beer, I couldn’t fault her. She’d been looking forward to it for nine months.

  19. December 8, 2007 at 2:20 am

    kactus- I think there are easier ways of getting a beer than by getting knocked up. Hell- if I had to get knocked up every time I wanted a beer there would packs and packs of little Queens.

  20. Marissa
    December 8, 2007 at 3:32 am

    Jill,
    I really like the way you presented this. You pointed out that the key problem is not whether or not the present is a good idea, but the language the article used to describe it, and as such, the way these presents will be viewed by the public at large. The article does spin the women into the “gold diggers” stereotype. Its just like an overhaul of lose-lose situations. Either the woman is seen as a greedy bitch and loses out by public opinion of her. Or she doesn’t get a sweet gesture from her partner because of the greedy bitch stigma. (Not diamonds, but something more sentimental like a thoughtful note, flowers, massage, etc.)

  21. December 8, 2007 at 3:38 am

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.

    the day I give birth, I want a BEER. a delicious, refreshing pretentious microbrew. maybe a cherry wheat.

    not a diamond.

    Haha! That reminds me of the times, during my 8th month, when I was full into that period when people can see your stomach squirming from the other side of the room and you’re walking like you’re holding a watermelon between your knees (when you’re walking at all), I got the worst, persistent craving for a margarita. A strong one. Like a mouth cramping, painful, wanted to cry I wanted it so much desire.

    Pregnancy is so fucking weird.

    (steps aside so actual debate can occur)

  22. exholt
    December 8, 2007 at 5:12 am

    I wonder if the men who wring their hands at the selfish bitches are strawmen. Are there—and this is an honest question, not a rhetorical one—are there really that many people out there who get their boxers in a wad over the gifts rich people give each other?

    If this article came out when I was in college, most of us, including non-Marxists/Maoists like myself would have seen this as a manifestation of rampant materialism gone amuck.

    Though I still feel this is a tad extravagant, if one spouse wants to give another a gift for giving birth to their baby, it is really none of my concern.

    IME, brainwashing from MSM, older family, and other social conditioning factors often causes too many young professional dudes to feel it is much less work to believe the media hype about jewelry being the “all-purpose gift” for their significant others rather than take the time and effort to figure out their SO’s actual preferences.

    Incidentally, my mother was never fond of jewelry as she saw it as nothing but expensive “junk” that takes up valuable space. It is usually my father who suggests jewelry as a gift for some occasion which inevitably gets rejected in the favor of other gestures such as dining out.

  23. SoE
    December 8, 2007 at 6:46 am

    She’d been looking forward to it for nine months.

    There is no, zero, nada, niente study indicating that drinking alcohol moderately during pregnancy is a risk for a baby. The reason why many people don’t do it is the research done with alcoholics. They probably compared non-alcoholics who were allowed to drink moderately and alcoholics, since those studies were back in the seventies. Until someone actually finds out that even a glass of beer or wine harms the baby this seems like a good way of depriving women of a treat and many relaxed evenings.

  24. antiprincess
    December 8, 2007 at 8:49 am

    IME, brainwashing from MSM, older family, and other social conditioning factors often causes too many young professional dudes to feel it is much less work to believe the media hype about jewelry being the “all-purpose gift” for their significant others rather than take the time and effort to figure out their SO’s actual preferences.

    I fully agree. I’ve also suggested that a great present for me personally, as an individual, would be to take the same amount of money you’d spend on jewelry and spend it on yarn. good yarn. (of course, that’s only because I have the assumption that yarn is somehow cleaner than diamonds. and that could be mistaken)

    it does seem weird to me to be given some kind of bauble in exchange for bringing new life into the world. (especially when you could FINALLY have beer instead…) I mean, is that really an even exchange?

    speaking of, RQ – I may send you a bouquet of beer for that advice upthread.

  25. December 8, 2007 at 9:13 am

    I think Roxie just about nailed it right there.

    The categorical nature of this piece certainly betrays the demographic it’s targeted for, of course. “Push present” might be the latest trendy term, but its ultimate definition, regardless of the time period, depends on the relationship of the people involved.

    Some folks are really all about the constant litany of business transactions – and a lot of those folks also seem to be into diamonds. Other people just want to be nice to each other every once in a while – and the birth of a child is certainly a timely occasion for that sort of thing. And a whole lot of people out there, I bet, fall in the middle. I’ve certainly demanded to be “spoiled” a little after an ordeal (haven’t had any kiddies yet, for the record – God know how I’ll act then), and have known my S.O. to do the same. So it’s a personal thing that’s being seized upon as a marketing gimmick, IMHO.

  26. zxc
    December 8, 2007 at 9:29 am

    It’s a class thing that I’m not accustomed to, and that I find thoroughly out of touch

    oh brother, the poor lil ole me gambit. Why is it thate very upper class parlor leftist has to posture as a member of the lumpen? It is clear from your other posts that you clearly come from money, even if not money as old as the Harrimans’ or as much as the Waltons.

    As for the content here: well, duh, puff pieces in the the NYT can be pretty silly. Bravo, you go grrrl, deconstruct the push present article as another element of the operations of patriarchy balhbalhbblah.

  27. December 8, 2007 at 9:36 am

    oh brother, the poor lil ole me gambit. Why is it thate very upper class parlor leftist has to posture as a member of the lumpen? It is clear from your other posts that you clearly come from money, even if not money as old as the Harrimans’ or as much as the Waltons.

    Glad to know that you’re able to discern my entire financial and family background through my blog posts. I don’t “come from money” and I am definitely not “very upper class.” Not that it’s any of your business in the first place.

  28. Daphne
    December 8, 2007 at 10:02 am

    I read the article and I only found it suprising that it’s catching on just now. I’ve always remembered and heard stories of my family members in Spain rewarding the new mothers in the family with jewelery –

    Only if the baby was a boy though. :P

  29. Sniper
    December 8, 2007 at 10:34 am

    “He gave you your sperm, now give him cufflinks.”

    Don’t give the jewelry industry any ideas!!!

    I once read some article about rich, eccentric Texans (this was in the wake of Dallas) in which a woman cheerfully reported that she knew when her husband was cheating because he bought her fancy jewelry. So yeah, this is just another silly article, but it’s part of the underlying assumption in our society that women are for sale.

  30. AJS
    December 8, 2007 at 11:10 am

    So now am I a bad husband if I do not give my wife diamonds when our child is born?

    Seriously these things are insidious. My wife is not American and where she is from they do not give engagement rings , but after 3 years in NY, her friends, coworkers, etc.. made her believe she had to have a big rock. We went to Tiffanys, not to buy just for me to see what style she liked, and it was a disaster. The type she liked started at $45k and that was “a bit small”!

    Luckily she saw a lovely ring in a store window, no rock, just nicely designed, different, and it is her wedding ring. She just started wearing it before we were married. Her choice not mine.

    This is marketing bs. The Times is always full of Rich People Porn, or Real Estate Porn. Jill got it right, if someone wants to give a gift to someone else for any reason, let alone to celebrate a new child, than that is great, but no quid pro quo and no standard gift, something personal.

  31. zuzu
    December 8, 2007 at 11:11 am

    Glad to know that you’re able to discern my entire financial and family background through my blog posts. I don’t “come from money” and I am definitely not “very upper class.” Not that it’s any of your business in the first place.

    It’s Mr. Hufu, Jill.

  32. December 8, 2007 at 11:14 am

    It’s Mr. Hufu, Jill.

    Ah… so that’s how he knows that I’m filthy rich. Noah Feldman must have told him.

  33. zuzu
    December 8, 2007 at 11:39 am

    And he’s on the road, not too far from you right now. Maybe you could meet up. ;)

  34. alsojill
    December 8, 2007 at 11:55 am

    I said this over at Feministing, but the actual idea of giving a woman who has just had a baby a present that is just for her- and not baby-centric, seems like a really nice, and possibly progressive, way to acknowledge her effort, honour the major life change, and celebrate her continued independent person-hood.

    EXACTLY.

    My mom told me several years ago that when I was born, my aunt brought my mother a necklace as a gift. Mom was incredibly touched by it–she was thrilled that someone had thought of *her*, not just of the baby, and since then she has tried to give the women in our family gifts for just them when they give birth. When my sister-in-law had my nephew last month, Mom went out and bought her a present right away.

    It’s not a “thanks for birthing this kid” gift. It’s a congratulations gift. I was surprised by this article both b/c it was framed as a semi-negative, ‘surprising’ trend, but also b/c it seemed so logical to me.

  35. December 8, 2007 at 12:21 pm

    Because it’s holiday time I’ve been thinking about gifts.

    The funny thing about gifts between partners is that the gift money usually comes from the same place. So, for example, if my husband spends $2000 on a piece of jewelry for me, he’s likely not spending that $2000 on our retirement, our investments, our home, our future child’s education… etc. So, for me, it can feel like a lose-lose situation. I mean, if we can afford $2000 on jewelry, then it makes a whole lot more sense for me to just buy the stuff myself than to drop hints and make registries and hope he guesses right.

    It’s then that it hits me: good gifts aren’t about the money they cost. Don’t get me wrong, anyone who says, “it’s the thought that counts” is either lying or stupid. You can’t give someone a roll of toilet paper and say you were thinking of them and that’s supposed to be a nice gift, it isn’t. But there are some really special gifts that do count. Time, for example. I’d rather have my husband’s complete, undivided attention for a weekend than any piece of jewelry.

    So, basically, being the holidays and all, I think gifts are good, but this emphasis on money and material possessions is just wrong. It’s the anti-gift. It’s saying, “I’d rather buy you off with a diamond than give you something you can really use, like a day off without the kids or my undivided attention or an amazing back massage or home-baked vegan cookies or a trip to Greece…”

  36. Psyche
    December 8, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    The thing about diamonds is that they’re very portable and they’re easy to re-sell. So if your husband leaves you in ten years and you’ve done nothing in the meantime but take care of the kids, it’s easy to convert your diamonds into cash to cover living expenses, put towards retirement, etc…
    Similarly, if your husband is controlling and your only access to money is through him, the ability to walk out with several months’ living expenses in a pouch of jewelry in your purse can be the difference between leaving easily and being stuck.

    Personally, I’d prefer to bypass Tiffany’s and have my husband just put the money in an IRA in my name only. But I can see how some people would find that rather disturbingly unromantic.

  37. December 8, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    Am I supposed to give my hubby a “seed present” then?

    “He gave you your sperm, now give him cufflinks.”

    No, but every time he masturbates, you should give him a nice gift to compensate him for your not being there to do your duty and produce a baby when he happened to ejaculate. Because as we all know, sexual activity should be exclusively about procreation, and when it isn’t, it’s the woman’s fault. Or the gays’.

  38. December 8, 2007 at 2:45 pm

    Whoops, looks like that one made it into moderation. :)

    It’s a fun game to play here to try and guess, looking at my comment before I submit it, whether it will get picked up by the filter or not. That one was pretty much a no-brainer, but I’ve been surprised before.

  39. Sniper
    December 8, 2007 at 3:20 pm

    I’d prefer to bypass Tiffany’s and have my husband just put the money in an IRA in my name only. But I can see how some people would find that rather disturbingly unromantic.

    Wow. Not me! I think that’s a great idea for a gift. I like the symbolism as well because it’s such a future-oriented gesture. Quite romantic when you look at it that way.

  40. Elizabeth
    December 8, 2007 at 3:58 pm

    Sigh. I guess I’m praying for the day we no longer must act as if the New York Times Style Section is really observing an important trend. As in, something that actually applies to a population of women more extensive than Some Annoying People The Reporter Dug Up Who Just Gave Birth And Got Bling.

    I mean, this is the entity that gave the world such important journalistic concepts as the “Vows” column. And now, the term “push present.” (Roll out that explanatory-journalism Pulitzer NOW!)

    Anyway, if somebody wants to give a gift to somebody who just gave birth, they should do it; it’s their business. I personally think it is nicer to give a “gift certificate” for a night’s babysitting, but I’m practical that way. However, whatever you give, please do not call it a push present. Now THAT would be an atrocity.

    Cranky mom of 2 signing off now.

  41. preying mantis
    December 8, 2007 at 4:01 pm

    “Relaxes you, pumps you full of b-vitamins (I don’t know if that’s true- it’s what my mom says) and helps your milk come in.”

    I don’t know if it’s true of mass-produced beers, but it’s definitely true of homebrews and most microbrews. It comes from the yeast used to ferment the sugars.

    As for the gifts, it seems like it’s something that would go either way depending on the circumstances and the couple. I do know that a little light clicked on for me when I saw the article over at Feministing. My best friend’s due in a week, and while the pregnancy has been medically normal, she’s been physically miserable since implantation, she had to go off her meds for it, and she’s been having body-image issues since she started showing (which was fairly early–the baby’s huge). Something nice that’s just for her, without any baby overtones, would probably be just the thing.

  42. Trish521
    December 8, 2007 at 4:07 pm

    After recently experiencing a stillbirth, trust me, the baby is gift enough.

  43. Betsy
    December 8, 2007 at 4:53 pm

    Ah, Trish521, I’m so sorry for your loss.

  44. December 8, 2007 at 5:26 pm

    “Glad to know that you’re able to discern my entire financial and family background through my blog posts.”

    Well, the fact that, unlike zxc, you can write a grammatically and orthographically correct English sentence does peg you as an aristocrat.

  45. Pansy P
    December 8, 2007 at 5:39 pm

    I’ll be honest, I’d never heard of a push present before I got pregnant until somebody asked me whether I’d told him what I wanted for mine. This, when I was about 3 months pregnant. My response was that I was pretty sure my push present was the baby. The same friend had picked out *her* push present before her first trimester was over.

    Anyhow, I had my little girl in September, and I’m actually glad my husband didn’t waste any money on a bauble. His time with her and his insistence that I have time to myself occasionally is more than enough. That, and buying me chocolate and beer. It helps with the breastfeeding, I swear.

  46. exholt
    December 8, 2007 at 5:51 pm

    Well, the fact that, unlike zxc, you can write a grammatically and orthographically correct English sentence does peg you as an aristocrat.

    With the implementation and expansion of mass public education from the 19th century onwards, one’s linguistic abilities has become an increasingly less effective marker of one’s socio-economic class. Met plenty of working/middle-class classmates who wrote beautifully. Conversely, I’ve met quite a few upper/upper-middle class classmates who could barely write a coherent paragraph, much less an entire essay.

  47. December 8, 2007 at 5:55 pm

    Exholt, I think PhysioProf was kidding, and was just trying to make fun of Mr. Hufu (currently posting under the name “zxc”).

  48. December 8, 2007 at 6:05 pm

    I didn’t get any push presents or whatever it is you want to call them, but what would have made me happiest would have been if people had acknowledged that I had graduated college 5 months before I had my first child. Everyone except my mother-in-law commented along the lines of “thank goodness you’re graduating before you have the baby.” Kind of made my finishing my college education unimportant.

    My mother-in-law was the only one to say congratulations. I did eventually ream my husband for that oversight, and he was quite embarrassed to admit I was right. He took me out to dinner for that one, admitting that there really wasn’t anything he could do to make that oversight right.

    For my second baby, he did bring flowers and did his best to help with #1. With both kids he tried to take care of middle of the night issues, but when you’re breastfeeding it makes too little sense to wait for a bottle to be heated. Points for trying, though.

    Frankly, I think for my first pregnancy a push present would have made things worse. He doesn’t dare get me jewelry ever, though. I spent 6 years working in a jewelry store.

  49. December 8, 2007 at 8:03 pm

    Anti- Cherry wheat would make a lovely beer bouquet- so would a good hefewiesen.

    I had my kid 6 days before my own b-day. Kids dad forgot my birthday, nobody else did though.

    The problem with this being in the times is that even if it is an issue of the upper class, the pressure to succeed and move up the ladder means that ideas like this trickle down into the middle class. A push present is a small example, but you have other things like helicopter parents and super obsession with extracurricular activities that add one more level of competition to make sure your kids have a chance in the world. That’s why these kind of articles in the times are such a problem.

  50. antiprincess
    December 8, 2007 at 10:31 pm

    Trish521 – I am so sorry for your loss.

    please take care of yourself.

    Heidi

  51. JenLovesPonies
    December 9, 2007 at 1:10 am

    The thing about diamonds is that they’re very portable and they’re easy to re-sell. So if your husband leaves you in ten years and you’ve done nothing in the meantime but take care of the kids, it’s easy to convert your diamonds into cash to cover living expenses, put towards retirement, etc…

    I wouldn’t plan to retire on diamonds, really. There resell value is complete crap.

  52. strawhat
    December 9, 2007 at 1:14 am

    I’ve never heard it called a “push present” – must be a New York thing. But I know the concept.

    Years ago, when we first got engaged, we went to the jeweler to get the ring sized. And while we waited for the sizing to be done, we browsed through the shop, with the cheerful and chatty jeweler pulling stuff out of the cases to let me try on — all sorts of things. I recall I put one big gaudy glob of large orange stones on my hand just for a laugh, and he said, “Oh, that’s not you — that’s for an Oak Brook mama” (meaning vulgar nouveau riche, not a sincere granola like my humble self). And when the ring was done, he had my sweetie put it on me and told us that it’s bad luck to take off a wedding ring or engagement ring, except if you’re giving it to the jeweler. Anyway, he was cute and we liked him. He said he sees young men twice: first when they’re getting engaged, and then when the first baby is born. And he said he tells the fathers to think about how long the mother was in labor when they pick out a present: the longer the labor, the bigger the stone. Hey, he’s a businessman. That’s what that article was: a business story.

  53. Sniper
    December 9, 2007 at 12:16 pm

    You know, I just realized I’ve given all my friends “push presents” when they’ve had their kids – usually stuff from The Body Shop. It didn’t occur to me to buy a present for the baby because, hey, what do babies know?

  54. Felicia
    December 9, 2007 at 5:25 pm

    I think the problem with push presents is that they reinforce the idea that the woman is giving birth for her partner, not for herself, so she needs to be compensated. As if a woman can’t decide for herself that she wants to have a child and wants to endure pregnancy and birth to have one. As Jill said, the connotation is that women just aren’t smart enough to make an informed decision about pregnancy.

  55. Chrissy
    December 9, 2007 at 8:31 pm

    Not that it matters, but I take issue with the poster saying that birth is “pushing a football out of an opening the size of a pencil.” That is mass exaggeration of the physical act, in which a woman’s body expands and stretches to accomodate the passage of her child. Some are more stretchy than others, but Please, if the opening was the size of a pencil, most of us couldn’t get pregnant, use tampons, or insert medication, etc. It is a feat of hard work, but not injurious like the poster implies…

  56. Ledasmom
    December 10, 2007 at 9:17 am

    Not that it matters, but I take issue with the poster saying that birth is “pushing a football out of an opening the size of a pencil”

    I suspect the poster may have been referring to the cervix, not the vagina itself.
    Seems to me that one might consider a gift after childbirth (“push present”? Could that be any more reminiscent of the lollipop the doctor gives a young child for not screaming excessively while getting a shot?) an acknowledgement that, no matter what sacrifices a partner may make during and after pregnancy, the pregnancy itself physically affects only the pregnant woman. That is, one might not give presents for actions, such a housework, that can be done by either person (one can make up for one’s partner doing all the housework by doing all the housework oneself) but might for actions that are only done by one and are physically demanding.

  57. Danielle
    December 10, 2007 at 6:04 pm

    The thing about diamonds is that they’re very portable and they’re easy to re-sell.

    As JenLovesPonies also pointed out, this is not necessarily the case. A large, great quality LOOSE diamond could sell for a reasonable amount of money, but moderately-sized, fair-to-good quality diamonds in a setting? Forget it. My sister’s a Diamontologist (did I spell that right?), and she tells me that most jewelry sold in jewelry stores are “fashion pieces” with a resale value of nil.

  58. December 11, 2007 at 5:30 am

    The thing about diamonds is that they’re very portable and they’re easy to re-sell.

    Yeah, like Danielle – I’ve seen a lot of evidence to the contrary in terms of re-selling diamonds.

  59. inge
    December 11, 2007 at 11:43 am

    Psyche @ 36: The thing about diamonds is that they’re very portable and they’re easy to re-sell.

    My older relatives always strongly insisted of having some gold and precious stones stored away “in case of bad times”, for pretty much those reasons, plus not losing worth if the government decides to pay its debts per printing press.

    I suspect most of the diamond jewelry offered today is overpriced in that regard, though.

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