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Push presents for hard labor

The first time I heard the concept was about five years ago. The story was actually quite endearing. A friend had an emergency C-section and the doctor told her to remove all her jewelry so it wouldn’t need to be cut it off if the swelling got worse. Two days and one healthy baby girl later, her husband returned bearing take out and a sweet surprise. He put on her wedding rings and then slipped on another he’d had made to match the wedding band, with diamonds all around. She was floored. I could see why.

But as the years passed, the story got a little old. And so did all my friends’ similar stories: another baby, another diamond. Once I met a friend-turned-mother for lunch and she came walking up, smiling into the carriage. I oohed and aahed over the newborn. Then my friend flashed her newly acquired third ring, as if expecting just as much enthusiasm.

Suddenly, the idea seemed so contrived. I started feeling bad for the guys. As if I’d be waiting to hear what my friends got – a ring, a watch, earrings for twins – rather than whether they had a boy or a girl. And while a token of appreciation for carrying a child seems sweet, I started feeling bad for the guys. Gone was the simplicity I’d imagined, the bouquet of flowers or the pink or blue balloons on the mailbox. This push present phenomenon puts dads-to-be in a tricky predicament; if they don’t get her anything, they’re insensitive or cheap, and if they do, they’re a clich’, just checking off a box on a to-do list.

I shared my irritation about the matter with my husband. He seemed relieved and agreed it felt a little forced.

When my time rolled around a couple of years later, I reminded my husband not to get caught up in the push present peer pressure, even though hauling around an extra fifty pounds in the tenth month made me wonder if a medal would be out of the question.

Some at the table confessed that they too were waiting for something sparkly after the birth, and had even started dropping hints to their husbands months before. But others thought the whole phenomenon was ridiculous. One woman snapped that a beautiful, healthy baby should be reward enough. The prize is the baby, not the bauble, she reminded the rest of us with scorn. She talked as if the bejeweled were a bunch of bridezillas who obsess over the wedding, and forget about the marriage part.

That’s what I’d thought until that moment, but suddenly she seemed like a spoilsport. I started to think that such gorgeous gifts were not ridiculous, but fitting markers for a new phase in life. Much like the wedding band is a symbol of marriage, the push present is a tangible way to document another major milestone.

When I finally had my baby – after extreme nausea, midnight vomiting, swollen legs, sleepless nights, breath-stopping contractions and a labor that lasted days – I thought more than ever that it was high time for something shiny. I started to think that such gorgeous gifts were not ridiculous, but fitting. When my husband said he wanted us to go shopping together for a pendant of the baby’s birthstone I didn’t fight him. It would be something special that we could give to our daughter on her sixteenth birthday.

He called a jewelry store asking if they had a nice selection of citrine, the November stone, and they said no, adding that he should really consider diamonds. The jewelry industry now has yet another niche, selling birth like a Hallmark holiday, with a side order of guilt. Some retailers even have “new mom” registries, removing the last ounce of romance from of the process.

Instead, my husband hung up and we went together, pushing the baby carriage downtown, in search of citrine. We found a lovely drop pendant with matching stud earrings. I wore them out to a Christmas party, on our first night away from the baby, and I found myself reaching for them, a subtle reminder of our baby back at home. For me, this “push present” is a memento of all the bliss and anxiety of those first days. Such a monumental event is worth making a fuss over, even in a material way. If only it had a less graphic name.

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