My twins turned one last month, and I’ve been reflecting a lot on the way this summer feels with them on the outside compared to how it was with them on the inside last summer. Duh, it’s a lot different.
As part of all the swirling preparations last year, I got something like a push present (even though we need to stop calling it that — but more on that later). Now I’m learning that these gifts for mama surrounding baby’s birth are highly controversial, so that’s what I’m here to discuss (and OK, defend) today.
A recent survey conducted by one of my employers, Today, showed just how controversial they really are: Among 8,000 respondents, close to half said they weren’t fans (and 26 percent said they didn’t even know what a push present was). Just 28 percent cheered the idea.
Evidently, some folks think they’re just tacky: Isn’t the baby the present?
Well, to those who say push presents are greedy and gross: Of course the baby is the present. No one’s in this whole pregnancy thing for a material gift. (And if you are, you’re going to be rudely awakened to reality pretty soon.)
But, I also feel like that logic is along the same reductive lines of the oft-repeated comment: “Well, as long as you have a healthy baby, nothing else matters!” This one-liner has always bothered me, because other things do matter. For instance, it matters that a mom makes it through the experience emotionally and physically healthy as well. That matters a lot.
And why should things have to be so binary anyway? Life has its pleasures and trials, experiential and, yes material, too — so can’t we just be real about that? I’m still me, even though I have my kids, who were — thank god — delivered safely.
So of course we all want healthy babies most of all — that’s the given. But if the budget allows (and obviously that’s a prerequisite), I say we mamas also deserve a very special remembrance of this major life event — and not just the kid(s)!
Look, I won’t mince words: My twin pregnancy was intense. I suffered a lot of physical discomfort, and I was barely able to walk for the last two months. My body changed forever after carrying 12 pounds 2 ounces worth of baby to term. In the end, I had a scheduled c-section, followed by a hemorrhage. And then I hemorrhaged money, especially in those early months (and not on luxury vacations, obviously). And instead of recovering from surgery with Netflix and a vat of ice cream, I pawed my way confusedly around two newborns around the clock, while my babies and my leaky breasts ran the show. (Much of this probably sounds familiar to many of you readers.)
I’m grateful for all of it — those are the circumstances that brought my angelic children to me. But read that paragraph again and tell me a sister didn’t deserve a special commemoration of the occasion if the family can afford it without sacrifice!
So yes, I will cop to getting a push present — but I’ll qualify that statement: First of all, can we stop calling it “push present”? The name itself is just so tacky, unuecessarily physiological, and plus it’s not even descriptive. For one thing, you might get it before your baby is actually born. And for another, mine was more like a surgery present, given I never did actually push.
My gift was a decision we talked about as a couple, as with all financial decisions. In the end, I was the one who picked out a fancy ring to my tastes. (That’s a glimpse of it in the photo above.) The purchase was made possible by funds my husband and I both earned — we live in a community property state, and we make mutual financial decisions. So it was most descriptively a family-supported token of the occasion, more than a gift from a husband to a wife. And that makes sense to me, as our household is a fully egalitarian one.
I was also fully aware that this would be the last time for a long time that this mama would command a chunk of the family budget for herself alone, and it seemed reasonable. (Plus, in addition to being a blingy gift, the ring also turned out to be practical: I wasn’t able to wear my wedding ring for at least a year on my swollen hands, and wore this one instead.)
In my family, we typically don’t go in much for material gifts — we write meaningful cards at birthdays and holiday time, and try to experience something together instead of collecting material stuff (which also becomes a burden on a household). We’re not the ones buying the ties and scented candles at the mall in December, I assure you that.
But this was no ordinary every-year birthday: This was a once-in-a-lifetime deal, and one that required a lot of physical and emotional effort, that fell largely to me alone. So although this bauble — and it’s still, of course, just that — means much less to me than my healthy babies (duh!), I also rock it with pride for the intense and wondrous experience it represents.