Push presents

Back 5 or 6 years ago when I was in the process of becoming a mommy, I hung out on a forum that had infertility, pregnancy, and mommy sections.   It’s amazing how much drama can ensue in an online forum environment.

One of the big debates, and something I had never heard of before, and have never heard of IRL, was whether or not Push Presents were appropriate or crass.

A Push Present, btw, is an expensive present, usually a piece of jewelry, that the baby daddy gives you for pushing out (or c-sectioning out) his offspring.  You know, for a job well done.  (#2 says:  Ewwwww.)

One of the things that I noticed in these debates was that the women who were heavily pro-Push Presents, of the “I DESERVE this piece of jewelry” arguments were also the ones who were always complaining that their husbands were never around and were always working.  The women who thought the presents were crass tended to have what seemed to be better marriages– or at least they complained less about their husbands on the internet, which may or may not be the same thing.  They tended to say things like, “It’s OUR baby, the BABY is the reward” and so on.

I’m not really big on jewelry (in fact, I may have told DH I wouldn’t marry him if he went into debt on an engagement ring), so I’m not really the person to ask about the suitability of jewelry as a post-baby gift (and I kind of like the idea of charm bracelets with birth stones… you know, all symbolic.  Don’t want one, but like the idea.).

But I will say that time is so much more valuable than any piece of metal and stone.  I would rather have DH taking me to Bradley classes, feeding me when I can’t keep anything down but smoothies, taking over my chores when I’m too exhausted to do anything… and so on.  There’s no expensive present in the world that could make up for that (even a butler/valet/housekeeper/personal assistant just wouldn’t do it– I’d rather have DH there than the most highly competent servant taking care of every need).

Are push presents still a thing?  2011 was the year of weaning off mothering forums so I’m no longer hooked in.  Had you heard of them?  What do you think about them?  And what do you think about the standard “he’s not around but he’s working so he can secretly buy something nice for YOU” trope that I don’t even enjoy in Christmas anime episodes?

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49 Responses to “Push presents”

  1. First gen american Says:

    Never heard of them before today. The only jewelry I wear is my wedding stuff and cheap costume jewelry necklaces, my favorite being one I found at a tag sale for $1.

    The more I hear about forums the less I like.

  2. First gen american Says:

    I guess in general, I think expensive jewelry is not how I want “our” household money spent, even if it’s for me. Plus, it’s the same reason why I don’t like fine china, because I lose and break stuff all the time and would be worried about losing stuff like that.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Yeah, I used to like jewelry back when I was little, but then my budding engineering little sister destroyed everything nice I ever got… so I just sort of stopped caring and don’t bother. I’m also afraid of losing and breaking expensive stuff. “This is why we can’t have nice things!”

  3. feMOMhist Says:

    not judging, but not a fan. The gendered dynamic of it freaks me out.

    I too weaned off my mommy forum, after 8 long years.

  4. Alyssa Says:

    When I was pregnant, this was definitely an on-going conversation on the online forum I frequented (I also stopped going there, shortly after Evan was born and the constant mompetion began :P). I used to joke to DH about what he should get me, but that’s all it was…a joke. He did get me a ring with Evan’s birthstone for Christmas, but that was a Christmas gift, not a push-present.

  5. julier Says:

    I first read about them in the Girl Friend’s Guide to Pregnancy (Viki Iovine). I personally think they are kind of silly. Plus, if I deserve a push present, doesn’t my husband deserve an “I put up with a cranky, sick, whiny pregnant wife for 9 months present”?

  6. becca Says:

    Push presents strike me as a lot less creepy than engagement rings and wedding bands. Which I understand why people would want- dowries in goats aren’t very practical these days, and tradition counts for a lot. But when I actually examine the phenomenon- I find it disturbing.

    Also, I’m sorry, but putting up with “a cranky, sick, whiny pregnant wife for 9 months” is just not on the same scale as going through pregnancy and childbirth. A surrogacy costs $100,000 or more. People (including wives) just don’t recognize things as having any value when wives do them. IBTP.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Huh, I would put all the extra stuff my DH has done at equivalent to what I’ve been doing. He’s been really amazing. Especially on the figuring out what I can eat and feeding me front, which was his least favorite part of the first pregnancy. Really I haven’t had to do much at all. Even with the mental load of what to do at pregnancy– he conscientiously took notes during Bradley class so I wouldn’t have to actually remember anything. All I really did was eat and incubate. But other than the m/s I have pretty easy pregnancies and delivery (hopefully this delivery will be at least as easy as the previous one– I’ve been told labor should be under 2 hours). DH is amazing.

      The surrogacy example isn’t a good one as the surrogate either has a partner taking care of her who is reimbursed only through her pay or she’s doing it all herself and is thus doing the work of both.

      • becca Says:

        I think it’s worth noting that there’s a huge range of experiences women go through with pregnancy and childbirth.
        I really wanna rant about how awful it was for me (even though I know many people had particular aspects much worse), but that’s a crummy thing to do on your blog. Let’s just leave it with “you couldn’t pay me 100,000 to do this again for somebody else”.
        And keep in mind, my partner is awesome in many respects, and of course he went to the classes with me and whatnot, but… well… there’s only so far Kegals will take you. And that’s not something he will ever have to worry about. In a sheer literal sense, there is no “equal partnership” in pregnancy, breastfeeding, and dealing with the changes to your body that may well be lifelong (and I’m not just talking stretchmarks).

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Well, in my case, I think DH suffered a bit more than I did and put in at least as much effort if not more.

        He had a much easier time of it actually *getting* pregnant for DC, but once DC was in place, it wasn’t so bad for me. Getting pregnant for the upcoming DC wasn’t as time-consuming, annoying, or painful for me (excepting the metformin ramp-up) this time around.

        Also, I loved breast-feeding and am SO looking forward to doing it again. (Why? It keeps PCOS symptoms at bay– I feel physically AWESOME when I’m BF and was bummed when DC weaned. I wanted to find someone else’s kid to wet-nurse. Actually being pregnant keeps PCOS symptoms at bay as well, which is another reason being pregnant doesn’t suck too badly for me, other than m/s– the alternative is annoying.)

        Oh, not being able to eat brownies really really sucked. My sister, my doula, a colleague, and DH all brought me brownies after delivery. Nom! I’m not really sure why it isn’t bothering me so much right now, but maybe in another 6 months. It may just be a 3rd trimester thing.

      • og Says:

        I don’t know. To me, even if a husband was 100% present and “putting up” with a cranky wife, nothing really equals the pain of carrying a child to term and childbirth. While you may have had a relatively easy pregnancy, I think that even easier pregnancies is taxing on your body. I’m not advocating a “push present” though, just saying that I don’t agree that even the most present/modern husband goes through something equal to a woman ‘incubating’ life. I guess I had so many pregnancy related illnesses, not even counting morning sickness where I lost 10 pounds on my 115 lb frame and was losing hair and was skin and bones (!), that my perspective is different, but I really know very few women who didn’t at the very least suffer a lot during the first 3 trimester and I know many others who had tough child births.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Nah, pregnancy can be awesome for women with PCOS. We spend most of our time broken. During pregnancy and nursing we’re not (assuming the baby doesn’t miscarry first trimester).

    • bogart Says:

      I’m with Becca on this one, and I mostly enjoyed being pregnant (let’s say 2/3 of it I felt better than I usually do), really, really wanted to be pregnant, and a pretty trouble-free pregnancy. Still, all the risk and all the discomfort (>0) was on my body.

      All that said, simply the label strikes me as vulgar and … no. I don’t have an engagement ring, either (and don’t miss having one, though I wouldn’t have objected on principle, either — except that we were flat broke at the time with two college-bound kids to support so maybe I would have).

  7. Perpetua Says:

    I too am in the ranks of those who find the gender dynamics of push presents creepy. (They are still a “thing.”) I also don’t have an “engagement” ring, which I also find unnecessary (no judgments! just not my thing). On the other hand, I’m not surprised by what the Grumpies noticed in the forums. It seems to me like these might be the same women who demand things for Valentine’s day (another thing I find creepy) and anniversaries. What I think it means is that they feel unappreciated and not respected – forcing their husbands to make a grand gesture at certain big moments acts as an expression of love and gratitude and acknowledgment that I’m guessing they don’t get the other days of the year. (Cue sit-com husband telling his wife that her morning sickness is “all in her head.”) I think I used to be more into V-day when I was younger and dated jerks, but now that I’m past all that and have a partner who is a partner then I couldn’t care less – proposals, push presents, Valentine’s day, anniversaries, even birthdays. I don’t heap giant expectations on my partner’s head about making grand gestures. But I also don’t judge women I know who do expect those things, because that’s what helps make their relationships work; it makes them feel valued and loved.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      That’s really insightful. Yes, I bet you’re right. (I’d sort of thought of it as going the other direction– she complained that he didn’t spend any time with her and made her do all the housework because he was too busy working to get money for Stuff she wanted. But maybe he would be working and not helping out anyway and she’s demanding compensation for that.)

      Can I feel sorry for them? I wouldn’t want to switch with them at all.

      • Erin Says:

        Me neither! It reminds me of my favorite lines in Buffy, when Buffy waxes nostalgic for the glamor of the distant past, & Willow’s like, Yeah, still I prefer the vote. Makes me laugh every time.

  8. Cloud Says:

    I’d never heard of them. I’m with you- I’ll take an equal partner over a piece of jewelry any day.

    But I do wear my wedding band and engagement ring happily. I don’t care what they used to mean. To me, they mean love and commitment.

    And I’ve seen some mother jewelry I rather like- maybe in the Uncommon Goods catalog? I can’t remember. But I don’t wear much jewelry right now. Maybe when the toddler finally outgrows the “pull on all shiny things” phase.

  9. Leigh Says:

    I think that push presents are weird. It implies that the pregnancy is completely on one of you and that you don’t really have a supportive husband. I love that your husband is going with you to all of the classes and everything! That is exactly what I want in a husband if I/we choose to have kids.

    As for engagement rings, I’m totally with you on the not going into debt. I also would refuse to marry someone who spent two to three months of my income on an engagement ring. I simply don’t want a ring that big or expensive – I would feel weird wearing it all the time.

  10. rented life Says:

    Push presents are weird–and I think there’s something to be said about the marraige too: my good friend got a push present for her first child (a really lovely necklace), but it annoyed me how hands off and absent her husband was for everything. She endured alone and the necklace was a “sorry this sucked for me” type of symbol. She also has a huge (gorgeous, he does have good taste) engagement ring. Extremely expenseive.

    I love jewelry.My engagment ring was such a surprise–my husband saved, didn’t go into debt, and he had meaning behind what he picked, which he explained when he proposed. It’s perfect. Several years later we saved for expensive Christmas gifts and I requested a piece of jewelry (again, we saved and I love jewelry so I wear it a lot.) My only request was in stone and color. (Not a gold person.) I have a beautiful custom ring that he put a lot of thought into. I think sometimes the comments on jewelry can lead women who love jewlry to feel a little like we’re not supposed to. (I’m not saying anyone here is like that–I’ve just seen that cycle on forums where jewelry gifts get mentioned. Maybe we should all stay off forums. They don’t seem helpful.)

    • feMOMhist Says:

      I love jewelry too :) I buy it for myself often, as with my outstanding teaching award stipend which sent my straight off to Tiffany.

      • rented life Says:

        haha, I misread this and thought you were giving yourself and outstanding teaching award as a piece of jewelry :) I’ve fallen in love with a local designer, his original pieces are amazing and it’s who husband worked with to design my one ring. I have my eye on some earring I want him to design for me when I save some money.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Unless a couple is super-wealthy, there are trade-offs with super expensive jewelry (and not all jewelry is super expensive… but that’s kind of the point of the push present). So nothing wrong with liking jewelry, but at what trade-off? Me, I’d rather have DH not working overtime or a second job when I need him to be home taking care of things. That seemed to be a pretty common trade-off on the forums. Jewelry or time but not both.

      • rented life Says:

        I don’t feel it’s that cut and dry. I suppose the trade off was he got recording equipment? worth as much as my ring? We’re not super weathy (especially with the mistake of moving where we are. We’re still paying for that dumb idea.) but we didn’t work overtime for these things either. We just saved, gradually. I mean, if the argument is trade-off, then we need to make it for ALL “expensive” purchase, not just jewelry. Books, tech gadgets, decorating the home, anything someone could possibly want could be expensive on someone’s budget.

        I don’t feel like I lost anything that year, or in teh cheaper jewwlry I bought, but I also don’t feel like I lost anything when I did work extra to afford things husband likes. Then again, I’m also married to a guy who finds jewelry and makeup sexy (something most people find awful fo me to say.)

  11. femmefrugality Says:

    I’ve never heard of these before. But I’m all about it! I feel completely respected in my relationship and I do get enough attention. He’s amazing. But if he wanted to give me something to commemorate that living hell, I wouldn’t feel discriminated against. I’m also not pissed at him that I haven’t received anything to date, though.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Out of curiosity… since you’re a pf blogger, how would he pay for it? Out of joint finances or does he have his own account he could dip into? Does that make a difference?

      • Dr. O Says:

        Just to chime in here, Hubby paid for my spa gift card out of our joint finances (of course, almost all of our finances have been joint since we got married). So really, it was more of a gesture saying “Hey, I know how hard you worked this week, and the past 9 months, and I want to do what I can to show my appreciation – whether it’s changing diapers, stepping up for pediatrician appointments, just being a partner.” I probably would have taken some spa time regardless, but it was sweet that he knew that was something I would want and used it to say thank you.

  12. gwinne Says:

    As a single mother by choice, I find the entire phenomenon–and frankly most conversations about husbands as they relate to pregnancy/childbirth, including the current thread–as rather strange. Ditto the phenomenon of a couple saying “we’re pregnant.” Really? I’ve never felt as in my body, as much a woman, as when I was pregnant. Which isn’t to say that I think only mothers are “real” women or any of that nonsense, just that pregnancy is an exclusively female experience, and one that I never wanted to share with a man, even at the most difficult moments. A housekeeper would have been nice, but not a husband…

  13. bethh Says:

    I heard of the idea of the father giving the new mother a gift, but calling it a push present makes it sound incredibly gross and tacky. yuk.

    The concept strikes me as super old school (Southern, in my head) and representative of a time when the father sat in the waiting room smoking a cigar and reading the newspaper… not part of a modern partnership. I don’t know of any of my friends who’ve done this; I don’t have kids so can’t comment from personal experience.

  14. anandi Says:

    I had never heard of this either until some new mama friends told me about it. It seems like it’s more a tradition with sorority-types (my typical crowd of engineering-types never talked about this). I hate the name “push present” – yuck. Interesting that you make the connection to the always working absent husband+SAHM – that’s the impression I get around here as well.

    Hubby changed more diapers than I did in the first 10 months or so (it’s possible he’s still ahead overall) and is super-involved/equal partner so I don’t feel the need for a present. I do LOOOOVE jewelry though, so he randomly bought me some orange sapphire earrings about 4 months after BabyT was born. I love the random presents vs. supposed to be for some occasion ones.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I don’t know that the woman was always a SAHM (unless they already had a kid… this was an infertility forum, so probably less of that than average). Often they were both working class, or she was working class and he was upwardly mobile, and he was working an extra job for money so she was both pregnant and doing all the childcare/housework etc. (Sometimes she would have a Gymboree habit and credit debt he didn’t know about… ah, forum drama.)

      I have changed very few diapers in my life. I was in charge of inputs. DH was in charge of outputs. I think I got the better deal!

  15. frugalscholar Says:

    I just learned this term today–from an upscale accessory website. Guess I missed my chance b/c the children are in their 20s. Or could I pretend I had a rain check????

    What this says about the relationship between the parents…in my view, is not good.

  16. Dr. O Says:

    I’m familiar with the idea, but never heard the term “push present” before. My mom has a very simple and pretty set of earrings she got from my dad when they had me, and a stuffed animal after giving birth to my brother. I can’t imagine demanding one, but I don’t think I’d ever see it as crass.

    Hubby gave me a gift card to a spa I love when we got home from the hospital with Monkey. I enjoyed my day of pampering 6 weeks later, before going back to work, and also treated myself to some new clothes that fit my postpartum body, while he stayed with Monkey. I thought it was rather sweet, and a relaxing day before heading back to grind.

  17. Comrade PhysioProf Says:

    I’ve never heard of such a thing.

    And why can’t you eat brownies when you’re pregnant? Unless they’re f*cken weed brownies?

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I have PCOS and insulin resistance. I can’t eat brownies first trimester because they give an increased risk of miscarriage. I can’t eat them third trimester because they cause the baby to be too big which leads to various complications and increased risk of c-section. My DC, in fact, is the first normal-sized baby in my family– my dad was 11lb (and a natural birth… from a 4’9 woman– birthing hips seem to run on both sides of the family)!

      Second trimester it’s not so risky, though probably still has some of the problems of third trimester but there’s more time to recover from them.

      I can totes eat ice cream though.

  18. notofgeneralinterest2 Says:

    Never heard of push presents. When I had my kids, I thought the baby was the present–it sure felt like a huge gift to finally have this amazing little person!–and being a family was the point.

  19. Molly (Mike and Molly's House) Says:

    I’ve known women who have gotten push presents but I didn’t realize their was a name for it. It seemed odd to me at the time but I know much of what I did was odd to them!
    Years ago Mike got a vasectomy for my Christmas present. What would that be called?

  20. mom2boy Says:

    Is it the timing of the expensive jewelry as a present in the case of a push present or expensive jewelry as a present? Because, in a pooled $ household, any expensive (relatively speaking) gift, jewelry or otherwise, is an already agreed to way of spending the $ I would assume. My sense is that the people giving push (or birthday or anniversary) gifts of expensive jewelry aren’t working second jobs to buy them. I would never pick a thing over time with my partner but we do buy each other things out of our pooled $.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Well, on the forums the women who demanded the push presents also had husbands working overtime or second jobs or just generally had more money worries. I’ve never actually encountered the idea IRL.

      I would be seriously pissed off at my husband if he used our joint money to buy me a not previously agreed upon expensive gift. We have important financial goals– if I wanted something else more than meeting those goals, we’d discuss it. (And this is a reason DH has an allowance.)

  21. CG Says:

    Agree that the term is vulgar. Ew. Leaving that aside for a minute, though, I put this type of gift in the same category as the husband bringing home a present for the wife from a business trip (which my husband does not do). I am an adult. I don’t need rewards or presents for being a good girl while he was gone. Nor do I need a present for doing the hard work of growing a person, because I chose to do it (now, I don’t mind getting lots of help from him while pregnant and afterwards–that’s not a reward, just kindness). These types of gifts are patronizing and would make me feel very uncomfortable.

  22. MutantSupermodel Says:

    I’ve never heard of the term. I can’t remember if I did or didn’t get a gift after I had baby #1. I think it’d be a sweet gesture but as a surprise thing you know? I mean pregnancy and labor are difficult and I think it’s nice if he recognizes that. Then again, there are other ways to recognize that kind of thing during and after pregnancy that would most likely have deeper and better repercussions.

    Then again…

  23. Oh Yes, The Kids | Oilandgarlic's Blog Says:

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