Expectant fathers, listen up: push presents are the all-American rage. We’ve adopted Valentines and Halloween, so why not embrace the loving tradition that is the push present? All new mothers want to feel cherished, and nothing says 'I love you' like diamonds and luxury handbags.
Before the birth of my daughter, I assumed I would receive a push present. Despite being married to an accountant, I am showered with flowers at every occasion, so it seemed as natural as childbirth that I would receive fancy perfumes, flowers and fabulous jewellery.
On the day of the birth, the greatest gift was my baby. No material gift could have outshone cuddles with my newborn –for which I was fortunate, because no other gift materialised.
Fast forward to the following day, and I was sore, tired and in need of a pick-me-up. I needed something more luxurious than my maternity satin nightie, and more indulgent than lounging around in bed all day. Most of all, I needed to know my husband loved me, despite my baggy eyes and saggy belly.
After an anxious wait, my mother arrived at the maternity suite with two fresh cotton nighties and Dior perfume, wrapped with a flourish expected of the city’s most expensive store. This was accompanied by the rather aptly named Mumm champagne and a box of chocolates that weighed in heavier than my baby.
All was well in paradise, until I noticed a discernible lack of gifts from the new dad. Perhaps his gift was too enormous to fit inside the dimensions of the maternity suite? Or was he still labouring to find the perfect present? Perhaps he was unsure of what to buy, what with advertising slogans pulling him in every direction: “Because you’re worth it”, “A diamond is forever”, “Just do it”.
Whenever he was away from the hospital, I imagined him enduring the pain of paying for an 18 carat diamond eternity ring, a Greek Isles cruise, or pure gold skincare.
Weeks turned into months, with no push present in sight. (Nipple shields and maternity bras fit for a heifer didn’t count as anything but baby accessories).
As I realised the push present had missed its due date and somehow absconded altogether, it became a silent topic too painful to discuss.
I had gone through nine months of exhaustion, childbirth and a painfully slow recovery for what? A baby? Sure, she was my life and soul, but where was his sacrifice for our growing cherub? Surely he expected to lose his healthy bank balance to honour my loss of healthy waistline?
I didn’t care that he spent his evenings cooking and cleaning, was a martyr at the midnight wake, and was forever doting on our gorgeous girl. He had missed his moment to present the spontaneous gift I was highly anticipating.
Finally I broke my silence. When I mentioned that I was penning a column about 'push presents', he inquired: “What are they?”.
What did he mean? Did he not know the singular most important gift after an engagement ring?
Suddenly, all those ante-natal sessions seemed like a waste of time. Too much talk about pregnancy and childbirth and too little on how to conceive and deliver the perfect gift.
However, it was too easy to blame the system. I had failed in my wifely duties. Oh, the regrets! Why hadn’t I capitalised 'PUSH PRESENTS' at the top of the birth plan, or suggested a present the way most girls initiate their engagement ring –by posting pictures of diamond rings on the fridge?
At least, I realised, love's labour was not lost! His neglect was due to a lack of basic general knowledge, rather than over-accounting for a year’s expenses on a single income.
I believe it is only fair to give him another go, so before becoming pregnant again, he will receive my list of ten must-have presents. He can then choose the top eight or nine he deems most necessary. Call it a birth registry, if you will. I call it 'an independent woman’s way of feeling cherished, by helping to choose it herself'.
Grace Cormack parents and writes at home in Auckland, and still believes in the value of push presents —but more so in the importance of dropping hints.