Baby

Do you think moms should expect push presents?

In our latest debate, two moms face off on the hot topic of push presents.

Illustration: Jessica Rae Gordon

Illustration: Jessica Rae Gordon

“Yes, moms should expect push presents”
Kelli Catana, mother of four, kellidaisy.com

For nine long months of pregnancy, we women eat well, exercise, don’t drink or smoke, and do everything in our power to deliver a healthy baby. When the big day finally arrives, we endure hours upon hours of the most excruciating pain we’ll ever experience. Then comes recovery time, feeding challenges and sleep deprivation. So what’s wrong with expecting a little something-something as a token of appreciation?

Read more: Push presents: 10 gifts for the new mom>

My husband didn’t buy me a present after my first child. I didn’t even get flowers. That was 11 years ago, and the “push present” trend wasn’t really a thing yet. But I’d just squeezed an eight-pound, 11-ounce baby out of my vagina. If that’s not deserving of a present, I’m not sure what is.

When he later mentioned that two of his friends had bought their wives jewellery to celebrate the births of their children, I took the opportunity to comment on what a kind and thoughtful expression of love that was. I think he took the strongly worded hint, because two years later, when I was in the hospital recovering from a C-section with my second child, he presented me with a stunning (and incredibly meaningful) diamond and ruby ring — the birthstones of both kids.

Since the ring was lavish enough, I didn’t expect a gift with my third child. (Fortunately, baby number three has the same birth month as my second.) But when we found out baby number four was on the way, I made it clear that delivering four kids in five years deserves another present. I suggested a new purse — one big enough for diapers and a bottle — and on his own, my husband picked out a beautiful Fendi handbag. (See? Lovely and practical.)

I can’t tell you how many anniversary and birthday gifts I’ve told my husband not to worry about because one of the kids needed new skates, we were saving for a family vacation, or we were just too busy. Giving birth is a big deal, and I think it’s perfectly OK to want something to mark the occasion. It doesn’t have to be expensive (although I have no problem with that!), just something that commemorates what is likely the most important moment of your life. Babies might be the best gift ever, but jewellery is a close second.

“No, moms should not expect push presents”
Katie Dupuis, Managing editor, mother of one, Type A Baby

The whole time I was pregnant, all I wanted was a prosciutto-and-brie panini. Every day, I dreamed about the cured meats and soft, creamy cheeses that were off limits to me. So my dutiful husband, Blaine, promised me that as soon as I gave birth, he’d go out and get me a celebratory sandwich, no matter the time of day. Our daughter, Sophie, arrived well into the night, but Blaine, being a man of his word, offered anyway. “Everything’s closed, but do you think I could find a 24-hour grocery store and buy the fixings?” he asked, through happy tears, while our minutes-old baby wailed in the background.

In that moment, I had to laugh at the ridiculous idea of sending my husband out for something as silly as a sandwich, so I’m sure it comes as no surprise that sending him out for diamond earrings or a fancy bag seems even more insane. It’s not that I don’t understand wanting to show gratitude to your partner — especially for something as monumental as giving birth to your baby — but the idea of spending scads of cash on a gift seems like consumerism at its very worst.

I also think that expecting a present post-childbirth demeans our amazing ability, as women, to grow babies (but that’s a longer story). With Sophie in my arms, I didn’t care in the slightest about the sandwich (it was only a sandwich!). Her little face, and her hand curled around mine, completely obliterated the thought that I could want for anything more.

Once we were home, Blaine waited on me hand and foot. When I struggled to breastfeed, he went in search of the right pieces for the breast pump. He found me a cup with a lid and a straw so I could lean over and take a sip of water while nursing (and he made sure the cup was never, ever empty). He took care of dinner. He cleaned bathrooms. He rubbed my back. He ran me baths and insisted I take naps. I wouldn’t have traded his careful attention (or that cup — I was permanently parched for months) for all the jewellery in the world.

Read more: Dad discrimination: Dads do laundry, too!>

If he’d bought me an extravagant present, I would have told him to take it right back. He and Sophie were — and always will be — gift enough. Not to mention, do you know how many diapers those diamonds would buy?!

A version of this article appeared in our October 2013 issue with the headline “Do you think mothers should expect push presents?” p. 146.