Kim Kardashian will deliver her second child imminently, and for her troubles, she wants a Lorraine Schwartz diamond choker.
In a blog post titled “My Push Present,” published last month on her personal website (available only to paid subscribers), Ms. Kardashian expressed her desire for the necklace, valued somewhere in the vicinity of $1 million. “After nine months of pregnancy, it’s a sweet and well-deserved thank you,” she wrote.
Few would argue that women don’t deserve a thank-you, be it sparkly or spoken. Cultural rites of passage often come with well-wishers bearing gifts, and no wedding or bar mitzvah I’ve ever attended included a physical feat more painful than the Electric Slide, so childbirth ought to qualify.
But the phrase “push present” itself has become divisive. For some, it’s harmless fun; to others, it suggests unchecked privilege, skewed priorities or disrespect to mothers whose cesarean sections preclude literal pushing.
“The name is awful,” said Anna-Maria Meister, 38, of Princeton, N.J. “I do think women deserve something, but it feels patronizing.”
Regardless what you think of the idea, it’s hard to deny that the unfortunate name makes women sound like human slot machines waiting to spit out a jackpot.
And, perhaps not coincidentally, the practice seems most popular with the country’s higher rollers.
“I’ve had about 20 or so laboring women, out of a thousand-plus clients, who were given a specifically picked-out gift by their partners for having their baby,” said Judith Elaine Halek, a New York-based labor support doula. “The only common denominator was the couples were wealthy.”
Those with the disposable income may feel more pressure to deliver. “They’re a very big thing in L.A.,” said Justin Lacob, 35, a new father and a vice president at the TV network Spike, who lives in Los Angeles. Although his wife didn’t expect a present, he said, “I’ve heard women complain about what they received.”
The Los Angeles-based doula Tammy Leeper said: “I had a client’s husband give her a gorgeous diamond ring after pushing out their second baby girl. We drank Dom Pérignon in the delivery room.”
Gold has long been considered auspicious (the Magi reportedly brought it to Jesus) and is a traditional gift for mothers in many countries, particularly Greece and India. (The top Indian jeweler Malabar Gold & Diamonds even has “Baby Birth” listed in its gift categories online; not so at Harry Winston Beverly Hills.)
“Birthstones, as well as mother’s jewelry, have been around for a while,” said Karen Bachmann, a jeweler and professor at Pratt and the Fashion Institute of Technology, who said she first noticed the “push present” trend in 1990. “As a feminist, it rubs me the wrong way.”
Any gift for a new mother should have special meaning. “When she looks at it, it should remind her of the experience, of crossing over into motherhood,” said the New York City childbirth educator Patricia Rangel, who is curating a list of shopping ideas for her business website. (Ms. Rangel suggests an affordable piece of simple jewelry centered on the new baby, such as a birthstone, an engraved name or a charm in the shape of a peanut.)
If it’s the thought that counts — if one woman’s million-dollar diamond necklace, while clearly an extreme (“Too much? LOL,” Ms. Kardashian wrote with a wink at the end of her blog post), is another woman’s modest gold chain or bouquet of flowers — then maybe it’s simply the term that needs revamping.
“‘Push present’ feels vulgar,” said Amber Hammond, a 34-year-old mother of twins from Camden, N.C.
A few alternatives: an “accouchement award” or a “postpartum surprise.” There’s “nativity tchotchke,” although that could get confusing, especially with Christmas coming up.
Or if we’re feeling truly generous, in our hearts if not our wallets, we could just call it love and gratitude, in whatever form it arrives and with whatever price tag it does (or doesn’t) carry.