'Push present' a divisive phrase

Reality TV star Kim Kardashian is wearing a diamond choker which she says she likes to get as a push present for delivering her second child with rapper Kanye West.
Reality TV star Kim Kardashian is wearing a diamond choker which she says she likes to get as a push present for delivering her second child with rapper Kanye West.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NEW YORK • As she announced last Saturday, reality television star Kim Kardashian has delivered her second child - a baby boy born to her and rapper Kanye West.

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, she expressed her desire for the necklace, valued at about US$1 million (S$1.4 million). "After nine months of pregnancy, it's a sweet and well-deserved thank you," she wrote.

Few would argue that women do not 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 have 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 is harmless fun. To others, it suggests unchecked privilege, skewed priorities or disrespect to mothers whose caesarean sections preclude literal pushing.

"The name is awful," said Ms Anna- Maria Meister, 38, of Princeton, New Jersey. "I do think women deserve something, but it feels patronising."

Regardless what you think of the idea, it is 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 labouring women, out of a thousand-plus clients, who were given a specifically picked-out gift by their partners for having their baby," said Ms Judith Elaine Halek, a New York-based labour 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 LA," said Mr Justin Lacob, 35, a new father who lives in Los Angeles.

Although his wife did not expect a present, he said: "I've heard women complain about what they received."

The LA-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 Perignon 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.

Top Indian jeweller Malabar Gold & Diamonds has "Baby Birth" listed in its gift categories online. Not so at Harry Winston Beverly Hills.

"Birthstones, as well as mother's jewellery, have been around for a while," said Ms Karen Bachmann, a jeweller 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 New York City childbirth educator Patricia Rangel, who is curating a list of shopping ideas for her business website.

She suggests an affordable piece of simple jewellery centred on the new baby, such as a birthstone, an engraved name or a charm in the shape of a peanut.

If it is the thought that counts - if one woman's million-dollar diamond necklace, while clearly an extreme ("Too much? LOL," 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 is simply the term that needs revamping.

"'Push present' feels vulgar," said Ms Amber Hammond, a 34-year-old mother of twins from Camden, North Carolina.

A few alternatives: an "accouchement award" or a "postpartum surprise". There is "nativity tchotchke", although that could get confusing, especially with Christmas coming.

Or if we are 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.

NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 07, 2015, with the headline ''Push present' a divisive phrase'. Print Edition | Subscribe