Category Archives: Delivery

Take Two

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It’s been a long time since I’ve posted.  In my defense, I’ve been a bit busy.  Earlier this month, I delivered our second beautiful baby boy.  And so it begins.  Again.

I figured we would be finished with one.  WE were good with one.  He fit well into our lives, and it was just starting to get easier.  We had it all figured out.

But then we would watch him playing alone.  Watch him watching the other kids.  Watch him begging us to “Play!  Play!”  And we knew.  We had to give him a sibling.

So we started on the journey again.  Oh, it wasn’t without doubt.  We had many many conversations about the process of pregnancy.  I had a pretty rough pregnancy with our first, and wasn’t looking forward to doing it again.  My husband wasn’t thrilled with the prospect of picking up the slack while I would be theoretically laid up on a couch for 9 months.  But, we figured, it was only temporary.  And hey – they say that every pregnancy is different!  Maybe this one would be easier!

So we persevered.  And were shocked and over the moon when that second pink line appeared, ever so faintly.  It was going to happen!

And then… Pregnancy.  To save you the suspense, they were right.  Every pregnancy IS different.  This one, unfortunately, was much worse.

Granted, I am now two years older.  And more tired, chasing around a toddler.  But when it HIT, I was not prepared.  The nausea – let me tell you about the nausea.  This was not a little bit of seasickness.  This was literally throwing up 10-15 times a day.  This was opening the fridge, and catching a whiff of something that I swear was rotting, and bending over the kitchen sink while everyone else swore they couldn’t smell anything.  This was vomiting after walking past a batch of “rancid” strawberries in the grocery store.  This was putting my work conference calls on mute (thank GOODNESS I have the flexibility to work primarily from home) to vomit into the wastebasket.  It was horrible.  Literally the worst feeling I have ever felt in my life.  And it NEVER ENDS.

Doctors wanted me to take Zofran as they were worried about dehydration.  Zofran, FYI, is an anti-nausea medication that is commonly prescribed to chemotherapy patients.  Are there risks, I asked?  Minimal, they answered.  And so of course I turned to Dr. Google.  And subsequently decided that no matter how bad it got, I wouldn’t take it.  Paranoid?  Maybe.  But I could never live with myself if something went wrong; I would forever blame the fact that I had opted to take the Zofran.

So I tried acupuncture.  Multiple times.  Didn’t work.  Tried the ginger, the Vitamin B, the teas… In short, I tried everything.  Nothing worked.  Depressed.  Isolated.  Staying out of the kitchen helped.  Avoiding strawberries helped.  Throwing away the pear-scented hand soap that I could smell on my husband or son a mile away helped.  But other than that, there was nothing to do but subsist on the couch, in my office chair, or in bed until it finally began subsiding around 5 months.

Then the relative bliss of the next few months.  I felt alive again!  Could make (and keep) plans!  Could finally think beyond the misery of the next moment to hours, days, and weeks ahead.  Pulled out of the depression.  It was wonderful.

Now the focus went beyond my own misery to the baby.  I had done a CVS again, so was assured that genetically things looked okay.  I was seeing a wonderful OB (who had delivered my first child) and a top perinatologist, so knew I was in good medical hands.  So far so good.

Then the next challenge.  The perinatologist lets me know that my HCG levels are too high in about the 25th week of pregnancy.  Since genetic issues can be ruled out, it likely means that I could later struggle with placental insufficiency.  What is placental insufficiency?  Well – it basically means that the placenta is working too hard, too early, and will likely “poop out” (doctor’s words) towards the end of my pregnancy.  He concludes that he wants to continue to see me to measure baby’s growth, placenta’s growth, and ensure we catch it if it starts to fail too early.  He also advises that he does not want to see me go beyond 39 weeks of pregnancy, even if all looks well, because at that point the risks outweigh the benefits in a woman “as young” as I am and with some of my test results.

So we continue to see both doctors.  Everything seems to progress normally and after 32 weeks, I am “graduated” from the perinatologist.

About two weeks later is when the baby’s growth really begins to slow.  In fact, almost decrease.  I am given Non Stress Tests (NSTs) to ensure all looks okay.  And then come the scares.  This baby NEVER MOVES!  I share that with my OB.  Sure enough, she does an NST and his heart rate is flat.  She sends me to the hospital for two hours of additional monitoring and a biophysical ultrasound.  Ultimately all looks okay.

Then a couple of weeks later, a car accident.  A minor one, but I am shaken.  And baby stops moving.  Once again am sent to the hospital for monitoring and ultrasound.  And baby looks okay.

Then a third time, on Christmas Eve.  Go in for a routine OB check-up, and they notice via NST that the baby’s heart rate is once again flat.  Am sent again to the hospital for the same monitoring routine.  Four hours later, we are discharged.  Baby looks okay.

And then the final and fourth time.  Am once again in the OB’s office when they see only a flat heart rate on the NST print out.  Go to the hospital.  After several hours, am told that baby appears okay.  Am also told that I am having contractions (which I have begun feeling).  My doctor calls.  Says that if we would like, she will induce tonight because of all the scares with the baby… But that she recommends just waiting another day or so.  She feels that I will go into full blown labor on my own by the following day.

We take her advice.  Come home and I labor, albeit inconsistently, through the night.  The following day my husband goes to work.  I labor inconsistently throughout the day.  At times during my walk with the dog and toddler, I have to stop.  I finally give up and plop the toddler in front of Sesame Street so that I can sit myself.  I do end up being able to take a short nap.

Hubby gets home and we take a family walk around 7pm.  I have to stop several times, take breaths, wait for the pain to pass.  But the contractions are still inconsistent.  I get ready for bed, and lie down about 9pm, figuring I can get some sleep before I am certain I go into full blown labor the following day.

By 9:10pm, the pain is pretty bad.  Enough that I am shuddering through the contractions.  But they are still 10-15 minutes apart.  We call the hospital.  They say to wait until the contractions are 5 minutes apart.  Hubby asks if we should call the friend who will be watching our toddler during the hospital stay.  I say No – we have time – and go and lay back down.

By 9:17pm, I am almost crying through a contraction and have him place the call.  By 9:20pm, contractions are suddenly 3-4 minutes apart and I can’t take them.  I have him call the friend back to see how far out she is.  He packs the car and gets everything ready so we can just leave once she arrives.

Finally she is here.  We fly out the door and I am contracting all the way to the hospital.  We arrive and I have to stop 4 times between the car and the entrance.  The entrance is closed due to construction!  They say we have to go around the back entrance.  Hubby pleads with them, they take one look at me, and they usher us through.  We get up to Labor & Delivery.  Hubby calls the front desk: “I think we’re having a baby!”  Panicked.  They let us in and I am bent over a chair, contracting.  Nurse says “We’ve got a live one – Put her in Room 3!”

Within 2 minutes I am in a hospital gown and they have confirmed I am 5cm dilated.  I am begging for the epidural.  They have to wheel me into the delivery room.  Once there, only 10 minutes later, I am 8cm dilated.  I am BEGGING BEGGING BEGGING for the epidural.  Crying.  They are telling me to “breathe through the pain.”  Screw that.  GIVE ME THE EPIDURAL.

Turns out some paperwork wasn’t completed.  Then they didn’t put my IV in correctly.  Then they realized I don’t have a hospital band and they don’t even know who I am.  The anesthesiologist finally arrives and calls a TIME OUT.  The nurses huddle and then start over.  I am begging him for relief.  He advises me that at this point, an epidural will kick in too late.  “The head is RIGHT THERE.”  I tell him I don’t care: GIVE ME THE EPIDURAL.  The nurse says I need to go through a full bag of IV fluids first.  I shout at them to CALL MY DOCTOR.  I want the epidural!

Then finally.  The head nurse comes in and says she has to talked to my doctor, and she has advised them to give me the epidural.  They do so, reluctantly.  I wait for it to kick in.  Through another contraction.  Then two more.  The contractions are fast and furious now – no time in between.  I still feel everything: the checks, the catheter, everything.  I complain between the searing pain.  They say they told me this would happen as I am too far along.  I ask when my doctor will be here.  They say within 30 minutes and don’t push yet.  I feel the urge to push but I am not delivering this baby without her.  More tears.

Finally my doctor walks in.  “Thank God you’re here!”  She takes one look at me, and turns to the nurse “Um, doesn’t look like your epidural is working.”  She begins to suit up.  “Where are my booties?”  Nurse: “I don’t know.”  Once that is figured out, she asks the nurse why nothing has been sterilized.  The nurse tells the doctor that SHE is supposed to do that.  Hubby and I stare in disbelief as the nurse continues to argue back until the doctor, being the bigger person, simply does it herself.

Finally it’s time.  They let me know that I am going to need to push.  I wail like a baby.  I can’t!  I am too scared!  It hurts too much!!!!  I CAN’T DO IT!!!!

They prod me more aggressively and I give a feeble push.  Baby shifts.  Contraction ends.  Second contraction.  Second push.  Stronger.  Crowning.

Then: “The cord is around the baby’s neck and his heart rate is dropping.  We need to get him out this next push.”  And that was all it took.  Gritting teeth.  Sobbing.  Grunting.  Pushing.  And he is out.

More tears.  Of joy this time.  The doctor expertly unloops the cord from around his neck.  He begins crying.  He is red and flushed.  They lay him on my belly and we hold him.  Rocking.  Crying.  Joy.

Unlike with my first, who experienced a traumatic delivery and was immediately taken from me, we are able to luxuriate in close to two hours of skin-to-skin time with our baby.  The time flies by.  We are left alone.  It is the peak of the entire pregnancy.  Those fleeting golden moments.  Just baby, mother, and father.  Precious.

Finally they take him and weigh him.  6 pounds and 11 ounces, much smaller than my first baby.  They bathe him.  Hubby takes pictures.  I watch in awe.  He is perfect.  The moments are perfect.  He is brought back to us for more bonding.  And I notice that my heart has immediately expanded.  Is overfilled with enough love for both of our children.  Dripping.

And I know that our family is complete.

Delivery

Last night, friends of ours had their first baby.  A beautiful bouncing boy.  They happened to deliver at the same hospital we had used.  I am so happy for them and the adventure that they’re embarking on, and can’t help envisioning future playdates, family field trips, etc.  It also got me remembering our own birthing experience almost 5 months ago.

At the time I was nervous, scared, in pain, and exhausted.  Now, of course, I look back with nostalgia – And am only now able to really appreciate the beauty and miracle of the whole event.

Sunday, 2:30am:  I awake from my half-slumber (real sleep is damn near impossible those last few weeks of pregnancy) with some abdominal pains.  Nothing new… I’ve been having Braxton-Hicks contractions for weeks now.  Glad I’m now off work though so that I can hopefully sleep in after another anticipated sleepless night.

Sunday, 3:30am:  Ugh, these pains are getting really annoying.  I know they’re not real since they don’t radiate in my lower back, as I’m told real ones will.  Only in my lower abdoment.  So just go away already!

Sunday, 4:30am:  Okay, this is really starting to hurt.  I’m gonna start tracking them so I can call my doctor tomorrow.  Where’s that Contraction Counter app?  Okay, here we go.  Start, stop…  Start, stop.  About 10-15 minutes apart.  Still only in my abdomen though.

Sunday, 5:00am:  Owwww – That one HURT!  Made me tense my whole body up.  Okay it’s going down…  Breathe… Relax.  Glance over at hubby for support.  He is sound asleep.  Gently shake his arm.  He grunts and pulls away.

Sunday, 6:00am:  Confused.  These Braxton-Hicks are getting pretty strong.  How strong can they get?  I know they’re not real since I still have yet to feel any lower back pain.  App says they’re still about 12 minutes apart, but some even longer than that.  Surprised hubby is still sleeping through all of this.

Sunday, 7:30am:  Hubby yawns, rolls over.
Honey, are you awake?
Mm.
I keep having more Braxton-Hicks.
Do we need to go to the hospital?
No I don’t think so.  I only feel it in my lower stomach.  Not in my back.
What does that mean?
I think they’re only real contractions if I feel them in my back.
Are you sure?
Yeah.  You can help me time them though.

Sunday, 8:30am:  Hubby is upstairs making breakfast.  I call my sister.  She doesn’t pick up.  So I text: Braxton-Hicks not going away.  She calls immediately.
OMG are you in labor??
No I don’t think so.  Only feel in my stomach, not back.
Yeah, usually you feel in the back if it’s real labor.
It hurts though.
How far apart??
I dunno, like 10-12 minutes…
You’re in labor!!
No I’m not.  They’re not that bad.  Once they go down I feel fine.
YES, THAT IS LABOR!
Intensity is not unbearable.
Because it starts out slow and then it WILL GET WORSE.  Where is your hubby?
Making breakfast.
Making breakfast!?!  Have him call the hospital!  I’m getting dressed.

Sunday, 9:00am:  Just in case this turns into something, I send hubby to pick up a smoothie and some oatmeal.  I am not hungry whatsoever, but my sister and mom friends have all told me to eat before I go to the hospital (as they won’t let me at that point).  My sister also told me to shower before I go to the hospital.  So I do.  And the pain is getting worse.

Sunday, 9:45am:  By this point, each contraction has me bending over the counter or table to clutch onto something.  These are getting really strong.  But STILL… Only in the abdomen.  Hubby calls hospital.  Nurse asks to speak with me.
How far apart are the contractions?
About 10 minutes or so.
What is the intensity?
I dunno, getting a bit worse, maybe like a 7-8?  Then I’m fine.
Where is the pain?
Only in my lower abdomen.
Are you feeling any lower back pain?
No.
Okay.  So it sounds like you’re experiencing strong Braxton-Hicks contractions.  Your body is preparing for labor, but it doesn’t sound like actual labor.  Of course we would have to check you to make sure.  It’s up to you if you want to come in.  We can check the baby for any signs of fetal distress if you want.
Okay thanks.

Sunday 10:15am:  We decide to go in and have them check on the baby.  We pick up the hospital bag just in case.  On the ride over – Contractions becoming much more intense.  Who knew Braxton-Hicks could get this bad??

Sunday, 10:45am:  Checked into hospital.  They are taking vitals and monitoring contractions to see if I should be admitted and will let us know.  Pain now becoming really intense.  First tears during a contraction.  This is the first point I realize – these are no Braxton-Hicks!  Hubby holds my hand (or rather, I dig my nails into HIS hand) and reads me the monitor levels: Okay hang on, another one is coming, it’s going up, up, up… Okay it’s leveling out… Hang on, it’s leveling out… You’re done now, it’s going down, down, down.

Sunday, 11:00am:  Become inexplicably angry about a conversation between a patient and doctor that is happening in the bed next to us.
I think maybe my water broke?  I was wet all over so that’s why we came in.
Yes, it definitely broke.
Oh no.  Can we go home and come back tomorrow?  We have a birthday party to go to.
Uh… No.  If your water breaks, you are going into labor.  You will need to stay here for observation.
Oh shoot.  Really?  Can’t I just call my doctor and have her release me?

Sunday, 11:30am:  Doctors confirm I am in labor.  Now they want me to walk around the hospital floor to speed things up.  Really??  So hubby and I waddle around the floor.  Each contraction has me bending over a windowsill, a counter, or a table.  People walking by and looking.  Embarrassing.

Sunday 12:30pm:  My doctor calls.  She is not on duty, but I told the hospital to call her anyway.  They would not.  So I called a friend who could contact her.  Doctor is wonderful.  Reassures me right away that she will be here.  Also reassures me that she told the hospital to give me the epidural ASAP (my birth plan = epidural as soon as possible, and my doctor knew that.  Hospital would not give it).

Sunday 1:15pm:  EPIDURAL AT LAST!!!!!!!  Ahhhhhhhhhhh….

Sunday 2:30pm:  Sister arrives.  I’m in much better spirits since the epidural.  Somewhat relaxed.  Just waiting.  Even napping a few minutes here and there.

Sunday 7:30pm:  Besides having to continually fight for more pain medication (to this day, I will never understand why the epidural administrator was so reluctant to give me more, even when I expressed my pain levels AND showed full function in my legs and lower body to address her concerns of numbness), things have been going smoothly.  Nurses keep checking dilation levels, which are proceeding as expected.  We are watching some music awards show on television.  Hubby and sister eat burgers.  Hospital allows me to drink cranberry juice and eat popsicles.

Sunday 7:45pm:  My wonderful doctor is back to break my water.  Who knew they use basically a plastic crochet needle?  No pain.  But then WOW a flood of water.  Keeps coming out and out.  Warm.  Sticky.  A LOT.  I suppose this is why L&D patients are carefully laid on beds covered with doggie pee pads.  More water.  I ask the nurse how much is going to come out.  She said it will keep coming out until the baby is born.  Oh and there’s something else, she says, no big deal but we did see some meconium in the water (this means that the baby’s first bowel movement has occurred in utero; not a good thing).  I immediately freak out.  What!!  Oh no!  What are we going to do??  It’s fine, she says, we will have people ready to immediately clear out the lungs once he’s delivered.  We will closely monitor but it should be fine.

Sunday, 9:00pm:  Nurse says we are getting close to the point of pushing.  Get ready to have a baby tonight!  We’re calling your doctor back in.  Sister is thrilled.  I’m still worried about the meconium.  Nurse gives me an oxygen mask and tells me I need to use it for the baby.  So I do.

Sunday, 11:00pm:  Showtime.  They remind me to keep using the oxygen.  It’s time to push.  Finally.  For a 10-count each time.  Takes a few times to get how to push in the right way.  Okay, got it now.  Out of breath.  Wow, not so easy.

Monday, 12:30am:  Still pushing.  Hard.  With literally all my strength.  HARDER, HARDER!  The nurse and doctor are annoying me.  I AM ALREADY PUSHING AS HARD AS I CAN.  HARDER, says hubby.  I snap at him.  And then I tell doctor that he has not moved a bit.  It’s been an hour and a half, but I can feel he is not moving down.  She nods.  I become more irritated.  So now what?  How long do we keep this up?  Nurse calms me.  She tells me that typically if there is no progress after 2 hours, they will proceed to c-section.  Okay, I figure, at least there is a backup plan.

Monday, 1:00am:  Still no progress at all.  I’m becoming exhausted.  The 10-counts are becoming more drawn out.  From time to time, the doctor has me push for a 15-count.  And the baby has still not inched a bit.  Frustrated.  We’re now at 2 hours.  Doctor knows what I’m thinking.  Let’s try just another 15-20 minutes, she says.  I am angry, not sure why she keeps willing something to happen that clearly won’t.  But I say nothing.

Monday, 1:30am:  Still not a bit of progress.  I am convinced that the baby simply won’t fit through the pelvic bone.  I keep telling them all – He won’t fit.  He’s not moving down.  They don’t really respond, but I can tell they are getting discouraged too.  Hubby has stopped counting.  I look over at sister and she’s half falling asleep.  Everyone looks tired and disappointed.  I keep pushing.

Monday, 1:45am:  The doctor and nurse have now left the bed, although they are still in the room.  I hear the doctor tell the nurse to begin preparing for a c-section.  I hear the nurse on the phone with somebody.  Hubby and sister are sitting, discouraged.  I suddenly have a burst of energy.  I will be damned if I worked this hard to end up with a c-section!  I am angry.  KEEP COUNTING, I scream at my husband and sister like a maniac.  (As an aside, I never understood how important the counting was until I experienced it – It is the only thing keeping you sane during each push – Knowing that you only have 6 counts left, then  5, then 4, etc).  My sister perks up.  She stands up, I know she’s exhausted.  But she’s forcing a smile for me.  Okay, you can do this, keep it up, you are doing great!  I will count for you!  You’re doing so good!   I feel the contractions and I know when to start pushing.  I push and she counts.  ONE… TWO… THREE….  You’re doing so good!  Don’t give up – push push!  You’re doing amazing!  I am just concentrating everything on her, her voice, her counts.  And pushing, pushing, pushing.

Monday, 2:00am:  I vaguely hear the doctor and nurse discussing c-section logistics.  I don’t care.  I am still concentrating 100% on my sister.  She is counting, loud, encouraging.  I keep pushing with every contraction.  And then suddenly – I felt it.  A nudge.  An absolute movement inside.  HE MOVED!  OMG, I shouted, he moved!!  I felt him move!!  I start shaking, adrenaline.  Hubby stands up.  Sister squeals.  Doctor and nurse come rushing over to check it out.  Doctor feels.  I push through another contraction, this time with them all there.  He moved again!!  I am deliriously relieved.  I see doctor nod at the nurse.  I just keep pushing.  Eyes clenched, pushing.  I open my eyes and now the doctor is in some sort of bomb suit, complete with full face shield.  The nurse is manipulating the table.  I look over at my sister.  She is literally jumping up and down, clasping her hands, thrilled.  Hubby is wide-eyed, shocked.  It hits me that it’s happening.

Monday, 2:31am:  The next 30 minutes are a blur.  I don’t remember them.  My recollection is 1 or 2 more pushes and the baby was delivered.  But clearly it was another 20-30 minutes.  I feel him being delivered.  I hear the doctor say, sunny-side up!  THIS is why it was so difficult!  (That means he was a posterior delivery, face up instead of face down).   He is laid on my tummy.  I am in shock.  See hubby cut cord.  And then they immediately take him away.  The room suddenly fills with people, activity.  Teams of people are running in. I am dazed.

Monday, 2:33am:  Suddenly I notice he isn’t crying.  No sound.  The nurse tells me that the people running into the room are NICU doctors.  I panic.  He is on a heating pad on the other side of the room.  There are too many people around.  I can’t see him.  They are hovering over him.  I shout to my husband, WHAT’S WRONG??  Why isn’t he crying??  What’s wrong!!!  He is confused, doesn’t know.  I shout to the nurses, the doctors, WHAT IS WRONG!  WHY ISN’T HE CRYING!  Nobody responds.  I catch a glimpse of one arm on the table, completely limp and blue.  I’m panicking.  Nobody is paying any attention to me.  Heart pounding.  WHAT IS WRONG WITH MY BABY.

Monday, 2:34:  The sweetest sound in the world.  Baby cries.  Screams.  I exhale.  The NICU doctors are leaving.  Now people are starting to pay attention to me again.  Nurse finally stops avoiding eye contact with me.  And I know it’s going to be okay.  I’m not able to have the Golden Hour with him, as they’re still working on him.  But it’s going to be okay.

Ongoing:  After that, it’s all a blur.  I eventually am taken to Recovery, where the parade of doctors, nurses, test specialists, etc. begins.  So much for rest until we get home!  Visitors come.  I am exhausted and everything is surreal.  I have to stay an extra day than planned in the hospital for my own recovery.  The difficult birth was tough on my body.  I am at some point reassured that the meconium never reached the baby’s lungs.  And he is alert.  Everyone comments on how alert he is, and we notice it too.  So that’s good.  More doctors, nurses in.  Questions.  Instructions.  Checks.  Pokes.  Blood.  Half-listening.  I’m hot, sweating.  Nurse constantly coming in and imploring us to turn off the air-conditioning.  Just ready to go home.  Ready to start.  Ready to be a family.

And then we were.  That beautiful November day when we took our baby home for the first time.  So scared to drive.  So scared to carry him up the stairs.  And then just sitting on the couch with hubby, starting at what we created.  In awe.  And ready for the adventure to begin.

(And for the record, I never did experience the lower back pain during labor).

Push Presents

A friend of mine recently sent me an article on the concept of Push Presents.  I think he was surprised that these even exist, and he made the comment that no mother of his child should ever expect to receive one.  So it raised the question – should new fathers engage in the practice of purchasing a push present for the new (or second, or third, or fourth time) mother?

What the heck is a “push present,” you might ask?  Simply, it’s a gift that a new father gives to the mother of his child upon birth or shortly thereafter.  It is meant to commemorate the birth of a new child, and to celebrate the mother who has carried and delivered that child.

I’m told that this gift-giving tradition goes way back, but that it’s only been in recent years that it’s become commercialized under the Push Present moniker.  Of course, jewelry and gift companies have begun jumping all over this bandwagon to capitalize.  Yet still push presents remain, at best, controversial and, at worst, unknown.

Why the controversy?  Proponents of the practice see it as a token of affection and appreciation to celebrate the new mother’s act of carrying and delivering a new baby.  In some ways, it’s intended to thank her for the months spent carrying the child and then successfully delivering the child; or for the burden and stress that was put onto the mother physically and/or emotionally during pregnancy.  Some fathers purchase a gift that can become an heirloom to later be passed on to the child, while some focus on something solely for the mother’s enjoyment.  For some, it’s a simple yet thoughtful and meaningful gift.  For others, the expectation is that the gift lives up to a certain standard of value so as to be proudly displayed to friends and family (somewhat like the engagement ring phenomenon)?

Opponents of the practice dispute it on moral grounds.  Why should the new mother, who is being given the very best gift in the world, expect a commercial bauble on top of it?  The gift itself is almost seen as cheapening the event.  It’s furthermore seen as buying into the materialistic values of today’s society and implies a sense of trying to “keep up with the Joneses’.”  In addition, it is argued that the money spent on the push present (very often a pricey memento) could be put to much better use if applied to child-related expenses instead; supplies, college fund, trust, etc.

This is relatively new territory for etiquette experts, so there’s not really any guidance on that front.  It really leaves the decision up to the individual family, for better or worse.

So what do I think? 

I’m in favor of the push present.  I like the idea of something commemorating such a beautiful event.  I see it as similar to the wedding day gifts that new brides and grooms exchange with each other – the wedding itself is of course the biggest gift, yet a small souvenir given to your new spouse provides a memento to look back on and recall that wonderful moment.  Same goes with engagement rings – why the heck does a woman need an engagement ring??  She doesn’t.  It’s simply a keepsake, a reminder, of the moment that two people agreed to spend their lives together.

That said, I do agree that push presents have become a bit commercialized for my taste and that the pressures to purchase a bigger or better or more expensive gift have become too strong.  I much prefer a more intimate and meaningful gift, or something that can later be passed on to my child with the story of what it meant or when it was given.  Really it’s the memory behind the gift that’s important vs. the gift itself.

I also think it would be a nice gesture for the new mother to gift the new father with something as well.  I know, I know, the last thing any soon-to-be mom has the energy to worry about is a new father gift, but it can be something small and meaningful.  Even just a special card sharing your thoughts and feelings.  Or something handmade, or even just a homemade coupon book with redeemable coupons for babysitting, back massages, Daddy’s night out, etc.  Something to celebrate his involvement and support throughout the months of pregnancy and then through delivery.

My husband did give me a push present.  He gifted it several days after the birth, once we were home and somewhat settled.  A beautiful watch that could later be passed down.  I love it.  But what I loved even more was the card he wrote.  The thoughts he shared about this new journey that we were embarking on together.  The words are what made the gift special.

So to each his own, but I do see the pressure to buy push presents growing amongst new fathers.  I’ve definitely seen many local mothers talking about and showing off their push presents to friends.  I only hope it doesn’t get to engagement ring proportions, where the focus is more on the present than on what it represents.

What about other mothers – are you in favor of or against push presents?