Monday, September 17, 2012

The Baby is the Prize

When I was pregnant with Daisy, Zane got some advice from a stranger (because when you're having a baby, people give you free advice), that he better have a push prize ready for me when the baby came. When Zane got home from work, he told me this, and I said,

"A what?"
"A push prize."
"PUSH prize? Gross..."
"Yeah, she said I should get you jewelry."
"Jewelry? Isn't the baby the prize?"

The answer is yes. The baby is the prize.

Since then, I've heard this term "push prize" or "push present" a few different times. We mentioned it to our midwife who said that she had a mom deliver a baby and then say, "Where's my push present?" to her husband. I was pretty shocked by that.

I'm not really a gifts person, so maybe that's why I don't get this, but I think a push prize reveals a lot about our culture, mainly entitlement.

A woman expects to get a gift because she carried and delivered a child. Where's the logic there? Where's the present for the African woman who just had her baby in a field and went back to work? Where's the prize for the woman who had a scheduled c-section? Is the prize because I had to carry a baby for nine months? Granted, pregnancy is hard, but who's choice was it to carry that baby? "Oh, I'm suffering through pregnancy. Husband, buy me a prize for when this baby finally gets out of me. You have done nothing, and I have done everything." Where's the husband's prize for caring for his pregnant wife for nine months? Who gets a push prize for the single mom who's brave enough to have a baby on her own?

What about the baby showers? Were all those gifts not enough?

The baby is the prize. Surviving nine months of pregnancy and however many hours of labor is the prize. Health is the prize. Living in a country with modern medical technology is the prize. Laying on your tummy again is the prize. Life is the prize!

Madonna said it best, "We're living in a material world, and I am a material girl."

Before we tried having kids, I might have been into the push prize idea. I used to say, "I'm going to have five kids." Then after two years of not being able to get pregnant, I changed it to, "Please, can we have even one? I'll be happy with one, if we could just have that." After infertility, I can't imagine what thing could be more precious or exciting than meeting my own child.

Expecting a push prize is taking too much pride in having a baby. Childbirth is incredible and super difficult, but it's also very normal.

My push prize was Daisy. It was our midwives, doctors, and nurses helping us through labor, delivery, and post partum recovery. It was our friends and families bringing us meals, encouraging us, cooing over our daughter, and supporting us through our first weeks of parenthood. On top of all that, we still got lots of gifts for Daisy. We didn't expect it, and we didn't deserve it. It was incredibly humbling.

I think every mother should receive love and help, but the attitude of "I deserve this" taints gifts. I think expecting a push prize decreases of the value of the baby.

Am I missing something? What are your thoughts? Should childbirth be equivalent to a birthday, Christmas, or anniversary? If there are legitimate reasons for a push prize, let me know, because I know I'm pretty one-sided on this.

P.S. I bought myself some new clothes after pregnancy. If that is the same as a push prize, then I'll concede. But if that's just getting new clothes because your shirts don't fit anymore because you're breastfeeding, then I stand my ground.
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