A healthy baby is a bundle of joy but, in the United States at least, new Mums are wanting a present that costs a bundle as well - to reward them for the hard effort of giving birth. Such gifts are called 'push presents', but in Singapore, some see the trend as pushy.
Doting Dads here are increasingly splashing out on gifts, but as a celebration, couples stress.
They take a more romantic view, seeing them as 'Mummy presents' given more to mark the nappy event.
Jewellers Urban spoke to say they are seeing more examples of ga-ga Daddies buying a baby bauble.
The trend is 'slowly, but surely picking up', notes Kean Ng, assistant branding director of Lee Hwa Jewellery, judging by the customers the store sees.
Magdalene Eng, senior branding manager of another mid-priced jeweller, Goldheart, notes that the trend has been gaining in popularity. She attributes it to increasing affluence resulting in husbands choosing this way to show appreciation for their wives.
The trend of push presents as a bonus for the rigours of childbirth was reported in The New York Times last month, giving examples of Dads lavishing expensive jewellery and watches on new mothers.
The story also cited a survey of over 30,000 respondents by BabyCenter.com which found 38 per cent of new mothers received a gift from their mate in connection with their child.
In Singapore, presents are typically given during pregnancy or after the baby's delivery, and range from $2,000 holiday getaways for the couple to branded handbags and luxury watches costing as much as $6,000, say parents Urban interviewed.
Jewellery pieces such as diamond rings, however, remain the more popular gift option, according to four jewellers Urban spoke to. They say these gifts typically range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.
One Mum rewarded with her own special delivery for popping out a poppet is polytechnic lecturer Teo Kwee Bee.
The gift was unexpected, despite some pre-birth hints.
Teo, 40, reveals that when she was pregnant with her first child just over 10 years ago, she asked her husband, Teo Choo Siong, 41, if he planned on 'compensating' her with a gift for the pain of pregnancy and labour.
She says with a laugh: 'That sounds very materialistic. But it was really asked in jest. I wasn't expecting anything at all.'
A year later, the romantic hubby surprised her with a $5,000 Rolex Oyster Perpetual watch that he had saved up for.
It came with a handwritten note saying: 'Thank you for giving me such a wonderful child.'
GIFT OF LIFE
While the 'push presents' catchphrase has yet to catch on here, local retailers note that the gift-giving practice has been around for a while.
'Since we opened here in 1991, our sales assistants have been approached by husbands looking for a special gift for their wives on the birth of a child,' says Hew Yee Min, managing director of upmarket jeweller Tiffany & Co.
Still, a straw poll by Urban found that as far as the push present trend goes, most Singapore Mums aren't keen on the idea of a gift as a pay-off for the nine months of strain and pain to replicate hubby's genes.
Media research executive Wang Hui Yun, 35, received a $5,000 Rado watch after the birth of her son Matthew Seah, now three, but echoing the view of most of those polled, says: 'The real reward, after all those months of pregnancy, is my baby.'
Elgen Kua, 33, a corporate communications manager who sprang a surprise on his wife Loh Hsian Ming, 30, with a custom-made necklace from a private jeweller spelling her nickname, says: 'The present was most definitely not meant as some kind of year-end bonus for the five-hour labour my wife went through to deliver our daughter.
'What it embodies is my love and gratitude towards her for the sacrifices she made to carry our child to term and for putting up with the physical and emotional changes throughout.'
For marketing communications manager Andrew Liew, 40, who whisked his wife Daphne Ang, 38, to Hong Kong on a three-day vacation - his parents and parents-in-law took care of the three-month-old baby - the gift was meant to give his wife a break from the demands of being a first-time mother.
Marital therapist Khiang Whee Fern of Care Corner Counselling Centre says the trend of Mummy presents may be explained by husbands' increasing awareness of the emotional, physical and mental strain Mums go through.
This sensitivity, she adds, is mirrored by more husbands attending childbirth classes and accompanying their wives in the delivery room.
However, there are other ways husbands can demonstrate this appreciation, she says. For example, by sharing the domestic duties that a new mother is faced with.
'A material gift is a momentary expression of thanks, but husbands need to continue showing emotional support to wives as they bring up the child together,' says Khiang.
Theology student and first-time father Poon Song En, 29, who did not get his wife Carolyn Low, 28, a Mummy present, agrees.
'I didn't think a gift would have adequately expressed my thanks to my wife. It is more practical to stay up with her during night feeds and help her change the baby's diaper.'
Rado watch recipient Wang, however, feels the present she received helped 'spice up the relationship' with her husband.
'It's so easy to become overwhelmed by the newborn and forget that we're just as much husband and wife, as father and mother.'
|Daniel Tan's gift of a Kate Spade diaper bag sits between him and his wife Shereen Ng. He is carrying son Evan Joshua while she is holding twin daughter Jordan Alyssa.
Being a first-time Mum to two babies sure ain't child's play. But for Shereen Ng, 31, the challenge of tending to fraternal twins Jordan Alyssa and Evan Joshua is now easier to bear, thanks to the gift of a $600 Kate Spade diaper bag.
Husband Daniel Tan, 31, surprised her with the Mummy present during her confinement period.
Explaining why she was so thrilled by the gift, the junior college teacher says: 'It's easy for a new mother to feel down because her hormones are out of whack and she is emotionally overwhelmed by the baby.
'It doesn't help that all the weight gained during pregnancy makes one feel unattractive. Plus, everyone's attention is focused on the child and the mother is often neglected.
'So when my husband came home with a present just for me, it really made me feel special.'
For Tan, also a junior college teacher, the gift was about affirming his love for his wife.
'I wanted to let her know that things between us as a couple haven't changed even though we're now parents. She'll always be to me a wife first, and a mother to my children second.'
On the choice of the gift, he said his wife had mentioned in passing that she liked Kate Spade bags.
He had originally wanted to get her a Kate Spade handbag, 'something that isn't obviously a mother's gift' and that she could enjoy independently of the kids.
But the designs of the regular bags did not appeal to him. So he ended up picking a cheery- coloured diaper bag that comes with a detachable changing mat.
Ng uses the bag whenever the couple take the six-month-old twins out.
Tan's demonstration of affection towards his wife does not end with the diaper bag.
The couple make it a point to spend quality time together without the children, going out at least once a week when the twins are asleep at their grandparents' home to catch a movie or grab supper.
Ng says: 'Our children are important to us, but we believe that for the family to be close, the marriage has first got to be strong. Recognising our relationship as a couple, through gifts and time spent together, is part of it.'
|Kwek Siew Hwee shows off her Mummy presents of a pearl necklace and a Louis Vuitton handbag with daughter Rachel, son David and husband Andre Toh.
A bawling bairn may be a priceless gift. But Andre Toh, 36, reasoned that after wife Kwek Siew Hwee went through nine months of physical inconvenience and 13 excruciating hours of labour to deliver son David, she deserved something extra for herself.
'She did something that I couldn't do and she never complained about it. Plus, she gave me the best gift ever - my child,' says the director of transaction advisory services at a public accounting firm.
So he picked a $1,000 pearl necklace from Lee Hwa Jewellery for his 34-year-old wife, because she does not own many pieces of jewellery, and presented it to her a few days after she returned home from the hospital.
'It felt good to receive the surprise gift from my husband because it reminded me that even though there is a new addition to the family, his affection for me remains,' says Kwek, director of Hotel Re! in Chin Swee Road, who gave birth to David eight years ago.
She frequently wears the necklace to work for formal meetings.
When the couple had their second child, daughter Rachel, in 2002, Toh bought his wife a $1,500 lilac Epi Leather Jasmine Louis Vuitton handbag.
'She never used to own a branded handbag so I thought it would be a good occasion to get her one,' he says.
He chose to shop for the bag with his wife because he wanted to get something that would suit her taste.
As it was the first time she was getting a luxury label bag, she took her time: 'It meant a lot that my husband was willing to make time for me and follow me as I went from store to store comparing brands, designs and prices over several days.'
Toh adds in jest: 'That was the start of the slippery slope to her collection of luxury handbags.'
While the Mummy presents touched her, she says her husband's help in caring for the children means a lot too.
'He would wake up and help me with night feeds even if he had a important meeting the next day at work. So to me, the presents are a tangible reminder of his support as a husband and father.'