Pity the poor florist. Amend that. Pity the poor father-to-be on a budget.
These days, giving a mere bouquet to the mother of your child just won't cut it. No sirree.
Hang outside many maternity wards and you'll see a high-end trend in action. Many new moms are going home with two bundles of joy -- one in a blanket, one in a little velvet box.
Given traditionally after the baby is born, so-called push presents -- stacked 18K gold rings studded with birthstones; baby shoe charms drizzled with diamonds; gem-encrusted timepieces mounted on pink or blue croc-skin bands -- are increasingly the yuppie rage.
A fancy expression of gratitude for "pushing" out the baby is nothing new in other parts of the world, especially England and India, where new mothers have been scoring sparkly loot for hundreds of years.
Helena Krodel, spokeswoman for Jewelry Information Center, a New York nonprofit trade association that educates consumers about fine jewelry and watches, has seen this trend swell in the last few years and sees no sign of it dying down, at least in this generation.
"Today's parents -- children of baby boomers -- have grown up accustomed to quality and luxury," she says. "They know how to shop, and are really brand-aware. At important events in their lives, they want the best money can buy."
And jewelry companies are more than happy to comply.
A recent advertising campaign by Mayors Jewelers in Florida spoke to this issue. "She delivered your first born: now give her twins," accompanied by a pair of multi-carat diamond earrings.
Not a cheap trend
Gund, best known for teddy bears, has gotten in on the act, too, coming out with a fine jewelry collection. The star of the show is the Birth Diamond necklace -- a big fat rock hanging on a Mr. T-sized chain. It can cost up to $3,950.
Krodel is all for it. "These gifts are also seen as tokens of appreciation and way of saying, 'I value family and tradition,'" says Krodel. "Jewelry is also a reminder to the world that you have this beautiful child."
Mushy stuff aside, push presents are an almost surefire way of improving labor relations.
"At least I knew I wasn't going to get yelled at," says Mitch Morgan, a 34-year-old Weston, Fla., father of three who presented wife, Pam, 35, with two diamond heart pendants and a whopper pink sapphire ring -- before each birth. Total estimated cost: $7,000.
"Sure, I got brownie points," says Mitch, a CFO at a real estate firm, "but I'm gonna get ripped by my friends at work when they find out."
Understandable. This is one trend that doesn't come cheap. Especially if you're planning on having a big brood.
Rick Gomez, 40, of Davie, Fla., was one of the lucky ones: the birth of his first child, Jessica, coincided with Christmas.
Gomez, a sales rep, killed two birds in one swoop by getting wife Carina a whimsical Aaron Basha shoe charm made of ivory and gold, decorated with diamond ducks. (A special meaning for the couple because the infant's coming-home outfit had duckies on it.)
"Believe it or not, but 'quack-quack' was her first word, not Mommy or Daddy," says Carina. "The jewelry definitely represents her."
But even when you do shell out, there's no guarantee she'll like it.
"For [son] Max, he bought me a Humpty Dumpty charm, but I just didn't want my son to be associated with that," says Carina, who exchanged the $3,400 roly-poly white-gold egg man for a race car studded with diamonds. "My son is very into cars now, so it's weird, it seems like the presents dictated their personalities. I'm looking forward to seeing what the next one will be."
She will know soon enough. Carina, 35, is pregnant with the couple's third child.
Pressure can mount for these giving types. Could it be because they don't have a choice in the matter?
"I can see that there would be this sense of expecting something for the following births, if you've already received one present," says Debbie Hochman, 37, a Plantation, Fla., mother of three who snagged diamond studs, a mother of pearl chain and a diamond tennis bracelet after her deliveries.
Husband Jeff Hochman, 39, would rather the pricey tokens be called "appreciation presents." The trial lawyer views the gems in a less material way.
"Debbie had two summer babies, she went through a lot; especially with the first birth," he says. "Pregnancy is an emotional and uncertain journey, and at the end of this journey you get this wonderful child. I wanted to celebrate that."
The Hochman family seems to have hit on the right reason to run out and cash in the IRA: It's a nice thing to do.
"Gift giving is something that people like to do; they're just looking for an occasion," Hochman says. "And to buy a pure luxury item for your wife, if you can, is a way of showing her she's special."
Good luck, guys.