Crossposted at Jezebel.
Understandably, parents are eager to memorialize pregnancy and the birth of their child (well, the nicer parts of them, anyway). Some of this is done informally by parents or relatives themselves. Earlier this summer I took my 4-year-old niece for her first ever haircut because my sister loves long hair and couldn’t bring herself to get it cut, but I’m a big meanie with no soul and it didn’t bother me to cut a little girl’s butt-length hair into what seemed to me a much lower-maintenance, reasonable length. But I digress. The point is, my sister’s one requirement was that I save her hair and bring it back in a ziploc bag. Not one or two curls; all of it. So I handed over to her a freezer-size bag full of a lot of hair. Many of us have baby books from when we were young where our parents saved our first lost tooth, hair from our first haircut, or other things deemed to have sentimental value.*
But an industry has also arisen to help parents turn every step of the pregnancy, childbirth, and infancy process into a precious memory, whether it’s paying to get a video of the childbirth or the enormous number of scrapbooking supplies that provide an array of materials and pre-printed statements to help you express your joy.
RudolfoRabulous sent in a coupon for a product that takes this process of turning every single event in a pregnancy and child’s life to a new level. If you buy an e.p.t. pregnancy test, you can send in a coupon for a FREE promotional “keepsake gift”…a pouch to save the used pregnancy test in, to “remember the moment you knew”:
I am sure there are people who treasure their used pregnancy test, perhaps because they were trying to get pregnant for a long time or wanted a baby more than anything in the world. I’m not trying to deny the importance that finding out you’re pregnant has for people who are actually happy about it. But…e.p.t. has created purple pouches you’re supposed to send in for so you can keep a peed-on stick in it (notice the coupon says, in bold, “Please do not send in your stick”).
This strikes me as part of the trend to treat increasing amounts of our lives as unique, precious moments that require formal remembrance through some type of physical creation/artifact, rather than something to remember fondly as a non-material memory. Technologies such as film and video cameras, and consumer products such as physical and digital scrapbooking materials and the wide array of “keepsake” items you can buy, both allow and encourage this process. It’s not that the desire to have physical reminders of important moments in our lives is new, we just have a much greater variety of ways to do that now, and many have become quite cheap (digital photos, for instance, have no cost, really, once you’ve bought the camera, unless you want to print them out). Those two factors mean we now have the ability to turn many more life events from intangible memories into an end product, either on our own or with the aid of the items provided by a helpful memory industry.
* Am I the only one who wasn’t really sure what to do with this stuff when my mom decided it was time to hand it all over to me? What am I going to do with my old teeth? Why on EARTH would I want my umbilical cord? I kept the baby book itself but all the bottles and baggies of accompanying biological materials went in the trash.
And what would you do if your mom gave you her used pregnancy test? Would you be excited or touched? Or creeped out? Or just confused/indifferent?