Sunday, January 8, 2012

Top Fifteen List: Birthing Songs

Its time to start getting excited about my baby's upcoming birth. This pregnancy has been nice, albeit slightly confusing because I feel like I have very little to prepare. We've got all the stuff for either gender of baby. I know exactly where it is and know that it can be set up quickly when the time is closer. Knowledge wise, I'm prepared. If anything I know too much and it can get in the way of enjoying a nice normal healthy pregnancy. My birth path is solid and secure. I'm approaching this new birth with confidence that I know how to birth babies and I'm trusting that I am prepared for whatever is coming my way (knowing that its probably going to awesome).

The confusing part is the wait. What do I do with myself in the meantime? 9 months is a long time for feeling prepared and ready and needing to put off the basics until later on. My answer has been in a combination of distraction/keeping myself busy (which I've been doing through certifying as a doula and midwife apprenticing) and inner work.

One thing I felt like I could early on in the pregnancy (starting about 15 weeks) was to expose the new baby to the voices of his/her life and music. From my daughter's pregnancy, I have a birthing playlist of music that I love and enjoying listening to during labor. Why not start listening as soon as the baby has ears to hear? During the day, I put the playlist on for background music or I put in my earphones and sing my favorite songs. Many of these songs have a message that reminds me of the special sacredness of carrying and birthing a baby or contains a message that I would like my children to internalize, or its reminds me of my feelings in labor and gives me a form of expression to those feelings, or its just a song that makes me happy regardless of what is going on around me (for example, Bohemian Rhapsody is on there).

The list contains 60+ songs for about 4 hours of music. I won't list them all for you, but I'll share my favorites. I couldn't fit it into a Top Ten list, so here's my Top Fifteen songs to enjoy while in labor*:

1. Hear You Me (May Angels Bring You in)-- Jimmy Eat World
This one reminds me of singing a baby into its new home, as well as singing a loved one into the afterlife. Listening to this song makes me think of my dad and remembering that he's not on the earth to share grandparenthood with my children always makes me sad. But I'm also reminded that I believe that he's in a new existence on a different plane and that he knows and loves my children and he continues to love me. I'm also reminded of the circle of life that as loved ones die, I'm blessed to be in my childbearing years and I can balance the losses with the gains of new family members. This song serves to invite my dad into my birthing space and to know that we are being looked over by angels.

2. It is You (I Have Loved): Dana Glover from the Shrek Soundtrack
I've blogged about this song before and why I find it so meaningful. Because I had encountered a good deal of loss before my children were born, I didn't feel very connected to this life. It felt like I had nothing keeping me tied to the earth when it felt like my whole family was gone already. I wish I could say that falling in love with my husband made me feel connected to earth life, but it wasn't until my son was born that I felt like my place was here and I was needed for an important purpose. Turns out that it was my children that I loved all along and I needed them to come into my life to feel connected to life. I hope that also serves to explain the tagline of my blog to you.

3. Good Morning Starshine: Oliver
If I could cue any song to play at the moment of my child's birth, it would be this one. I'm not planning anythings elaborate to ensure that happens, but I love how easy the song is to sing to a small child. Its especially poignant to sing this as the child's welcome to the world. For each child, I have designated a special song that I sing throughout the pregnancy and continue to sing to them after their birth. For Willem, it was "It is You I Have Loved." For Belle, it was "For the Beauty of the Earth." And for whoever this one is, its "Good Morning Starshine." I expect I'll be able to annoy the pants off a teenager who does not want to wake up by singing this song at wake-up time in a few years.

4. I Want to Break Free: Queen
This one just makes me laugh. I imagine a fetus experiencing contractions and working its way into the world would share the sentiment of this song. I also find this song appropriate when I get to that point in labor where I just want it to be over and have my new baby in my arms.

5. There's A Song in My Tummy: Laurie Berkner
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I adapted this song so it could be sung "There's a baby in my belly and she wants to come out...and when she does she's going to cry and shout..." Thusly, it deserves a place on my playlist and on my favorites as well. Its fun to sing this through pregnancy and labor to remind me what I'm looking forward to when the labor part is done, and the real work begins.

6. Drive: Incubus
This one I find most appropriate because of the atmosphere of fear and conformity that surrounds birth. After my first experience giving birth, I realized that I couldn't trust the predominant culture when it came to birthing choice. I struck out on my own, chose my own path and felt like I had taken ownership of my birthing responsibilities and it gave me the confidence to continue taking ownership of many other aspects of my life. While in labor and during pregnancy, this song gives me confidence in my choices and reminds me of why I make the decisions I do.

7. Best Years of Our Live: Baha Men
Because you need some happy, upbeat dance music during labor. My husband and I seriously love our lives together and these years wouldn't be the best years of our lives without our children. Its the perfect song of celebration at the birth of a new baby and makes me happy every time I hear it.

8. Pardon Me: Incubus
This song encompasses the anger and frustration that I feel regarding the cultural influences that are working against homebirth and women's rights to choose where and with whom she gives birth. As I'm in labor and I hear this song, I feel vindicated and like I'm expressing my freedom to be different, to do what is right for me and my family. There's something immensely satisfying about belting during pregnancy and labor, "I've had enough of the world and its people's mindless games. So pardon me while I burn and rise above the flame. Pardon me, pardon me... I'll never be the same!"

9. I'm not Doubling Back Now: Jason Mraz
This song inspires perseverance and determination in me while I'm in labor. The last thing I'm going to do when I'm working to get my baby out is to double back and go back the way I came. This helps me visualize constantly moving forward, advancing the baby through my pelvis and closer to my arms. Its got a good beat and is enjoyable to dance to in labor which is only going to help position and move the baby down.

10. Arise and Shine Forth: Relief Society Soundtrack
There is nothing like a strong, spiritual anthem. Its this type of testimony of Christ that I want to pass on to my children: a vibrant, energetic joy that has the rafters filled with powerful, optimistic voices. I love singing my testimony in this song and hearing it reminds me of the fire that burns within me and gives me strength to do whatever is required of me.

11. Don't Stop Me Now: Queen
More high energy here that matches my fiery personality. When I'm faced with a challenge and its doing work I find rewarding, I get really determined and this song (at least the chorus, and maybe the first verse) is something like a personal anthem for me when I'm working hard to accomplish a goal. I find it perfect to inspire determination in me during labor. This song says to me, "I'm having my baby. Don't mess with me!"

12: Sleeping to Dream: Jason Mraz
I spend my pregnancies fantasizing what this new little being with be like so this song captures that wistfulness, as well as that bit of frustration that comes at the end of pregnancy when mama isn’t sleeping well and just wants to meet her baby already. There’s also a point in labor when all I want to do between contractions is to sleep and I’m wishing so much to have the birth process be over and have the baby already that its practically a dream mixed with that euphoric delirium of laborland. I sing this to my baby during labor to communicate just how much I look forward to his/her birth.

13. Happy Together: The Turtles
This song is obviously written about the love between a man and a woman, but I find myself wishing for that kind of love as expressed in the song to exist between myself and my children. Before my children were born, I loved thinking of my love for my husband in terms of this song, but I find that love just grows and becomes all that more sweet when I think of including my children in that circle. Do you remember that commercial with the video game characters skipping through a sunny meadow with this music in the background? That’s the kind of joyful exuberance I want to share with my children.

14. Do You Believe in Magic?: The Lovin' Spoonful
There’s something undeniably magical about giving birth to a human being and seeing that little human learn and grow. This song just makes me happy since it makes me think of all the magical, happy times that accompanies parenthood. I hope that my children have childhoods that are optimized by this song so I consider this another song of welcoming to my new little one as s/he enters our family.

15: Sacred Birth:
I wish this one were on iTunes so I could buy it and add it to my birthing playlist. This song is an original work by the singer in the video. She also happens to be a sister LDS birth worker. There's not much music specifically about the power and beauty of birth out there. There needs to be more. And this needs to be available on iTunes!

* You'll probably discover I have a slightly quirky preference for labor music and you'll either think I'm crazy or be amused. You might even find something fun that you would want to add to your birthing playlist.