As a doula, I always encourage my clients to make a playlist of their favourite songs to play during labour and their baby’s birth. It sets the tone for the arrival of a new life, for the environment babe is being born into and often, can be a useful tool in calming a newborn (they hear familiar songs and settle – proven fact).
Before Emme’s birth I put together a list of some songs that were either of significance to me, chosen by her sisters or were applicable to Emme herself. We listened to the playlist during school time and before bed in the weeks leading up to the birth. While on bed rest to prevent labour progressing (I started having contractions at 32 weeks and proceeded to have them for four more weeks until Emme was born, which is a story in itself), I played her playlist over and over. It became my link to my girl, my mantra that mingled with prayers for my unborn daughter – love, love, love.
I planned on having a natural birth. I was going to have her playlist playing, candles burning and a peaceful labour that would lead into a calm welcoming of my longed for little girl. While I waited, I painted my birth picture to the tunes that flowed from ‘The Playlist’.
At 35 weeks, my doctor informed me that the contractions, although ineffective for labour were in fact, very effective in putting undue strain on Emme and on my own body. She gave me one week to deliver naturally and tentatively booked Wednesday 8 August 2012 for a c-section. I went home devastated.
I played ‘The Playlist’ over and over that week, begging Emme to make her way out. I pleaded with God to make it happen. I walked and massaged and pushed on pressure points. I rocked through HOURS of excruciating contractions, pain coursing through my body. I welcomed each contraction as a step in the right direction and focused on the music that was beckoning my girl to her mama’s outstretched arms (and heart). Tuesday 7 August arrived and after a call from my doctor, I resigned myself to the fact that this little soul was not coming by herself. Together we decided that Emme would be born via c-sec the following morning.
My heart broke. I cried big, crocodile tears. I am a DOULA for goodness sake, I’m ALL about the natural birth experience. My playlist was ready, my experience mapped out in my mind to the tunes I had specifically put together for this momentous occasion. And now it was being ripped to shreds. Torn from my hands. Or was it?
Marc and I made a fairly silent trip to the hospital at 6am on Wednesday morning. I was trying to be brave, trying not to be miserable. Inside I was crying. Marc tried to cheer me up. I left ‘The Playlist’ in my bag when they wheeled me to theatre. I couldn’t bare to have it playing during such a clinical and heartless ‘procedure’.
The radio was on in the background and I lay ignoring it and trying hard to come to grips with my disappointment. My baby was on her way, and even though I wouldn’t be able to use my own strength to push her out of my body, I would need a different kind of strength to welcome her as she took her first breaths. I closed my eyes, begged forgiveness for my bad attitude and woke up to the radio playing Ryen and Mica’s favourite song .
Emme’s head was birthed through an incision in my abdomen, her eyes opened and she blinked. “Love, love, love”. She stuck her little tongue out, opened her mouth and gave a big cry. “Love, love love”. The rest, of her little body writhed out in one fluid motion, as if coming out of the birth canal and my doctor placed her on my lower abdomen where her cord pulsed, giving her the benefit of all the goodness in her mamas blood. “Love, love, love”. Marc cut the cord when it stopped pulsing and my little girl was lifted up for me to see. “Love, love, love”. After the paedeatrician performed a routine newborn check and apgar tests, she was placed on my chest where our hearts beat together and she searched for and found the breast. “Love, love, love”.
I didn’t have the birth I planned. I had a birth planned by Love. And though the playlist remained in my bag, a special song played while Emme taught me to embrace not my own plans, but the plans set out for us waaaaaay before time even existed. Emme had the perfect birth.
We played her playlist in the days that followed. It was on repeat our entire hospital stay. We played it when we got home. Emme recognized it and was calmed by it. And now, almost seven months later I play it on car journeys to soothe my little car-hating munchkin. And sometimes, sometimes I just play it for me.
1901 – Birdy
Oh – Dave Matthews Band
Daughters – John Mayer
You and I – Avalanche City
Wake The Earth – The Honey Trees
Us Against The World – Coldplay
Up In Flames – Coldplay
To Be With You – The Hiney Trees
Tiny Dancer – Ben Folds
Strange and Beautiful – Aqualung
Skinny Love – Birdy
She Moves In Her Own Way – The Kooks
Quelqu, un M,a Dit – Carla Bruni
The Pacemaker – Magnet
Orchard – The Honey Trees
Not Myself – John Mayer
LOVE LOVE LOVE – Avalanche City
Love and Loss – The Honey Trees
Good Morning Fire Eater – Copleand
The Frog Prince – Keane
Friday I’m In Love – Fiction Family
Find Home – The Honey Trees
Escape – Kongos
Emaline – Ben Folds
Dragon – The Amazing
Don’t Fear – The Honey Trees
Crash Into Me – Dave Matthews Band
Closer To Me – Future of Forestry
Chicago – The Uglysuit
Bedshaped – Keane
Apartment – Young The Giant