In 1965 my parents met when my mom auditioned to be in my dad’s band. I grew up watching my brothers play basement punk shows (shout out to H’s Cellar in Grafton!), I played and sang in the church youth band, and spent most of my 20s playing in a Fargo band called Little Winter. To say music has been a significant part of my life is an understatement.
The moment I found out I was pregnant the anxiety started. I was so excited that it was finally happening. I was also terrified of getting too attached before I knew the pregnancy was viable. My anxiety created the weirdest pregnancy symptom: anything baby-related made me nauseous. (This is a bit comical because I had spent the last 6 years working at Pout Baby and Kids boutique on the weekends.)
A Birth Playlist is Born
It didn’t take long for my birth playlist to become a way to focus my energy. It grounded me. I was able to keep preparing emotionally without letting my brain get in the way. Soon there were two birth playlists. I had the right music to remain calm and focused or to get energized. These were not songs I compiled to present my baby upon entering the world. These songs were brought together to center me during the pregnancy and birth process.
The birth playlist existed to intimately share a part of myself with my baby, while still inside, and to create a familiar comfort for the unknowns of labor. It contains songs from my childhood and songs from my wedding. They were songs that just made me feel good.
Throughout my pregnancy, the lists grew and evolved. I listened as I drove to work, while at work, while I pet dogs… you get the point. As the end grew near, and my due date eventually passed, the playlists helped me stay focused and confident.
At this point, I must disclose that my playlists were never played in the delivery room. Everything happened too quickly. They did, however, provide the soundtrack for our hospital stay and maternity leave. They steadied me when things got tough. And I danced along in celebration when things clicked. Even now, when I listen I feel nostalgic about my pregnancy and the commitment I made to owning that experience.
Find Your Music
So here’s my plea: make a playlist that gives you comfort and courage to face the months ahead. Use music to transport you to a place you love and find strength. 2020 has been a tough year for the best of us. There are so many distractions. So many tough conversations. So, so many important conversations. It’s been a year of isolation and loneliness. It’s been a year of mental and physical exhaustion. And it’s been a year of uncertainty.
I love discovering new music, but take the time to make a playlist that brings you back to a place that feels comfortable and familiar. Allow yourself to remember what you felt like when you were a teenager with the windows rolled down and a fresh mixtape. Share the music with your kids and share why it’s important to you. Don’t let the list be definitive; an important part of the process may just be revision and reflection.
As much as I’ve mapped out this article mentally, over the past month I haven’t listened to music as frequently as I’d like. I realize that I’ve been missing this anchoring and strength. As I close, the lullaby I sing my baby is playing on my birth playlist. A song that was so significant it was played at our wedding and yet I hadn’t listened to it in years before putting the playlist together.
It’s a great reminder to keep the practice growing and evolving as I grow and evolve.