Have Ipod, Will Give Birth

"And how does hearing your awful labor story help me, exactly" t-shirt from teewit.com

All the baby books, websites, and ads for childbirth prep classes that I read tend to harrumph, “Many expectant parents spend more time decorating the nursery than they do planning the birth!”

Well not us, holier-than-thou websites, because Emilio and I spent last night putting together the birthing mix we plan to play while I’m laboring and popping out Amalia! (I love the phrase popping out; it makes her sound like a brioche.)

Now, I know this is NOT the kind of preparation the websites mean. They want us to hash out all the details that will go into our birth plan, like do I want to labor standing up or kneeling or lying down or in a tub? Do I want to be able to eat during labor? Whom do I want in the delivery room?

Well, we’re working on that, slowly but surely, but I’m less excited about the plan than I am the playlist for a couple of reasons. One, I’ve never done this before. So how do I know how I want to labor? Ask me in September and I might have opinions such as “I would not, could not in a tub/I would not, could not without grub/I would not, could not sans my hubs”. But right now it’s all a big question mark.

And two, birth plan? Who am I kidding? To paraphrase Sunday school lessons, I have a feeling that the list of people who are in charge of this birth is a three-legged stool: God first, Amalia second, me third (although without me, the stool cannot stand!). Basically, I can write all the lists I want and deliver them to the nurses with cookies as What to Expect When You’re Expecting recommends (really? buying off nurses with cookies? That seems a bit patronizing to me. But I wouldn’t mind some cookies being around anyway, so who knows?). But that is no guarantee that I’m going to get my dream labor and delivery. As one of my smartest friends said of her birth, “for me, it was a goal-oriented process–have a healthy baby–not a process-oriented process.” So yes, I’ll study up and write a birth plan, and I’ll take childbirth prep class and breastfeeding class and infant CPR, but when push comes to shove comes to brioche-popping-out time, I’ll do whatever it takes to end up with one healthy, happy baby an one healthy, happy mommy. (Phtou phtou–that’s me spitting so as to protect myself and Amalia from the evil eye.)

Brioche, popped out, courtesy of Wikipedia.

The final reason I’m so excited about our birth mix is that it’s FUN. And I’m so large and out of breath and achy that there’s not tons about pregnancy that’s crazy fun right now. Also, everyone keeps trying to remind me how not fun this process is supposed to be, and I insist on reclaiming some good times out of it.

The people I know who haven’t have kids ask me, “are you scared about the birth?” And the people who do have kids bust out laughing when I mention labor training in my prenatal pilates class, elaborating, “Oh, you’re not going to remember any of that in the heat of the moment.” People who have had natural childbirth really want me to go that route, and those who have epidurals insist I should too, warning that if I don’t I’ll be too tired to push anymore.

Not to get too Zen about it, but I’m not attached to any particular method of birth; my plan is all plans and no plans at once. I’ll try to give birth without drugs, but if that gets unbearably painful I’ll have an epidural, and if there’s some sort of issue with the baby that indicates a C-section is recommended, I’ll do that if I have to. Either way I’ll be a mom in the end.

I find it very odd that everyone seems so invested in how I give birth; I’m not used to having so many people interested in what I do with my body and it creeps me out. What’s even creepier is that moms seem to find a little glee in telling me that giving birth is going to be a nightmare for me, like it was for them, the heroines of the Martyred Mothers brigade. But the thing is, all the online comments I read on the baby websites had people vomiting and crying at the horror of their glucose tests, and mine was no big deal. So maybe the only people with the big stories about pregnancy and childbirth and the like are the dissatisfied customers? And most people seem able to give birth and survive, these days. I’d like to think I will too, however it happens. (Phtou again!)

So, long story short, the playlist is the one thing about childbirth that I can control. And I’m sure most people reading, especially those who have given birth, are thinking “You won’t even remember to bring your Ipod to the hospital, and you’ll be so consumed by the Harry-Potter-Cruciatus-Curse-like-pain of childbirth that you won’t even be able to hear music above the sound of your own screaming.”

Harry casting the Cruciatus from the Deathly Hallows video game.

And if that’s the case, well, then, you were right and there’s no pain like childbirth and we should all get awards for going through it. But I still don’t regret my musical musing because the playlist has already been hours of fun for the whole family; I’ve been listening to it all morning, and Amalia has been dancing away so I think she loves it too.

Here are some of Amalia’s first dances:

In My Life by the Beatles

Here Comes My Baby by Cat Stevens

Hello, I Love You, Won’t You Tell Me Your Name by The Doors

Summertime by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong

What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong

Sweet Child of Mine by Guns N Roses

Beautiful Girl by INXS

Right Here Right Now by Jesus Jones

Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You (both Frankie Valli and Lauryn Hill versions)

Wonder by Natalie Merchant

Forever Young by Rod Stewart

Isn’t She Lovely by Stevie Wonder

She’s a Lady by Tom Jones

The Sweetest Thing by U2

New Soul by Yael Naim

Thanks to the playlist, I feel optimistic that, even if she is wrinkled and red and squished from the trauma of birth, Amalia will come out rocking.


  1. Thank you! I have only been telling people I am pregnant for a month now, and It seems like practically everyone who has had a baby before is like “I used the [insert your method of giving birth here] method. You should really look into that.” And no answer but “Yes I will” seems to be satisfactory! When I explain that I have read a lot about birth, seen a birth, have discussed how I will approach labor with my midwife, they look at my patronizingly as if I have no idea what I am getting into and because I am not using their method I am an idiot. Good luck to you giving birth to a healthy brioche any way you damn please!

  2. Thanks, Pam! It’s so true, everyone wants you to do what they did as if it will somehow validate their choice…when a lot of this is not a choice; it’s up to the baby when s/he shows up (my brioche is 5 days past due as I type) and then there are a whole host of other issues, like is your blood pressure stable, etc. Let’s just remember this when we’re moms and only give advice when asked 😉 Bottom line, if there’s a healthy happy baby and mama at the end, all we can say is kudos, regardless of how they got their. Congrats on your pregnancy!

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