I love a good playlist. It is a natural evolution from my obsession with making mix tapes as a teenager. I have had my funeral playlist planned for many years, which led to a rather awkward moment when me and my husband were first dating, and I insisted on playing it to him, just in case… Our wedding playlist was a magnificent opus to all the most random and niche songs that we love, all holding wonderful memories just for us, which may explain why we were the only ones dancing!
So obviously I put an awful lot of thought into making the ultimate birth playlist. I had started considering it during my obs and gynae placement at uni, when I attended lots of births, years before me and my husband were a couple, though ironically this was when I first met him. As the birth of my first child approached I thought I’d planned the perfect playlist to deal with all eventualities. And it was fabulous, really got me through. However, it turned out I hadn’t really considered the song titles carefully enough, as our daughter ended up being born to Babe you turn me on, a most beautiful Nick Cave song, with the most inappropriate title. It does however contain some prescient lines: “Babe you turn me on, like an idea, like an atom bomb.” Maybe he knew what we were in for! Another beautiful line really reminds me of the gorgeous girl we now have, “She leapt into the abyss to find it only came up to her knees.” This perfectly sums up the way our girl always sees the dark and the worry, and yet she goes for it, surprising us over and over with how strong and brave she can be. So however inappropriate it ended up fitting perfectly.
There were some new songs that crept onto the playlist for my second birth, some more upbeat ones that I had a little dance to, and some where the lyrics really moved me, like the John Grant song Glacier. I felt the chorus summed up labour perfectly:
It is a glacier moving through you
And carving out deep valleys
And creating spectacular landscapes
And nourishing the ground
With precious minerals and other stuff
So, don’t you become paralyzed with fear
When things seem particularly rough’
I repeated this to myself a lot in the run up to labour, and I think was probably the positive affirmation that meant the most to me. However it was another John Grant song that I was hoping would be playing at the moment of my second child’s birth. I felt that after the first inappropriate birth song, that GMF, standing for ‘Greatest Mother Fucker’ would be a perfectly fitting title. Me and my husband were both a little disappointed when it came on just as I was getting into the birth pool.
In the end my son was born to the beautiful Stay with me by Spiritualized, which was just perfect. And as my husband went upstairs to fetch our daughter and my mum, to meet this new member of our family, Let it be by The Beatles started to play, a very special song to us, all about new beginnings in our lives, and he was pushed over the edge, arriving upstairs in tears, struggling to speak.
All these songs are very special to me and my family, providing a soundtrack to some life changing moments. I’m looking forward to discovering what other musical gems will continue to soundtrack our lives.