Monday, May 24, 2010


A few weeks before Sophia was born, I started an iPod Playlist for the delivery room. I asked Jen for her input and she said "None of that arty horseshit…this is about me" or something to that affect. So, I started through our library looking for things that Jen would love and that wouldn't be horrible for me. After just an hour or so I had 115 songs which I thought would be more than enough to get us through a night in the hospital. I shuffled them up and dumped them on my iPod.

Even by Jen's account, the pregnancy was fairly easy. She had her share of exhaustion and the usual side effects, but had largely been able to avoid the more serious complications that are common. Still, at over 40 weeks, she had been experiencing a few days of feeling really rough and convinced her doctor to see her a few days earlier than their scheduled appointment. After two hours of examination, ultrasounds, and stress tests, Jen's doc told her to get her bag and check in to the hospital at 8:00 that night. Jen cried in relief, knowing that very soon she'd be feeling better…one way or another.

I'll spare you all the push by push replay, but there were a few things worth noting. First, Jen was amazing. From the very beginning until the moment we watched Sophie gulp down her first air conditioned breath, she was perfect. Also, the staff we worked with was great. Jen's nurse laughed at our jokes (we always have jokes), got down to business when needed, and was Jen's champion the whole way. Also, she got down with the Prince that was playing on the iPod.

And that takes us back to the Playlist. We had the music going in the background as we sat in the darkened room watching Jen's contractions on the monitor ("Ooooh, daayuuum…that was a biggun"). It started with Manchester Orchestra's "I Can Feel a Hot One", but then despite the fact that I had shuffled the songs, it mostly went from artist to artist playing songs in blocks alphabetically. We cruised through lots of "B Bands" (Band of Horses, Beck, Ben Folds, The Beach Boys) and then the Garden State soundtrack. We napped through The Mountain Goats and Mojave 3. The nurse came in to get things busy about the time The Postal Service started playing. The moment Jen pushed for the first time, "When Doves Cry" filled the room. Jen finished with the first push and we looked at each other, laughing at the absurdity of giving birth with Prince as the soundtrack. "Pop Life", "Raspberry Beret", and "I Would Die 4 U", one song after another Jen pushed and then we laughed (yes, she had an epidural). The nurse boogied (though professionally) and we talked about how our Twin Cities based friends would be home-town-proud. The assembled grandmothers in the room were less interested, standing on the sidelines with shaking hands clutching their cameras.

Finally the Prince wound down to be replaced with REM, and on Jen pushed. I kid you not, toward the end, with Sophie starting to appear, "American Girl" by Tom Petty was the song playing. And then, finally, Sophie was pushed/pulled into life on the outside. I cut the cord (symbolism be damned), and she was placed kicking and fussing on Jen's chest all the while Wilco's "Please Be Patient With Me" played softly in the background. We toweled off her little arms and legs, alternately amazed and terrified of her, and everything else faded into the background.

I know it might be a little obsessive to pay that much attention to what music was playing and at what time, but a lot of strong memories I have are linked to the music that was playing at the time.

I remember I was sitting in Tyson Downey's CRX in a parking lot outside of Kroger in Brazil Indiana and he was telling me about a song he had heard for the first time. When the weather was just right you could pick up a station out of Indianapolis (not without some static, of course) and this Indy station had promised to play this new song again before 10:00. We sat there in the car chain smoking, our talking stopping as each new song would start to play until they finally played Radiohead's "Creep" and my world got a little bit bigger.

I remember the moment I realized my first marriage was over and a song called "Kerosene Hat" by Cracker was playing in the car. I rushed to turn it off as I drove no where, not wanting an awful moment to ruin a great song for me. (It didn't. I still love that song.)

And I remember walking the streets of Carbon, Indiana when I was probably 13 and coming up on a house that was playing Frampton's "Do you Feel Like We Do". We sat outside on the sidewalk listening to it in the summer night and I remember thinking that it was the best song ever written.

Good and bad, a lot of my memories are wrapped up what was on the radio, and I don't think that's unique at all. Still, I have to admit a pure personal pleasure in being able to tell Sophie one day that she came into this world while listening to Wilco. Since she's a captive audience, I plan on spending lots of time with her in front of the turntable as soon as my mother in law vacates the area that has become partially my den and partially Jen's craft room. I bet Weezy is glad Grandma Helen has been here to protect her so far...