In preparing “the hospital bag” during the last months of pregnancy, a lot of women put together a music mix to play during labor and delivery. As much as I enjoy creating that kind of thing, I didn’t do it this time, for a couple of reasons.
First, I concentrate better in quieter environments, and I was going to need to concentrate harder than I ever have before. Second, recorded music is often a distraction for me; I like to sing along so much that I can’t usually get much else done with music on (besides cleaning!). And third, I always seem to have a song of some sort stuck in my head anyway. It’s like my own interior jukebox. . . . except that I don’t have control over it. Usually the tune is something I heard a snippet of here or there, or a song that popped into my head after a word in conversation brought the lyrics to mind.
Whenever I need it most, the song becomes a kind of prayer. In this sense, the selection is sometimes intentional: I often use psalms and hymns as my prayer when I can’t figure out just what to say. Other times, though, certain hymns show up in my head not as a result of my choosing or even something I overheard. Instead, I believe it’s the work of my guardian angel. It’s been said that singing is praying twice, and in some of the highest and lowest points over the past few weeks, I’ve experienced that in an especially pure way.
The day of Jacob’s birth, as one might expect, there were times that were physically and emotionally trying. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the night following delivery was in some ways even more difficult because I felt alone.
Some time during that night, however, I realized I’d been repeating the lyrics of “The Cry of the Poor” for the past couple of hours. It was these words that made me feel strength in my weakness and hope that I was going to get through this experience:
The Lord hears the cry of the poor
Blessed be the Lord.
I will praise the Lord at all times.
His praise always on my lips.
My soul glories in the Lord,
For He hears the cry of the poor.
Okay, so I didn’t recall the lyrics exactly, but you get the point. The song was essentially on loop for that first week with the little man. Any time I felt overwhelmed, tired, scared, uncertain, the voice singing it got a bit louder. And that was a huge help in my making it through that week in one piece.
A few weeks later, when things felt more stable and I was comfortably enjoying a weekend at home with John and the baby, I realized the track had changed. Now I was looping the theme song from That 70s Show.
Hangin’ out down the street
The same old thing we did last week
Not a thing to do, but talk to you
We’re all alright
We’re all alright
I suppose this was a kind of prayer, too. Not of petition, but of gratitude for the two amazing guys in my life and for the family that I’ve somehow found myself in the middle of. With that kind of mix playing in my life, who needs an iPod?
(Okay, so if you know the whole theme song, you’re probably wondering how the last line fits in: “Hello, Wisconsin!” Hmm . . . well, I love Midwestern accents; does that count?)