Shakira the Labour Fairy

When I was in labour with Trombone, at some point I got the song “Hips Don’t Lie” by Shakira in my head. I have no idea why. I am not a Shakira fan, per se; I don’t own any Shakira music. I think I saw the video on MuchMusic the night before I was induced.

I had music planned for labour – I had a bag and a little portable fan and a fresh pair of socks and all the things the Internet told me I needed, oh internet, thanks so much for all your help these many years – but of course my induction was a very special sort of labour where I went from fine! to FUCK YOU! in about 30 minutes. I was not interested in listening to the music I had planned on, nor did I much care if I was wearing socks or whether they were bloody. As I was adamant that I handle the pain without medicine – for the first few hours anyway – I was on the floor, stretching, yoga balling, etc. I didn’t have my doula with me because she was sleeping? At home? And I felt bad because it was early – if intense – labour and I just wanted to do it myself. And the whole time. Shakira.

Part of me managed to be incredibly annoyed that I couldn’t get Shakira and her hips out of my head. But the other part kind of accepted it. It is a rhythmic song, after all, and rhythm is good when you’re giving birth. And also, when birthing, it is easier (sort of) to accept the wisdom of your body rather than waste energy fighting it.

Eventually I had the epidural and I had Trombone and afterward I had flashbacks to labour and not once did I hear Shakira during those flashbacks. She had disappeared from my consciousness. Occasionally, over the years, I would hear the song on the radio and remember it playing on a loop in my head. “That was weirdly random,” I would think. And that was that.

The day before Fresco was born, I had my membranes swept at my doctor’s appointment. I was several days from my due date but we wanted to avoid another induction if possible so we did the sweep. Trombone was at my mom’s house, having a fun day with people who could lift him, so after my appointment I drove myself downtown to have coffee with my old co-workers. Then I headed over to Kitsilano to look for a new baby gift for Trombone from his baby brother. When I got in the car to drive to Kitsilano, the radio started playing That Song, by Shakira. Out of respect, I let the song play rather than jabbing at the radio buttons to find a new station. (Anyway, was it me, or did I feel some cramping?) Not wanting to get too excited, or have the baby in the car, I just ignored it and carried on with my day. But that night, every time I woke up (approximately 17 – 25 times) to pee, adjust my belly, lie very still to listen for more contractions, which were sadly, once again, absent, the soundtrack in my head was, you guessed it. Shakira.

I went into labour the following afternoon. That evening I spent a lovely several hours alone in early labour, putting music on our music player (which we hadn’t had for Trombone’s birth) and reading. I actually tried to block out Shakira, but she was there, low noise in the back of my head. At 3 am we went to the hospital and at 7:17, Fresco was born. (I think it must have been the Shakira remix playing in my head at that point.)

One of my earliest lessons of parenthood: best to take what you’re given and make it work for you. Thanks, Shakira.

In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, here is the song.

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