My wife and I had our first child this past Monday. We decided to go the midwife route and have the baby in the comfort of our own home. And though we didn't plan on it ahead of time, Sigur Rós became a spur of the moment, life-altering soundtrack to our birth. It was an experience so impactful, I felt the need to share it with the internet. So here is my story.
Around 3am on February 4, my wife Kiely started having contractions. But as existing parents can attest, first stage labor is a VERY different animal... In first stage labor it's totally possible to get through the one minute bouts of discomfort, and then go back to watching Unsolved Mysteries or whatever. Which is basically what we were doing.
But by mid-afternoon, the contractions grew closer together and evolved into something else entirely... It became clear that Kiely had graduated to a state of labor where she couldn't bounce back to normal reality in between contractions. We were now well within the fucked up, otherworldly process of giving birth.
Kiely and I had not previously discussed what music she might want to listen to during labor... which is weird because of the fact that we work in the music industry, and we had just spent the previous several months obsessing over every aspect of our birth plan... but somehow we never broached the subject of our "labor music".
So it wasn't until the intense labor began that I finally asked Kiely what (if any) music she wanted to listen to. The first thing out of her mouth was "something soothing and ambient, like Sigur Rós". And rather than try and juggle LPs at a time like this, I put on an endless Spotify playlist that kept feeding us new random Sigur Rós songs for the duration of the labor... It was magical.
The peaks and valleys of the music seemed uncannily timed with her contractions. When there were relaxed periods of music, her body responded by relaxing, and when her body went into contractions the music seemingly responded with glorious intensity. Her unconscious coos and groans melted with the music into a beautiful, somewhat disturbing chorus.
Here is some video evidence:
At around 10pm Kiely migrated to the birthing pool, located in our nursery. And at 11:30pm on February 4, Olive Isadora Hofstetter slipped into my arms. I do not remember what song was playing when she was born, but I know it was perfect.
Throughout the 19.5 hours of labor, we didn't listen to any music other than Sigur Rós, and I don't believe we repeated any song twice (though I'm sure from the perspective of our birth attendants it sounded like the same song on repeat for 8 hours). The music of Sigur Rós, like the act of giving birth, is not always beautiful. Certain aspects are ugly and terrifying. But it is a journey - conveying a perspective of reality that is at once wholly organic, yet impossibly grand.
The music of Sigur Rós helped us fully feel the fact that we were in the midst of one of the most meaningful human moments we could ever hope to experience. A new life was coming from our bodies. Even in the moment, we knew this was something we would remember forever, and something that would impact the world even after we are gone.
We would like to thank Sigur Rós for inadvertently creating the best birthing soundtrack imaginable, and forever impacting our lives as a result.