Never Pick the Playlist

Here’s the funny thing about a C-section: the anesthesiologist becomes your confidant.

I should clarify: the funny, unexpected thing about a scheduled C-section is that the anesthesiologist becomes your confidant. And, in our case, also our doula, friend, videographer, and the person who brought us Leonel’s name.

Diego’s delivery was an urgent C-section, and thankfully, David’s aunt was the lead nurse. I completely relied on her patient and wise guidance throughout the process.

With Leonel, I walked (walked!!!) into the OR. Seeing the familiar sterile white room and bright lights, I felt a wave of calm anticipation. This was my third trip to a Kaiser OR in 15 months, and this time, the occasion was one of joy. I scooted onto the OR table, and as the first anesthesiologist prepped me, we chatted about our children. He looked like he was maybe my age (or maybe younger? This keeps happeningI’ll think someone is my age, and it turns out, they’re like, 27. The hubris). Anyway, I told him the one thing we weren’t ready for with this child: we couldn’t think of a name.

It wasn’t even that we couldn’t agree on a name. We literally had no names. Nothing stuck.

“I wouldn’t worry about it,” he said. “With my first, we changed his name after we got his birth certificate, and with my second, we left the hospital without a name.”

Huge relief. If it took us some time to think of a name, that would be fine. Nothing to worry about. Just focus on having a baby.

Eventually, it was almost go time and another anesthesiologist took over. We chatted about his band and then he said, “Ok! You pick. What music should we play?”

As if picking a name wasn’t hard enough! I can’t handle the pressure of picking a playlist for a car ride, let alone deciding the music that would accompany my son’s entrance to the world.

“I’m sorry,” I said gesturing at my body, “this is kind of all I can think about. I can’t chose the music.” What I thought was: whatever you all need to do this surgery well-play that. For my breast reconstruction the previous fall, the playlist was 90s R&B. For my double mastectomy last spring, I vaguely remember classical music.

The anesthesiologist shrugged and smiled. “No worries, everyone likes Motown. Let’s do that.” And, within moments, David entered the operating room, Smokey Robinson’s Oooh Baby Baby echoed from the speakers, and I could not stop smiling.

As I locked eyes with David, with music booming around us, and the knowledge that we were so close to meeting our baby, I was in a rhapsody that carried on throughout the delivery.

At one point, we started talking about names, and what our grandmother’s thought of them. Thinking of my grandmother in Argentina made me think of Lionel Messi. For most people, an association with Argentina and Messi is perfectly normal. However, I know very, very little about soccer. I only think about it when I happen to see it on TV.

However. Every night, when Diego goes to sleep, he listens to a Moshi story. It’s an app, with a bank of meditative stories to help with sleep. And for months, Diego has listened to the same story. We’ve heard it hundreds of times. It’s about a little soccer player called Dribbles, and his opponent, MoshMessio (a nod to Messi).

SO. In a span of a nanosecond, likely due to bedtime story subliminal messaging, my brain went: Grandmother – Argentina – Messi – Lionel.

Leonel. Just as I was about to open my mouth to say

“What do you think about the name Leonel?” David asked.

My jaw dropped. “You’re joking. I was JUST about to suggest that.”

Grinning, David and I just stared at each other, shocked with relief. It just felt so right. And after a year and a half of walking on pins and needles, of navigating the pain of my breast cancer diagnosis, and then my miraculous pregnancy, and all the joy and anxiety wrapped up in thatto have something that just felt right, that felt spontaneous and and jubilantfelt so good.

“But wait, how? How did you think of Leonel?” I asked David.

“The playlist,” he said, pointing at Pandora on the computer screen in the OR. “There’s a Lionel Ritchie song coming up. It made me think we could do something similar, like Leonel.”

Little Leonel. And when they placed him on my chest, moments after this, I couldn’t stop whispering, Leonel, Leonel, you’re here, you’re here.

The sweet relief. And to make it even better? We have incredible photos and video to remember it all. Our anesthesiologist jumped into action, taking David’s phone and documenting the first moments.

Of course, once we were home, I looked up this wonderful doctor to learn more about him. Usually these bios are very formulaic, but his includes a meditation on the beauty of helping mothers with pain relief. He writes: “The anesthetist’s role in the relief of pain offers tremendous rewards; there are few activities in life more fulfilling than relieving another person’s pain.” What this doctor didn’t know was the painful road we’d been on prior to that operating room. How consumed I’d been with wondering if that moment of holding Leonel would ever happen. And how instantly that fear’s energy transformed into bliss as we relaxed, listened to Motown, and held our sweet baby.

So thank you, Dr. H, for truly the best playlist.

This post is part of a blog hop with Exhale —an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to view the next post in the series “A Name”

2 thoughts on “Never Pick the Playlist

  1. I love this story, Fay! What a great care team you had. And what a coincidence you and your hubby were on the same page about Leonel’s name!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: