As soon as I got pregnant, I had to rethink many things in my life, including one of my most prized possessions – the small case of CDs mixes I had made in high school during the glorious days when Napster was alive. With the help of free downloads, every Friday night my friends and I would cruise down the streets of downtown suburbia belting out the lyrics to a new music mix blasting from our car speakers. But here’s where it gets weird – on our way to Uptown Yogurt, we enjoyed exposing our quiet neighborhood to the nastiest songs we could find – classics like Freaks of the Industry by Digital Underground and Give me that Nut by Easy E. Looking back, I realize how inappropriate this was. But we were otherwise such good girls, which is probably why we found this activity so hilarious and thrilling.
Fast forward ten years and I still know every lyric to Snoop Dogg’s Aint No Fun and still find great enjoyment in singing along to them – windows rolled up of course so I don’t overwhelm unsuspecting shoppers in the Trader Joe’s parking lot with references to Snoop Dogg’s balls. Maybe it sounds odd or even perverted. But my love affair with these songs isn’t really about the dirty words, it’s about reliving a carefree time when outings meant frozen yogurt not the grocery store, extra sprinkles not responsibilities. Speaking of which….I was now becoming a mother, which I had heard was the biggest responsibility of all. What did this mean for myself, my husband, and most importantly, my mix CDs?
I turned to BabyCenter.com for some answers, which had been sending me vital information about my pregnancy like when my baby was developing fingernails or had reached the size of a kumquat. I found an article called Music and your unborn child, and while there wasn’t much talk about the musings of Snoop Dogg, one obstetrician said he “observed a 33-week-old fetus pattern his breathing to the beat of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.” Well, perhaps I needed to get my sh*t together then! With a protective hand over my pregnant belly, I changed my Pandora radio station from Two Pac to Beethoven and read on.
“You may have heard that exposure to music makes kids of all ages smarter in math, but Gordon Shaw [a neuroscientist at the University of California at Irvine], who pioneered this type of research, says these studies focused on older children, not fetuses. “ Janet DiPietro, a developmental psychologist who studies fetal development at Johns Hopkins University adds, “There are no studies on the effects of stimulation before birth on intelligence, creativity, or later development.” The article cautioned against wearing headphones around your pregnant belly (those new mamas sure get creative!) because amniotic fluid is a good sound conductor. Luckily, I hadn’t thought of putting my vPulse anywhere besides my ears.
So I kept the classical station going for a couple of hours – feeling smart – but when Sunday rolled around and it was grocery time, I knew this was going to be the real test. Sure enough, the instant I was back in my car and stopped at a red light, my fingers itched for my CD case – craving to feel those inappropriate lyrics and heavy beats flowing through my body. I thought, When do I kill this habit in order to hide from my child truths about the world and about myself? I took a deep breath – pregnancy could be so exhausting sometimes. Feeling my tension rise, I gave up and slid in a tattered disk titled “Rap Mix!” I turned up the volume (not too loud) and let myself be me. If the little one was bobbing his head to the Notorious B.I.G, I decided, for now, let him jam.