Before the birth of my first child, I participated in a series of Lamaze classes to prepare for a “natural” birth. The premise of Lamaze is that breathing and relaxation in childbirth are an alternative to chemical intervention during labor and delivery. I will spare you the details of any of my labors and deliveries. But one thing about the Lamaze training that has stuck with me through the years--and that’s a lot of years since my youngest just turned 23--is Yankee Doodle. One of the techniques used in the training and execution of the Lamaze method is rhythmic breathing. And one way to achieve such rhythmic breathing is through music. The premise is that the breathing will help to ease the discomfort of a contraction. (I do not use the word “discomfort” comfortably as I believe the sensation would be more appropriately described as extremely uncomfortable.) The music that was suggested is Yankee Doodle. So for three labors and deliveries, I sang Yankee Doodle in my head while pretending not to notice that my muscles were contorting somewhere in my midsection in a manner that left me breathless and disoriented.
It turns out that Mr. Lamaze made a lasting impression on my post-delivery life. Every morning when I’m showering, I find myself softly singing Yankee Doodle. Why? There is nothing stressful or painful about showering. On the contrary, it’s a pleasurable and habitual activity. It doesn’t represent the beginning of a new life, but it’s the start of a new day. Am I the only woman in the world who continues to sing Yankee Doodle in the shower beyond her childbearing years?