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Labor Of Love: Songs For The Delivery Room

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Ali's artwork includes processing life and loss on paper. To hear about the story behind "How It Was", listen in the player.
Alison Dilworth, Courtesy of the artist

Ali's artwork includes processing life and loss on paper. To hear about the story behind "How It Was", listen in the player.

Here at World Cafe, we're in the business of picking music. Making playlists for different occasions is something we do all the time, from holidays to album anniversaries to best-ofs and so on. But we've never a put together playlist for the kind of occasion you'll hear about today; in fact, I had never heard of this type of playlist before. It's a labor playlist, as in a soundtrack for giving birth — and we thought we'd do something a little different on the show and make a house call to find out what makes a great one.

I heard about the idea for a labor playlist from some new friends named Jaron and Ali. They're a couple who live in Philly; he's a musician, she's an artist. When they arrived at the hospital for the birth of their second child, Malcolm, they wanted to create a vibe designed to tune out the blinding lights and beeping sounds that sometimes fill hospital rooms. They certainly weren't going to turn up the TV (especially after learning that The Jerry Springer Show is the program most commonly watched by expecting moms during labor in the hospital where Malcolm was born). Luckily, Ali and Jaron came prepared with Christmas lights, a portable speaker and a couple of playlists they'd carefully curated for the occasion. As they waited for Malcolm to arrive, songs by Stevie Wonder, Bobby McFerrin, Emily King, Mozart and Ethan Gruska filled the room.

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Six weeks after Malcolm was born, we visited Ali and Jaron at their home in Philadelphia to talk about the musical choices they made. While we were there, Ali took us upstairs to her art studio, where we talked about processing life and loss through creativity, including the art she created to help cope with a miscarriage. Listen in the player above, and check out the Delivery Room DJ playlists below. This piece was produced with great care by our wonderful World Cafe producer John Myers, a father himself who knows a thing or two about the sweetness of parenthood.

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