I debated whether or not I should share this story on the internet for a while, but finally decided that I should. For the pregnant singers who might be searching the internet for solidarity right now. I had the debate at all because the story is a bit…icky. So if you have a puke-story aversion, go read this instead (it’s about moving to Dresden), and I’ll see you on Monday for more of the usual CCG non-ewww, non-pregnancy ramblings.
At 37 weeks pregnant, we played our last concert pre-baby. I didn’t want to travel far from home during the month when labor could be anywhere from weeks to minutes away. Week 37 would be cutting it close, but with the venue just a few blocks from our place, I figured going into labor on stage wouldn’t be a big deal. If it happened, I’d squeakily explain to the audience between contractions, and then we’d walk home, call the midwife, and get on with it. The concert organizer was ok with the risk that we might have to cancel the show last minute or mid-song, so we gathered up our instruments and headed down to Baron for an evening of music.
I was excited. Home-town concerts usually mean a good crowd of good people, and sometimes even some singing along. There is nothing more flattering than standing in front of a room full of drunken, smiling people who are singing along to—having actually memorized!—a bunch of words you wrote. As a writer, as a singer, as a person. We’d be taking February and March off from playing shows so the Beard and I would have time to get used to life with baby, and I wanted to go out with a bang, or at least with that happy glowy feeling that comes of having made music on a stage with a fun crowd. Good moods abounded, and the dinner we got as part of our payment for the evening was delicious. Mmm.
So far singing during pregnancy hadn’t given me many problems. We went on a ten-day tour about three weeks in, all of which I spent puking, trying not to puke, and sleeping in the van. It wasn’t pleasant, but I never had a problem with my voice, never once had to run off stage to have a good toss between songs. Of course, considering the fact that we play a lot of punk venues, doing so may have actually earned me some kind of punk rock merit badge from the audience, but I didn’t want to find out, and I fought off the nausea on-stage whenever it started to rear it’s hideous visage.
I had expected to have problems breathing. You see, when a baby grows in your stomach, it squishes all your other organs out of it’s way like they’re so many useless pillows piled up on the bed. (It is really fucking amazing that the human body is capable of this.) Your stomach, squished up under your ribs, can’t hold as much food, and your lungs can’t hold as much air. But I never found myself lacking the air to finish out a note. (Though apparently there was a period when I was a lot quieter.) After the tour there were several outdoor practices during which singing itself would bring up the chunks, and I would have to run around the corner to puke in the bushes between verses. But for the most part, I was fine, my voice was fine, and we carried on with our musical activities as usual. We even recorded an album during week 35.
Fast forward up to Baron, where I’m in a good mood, and we’re on stage in front of a packed room playing and strumming and plucking and twanging and warbling. We made it a little over halfway through the set before it happened, before my voice suddenly cut out in favor of a cough/cookie toss. Cough cough, hand over mouth, turn, swallow. Cough, puke, swallow, cough cough, repeat. Turn bright red. Eye fellow bandmates with bulgy eyes. Tell them to keep stalling between songs so I have the time to recover. Eventually I did, and we played another handful of songs before it happened again, at the very end of Crow’s Nest. Nothing came out of my mouth as I tried to sing the last verse, and then came another bout of hack, turn, puke, hack, turn, puke. Except this time I didn’t manage to swallow in time and left a little puddle in front of the bassist’s feet. Yum!
Not wanting my voice to cut out even earlier in the next number, I signaled to the others that I was fucking done, we played a few instrumental numbers to wrap things up, and I retired to a chair in the back of the room while they played an encore without me. I was glad to be off the stage. Not exactly the bang I’d been imagining going out with, but a bang none-the-less I supposed. Certainly something to remember. Ugh.
The best past was that no one in the audience had noticed. Afterwards I asked friends who had been standing in various parts of the room if they had realized what was going on. But even those who had been in the front row had thought that I had just been coughing, even someone who had unwittingly gotten a photo of me mid-toss. So at least there’s that. Stage face maintained. Puking in front of strangers getting their first impression of our band averted. But it’s still not a lot of fun to sit on stage regurgitating your cud.
So what went wrong? It could have been the singing itself. Since being pregnant, I’ve noticed that I have to burp a lot (A LOT) when I sing. On stage I probably put even more grunt into it, and whatever it is that causes the burps could have caused the puking with the added pressure/air exchange/whatever. My only other theory is that I reacted poorly to the iced tea I was drinking. Though I’ve been told that it is perfectly fine for me to drink one coffee or black tea a day while pregnant, I’ve rarely done so (had to give up coffee a while before the pregnancy because it was fucking up my stomach, so we’re talking black tea here) as it had started making me feel weird (usually a few hours after). But would that be enough for a puke fest? I really don’t know. But I find myself relieved that I won’t need to get onstage again until I’m thoroughly un-pregnant.
Any of you had a similar singing/pregnancy experience or heard of someone else who has?
Want to read more about my gorilla pregnancy? Check out these posts… (Or check out the entire gorilla prego category here.)