the smell of my desperation has become a stench

No, I wasn’t punched in the face, this is just what happens when I weep

The past three days have been a whirlwind of chaos, and this is honestly the first moment I’ve had since Monday to sit down and catch my breath. I had planned to sit down and write about this funny thing that happened at the grocery store the other night, but right now I’m just too sad to do it. And I’m sitting here trying not to cry because this afternoon I’m doing a taping with the local PBS station for a show that’s running tonight (see here), and when I cry my eyes swell and bloat to the size of a watermelon.

A couple of weeks ago my dear stepfather, the one who almost had me sentenced to death by firing squad for eating his last slice of bologna, was diagnosed with a lymphoma when they found a tumor the size of a football in his back. He started chemotherapy last week and has since been in and out of the emergency room for complications at least twice. I’m not quite sure how to explain my relationship with my stepfather, only that he is as important to me as my own father and has played such a significant role in Leta’s life. He is her Grandpa Rob, and she will carry with her the most amazing memories of sitting at his coffee table to put together puzzles. He has been the most indefatigable support for my mother throughout her busy career in Avon and has sacrificed many of his own ambitions so that she could be the success that she is. He is honest, stubborn, sometimes a total pain in the ass, but mostly he is the type of person who would throw his body in front of a bus if it meant helping you out in the tiniest possible way. He means everything to our family, and now we are all facing the unknown.

Suddenly I’m facing some very confusing feelings. I’m not going to get too much into that here, only to say that where once I had the Mormon religion to inform me, I’m here now without that safety net trying to piece some things together. Which I guess is a way of saying that I’m still trying to figure out what I believe. And I know that admitting that is going to open me up to all sorts of judgment, but I don’t think this makes me much different from a lot of people out there who are also trying to figure it all out. I don’t think I’m alone in saying, yeah, I don’t know, and I’m mostly okay with that. Sometimes, like right now, I’m not okay with that.

I do know that I love my stepfather deeply and want nothing more than for him to get better.

This week would also have been the 40th week of the pregnancy that ended in a miscarriage last October. Is it morbid that I remember the due date, will always remember the due date? Or that I am so incomprehensibly sad about it still? My life has changed so much since that horrible Wednesday afternoon, and Jon and I have had endless debates and conversations about our future and whether or not we should try for another baby knowing that I might have to go through that again. And if you want to know, we are still undecided. Every time I see someone who is pregnant I get a very weird feeling in my stomach, and I think it’s from a wild mixture of feelings, one of loss, one of hope, one of knowing that they are having a tremendously difficult time trying to roll over in bed at night and how exhausted they are in the morning, one of envy that they soon will meet that new little person in their life. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to see someone who is pregnant and not immediately feel my stomach turn a flip.

Right now I am just barely holding my shit together, and I know that I’ll be better to handle these feelings if I could just sleep through the night. I’ve had insomnia for three straight weeks, and my body is slowly collapsing. This may be one of those many instances when I head back to my therapist and say listen, I’m having a hard time, please help me climb this mountain.

  • B

    2008/05/16 at 12:04 pm

    So sorry to hear.

    Everyone here is hoping for the best and keeping you in our thoughts.

  • misha

    2008/05/16 at 12:05 pm

    🙂 I love you (and not in that creepy way) and wish you the best.

  • Becky

    2008/05/16 at 12:06 pm

    I’m not the type to pray, but I will think positive thoughts and send those thoughts your way.
    Hang in there Heather. Remember, you are SUPER strong and you will get through this.

    Just think of Kathie Lee hitting on you. That will stop you from crying. Then again…

  • anne

    2008/05/16 at 12:06 pm

    Thinking of you and your family.

  • Lisa Hines

    2008/05/16 at 12:07 pm

    Hang in there, love.

  • typingelbow

    2008/05/16 at 12:07 pm

    I’m sorry that you’ve had such a rough go of it this week, Heather. I hope that you guys can pull together as a family to get through all the changes you’re facing.

  • H

    2008/05/16 at 12:07 pm

    Your family will be in my prayers. I think we all struggle to understand what we believe, no matter what “religion” we are or aren’t….

    And, you are far from the only one who will never forget her due date. I know I won’t forget mine, ever. Hang in there…and go talk to your therapist, everyone needs a little help sometimes. If they said they didn’t, they’d be lying.

  • memikeyounot

    2008/05/16 at 12:07 pm

    I only know you through your blog but admire you and your family greatly. I wish the best for your stepfather and your family as you endure the hell that is cancer treatment.
    The thoughts of all your fans are with you.

  • Dyar Momma

    2008/05/16 at 12:08 pm

    I just wanted to say I’ll be thinking of you and your family. And that your site means a lot to me, your willingness to share helps me out more than you know.

  • Erica

    2008/05/16 at 12:08 pm

    What an honest post. We’ve all been there in one way or another. Good thoughts to you!

  • maggie

    2008/05/16 at 12:08 pm

    sorry about your step-dad

  • Kilburina

    2008/05/16 at 12:08 pm

    wishing you all the best. Keeping you in my thoughts and hoping you get some sleep.


  • Kim

    2008/05/16 at 12:08 pm

    I’ve been very upset with God after what happened to me in November. Suffice it to say that although I still have faith that someday He will explain why He chose to take my kids, He has to understand I might not speak to him for a while, because I’m still kinda pissed.

    I don’t have my organized religion safety net by choice right now, but I still have believe that there is something greater at work here.

    I’m praying for your stepfather. I’m praying for you to understand why you lost a child, too.

    Try soaking green tea bags in ice water and applying them to your eyes, then imbibe your choice of grain alcohol. It might help the swelling.

  • lizandboys

    2008/05/16 at 12:09 pm

    So sorry to hear about your stepfather.
    I know where you’re coming from with the religous aspect of everything…we’re lapsed Catholics…the boys are baptized and that’s as far as we’ve gotten (or as far as we’ll go). I don’t think we’d go back to Catholicism, but don’t know where else to turn, but thinking we should give our boys a basis of beliefs, if that makes any sense at all….I envy those that have a strong belief/faith and belong to a religous community, but don’t know what we’re even looking for….
    All the best to your mom and stepdad.

  • Carol

    2008/05/16 at 12:10 pm

    One day at a time. Trite, but incredibly true.

    You are so loved – even if you don’t know which heaven is the one for people who where their jeans TEN sizes too big!

  • Zoe

    2008/05/16 at 12:10 pm

    I know how you feel, in terms of not knowing what to believe. Most of the time, I’m happy in my life, not needing to “believe” in a specific thing, but in the general belief of all things. Usually that makes me feel safe and happy. Sometimes it makes me feel lost and alone. But I wish you and your family the best, and I’m hoping you’ll be okay and that you’ll be able to find something that will help you through this.

  • Spring

    2008/05/16 at 12:10 pm

    Thank the sweet Lord for therapists. Where would we be without them?

    I admire your courage to write about all of this honestly. I also admire your willingness to admit that you don’t have it all figured out. I don’t have it all figured out, either. And I secretly think that the people who say they have it all figured out? Are liars. Except not so secretly now.

    Am sending lots of love vibes your way.

  • quinn

    2008/05/16 at 12:10 pm

    I know I’m probably in the minority here, but you are having a stinking sad week, for completely respectable and comprehensible reasons, and if you should decide to take a few days off from giving us readers our daily shot o’fun, that would be okay.

    Balance something on Chuck’s head if it makes you happy. Otherwise, just put your emotional calories where they are most needed right now.

  • Anna Marie

    2008/05/16 at 12:10 pm

    Hang in there Heather. I know you probably had thousands of emails last October that said this, but my first pregnancy was a miscarriage and I now have two terrific kids. The sadness does fade, but I still wonder what that child would have been like.

    Also, lymphoma is beatable! Keep your chin up and you’ll get through this. You are all in my thoughts.

  • Christy

    2008/05/16 at 12:10 pm

    I’m sure you’re going to get hundreds of comments on this, but take away a few things: 1) You are loved, by family, friends and complete strangers 2) You can get through this and 3) You getting through this and sharing it with us helps us get through it and our own.

    Thank you.

  • Christy

    2008/05/16 at 12:10 pm

    Sending you strength. Take care of yourself. You really should go to your therapist, because this sounds like a time you’ll need the extra help.

  • Kim

    2008/05/16 at 12:10 pm

    I am so, so sorry to hear about your stepfather. I am sending positive thoughts your way.

    Also, melatonin really helps me when I can’t sleep, fyi. It’s amazing how much sleep and stress feed off each other.

  • Liz

    2008/05/16 at 12:10 pm

    I don’t know either. None of us know. It’s scary, but comforting to know that we’re all in this together…fumbling and fighting to find the love in it all. Hang in there Heather.

    I’m thinking of you and your family.

  • alexlx

    2008/05/16 at 12:10 pm

    great big internet hug to you and yours

  • Nancy R

    2008/05/16 at 12:11 pm

    Go. Get the help you need so you can be there for your family, Mom and Stepdad.

    It’s not morbid at all that you remember your due date. The baby was real to you, and it IS a sad thing to have a miscarriage.

    My thoughts are with you.

  • Amy Lee

    2008/05/16 at 12:11 pm

    as one of the mormons who clings desperately to a shred of faith, mainly to avoid grappling with what it means to let go, i wish you all the best in your continued honest exploration. i think there are so many mormons who will overlook just about anything to avoid facing the idea that families may not be together forever, at least not in the way they learned in primary.

    i dont have children yet, mainly because of my inconsistent thoughts and feelings on this subject and i, too, experience a mix of profound emotions upon seeing anyone else’s burgeoning belly. i can only imagine how those feelings are compounded for you and i wish you all the best.

    thank you for sharing and articulating the thought that some of us are not yet brave enough to tell our families, let alone the world.


    2008/05/16 at 12:11 pm

    if there is one thing that you’ve shown us (as an audience), it’s the incredible strength you have, but weeping is something we all need to do once in a while… and when you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place as it seems you are, there usually isn’t anything better than a good cry.

    and though it’s been said several times already, your family is in my thoughts and prayers. 🙂

  • PaintingChef

    2008/05/16 at 12:11 pm

    The heartbreak of a miscarriage is not one that you ever leave behind. That was still your child. And will always be part of who you are. So yes, still being so sad about it completely normal.

    And as far as not being sure what you believe… join the club. Because I don’t have a damn clue. Only that I haven’t found what makes the most sense to me yet.

    Good luck, I hope things get easier. But these are times when you are lucky to have an awesome family to lean on.

  • Jennifer

    2008/05/16 at 12:11 pm

    Sorry about your stepdad. Hope treatments work and he has many more years.

    As for the miscarriage, of course it’s normal. It hurts like hell to lose a baby, and who wouldn’t remember the due date (other than perhaps a crack whore who didn’t want it to begin with)? I was supposed to have twins but lost one at 10 weeks. I have a living, breathing, constant reminder of that, and I often wonder what he/she would have been like and how much different my own daughter would have been as part of that duo.

    My husband and I had to go through IVF to get our two precious miracles and I’ll tell you, I had some much darker feelings seeing pregnant women back in those painful days. My hope for you and Jon is that the miscarriage was your first and only and that you have no problems getting and staying pregnant again (if that is what you decide).

  • Renee

    2008/05/16 at 12:11 pm

    Thinking about you Heather…I really related to this post; thanks for your raw honesty. Love you!

  • Justine

    2008/05/16 at 12:11 pm

    Call the shrink immediately.

    My heart aches knowing all that you have been going through while I was thinking your life is all rosy and Today show and PR fun. I am in middle of my own malestrom of good (new job!!) and bad (with my dad and his finances collapsing at age 69, two sick dogs that I may have to give away), and reading your words everyday helps keep me sane. Keep writing, keep asking for help, and get some sleep.

    Call her now.

    You and your family will be in my non-Mormon prayers.


  • sara m.

    2008/05/16 at 12:11 pm

    growing up just really fucking sucks. i’m really sorry about your stepfather. i just uncelebrated a similar benchmark date of a pregnancy that ended in september and get the same stomach-achey feelings you describe. hang in there and get your therapist on the horn if you need to. peace to you and your family heather.

  • Katherine

    2008/05/16 at 12:11 pm

    This reminds me of a story a friend told me. A lapsed Catholic, she volunteered at a soup kitchen run by a church. One year, she experienced a devastating series of events. She found herself talking about it to one of the nuns there, who put her arm around her and said…

    “Oh, —-, it’s been a really shitty year!”

    (Not what you’d expect from a nun, is it?)

    It’s hard not to feel like there’s an answer – I’m not religious either, and there are certain consolations that aren’t available (or not in the same way) I hope you feel better soon and that your stepfather gets better too. Some times in life are just crazymaking…

  • Madame Queen

    2008/05/16 at 12:11 pm

    I believe that life is a constant journey to find out what we believe. Otherwise we never grow. I believe in the power of prayer, so I will pray for you and your family.

    We all need a little help now and then.

  • Elise

    2008/05/16 at 12:11 pm

    Having been through four miscarriages with no live births to show for it, I can tell you that there is no harder task then to get back on the horse and try again. Have you asked your ob/gyn or RE to run any tests for the reasons for your miscarriage? I know this is premature, but it doesn’t hurt to start a regimine of baby aspirin.

    I know my due dates. I think what’s harder than the due date passing is the first birthday passing, or the second. Big hugs to you and your family.

    I’m sorry you’ve been through it, but I really do hope you try again. There’s a chance you could miscarry if you try, but there’s absolutely no chance of having a baby if you don’t.

  • Nikky

    2008/05/16 at 12:12 pm

    Hang in there, and if you need to cry; regardless of your eyes bloating. Do it! It’ll feel so much better in the end; and hey if they ask just tell them. 😉

  • Hazel

    2008/05/16 at 12:12 pm

    Thinking and praying for you and your family at this time. We’re all with you.

  • MaryAnn

    2008/05/16 at 12:12 pm

    Positive thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Hang in there. One day at a time…

  • rebeccacdm

    2008/05/16 at 12:12 pm

    I am relatively new to your site, but have pretty much read through the whole thing already.

    I don’t know you, but I feel for you, and my heart is with you during this incredibly tough time.

    And being the big fan of therapy I am, I think you should definitely go. I always find it incredibly to pay someone to be that safe place for me where I can completely lose my shit.

    Hang on, you’ll make it.

  • Natalie A.

    2008/05/16 at 12:12 pm

    I’m very sorry to hear about your stepfather. Please know there is hope. A year ago I was in ICU after going to ER with breathing problems-it was stage 4 NH lyphoma with a 15 cm tumor in my chest. I went through the whole ordeal, chemo actually wasn’t that bad. Now I am in complete remission! One thing I found out was that it’s actually kind of better to have agressive lyphoma because they treat it with the big guns. The more mild lymphoma, they sometimes just ‘watch and wait’ (imagine having cancer and the dr’s just want to observe it!). Everything can turn out fine!

  • Jenna

    2008/05/16 at 12:12 pm

    i’m so sorry to hear about everything and i will keep your family in my thoughts. if it helps… i just cried a little for you. stay strong, you know you have all of our support. 🙂

  • memilygiraffe

    2008/05/16 at 12:13 pm

    Hey Dooce,

    I’ve never posted here before, but just wanted to let you know that you and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers. It sounds like you are having an awfully tough time, and I really wish you the best. Take it one day at a time, as the alcoholics say, with great wisdom. This too shall pass.

  • Barb

    2008/05/16 at 12:13 pm

    Mountains aren’t supposed to be climbed alone. Lean on everyone you can.

    I’m so sorry about your stepdad. It’s so hard to see our parents and step-parents sick and in pain.

    And the due-date? You’ll likely remember that for a long time to come, whatever you decide to do.

    And thank you for always being so honest on this site. You give so many people courage.

  • bevskid1

    2008/05/16 at 12:13 pm

    I am thinking of you and your family. It’s the best I’ve got since the Shell Answer Man does not live in my house. You know for all the crappy e-mails you get,no one should ever say that you don’t love your family.

  • Leesavee

    2008/05/16 at 12:13 pm

    Heather, I think everyone struggles with what they believe, and it’s at times like this that people are bound to question.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you, your stepfather, and your whole family as he goes through this. And I had a miscarriage, too, and I’ll never forget my due date either. It’s been a year and a half, and I still can’t shake the feeling that some part of me will forever be missing.

    You’ve had a bunch of completely overwhelming situations in your life of late…and your sadness is understandable. Please just know that there are thousands of people out here who really do care about you and are pulling for you.

    Wishing you peace…

  • Twenty Four At Heart

    2008/05/16 at 12:13 pm

    I’m sorry you’re going thru this. I can SO relate to trying to figure out what the hell to believe. I was in a bad car accident 2 years ago, have gone thru multiple surgeries since and all sorts of other crap. I HATE it when people tell me how it is character building, and “God has a plan”(for the asshole to run the stop sign?), and how I should always be happy anyway so I can be an inspiration for others. To all those people I say … YOU go thru your own crap and then get back to me!! ANYWAY — I will get off my soapbox and wish you nothing but the best at getting thru a difficult time. You have a lot of people pulling for you and your family!

  • kjc

    2008/05/16 at 12:13 pm

    You are not alone in your struggle to understand life and the shit it throws at us. My thoughts are with you.

  • Pretty Lush

    2008/05/16 at 12:13 pm

    I’m grieving the completely unexpected loss of an amazing family member right this minute. I hope with all my strength and positive vibes that there is no loss, but only the ascension of health, throughout your family.

  • Lisa

    2008/05/16 at 12:13 pm

    I am thinking of you and your family. Despite what you may think, you are strong and will come through with the love and support of your family and friends.

  • Shelly

    2008/05/16 at 12:13 pm

    I’m sorry that this is happening right now.. Hang in there it will get better..

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Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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