An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

An unscheduled ultrasound

Yesterday I had a routine 35-week check-up with my OBGYN, and because my belly had not grown significantly in the last three to four weeks she ordered an ultrasound for this morning so that we could take a look at the size of the baby and the level of amniotic fluid. She seemed a tiny bit concerned, but said that it could just be that the baby had changed positions or something similarly benign. I tried not to worry too much and resisted asking Google what the hell could be wrong with my baby, because you know what Google would say, right? YOU AND YOUR BABY ARE GOING TO DIE, and here is the Wikipedia entry telling you exactly how and why. With pictures and diagrams and links to estate planning.

I had a hard time sleeping, and not just because Leta was up at 2 AM fretting about spiders. For hours I worked through scenarios in my head: what if? And then what? Because you’re constantly hearing stories as a pregnant woman that start out with a circumstance as simple as this one and in the end both the mother and the baby have to have a heart transplant. Like, yeah, my doctor thought I was measuring small, and then three weeks later I woke up in Sri Lanka with a hangover and the severed foot of a wild boar tied around my neck.

And then when I did finally fall asleep I had nothing but crazy baby dreams, one in particular in which the ultrasound technician accidentally ruptured my bag of water. In less than an hour I dilated from a zero to a ten, and before they could call my doctor the baby’s head was coming out — a head full of blonde, hair-sprayed curls tied into a ponytail with a patriotic scarf — and next thing you know I’ve given birth to a 17-pound baby who can speak in sentences. And instead of reaching out to hold her, I lean over the side of the bed and start puking green beans.


Turns out that you can’t trust measuring tape, because the ultrasound indicates that the baby is measuring almost five days larger than her actual gestational age. In fact, the technician had to measure her head almost four times because it kept saying her head was almost as big as the head of a baby three weeks older than she is. And I’ll just go ahead and tell you that my reaction to that news was less a sense of relief and more of an OUCH.

Also, amniotic fluid looks normal and they estimate she already weighs six pounds. The doctor says it’s probably a combination of the way I’m carrying the baby plus my height that makes it seem like my belly is smaller than it should be. I’m now to carry on as if nothing ever happened, and to help with that directive they gave me the cutest ultrasound pictures of her face. I have to say, from these scans she looks a lot like Leta, although her mouth is a little more Hamilton than Armstrong:

EEEEK! THERE’S A BABY IN THERE! Talk about uncontrollable crying! The technician was all, are you okay? And I was all SHE HAS A FAAAAAAACE!

Speaking of crazy dreams, Leta loves to talk to us about her own, and this one was good enough to share with you:

  • Brass knuckles?? Cmon, that’s obviously a snorkel!

    Srsly, so happy for your good healthy baby news.

  • Lady

    Oh. My. Gawd. That face pic has to be the most glorious ultrasound I have ever seen! I go in for my 20-week scan on Monday and I’m scared shitless. SO glad you got such great, reassuring news. Congrats!! 🙂

  • Lotsalisa

    Oh my God! She sounds like a Valley Girl! LA is with you forever!

  • Thaís

    Milla, #114, I thought it was just me. Maybe this is something mothers learn when they join their secret club.
    And maybe that’s also where they learn to read U/S, because I see ET, a robot and a Praying Mantis, but no baby, no matter how hard I try. 🙂
    Anyway, Dooce, glad both you and Not-Maria are healthy.
    Happy last month of pregnancy!

  • Susie

    They did the same thing to me when I was pregnant with my son… 37 weeks pregnant and they say… don’t worry but your baby is measuring exceptionally small!!! AAAckk ultrasound also told me he was small!!! How am I not to worry??? Then I went into labour 1 week early and gave birth to a boy who weighed 7lb 11 oz… did I mention that I am 4’11 and 90lb?? That was NOT a small baby… Sometimes… doctors suck.

  • Suzysnowflake

    Sorry, there is no baby in there. It’s two muppets (one wearing a cowboy hat) and a manual can opener. Better luck next time Heather! S.

  • Congrats on baby #2! I’m sure she will be just as beautiful as Leta, loved her story btw.

    As for myself, I am petrified beyond reason to give birth to a child which is my reason for loving your blog and newest book to tears! I get so tired of all the “you’ll be glowing” “the nauseous is really not bad” “the discomfort is minimal” “you will only feel a flutter” comments. I get nauseous from riding in a car for any length of time beyond about 5 miles, even when I’m driving! I can’t imagine months of that feeling. I just want to tell all of those agreeable, pregnancy encouraging, mendacious people to SHUT UP. I want the TRUTH about the destruction my body will suffer, and thus I turn to you.

  • Ginny

    Leta is so cute. I teach 4th grade and I have kids in my class who can not speak that well. And these are the kids that were born in the U.S. Don’t even get me started on the ones who were not. Poor babies.

    Glad the baby is doing well. I just had a friend have twin girls, each 6 pounds…at least there is only one face floating around in there. Not that it helps your vag any.

  • Sounds like everything’s well with you and the baby!

    The tech was so off on the measurments of my son that they asked for a whole extra team to be in the delivery room. They all thought he was going to be 5 pounds at full term but he surprised everyone and was 6.8 lbs. I felt like I had totally disappointed the extra team….uh, sorry dudes but I think I’ll take healthy baby.

  • LOL! Brass Knuckles it is! I thought it was a set of keys but brass knuckles seems much more likely. And BTW if NotMaria is weighing a little big right now start walking, running, whatever one week before your due date because let me tell you my last two came out over 9 lbs. Let’s not give NotMaria time to become a giant. Upside to giant babies? I pushed them out fast to get the horrific pain over with. Wait, will that freak you out?

  • They told me my baby was like 15 lbs. and I would have to schedule a C-section. She ended up being a little over 7 lbs. Obviously, the Obstetrical field is like meteorology. A lot of guess work and then the hurricane turns out to be sprinkles. And you boarded up your windows for nothing. BTW, I had to have the C-section anyway because while my baby wasn’t 15 lbs. Her head was the size of a bowling ball and my cervix stubbornly remained the size of a pin head.

  • Anonymous

    Too bad. I am still hoping something horrible happens to that troll fetus inside of you. What is it like having such a hideous daughter? I wonder what she’s going to do when all the kids start picking on her for being ugly? Ugh. It’s so disgusting you are bringing another creature into the world. Don’t end up in the looney bin this time. LOL

  • So are you going to name the new baby Pirate? Because of the patch over the left eye and all?

    At my last ultrasound, the technician was like, wow, this baby is going to weigh more than either of her parents (we were both more than 8 pounds) and wow, she’s got a big old head. That is one large head. I just can’t get over how big her head is. Then he told me she was breech, so I forgot about the big head part. Until she was born. Naturally. Because she got some direction and was facing the right way. “Ouch” is right.

  • Betsy

    Valley girl!?…Leta, not the baby.

  • Glad to hear all was ok. That’s not a fun visit when they order the “extra” ultrasound.

  • FreakishlyTallMom

    I am so happy to hear everything is great with you and Not-Maria! I got the Tweet yesterday and have been worried for you since. YAY! She has a FACE! That is awesome!
    Leta is an absolutely delightful child and I love how animated she is! Thank you for sharing your lives with us!

  • Those are such awesome ultrasound pictures! How exciting! Congratulations 🙂

  • bohica

    I’m always glad when people label ultrasounds and the like because they TOTALLY don’t mean anything to me otherwise. I wish I could find faces and feet, etc, but man, I’m just lost.


    However, I did immediately find the break in your toe. I wonder what that means?

  • Karen

    I keep squinting my eyes – you know how you can look at the drawing of the young woman who turns into an old crone…..but seriously……I cannot see a face!!! Somebody help me – describe what I’m seeing PLEASE!!

  • Sarah

    Congrats, Heather – glad everything is good!

    Side note: am I the only person who has a TERRIBLE time deciphering the images in an ultrasound photo? Seriously, even with your labels, it took me more than 5 minutes to be able to see the face. Ultrasound fail on my part.

  • Ingrid

    I’m so glad she comes with her own toy car!

  • Jo
  • I don’t know if it’s because of all the horrible things that have happened to people I know and care about lately or what…but I was just scared to death that you were about to tell us something was wrong with the baby.

    Then I read how you were being your usual sarcastic/joking self and knew you wouldn’t have that tone if something had been wrong. Thank God.

    I couldn’t bear anything going wrong with her!

    Hang in there. Just a month or so and you’ll be free of at least this part of the worry. Btw, I think this one is gonna look like you! And her first word is gonna be “tile”, lol.

  • Caitlin

    Your Leta is so adorable. When they perfect cloning, I want one just like her. Or, just pack her up and send her to NY next time she annoys you 🙂

  • SuzieQ

    WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE if we don’t find out which way you hang your toilet paper roll..something else to obsess about. Can’t wait to see “in the flesh” pictures of not Maria.

  • Bea

    She is the cutest thing ever. This baby is lucky to have such an awesome big sister. For some reason, I’m so excited for you guys! Haha.

  • I’m feeling a little Rachel Green from “Friends” when I say “I don’t see it!” As in, I’m staring at your ultrasound pictures and I don’t see the face! But I trust it’s there 🙂

    I can only imagine the relief you must feel now. Doctors, they’re great people in general, but they can scare the bajeezus out of you in a matter of sentences. Congrats on making it to the home stretch. May you not poop in the delivery room 🙂

  • Anonymous

    I’m 32 and a half weeks and my baby is measuring almost 3 weeks bigger as well. I have to have a second 3 hour test to make sure I don’t have gestational diabetes.

  • So, yeah, my friend Suzy told me to come read this because I’d relate only my story didn’t turn out so well. I was measuring small because the damn baby (twin) was way too small. On my “follow up” ultrasound to supposedly confirm everything was fine I ended up going straight to the hospital and gave birth less than two weeks later at 33.5. My little ladies were born at 2.6 pounds and 4.6 pounds. You know, at the time I was like “this is the most horrible, craziest, it can’t happen to me thing ever” but now, even with my little one’s many issues due to being born so small, it’s all good. And hey, being a chick and being small is kinda cool for her. She won’t end up with a big juicy Jewish butt like her mama.

    BUT, I’d much rather hear that it ended up being ALL GOOD! Congrats. And congrats on the book.

    This, by the way, is from your fellow Simon Spotlight Baby Mama writer.

  • To be fair, that’s how I always tell my dreams to my friends and I’m an adult. I also end stories with “Can I see it now?” even when I’m not being taped. So what I’m saying is that I should babysit your daughter.

  • Kristine

    Whoa! Can we say valley girl? LOL Seriously, I could watch this ten times over – I just love how everything ends in a question mark and how she quickly catches her breath every few seconds. What a riot. It’s no wonder you’re water hasn’t broke yet on the count of all the laughing at Leta’s story telling. PS – Jon better get his guns ready, there will be boys beating your door down for this one. She’s simply beautiful.

  • aawww so cute. both of them. I had a hard time locating the face on the ultrasound but then i saw it. somehow it looks like there’s a keychain in there too. leta likes the camera… she’s starting to look like a ‘big girl’. seems like you were pregnant with her just recently. time flies.

  • Michelle

    So glad to hear baby sister is well and growing in the belly. Don’t worry about her being too big. My midwives were all– how much did your first baby weigh? And I was all– seven pounds. And they were all– well, this baby is going to be a little bigger than that. With a smug exhaling laugh the whole time. They were predicting over 9 lbs and I went two weeks over. I measured really big and my son was born a pretty perfect 8 lbs. So, they don’t KNOW IT ALL. You’ll have the perfect sized baby for you, and a wonderful birth. Can’t wait to see the little bundle and especially pics of Leta and sis together. Hang in there!

  • Lisa B

    Holy cow! Leta is suddenly a big girl – when did this happen?! Also, I think not-Maria is smoking a pipe in pic 1 – perhaps that’s the source of your crazy dreams?

  • Could they possibly hire a seamstress at your OB’s office? You know, someone who has a handle on the whole measuring tape thingy?

    I got a similar scare at very close to the end of my pregnancy, with a NST that turned out to be very stressful, including a stat ultrasound, but all for naught. Baby was all “Psych! Made you look!” She’s still a kidder that one.

    AND! She was born at ten pounds even. So, ditto the OUCH!

  • Lesley

    Leta may have a future on the Daily Show as a special correspondent.

  • Haha, that reminds me of the crazy pink chair my daughter dreamt of a few years ago:

  • Michelle

    PLEASE remove comment #162.

    Commenter #162, have you ever heard of a little thing called karma? When you throw that kind of nastiness around, it comes right back to you.

  • I’m glad that everything is alright for the baby. I bet that was scary! Your daughter is adorable…

  • Two beautiful girls. Wow!

  • Jamie

    Glad everything is okay. I am due a few weeks ahead of you and have just have realized that the wild thing in my belly will be a *real baby* in just a few short weeks.

  • I am glad everything is fine. I am short so they alway thought that my babies were HUGE. I love it when my kids tell me their dreams.. it’s the stuff well.. dream are made of 🙂

  • Adrienne

    I’m glad things turned out great on the ultrasound.

  • Lauren

    @ #15. Dutchess of Kickball:

    We must be the same person because I immediately saw Pikachu as well!

    Congratulations on your growing family, Heather! I’m a huge fan of your website!

  • Oh, and also – through all four of my pregnancies I had a recurring animated dream in which I was on the table having an ultrasound and the scanner person – in perfect Dr Hibbert tones – would say, ‘if I didn’t know any better I’d say that baby was mooning us’.


    Oh, and as the mother of one prem and then three gargantuan babies (9pd8, 9pd8, 10pd3) those big heads are a bastard.

  • Anonymous

    and omg I’m so skinny! haa haa, and this belt fits around me twice, mmmehhh

  • Lori

    If it makes you feel any better, I had three unscheduled ultrasounds because I also measured small. My doctor admitted before the first unscheduled ultrasound that she was being overly cautious because the tape is a crude way of measuring the baby’s size. Each time the ultrasound showed that my son was perfectly fine as was my fluid. It’s good that you have a doctor looking out for you! And you get to see your beautiful baby girl!

  • I’m glad that everything was normal today and that you and the baby are doing well. I enjoy reading your blog, and usually don’t comment, but wanted to comment on your thought of “OUCH”, I can relate, my son was born 11 pounds at two weeks early! Good Luck!

  • Awww!!! Baby faces! I can’t wait to see the two sisters together.

  • Aww! Leta is adorable! I think we have all lost our minds at one time or another. LOL

    I am glad everything worked out for you and your pregnancy scare. Don’t you hate it when the docs are so wrong? My OB and ultra sound tech said my daughter was going to be more than 10 lbs. She was born at 6lbs. 15 oz and we didn’t have one piece of clothing for her that was less than a size 3-6 mos.! It was kind of funny.

    I also remember seeing my daughter’s giant head on the ultrasound and being deathly afraid that I was going to be ripped in half during childbirth. I ended up with an emergency C-section. I am still not sure which would have been worse because having your belly cut open sucks. And no matter what the OB tells you, you will never get feeling back in your belly after that surgery. They always lie! LOL

    I hope all goes well for the remainder of your pregnancy and that you have an easy childbirth and recovery. Here is to a healthy baby and Mommy. 🙂

    P.S.; No matter how hard I try, I cannot see a face on the ultrasound pics. Sorry, they just look like mishmash to me (No offense meant).

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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