An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

You mean I’m not supposed to be eating raw chicken?

This week I participated in a Momversation about behaviors I’ve allowed in my second pregnancy that I didn’t during my first:

When the producers of the show first told me about this topic, I was all, wait a minute. This has to be a total set up. Do they want me to be honest? Because I still routinely break into the hospital at night just so that I can rub my belly up against the x-ray machine, and I just know that some crazy person is going to try to tell me how that’s bad for the baby.

This topic has the potential to be really divisive because some people are fanatical about their idea of what is appropriate behavior for a pregnant woman, and I am just not one of those people. A few months ago I mentioned here that I’m still working out at the gym three days a week, and more than one person wrote to tell me that I might as well cut open my belly and smother the baby with a pillow, THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE. I’m not really moved by emails like this, only because I learned when I was pregnant with Leta to expect the judgmental glances and ridiculous opinions of total strangers. There’s just something about the presence of a pregnant woman that suddenly makes everyone in the room an expert on the health of unborn children.

This pregnancy has been so much more relaxing for me at least in terms of what I’ve allowed myself to worry about, which is somewhat ironic given that I suffered a miscarriage after giving birth to Leta. I think I’ve realized that most of the mechanics of this process are out of my control, and while I can ensure that I am physically and emotionally as healthy as I can be, a lot of this is left up to the mercy of nature. And I have experienced an almost overwhelming sense of freedom and calm in letting myself go to that notion.

Jon will be the first to tell you that I have never been so relaxed as I have been in the last couple of months. I’m not sure he has ever seen me so calm, and I’m not so sure I can explain it. I feel really lucky to have made it this far in pregnancy with no complications, and I’m even more eager and excited for what’s to come and have been preparing myself to work with whatever scenario plays out. I feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, exactly where I want to be, and this sense of peace is nothing like what I felt in the weeks leading up to Leta’s birth. Maybe it’s experience, maybe it’s because this time I’m medicated, but I have such a better sense of who I am going into this. And I’m so grateful to have been given a second chance to feel this way.

How did you guys feel during your subsequent pregnancies?

  • Wait, rubbing your pregnant belly against the x-ray machine is *bad*?

    Hmmm … maybe that’s what the problem is with my kids; my wife used to do that every chance she got.

  • i had a lot more anxiety during my second pregnancy than i did during my first, mainly because i too suffered a miscarriage between my two successful pregnancies. every twinge, cramp, or funny sensation that i felt had me on edge. i wish i could have had the outlook that you have–that it’s out of our control. but, i ended up having a very healthy second baby, and i can honestly tell you that parenting the second time around is much, much easier. best of luck!

  • Genevieve

    Oh God. I’m 38 weeks pregnant with my second at the moment, and until yesterday I would have written “I know exactly what you mean! Everything feels so much easier, more peaceful, less what the hell did I get myself into. But I woke up today and have had 3 separate thirty minute crying jags because my first born will not stop talking to me and because my upstairs neighbor owns an amplifier. It seems like this can’t be right… I’m pleased that someone out there is channeling the calm, because it certainly isn’t me today.

  • Jess F.

    I’m so happy for you, Heather. I wish your newly expanding family nothing but happiness and a well-behaved Coco. 🙂

  • FAT.
    I felt pretty mellow about the whole thing. I’ve had three kids and the first two pregnancies SUCKED because I had morning sickness EVERY DAY until they were born.
    With my third, I thought she’d be a boy (first two were girls) because it was SO pleasant.
    I wasn’t strict about much except heavy lifting. I ate what I wanted and tried to be kind to my body… you know, no drinking and smoking ;)Ok, ok.. not much drinking.

  • I’ve never been pregnant, but it’s nice to hear that you are having such a lovely experience this time around. I hope it stays that way after the birth too. Less stress = happy happy times.

  • I’m glad this pregnancy is going so well for you. Congrats and I wish you the best of luck with everything! Can’t wait to see little Baby Girl Armstrong 🙂

  • Meghan

    With my first I would make a dedicated effort to turn my belly away from the microwave for fear of setting off some kind of nuclear reaction in my belly, or giving my fetus some kind of giant cancer. For my second pregnancy – let the waves fry – mama and the other kid have to eat something!

  • would love to hear more on how you decided to stay medicated during pregnancy…not to say that it is right or wrong, just interested.

  • My first pregnancy, I did everything right. No caffeine, didn’t eat anything “bad”, a perfectly textbook pregnancy. And then he was born, and there was something wrong with him. It lead to a NICU stay, and a first year of specialists and medications.

    Second pregnancy, more of the same, although this time I allowed myself ONE caffeinated beverage a day. But I ate very healthy and had a textbook pregnancy. Same thing happened. The baby was born, and she also had a birth defect. More hospitals, medications, and specialists.

    My third and fourth pregnancies, I did whatever in the heck I wanted. Both were preemies, but other than that, were perfectly healthy. No birth defects. Go figure.

    If I ever had another, I’ll stick with my “whatever” routine. I won’t chug vodka and smoke cigarettes, but I’ll be more relaxed knowing that there are bigger forces in the universe controlling my pregnancy than what I eat or drink.

  • Your story is very similar to mine. I worked during my first pregnancy, and spent my free time exercising and preparing for the birth. I also stayed away from lunch meat, hot dogs, donuts, etc… I miscarried with my second pregnancy, and then when I discovered I was pregnant again, felt oddly content. My stress levels were down (I think it was due to not working as much) and I truly enjoyed all nine months of the pregnancy. However, there were donuts- and some beer (gasp!)- involved this time 😉

    With both pregnancies, I went to the gym until my 8th month, then continued to do pre-natal yoga from home. I swear it helped my stamina, energy, and mindset. My labors lasted for less than two hours each. Take THAT people who say you shouldn’t exercise!

    You’re almost at the end, how fun!

  • Angelena

    Honestly I was WAY more nervous with my second child…. I knew what was going to happen. I knew the pain. I knew the bloating, I knew the constant need to pee…. I knew the uncomfy sleeping… That hip splitting pain when your about 8 months in…..

    Yeah I was scared to death.

    BUT, oddly enough, my second child was the easiest in labor. Even given the emotional stress I was going through at the time. ( my ex husband left our oldest and a prego me when I was 5 months prego ) The epidural worked, labor was fairly easy…… it went well!

    My 3rd however…. man. 1 year later than my 2nd child… the pregnancy was easy. The birth, not so much.

    Call me crazy, but each of my pregnancies affected me differently.

    I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. My kids are my world. <3

  • LaurTar

    I am 24 weeks into my second pregnancy and I mirror your feelings exactly. I feel relaxed, calm and NOW I know that you cannot control the storm that is your body pregnant, your body in labor, or the screamy thing that comes shooting out of your body, so I am trying to roll with it this time. Literally. Also, I’m eating all the cheese I want this time.

  • I’m still trying to make it through my first pregnancy, but I’ve definitely noticed how people all want to be the expert and tell you how you should be living your life while you’re pregnant. The other day one of my friends (who has never had a baby, by the way) made me feel bad because I haven’t been reading and obsessing over pregnancy books the way most first time moms do, I guess. I guess I figure that people were having babies long before “What to Expect while You’re Expecting” was ever written, and the human race didn’t die out, so why is it so darn critical that I read it now? I’d rather not freak myself out about the possibility of this or that disorder or disease or rare possibility. I’d rather enjoy my pregnancy. I’m not saying that I haven’t been watching what I eat and all taking my vitamins and all that…I just don’t think I need to go crazy.

  • Enjoli

    I’m 35 weeks today and I’d say that I’ve definitely been able to keep my anxiety at bay. One, because I have a soon to be 1 year old at home who keeps me busy as she walks, learns to talk, self-feed and currently pull her own diaper off. Two, because I was high risk with her and this time I’m considered “normal” so my doctor refuses to entertain any concerns or notions I have that something is wrong with the baby. I too am happy that you have been able to maintain a self of calm and peace by choice and I wish you a healthy delivery of Baby Dooce. Ciao!

  • By the third baby (who is 5 months now) I had long given up on most of the “supposed to-do’s” that seemed so critical with baby #1, and guess what? He is fantastically healthy and happy, so I really wished I hadn’t been so stressed out with the other two. I am kinda regretting all those runs to Dunkin Donuts now that I have 45 pounds to lose, but other than that, I’d say we are both better off with me more relaxed during and after pregnancy.

  • dooce

    #9 natalie, you can read about my decision to stay on Prozac here:

  • Erin

    2nd go around was way more relaxed, but likely that was due to the fact I wasn’t having twins. However, I did eat a lot of the “forbidden when pregnant” foods: Sushi, Soft Cheeses, etc. Must agree with how everyone else is an expert when there is a pregnant person around- I ordered a sandwich towards the end of my pregnancy and the girl behind the counter said to me: “I will have them leave the sprouts off because your pregnant.” I was shocked and pissed cause I really like sprouts and who the hell is she to tell me what I can and can’t eat, I mean what’s a little E. Coli now and then.

    God luck with the next few weeks!

  • Twinma

    Thank goodness for MEDS!!!

  • Alissa


    Although I have never been pregnant, I simply wanted to say that exercising during pregnancy is one of the BEST things you can do. As a physical therapy student, we have learned that the current research shows the more you exercise, the better for your health and the baby’s! Of course, you should never increase the amount of exercise during pregnancy (don’t decide to do an Ironman, for example; only continue what you’ve done pre-pregnancy), but the more vigorously you exercise, the less likely you are to have tearing during childbirth. Yay!

    So, to all those people who are not up on their research, tell them to SUCK IT!

    Thanks for making me laugh everyday!


  • I haven’t been pregnant twice. Or even once. But oftentimes I think about what a basketcase I am sans baby and worry about how conceiving/having a baby will cause me to go off the deep end.

    I just wanted to applaud your sense of calm. I know it was hard won. I’m rooting for you, lovely, and I wish you all the best for the remainder of your pregnancy and the birth of your second beautiful baby girl.

  • Jemma

    so weird someone gave you a rash about working out! I ran up until 7 1/2 months with both pregnancies, worked out until the day before with my first and the day of with my second. My doc said it was one of the best things I could do, that keeping myself fit would give me more stamina to get through labor.

    anyhoo… I was way more relaxed during my 2nd pregnancy, or maybe I was just way more distracted. it’s different when you have a 15 month old running around. A lot less time to sit on the internet and obsess about how that bite of blue cheese you just ate you might be screwing up your fetus, or how that teaspoon of red wine just pickled the baby’s brain. Post partum was much easier too (excepting the toddler of course) – physically, mentally, everything was so much less dramatic.

    Good luck Heather – hope you maintain the zen to the delivery room and beyond!

  • Amy

    You will enjoy the 2nd one so much more — and not just because of the medication. You know what you’re doing now, and you don’t have to be as obsessive about every little thing. Having a 2nd baby is a great experience. I’m happy for you.

  • Kristi

    I was worried about everything my first pregnancy. I read all the books and listened to all the advice and was a nervous wreck. That glass of wine that I had the day after I concieved will be the reason my little person will never do Calculus. My second and third pregnancies were much easier because I kept the one piece of advice that my friend with 6 kids gave me. “Whatever works for you, for your husband, for your family and your health is what is right for you. When the baby comes, whatever works for you, your baby, your health (and the baby’s health) and whatever fits into your family’s routine is what is best for you.” I had small glasses of wine, ate fresh caught fish, had peanut butter and all sorts of food that have reserved me a special place in hell next to the people who talk in theatres.

    I was less tolerant of invasive people in my second and third pregnancies. During baby number three, there was a woman would rub my stomach without asking whenever she saw me. After I grabbed her breast and asked her how it was any different, she stopped.

  • Amie

    I did everything by the textbook the first time around. There was anxiety (of course) but all in all, I was calm and at peace.

    With the second pregnancy, I strayed a little from the textbook, had less anxiety but was a hell of a lot more emotional (leaning towards the bitch-on-fire emotion more than any other).

    I think there are many factors that can make a pregnancy. That said, we all need to do what we think is important/safe/happy baby makin’ and that alone can give us peace.

    Congratulations on a calm pregnancy…maybe that could be the indicator of your daughter’s personality.

  • Michelle

    I am currently at 26 weeks with my second and I have to agree with you. The first few months were a little more trouble, but overall this one has been very easy. I certainly don’t feel the need to worry about excercising and I think that has actually helped me out. I am not stressing about the changes going on with my body, nothing I can do about it anyway.

  • Molly

    Oh my… thank you, Heather. I’m at the beginning of the 2nd trimester of my first pregnancy, and for some reason TODAY is the day that random coworkers decided to start lecturing me about all of my decisions (whether I have a “game plan” for PPD, whether I’m going to breastfeed, etc.).

    I sooooo needed the reminder that the opinions of total strangers are just a part of every pregnancy, and it’s not just me.


  • Tired, tired, tired! I even saw a hypnotist to try to quit smoking, but he just made me cry : )
    I am so excited to see the new little one!

  • Meghan

    This is my first pregnancy. And, I am trying to be fairly Zen about it. That is, of course, easier said than done. I am pretty good about not beating myself up over drinking a diet coke or eating Lucky Charms for dinner. My biggest problem is Google. I was so impressed to hear that you haven’t cracked open a pregnancy book and you resisted the urge to Google. Hopefully, with my second pregnancy, I will be able to eliminate Google.

  • I was SO much more relaxed with my second pregnancy and with my second child. I definitely felt more at ease with being a mother and I could enjoy her as a newborn much more. As a 3 year old though, sometimes difficult 🙂

  • Emilie

    I am a doula and 26 weeks pregnant with my first child. Before conceiving, I had every intention of staying away from caffine, raw meat, sushi, all the stuff they say is bad for the peanut. Then I had 20 weeks of twice daily vomiting, so I have decided to indulge my one craving…diet pepsi. I only have one a day and sometimes I mix it up and have diet caffine free. Either way, I think the baby will be fine, and I am tired of the stares from judgy, non-pregger people! Heather, thanks so much for allowing for some sanity in the otherwise insane world of pregnancy.

  • My daughter was almost 2-and-a-half when my son was born. I spent so much of that pregnancy chasing her around that I really don’t remember all that much about being pregnant. I do know that I was sick far more often. So much so that I hardly indulged the cravings at all. And really, what fun is being pregnant if you can’t dive headfirst into a barrel of ice cream without regret?

  • Ha! I love that you opened comments on this. And thus far . . . no trolls?? On a pregnancy post?? Hooray for the internet today!

    I’ve only had one pregnancy, and I pretty much loathed the entire experience, so I’m hoping that I enjoy my second one more. The coffee was never a question for me, though – I love it, drink it every morning, except for the nine gestating months when the smell of it made me snarf. Even a whiff from a mile away. Blech.

  • Kristi

    Totally agree!
    The second was SO much easier than the first. I think this surely must be universal for women. (right?) You know more about it. Knowledge is power! And because of that, you are more relaxed about everything.
    I was not medicated until my third pregnancy. But, if I hadn’t been medicated (yep, started antidepressants in my second trimester), I and my youngest son would not be around today. It was that bad!

    It is easy to freak out about every little thing when you are clueless.
    Apparently for some people, it is easy to freak out about every little thing involving someone else’s pregnancy – and to tell them so.

    Love you, Heather! (And thanks SO MUCH for the trailer chick pictures. They made my week!)

  • Liz

    The second pregnancy and newborn were WAY WAY WAY easier than the first. Everything about it. Even the crazy sleep deprivation that having a newborn produces was fine for me with #2, because I had been through it before and knew it would not last forever. I wish you and your family the best as your new little joy prepares to introduce herself to you!

  • I suffered 3 miscarriages and currently have two little boys and one on the way. I totally agree on the relaxed thing – after the first trimester of course.

    I have had coffee *gasp* and lunchmeat *omg* and even a little sushi *we are all going to hell*. Baby is just fine!

  • Anonymous

    Well, yes there were more “rules” broken during the second and definitely the thrid pregnancy. Wait till you get to break all the rules with a second child. Earlier solids, non-sterile soothers, drops of ice cream etc.

  • Forget second pregnancy, I’m taking some of the “no-list” back at the end of my first (i’m 35 wks). And I feel better and happier now that I allow myself some coffee, etc. The two known issues that we had (placenta previa, breech baby) were completely flukes, having nothing to do with any action or gene.

    You gotta be smart, but not inhumanly perfect. I’m glad you feel that keeping yourself happy and sane is healthier than the alternative!!!

    Now back to my crack pipe.

  • Lisa

    I’m in the final hours of my second pregnancy right now. While I felt a bit like a wise ol’ sage this second time around, I also had a hard time with feeling like I wasn’t doing enough for this child. With my first, every waking hour was spent reading books, prepping the nursery, rubbing my belly and thinking baby thoughts. Now, between husband, son, work and pursuing a grad degree, I’ve felt like #2 got short changed.

    The one thing that helped mitigate these emotions was the prenatal yoga class that I attended once a week. While it was partly for me, those hours of stretching, breathing and thinking about the baby are probably what will be most memorable about the past nine months. It caused me to slow down and enjoy this experience. Who knows if I’ll ever be prego again? As a result, I’m hopeful that a happy, healthy baby will be waiting for us at the end of this journey.

    Oh, and can I just ask about the food restrictions? What’s the deal? I swear they added about 1,000 to the list since I was last pregnant…and that was only 4 years ago.

  • While I’ve never been pregnant before I have to agree that letting your physical and emotional side govern what is best for you and your baby. It’s interesting reading how judgmental and know-it-all people get towards others in regards to pregnant women it seriously makes me scared if I ever do get pregnant.

    Also, it seems like the medical profession and the parenting community changes their minds as to what is “best” for the baby every few years. Sleep on their back! Sleep on their belly! My head spins and I’ve only experienced hearing about the drama from my friends who are Mom’s. I think taking care of yourself is the key to a healthy and happy pregnancy and best for the baby.

    Finally: you have no idea how much I laughed about the heroin and cocaine comment at the end. Also wanting to punch the Starbucks employee. It killed me. Death by extreme laughter. 🙂

  • Alright well I’ve never been pregnant, so no opinions there. But I had to comment and say MAN YOU ARE LOOKING GOOD. In that video you look so refreshed and healthy. Must be all that heroin 😉

  • BTW – as a mother of two I have been told the following by my pediatrician:

    “With the first baby, I spend the first few months convincing a new mother that she isn’t going to kill her child. With the second and third, mothers are often so much more relaxed that I have to remind them that they CAN in fact harm their child.”

  • Rachel

    Right there with you. Totally more relaxed this time, even after a miscarriage between first child and this pregnancy. Could be because I am in the States and the first was in Puerto Rico…the differences in medical care most likely accounted for my increased anxiety. I much prefer the days of relative relaxation to the physco days of wondering if I could be the first woman to be eternally pregnant since I was so freaked out about what would come next. Best of luck with your upcoming delivery!

  • The second one is so much fun then the first one because first you are not in unfamiliar grounds second by now you know how great it is have baby in your arms.
    It is the same way once the second baby is born, you enjoy them more..because with first one all your time is spend calling the doctor as soon as they sneeze, cough, whimper blah and blah.

  • Jen

    There are so many similarities between your story and mine. As much as I wanted to be pregnant with my first, when it actually happened, it was so shocking. He came into our life and I was punched in the gut and thrown on the floor in the despair of HORRIBLE post partum. I mean, bad. Like, if I write about it, people will send CPS to my house. When I got pregnant with my second, it was like, “oh, so THIS is how being pregnant is supposed to be?”. I was on a low dose of anti depressants/anti anxiety and it made me normal. When she was born, the whole experience was a 180. I couldn’t get enough of her. I felt cheated out of my first experience because it was nothing like that. This one is going to be a walk in the park for you! I can’t wait to see her tiny little face =)

  • D

    Having three babies I am now an expert (insert rolling eyes and laughing maniacally) I was nervous with the first way more than the last. My fears that I was going to die compounded with each pregnancy though!!

    As an aside, I had (looking back) PPD with my second. My third is now 14 weeks old…I’ve never been happier, more relaxed and loving where we are in life. He however is the worst sleeper out of all of them…go figure!! 🙂

    Good Luck Heather!!!

  • Nudista

    I have not had the pleasure of being pregnant as of yet, but I am extremely anxious of how it is going to feel.

    I’m happy to hear you are feeling much calmer throughout this one! Hmmm… have you and Jon decided on a name?!?

    *hiding under table for mentioning stress inducing topic

  • Amy

    First pregnancy ended in m/c. 2nd pregnancy I was a ball of nerves but everything was textbook, delivered at 37 wks. 3rd pregnancy was nothing but troubles, delivered at 35 weeks but baby was healthy. 4th pregnancy…an even larger ball of nerves, pregnancy was textbook until I went into labor at 31 weeks, delivered at 32 weeks, 3 wks in NICU, nearly 3 yrs later and we are still seeing specialists….and both my preemies are hearing impaired……5th pregnancy. HUGE ball of nerves until I hit 35 weeks, then 37, then at 38 weeks I had to be INDUCED!! And I got that feeling you have now. And I had a perfect beautiful baby. And he’s pure heaven. I wish you continued health and happiness and a swift and easy labor!!

  • Heather B

    My 2nd pregnancy had more medical issues so I had to be more careful with that one, but the changes really came after the baby was born. Gone was the over panicked mom and a really casual one kicked in. The baby is eating dirt? Must need more minerals. Good job looking out for yourself kid! You want to climb a massive ladder and can barely walk? What a brave baby. My friends explain it using pacifiers. Child #1 drops it, you panic and sterilize it. Child #2, you wipe it with your spit. By Child #3 and after you blow it off and hand it back. My son says he broke Mommy in for his sister and he is probably right. Oddly enough, she is the healthier of the two.

  • Becky

    you are hysterically funny and I love it! I wish more people were as laid back as you are with this pregnancy. I had more people telling me what I should and shouldn’t eat with my two pregnancies that I would have starved if I listened to them.

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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