the smell of my desperation has become a stench

38 weeks

As of today there are only ten days left until my due date:

38 weeks

Yesterday morning I had a weekly appointment with my OBGYN where she checked to see if I was dilated. You know how that is done, right? Because I remember the first time my old doctor told me how he was going to “check me” when I was pregnant with Leta, and I was all YOU’RE GOING TO DO WHAT? And then he snapped on one of those latex gloves, held up his hand like he was flashing the peace sign, and then I had go home and tell Jon that I cheated on him with the knuckle on my doctor’s index finger.

It is not a pleasant experience, not at all, no way, not even. Someone basically has to reach up inside you and casually estimate the circumference to the opening of your cervix using the tips of their fingers. And in order to garner the most accurate measurement they have to sweep around the opening like they’re cleaning the mouth to a water bottle. When you’re laboring in a hospital room you learn really fast that the person walking around with their index and middle fingers in the air is coming straight for your lady parts, and sometimes that person is not the same person who measured you an hour ago, and next thing you know you’ve violated every single standard of the BYU Honor Code.

The doctor who delivered Leta retired just a few months after she was born, so I had to find someone new to deliver this baby, and this doctor must have much tinier hands because that is the only way to explain the maneuvers she has to pull in order to get her fingers far enough inside me to reach the cervix. And I am not even kidding, at one point I thought her forefinger was going to poke out of my nose.

Jon was standing by my side during this procedure so that I could squeeze his hand when the pain became unbearable, and afterward as he taped up his broken fingers he asked if it had really been as bad as the expression on my face seemed to indicate. And I was all, Jon, that woman just reached through my vagina and scratched the underside of my brain. Whatever the expression was on my face, it WAS AN UNDERSTATEMENT.

The last three times she checked me I’d shown no progress whatsoever. My cervix hadn’t dilated or softened, and I’d go home thinking I was going to be pregnant for another two months, and they do not make a powdered doughnut big enough to medicate that kind of misery. But yesterday when she pulled back her arm her face brightened with the news that I’ve dilated to two and half centimeters and am 50% effaced, a good indication that my body is getting ready. According to all the pregnancy shows I’ve been watching, though, this means absolutely nothing, and I could either go into labor tonight or waddle around for 13 days past my due date and then accidentally give birth in a toilet.

  • Donna

    2009/06/04 at 9:52 pm

    I was 100% effaced and dilated to a 4 for almost 40 days. I spent those 40 days strapped to a fetal heart monitor having contractions every 30 minutes. That was the worst 40 days of my life. Noah was still born 5 weeks early. As horrible as my pregnancy was, I would definitely do it all again.

  • just beth

    2009/06/04 at 9:54 pm

    Are you holding Fred in??



  • Fae

    2009/06/04 at 9:56 pm

    My childhood best friend’s sister accidentally gave birth in a hospital toilet.

    Everyone tried to convince her to name the baby John.

  • Meg

    2009/06/04 at 9:56 pm

    This had me in tears I was laughing so hard!

  • Natalie

    2009/06/04 at 9:57 pm

    this post honestly made me squirm! hehe. Poor vagina/cervix 🙁 The things you go through to make sure your baby is healthy!

    You look great though, and I can’t believe only 10 days left! Best of luck to you!

  • Jessica

    2009/06/04 at 9:58 pm

    This scares me half to death and yet I keep wanting to read more, like a morbid curiousity… pregnancy is so strange.

  • Becky

    2009/06/04 at 9:59 pm

    HAHA, I laughed out loud at least 3 times while reading this! Epic.

  • Maria Leinen

    2009/06/04 at 10:00 pm

    I love reading your blog—- brings back memories all the time and I had to laugh at the accuracy of the ‘index and middle finger’ as the one valid indicator someone is getting ready to assault the lady parts….

    Do what I did….

    PEE ON THE DOCTOR’S HAND—- nothing gets them to yank those two fingers back into their own personal space that a good dose of a golden shower!

  • Anonymous

    2009/06/04 at 10:01 pm

    Funny post! Congrats on being more than a fifth of the way there, and good luck!

  • steph

    2009/06/04 at 10:02 pm

    Yep. I prefer labour and delivery to those checks.

  • Adriana of AZ

    2009/06/04 at 10:05 pm

    How exciting! I walked around for almost three weeks after my due date 2 cm dialated. It was very discouraging. Everyone told me it was any day, and a whole entire month passsed by, due date came and went, before I was finally enduced.

    I am by no means trying to be a downer, just keep enjoying these last moments with Leta and jsut the three of you.Go on a couple dates with Jon before you ahve a baby attached to your boob 24/7…have fun!

    You look awesome!

  • Maggie

    2009/06/04 at 10:05 pm

    So here in good old Australia we don’t have lovely checks like that until you are in hospital and in labour. The OBGYNs just check to see if the head is engaged by feeling around your pelvis from the OUTSIDE!
    Good luck hope it is FAST.

  • Zoe Rights

    2009/06/04 at 10:06 pm

    There is nothing to you- Where are you putting the doughnuts?

  • Anonymous

    2009/06/04 at 10:06 pm

    I just wanted to say HI because I am due with baby number 2 just a couple days before you and your blog is part of what is keeping me sane as I am beached here on my left side half the day.

  • Anonymous

    2009/06/04 at 10:06 pm

    Hi Heather,

    Thanks for responding (#19). That’s good that you are totally in control and consent to everything ahead of time and know what everything is. Many educated women do not know what to expect. My Bradley Method class was full of professional couples who wanted to learn all about the childbirth experience. I, for one, had no idea what to expect, and after having two miscarriages, was more than a bit scared about not being in control.

    Juli Walter was my teacher. I call her the Master of the Positive Childbirth Experience. She would be a great guest on a Momversation, as she is the mother of 4 (an my personal guru) –

    Best Wishes from Chicago!

  • Leslie

    2009/06/04 at 10:06 pm

    Don’t flush. Really. Or your child’s first words will be DAMN IT MOTHER, THAT WAS REALLY FREAKIN’ COLD!

  • kendra

    2009/06/04 at 10:07 pm

    I was a high risk with multiples and had these “checks” weekly for months on end due to preterm labor. Funny I had blocked it out until now. My doc had the smallest fingers known, and he seriously bruised my parts with his other fingers that weren’t inside. It HURT! Different doc on the second pregnancy, and I don’t remember that doc doing it at all. Good luck on the whole delivery thing…glad it’s you and not me!

  • MikeWJ

    2009/06/04 at 10:09 pm

    I only have two words for this experience you’ve just shared: Ouch! and Ugh! Good God, I’m glad I’m not a woman.

  • jen smith }i{

    2009/06/04 at 10:09 pm

    Ahhhh… “good” times!! Thanks for bringing me back. 🙂

    To those advising Heather to back out of checks: Having a baby hurts too but I doubt she’ll end up backing out of delivering her child solely because there’s pain on the way. There’s a human being up in her insides… it hurts to be pregnant, it hurts to check for progress and it hurts to labor and deliver. It doesn’t mean the pain is not worth it.

  • Little Miss Moi

    2009/06/04 at 10:09 pm

    It fricken kills. And, when my doc did it, he then told me to get up, put my undies back on, then slipped to the other side of the curtain and said to my husband, “I fit three fingers in there”. Oh the joys. (He’s gay, the doc, not my husband, so fairly sure my husband was unintimidated by this comment).

    Luckily, I had the baby that night, and only had to endure this treatment three more times, all during labour.

  • Jen

    2009/06/04 at 10:10 pm

    Best of luck, Heather. And thanks for all the visuals!

  • DesignGirl

    2009/06/04 at 10:11 pm

    Hey! One of my friends gave birth in the toilet in her LDR at the hospital. I am not even kidding. The nurse was standing over her saying, “if you don’t get up off that toilet, you are going to …” then, before she could complete that thought, everyone hears the familiar sound of something going “bloop” into the toilet water. It was her baby. The nurse quickly fishes the baby out, sends her husband down the hall to get another nurse, and while everyone is all checking on the baby, my friend walks out of the bathroom and says, “We’ll I guess I ruined the fun for everyone!” Their baby girl (first child, mind you) was born healthy and perfect at almost nine pounds. One year later, they still call her their “little dumpling”.

    and just for the record, I think you should name the baby after me …. MARIA Ha!

    Seriously though, I am sending you good vibes for as pleasant and pain free a birth as possible. You look awesome!

  • Jessica

    2009/06/04 at 10:13 pm

    I was due June 11 and just had my beautiful baby girl May 30th. One of the reasons I was glad she came early was to avoid those damn cervical checks in the doc’s office.

    Just think of that 2.5cm as 2.5 less you have to stretch out during labor.

  • Yolanda

    2009/06/04 at 10:15 pm

    Whoa. I totally had sympathy cramps after reading that. And I no longer even have a uterus to cramp. You’re almost done. I believe you know exactly what you need now, and that you and your baby will do great work together when the time is right.

  • Maggs

    2009/06/04 at 10:17 pm

    ooooohhh, OUCH….
    My first baby was 12 days early. Hope it happens soon and is quick!

  • Meagan

    2009/06/04 at 10:25 pm

    I love your porcelain white belly.

  • Jess

    2009/06/04 at 10:29 pm

    OMG – I am 36 weeks with my first and have a Dr’s appt tomorrow – please tell me they won’t start these “checks” just yet. I’d rather not know how effaced/dialated I am. I already feel like this baby is not coming anytime soon and I am going to be pregnant forever. There’s no need for a painful “check” just to affirm this.

  • Stepanie

    2009/06/04 at 10:29 pm

    Ouch. Agree with the first commenter, it’s GREAT birth control.

  • Liz

    2009/06/04 at 10:33 pm

    i love your blog. you look super and yeah, that is really REALLY painful…i hope it happens right on time and not too slow but not too fast for an epidural. =)

  • Cindy

    2009/06/04 at 10:33 pm

    I have not, and will never at this point, give birth. My sister has birthed two beautiful daughters, who I love as my own. I thought I knew what that was until I read your blog. You put an ENTIRE NEW SPIN on childbirth. Which is not a bad thing, bless your heart.

  • connonym

    2009/06/04 at 10:33 pm

    Here’s wishing you a speedy and relatively comfortable labor and delivery.

  • Rabeeah

    2009/06/04 at 10:33 pm

    You still look glamorous!
    All the best for the upcoming days and I’m so excited for the moment when you meet Not Maria!

  • Britte

    2009/06/04 at 10:34 pm

    Holy huge boobs, Heather! That’s exciting that you have only 10 more days left. When I get pregnant (way, way, WAY in the future) I’ll probably have to have my significant other’s hand to grip onto as well. just simple visits to the gyno are terrifying. One time I almost kicked my gyno in the face because I was so uncomfortable (it wasn’t an intentional kick).

  • TheExpatresse

    2009/06/04 at 10:34 pm

    With First Child, they “swept my membranes” without telling me . . . just google it. I still wake up screaming. I reflexively scooted so far up the table, they had to pull me back down by my ankles.

    Second Child: I was 8 or 9 cm dilated and mostly effaced and had NO contractions . . . the doctor kept saying, “Forget the contractions . . . if you so much as SNEEZE, call me!” He kept sending me home saying, “Have a nice dinner, make love to your husband. This baby is coming tonight!” And every morning I would wake up, feel my bump, and think, “SHIT!”

    We finally did give that labor a teeny, tiny push. But it was quick and, dare I say it, actually fun.

  • sg

    2009/06/04 at 10:38 pm


    I hope you are secretly in labor right now. Good luck!

  • Jenny

    2009/06/04 at 10:40 pm

    Heather, you look awesome! Thank God for epidurals! Enjoy the last days as a family of 3. 🙂

  • Raeann

    2009/06/04 at 10:42 pm

    I guess I’m not the only one who watches “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant”

    Best wishes, Heather.

  • karen

    2009/06/04 at 10:46 pm

    This post made me pucker in places I shouldn’t be puckering. You look great! You’re in the home stretch … have all the powdered doughnuts you want!

  • Kristi L Drennan

    2009/06/04 at 10:48 pm

    Listen…you’ve GOT to get on a yoga ball and start bouncing! I bounced that baby right out of me ten days early! That and I had something stuck on the back of my tounge and when I tried to get it out I gagged and then my water broke so one of the two for sure worked. You look great though…so if you have to be uncomfortable and ready to bust this baby out…at least you’re doing it in style!

    bounce bounce BOUNCE!

  • Gen

    2009/06/04 at 10:49 pm

    Best of luck for a happy, healthy baby and a speedy delivery!

  • Kelda

    2009/06/04 at 10:51 pm

    Oh crumb.
    Are you sure she didn’t ‘scrape your membrane’? Granted you are early but I had been a couple days late with my daughter when I too thought my ob had touched my brain and then I asked, “What have you done?” She replied, “Scraped your membrane.” I said, “I know what that means, you could’ve warned me.” Sometimes, I think they forget that there is the internet . . . so, we, like, um, HAVE A CLUE. All that aside, so very happy for you and NOT Maria!

  • Tegan

    2009/06/04 at 10:54 pm

    Bring on the next adorable frog baby. I hope your bottom section remains partially happy throughout the experience. Good luck Heather!

  • AnEmily

    2009/06/04 at 10:55 pm

    Yes, there is something so surreal about all those hands reaching into your vagina during labor. I don’t think I was properly warned about that!
    Here’s to an easy childbirth and a healthy baby!

  • Emily

    2009/06/04 at 11:02 pm

    Gotta love TLC 🙂

  • gitz

    2009/06/04 at 11:02 pm

    Not going to lie… I was only half listening about the cervix part because I’m still pissed that your ass is smaller than mine and I’ve never been pregnant a day in my life.

    I think *I* need a powdered donut to medicate that fact.

  • Mammakaze

    2009/06/04 at 11:11 pm

    Ah, the vaginal probe. So delicate, so refined. Like that episode of Dirty Jobs where Mike Rowe is the dairy cow midwife. Frankly, I don’t think they’re really checking your cervix. I think they’re just prepping you for the humiliation to come. Let’s face it, when you have a baby, all modesty goes out the window. That’s why nature made it all so painful. So when you poop on a table in front of the doctor, the nurses, your husband and your mother-in-law who is running the video camera, you’re in too much freaking agony to care! Here’s wishing you a swift delivery. Forget everything they taught you in grade school and JUST SAY YES TO DRUGS.

  • REAL_Seattle

    2009/06/04 at 11:15 pm

    2nd births are so much easier- for multiple reason. I hate the finger/hand checking- if Dr’s touched men they way they do women… 2nd time around the body does seem to remember and make the delivery much easier. Not sure if you are going natural/no drugs, but I did and it was actually more painful- I seemed with my first to have this idealized thought of pain- that just didn’t seem necessary with the 2nd. I did have a much faster and more easy labor with the 2nd. My regular Dr. delivered the first- he was on call that weekend,I missed my regular Dr. by 15 minutes, he was coming on duty just after I delivered. I had a dula with the 2nd and that helped, and I didn’t have my mom or sister there, like I did with the first.

    BTW- my first just turned 8 on Wednesday. I was very emotional and I didn’t expect to be, I cried reading his poetry on the school wall today. He is quite the young grown up boy, in a way if he did drop out of school now, he still knows enough to survive. Point is that he is now old enough to not need me for survival, now he just needs me to pay for his toys and education- just like his father!

    You look beautiful and best of luck for a wonderful deliver- look forward to the post of your beautiful baby girl.

    The baby’s room is wonderful and I like the carpet.

  • Krista

    2009/06/04 at 11:24 pm

    I do hope that you have a wonderful birthing experience. It’s tough but amazing, but you already know that! Enjoy your last bit of time with Leta, life gets hectic but on those tough days try to find something to make you smile 🙂

    Love and best wishes ~~

  • Stacie

    2009/06/04 at 11:25 pm

    I think I peed a little. Why do they not tell you THAT tidbit of information in birthing classes?

  • Lorrie

    2009/06/04 at 11:27 pm

    I don’t know why more women don’t know this is unnecessary. You don’t have to be checked. You can say no. It tells them nothing. None of them can predict worth a bucket of piss. I have a homebirth midwife and the only checks I got were at MY request at like 9cms when I needed someone to tell me I was close to being done. And she is both quick and gentle.

    Course the reason I went to her was the twin nightmare first labor with 11 different residents at the teaching hospital finger raping me every hour. I still have flashbacks about that BS.

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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