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.

  • Amber

    2009/06/04 at 11:28 pm

    I’m wincing up a storm over here. Getting “checked” is brutal. I remember going in on a Friday, a few days before my due date, and the OB told me that there’d been no progress (I was still 1 cm dilated and 50% effaced as I had been since conceiving Stella). She said, “Nope! You won’t be having a baby this week!” Went into labor that night. Of course. I bet Zinger Butternut’s birth will go quickly and smoothly. I am very excited for you, though I am not resorting to use of the caps lock key. I gave that up after realizing I was basically copying you. You must be so relieved.

  • bonzai

    2009/06/04 at 11:34 pm

    Damn, I’d blocked out some of my lovely experiences with #2. My water broke 3 weeks early, and pushed out a mucus plug that looked like a jelly fish.
    We get to the hospital, and the female OB that I could not stand is on call. She shoves her hand up there with almost no warning, turns to the nurse, and, as if I want not on the other end of her groping fingers, says “I can’t feel a thing, it’s like Mile High Stadium in there.” I wanted to kick her in the teeth.
    Then she retracts her hand and says, condescendingly, “Are you sure you didn’t just wet the bed?” I can’t remember what I responded, I was so appalled. Bitch.
    Thank goodness my lovely male OB arrived to do the C-section. I don’t suppose everyone would appreciate his humor, like when he asked me if I wanted him to cut on the dotted line (previous scar) or if I wanted a straight cut this time. (He wasn’t my OB for #1.) Or when he was talking about the amazing length of my son’s umbilical cord and the size of his placenta. I reminded him that I was awake up there, and he said something about longing for the good old days when they knocked us out completely so we couldn’t talk back, but at least the epidural kept me from kicking him for being a smart ass. (Typing that it sounds bad, but trust me, at the time, it relaxed me to have someone talking to me like a normal person when I felt like anything but, numb from the waist down and taped onto boards like some weird crucifixion victim…)
    Hope it happens fast, and there’s no more groping! Come on, Not Maria – we want to meet you!

    Captcha: blintz of … of what, dammit! Now I’m hungry!

  • Amanda Brumfield

    2009/06/04 at 11:42 pm

    You look gorgeous. I can’t wait to see the little one. Prayers and love are with you and the family.

    P.S. J-Clog. You know when you have bad sinuses? Imagine someone reaching inside your nose with a finger or two and not so gently scraping away at your septum. It’s like that but in your private parts.

  • Lisa

    2009/06/04 at 11:46 pm

    I totally agree with your description of THE CHECK! Although I’m not sure I could have worded it as well as you did! I’m so excited for you guys…..You’re almost there!

  • Mouse

    2009/06/04 at 11:46 pm

    Damn! I hope no-one else ever has to meet Friend Forceps, as in a team of excavators goes in with the gynaecological-equivalent of logging equipment, uproots the baby and then reverses, dragging the hapless infant like a felled log behind them. Had I known what THAT felt like I would have opted to pop my daughter out through my left nostril, I swear I still have the tyre tracks ‘down there’

  • Michelle

    2009/06/04 at 11:51 pm

    “According to all the pregnancy shows I’ve been watching, though, this means absolutely nothing”…too true. Hang in there! You look amazing Heather!

  • Jing

    2009/06/04 at 11:52 pm

    I think I must be in a parallel universe. I’m about a week behind your due date, expecting my first. So funny to read about the same experiences a week or so before they happen to me; like clearing out the baby’s designated room and the upside down house, and the unscheduled ultrasound because I’m also relatively tall and belly seems small. Thanks for the laugh and the warning – I guess I can expect the ‘sweep’ at next week’s appointment!

  • Dee

    2009/06/04 at 11:52 pm

    If crib bumper pads and this cervix scraping thing are known no-no’s, why doesn’t everyone know about it? Why aren’t doctors talking to their patients about all of this?

  • Cait

    2009/06/04 at 11:54 pm

    Went through 12 hours labour, contractions 5 mins apart. Got to the hospital. Got checked. TWO CMS DILATED. TWO. I was devastated. At least your first 2cms haven’t hurt that much! Only 8 to go.
    Best of luck.

  • Savanah

    2009/06/04 at 11:55 pm

    It’s so sweet how you’re teeny tiny up top, BAGOOMAZOOMA in the middle, and then you gots these teeny tiny leggers.

    It’s so cute, I gotta trace you over and over again!

    Happy Pregnancy, Heather!
    I’m no where near having kids yet, trying to keep my legs crossed with my boyfriend till I reach the end of high school in 2 weeks, haha, but you really make it all seem interesting and miserable and crazy and funny as hell.

    I don’t know if you read all these comments, but I want you to know, a young girl here in So-Cal thinks you’re an amazing human being. 🙂

  • Jen with backfat

    2009/06/04 at 11:57 pm

    Or how about the ever-so-NOT-fun “stripping of the membranes” procedure? Talk about feeling violated!! I had that done with my first baby to induce labor. I felt like a backed up drain pipe and my midwife was the Roto Rooter man trying to clear things out…aggressively…with two fingers. Holy shit that hurt!…and it didn’t even work.

    And personally, I think using the cervix measurement method to determine labor timing is overrated anyway. Depending on the size of your doctor/midwife’s fingers, you’re given completely subjective information. What if your doctor is like Homer Simpson and has ‘stupid fat fingers’?…you’ll get your hopes up for nothing. And if your doctor has very svelte digits, you’ll walk away thinking you’ve got a ways to go…then BAM!!…baby falling in the toilet…just like you said. Which makes me think of those lame-ass women on the TV show who say “I didn’t know I was pregnant”. Really? Are these ladies really that stupid or in that much denial? (Agh!…that’s another topic for another day.)

    You look fantastic for being on the brink of delivery. And tell your cervix CONGRATULATIONS on the big achievement.

  • BlackCatMima

    2009/06/05 at 12:14 am

    Goodness you’re slim and slender and svelte for such an “enormous” pregnant woman. Women in my family are about that size around the fourth month, then eventually pop out 12 pound toddlers.

    Childless and staying that way
    in Illinois

  • anastassija

    2009/06/05 at 12:15 am

    awesomely brilliant. 🙂

    [hugs] to you and your beautiful family.


  • Mari

    2009/06/05 at 12:19 am

    Aaaah, I am so excited! Can’t wait to see the babe! Hope you go soon, so you can be comfortable again.

  • Michelle

    2009/06/05 at 12:24 am

    i wish u the best!!! so excited for u!! i remember seeing a picture of u with a tiny baby bump not long ago at all.. cant wait to see baby pictures 🙂

    p.s. u need a tan, u almost blinded me 😛

  • Genoa

    2009/06/05 at 12:29 am

    Girl, your baby bump is still tiny regardless of how big you might feel about now.
    Hope she arrives before your next “check” so don’t have to be violated with another doctor visit. I say labor and delivery will be enough to cover that base.

  • Bria

    2009/06/05 at 12:37 am

    Looking good, lady. I hope the coming week is all footrubs and donettes for you. Hang in there – you’re almost done.

  • ZigZag

    2009/06/05 at 12:45 am

    I envy you, and am so grateful you are alive in the same time- continuum that i am. God that sounds woo-woo. But really. I’m so scared of a ‘thing’ to come out of me. And here you are, things coming out of you, and your not only okay with that, you welcome it. (and after all these years) Bravo. Please let me soften. I wish you the best. Thank you.

  • Jenn

    2009/06/05 at 12:51 am

    Eeeeeeee! Well, tell baby Armstrong that the 6th is a lovely day for a birthday. 😉 Thanks for not sugar coating that procedure, I had NO idea that it was so….involved. Good to know.
    Enjoy these last few days as a family of three – and good luck with Coco when she finds out what a “baby” is! Please, please video some of that for us! 🙂 Take care dooce!

  • Stretch Mark Mama

    2009/06/05 at 1:09 am

    My favorite baby doctor had long fingers. Made all the difference.

    Love the cig shot. I’ll be the 873rd person to tell you that. I’m hoping you got enough “entertaining” (read: angry) comments about that post to make your efforts worthwhile. Oh, I loved it!

    You’re on the home stretch! Everything gets better from here! (*cough*)

  • Kerstin

    2009/06/05 at 1:20 am

    d lHi Heather!

    You’re a couple of days ahead of me, and I’m so hoping you have this baby soon, because it might give me a bit more will to live (because, you know, even though it’s completely unrelated, it’ll make me feel like *I* might have *my* baby soon).

    I have what I like to call the Bump of DOOM going on … have gained very little other weight, just have this massive, hard ball of baby going on at the front … argh. Please baby, please just get OUT! NOW!

    I can’t wait to see Not Maria, I’m really excited about her being born! Good luck good luck good luck!


    P.S. Thanks for the heads-up on the checks … that ought to be fun when I come to it.

  • sparkygal

    2009/06/05 at 1:25 am

    Jeez, Dooce.
    I broke BYU honor code about ten years back (well, LDSBC honor code but same diff) but at least I enjoyed myself in the process. (And all I did was have my now husband cross the “chastity line” that was the line that divided the common area from my bedroom. No fingery stuff going on.)
    Fast forward about 5 years…
    I remember being in labor and pushing for nearly 3 hours and my obgyn had someone from her practice check me while she was en route. That woman was up to her elbow trying to turn my stubborn son’s head prior to my C section. He wasn’t having it.
    My son will be 5 this June. Tonight I was trying to help the poor kid pull his polo shirt off his big fat head and for some reason, it took me back. I wanted to say to him “Your damn head was too big back then just like it is now.”
    Lord knows I love him, though.
    From one exmo to another, happy pushing.

  • olga

    2009/06/05 at 1:27 am

    you look so good for someone ready to give birth! good luck!

  • Tamra

    2009/06/05 at 1:30 am

    Aw, don’t worry. If nothing else, at least one thing is for sure… “Not Maria” may not come out today, tomorrow, or even the day after your due date, but *she won’t* stay in there forever! At least that’s guaranteed, right?

  • superkittn

    2009/06/05 at 1:37 am

    Aw, Dooce, look what all your filthy talks done and gone… a 3.9 earthquake in Utah. Somebody’s not happy… 😛

  • Cris

    2009/06/05 at 1:48 am

    Tell that doctor to keep her hands off yer ladyparts, from the looks of it Not-Maria is coming out via Fred!

    Also, ouch in solidarity…

  • Kathryn in Berlin

    2009/06/05 at 1:57 am

    “I thought her forefinger was going to poke out of my nose.”

    “that woman just reached through my vagina and scratched the underside of my brain. ”

    aptly put and oh so funny! Well funny to read, not funny to experience. My wish for you and the birth of Not Maria is dignity. Seriously, with my child #1 he was stuck in there and I had to sqaut, get in doggy position among other positions that I never thought I’d be in naked and with strangers present.

    So good luck to you in your last stage and I’m jealous of that pretty belly of yours. Mine looks like one of those maps with the bumps on know the kind you can run your hand over and feel the rivers and mountains. Yeah, no more bikins for me.

  • Christina

    2009/06/05 at 2:11 am

    You look beautiful, congrats and good luck!

    Not Maria is so lucky that she’ll have a summer birthday!

  • Christina

    2009/06/05 at 2:16 am

    Oh, and having your cervix checked or membranes stripped is NOTHING compared to the doctor having to suck the baby out with a vacuum extractor. Try having a vacuum being shoved up IN you as your being screamed at by a roomful of people to push.

    Good times, good times.

  • The Crazy Suburban Mom

    2009/06/05 at 2:26 am

    A gloved hand is enough to make any cervix clench.


  • Grace

    2009/06/05 at 2:32 am

    I can’t help but wonder if those of you that have had such painful cervical checks just have doctors that are unnecessarily rough or something. I have had 3 pregnancies, all with the same OB/GYN clinic and they have a staff with a Nurse Practitioner and several PAs. Only one PA ever gave painful cervical checks, and they weren’t horrible. She was more rough, but she was quick so it wasn’t too bad. The others never hurt me at all ever. And I am someone that thinks tampons and pap smears are extremely uncomfortable. So it’s not like I’m not sensitive down there. I really think it just depends on how gentle your doctor is.

    And to the people who left comments telling women to always refuse them because they never tell you anything – PLEASE think twice about giving out medical advice like that over the internet because you are incorrect. While it is true that being near term and having or not having cervical changes doesn’t tell you much about when labor will start, that is not the only reason to have them. Also (and this is a biggie) many women (like myself) had/have lots of cervical checks due to issues with pre-term labor and contractions. And in those situations it is extremely important to monitor the cervix. Because if you dialate too much too early, then you need to restrict activity far more, avoid certain things, and sometimes be hospitalized. And sometimes the only thing to alert you to this need is cervical changes. So please, don’t tell all women to refuse them, because there is plenty of good reason for them in many cases. And there is no need for them to be so painful. All you need is a doctor that isn’t rough.

  • Anonymous

    2009/06/05 at 3:58 am

    When I was 8 months and 3 weeks pregnant for #2, A tall gorgeous black doctor came in the room to do my check. He asked for the largest size of latex gloves at which point I slid up the bed and the wall like the woman in ‘poltergiest’. He had a quick feel and asked if I’d like to hurry things along by him sweeping the membranes, I just about jumped off the bed and ran! It not so much the fingers inside as the knuckles and rest of the hand outside that hurts me, midwives are far better, I dont actually remember any of my checks in labour with two midwives (I had two as one had to unpeel my arms from her neck when I headlocked her and begged for more pethadine, true story)I remember them telling me my progress but they didnt hurt like the male docs do.

  • Kate

    2009/06/05 at 4:00 am

    You look great, Heather (as always)! Oh and you just helped me push the not wanting to have children for at least another couple of years to at least 5 years… at least. If you tell us you end up having little “Not Maria” in a toilet, I may need to push it to a good decade 🙂 Scary stuff.

  • JenM

    2009/06/05 at 4:04 am

    Your last sentence is exactly why they don’t bother checking the cervix here in England, not until you are in active labour and then about when you start to go a little crazy (which is when they suspect transition). Works for me.

  • TS

    2009/06/05 at 4:07 am

    You look gorgeously, wonderfully ripe. Re Not Maria’s name — consider naming her Hope, suggested by the headline of your pretty photo of the yellow roses.

  • NS

    2009/06/05 at 4:16 am

    Unless there’s a problem or you go really overdue, there’s really no reason for a cervical check. It tells you nothing about when you’ll go into labor, as you said, and only increases your chance of infection. Also, it just freakin’ hurts! I didn’t have a single cervical check for my entire second pregnancy. The first one I had was when the midwife arrived at my house to assist in the birth and I was already 5cm.

    Ladies, you don’t have to get cervical checks! You can say no!

  • Halala Mama

    2009/06/05 at 4:17 am

    Isn’t the pain of getting “checked” worse than labor itself? When I finally did get some drug for the labor pain, the doctor’s checking my progress cut right through my stupor and woke me up again!

  • Alison @ Cluck and Tweet

    2009/06/05 at 4:25 am

    Honestly, I can’t remember any of it, although I walked around for a month dilated to 2 with my second. And I think he’d still be in there (he’s 10) if they hadn’t broken my water. That I do remember.

  • Lauren Ursillo

    2009/06/05 at 4:26 am

    I’m a new follower of your web site. My mom recommended it to me when I was 35 weeks pregnant (had my baby boy May 17th, induced 2.5 weeks early). You’re beautiful! and you always make me laugh. I’m looking forward to trying to find time to read your books. All the best to you and your baby in this last week or so. I hope all goes smoothly for you!

  • Marlies

    2009/06/05 at 4:28 am

    Dear Dooce,

    I’ve followed your site for quite some time and i am lovin’it!!

    We are thinking about getting pregnant, but when i read stories like this… maybe we’ll wait just a little longer…

    You look great!!

    Best wishes from Holland!


  • DB6 in Oslo

    2009/06/05 at 4:33 am

    Oh the discomforts of pregnancy… The last few weeks really makes your body sure that you want that baby out asap…
    As for check-ups….I sure don’t miss them. You should let Jon have a few fingers left for the actual birth though.

    Best of luck, anyway. Hoping that you will not have to wait too long. I got cheated on the waiting all together as both kids are born 2 weeks before due date, so I really don’t know what Im talking about when it comes to waiting.

    Also hoping that “Chiquita-Burrito Armstrong” (Good name suggestion, I know! ) will be a Gemini 😀

  • Cathy

    2009/06/05 at 4:41 am

    Heather- I wish you the best birth experience possible. You still look amazing- all baby- no weight gain on you. You make me laugh, and you make the internet a much better place. Have a boston creme donut, those are the best. Blessings.
    PS you look good in red lipstick.

  • Hokie Deb

    2009/06/05 at 4:54 am

    –>Thanks for the flashbacks to when I was pregnant. You’re right, you do feel like everyone and their mother gets a shot to violate your lady parts.

    Good luck with the delivery. Can’t wait to see Chuck balancing Not Maria on his head. (kidding, of course?)

  • nikki

    2009/06/05 at 5:01 am

    You look so amazing…. all belly!

    Regarding the rest, I’m about a week and a half behind you so I’m putting my fingers in my ears and yelling LALALALALALALA.

    All the best for QUICK, PAINLESS, and DONUTTY.

  • Barb - WillThink4Wine

    2009/06/05 at 5:01 am

    Well, 50% effaced sounds promising! At any rate, you look glorious! You’re gonna have that beautiful baby girl any day now and you will do exceedingly well!

  • Anonymous

    2009/06/05 at 5:03 am

    I was home yesterday and somehow ended up watching TLC’s A Baby Story and saw a woman give birth to twins on her kitchen floor.

    I am sure you will be fine and everything is going to go swimmingly well.

    Looking forward to meeting Not-Maria!

  • Dee

    2009/06/05 at 5:08 am

    These photos of you in the different stages of your pregnancy are just beautiful. You’re so tiny!

    Although I’m officially afraid now to get pregnant but that’s a whole other story.


  • Wonderland

    2009/06/05 at 5:10 am

    I’m italian, from Rome and I have a 9months-old baby girl named Viola.
    I love the way the mommyblogging is spreading and gaining so much importance in the Us, I’m a mommyblogger and hope it will soon be the same in Italy. I wish you the best for the birth of your baby. If you want come check out my blog, it’s in italian but there are pics too… ahahaha 😀

  • Sean

    2009/06/05 at 5:12 am

    Heather, having fathered two children, and having had my fingers broken more than a few times by my wife … I can only say Jon deserves everything he gets and I hope you enjoy this baby as much as I have enjoyed following your pregnancy.

  • Claus D Jensen

    2009/06/05 at 5:18 am

    Hi Heather,

    Ten days left, Wauw!

    Nice picture…

    There is something Life Optimistic about seeing a pregnant woman!


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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