An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

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.

  • You look amazing!! I have heard that things move faster with your second child. I have a feeling this baby will be coming soon. Can’t wait to meet her! Sending you lots of peaceful and happy thoughts from Toronto.

  • Doooce! Baby time soon! How gorgeous you look! Me? I was the size of an aircraft carrier when I was 38 weeks. You could have landed a whole fleet of tomcats on my belly and backside.

    Remember these two things… Say “yes” to the epidural… say “no” to all of the anesthesiology(sp?) residents for a 100 mile radius coming in to watch said epidural being administered even if the nurse tries to demand it and your husband has to back her out of the room and shut the door in her face.

    Like some of the recent commenters, I don’t remember my cervix checks. I guess it was like one of the girl’s OB said, “it was like Mile High Stadium in there”

    I am also making a formal demand that this blog be updated regularly even if you have to type between pushes… I simply cannot do without my daily dose of Dooce!

    Best of luck sugar!


  • Lindsay

    I seriously love your posts. This one is no exception although I could have gone the rest of my life without the reminder that my midwife has really little hands. That alone may be reason enough for the hubs and I to call it quits. Now if you’d only promise to post about the comfort and ease of a vasectomy. I could really use a hand (no pun intended…*cough*cough*!) promoting the sterilization of my husband.

    Oh, and by the way, you look absolutely beautiful.

  • Natasha

    Heather you look beautiful!!!!

    I want to thank you for your posts about you going through post partum depression. I have been having my own battle with it and you have been a big help. I plan on buying your books though.

    I hope you have a safe delivery and that all will be well with both you and Not Maria 🙂

    Keep up the GREAT work!!!!

  • Julie R

    You look really beautiful! I hope you have a healthy and happy baby to add to your already awesome family!

  • Miss Peas

    Oh, man. Funny you should mention that because my water broke while I was on the toilet.

    And I wasn’t convinced that wasn’t pee.

    And I went on to eat a box of Cheese Nips so when the contractions started coming, I thought I had given myself food poisoning.

    A comedy of errors.

  • Dawn

    Heather ~ you look so peaceful. God speed, good luck, I’m thinking it’s going to be a lot sooner than you think!!

  • Ouchhhhh. That gave me goosebumps. And not in a good way. ;]

  • I know you know this, given you have done this before… but you don’t have to have your cervix checked before birth. Things can change the very mintue after the exam. Checking does nothing for your body or the baby – some say it actually makes things go more slowly. Your sphincter reflex kicks in and keeps you closed, protecting your baby, if you will…

    Woman are designed to give birth. Trust your body. 🙂

    However, if you want to move things along, there are plenty of natural ways – like walking and… nipple stimulation. Yep, I just wrote sphincter and nipple stimulation on your page.

    Happy Birthing, Mama!! 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Finally a smile! And, you just got your highlights done!

  • Erin

    You look beautiful!! Gotta love the OB/gyn appointments. As my recently expecting brother put it, “It is weird just sitting by while some strange man feels up your wife.” We lose our boundary a bit done we?

  • I remember cervix checks – no fun. On my first pregnancy the doctor “stripped my membrane” without asking or telling me.

    You’re right. You could deliver today or in three weeks, but the more dilating and effacing your body does before hard labor hits, the shorter the trip will be. I think that’s great news. Keep dilating and effacing — go Heather!

  • I’m so excited to see your second little girl in a few weeks!

    Also, I read It Sucked and Then I Cried Yesterday. The whole thing. It was fantastic.

  • OMG – I COMPLETELY KNOW what you are talking about – every bloody time I went to the doctor NOTHING….everyone else is happily going into labor and there I am with NO MOVEMENT at all…..I went 40 weeks before they said to me “yep we are inducing you today”….when I had gone in for yet another invasive doctor sticking his fist inside me type of examination and declared that nothing was happening and it was time for my boy to come into the world anyway…..

    Those exams SUCK. They are so painful…..YUCK YUCK YUCK.

    Us chic’s are pretty amazing when you think about it eh???? What our bodies go thru and then we bounce back and get on with it……

  • Elaine in the UK

    Sheesh! This cervical ‘checking’ must be an American thing! *No-one* in the UK does any internal exams until you’re actually in labour!

    Oh, and in answer to the lady recommending elective c-sections … I’ve had 5 (average-to-LARGE!) babies delivered vaginally (without a single cut, tear or stitches of any sort, by the way) and I’m pleased to be able to tell you that I too can sneeze without peeing myself! ;-D

  • “thank god for a penis.”

    Amen, brother.

  • NeeS

    You look so relaxed and happy. At least your OB/GYN didn’t say your cervix was like a rock on your due date. 🙁
    Sending wishes from Germany for a speedy and pain-free delivery!

  • So, so true! Here’s to hoping the baby comes soon!

  • Ohmyheck you look fantastic.

    Sorry about the intrusion on your personal space. I am amazed looking back, at how much modesty I lost by the end of my child birth experience. I mean it was to the point to where when someone would walk into the room I’d just pull up my little gown and spread them. Then the guy who was changing a lightbulb would look all shocked and do his work.

    I also remember that I was semi-worshiping the epidural guys. I mean I would have given them all my worldly possessions I loved them so much. I cried and thanked them and huged them. I told them I loved them.

    The whole experience is totally weird.

    But you get a kid in the end so that’s fun.

  • Doesn’t being a woman just suck sometimes?

    When I was pregnant with my daughter, I went in for a check up a week AFTER my due date and was told that I was not dilated at all. I went home and cried for two hours and kept wailing that I was going to be pregnant forever. The next day I started having labor pains. I went to the hospital only to find out I was at 1 centimeter and 5% effaced. They sent me home where I stayed for several more hours. When the labor pains became unbearable, we went back only to find out I was now at 2 centimeters and 25% effaced. Luckily they admitted me because in the matter of only a few hours I went to 5 centimeters and fully effaced. But then I had an epidural and that stopped everything completely. Good times.

  • I referred to this part of the examination as “birthing a cow”. If you’ve ever seen a farmer check on a calf that’s still in the cow you know exactly what I mean.

  • I saw a headline this morning that read “Armstrong announces birth of son on Twitter page”. I could think of no other Armstrong who Twitters than you but was perplexed because I thought you were having a girl. Turns out there is another Armstrong out there, Lance! Maybe I need to stop reading your blog so much, didn’t even know he was expecting!

  • Amy

    Heather, honey, if checking is that uncomfortable for you, and since you know it doesn’t indicate a darn thing, don’t let them do it anymore!!!

    It’s a very efficient way of introducing infection, and a very inaccurate way of estimating how “ripe” you are. It’s useless. Say no.

    Have a good baby!

    Your non-facebook friend,

  • I just had to say you look amazing.

    I got lucky. Since I was premature, no one wanted to do that with me, so they just kept doing an ultrasound. Would much prefer that method to the dr’s fingers.

    And the cervix checking….that would be the reason I never went into OB nursing. My hands are just too small. I refuse to torture another woman with that.

    Hopefully your current status means you will meet Not Maria very soon. Wishing you an easy labor and delivery.

  • Shelley

    Yeah this is one of those things that usually you mothers don’t tell us non-mothers about and now even though a baby for me is nowhere in the near future I’m terrified!

  • Ninabi

    The nursery looks ready. You look ready.

    I think every woman on this site who has had a baby can sympathize with how you are feeling on these last few days of being pregnant- weary of the discomfort, wanting to see and hold your new little baby.

    Until then, I hope the powdered donuts bring some comfort.

  • KJ

    I don’t ever comment, but after GRETCHEN’s “grunt and throw rocks” comment, I had to add in my two cents…which is…LMAO!!!!

  • Bittermama

    I’ve never commented here, but couldn’t resist sharing that about three months after delivering my second child I was on an airport shuttle bus with the two kids and a young woman approached me somewhat shyly and said “I’m an OB fellow at X hospital and I think I was there when you delivered your baby.” Without thinking, I blurted out (far too loudly for a full shuttle bus) “Oh right! The one with the REALLY short fingers!” I’m pretty sure I cured her of ever approaching another former OB patient out in public again!

  • Cat

    I am disproportionately excited about this addition to your family, as if it’s an addition to MY family, and I’m ridiculously ravenous for each tidbit of birthing news from the Armstrong front. Seriously, this is like watching one of those outdated buildings on the Vegas strip being torn down. You’re imploding in slow motion. Except, you know, outwards.

  • heather, YOU LOOK INCREDIBLE. 38 weeks never looked so good.

    you had me cracking up over here, with the touching of your brain, and the big powdered doughnut. too funny.

    wishing you all the best from now until the big day.

  • Carole

    I really enjoy your blog, I’ve been following it for a year and it’s always a highlight in my day 🙂 I love your dogs and all your funny stories! You look incredible!! Congrats 🙂
    – Carole

  • You’re getting so close! You look awesome. Keep breathing. Much love to you all.

  • Kim

    Yeah…I was 50% effaced and dilated for 14 long and agonizing days without ever going into labor with either one of mine. Goodness, they did not want to come out! It took breaking my water – ohh…contractions feel so nice after one’s water has been broken – to get labor to start. Nothing like being slammed into hard labor from the get go…Thank God someone invented the epidural! 😉

    Best wishes for a safe, healthy, and fast delivery!

  • Crystal

    I related being “checked” to the doctor trying to get to my tonsils through my crotch…. I’ve told all my friends that were having babies that too! Why is it that NO ONE thinks to tell you about that lovely procedure when you’re asking what the most painful parts of childbirth are?!!?

  • I have to say I agree with the Bradley girl… I did Bradley too and since they don’t really mean anything and can’t really tell you anything, they are totally unnecessary. next time, just tell your doc you’ll skip it…

    what did you really learn anyways?

    by the way, you do look gorgeous! hope the ten days flies by and all goes smoothly. i am so excited for you.

  • Awwww, Heather! You look so good! And guess what? I’m officially neh.ver. having a baby!

    I totally vote Sparrow Armstrong. Someone nominated it and I second it, wholeheartedly.

  • Katie

    You look GREAT! And I’m laughing hysterically over the “peace” sign comment! I never looked at it that way but it’s true nonetheless.

  • Oh I love you. You express what I feel but don’t know how to say. Amen sister. I’m 50% effaced and 1 cm at the moment (at 38 1/2 weeks) and begging/praying/sacrificing small animals that this whole pregnancy thing will be over soon.

    You look great! 🙂

  • Malinda

    Ummm… at 38 weeks, how are you still doing your hair? At this point in my pregnancy, I had a 1985 scrunchie on top of my head that barely resembled a bun/pony/train wreck. You look great. I feel the energy and positivity in your writing, this is a good place to be. Before you know it, she’ll be 6 weeks old and you will wonder how in the world that happened?!?! Thanks for sharing!

  • Kristen

    Heather – Just wanted to say that I just recently started following your blog and I love it! Also, you have successfully scared the ever loving snot out me with that post. Just yesterday I was all “Let’s have a baby honey!” Today it’s more “You sleep upstairs, I’ll sleep downstairs?”

  • Diana

    This is the time, seriously, to have several “sessions” with Jon. Honestly this will soften up your cervix (there is medical evidence supporting this I’m not just making it up- no one is too anxious to have alot of sex at this point). Then walk around your neighborhood. Then have some of those horrible fake cheese nachos from 7-11, the kind you can only eat when you are pregnant. Worked for me through 4 pregnancies!

  • Morgan

    Yay for the option to adopt children! I have determined that women who go the pregnancy route and then tell everyone, as they hold their little shriveled slimey child in their arms and say, with gleaming eyes, “that was the most important experience of my life!” those women are really just experiencing Stockholm Syndrome with this child who has kidnapped their body and life. They are blocking out all the horrors you described so beautifully here.

    Well you can’t fool me Stockholm ladies! I’ll take all my kiddies post-utero, thank you very much!!!

  • deb

    You look good. Take care and I hope all goes well.

  • Heh. When I was pregnant with my now-2-year-old, I didn’t have any cervical checks because my midwives didn’t do them routinely since they don’t really mean much. So when my water broke and I went to the hospital, I had my first cervical check then and holy shit, it was the worth thing I’d ever experienced in my life (well, at least until labor started). I was writhing around in pain and when she was finally done my husband pulled my midwife out into the hall and said “Is it going to get worse than that??!” and she was like “um…yes.”

  • Man! I remember that. It hurt so bad!!

  • Jenn

    You look absolutely wonderful!!

    I laughed – out LOUD – at your description of “being checked.” I just had my son (my first) in February, and the first time I got “checked” – I looked at my doctor and said, “Okay, really? That sucked.” and she laughed and said “just you wait.”

    At 38 weeks exactly, I was 2 cm dilated, 80% effaced. Four days later, my water broke. Two hours after that I started with the contractions. By the time we got to the hospital, I was 5 cm, and could have the epidural (DUDE!) — even before the contractions started getting horrible! My son was born within two hours of getting the epidural with just ten pushes…By all accounts, a super-duper labor & delivery. I hope yours is even easier.

  • RobinM

    Hopefully Donette is dignified enough to avoid starting her outside experience in the toilet.

    You look lovely.

  • Jana

    I didn’t realize so many people respond to your posts. I don’t know if you’ll see this, but here goes. Since you have been taking pics for the website, I thought it would be cool to see them all lined up, so we could see you grow. Any chance of that happening? I know that is something I could probably look up in a book (especially since I work in a library) but knowing you through this blog, I though it would be cool to see.
    And I just wanted to say, having never been preggers myself, your honest accounts of what it is like (continuing with the heroine usage and whatnot)is rather refresing! Good luck.

  • Diana

    Your boobs look awesome. I can’t wait to hear about your delivery!!!!!

  • the perfect name for not maria: berit
    heather, you are wonderful and i wish you, jon, and leta the very best of luck…

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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