An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

Where my pinky gets a little itchy with the shift key

Jon is about this close to activating the parental controls on our DirecTV so that I can no longer watch anything on Discovery Health Channel or TLC. It started a few months ago when I accidentally stumbled upon a show about a new fad in childbirth called Freebirthing where women have their babies at home without the aid of a nurse or midwife or any trained professional. And at one point there was this three-year-old kid going WHY IS MOMMY SCREAMING LIKE THAT?! And the woman is clawing at this head coming out from between her legs, and she’s all GET IT OUT! GET IT OUT! Except, there is no one there who knows how to get it out, and her husband is just standing there shrugging like DUDE, THIS WAS YOUR IDEA!

I found the whole thing totally fascinating because you’ve got to have a special combination of bravery and stupidity going on to attempt such a thing, but Jon has not ever recovered from watching it. In fact, one night last month they ran the episode again, and there I was in bed eagerly awaiting the part where the woman has to get in her car, drive herself to the hospital and ask someone to pull out her placenta, when Jon walked in and was all NO WAY, NOT AGAIN, TURN IT OFF, TURN IT OFF, TURN IT OFF. Oh, come on! Television doesn’t get better than this! The look on that doctor’s face when he says, “You want me to what?” And she’s all, I don’t know what the big deal is, I just had a baby at home in front of my three-year-old and this damn placenta won’t come out, can’t you just yank it for me? Give it a little tug?

And then, of course, there’s that loathsome show “A Baby Story” on TLC that follows real couples through the last few weeks of pregnancy. I cannot stop watching it, even though it makes me violently angry. I just cannot believe the bedside manner of some of the doctors on that show, and I’m not even kidding, twice in the last week I have watched a doctor wave the arm of the newborn infant at its mother AS IT IS BEING PULLED FROM THE WOMB. No, wait. Let me finish. These doctors treated these seconds-old babies like puppets, waved their little arms wildly in the air, and said, “Hi, Mommy!” in a high-pitched voice as if that is exactly what they would sound like and say upon taking their first breaths. WHILE THE LOWER HALVES OF THEIR BODIES WERE STILL INSIDE THEIR MOTHERS.

You have got to be shitting me.

I was telling Jon about these episodes yesterday, my voice getting louder and louder with each gruesome detail, and he decided that this was it. No more cable television while I’m pregnant, just look at how needlessly angry it was making me. I made him promise me that if my doctor looked at all like she was going to treat the baby like a puppet that he should immediately knock her to the floor, because otherwise I would one day show up at her house with a crowbar and then spend the rest of my life appealing an assault conviction. WHO KNEW that you might have to include a line in your birth plan that says, “If at all possible, could you please not play ventriloquist with my newborn baby.”

  • Gotta go with Jon on this one. Six years ago today, I saw my firstborn enter the world through my wife’s vagina. That was plenty intense, and definitely left me with no desire to take on the stress of watching someone I don’t even know go through it on television, thank you very much.

  • …still shivering…

  • Deb

    I keep checking your blog for the birth announcement. I never thought I would get so excited about a virtual stranger’s baby. Best of luck to you all!

  • Anonymous

    I’m not even pregnant and I can’t get enough of those shows….or the shows about obesity. I can’t look away, it’s all too fascinating for me to wrap my little brain around.

  • Oh, the image is just too good. I was obsessed with that TLC show during both of my pregnancies, and could never get my head around that “two weeks later” bit where they visited the happy family’s calm, tidy home and the beautifully dressed and made up new mothers welled up with tears of joy for the miracles that had befallen them. As I sat there oozing from every orifice, swollen and ugly and mean, I had to stop myself from throwing saturated breast pads and shit coated clothing at the tv screen.

  • Which is worse, your baby waving at you while half in your vaginal canal, or the doctor pretending the placenta is one of those creatures from ‘Alien,’ hoping you’ll scream like Sigourney Weaver?

    Discuss amongst yourselves.

  • OMG, that is truly horrifying. I am glad that I never stumbled across that insane Freebirthing show, nor never saw an episode of A Birth Story where they waved half emerged babies around like puppets. That is seriously F-ed up. How do you sleep at night after seeing that?! Especially while pregnant. Everything gave me nightmares while I was pregnant!

    I know I’m old-fashioned, but I prefer my birthing experiences in a hospital with folks who know what they are doing and gently lay my baby on my chest after birth WITHOUT giving into the urge to do a performance with them.

  • Tina Babb

    Well, my sister had her baby today. They had to do a c-section because she had almost no amniotic fluid left. Little girl 18 in. 6 lbs 11 oz. Don’t worry Heather, she’ll be here soon enough. And if the Dr. waves her arm at you, kick her in the face. She’s right there.

  • Patience

    Look, Heather, you have to cover every possibility. Ventriloquism urges included.

  • the ventriloquist doctor kinda justifies the idea of freebirthing….

  • Weird. A Baby Story always makes me cry and reminds me I’m not dead inside. Especially if the dad cries. Then I LOSE it. I haven’t seen the muppet move yet but damn that it creepy.

  • I think I can safely say, I am glad I haven’t caught those episodes. Because seriously, “Are you shitting me?”

    BTW, I totally love the new header and that week’s pics. I about died when you posted them. Ha!

    Looking forward to you having NotMaria notwaving at you upon her entrance!

  • jean

    For me the worst is the show where the baby and/or mother has some type of risk. Always at the end, even for the ones where the risk is slight, is the booming voice saying, “Thank goodness for the highly-skilled staff at St. Middle of Nowhere Hospital who used extraordinary procedures to clutch this baby from the jaws of death…” All it serves to do is scare the be-jeezus out of anyone and foster the notion that if the mother has so much of a hangnail, giving birth is some kind of procedure that dare not be done without a circus of doctors and sci-fi equipment.

    Hang in there. A few more days until you morph into 2…

  • Mari

    Whoo boy, you’re going to incur the wrath of the Utah home-birthers for this one. I’m pretty sure you can handle it, though.

    One of my favorite episodes on TLC or Discovery (can’t remember which) involved a woman who planned to give birth in the tub at home. Completely naturally. Beforehand, she spoke of how the warm waters would ease her labor pains and make the whole birthing process a peaceful, beautiful experience. I swear to God, about five minutes after they put her in the tub, she started screaming, “get me out of this fucking (bleeped, of course) tub!” I guess I shouldn’t have found it amusing but I did.

  • clay

    have you seen that show – something like “i didn’t even know i was pregnant?!”

    that show is horrible and engrossing, and should also be called “i’m fat and have unprotected sex regularly… and i’m a bit retarded”

  • It just occurred to me that you did not name your last child Norah Jones Armstrong, as promised. I’ll be waiting.

  • I am so checking out that show now! Sometimes just watching bravery and stupidity is theraputic. It makes you forget all of your own troubles. I mean who can compete with having to drive to the hospital in the middle of labor? Makes my problems seem small in comparison.

  • LOL! I saw that show, too. That chick was classic. Our doula asked the L&D nurse to show us the placenta. It was both fascinating and totally disgusting at the same time.

  • Amanda

    ew. ew. ew. i hope no doctor does that to MY newborn baby, i’d punch him (or her) in the face. with my vagina.

  • Bodnoirbabe

    Oh holy crap. Suburbanite women are some of the bat-shit craziest women out there. Fuck getting in touch with nature. GIVE ME THE DRUGS!

  • Jen B

    My husband DID lock all of those Health channels when I was pregnant. It was bad news. I still have nightmares.

  • I have steered clear of those shows, just because of what you say. I get my pregnancy crazy (so to speak) just from reading you and other further-along-than me pregnant women … 🙂

  • tia

    okay that just FREAKED me out.

    i never thought of that possibility and now have one more thing to scare Hubs with when he brings up the idea that yes, maybe now would be a good time to try to have a baby.

    thanks for the ammo.

  • Marnie

    I’m waiting with baited breath for the first pictures of not-Maria. . . & my sympathies with the end-of-preg crazies. I remember them all too well, and have been known more than once to berate my (now-eighteen-year old) younger daughter that she was FOUR DAYS LATE.

  • How about the one where the women claim to have orgasms while giving birth!? Now, that’s a scary show!!!

    Love the new header!!! 🙂

  • Betsy

    Dear Heather,

    Many women these days are opting for alternative birth plans in settings other than hospitals. I gave birth to all nine of my healthy sons in a tub in my living room with only my husband, a camcorder and a doula with dredlocks who thereafter fried up my placenta. I am shocked an offended that you would imply that I am an idiot.

    Juuuuuust joking. (But be prepared for comments like this one).

    And for cryin’ out loud! Someone give Daddy Scratches the I-refresh-Dooce-in-my-browser-more-than-ANY-of-you Award!

  • I keep waiting for pictures of your mucous plug to be posted online, Heather, and now I’m hoping for placenta pictures, too! THE WORLD needs to see these things! 🙂

    Here’s hoping they give you all the best drugs and that there is no puppeteering going on in the delivery room.

    Can’t WAIT for the twitters! 🙂

    Seriously, though, good luck to you, John, Leta, and Baby Not Maria/Possibly Donette. Sending you the warmest of wishes.

  • OMG you saw it too! I am pregnant with twin girls, and my husband and I stumbled over that exact show about freebirthing a few weeks ago. He completely freaked out and kept going “I can’t watch this” and “we really should turn the channel”, but, I just couldn’t make myself turn it off – it was too weird to miss. I can’t imagine why somebody would take such huge risks with their babies, not to mention their own bodies, I just don’t get it.

    On a different note, what are the top 5 overrated babythings/gear that we should NOT run out and buy? Any advise would be appreciated 🙂

  • patrice

    so was the freebirthing woman totally proud of herself for it? I worked with a woman who had her baby at home with a midwife, and it was almost as if she wanted me to believe that her baby was somehow more alive than mine was. like having my baby in a hospital resulted in its possibly not being all the way born. I have a teenager now and believe me, after about year 6 or so, you don’t CARE how they got there anymore.

  • Helen

    If I am flipping tv channels and come across a birthing mama on TLC I am somehow forced to watch it. Like a moth to a flame as they say…….and sometimes I cry a little. My baby of 4 kiddos is 20. Births are all miracles. Can’t wait for your little miracle to arrive. I know you will just do great. Happy Laboring, Dooce! ( and Jon 🙂

  • Robin

    I with Deb, i check this site every single day, sometimes twice a day. I’m eagerly awaiting the arrivial of not maria.

  • Jennifer

    As a labor and delivery nurse and future certified nurse midwife, these shows make me want to CLAW MY EYES OUT (shifty finger syndrome is contagious). Half of the things they show are full of hyperbole and inaccurate information, and overall they aren’t a balanced view of childbirth in this country.
    On another note, every time “Dooce” pops up in my Google Reader I wonder if it’s not-maria’s birth announcement! I started reading your blog just after Leta was born. In fact, a friend sent me the link to your birth story because I was trying to get into nursing school and wanted to work in labor and delivery! I hope you have a wonderful birth experience, and I can’t wait to hear about it!

  • Jme

    you are so freakin hilarious. because everything you said is so true.

  • Bonnie B.

    I feel bad for Jon, but I’m laughing like crazy at the same time!

    I have a question, though. Don’t you think it’s more entertaining and fun watching those programs BECAUSE this is the second baby for you? Thinking back to my first pregnancy, that kind of stuff would have scared the crap outta me. But the second time around? Pfffft!! Bring it!

  • Holy shit are you funny! I’m only 18 weeks pregnant, but I laughed so hard I nearly lost *my* mucous plug.

  • Cyn

    I don’t know what it is about pregnancy hormones, but with both my pregnancies I watched marathon sessions of “A Baby Story” and “Law and Order.” Haven’t watched either show since…

    And Freebirthing? I wonder who came up with that name? Kris Kristofferson?

  • kim

    I don’t want to be a downer of anything but I just had a miscarriage after 20 weeks of pregnancy on Sunday…this week has been…difficult…this post though? this made me laugh.

    thank u 🙂

  • Oh don’t worry Deb, I’m the same way. I’ve been following Dooce for so long I feel like I’m a friend of the family. *sigh* I remember when Leta was born!

  • Oooh! I need to find this show. I was sad when they took all the surgeries off Discovery Health. Nothing like flipping through the channels and OOP! Testicle repair! Or HEY! THTAT’S what birth looks like? Fascinating.

    Totally agree on the ventriloquism. That’s a scary enough hobby when half-born children aren’t involved.

  • While comments are still open I just want to go on record as saying I do NOT want to see photos of the placenta or a ventriloquist baby wave. Just saying.

    BTW, how DO you decide which posts you have comments open and which you have closed? These things keep me up at night. Seriously. So help me out, will ya?

  • dooce

    I’m all for women having babies at home with midwives or some sort of trained professional, whatever you want to call them. This is not at all a rant against home birthing.

  • Lys

    At this point in my pregnancy, (as someone sadly lacking cable) I found myself quizzing every mother I knew about the gory details of her labor. A cable block may not stop the rubbernecking.

    As a sidenote, I remember having to answer the phone “still pregnant” by week 39, so I can only imagine what you must be getting from the entire internet at this point… I think it may be your comedic/snarky duty to start messing with all of us.

  • I just love your blog! It inspired me to start my own. I am 33 weeks along and these last weeks are dragging by. I’m sure you are on the edge of your seat with just day(s) to go. I’ve watched many of these shows and finally had to cut myself off. Although after reading this, I’m half tempted to see if I can catch one on now. It’s like watching a car wreck I suppose, hard to look away! Good luck with your labor!

  • I would probably get up and punch her in the face myself…

    I someone were to ask me “what would be the most awkward thing that could ever happen to you?” THAT would be #1.

  • I know exactly what you mean! I was glued to TLC and Discovery Health the last part of my pregnancy. I watched the shows that highlighted difficult pregnancies in particular because then I felt like I was ready for ANYTHING (anything the doctor told me to do anyway). A guy friend of mine insisted that “Pregnant women should be banned from television and the Internet for the duration of their pregnancies.”

  • hahahahohohohohehehehehehahahaha

  • SweetWong

    I will be forever trying to get those images out of my head. Yet, I am also addicted to those shows! Which only fuel my paranoia and anxiety. It’s form of self torture. You should check out the show called “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant”. You gotta wonder about some of those women…

  • When I was pregnant with my first I was on bedrest and never got to go to prenatal birthing classes. I did have some woman come to my house who told me to imagine my cervix was a flower and that I could open it with my breath. What??? Later I watched a video that Fernando Lamas made with his wife that was really into natural childbirth and Lamaze. When the wife went writhing and shrieking into the delivery room I almost fainted. My husband took the VCR away from me after that. Good luck. Youw will be fine.

  • You took the words right out of my mouth and said mouth has not closed since I read this post. I am not even pregnant and the thought of a doctor doing that incites some serious anger. All I can say is – they must’ve been male doctors. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some men, but c’mon!

  • that is disturbing on many levels. please, don’t watch any more of the horror.

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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