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.”

  • Thank you for reminding me to renew my birth control prescription.

  • Sharon

    What? You’re not going to liveblog the birth?

    My favorite “Baby Story” line was from a woman who planned on using natural childbirth because, and I’m paraphrasing slightly, she would pray and God would help ease her pain. Now, I can’t presume to speak for God, but if I were him, I believe my reaction would be something along the lines of “Uh, hello? I think I already handled that particular problem. It’s called an EPIDURAL.”

  • n

    What do you think about autism being connected to doctors cutting off the cord too soon and therefor the baby’s brain doesnt get the oxygen it needs for the first 20 min?

  • You think THOSE tv shows are bad? Well I just heard Kendra from “the girls next door fame” is pregnant, you could practically here the executives at E! jumping up and down. This season wedding, next baby. That poor child doesn’t stand a chance. Of course I’ll watch it…like a car accident! And my husband will be yelling at me from the other room to stop rotting my brain.

  • jennypenny

    We canceled Dish before I got pregnant, so I have yet to absorb hours of pregnant folk stories and delivery-centered tv while pregnant, but I know I wouldn’t be able to turn away if we had it. When I was younger, I used to be addicted to Baby Story and it’s ilk. Now that my birthing philosophy has changed, I’m not sure I could handle it. The shows always make the mom out to be a victim in the end, instead of the competent, strong individual she could be, that would really irritate me. I tend to credit shows like these in scaring women from birthing naturally.

  • Ditto #98! Just turn it off!!!

  • Hahahah! You crack me up!

    No kidding about freebirthing, yikes!

  • I didn’t even know they still had A Baby Story. I’m glad we don’t have cable at this point because I would be tempted to watch that stuff too, and it’s strongly discouraged by the hypnobirthing people who have helped me so much with my first two births. The idea is that the last thing you need while preparing to be calm and not endure any more pain than necessary is to watch women screaming their heads off, having all kinds of complications and getting lots of medical things done to them.
    Then again, the no-technology birth you saw sounds pretty awful too. And now I will search for a video of it online. Thanks for ruining my hypnobirth! 😉

  • I detest “A Baby Story” – where do they find those couples? Most of them are SO STRANGE.

    I heard that the movie “The Business of Being Born” (a la talk show host Ricki Lake) is awesome, but don’t know if I should watch it at 5 months pregnant.

  • LOL I was the same way and for some reason 7 months after having my daughter I’m still addicted to watching that crap. I would and still do routinely wake my boyfriend up with a “you’ve got to be kidding me!!!” and a “WTF?!?!”

    There must be something about IPhones, pink cases and girls. My daughter will lunge across the couch or try to throw herself out of my arms to grab at my phone which also has a bright pink case. I have some awesome photos of her saying cheese when she sees the pink case come out.

  • Cathy

    Nothing brings out the crazy in pregnant women like childbirth shows and bulletin boards. I thought my husband was going to kill me this time last summer when I discovered Deliver Me. The baby will come soon and you’ll return to (relative) sanity!

  • You are a terrifically amusing writer. I shall enjoy frequenting this site now that I’ve stumbled upon it. Tally-ho!

  • Anonymous

    I am absolutely LMAO. Thanks, I needed that.

  • I was freebirthed and as a result dropped on my head pretty hard from what I hear. Now I make rubber vagina jokes on the internet. Coincidence? The only conclusion to be drawn from my experience is, do not freebirth your child unless you one day want to be embarrassed by their total lack decorum, which lets face it, is a result of being dropped on their head as soon as they exit the womb.

    Cautionary tale over.

  • Ruth

    I remember hearing a show on Fresh Air where they explained that gorilla babies come out facing front, so the mother gorilla can reach down and pull the baby from her own vagina into her arms. Human babies face backwards, so the spine is facing the wrong way to pull the baby out towards the front of the woman’s body. This orientation requires someone be present to pull the baby out.

    Freebirthing just sounds fucking retarded. A having a midwife at least, allows some degree of expertise to the birth, and can call a doctor or drive you to the hospital if something goes wrong. Yes, babies used to be born in ancient times with any knowledgable people around to help, but a lot more babies and mothers used to die in childbirth.

  • This is why we don’t have cable.

    CAPTCHA: “guzzled Gordon”

    Nope. You?

  • I hate how much I’m beginning to really like you.

  • Yup.

    When I was pregnant with my son and home on bed rest, I was obsessed with watching all of these shows. My husband would come home to find me crying or hyperventilating. He banned those channels until we came home from the hospital. I tried for hours to figure out the password..that’s how obsessed I was, lol.

    Freebirthing scares the hell out of me! I read an article not too long ago about a woman who was a freebirthing advocate, and she sadly lost her baby while freebirthing at home. There are just too many variables to not have someone there that knows what they’re doing; get a midwife or a doctor that does home deliveries for crying out loud people!

  • Maggie


  • HAHAHAHAHAHA! You are soooo damned funny. My husband and I still laugh at the look I gave my doc when I was pushing and he bursts out with “common, Robin, don’t be a wussy”. I swear to God if I didn’t have my legs 10 feet in the air and a lack of epidural I would have scratched his eyes out with his own fingernails. Whew…now that was therapeutic. Best wishes that you not be a wussy in the upcoming days.

  • Barbara E.

    I’m amazed at so many angry comments re obstetricians, but I guess I can stop worrying about the number of practitoners dropping obstetrics from their practices, because that’s a good thing…right? Unless one’s actually so barbaric as to want someone with a medical school degree deliver her baby in a hospital closer than 5 hours away. They’re shit out of luck. But on the plus side, think of the huge job market for doulas!

    Finally, if you don’t your doctor making stupid waving jokes, get the goddam cameras out of his/her face. S/he went to med school, not Amer Acad Dramatic Arts.

    Sorry, Dooce. Looking forward to Not-Maria’s arrival along with every one else. Is there a name pool going? If so, I’m putting $10 on Nora.

  • Ha! You crack me up. If I had watched that crap, I would be going through the same process as you – planning to kick someone’s ass. Don’t mess with Dooce people.

  • The visuals that this post gave me are seriously disturbing!

  • Shelley

    Glad to hear I’m not the only one addicted to those shows during pregnancy! I like the one where the woman is doing a water birth and wondering if her 3 year old can handle watching it too. Like watching all of that come out of mommy while she’s screaming in pain is comforting to a toddler?? Sign that kid up for therapy!
    Wishing you a healthy and medically assisted delivery!

  • Christina

    Not Maria, please stay nice and cozy and tucked in for a bit longer. I want these pregnancy posts to last a while, they’re too damn amusing.

    As for the puppeteer doctors…well, I guess they don’t sound so bad compared to the OB that delivered my first baby. I don’t think he said two words to me the whole time, it was like he was working on a car. 🙁

  • What is with the fascination with baby shows & pregnant women? A Baby Story on TLC is ALL I think I watched my last trimester with my son (that’s the only one I knew of 8 years ago). If I would have had cable with my daughter (last year), I probably would have been glued to them again. I know part of it is probably our brains trying to prepare ourselves for what’s about to happen, but it really becomes an obsession (at least for me it did).
    Your commentary just cracks me up. I can see & hear you talking & getting louder & louder (something I do also that drives my husband crazy).

  • Does no one else want to yell, “FREE BIRTH!”

  • Gerri

    I’ve been enjoying your blog for years and you have finally prompted me to comment.

    My delivery nurse did the exact arm wave with my son. My son’s birth was violently painful (no drugs) but thankfully quick (pushed 3 times).

    All I could say to the nurse as she waved my newborn son’s arm — who was still in my womb — was, “JUST GET HIM THE FUCK OUT OF THERE!”

    I am sure any pregnant woman walking into the maternity ward at that moment promptly turned around and decided her baby didn’t quite need to come out that day after all.

    Good luck with the babe!

  • Amy

    This must be a doctor thing, where they play ventriloquist with their patients because I worked at an animal hospital where the doctors did that. When the dog or cat was completely doped up they would pick them up and kind of wave their arms around and talk for them. Creepy. And completely unprofessional. And while it’s one thing for a dr. to do that in a vet’s office where the owner wouldn’t be aware of such shenanigans… for an OBGYN to do that with a newborn? WEIRD!

  • Another child of the Corn

    Can’t wait to see baby Armstrong version 2.

    As a Level III NICU nurse (that means we take all the really weird stuff), I am SO glad you posted this. I can’t tell you how many screw-ups we are sent because some woman wanted to give birth at home the “natural” way. The argument is that women have been giving birth for YEARS before modern medicine. But do they KNOW the death rates from a hundred years ago? Come on! We save lives in the hospital. Let us!

    (Also, as a P.S. from a NICU nurse, please refrain from naming your child Junior IV. It makes us scratch our heads and wonder why some people are breeding.)

  • maya

    omg. this is the funniest thing i’ve read in a while.

    and i agree with tina – i’d kick her in the face if she does that.

    chop chop.

  • Square Peg

    “…so you would see things like a baby’s head hanging out of the mother’s vagina while she squatted screaming over her birthing pool with the midwife, dumbfounded husband, quivering dog and completely terrified toddler looking on…”

    Poor dogs. I mean, I feel bad for the kids, of course, but why do that to the dog?

    Heh, that actually did make me laugh, though.

    As soon as I post this, I’m going to Google to find video of the crazy freebirthing woman, and it’s all your fault. I’ve never been more grateful to not be pregnant.

  • In response to comment #26 above from Betsy, who wrote:

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

    I must defend myself here and say that, while I am definitely a geek, I am not SO geeky that I can afford to sit here refreshing my browser just in case Heather writes a new post!

    I work from home. On the computer. All day. Everyday. And I use Newsfire. It goes *DING* when a new post hits dooce’s RSS feed.

    But I’ll still take any award that you’d like to give me; my “Worst Daddy in the World” award is getting lonely.

  • And while we’re at it, if you happen to be getting married, DO NOT watch any of the cable wedding shows on these same channels. Especially Platinum Weddings, which will make you feel incredibly inadequate and hateful toward the rich, Bulging Brides because it’s as bad as the title suggests, and Brideszillas because…well you already know why.

    Good luck Dooce!!

  • Ha! Ricki Lake would probably be livid at the “When Homebirths Attack!” show.

    Also, I’d love to be a fly on the wall in that doctor’s office when he recalls the day’s events to his wife…”So this lady comes in and she’s just a MESS. She’s sweaty, her hair is tangled up like a meringue held together by sweat and desperation, and she’s trailing a mess of gore so abysmal it made a nun collapse. She wanders up to me and I swear I can see eternity in her eyes, then she says, ‘Pull my placenta.” Un-f***ing-believable.”

  • Molly

    Rebecca #59 just scared the shit out of me. Better birth control than the snot ball post. uuuuggggggggggghhhhhhhhhg

  • This post and subsequent comments is the best birth control EVER! I am going to by a gross of condoms on my way home tonight after I have booked my husband a vasectomy appt.

  • Hi! You gave birth to a muppet!!!

    just kidding. I think Jon is making a good call.

  • That freebirthing show is just begging to have a Lynrd Skynrd theme song… “if I stayed here in you mom, things just wouldn’t be the same…”

  • CJK

    I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of months and just want to say brava for having the balls to say out loud all the things we think about.
    When pregnant with my second child (he was born on Valentine’s Day this year) my husband, a friend, and I thought it would be a good idea to look for videos on-line of natural childbirth. It was hysterical, scary, and vomit-inducing all at the same time.
    Oh, and when my son was halfway out the CNM said, ‘Here, pull him out!’….um, I’m sorry, WHAT?! I did it because basically if someone throws something at you you’re going to catch it, but whoa.
    To answer Laurie (#73) I TOTALLY screamed GET OUT the hour and half I was pushing with my daughter.
    Sorry, last thing, I swear: while my husband and I were walking the halls at the hospital with #2 a nurse came out of the ‘spa’ room after witnessing a drug-free water birth and said, ‘I think I’m going to be sick.’. These are the TRAINED PROFESSIONALS!!
    Good luck to you, sooooo can’t wait to read Not Maria’s birth story!!

  • Lynn

    Heather, all the best to you and Jon for a Birth Day. You are one funny woman.

  • Alexandra

    Okay I was laughing so hard I was crying after reading your post. Then I read Molly’s comment about #59. Had to go read that. Let me just say, that had it NOT been for modern medicine and my Dr. not giving a sh*t about my ‘birth plan’ I would be dead right now. Sometimes it is in the best interest for the drs to intervine so that the mother had a chance and living or a normal recovery. Luckily I didn’t have to have to be sliced, but had they not used other means to get my son out, (who was coming out just fine on his own… I only pushed a few times, and yes as a first time mom) I would have bled to death. I don’t think that I can complain about doctors trying to do there job. It’s nice for those woman who’s labors go perfectly, but the reality is, a lot don’t. And that doctor has two lives to think about, not just someones “ideal wishes”

    Okay I’m done venting.

  • DogMom

    I don’t have any children (that I know of) and that Freebirthing shit still made my uterus get a charley horse.
    Buying diapers and snot suckers or whatever is one thing; buying a special pair of scissors to cut your own umbilical cord? That’s fucked up.

  • H2Mama

    I, too am addicted to A Baby Story, in fact am watching it now. It makes me cry every time. I have to agree though, waving the baby’s hand is just obnoxious. Those doctors need a smack or at least a Mama to tell them that is not appropriate. I hope all goes well with you and the new little one – I love touching base with you.

  • Freebirthing really is for selfish idiots.

  • Just wanted to chime in- I haven’t read the comments but I’m sure I’m not the first to say that yes, my OB did that with my second baby. A tiny, seconds old baby girl, being pulled from my body, and she’s manipulating her floppy wrist and doing “baby voice” to me. I wish I had could have kicked my doctor in the jaw, but you know, epidural.

    My husband commented that at least we knew immediately that there couldn’t be anything wrong with our baby girl, because no one could be that flip and awful with a sick baby, but I don’t know. I mean, I would have thought no one in their right mind would do that anyway?

    Of all the things to get upset about in birth experiences, this barely ranks, hell nothing really ranks when you get to take a real live baby home. But it is pretty fucking annoying, to know you’re PAYING for this level of care.

  • Kim

    Thank you (a) for making me laugh hysterically (b) for being this funny in the days before giving birth and (c) for warning me about this show I haven’t heard of, but would probably have watched with morbid curiosity had you not warned me off of it first. I have been checking your site 2-3 times a day to see if Not Maria has been born yet, and I see I’m not the only one who’s obsessed. Good thoughts to you, Heather!

  • Oh my God – Daddy Scratches. I know. As soon as I wrote that I was like ‘Doh. Newsfire.’

    But still….ya gotta say. You’re always the first commenter and yeah, I DO think you deserve an award for that. Like – Dooce should let you name her baby.

  • OK, have you seen the show called “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant”?! I talked about it in my blog post called Baby Fever. Basically these women are just walking along for NINE EFFING MONTHS, not knowing they are pregnant, and then out pops a baby!! It’s so scary. My husband and I saw a show a few weeks ago, and have not touched each other since.

  • Sweet fancy Moses Dooce, some of your COMMENTS should come with health warnings. I am 7 days from my due date and didn’t need the image of the woman cut open like a filet of fish in my head.

    I’m terribly jealous you’ve lost your mucous plug (I know, I know, it doesn’t necessarily MEAN anything). I just have the weirdest, most random pains. I think I’m just going to be pregnant forever.

    Looking forward to the birth announcement, and feeling a bit left out because we don’t get those shows here.

    Good luck again!

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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