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.”

  • I don’t have any kids, but freebirthing is something I WILL NOT DO. That just sounds scary. I will also agree with you on those doctors on A Baby Story. Only instead of a crowbar, I’d use a sledge hammer…

  • Anonymous

    Tune in to MTV’s “16 & Pregnant” tonight at 10pE&P/9C. I’ve seen the premiere episode which airs tonight. Saddest thing ever.

  • With baby #1 I tore all the way through when giving birth. He was almost 10 lbs and facing the wrong way (not breach).

    So with baby #2 the doctor asks DO I WANT A MIRROR TO SEE THE BABY’S HEAD CROWNING?

    I tried to be cool. Hm, never thought that would be the kind of thing anyone would want to see, but OK, I guess. I’ll try.

    I lasted about five seconds. I was so terrified that I would be witness to a noisy, bloody, humongous tear. And that’s MY ASS we’re talking about–my one and only private parts.

    Baby #3, I got drugs and kept my eyes closed the whole time. That worked.

  • Anonymous

    Anytime you can work the phrase- You’ve got to be shitting me- into a post you know it’s a good one. You make me laugh.

  • Megan

    I am studying to be a homebirth midwife and I can promise you, out of the hundreds of (home and hospital) births I’ve been a part of, the disrespect that can come from doctors is horrifying, and one of the many reasons I support homebirth.

    ‘A Baby Story’, ‘Special Delivery,’ et al is sensationalist crap.

  • Sandy

    What a great blog today! It’s why I keep coming back here.

    Best of luck to you as the time grows near. I keep checking every day to see if the little one has met her mom and dad yet.

  • I gave birth to my son in a birthing center with a midwife. I’m all for empowering women in childbirth and giving them choices. But I cannot for the life of me understand this freebirthing thing. Is it really that hard to find a good doctor/midwife???

  • While pregnant with my first child, I saw a Frontline (I think) episode about women who have orgasms while giving birth. They showed one woman in a giant tub out in some field with I believe just her husband in Hawaii (maybe?). The details are fuzzy right now.

    My childbirth: Nothing. Like. That.

  • Jen

    I have been reading DOOCE before Leta could walk. Best of luck to you all, I cannotot wait to read your birth announcement and see pics of the new addition.

  • OMG..I was the SAME way. I had the month off before my daughter’s birth, and spent most of it planted on the couch watching every show that had anything to do with babies (lots of them I DVR’d). It got to the point where I completely started to freak myself out. I kept telling my husband that I wanted to be prepared for anything…he kept telling me I was nuts. Good luck! 🙂

  • maureen

    I was addicted to A Baby Story during my last pregnancy and thank God for that, since it saved me from a c-section. When I got to the hospital in labor at 2 cm, my daughter was breech and the OB was all, “Oh well, let’s get you up to surgery then.” But I had seen a breech baby turned from the outside on the show, so I pleaded with the doc. “Can’t we just TRY this? I saw it done on A Baby Story!” He must have thought I was nuts, but he relented. I have to say, it didn’t tickle when he pushed my baby’s head from between my ribs to between my legs, but so what!

    Doc was proud as a peacock afterwards, puffing out his chest and saying how he’d never done that before to a woman in labor. I was simply glad to avoid the surgery — which I’d had with my first and knew would flatten me for weeks. After a quick epidural, my husband and I settled in to our birthing suite for a lovely night of pepperoni pizza (him) and TV sitcoms (both of us) and out popped our daughter a few hours later after only two pushes. Whew!

    Just sayin’, don’t discount these shows — you might just learn something that saves your ass (or abdomen) later!

  • I too am addicted to TLC. I’m due with our second child in about 6 weeks, and I CAN NOT stop watching those baby shows. I have thankfully not seen any of the free birthing shows–that may put me over the edge. My new guilty pleasure is the show about women who didn’t know they were pregnant until they started to give birth. I love that shit. Really? You really had no idea? I’ve yet to see one where I actually believed the woman.

  • Really? You can watch that stuff while pregnant? I was more addicted to it when I was trying to get pregnant, but couldn’t stand it once I was actually knocked up.

  • Hm, I think I’d take my chances with freebirthing if my only alternative was a doctor with that sort of bedside manner. Although, I’m the weirdo who did a homebirth (albeit with a midwife and RN assisting), so I guess that wouldn’t be too far off from what I’ve already done!

  • Anonymous

    Infinite Jest gets A LOT better. It took me 4 years to get past the first chapter. Just start at page 49 and come back to the other parts after you’ve gotten into it a little bit. Three fourths of the way through I thought, this is absolutely the best book I’ve ever read. By the end, I was a little bit pissed and desperately wanted to talk to DFW. Two days after I finished the damn book (not kidding at all), the suicide. But really: 2/3 of that book are absolutely great and searingly absorbing. Great nursing book! That’s how I read it, anyway.

  • Linda B.

    I LOVE you. LOVE! Pregnancy hormones are enhancing your humour. I thought it couldn’t get funnier than yesterday.
    P.s. Coming to Toronto soon?

  • Two thoughts:
    1) I have visions of the doctor from the Freebirthing show using the placenta as a puppet. Anyone else? No?
    2) Do we think no Freebirthers read (or have been forwarded) dooce, or do we think they just don’t want to admit it? Do people Freebirth more than once?

  • Oh, just quit being freaking funny and have the damn baby already. I want to meet this kid (virtually, of course.) Let’s get this show on the road, Not Maria.

  • I hate that show but watched every single fucking episode each time I was pregnant with my three kids. It’s like watching a train wreck … unstoppable.

    Here’s to getting that baby out soon, in a non-puppeteer way!

  • When I was pregnant with my son, an aquaintance lent me a prenatal yoga book. I was grateful, until I started reading it, and found that the vast majority of the verbage in the book was about the author’s own home deliveries. And how she let her kids watch. And how her husband helped her. And how she carried around the placenta with her in a bag for weeks after. CRAZY! God I wish I could remember the title so I could direct you to it, but my husband and I just refer to it as “The Hippie’s Guide to Insane Childbirthing.”

    Later I found out that this aquaintence still had her son’s placenta in her freezer and intended on FEEDING IT TO HIM.

  • Rah

    Next season: X-TREEEME FREEBIRTHING!!! Women wearing pushup nursing bras give birth unassisted, outside in the snow, while squatting over a pot of chocolate fondue balanced on hot coals! L-I-V-E !!

  • Nico

    I miscarried, but baby story always gave me the wiggins because EVERYONE was in that room. The grandparents, parents, cousins, aunts, uncles, heck, they might even have dug up relatives from the grave and trucked em in. I stopped watching when every one of these “blessed events” was either Csection city or “hey, we need stadium seating at the business end!”

    No way.

    I did kick the ER doc who was doing a pelvic while I was miscarrying and she had utterly no idea what she was doing. Wrong damn hole, indeed.

    However the “birth plan” I had to consider, here in canada is far more generous, I think there’s a push on here to reduce C sections, as I gather it, US doctors are a little quicker to jump to interventions and such.

  • Aga

    Three days to go!!! I know exactly how you feel and am urging things along for you from across the country. Good luck!!

  • kirsten

    Another thought to add to your birth plan: Doctor, please do not scream at me, as if you were a drill sargeant, to “Pull your baby out! Pull your baby out!”

    Because mine did exactly that. And I did. And I am still recovering from the verbal assualt that resulted in me reaching down and pulling my daughter out of my vagina.

    I sorta thought that is what I was paying her for.

  • a

    #15 – that is HILARIOUS. still laughing that you put into perfect words what I was thinking.

  • Checking for the show right now … I think I’ll spend the rest of my workday shivering over this.

    And, for those who are planning it, water and the giving birth thing–sounds great, but when you’re dripping, COLD, and in labor, trying to towel yourself off because heeeeeere comes the nurse to check your dilation again? NOT fun.

    Yes, speaking from experience.

  • Anonymous

    I guess I shouldn’t mention how I almost ate my placenta after my natural birth. It’s supposed to help with PPD.

    Anyone eat their placenta? Anyone? Anyone? Buller?

    Dooce? You had a run with PPD as I recall with Leta…

  • Kath

    2 babies and a tubal ligation later, I still am drawn to A Baby Story, etc. when I’m home to see them :/ I guess they are like a car wreck. You think you need to see them.

  • I have absolutely seen one of those episodes of A Baby Story. And it totally creeped me out too. Waving? WTF??

    I’m 16 weeks pregnant with my first baby now and you reminding me of this has totally made me want to tell my midwives absolutely no waving. But they’re all female. And sane. So maybe I won’t have to? Seems to me it should go without saying…

  • I read it and then re-read it aloud to my fiancee out loud, dying of laughter. Still can’t fathom the ridiculousness of some people.

    Gotta do it, Heather. Siding with Jon on this one.

  • OMG, you HAVE to put that in the birth plan. Seriously. That is hilarious.

    ~from an OB/GYN who has never made a puppet of a newborn – I swear…I don’t think so, anyway…sometimes we’re kinda tired when you get us up in the middle of the night (kidding!) – but who is getting a total kick out of this pregnancy and can’t wait to hear about the actual birth from your perspective!

    Best of luck in the coming days! ~Rachael

  • I guess there’s something terribly wrong with my brain, because I actually like the idea of watching a doctor play puppet master with a newborn infant. More so if it’s only halfway out of the mom. Talk about maintaining calm and humor in the face of a storm! These doctors could land airplanes in the Hudson while cracking jokes if they had to. “Please prepare for a water landing. And while you’re doing that, a mom, her vagina and a baby were sitting in a bar with a Catholic priest when a dog….” I’ve never watched these TV shows you mention, but now I might have to. Sorry.

  • sally

    I had a homebirth. It was nice. But.

    a) Contrary to some of the comments here, just because I had a homebirth doesn’t mean I’m judging you (you being anyone) for having a hospital birth. In fact, I can state quite happily and confidently that I don’t give a flying fuck where, when, or how other women have their babies. Life is too short and complicated to care, frankly.

    b) There was a midwife present. Thank God, because she made sure I didn’t get blood on the carpet and thus lose my security deposit!

  • What if a doctor gives the baby a mohawk while it’s still mostly in there? Just wondering b/c my cousin is an ob/gyn and he did that to a friend of mine…I thought it was funny from an observer stand point, but I’m not sure I would think that if I were the mom…

  • I’m not woman enough for the “I’m a Placenta, Get Me Out of Here” shows. They’re like Ob/Gyn CSI.

  • Ok, I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks the whole doctor making the baby wave is a bit creepy. It reminds me of the movie Chucky.

    Why do I have this vision of you singing “I am slowly going crazy 1-2-3-4-5-6 switch. Crazy going slowly am I 6-5-4-3-2-1 switch” in your head.

    Hopefully it won’t be much longer until your little one arrives!!!!

  • Smitty

    God, I regret cancelling my cable!

  • leslie

    By far the worst is “I didn’t know I was pregnant”.
    You make me laugh, I wish you well and hope that the doctor does not feel the need to make alarming noises or wave you newborn’s arm around like a fool. But to be on the safe side you may want to warn your doctor of your intentions of harm should they attempt it ahead of time.

  • luvcatt

    “Baby Story” is the most evil show on television. I also watched it religiously everytime it was on. It was a morbid fascination that kept me coming back like a jumped-up meth freak, week after week, making myself more and more nervous about childbirth. Jon is a good husband taking the remote away from you; it is the only thing that will save you now Heather.
    Getting very excited to see the new baby!

  • woe be it to the OB that makes my baby WAVE to me while half hanging out of my vag. I wont have drugs on board- nothing to slow me down when I grab for the IV pole to rack him in the nuts

  • Allen

    I hope your doctor reads this blogs or someone whose knows your doctor reads your blog and can provide a head’s up!

    In related news, the comments were closed on the Style Photo so I’ll share here;

  • OMG Heather, you kill me. I am with you! My best friend Penny and I were pregnant at the exact same time (we did not plan it that way) and she wanted ZERO INFORMATION while I gorged on it. I watched TLC all the time, particularly Baby Story, even though, yes, infuriating. Penny called it SBC (“Scary Baby Channel”) because every show made her pass out. Me, I wanted to know every possible outcome of every situation so I could not freak out–for her, knowing that same information was exactly what would MAKE her freak out. I love the Scary Baby Channel, it’s so fun how clueless some of the first-time paretns are, too, saying things like “I can’t wait to get home form the hospital so we can sleep better.” BWWAAAAAA!!!!!!! Comedy gold.

  • ProudMary

    I swear to god, like 90% of the time on that enraging show, the bored doctor strolls in, and with a condescending nod says to the terrified first time mother, “We’re just not progressing as we’d like…time for Plan B.” In other words: “Since my time is worth more than the intactness of your abdomen, we’re gunna turn this 10 hour labor into 15 minutes…mkay?”

    Makes my head hurt from the rage.

  • Someone Else

    Please just birth already.

  • OH MAN, I knew there was a good reason why I opted NOT to have kids!@#$%^&*+!! Between this post and the mucous plug, I’m d@mned sure I made the right decision. In fact, I’d never even heard of a mucous plug before and could have lived the rest of my life without that tidbit of knowledge. Good luck and glad it’s you and not me. And I agree with Jon on this one.

  • I’m surprised you haven’t just hidden the remote from him so he can’t activate the controls. This sounds like too much fun to avoid. I get the problem though. If only doing laundry or… well, anything else, really, was as easily addictive as cable tv, we’d all be so darn productive.

    Now I can’t wait to learn what you do to fill the time if Jon actually follows through on his threat… Maybe you can get the baby dancing in unison with all those kids on “So You Think You Can Dance?” or something (since I’m sure she’s working on her moves quite a bit at this point). It’s not cable, but…

  • Problem with shows like that is they always have to choose the most dramatic cases in order to get people to watch, don’t they?

    Here in the Netherlands it’s quite normal to give birth at home with a midwife. It’s your choice if you want to go to the hospital or give birth at home. I’ve known people who have done it both ways and were equally happy with their experiences.

    Not sure there is a lot of stupidity involved. Rather, just what works for them.

    Granted, from what I know Midwives over here require a lot more training than they do in the US. Maybe that has something to do with it.

  • Elinda

    So, what’s wrong with sitting on your computer all day and refreshing your browser to see if Heather wrote anything new? Maybe, some of us just don’t have lives of our own… and we live vicariously through her! : P It sure beats watching T.V.

  • Ninabi

    My husband is grossed out by these shows, too. Please, change the channel. No, I do not want to see a morbidly obese person marry a dwarf and then give birth to 18 children and then everybody has surgery. Change the channel!!!

    Well, in his perfect world, his show would consist of American Idol where all the contestants were ghosts and the entire show was broadcast from the interior of a UFO. What does he know about what is worthy of viewing?

    Yes, those birth stories are often too awful not to watch.
    Catch a glimpse of a show and you cannot turn away. Who ARE these people who freebirth?

    Hoping to read about your own birth story here, very soon! Good luck and may your indignation and anger at the TV bring on a contraction or two.

  • Bahh haaa… I too obsessed about these shows when I was pregnant. I even got into the “I didn’t know I was pregnant” show on Discovery health (even though I totally knew i was pregnant…even strangers knew i was pregnant).

    Like how did they miss hemroids and the HUGE basketball under their shirts? There is no stopping. Once addicted to these shows…the only thing that will solve the addiction is child birth. Consider it your TLC rehab

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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