the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Now I understand why cardboard was invented

So here we were, taking it easy, watching Marlo’s cues, and feeling really lucky that at about four months of age she had basically moved into her own room and given us our king-sized bed back. Where Jon can gaze longingly from four feet across the mattress, and I can go YOU SEE THAT LINE? That line right there in the middle of the bed? You take a good, hard look at that line, buddy, because you aren’t allowed on this side of that line until you see that urologist.

Snip snip! Get to it!

I’ve never been a fan of abstinence-only education… wait, let’s step back for a second. That’s not totally true. Because that’s what I practiced until I was twenty two years old. And the only reason I never gave in to that VERY SPECIAL FEELING in that SUPER SECRET AREA was because I had been taught that my eternal salvation depended on it. Give in to that temptation and spend eternity with Hitler!

Which is really pretty crafty and effective, don’t you think? I mean, it worked for me! But I was an easy case. I thought any sin would send me to Hell, which is why I repented of my first kiss, at seventeen years of age, told my mother all about it through a dripping mess of tears, like WE TOUCHED LIPS, MOM! AND I LIKED IT! And she was all, Heather, I’m pretty sure you’re going to be okay. And I was all ARE YOU KIDDING? I SWAPPED SALIVA! WITH A BOY! In my mind it was like I had broken into the living room of God and taken a poop right there on his sofa.

Anyway, my point is, the sure fire way to avoid getting pregnant? Let someone spend a week with a four-month-old who has just figured out how to roll over. And over. And over some more. Because I assure you that anyone who walks away from that experience will take one look at a box of condoms and go YOU MUST BE OUT OF YOUR EFFING MIND.

Things with Marlo were totally fine until I went to get her for one of her 2 AM feedings last week, and there she was three feet to the east of where I had put her down for the night, her right and left arms twisted up between the bars of the crib. Stuck. Who designed these things? Cribs? I’ve never even really thought about this question until now because Leta didn’t ever get caught in the many various spaces one could get caught in a crib. Because she didn’t learn to move until, oh, last week?

Oh, wonderful, beautiful, immobile Leta!

So then the next night Marlo wakes up like, oh, every thirty minutes, because she has moved and one of her limbs is caught between the bars of the crib. First her right arm, then the left, then both legs, and then she grew an extra limb out of her head just so that it could get stuck. Just so that she could screw with me.

So I go, Jon. This isn’t working. I’m getting so anxious about not sleeping that I’m having anxiety attacks. Ones that are causing me to vomit. And that noise she’s making? That terrible, irritable noise? The one she’s making because SHE HASN’T SLEPT IN FOUR DAYS? The one that goes: miiiihhhhhaaa! Miiiihhhhhaaa! Miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiihhhhhaaaaaaaa!

Is it a cat? Is is a goat? Is is a troll? Is it a cat being swung by its tail over the head of a troll next to a goat puking up a hair ball?

So I suggested we get a box. A really big box with really tall sides. And he goes, Heather, we are not going to get a box. And I was all, BUT A BOX IS THE ANSWER. And he goes, no, we are not putting her in a box. And I go, BUT NO ONE WILL EVER KNOW. And he goes, Heather, step away from that recycling bin. And I’m all YOU THINK I’M GOING TO WRITE ABOUT THIS ON MY WEBSITE? HEY INTERNET, WE PUT OUR BABY IN A CARDBOARD BOX!!! HA!!! I wouldn’t ever do that, JON.

I wouldn’t. I totally wouldn’t write about it. But I would put her in a box if he’d let me.

Anyway. Point is: ABSTINENCE.

  • Jen S.

    2009/10/12 at 12:08 pm

    Quick solution for your dilemma – put a padded crib bumper up. Most are about 10 inches high and will prevent any limbs from escaping. We had the same issue with our son and once we put the bumper in his crib, he never got a limb stuck and the extra padding around the crib seemed to make him feel more secure and I swear he slept better…

  • katehopeeden

    2009/10/12 at 12:07 pm

    I put my ALMOST-THIRTEEN-YEAR-OLD daughter in a box all the time.
    Are we not supposed to do that?

  • natalie

    2009/10/12 at 12:07 pm

    HAHAHA – point taken!

  • Parsing Nonsense

    2009/10/12 at 12:08 pm

    Ha! And here I thought the mucus plug would’ve done the trick…

  • Jocelyn Stott

    2009/10/12 at 12:08 pm

    HAHAHA – this was great. I love the visual!

  • Amelia

    2009/10/12 at 12:09 pm

    What is a playpen if not a box?

  • angela

    2009/10/12 at 12:09 pm

    You should invent a baby box and make a crapload of money!!!

  • Sara

    2009/10/12 at 12:10 pm

    I let my baby sleep in a cardboard box:

    I don’t remember any of our baby books saying we shouldn’t…

  • Rachelle

    2009/10/12 at 12:10 pm

    Awesome! I still wouldn’t let my hubby touch me after the surgery… not until after he took the “sample” back and CONFIRMED that there were no little swimmers. 🙂 And BTW, there is a really cool mesh crib bumper that you can buy that weaves through the crib rails to prevent the babies getting stuck. One Step Ahead carried it at one time. Good Luck!

  • Kristan

    2009/10/12 at 12:10 pm

    CRACKED ME UP: “Oh, wonderful, beautiful, immobile Leta!”

    Right now I’m betting that you DID in fact put Marlo in a box, and that right now everyone in your family is much happier for it. In fact, I bet that’s why you let Jon show them Star Wars: because he caved in to the box!

  • christa

    2009/10/12 at 12:11 pm

    Why don’t you break down the box and slide it down in between the mattress and the bars so that there aren’t actually any openings for her to get stuck in? I thought that’s what you were going to write about actually 🙂

  • Kristan

    2009/10/12 at 12:11 pm

    PS: Does this make me a bad doggie momma?

  • kerri

    2009/10/12 at 12:11 pm

    have you considered bumpers for the crib? if you’re SIDS paranoid like i was, they make mesh ones…not pretty, but should keep the limbs in, no? alternatively, nothing for limbs to get stuck in sleeping in a pack ‘n play. just sayin’. this is your SLEEP on the line.

  • BM

    2009/10/12 at 12:12 pm

    As if my husband doesn’t already have enough reasons not to have sex with me. Now even cardboard boxes are an excuse.

  • Mrs Ms

    2009/10/12 at 12:12 pm

    I stuck my roller/scooter in a playpen. Once she crawled out of that she slept on the floor. Wouldn’t sleep in her bed to save her life and yes, I mean that literally. Now she’s 22, sleeps in a bed but refuses to use a top sheet. They never get any less weird.

  • Rachelle

    2009/10/12 at 12:12 pm

    Here’s the link to the mesh bumper I mentioned earlier… works like a dream!

  • Agi

    2009/10/12 at 12:13 pm

    Woman, you crack me up so bad.
    There’s no sun in LA today, but wait, here comes dooce! 🙂 And suddenly a smile wraps around my head like a red bow on a Xmas gift.. Gracias.

  • Daddy Scratches

    2009/10/12 at 12:13 pm

    The mobility really does make things exponentially more difficult. And we made the additional mistake of letting our petite daughter remain in a crib for far too long … so much so that when we moved her to a bed, she had no concept of a sleeping in something that she could actually fall out of.

  • Keelie

    2009/10/12 at 12:14 pm

    My sympathy! Do you have bumpers on your crib, or is that a stupid “of course we do, who doesn’t?” question? If you don’t – ignore all the morons that tell you Marlo will get her head stuck under them. Tuck the bumpers between the matress and the bars and she’ll be fine. My daughter would’ve had permanent crib corner marks on her head w/o those things for as much time as she spent headbutting her crib. Or what about putting her in one of those Sleep Sacks? At least it would keep her legs from getting stuck! Good luck!

  • ElizabethE

    2009/10/12 at 12:14 pm


  • Free Lion

    2009/10/12 at 12:15 pm

    hmmm…how bout lining the crib bars with sheets of plexi, screwed into the crib frame? its still a box…but aesthetically considered!

  • Lillian

    2009/10/12 at 12:16 pm

    My husband slept in a laundry basket when he was a baby. Because his mother is ummm… odd.

    Google breathable bumpers, get some today and sleep tonight.

  • Bluestalking

    2009/10/12 at 12:17 pm

    Is Marlo’s middle name Houdini? God help you when she’s big enough to get a leg over the side of the crib! Total game over, dude.

    But how about a playpen? I know, it’s a pain in the ass bending over to get them and put them back (tricky not waking them on the putting back), but it looks more fashion-forward than cardboard.

    Unless you paint it up really pretty, of course. Think of the possibilities! Do you still have the box from your new washing machine? Recycling, you know.

  • Bekka

    2009/10/12 at 12:17 pm

    Not going to lie, I see absolutely nothing wrong with popping the baby in a box. Cardboard is soft, it’s not like you’re leaving her surrounded by concrete. I think given the choice between being placed in a comfortable box and, um, having parents who are about to LOSE IT, you know what the right thing to do is!

  • Nicole

    2009/10/12 at 12:18 pm

    Seconding the advice on the bumpers and especially recommending the sleep sack. Both my kids have had these:
    They rock, and significantly impair mobility while keeping babies and toddlers toasty warm in frigid Montana. Or Utah.

  • Amy

    2009/10/12 at 12:19 pm

    Cardboard box sounds like a good solution to me… which is probably why I’m not a parent…

  • Sarah Lane

    2009/10/12 at 12:19 pm

    Maybe her wails aren’t complaints … maybe she’s just really advanced and has decided that instead of going by “Marlo,” she wants to go by her initials, “Mia.”

  • Anonymous

    2009/10/12 at 12:20 pm

    LOL… I put my baby in a box when I suddenly had to bring him to work because his sitter was sick. I just walked out to the shipping floor, got a box, plunked it down on the floor of my office, tossed some blankets and toys in and went to work. Happy baby at my feet.

  • emily

    2009/10/12 at 12:20 pm

    Hi Heather –

    My kids were both movers and shakers, so we put a kind of ugly, but really functional, mesh crib bumper in the crib. It made it so the crib was airy, but gap free. I think this is the one we bought

    And, I’m so sorry about the loss of your grandmother. Mine is 90, and I love her so much it hurts. My thoughts are with you.

    Red Bird Crafts

  • MsCellania

    2009/10/12 at 12:21 pm

    NOTSOFAST with those crib bumpers!
    Newest info re SIDS says “No bumpers or soft bedding”
    Instead, consider these
    (sorry I don’t know how to imbed)
    They are wedges.
    You will still have to remove them pretty fast from the crib when Ms. Scoot-Around starts standing up and using the bumpers as a handy step stool to exit her crib.

  • Daddy Scratches

    2009/10/12 at 12:21 pm

    Oh, BTW: If Jon needs to get mentally prepared for a vasectomy, I have this to offer.

  • Anja

    2009/10/12 at 12:22 pm

    Just wait until she starts crawling and takes up turning over lamps and other furniture as her new hobby. That’s what our son did. At 7 months. At 18 months he could climb ladders. I have a slight suspicion that life with an agile, curious and very determined baby is a little different from life with immobile ones…

  • Amy J.

    2009/10/12 at 12:22 pm


    Daycares use plexi on cribs so that babies don’t do that very thing. It’s perfectly safe. I wouldn’t use cardboard, she might chew on it and get a piece off and choke or something. Crib bumper too…tuck it down between the bards and mattress…slide it down and tie it tight below that tuck in spot…will make it taut and pretty tight, so she can’t move it.

    Good luck.

  • Anne

    2009/10/12 at 12:23 pm

    Bumpers – thin, very firm ones. Or the mesh ones. I’m as big of a SIDS freak as the next person, but having my kid get her limbs stuck in the slats of the crib about sent me to the looney bin…and bumpers let us ALL sleep soundly.

  • jlj

    2009/10/12 at 12:23 pm

    You did not ask for a suggestion, and I loved the post, but I had the same problem with the Kid when she was little. And the answer was PACK AND PLAY.

    Yes. Put the baby in a pack and play for sleeping. Get one that can move her higher off the ground if the floor is cold, one with a bassinet. The sides are plenty tall enough to keep her in for quite some time to come, and the bed is stable enough to be super duper safe. I mean, they RUN and LEAP in a pack and play. Sleeping is a piece of cake. There are some pack and plays that have sheets fitted to them as well.

    I suggest this one to start (or some version of it):

    and this one to continue:

    See? Good world all around. Because not getting enough sleep is the work of Satan and probably Dick Van Patten.

  • d3 voiceworks

    2009/10/12 at 12:23 pm

    ha #9-sara! “kirkland signature co-sleeper!” funnAY!

    lio flipped over at 3 months and i just had no idea what to do but keep putting him back on his back. until a friend told me not to worry–within 2 weeks it’d be something else vexing me. so he continues to get limbs stuck and nearly stands on his head in his downward dog sorta way. oh well–soon he’ll be fetching milk and bread at the corner store for us so i’ll. just. deal.

    mostly wanted to say the hate page is very telling, full of musings from all those peeps in high school who loathed you then and loathe you now.

  • geri

    2009/10/12 at 12:23 pm

    Heather, does Marlo tolerate being swaddled? We swaddled from 2 weeks to about 6 months, when he got strong enough to bust out. He slept so SO much better and longer when wrapped up like a chubby little burrito.

  • Katherine

    2009/10/12 at 12:24 pm

    A box is the best idea ever. And, if she’s anything like I was when I was kid, she will never hold it against you. Instead, she’ll tell the other kids, “Guys, you don’t understand, I have the COOLEST MOTHER EVER. She used to put me in a box!!” You know how much kids love boxes. Also, I was a really mobile kid early on, too. Just wait until she starts furniture walking…

  • mysterious malady

    2009/10/12 at 12:24 pm

    You *know* you are asking for the crazies to come out of their whatever and attack you on EVERY SINGLE WORD that you have said on here?

    and especially that line about Leta being immobile?, you are going to be hearing that for a long, long time. I sometimes pity the crazies. Sense of humor must have been handed out while they were worrying about their hang nails !

    OMG, my hang nail could hurt my BABBBBBBBBBBBBY!!!!

    I just raised the Lord’s name in vain. Surely I’m going to hell (can’t be much worse than where I live, though !).


  • Kathleen

    2009/10/12 at 12:24 pm

    I was totally freaked out about our cats sleeping with the baby (which, no, no thank you, that thing is loud and grabby), so I got a crib tent. Cats, not so much an issue – but NO STUCK LIMBS! DIdn’t realize how key this was until we used a regular crib on vacation. Total sympathy. (the sleep sac does help, too)

  • Renae McAlister

    2009/10/12 at 12:25 pm


    If you can’t get the bumpers pushed down far enough where she won’t get a limb stuck you should just get your pack and play out (assuming you have some sort of a portable “play pen”) and then you, and Marlo, can rest easy!

    Totally on board with the snip thing because I am NOT HAVING ANOTHER BABY. Condoms break all the time and I am just not willing to have a “mistake” so I think after 6 months of no sex my husband is ready to make the commitment!


  • maggie

    2009/10/12 at 12:26 pm

    As an alternative to a cardboard box you could try a pack n’ play, there are no bars to get stuck in. It worked with our little mobile one.

  • Katherine @ Grass Stains

    2009/10/12 at 12:27 pm

    Ohhhhh, I can’t stop laughing because SO MUCH CHANGES with a second child. I remember the days when you were so totally stressed out about Leta not moving on her own, and now you’d LOVE to have a kid who doesn’t move on her own! (I was worried WITH you; I’m not picking on you.) We have three boys and they have all developed on COMPLETELY different timelines, our third most quickly of all. Best wishes containing Marlo!

  • Nicole

    2009/10/12 at 12:28 pm

    I agree with the others – a pack and play is a great idea. My youngest son slept in one until he was about a year old! Good luck!!!

  • Michelle

    2009/10/12 at 12:28 pm

    These comments should be fun. You’re going to get a bunch of people that suggest crib bumpers and then you’re going to get a bunch of people that say “NOOOOOOOO! Your baby will suffocate and DIE within 5 seconds after installing the crib bumper even if your baby’s not even in the crib!” And then everyone’s going to duke it out, but at least we’ll all forget that you put your baby in a cardboard box. Excellent work, dooce!

  • Kelsey

    2009/10/12 at 12:28 pm

    Your previous stories alone were enough to make me stick to taking that little pill EVERYDAY NO MATTER WHAT. Now with the baby’s appendages getting STUCK in places?? Oh lord…I thought it was weird when I learned that you had to literally suck the boogers out of their noses, but getting their little infantile limbs caught in things repeatedly? Too much. No more sex. Like…ever.

    Ok that was a lie. But the little pills will continue until I have further proof that having babies is a good thing. And also until I’m ready to handle someone else’s boogers.

  • Moya

    2009/10/12 at 12:29 pm

    We suffered for a couple of weeks with our first daughter, until she figured it out, but with our (now) 18 month old we use a sleep sack. Best invention ever, she actually calms down when she sees it & knows that it is ok to sleep. It prevented her legs from getting stuck thru the bars when she was little, and now it prevents our little monkey from climbing out of the crib (she can’t hitch her leg up that high).

  • Ismara

    2009/10/12 at 12:29 pm

    I had the same issue and used this:

    It worked fabulously. We all sleep with all limbs inside the “box” now.

  • Angela

    2009/10/12 at 12:32 pm

    Crib tent. You can get one at Babies R Us (not to be confused with babes r us…just so you know). It has a mesh lining that keeps kids from sticking their arms out the bars of the crib and it still allows for air flow.

    I get it though. Totally. A box sound pretty good right about now!

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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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