the smell of my desperation has become a stench

And then he held it up like Simba in the Lion King

Yesterday was a holiday here in Utah, Pioneer Day, a celebration of the day Brigham Young and the Mormon pioneers arrived in this valley and said, here! Here is where we will marry all of the wives!

Just kidding. There were still some wives left back in Missouri.

To celebrate my family gathered at my sister’s for a huge late afternoon meal, and we took that opportunity to recognize all the July birthdays: mine and two of my nieces.


TANGENT (that will oddly bring us right back around to the first paragraph): Marlo has been making up stories about her daughter and her granddaughter, and then suddenly out of nowhere yesterday morning as she and I were stacking some blocks she looked up at me and said, “My nephew isth sthtuck in traffic.”

“Your nephew?” I asked.

“Yeah,” she answered. “He’sth out there in a car.”

“What is your nephew’s name?”


“The whahhh?”

She was clearly annoyed that I was not reading her mind and screamed, “HERCUMAH ISTH STHTUCK IN TRAFFIC!”

Okay. There is so much wrong with this but let’s just point out the two most glaring problems: one, I did not raise Leta to name a child Hercumah. Two, he clearly isn’t old enough to be driving.

And then this morning she said this:

Making Brigham proud, that one.

One of the nieces born this month is my brother’s second child. I didn’t think my brother would be there yesterday given very recent events. Let me back up for just a second. None of this is linear. I apologize. I think Marlo may be contagious. Like, “yesterday when I was born.”

My mother, stepfather, and my brother’s family drove to Cody, Wyoming over the weekend to spend some time with our cousins. I called my mom on Monday morning to have our daily “what is going on with you” talk and there I was going on and on about feeling overwhelmed because I’m behind on this, and I’ve got that over there, and there’s no time for this, and she sat there and listened and offered sympathy. And then when I was finished she said, “Well, your brother… um… your brother is in the process of passing a kidney stone.”


Mom. MOM. Why did you not stop me? WHY? A kidney stone trumps everything but birth, Mom. In fact, IT IS BIRTH. He was giving birth to a kidney stone and I’m complaining about my broken Internet connection, Mom. IS HE STILL ALIVE.

This is my brother’s third run-in with this experience, except this time it didn’t pass like the first one in an hour, or like the second one in 45 minutes. No. This one stuck around for 24 hours. And he was in Wyoming. In the summer. In a motel room that hasn’t been updated since the Fifties. I was like, please tell me that you had Nickelback blasting on the stereo because this scenario ISN’T HORRIFYING ENOUGH.

Have you or someone you’ve known ever had to pass one of these things? Because the way he described the pain made me break one of the Ten Commandments and google it. And I guess I’m not alone:


Hiccups are apparently terrorists. Or the new Britney Spears.

So, yeah. There isn’t one single go-to thing that you can do to make sure you don’t ever go through this. Like, no where does it say, “If you cut out all of the salt in your diet, you will never get a kidney stone.” Or, “Be sure to eat a shit ton of broccoli.” But pretty much everything I found said that a lot of these episodes can be triggered by dehydration. And since I am the valedictorian of anxiety, I’ve been drinking enough water to drown a herd of buffalo since he passed that thing Tuesday morning, that thing that turned out to be the size of a black peppercorn.

Yes, Marlo’s head was much bigger than that, but he wins because I didn’t give birth in Wyoming.

  • kmpinkel

    2013/07/25 at 3:49 pm

    I wish kidney stones on no one. Not a single living soul, except pedophies and rapists and politicians. Poor man. can you please pass the pepper?

  • Sarah

    2013/07/25 at 3:50 pm

    “…didn’t raise Leta…” I’m thinking you meant Marlo…apparently she is very contagious.

  • Deiter Weinerman

    2013/07/25 at 3:52 pm

    Yea…tried passing one of those a few years back. Didn’t work. They went up stream with a little metal basket and yanked it out my urethea. Not a pleasant experience. Of course with my name, there was plenty of humor from the nurses.

  • Leanne Pyle

    2013/07/25 at 3:53 pm

    It was Marlo’s nephew, so Leta’s imaginary child. 🙂

  • daisy barringer

    2013/07/25 at 3:55 pm

    Marlo would the aunt to her nephew, making Leta the mom. (I had to stop and really think about that one!) 🙂

  • Nichole

    2013/07/25 at 4:00 pm

    I’m trying to pass one of those RIGHT NOW. And I’ve been trying to do so since SUNDAY. I am NOT HAPPY ABOUT THAT.

  • Kate

    2013/07/25 at 4:05 pm

    Yep. I had one years ago and the pain was so excruciating that I walked myself to the emergency room at 4am (my darling husband at the time was camping. With our one car). Even now, after having given birth to a 9 pound baby with no drugs, I can say with all confidence that childbirth got nothin’ on a kidney stone.

  • Laura Meyer

    2013/07/25 at 4:07 pm

    Hey, can it with the Wyoming insults! I’ll take Wyoming over Utah any day!

    signed, a Wyomingite (yes, that’s a thing)

  • Heather Armstrong

    2013/07/25 at 4:10 pm

    I joke with Wyoming because I love Wyoming.

  • Valerie

    2013/07/25 at 4:13 pm

    or…..Marlo’s head didn’t have spikes on it like a kidney stone. Yep, I wouldn’t wish a kidney stone on my worse enemy. It had my dad rolling on the floor in pain (honest!)

  • Susan

    2013/07/25 at 4:14 pm

    Trying to pass a kidney stone gave my father a heart attack. True story.

  • twocharacters

    2013/07/25 at 4:36 pm

    Um, nevermind.

  • Jeca51601

    2013/07/25 at 4:42 pm

    My friend passed a kidney stone while 7 months pregnant. No pain-killers except Tylenol 3…
    She said “passing” a child after that was a piece of cake. Though I believe epidural helped a lot…

  • Lolab

    2013/07/25 at 4:56 pm

    I’m 37 weeks pregnant and have gallstones. I’ve had numerous attacks through this pregnancy. Childbirth is gonna be a breeze!

  • Kira Moss

    2013/07/25 at 5:18 pm

    I actually had a kidney stone and passing it – I don’t know if it was just a small one or that I’d googled so many horror stories that I truly expected to feel like I was going to die or if I have a high tolerance for pain (that was previously untested due to mostly good health and/or luck) but it wasn’t as big a deal as I thought it would be – if anything, the worst part was trying to catch the damn stone in a makeshift cheesecloth pee strainer because when I was taking it off the toilet, it got stuck on part of the seat, I gave it a tug to get it loose and when I did, the stone went flying and the cloth whipped right back in my face. While they might pay people at some fancy spa for that sort of thing elsewhere, it was not my finest moment 🙂

  • Michelle

    2013/07/25 at 5:18 pm

    I gave birth in Wyoming 3 times. Suck it Dooce. 😉

  • Erin

    2013/07/25 at 5:27 pm

    24 hours? my husband had one for 3 months. He finally went in to have it zapped with ultrasound and – it didn’t work. It only dislodged it a little. A month later they finally had to go in and remove it… manually. Yep, just how you think. I felt so badly for him. And they actually run in his family – his mother has had them dozens of times.

  • CheeseburgerinLaradise

    2013/07/25 at 5:44 pm

    If we’re implying here that Utah trumps Wyoming we need to have a chat. Also birth in all its forms should be avoided, so I’m going to go drink my weight in water.

  • mom_of_Es

    2013/07/25 at 6:14 pm

    Hopefully your brother saved his stone because if he takes it to his doctor, she can send it to the lab and figure out what kind of stone it is. *Then* there are specific pieces of advice for him about avoiding that kind of kidney stone in the future.

  • Erika

    2013/07/25 at 6:18 pm

    I’m sorry, but I have to ask – what is that with the candles stuck in it?

  • Natasha

    2013/07/25 at 7:46 pm

    Gah. I always drive as fast as possible through Wyoming. Glad your brother survived!!!!
    Marlo is my mosth favoritest ever <3

  • KMC2

    2013/07/25 at 7:56 pm

    My poor, sweet brother in-law has a very sad, but kind of funny story about passing a kidney stone. It was his first week on the police force, and he was in so much pain that he blacked out, and hit a fire hydrant with the police cruiser! Twenty years later he is Chief of Police, so I guess they didn’t hold it against him :0)

    I don’t know what it is about Marlo’s daughter and granddaughter stories, but I always laugh out loud when I read them! She is such a little doll!

  • Laura Meyer

    2013/07/25 at 8:09 pm

    All is forgiven. Wyoming loves you.

  • Linh Lan

    2013/07/25 at 8:31 pm

    Pretty much creative

  • Suzy Soro

    2013/07/25 at 9:25 pm

    Mary Hart, from Entertainment Tonight, used to train with my sister. She had a kidney stone and said it was worse than giving birth. Her doctor told her to stop drinking Evian water, which was her water of choice.

  • Teal

    2013/07/25 at 10:59 pm

    It looks like homemade Rice Krispie Treats

  • talonsage

    2013/07/25 at 11:39 pm

    “Menstruating sand” was the little gift I gave my girlfriend’s husband when he was diagnosed with his first stone.

  • Eunice

    2013/07/26 at 1:47 am

    My husband has a problem with kidney stones. When he passed the first one he was on a train, in high summer, going from Edinburgh to Aberystwyth. An ambulance was waiting for him in Aber and they whisked him off to hospital. When they called me and I went to see him, he was on morphine, it was so bad. They’re painful now, but not as awful as that first one. He drinks as much water as he can in may/june when one is due, but they still catch him out.

  • Heather

    2013/07/26 at 2:40 am

    I had kidney stones, passing them actually out was not painful at all, but the process of them coming down through the tubes in my kidney’s the pain was excruciating. I was throwing up from the pain! Once they had made it into my bladder, they stayed there for a while (had an ultrasound scan) and then finally passed out of my body painlessly, but the actual travel of them, my god, i may have felt i was dying at some point. After that pain was over, i went to the bathroom and all there was was bright red – terrified me. Unfortunately even though it’s all over, I’m likely to have it happen again. sigh.

  • Heather

    2013/07/26 at 2:49 am

    She meant didn’t raise Leta to name a kid that because Marlo said it was her nephew..therefore Leta’s kid. Took me twice to get that too! lol

  • Connie Veneracion

    2013/07/26 at 5:58 am

    One of out cats is about to give birth. One of the new kittens will be named Hercumah,

  • Lisa

    2013/07/26 at 6:21 am

    I had a kidney stone last summer and it was far worse than child birth! And I gave birth twice with no drugs, no epidural, no nothing! And it took a MONTH for my stone to be diagnosed! I ended up in the ER because I was in so much pain. The darn thing would not move. SO I had to have it removed with the little basket thing. Which wasn’t so bad, but having a stent in your urethra for 2 weeks afterwards was possibly as bad as the kidney stone. My urologist told me to stop drinking tea, it can contribute to the formation of kidney stones. I drink about 2 gallons of water a day now.

  • Mandy

    2013/07/26 at 6:43 am

    Ugh, yeah… passed one of those jerks a few weeks ago. Woke up in the middle of the night and it felt like The Hulk was punching me repeatedly in the side while someone with gnarly fingernails was squeezing my abdomen. It took me a WEEK to pass it, thankfully I had lots of painkillers to numb the shame of peeing into a plastic hat looking thing and dumping it into a strainer to fish for a stone.

    At least it made for good blogging material. And it happened on Independence Day. Merica!

  • susanfishy

    2013/07/26 at 7:22 am

    I had gallbladder attacks after one of my kids was born. My smallest child was over 9 lbs and the other two were 10 lbs. I did those drug-free. You are correct that childbirth will be easier. The difference is that in childbirth you (usually) get a break between contractions. Hope it goes well.

  • Denise Wallace

    2013/07/26 at 7:32 am

    Poor brother! I’ve never had one, but I hear those kidney stones are horrific! I think Marlo might be channeling past lives.

  • Heather

    2013/07/26 at 7:42 am

    every woman in my family turns 35 and starts churning kidney stones out like it’s their job. I am 32 and anxious.
    My mom has this grotesque jar of all her kidney stones. There are at least 2 dozen in there. She just has this procedure now–goes to the urgent care with a gallon of cranberry juice and water and asks for a dilaudid drip until it passes. They *recognize her.*

  • Jenn L

    2013/07/26 at 7:58 am

    You know what helps to never get a kidney stone? Eating Paleo. 🙂 I’m a convert too, and I know you’ll understand. Now if only you can convince your brother….

  • Lisa Ostlund

    2013/07/26 at 8:22 am

    My husband had a kidney stone that he never did pass and eventually had to have surgery to have it removed. The effer was shaped in a way that it almost had a hook – it was an awful couple of months waiting to see if it would pass before they finally removed it.

  • Heather Armstrong

    2013/07/26 at 8:59 am

    Yep. Rice Krispie Treats.

  • Suzanne H

    2013/07/26 at 9:38 am

    I don’t know when or where but our children are destined to be married. Yes, we will be family one day. Maybe we should fly out to Utah from Virginia and get the introductions over with. Your Marlo stories remind me SO MUCH of my 4 1/2 year old son! He frequently tells me all about his daughter. He also plans to marry me, his previous babysitter and her granddaughter one day (we must have some Mormon blood I don’t know about). The best though are his stories about his “Boss” here on Earth that tells him what do and he has no choice but to listen and his stories about “Rang Rollo” the Martian that took care of him before he brought him to Earth to live with us (to get him away from the monsters that invaded Mars). Oh the stories those two could share…

  • KristenfromMA

    2013/07/26 at 11:29 am

    I did read recently that drinking lemonade helps prevent them. Nice, sweet way to stay hydrated. 🙂

  • Gryph

    2013/07/26 at 11:38 am

    This is a true fact told to me by my urologist after I got a kidney stone so bad that passing it apparently cut me up inside and led to persistent infections. But at least I wasn’t in Wyoming. Or Utah.

  • KristenfromMA

    2013/07/26 at 2:30 pm

    It’s not for everyone.

  • KristenfromMA

    2013/07/26 at 2:31 pm



  • hahagirl

    2013/07/26 at 6:02 pm

    Ahh, you love Republicans, too. 🙂

  • mari

    2013/07/28 at 12:38 am

    You can flush ’em with two beers in quick succession- it’s a diuretic!

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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