Dooce's Heather Armstrong on Expecting Again
Courtesy Heather Armstrong
Six years ago, Heather Armstrong made internet history when she became the first person officially fired for blogging. Her blog, Dooce.com, made her an internet celebrity, earned her an entry in Wikipedia, and the term "dooced" entered the vernacular. Dooce is now a family business– her husband Jon handles the business end, while daughter Leta, 4, and two dogs, Former Congressman Henry Chucklesworth (AKA Chuck) and Dame Eleanor Ritzford-Fitzsimons Puffs (AKA Coco) provide endless fodder for the blog.
Earlier this year, she published a collection of edited essays called, Things I Learned About My Dad: Humorous and Heartfelt Essays, and in March 2009, will add a memoir, It Sucked and Then I Cried: How I Had a Baby, a Breakdown, and a Much Needed Margarita, to her resume.
Despite the book title, Heather is doing the unexpected and jumping into motherhood again. Having recently announced on Dooce that she’s pregnant with her second child — she’s due June 14th! — the blogger was kind enough to chat with us about it. Click below to read on!
Courtesy Heather Armstrong
Danielle: How are you feeling? Besides nauseous.
Heather: Oh man, it’s so bad. This is a good hour, but the last three days have been the worst. I remember very vividly how horrible this was!
Was it that bad with Leta?
It was actually way worse with her, because I couldn’t eat anything, so I lost almost 15 pounds in the first trimester. This time, if I don’t eat, I throw up. So I have to constantly have something in my mouth, and I’ve already gained 10 pounds!
You announced your pregnancy on Dooce with a post titled, "Internet, I’m craving Doritos" and followed up with one called, "Excuse me while I go make love to a bean burrito." Are these things helping?
Yes, anything salty. I had my doctor’s go-ahead, she said, "You know what, just eat what you crave. You’ll probably die down in the second trimester. You’ll probably gain all your weight early on." So let’s hope! Hopefully I don’t end up 80 pounds heavier!
Besides Doritos, what else are you craving?
Salt and Vinegar potato chips. Yesterday I craved everything on the Taco Bell menu, so we stopped at Taco Bell for dinner. Really anything, and everything. You know, Italian food sounds so good, chips and salsa sounds so good. Everything sounds good!
Savory, not sweet?
Sweet, no not much. It’s mostly salty and really rich and tasty.
And that keeps you from getting sick?
Well, it’s kind of weird, because I have this constant low-lying nausea, and when I don’t eat, it’s worse. But when I do eat, it’s still there, but it’s not as bad, but then I have food in my stomach. It’s just weird, ongoing misery!
I had it pretty bad. I threw-up every other day with Anya. But it did end after 16 or 17 weeks. I realized one day, "I don’t feel like I have to throw up!" Every now and then I’ll get a little nauseous, and I’ll think, "Oh yeah, that’s what it felt like." Did you crave the same kinds of things with Leta?
Yes, it’s the same thing. But with Leta, I really couldn’t eat. I remember one time, going, "Oh my gosh, the only thing that I could possibly eat right now is Kentucky Fried Chicken." We had to go out of our way, and it was the first meal I’d had in about 9 ½ weeks. But now, it’s more about elaborate Doritos, elaborate pasta dishes. One day I had to have Thai food. It’s much more specific this time. I said to Jon, "You need to go out right now and get me what I’m asking for!"
Does he drop what he’s doing?
Yeah, he does.
Good! I guess he’s gone through it before. With my pregnancy, I didn’t have a specific type of craving but I’d heard someone talking about something, like grapefruit or tacos, then I’d decide I needed it right THEN. I could not function until I put it in my mouth.
When I’m not pregnant, I love food. But while pregnant, everything tastes like the most spectacular thing that’s ever been cooked. I had a pretzel at the airport, and it was the most amazing pretzel I’ve ever eaten in my entire life. Or I’ll chew a piece of gum, and it’ll be the most spectacular piece of gum I’ve ever chewed in my life. Every time! It’s like being on ecstasy. Everything tastes spectacular.
All of your senses are heightened but unfortunately it’s the same way with things that smell bad. Anything bad-smelling smells 50 times worse. It’s like, how do you hide that revulsion?
Well I was at a meet-up last week in Los Angeles, and usually at meet-ups I’m drinking three or four bourbons on the rocks, but this time I was barely holding it together. Everyone was like, "Why aren’t you drinking?" And I said, "Oh, I just don’t feel like it!"
Does Leta know you’re pregnant?
She does. We took her to my appointment on Wednesday morning and broke the news to her there. She got to see the baby on the screen. I didn’t want to tell her before, because I wasn’t sure she’d fully comprehend what was going on. And even then, she was like "Well how did you get it in there? How are you going to get it out? Take it out now!"
Her belly was poking out the other day because she’d just eaten a lot, and her tummy is still distended just from being a kid. And she said, "Look at my belly!" and I said, "Beautiful belly Leta," And she said, "I think mine is a girl!"
Has she decided if its a boy or girl yet?
She’s adamant that it’s a girl. She’s actually asked for a little sister a few times in the past, because she’s around so many younger cousins and enjoys being around the younger cousins, and wants to bring them home all the time so she can play with them in her house. So I think she’ll think it’s a fun toy to have around, a little sister.
I guess you’ll have to explain to her that she won’t be able to play with the baby for a long time. Since you came back from the doctor, does she ask every day if the baby’s going to come yet? Does she get that you have to wait?
Well, we told her before we were going to the ultrasound, we said, "We have something to tell you, I have a baby in my tummy." And she said, "You mean you’re not getting me a treat?" She expected me to break out some kind of candy or a Polly Pocket. My belly’s not showing yet, but once it becomes visible she’ll think, "Oh, things are happening."
What about your other babies? Chuck was around when you were pregnant with Leta. And Coco – she’ll be totally surprised!
Chuck will be like, "You’ve got to be kidding me, you did this again. I cannot believe you did this again." And I think Coco will be absolutely ecstatic, it’s another sheep to count in her herd. She needs the work, she enjoys the work. I’ll have a lot of fun messing with her brain.
Someone pitched me a CD you’re supposed play to get your pets used to having a baby around.
That would be hilarious! We watch The Dog Whisperer a lot. Chuck usually ignores the television, but when we watch, Coco goes nuts at the dogs on television. She’s so crazy about noises, so it’ll be interesting to see what she does with baby noises in the background.
I see you had thousands of comments on your announcement post on Dooce!
I didn’t announce it until I saw the heartbeat and knew the baby was OK. It was the hardest two-and-a-half weeks of my life, not writing about it. It was all I wanted to write about, but forcing myself to write about other topics was incredibly difficult.
What did you write about instead?
I don’t even remember! It was this intersection of my brain that I had to get into. I had a really hard time not Twittering about throwing up all the time, or my cravings for certain foods, because it would totally give it away.
Have you gotten any nasty comments?
I’ve seen a couple websites, that have been forwarded to me, and there’s terrible nastiness out there. But I totally expected that – I’ve experienced that for the last four-and-a-half years with Leta – and I absolutely expect people to go, "I can’t believe they’re bringing another child into the world. She’s totally messe
d up in the brain. I feel sorry for her children. She’s going to have her children grow up thinking that she hates him."
I’m sure there are some people who would criticize any news that you had. Like Heather Armstrong finds a cure for cancer!
It can be misinterpreted, and turn into a horrible thing.
Leta’s going to be five soon. How are you feeling about the spacing?
There aren’t a lot of examples of this where I live — most people have their babies really close together – and those who I’ve talked to who have ids who are spaced out love it. They talk about how there’s protectiveness from the old kid to the smaller kid, and enjoys being the examples and the expert. I think it’s going to be good. I have every reason to believe that someone is going to fulfill her in a way. I’m excited to see how she blossoms as an older sister. She starts kindergarten next August. We’ll get one kid out of the house and have another!
One issue we’re having with Anya lately is that she’s really, um, asserting her independence. Does Leta ever fight you on issues? One of our biggest battles is getting dressed. And then staying dressed.
Yes! She doesn’t want to wear those socks, or this fleece. She doesn’t want to brush her teeth that way, or brush her hair that way. She doesn’t want to stand at the sink and wash her hands. It’s like, "You’re just being oppositional to be oppositional! You’re just wanting to make me angry!"
I don’t think it’ll ever go away! I can’t handle it anymore! Why are you fighting me on this? There’s no reason to fight me on this!
Before we go, tell us about the 2009 Chuck calendar.
It’s something we do every year, and this year we changed vendors, so it cost a little bit more (we don’t make much money on it anyway), but the money we did make I wanted to give to the Humane Society. I’ve been doing volunteer work, but I can’t do a ton of physical work because of the pregnancy, so I wanted proceeds to go to them instead. It’s much better quality than the one we’ve done in the past. It sells for $19.99 and I believe at least $5 per calendar goes to the Humane Society of Utah.
Putting things on your dog and photographing it seems to be a trend!
There’s a site, stuffonmydog.com, dedicated to that kind of thing — humiliating your dog!
I have a book called Stuff on My Cat…
Yeah, Leta loves taking that book to school!
Check out this video of Heather and other mombloggers having a "momversation" about why we care about Suri Cruise, where Heather defends her love of celebrity babies (and mentions CBB, though not by name).