So, How Dilated Are You?

July 6, 2007

… Fifteen centimeters? Ten? When was the last time that you checked?

I’m standing, clutching my club soda and lime, facing down a total stranger who has just asked me when it was that I last peered down between my legs to see if the baby delivery system was opening up on schedule.

I haven’t checked myself, actually. Can’t get past this gigantic sphere that’s blocking my view. Would love to check it out, though.

She sips her wine and doesn’t blink. It’s an open bar – a pre-wedding reception at a well-heeled downtown restaurant – and she’s clearly been enjoying the flow of Chardonnay. But she’s keeping her wits about her. Well, your doctor should be able to tell you. (Pauses, sips drink.) Or you could get your husband to look.

She’s in her fifties. Well-preserved, with the polished look that wealthy older women have, the kind that haven’t had work done but who go to the spa weekly. Buffed and plucked and dry-cleaned. That look. She’s a piece of work. And she’s clearly relishing chatting about my cervix.

Oh, I say. Well. He doesn’t go down there much anymore. You know, since the baby could slide out anytime. You don’t want that mucus plug hitting you between the eyes.

We stare at each other over our respective glasses. I’m determined to not let this bitch win. If she thinks that she can fluster me, she’s got another think coming. You can’t fluster women who are going on 11 months pregnant. I’ll show her how much I’m dilated before I’m going to blink.

She smiles. No, darling, you don’t! But you shouldn’t let that stop you. Intercourse is the best way to bring on labour!


I smile. Oh, it’s not that he isn’t ever down there. He just doesn’t go head first. We’re doing everything we can to get this baby out.

Parry and thrust.

Well, just be sure that he gives you an orgasm.

Return and thrust.

Oh, I always make sure!

A weak return. She sips her drink and looks away, searching, no doubt, for some virgin that she can grill about hymens. I have, it seems, begun boring her.



It occurs to me that this is the hottest conversation that I will probably have for a very, very long time. And I’m having it with a fifty-something Jewish woman in an Italian restaurant while very possibly going into the early stages of labour. The nightmares, I realize, are going to be horrendous. Or, at the least, confusing.

I consider faking a big, dramatic labour pain, just to freak her out.

I consider spilling my drink and saying that my water just broke.

I consider telling her that I need to excuse myself to go have sex with my husband, to see if we can’t poke that baby out for once and for all.

I do none of these things. I rattle the ice cubes in my empty glass and look around anxiously for my husband. I shuffle my fat, bloated feet and say, weakly, well, it’s been lovely speaking with you. If the baby doesn’t arrive tonight we’ll see you at the wedding tomorrow.

She raises her glass to me and grins, wickedly. Make sure you get someone to measure that cervix!

I put my thumb and forefinger together and make a big circle, the universal symbol for “A-OK!” and “Hey! Big Vagina!”, and hold it up in front of my face, and smile and nod at her from behind the hole.

I regret to this day that I did not stick my tongue through, and waggle it derisively. Except that, I’m pretty sure that she would have waggled back.

In which case, I would never have recovered.

(I would say, with the rest of the PBNers, that I would have rather just handed her THIS, but that’s not true. I would rather that I had had the nerve to say something really, really dirty to her. But I do wish that soemone would have handed this book to me. Then I might have understood better what a cervix is.)

(What would you have said?)


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    Lawyer Mama July 6, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    Or you could’ve smacked her in the head with the book!

    Jennifer aka Binky Bitch July 6, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    Um, gross.

    I don’t much care for discussing my vaginal width with strangers.

    mm July 6, 2007 at 4:43 pm

    I’m about 4cm’s just shy of that magic halfway point… thanks for asking… the membrane sweep was truely horrifying but seems to be doing its job as I am cramping like mad and there is enough bloddy tissue to make me think I’ll squeeze this thing out in the next day or two. Oh and I haven’t even bought the sautee pan and e.v.o.o. for the placenta yet! What was I thinking taking the time to come to this? sips sparkling water and bats eyelashes while rubbing aforementioned belly.

    Beck July 6, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    My brains fall out EVERY TIME I AM PREGNANT and so I’d probably just have stood there earnestly discussing my cervix with her until she was ready to gnaw her own ankle off.
    That’s just the way I roll.

    Karianna July 6, 2007 at 5:15 pm

    People are clueless and cruel. But you are clearly cleverer than I.

    Tuesday Girl July 6, 2007 at 5:27 pm

    Maybe that was her way of offering to check it out for you.

    Her Bad Mother July 6, 2007 at 5:29 pm

    TG – yeah, um, maybe. But: EWWWW.

    kgirl July 6, 2007 at 5:37 pm

    hysterical! (really, no better word to use is there?)

    but she got it wrong – it’s the male ejaculation that brings on labour (some chemical in the, uh, ejaculate), but maybe she just wanted to make sure you had a good time.

    mothergoosemouse July 6, 2007 at 5:58 pm

    Okay, that is just plain creepy.

    But you hit her with “mucus plug” (the phrase, not the actual plug), and she still kept on. I don’t think anything would’ve stopped her.

    Except maybe dropping the actual plug into her drink. Mmmmmm!

    painted maypole July 6, 2007 at 6:15 pm

    the whole “sex brings on labor” conversation was my least favorite of the crappy things people would bring up when I was pregnant, and 2 weeks overdue.

    Julie Pippert July 6, 2007 at 6:16 pm

    You are very polite! But not squishy! Good for you, LOL.

    Me? Someone opens the floodgates for me then by all means I flood. LOL

    Like Beck, I’d talk her to death until she spilled her own drink and claimed her water broke.

    Mert July 6, 2007 at 6:44 pm

    You should have asked her – since she was so interested- if she would like to check for you, right there on the table.;)

    Old biddy, she was probably just jealous that you had obviously had sex in the last 9 months and she hadn’t.

    Lady M July 6, 2007 at 7:04 pm

    I’ve certainly never heard a dilation question not from a medical professional!

    I did hear a friend of mine return a parry with an acid, “My, my, what a personal question” and shut up a room of snoopers.

    theotherbear July 6, 2007 at 7:30 pm

    wow, that would have floored me. I’d have stood there with my mouth gaping open and shut like a fish.

    Tracey July 6, 2007 at 8:15 pm

    There is NO WAY that conversation actually happened!!! Did it??? Really? God. I am choking on my mac n cheese over here.

    Mucus plug between the eyes…

    Christine July 6, 2007 at 8:46 pm

    I probably would have started crying or something terrible embarrassing like that.

    This was hilarious!

    Oh, The Joys July 6, 2007 at 8:47 pm

    You could have asked her to check it.

    Em July 6, 2007 at 9:14 pm

    Yikes! I agree with oh, they joys.

    Seriously, when will these idiots learn to leave pregnant women alone???

    I’ve got 2 1/2 weeks left before my due date and I’m already getting to the point of killing anyone who even looks at me sideways. If I had been in your place I probably would have attacked her and sent her to the emergency room!

    Smiling Mom July 6, 2007 at 9:29 pm

    You win(hopefully)! I think your story is the best so far!

    Little Monkies July 6, 2007 at 10:18 pm


    slouching mom July 6, 2007 at 10:35 pm

    Well. That’s just weird. Inexplicable.

    BOSSY July 6, 2007 at 10:42 pm

    Bossy remembers labor. It involved a baby, right?

    Working Girl July 6, 2007 at 10:46 pm

    Oh, I hate it when I do this, but I just can’t help myself. She’s a dumbass. A mean one. Nobody can check your cervix by looking. Unless they have a speculum and a flashlight.

    What is it about pregnant women that brings out the a-hole in people?

    landismom July 6, 2007 at 11:27 pm

    “Sorry, my husband doesn’t understand the metric system.”

    I guess that would work better for those of us in the US, but still…

    Callista July 6, 2007 at 11:32 pm


    I’ve been asked if I’ve dilated but not to the extent you were.

    Oh and working girl, they don’t need either actually, my doctor just used his finger to measure.

    Sarah July 6, 2007 at 11:35 pm

    Honest to God, I don’t know what I would have said…

    I like the last response someone wrote here…

    “Sorry, my husband doesn’t understand the metric system.”

    LOL That would have been great.

    crazymumma July 6, 2007 at 11:46 pm

    oh god. how dreadful. I would have died on the spot.

    JaniceNW July 7, 2007 at 1:02 am

    LMAO! Love the metric system one!! I’m in chemistry right now and converting the American system of measuring to metric is a bitch.

    I cannot believe some had the audacity and the lack of common sense to ask you this question.

    FYI~it’s the protaglandin in the ejaculate that may cause contractions. I emphasize the word may cuz it NEVER worked for me.

    Great humorous blog!

    Jenifer July 7, 2007 at 1:18 am

    Having never actually dilated…how you ask? Well, Papoosie Girl was a month early when my water broke and according to the nurse I was as “tight as a steel drum” when we arrived – right before the Pictocin drip started. Then there was Rosebud who was breech.

    So I think I would have asked her about her cervix instead.

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    Miscellaneous-Mum July 7, 2007 at 6:18 am

    I WISH I knew someone that crazy/ interesting….it would keep me on my toes at least….

    Jodi July 7, 2007 at 9:40 am


    I’m wondering why you pointed out that she was Jewish?

    AndreAnna July 7, 2007 at 9:40 am

    Oh, yucky! You should have asked her last time someone saw her cervix! :)

    Jan B July 7, 2007 at 10:57 am

    I would have just had to ask her if she would like to step into the bathroom and check it for me. Maybe she could even push in that bothersome hemorrhoid while she’s at it.

    I am rotten that way. People can be so rude, myself included.

    Dawn July 7, 2007 at 11:00 am

    Damn the mucus plug didn’t stop her?

    It is usually the deal breaker.

    Formerly Dyspeptic, but quite ok by comparison although still blogless July 7, 2007 at 11:09 am

    You come across as too patient and nice. This harridan either had a case of fertility envy coupled with an umbridled tactlessness or was just beginning to show the early signs of — god knows what. Was she auditioning for the role of The Fool in King Lear? If not, she gave a good audition. When you meet people like that, it’s hard not to be an misanthrope.

    I realize that my gender does not allow me the joys of pregnancy and childbirth, but if I were in your shoes I think that I might have said, “It’s none of your goddamn business.”

    That would have been counterproductive strategy as there would not have been a story to tell about the prying, pampered woman who peppered you with questions.

    As it is, to borrow the hackneyed phrase, hindsight is 20-20.

    ewe are here July 7, 2007 at 11:28 am

    “I’ll show you mine if you’ll show me yours” might’ve shut her up.

    What a creepy conversation to have with a stranger…

    kittenpie July 7, 2007 at 11:31 am

    Oh good gravy, that’s brazen.

    I would have asked something about the toll age and babies took on vaginas, asking her about hers… Turnaround being fair play, and all.

    Lisa b July 7, 2007 at 1:23 pm

    There is no way I could have been as clever as you were.
    There is no end to the weirdos that pregnancy brings out.
    This time I was more ready for them.

    Elizabeth July 7, 2007 at 2:04 pm

    I always liked Ann Landers’ answer to what to say to uncomfortably personal questions-you just open your eyes real wide and say “my goodness, what a personal question! Why would you be interested in knowing that?” blink blink…ha!

    Working Girl July 7, 2007 at 4:03 pm


    I wrote that no one can check by LOOKING without those two things. And we often check with a speculum and a flashlight when someone is preterm. But the two finger method is the norm for full term pregnancies. With my smallish fingers? One finger in the cervix = 1 cm, 2 fingers, one on top of the other = 2 cm, 2 fingers side by side and touching = 3 cm…


    mcewen July 7, 2007 at 7:43 pm


    Mimi July 7, 2007 at 8:02 pm

    Kgirl? Hysterical. Oooooh, exactly. I’m swooning at the etymological punning going on.

    And me, I would have talked and talked and talked about my cervix. I was obsessed. Woulda bored her to death.

    Granny July 7, 2007 at 9:19 pm

    Part of me is sorry you had to endure such rudeness. The other part thinks it’s one of the funniest posts I’ve ever read.

    I always think of the perfect thing to say about 30 seconds too late.

    You’re probably getting into hot weather if you’re not there already. Hope you’re not too miserable and the rest of your pregnancy goes well.

    Heather July 7, 2007 at 10:11 pm

    LOL! That’s hilarious. As a doula the conversation probably wouldn’t have phased me at the time so I probably would have started talking to her about nipple stimulation. Then I would have walked away and realized how bizzare it all was later.

    mama k July 7, 2007 at 10:37 pm


    For serious?
    That is a crazy story.

    I wrote about the sleeping through the night thing at

    nell July 8, 2007 at 7:59 am

    Crazy bitch. I think you handled her with aplomb.

    Gidge July 8, 2007 at 11:48 am

    You should’ve said “your fingers look nice and long, would you like to check for me?”

    ali July 8, 2007 at 12:10 pm

    it amazes me how some women can talk to other people about their nethers without batting an eyelash…while other woman can’t even say the word ‘vagina’

    there’s no way i would have been as witty as you were.


    Jenna July 8, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    I suppose there might be something to say for a woman who feels that comfortable in talking about cervixes (cervii?) but, really, good grief. I might have offered to let her check if she was so darn nosy! HA!

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