Thanksgiving in Mongolia
November 11, 2013 12:56 PM   Subscribe

Thanksgiving in Mongolia. Ariel Levy writes a harrowing, heartbreaking story of her late pregnancy loss, adventure, and grieving.
posted by c'mon sea legs (21 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
I read it this afternoon. It was awful, in the archaic sense. It leaves you frightened and trembling and broken.
posted by Diablevert at 1:15 PM on November 11, 2013 [5 favorites]

posted by Ogre Lawless at 1:18 PM on November 11, 2013

Jesus fucking Christ. Poor Ariel Levy. All I can do is wish her compassion and relief.

There are pregnancy losses that defy popular categorisation - in her case, it's not really a miscarriage and not a stillbirth, but also not really a typical early infant death - and that makes it even more isolating. My heart just weeps for her.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:21 PM on November 11, 2013

Holy fuck. I don't even, I can't even. Jesus.
posted by threeants at 1:24 PM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

The only comforting thought I had at the end of reading that was "At least she has the ability to put into words her experience and hopefully better process the experience."

But that just reminded me of those who don't have that ability and just felt bad all over again.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:26 PM on November 11, 2013

Sometimes it hurts to breathe.
posted by snickerdoodle at 1:45 PM on November 11, 2013

This needs an Absoloutely Do NOT Read if Pregnant flag on it.

This story is horrifying. All the 'what ifs'. I'm amazed she's able to write about it.
posted by anastasiav at 1:46 PM on November 11, 2013 [5 favorites]

Okay, yes, could not get through the story. Wow.
posted by purpleclover at 1:49 PM on November 11, 2013

"Harrowing" is exactly the word I used to describe it. I also used the word "brave" to describe Ms. Levy, though not so much in relation to the story itself – surely it applies there as well – but rather in her ability to retell it so honestly and unreservedly.
posted by eric1halfb at 2:05 PM on November 11, 2013

Holy shit that is a stunning piece of writing.

And I knew, as surely as I now knew that I wanted a child, that this change in fortune was my fault. I had boarded a plane out of vanity and selfishness, and the dark Mongolian sky had punished me. I was still a witch, but my powers were all gone.

With regard to this: it's untrue. The universe is indifferent. It doesn't punish. The horrible thing, the worst thing, about profound loss and the ache it creates is how you realize you are dust and the universe has never for a second considered you. It will wipe out the one you love most in the same way you will miss an exit on the freeway or drop a pencil. It's all the same to the universe. That motherfucker just chugs along sprinkling lottery winnings and pancreatic cancer randomly.

A beautiful piece of writing.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:10 PM on November 11, 2013 [25 favorites]

I think this may have changed my life.
posted by stoneandstar at 2:25 PM on November 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

Read the piece early this morning and was left devastated, even while the writer in me was in awe of her skill and precision at the same time. Just... amazing.
posted by jokeefe at 2:52 PM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

I couldn't finish it. Off to hold my six week old boy.
posted by checkitnice at 3:16 PM on November 11, 2013 [4 favorites]

posted by limeonaire at 4:58 PM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

I am never, never, ever getting pregnant, ever. This is a beautifully written essay. It breaks my heart for her and makes me want to remove my reproductive system with a spoon. It is an outstanding horror story because it is terrifying for people who want babies and for people who never want babies.
posted by nicebookrack at 5:36 PM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Birth and death are intertwined. I was never so aware of my closeness to death as the day my son was born by c-section, and for weeks afterwards, I felt haunted by it. Most women never experience what Ms. Levy did, but I think many women do feel utterly changed in a way that isn't about being a mom, but about that fear and disorientation. Even when a birth is utterly normal and healthy.
posted by emjaybee at 8:00 PM on November 11, 2013 [3 favorites]

I lost my first pregnancy several weeks ago, at a very early date. I get the feeling that I'm doing much better than most (thanks in large part to my amazing husband and the wisdom of friends who have been there). It took so long for me to get to the point of simply wanting to try to have a baby, and now I've sort of leveled up to that next point of "okay: if you want to move forward, now you have to overcome even more fear than before."

I'm seeing now that that fear will never, never go away, but find new ways to work its way into my brain. Somehow I and my fellow future parents just have to figure out how to move past it anyway. This is going to be quite the negotiation.
posted by Madamina at 9:59 PM on November 11, 2013 [4 favorites]

One line that struck me about the photograph of her baby - I've met other mothers who gave birth and the baby died shortly after or was stillborn, and when they find out I have had miscarriages too, quite often they will offer to show me a photograph. I get why people don't want to see the photographs of these tiny and sometimes damaged babies, but they are incredibly important and loved, and to be able to look at them and tell their mother how beautiful their baby was, and compliment the baby - perfect fingers or those long eyelashes - means so much. Our NICU pictures were hoarded by us, and we didn't see the cables and tubes, only her tiny face.

If it's appropriate and you're shown a picture, please be kind and generous with your compliments for the baby.
posted by viggorlijah at 12:45 AM on November 12, 2013 [4 favorites]

Incredible, horrifying, brilliant piece of writing. Ariel puts her unimaginable loss right into your head. It's an amazing work. Thank you for posting this.
posted by toastedbeagle at 4:06 AM on November 12, 2013

The only time I've ever considered getting pregnant was after my sister's daughter was stillborn 2 days before her due date, and 2 days after a pre-natal check that showed everything going just fine. I wanted more than anything to be able to give her a baby, any baby... until I saw the photo of her perfect-looking, lifeless child, Abby, and wondered how I ever thought that some other baby might make up for that loss.

This part:
I tried to think of something maternal I could do to convey to him that I was, in fact, his mother, and that I had the situation completely under control.

Her immediate connection to the little guy, and her need to reassure him and record his existence, felt very familiar. And shattering.

How pedestrian, and how miraculous, this baby-having thing is.
posted by allthinky at 1:55 PM on November 12, 2013

Giving Voice to the ‘Silent Sorrow’ - "There’s a culture of silence surrounding miscarriage."

from Starting to Share The Silent Sorrow
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:24 PM on November 20, 2013

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