The Rules Do Not Apply

Yesterday, I pulled up in front of my home, but couldn’t get out of the car because I didn’t want to miss the end of an interview with Ariel Levy, author of “The Rules Do Not Apply” on CBC Radio. Her book is a memoir about how her life was changed forever when she went into labour at 19 weeks, alone in a Mongolian hotel room. She speaks to how being somebody’s mother for 10 minutes changed her and how she is reinvented through great loss. 

This always comes up for me around mother’s day, the love and gratitude I feel for all the mamas I know that don’t have babies yet. Women who are made into mothers, whether through their deep longing to become a mother or having had the spark of life ignite in their bellies, only to lose their baby through either miscarriage or stillbirth.

I was kind of gripped by her description of grief. She speaks about the experience of the ‘body’s betrayal,’ and ‘living in a tunnel of grief- not being able to see outside of it, and feeling isolated, because it was nobody else’s reality but her own.’ There’s always a kind of magic that happens when someone is able to put words to something that validates your own experience.

Her son would be four years old now, and she would of course trade anything to have him now, yet she is grateful for the experience of being ‘disabused of her illusion of control.’ For her, ‘coming to understand that even when you can want something in the deepest part of your heart and not get it’-this is transformative.

I went inside and ordered her book on-line. To all the empty-armed mothers with grief living inside you, I see you. And I honor the maternal love that has been born and grows inside you too.

Dr. Alda Ngo

Alda Ngo