Daenerys and her fertility

“When will he be as he was?” Dany demanded.

“When the sun rises in the west and sets in the east,” said Mirri Maz Duur. “When the seas go dry and mountains blow in the wind like leaves. When your womb quickens again, and you bear a living child. Then he will return, and not before.”

For some reason, every one takes this poetic “fuck you” from Mirri Maz Duur to be accurate. Daenerys Targaryen is infertile.

Certainly, Dany thinks so. She frequently reflects upon how her dragons will be her only children after this moment. She believes that Mirri cursed her to be infertile and to never again bear a living child.

But… Dany is young, impressionable, not great at critical thinking, and prone to putting stock in mystical pronouncements as though they were proven fact. In other words, she’s a Targaryen. This is kind of what they do.

Why do readers also lack critical thinking when it comes to the matter of Dany’s fertility?

Oh but #1: Dany doesn’t get pregnant after Mirri curses her

Dany also doesn’t have the opportunity to get pregnant after Drogo’s death until ADWD, when she starts shagging Daario Naharis because she wants to, and also sleeps with Hizdahr zo Loraq because she had to (via a political marriage to try and stop the carnage of the Harpy in Meereen.)

Dany’s sole sexual experience between Drogo and Daario are her attempts at discovering masturbation, either by herself or stimulated by her handmaiden Jhiqi, who wakes up while Dany is trying to get herself off and takes over.

So… no sperm heading towards that womb to quicken it.

Fans, and particularly male fans, seem to take the whole Mirri curse as legit because “she was shagging Daario for about a year with no consequences.”

  1. Not every sexual encounter, even in a healthy, fertile woman leads to pregnancy. There’s a lot of complex shit about the time in your cycle that you have sex that depends on whether your egg will be fertilised.
  2. She does have consequences… y’all are just too daft to notice it.

Dany has a miscarriage in ADWD

This is one of those things that women readers seem to be attuned to much more than male readers. That said, I do know some male readers figured it out on their own, but on the whole… guys seem to not realise the significance of these paragraphs in Dany’s final ADWD chapter:

When she woke, gasping, her thighs were slick with blood.

For a moment she did not realize what it was. … She sat up, afraid that she had soiled herself as she slept. When she brought her fingers to her face, she could smell the blood on them. Am I dying? Then she saw the pale crescent moon, floating high above the grass, and it came to her that this was no more than her moon blood.

Now, for starters… as any woman who has had the experience of having gastro or something on top of a period can appreciate, heavy periods + shitting your brains out is an extremely unpleasant experience. It’s just really gross, ok?!

But there’s a bigger picture here: a young girl of about 15 or so, experiencing an unexpected period while in an isolated area and already physically unwell with a dysentery-like illness.

Then we get more details that confirm that Dany hasn’t had a period in quite a while. In other words: she was pregnant and didn’t notice.

If she had not been so sick and scared, that might have come as a relief. Instead she began to shiver violently. She rubbed her fingers through the dirt, and grabbed a handful of grass to wipe between her legs. The dragon does not weep. She was bleeding, but it was only woman’s blood. The moon is still a crescent, though. How can that be? She tried to remember the last time she had bled. The last full moon? The one before? The one before that? No, it cannot have been so long as that. “I am the blood of the dragon,” she told the grass, aloud…

You might be the blood of the dragon sweetheart, but that doesn’t mean that your womb operates on a different principle to mine.

No.

You had lots and lots of sex over many months with a guy without any protection. You have no idea when your last period was – up to 3 months ago at least. “No, it cannot have been so long as that…” is as close as Dany gets to realising “fuck, I was pregnant!” She knows that it’s unusual to go without a period for so long, and the most likely reason she would have gone without a period for that long would be pregnancy, but because she’s convinced that she’s infertile, she just doesn’t think “oh, maybe I’m pregnant.”

If that paragraph was to illustrate that Dany hasn’t had a period in a suspiciously long time, the next section confirms that she has never had a period this heavy or intense.

Periods are the uterus shedding the uterine lining, egg and ‘stuff’ that could have sustained a life that wasn’t used that month. A miscarriage is basically the same thing, but your uterus is shedding a foetus as well. A first trimester foetus is a small little bundle of tissue – it doesn’t necessarily look like a baby when it is ejected (no matter what pictures the anti-choice turds might wave in your face at Planned Parenthood.)

Her belly was empty, her feet sore and blistered, and it seemed to her that the cramping had grown worse. Her guts were full of writhing snakes biting at her bowels. She scooped up a handful of mud and water in trembling hands. By midday the water would be tepid, but in the chill of dawn it was almost cool and helped her keep her eyes open. As she splashed her face, she saw fresh blood on her thighs. The ragged hem of her undertunic was stained with it. The sight of so much red frightened her. Moon blood, it’s only my moon blood, but she did not remember ever having such a heavy flow. Could it be the water? If it was the water, she was doomed. She had to drink or die of thirst.

So, its the heaviest, nastiest period she’s ever had, with more blood and tissue* than she’s ever expelled. And she’s a bit lightheaded and feeling out of it with the dysentery too.

* because the “blood” expelled in a normal period also includes “clots” of uterine tissue. Yes guys, periods really are just as much fun as they sound! /s

So here we have Dany scared that she’s never bled this hard. Her guts are cramping, both with dysentery and the miscarriage. She’s in labour, but doesn’t realise it, because she refuses to accept that she’s pregnant.

This isn’t the first time that Dany actively refuses to accept and consciously think about in her internal monologue something that we can work out that she does actually know to be a fact. It’s one of Dany’s defining features: she just ignores anything that doesn’t fit with her concept of reality, and at the moment, that concept of reality includes a belief that an angry, bitter woman cursed her with words to be infertile.

So what did Mirri Maz Duur really mean?

Many things, all of them variations on “fuck you and you Dothraki horde, bitch.”

MMD likely recognised that Dany was young and silly enough to believe in curses – I mean, she was already young and silly enough to believe that a man could be brought out of a coma by sacrificing a horse!

MMD admits to Dany that she cheated – she gave Drogo a life, in exchange for the life of unborn Rhaego, but it was a life that Drogo would never have chosen for himself, and she did it because the Dothraki raped and pillaged her village, destroyed her temple, and if Rhaego grew up to be as fierce as his father…. MMD believed it was worth killing an unborn child to prevent the horrors that the Stallion That Mounts The World could perpetuate

That doesn’t mean that MMD believed in the Stallion myth – but she’s a learned magical user who has studied in Assha’i and under Archmaester Marwyn. Much like Melisandre, Mirri understands the trappings and power of prophecy, and she recognises that whether because of some metaphysical destiny or a self-fulfilling prophecy as the Dothraki pour their heart and soul into the heir of Drogo and Dany, Rhaego would be a fearsome and fierce warrior who would united the khalassars. In Mirri’s mind, it was the life of one unborn boy, one existing Khal who was a threat, and some silly girl who was in over her head. It was worth it to protect all the peoples of the grasslands from the Dothraki scourge.

(NB: not condoning the idea of killing one to save more, just pointing out what MMD was likely thinking.)

Also as a student of Marwyn, Mirri would be aware of the Targaryen propensity towards believing in prophecy and mysticism. She uses this knowledge to take advantage of Dany – first by appealing to Dany’s civilised Westerosi sensibilities by offering healing for Drogo’s initial injury, then by appealing to Dany’s Targaryen mysticism in offering a supernatural healing of a dying man. The cherry on the top is this apparently prophetic pronouncement that she knows this kid will take as truth even though it’s just an epic “fuck you!”

Mirri also recognises that Dany is likely to have her killed. She approaches her fate at the funeral pyre with stoic resolution. This was the path she chose, and she will bear it.

So yeah… “until you bear a living child” was just an attempt to mess with Dany’s head. It wasn’t an actual curse.

The fact that so many readers don’t pick up that Dany was having a miscarriage in her final ADWD chapter makes me slightly worried about the world’s general level of understanding of how women’s uteruses work….

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4 thoughts on “Daenerys and her fertility

    1. LadyKnitsALot says:

      It just makes me really annoyed at how either all the female readers miss it too, or we’re just drowned out by the guys busy mansplaining how Dany is totes cursed to be infertile and she just has dysentery y’know….

      Miscarriages and heavy periods – kind of a thing where you’d hope blokes would defer to female knowledge on the topic, y’know?!

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  1. Fire&Blood says:

    Thank you so much for spelling this out. When I, a woman, was reading that chapter in ADWD I felt it was SO OBVIOUS that Dany had gone into labor and was having a miscarriage. But so many people felt the need to explain it away as disease, malnourishment, &c. (which can ALL incite abortion) that I began to doubt my own theories.

    I think Dany can definitely have heirs! I don’t know if it’s supposed to be a huge plot twist or surprise that she can get pregnant again, and that GRRM is pandering to/relying on a man’s understanding of female anatomy to keep the surprise element there 😛 I’m dying to figure it out!

    Do you think she’ll eventually have children with a king consort and produce heirs??

    Like

    1. LadyKnitsALot says:

      The amount of mansplaining that goes on in the fandom to give Dany’s miscarriage a context that’s anything other than miscarriage is astonishing and frustrating. GRRM clearly did his homework. I haven’t had a miscarriage, but I have had a really heavy period and gastro at the same time. It’s SOOOOOO much fun. And I have friends who have had miscarriages, and have explained the sensation/experience.

      How anyone can read:

      * wow, I haven’t had a period for 3 months or more
      * um, this is scary, I’ve never had a period this heavy
      * I feel like my guts are writhing with agonising pain

      and NOT reach the conclusion that she’s in bloody labour is just beyond me.

      As for Dany’s future – I dunno. I’m in the camp that says there’s nothing wrong with Dany’s fertility per se, and given peace time and a husband, she’ll have children. And she’ll no doubt think it’s miraculous, because when she was a young and dumb 13-14 year old, she let an angry old witch telling her to piss off convince her that she was cursed.

      Like

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