February 26, 2011

It's Complicated

Grief is a complicated matter.

It is especially so for those of us who have truly experienced it at its worst. Losing a child qualifies, I think.

Having a dead baby puts me into a unique category of people. They're out there, somewhere, though they don't talk about it much, and they have experienced what I am going through in some manner or another.

Most people who are close to me, those who love me and are hurting for me and so forth have not had an experience anything like mine. They have no knowledge of the kind of grief that I now know first-hand.

Some of them pretend to be experts. They inform me that I should be done with my grief. They've decided that I choose to feel grief. They believe that I should change my perspective, come out of it, and get over it.

This tells me that they do not understand a single thing about grief.

I don't choose for my emotions to overwhelm me. I do not choose to be attacked by myself when least expected. I do not choose to be angry over nothing. I do not choose to cry. I do not choose to lose sleep because my thoughts run rampant. I do not choose to have my loss thrown at me and shoved in my face every day, multiple times. I do not choose this fight.

And yet here I am.

You see, everyone else, they are affected. They have emotions that are caused by this situation. They have been fighting as well, only their fight is pretty much over. Compared to mine, it hardly exists. They suffered, but from an indirect hit. They've fought their fight and had ample numbers, superior implements, and they have won swiftly and easily.

I, on the other hand, am engaged in a war...one that has multiple battles over varied terrain and in poor weather conditions...and I will be fighting, to an extent, for the rest of my life.

There is a huge difference, and yet some believe with all that they are that I choose this for my life...that I am still experiencing grief because I am choosing to. They have no experience in these matters, as this did not happen to them, but they are the experts.

I find that extremely frustrating.

And yet, they are not to be swayed; they will not listen; there is nothing I can do to even begin to explain how things really are.

On the other hand, there are those who, if they do not hear from me in a day or two, assume the absolute worst. They think I am suicidal and that my life is in ruins. They have no confidence in me. They believe I will fail.

Part of my life is ruined. My life as I knew it, my life as I thought it was going to be is ruined.

I am not ruined.

How am I supposed to deal with all of that? Is it not enough that I am dealing with my baby girl, Addison Leigh, being buried in the ground far, far away? Is it not enough that I have that loss, that devastation, that waste to deal with?

I cannot deal with all of the experts informing me that I am doing this wrong. I cannot deal with those who assume that I am ruined and will fail. I do not know how to deal with them and quite frankly, I spend most of my effort dealing with losing my baby girl.

I want to stop having to focus on what others are thinking of me. I want to just focus on dealing with my grief. When people inundate me with "expert advice" and their own personal worries, it sucks me out of whatever progress I've made and plops me down right back at the beginning all over again.

It is a war, people. I am the general. I am in the thick of it; I have first-hand knowledge and know better than most what is needed, what works and what does not. Right now I have too many politicians, cabinet members and commander-in-chiefs in the war-room spouting at me. If it continues, then they'll be right, all of them: I will fail.


I'm probably going to take a break from the blogging and face-booking. I won't be gone, just not so present. I will write about what I need to in order to heal. I am not climbing the closest bridge in order to jump, nor am I choosing to have grief. No one chooses to have a dead baby; therefore, no one chooses to have the grief associated with it.  Please let me grieve.  It is healthy and it is the only way to heal.

February 21, 2011


While in Seoul, South Korea last July for pregnancy-related medical things, we took some photos of some sculptures and buildings near our hotel:

One building across the street from our hotel had this huge circle-thing.

In front of the coex mall there were a few installations...

Like this one.

And this one.

What kind of character thinks up these things anyway?


For...your viewing pleasure, I suppose?...two photos of the family:

Crazy-blurred two-year-old.

The family, all full of hope and promise after a good doctor visit.

All to be destroyed forever sixteen weeks later.

February 20, 2011

International Fest

Saturday, February 19th was International Fest here in Olympia. Our neighborhood consists of people from many places the world over and we celebrate this with an evening of food and information. Each nationality represented here in Olympia has a booth full of things characteristic to their country and everyone contributes national/typical foods to a pot-luck dinner.

It is very interesting to see what each country has to offer, especially those that we know little about. And by we I mean my family only, since many other people here know much more than we do about the world as they've either lived in many more places or visited many more than we.

Here are some photographs of the event:

Miss Thing playing, a.k.a. Running Around Like Crazy People, with her friend K.

Figuring out how the throwing and catching game will go.The rules are only known to 2- and 3-year-olds.

Aaaaaaannnnnnnnd, more of the running.

Pretending we don't know her.

A few of the booths had trinkets, pencils, beach-balls and other goodies for the kids to play with.  Between that and the running and noise-making, they were definitely kept busy.  This gave everyone else some time to chat and visit all of the booths to see what was on display.

United States of America










February 19, 2011

Soldier Interpretation

So, what do you think?

Is she in character, or what?

February 18, 2011

Hello, Blondie!

I thought I'd shift gears for a bit and let you all see some of the character of another country. When I was twenty weeks pregnant, the three (plus one) of us took a trip to Seoul, South Korea in order for me to have some blood work done (and they went ahead and did the ultrasound there as well). We spent about three days there, one of which was completely taken by visiting the medical center.

One thing we noticed is that everyone (Korean) there loved Miss Thing. It did not matter if we were on the sidewalk, in the hotel, riding the subway, visiting a temple or aquarium: everyone loved her. Even at the hospital everyone was enamored. Children would stare at her and all of the adults would play with her. I imagine that if we ever lived there it would be quite the ego booster.

It appeared as if one reason they loved her so much was her hair. It was quite blond at the time, and had still not been cut, so it was wispy and a bit curly in the back. A few Koreans even came up to her and wanted to touch her hair.

If they saw her from afar, they would poke their neighbors and point, gushing about her in some way or another. It was a good distraction for her when we were in transit, though overall she really didn't notice the attention as she was busy herself, and it became a bit disconcerting for us as it could take some time to maneuver through the crowds of...admirers.

Coming from the U.S. and having visited in Japan and living in Russia, I can say that other cultures, if they feel this way (which I highly doubt), do not show their...pleasure at seeing her in this manner.

It was interesting and unique, thus far, to Korea.

February 17, 2011

I Think You're Confused

Dear Weather,

I imagine it must be difficult for you, being everywhere all at once. Taxing, yes? Generally you do a great job. For example, where I grew up, in southwest Virginia, you were pretty predictable. We'd have a nice spring, hot summer, beautiful fall and average winter, complete with some snow. Then for a few years things were off. There was no snow, really...and this was not quite in character for you.

You've made up for that the last couple of years, though I believe there are some who would say that you've gone a bit overboard in making up for lost winter.

In Spain, where we've spent some time, you did a fantastic job. Excellent weather, all year. You made sure there was enough rain in the late fall and winter to keep everyone from having a drought in the warmer months. The breeze off of the Mediterranean was sufficient for keeping us cooler in the summer and the clear days were plenty. You were completely yourself.

Oh, and Houston? Well, let's just say that there humidity is your one, innate, constant. You always provide an abundance of humidity in that locale...and plenty of heat as well, when necessary.

This brings us to Russia.

Hmmmm, Russia.

Now, I've only been here a very short while. Since May, with a four-month...sabbatical, if you will...but your work here leaves some things to be desired. We began our time with a summer to beat all summers here in Yuzhno. Apparently you thought that the humidity and heat of Houston should follow me somewhat to the north.

I disagree with that decision. Being pregnant in humid and warm Sakhalin was not the best of circumstances, to say the least.

And now? Now we've got a pretend winter. You started off beautifully, with a three to four foot snow as soon as we returned in January. Since then you seem to have lost your way. There is melting going on, and it is February. Might I remind you that this is usually when you get geared up for another month and a half of snow? The workers are plowing the streets into a muddy mess meant for April.

My deduction is that this behavior on your part is, well, completely out of character.

I'm hoping that you've just been busy elsewhere being yourself, though it appears that you're acting a bit out of character all over the world. So if you could, you know, get back to your roots and be more like yourself, it would be greatly appreciated.

I, for one, am a little tired of everything in my life being so unpredictable.

Awaiting more snow,

February 16, 2011

... ... ... ...

Let's see.

Miss Thing went from being a champion sleeper (attributed to finally being home and knowing it) to a let's-not-go-to-sleep-and-whine-and-cry-about-it-for-over-an-hour non-sleeper last night (attributed to some molars methinks).

Then I spent an unknown amount of time completing some homework for class here in Olympia.

We went to bed and I thought it was maybe 9:30 or so.

This makes no sense whatsoever (see above).

I was reading Tai Pan in bed for a while before going to sleep.

When I finally decided to look at the clock it was almost 3:20am.


And after I thought Holy smokes!, turned the light off and closed my eyes, my non-sleeper began act fifteen of her non-sleeping performance.

So basically I didn't get to sleep until at least 4:30am.

And then the sleep that occurred was the kind with a toddler in your bed because yes, it was that kind of night.

It was either that, or no sleep for anyone, and I chose sleep, thanks.

What am I trying to say?

I don't have a post for you today.

My apologies.

Hopefully the sleep-monster will spend some time at someone else's home tonight.

February 15, 2011


I just spent my entire evening cleaning out my pantry.

Oh, sure, there were a few other things that occurred, like feeding and bathing the child and yes, I just finished putting her down in bed, but aside from that: cleaning the pantry.

An entire evening should not be spent in this manner and yet...mine was.

This must mean that there is a flaw in my character.

A serious one.

February 14, 2011

A Country's Character

I was at a loss today on character...and then: AHA!  A large part of Australia's character comes from all of the immigration that has taken place over the years and hellooooo, we went to the Immigration Museum on Saturday.

The museum itself was very interesting, from what I gathered.  You see, I am the Mama and therefore I don't really get to read a whole lot of the information for each exhibit.  I read enough to keep Miss Thing interested and then we must move alone.  I am sure Matt can tell you much more about it than I.

You know, if work things haven't pushed that info out of his head yet...which I am not going to guarantee since he spent all Saturday afternoon working.

Yes, folks, we are not really visiting Melbourne with Matt, but at the same time as he.  He left every day before we woke and came back late, late, late after having diner out with work peeps.

Miss Thing and I were left to our own devices, which is absolutely, completely fine with us - we knew it was that kind of trip.  Just wanted to be sure everyone knew why exactly I wasn't writing about him at all.  Still love him and all that jazz; he was just working!

One fun-for-kids section of the Immigration Museum was a huge boat-like installment where you could see the traveling conditions over the years.  The first photo was a state room of some sort and this latest one is of the more modern, yet less comfortable in some regards, mode of ship-travel.  Miss Thing liked them both, but since this one has tiny ceramic animals at each bunk, it kinda won out.

Please excuse the hair; we are immediately post-nap here.  Avec lolli.  Which the lady at the Opal Museum/Shop gave her for being patient.  I would not so much call it patient as not ear-splittingly loud, but to each their own.

The opal is the state stone and there were a billion to choose from, from dark opals to boulder opals to the above light opals.  Australia produce some massive amount of the world's opals - something along ninety percent or so.  It was interesting to see the opalized dino fossils, etc.

I am pretty sure that was the only part Miss Thing liked about that store.

February 13, 2011

Crazy Character

I live with a crazy one.

Yes, indeed.

Don't look at me like that.  You get to spend your time meandering around your tank, oblivious to my plight.

Okay, okay, so not oblivious, since we did visit you.  But you only have to spend a very limited about of time with the crazy one.

Peek-A-Boo with fish is a very interesting game to play, don't you think?


But it is so much fun and she can spend hours doing it.

How about staring up into the tanks via child-centered caves below?  Can I tell you how much fun these caves are when she refuses to come out?  I mean, visiting the aquarium is fun in itself, but having to drag her away, literally, just "'cause" does so much to enhance your visit.

Forget about taking normal pictures.  Nope.  For this one, she insisted that her hands be up and that she be saying "Whoooooo" the whole time.

What, you've never seen her insist?

Have you ever met a two-year-old?

Oh, THAT explains it.

Here she is, mid-movement, on her way to lie down and "swim" next to the fish.  This is only after she informed me that the sharks would come up to see her and give her kisses.

Oh, they'll kiss you all right.

And then the required walking along the bench while we howl move.

Yes, howl.

In a public place.


She sure did enjoy the aquarium.  And she's mighty happy with her souvenir: 20 tiny sea animals.

February 12, 2011

Full of Character

Yesterday we spent our morning at the Melbourne Aquarium.  The main attraction is the penguin visit, and everyone gets to see them right off the bat.  As we were a little later starting our day, we were lucky enough to be there just as they were finishing up with feeding time.

Miss Thing has a penguin, given to her by her Guga, that was her very first "I must have it to sleep!" item.  It looks exactly like these penguins:

Full of food...and ourselves.
I must say that for an animal, penguins sure do have a lot of character.  As in I believe they are quite full of themselves.  Or at least they appear to be.  I can see why full-feature films have been made about / casting them.

Not so sure about you two...
The exhibit shows them in their cold habitat, complete with swim area.  There was one that was attached to a man standing at the viewing window.  It kept swimming up to him and playing with his hair...or trying to at least.  It just wouldn't leave him alone.  Then there was the above penguin, who kept swimming back at us, casting a suspicious eye.

"Swim, swim!"
Of course, since I was the human with the little human who just had to pretend to be swimming right there in the aquarium, I can hardly blame him.

February 11, 2011

Not Me

These feet will never travel with me.

Everywhere we go here in Melbourne there are families. We've been hitting the tourist sites geared towards families, so this makes perfect sense. It just means that I get punched in the gut multiple times a day.

There are families everywhere we go. Mothers with their child, about Miss Thing's age, and pregnant with another. Mothers and Fathers with their two children: one Miss Thing's age and one newly welcomed into this world.

As much fun as we have; as many sites as we see, the realization that I should not be here as we are is very acute. It strikes me at any moment, completely unaware. We most likely would not be visiting here at all, if Addison were not in a hole in the ground with only a stone marker to show "who" she is.

She is not anyone, really, and she never will be.

If we had been adventurous enough to visit Melbourne with her in tow, my time traversing the city would be quite different. More difficult, I am sure, but I'd rather have the difficulty than the constant reminder that something/someone is hugely missing, lost, gone.

Everywhere we go, there are families.

These families, the Moms and Dads, they look at me as I look at them. They see me, but they do not. They think they know that I am a Mother-of-One with no apparent plans for more. They see me dealing with my one and only living child and they think to themselves, just wait 'til you have two.

I want to shout at them that I've had two; I am left with one. If only they could understand that my experience of "having two" is so very different than their own. So different.

But they'll never understand. Not unless it happens to them.

Those who have had living children can imagine what it might be like to bury one. Those who have very recently had a child can imagine better than most how horrible it might be to deliver a dead baby instead of a live one. And even then, people who have had children don't really get it at all.

Those who have not had children have no clue at all. Not even a tiny hint. Sometimes I wish they knew that about themselves, that they have no clue. It would make things much easier...or maybe it would not at all.

It will be like this for the rest of my life. I will have a child, buried far, far away from me forever. I will have a child that most I encounter know nothing about because she is not right there, living, in front of them. No matter where we live or travel, people will see me as one thing and have no clue that I am someone else entirely.

And the only way for them to know is if I tell them.

Do you know what that is like? Telling someone you have a dead baby? It is like giving death and devastation to someone.

What a lovely gift.

I've already given that gift to plenty; I have no desire to give it to others. Oh, sure, there will be those who ask questions or get to know me enough that I will eventually have to tell them. But in general? Not something I enjoy telling people because as I said, it's like giving someone death and devastation.

Being the bearer of that, giving my husband that was enough for me.

And so instead I will have to walk this Earth as someone I am not. I will be observed to be, perceived to be, assumed to be, someone that I am not.

So you see, I cannot even be myself when I'm being myself.

Not any more.

That has been taken from me, and most people, they just don't get it.

They have nary a clue.

February 10, 2011

Showing Some Character

We had another busy day today in Melbourne.  For those of you who do not know me personally, or somewhat personally, we are visiting the city for a few days while Matt has business here.  We'll be returning to Sakhalin soon, no worries!

Our day began with breakfast and a visit to Saint Paul's Cathedral.  Miss Thing really enjoyed hearing the organ and seeing paintings of The Man.  We then hopped onto the Circle Tram and rode up to visit the Melbourne Museum.

The tram stop is in front of Carlton Garden, so we walked right on through there to get to our destination.  Miss Thing chose to show some, err, character along the way today.

At one end of the garden is a huge fountain...well liked by dogs, apparently, as one was quite wet from playing in it...that Miss Thing loved.  We had to take a closer look and have a photograph.

Our main goal at Melbourne Museum:  see dinosaurs.  While she was a tad bit confused as to why we couldn't see them or where they live and instead had to look at their bones, she seemed okay with the state of things.  Something she was not sure of was the small glass-top display in the floor.  It took her about three minutes to get across that thing - apparently ones feet must touch the whole way.  She shouted a triumphant "I did it!" when she completed her journey.

Are you sure about this, Mama?
There were many excellent exhibits at the museum, but her favorite section was the Children's Museum. She could be measured and weighed - in wombats, of course.  She worked puzzles, climbed on animals, built with blocks and placed Australian animals on a magnetic wall.  She was sad to leave.

How Many Wombats Tall are You?

When I told her that we had to ride the tram back to our, as she has named it, hotel-house, she informed me that she was to have pizza and a lolli-pop for lunch.  Who am I to disagree?  Off we went to ride the tram once more, pick up food, and eat in our room.  We then took a nap.

Afterwards we headed back out.  Today was a very Houston-like day in Melbourne.  The humidity was through the roof and the temps were up as well.  Icky does not really begin to describe it.  At least we're used to it.  We had quite a walk to the Royal Botanic Gardens, where we hunted out the Children's Garden.  It was full of child-sized plants and those named for their shapes, etc.

Let's Move It!
One section was a bamboo forest.  She is exhibiting some Mama-like tendencies lately.  This is not surprising since she spends most of her time with me, but I am talking about those I exhibited as a child - ones that she knows nothing about.  For example, every time we have to walk into a slightly darkened area, she hesitates and considers not going.  Then she wants to hold my hand or, better yet, to send me first.  You know, so I can take one for the team if need be.  The bamboo forest was one such locale.

We exited the Children's Garden and found this huge ball near the visitor center for the main gardens.  Miss Thing was very interested in it; she really wanted it to roll.  Perhaps she thought Clifford could play with it?  She just had to get out and see if she could push it.  Then when she failed, I had to take a turn, which she thought was very funny indeed.

On our way home we walked over to the Shrine of Remembrance.  Miss Thing liked the eternal flame quite a bit.  From there it was a sticky but not so long walk back to the hotel where we cooled off and de-stickified ourselves before heading back into the wall of humid to get some dinner:  hot dogs and cupcakes.  Mmmmm.

February 9, 2011


I've heard that choices can define your character. In some instances, I agree. In others, I believe it can be as simple as how you react that defines your character.

It all depends, really.


Today we chose to go to the Melbourne Zoo.

Therefore we chose to wear sunscreen.

We are not burned and that, my friends is a wonderful thing.

We chose to eat breakfast at McDonalds. Miss Thing enjoyed a cheese muffin, banana and some potato. The cashier chose to look at me like I'm crazy when I asked for cheese only...and like I'd just turned my hair purple right on the spot when I asked for milk. I chose to ignore her and drink water instead.

We chose to take the tram to the zoo instead of the train. We saw a bit of the city and Miss Thing really enjoyed the view.

There were all sorts of interesting things at the zoo, both living and not. I chose to let Miss Thing look at whatever interested her. This "Fountain, Mama!" was a hit.

These pelicans chose to ignore Miss Thing when she demanded that they say "Caw, caw!" I chose to inform her that I am fairly certain they do not say such a thing.

So she chose to demand that they say "Tweet! Tweet!"

There were live seals at the zoo, but Miss Thing chose to play in the sand with these sculpture versions instead.

This meant that we had to clean her shoes out later on, but she really enjoyed petting and hugging them...something she certainly could not do with the live ones.

The Elephant area was fabulous indeed, especially all of the village type buildings. Miss Thing chose to ride on the grand-daughter of the elephant trek exhibit. No, really, they were labeled and this one is the grand-daughter.

We chose to eat lunch after the elephants so that Miss Thing would not have to act like a looney tune. Then we headed to the Australian animals and saw the kangaroos. Unfortunately for her, there were no joeys.

One of the last animals we visited before we left were the Koalas. Miss Thing was fascinated.

I chose to get Miss Thing an animal from the gift shop. I tried very hard to convince her that a Koala would be best. She looked at it and chose no. She then looked around and set her sights on a Meerkat. This was all well and good until she saw some tiny animals in a bin. "Mama, I want that one!" "This one?" "No, THAT one." "Which one?" "The one with the TAIL!"

Miss E? She chose a camel.

No, there weren't any camels at the zoo today.

I chose to go with the flow and get her the camel. As you can see, it was a very good $3.00 investment.