Friday, July 25, 2008


Let me start this by saying I don't think our tragedy was "preventable." I believe that when the Lord calls you home it is more a matter of how than if or when. In our case, the series of events that led to this outcome were obviously orchestrated by a Master Planner to ensure that Camille could return home quickly and relatively painlessly without any one person feeling the blame. 

Still, as parents we must do all we can to prevent accidents. For those of you who want to know what happened -- I will not share that.  I have not shared it with any of my friends. I know many of you wonder. But, out of respect, I hope that you will not speculate or discuss the possibilities. The details are inconsequential and my reasons for not sharing are of paramount importance. It will help my whole family heal properly to leave those details in the past. 

I know it is human nature to wonder, but please try to quench the curiosity and focus on the now. That is what I am trying to do.  I am a better mother than I was before. I know more now. Knowledge is powerful. Knowledge combined with action can prevent many unnecessary accidents. 

In an effort to share my hindsight knowledge, I will share some tips and information that could prevent this type of accident from happening to someone else. 

Working Against Us:

First, I never would have had a pool without a self closing self locking gate on it. But I just didn't think a spa was the same because it has a cover.  Our cover has locks that lock it down but they broke in a wind storm the week before Camille died. We had not gotten them fixed yet. 

We were supposed to have an easy cover lift contraption to make it so the kids could put the cover back on by themselves when they got out. The company delivered the wrong kind and we had not gotten it exchanged yet. 

My older girls are both good swimmers who took private swimming lessons for years in California. I didn't feel the need to play "lifeguard" for them in a spa with water only deep enough to come to their belly buttons. 

What I know now: 

1) No matter how watchful you are and no matter what measures you took to prevent escape, babies can get out of a house. If they can crawl, they can get out. Period. Expect that.

2) Any pool, spa, or pond needs a self closing, self locking gate around it. There will always be a time when it is uncovered between opening it and getting in and getting out and closing it. 

3) It only takes a minute for a baby to drown. 

4) If the pool or spa is open, an adult needs to be outside "lifeguarding" even if those swimming are good swimmers and even if no one is swimming, unless you have an unclimbable gate around the pool or spa that is closed and securely locked. This makes sure gates don't get propped open, heads don't get hit causing unconsciousness and probably a million other unforeseen events that could lead to drowning.

These are now our rules for the spa. I am pretty sure our other children have long missions on this side of the veil to perform. Using the new rules we have about lifeguarding and with our new self locking gate, I feel confident that their enjoyment of the spa will be safe, even for those totally unforeseeable times when the baby somehow escapes from the house.


Anonymous said...

I wanted to leave a comment and tell you how deeply sorry I am for your loss. In that same sentence I want to express my gratitude for you! You are truly an inspiration. Thank you for having such strong faith and being able to share such a personal experience with so many readers. You have had me in tears numerous times with your thoughtful words and sweet pictures of your daughter. I too am a meber of the LDS Church, but I have no where near the Faith that you have expressed. You are a mom I look up to! You have made me want to be a better example for my own daughters. I believe that you and Camille are "Missionaries" and I wanted to say THANK YOU for the wonderful Spirit I feel each time I read a new post. May God continue to look over you and your family and Camille await your arrival on the other side!!
Thank You!!!
-K. in Utah

Anonymous said...

I read your blog daily, sometimes more than that and don't usually post, but I couldn't pass this up.

I, of course, have wondered the details of that horrible day, and have tried not to wonder, which is hard, but never once did I consider asking what those details were.

By your post I get the feeling that people have asked, which is upsetting on a whole other level. I think wondering is natural, but asking or even hoping you would discuss it is just ridiculous. All that would come from that is blame and anyone who has been reading your blog should know that blame has no place in your life.

I'm glad you made the point that you have not discussed it and will not. Why anyone would think you would, especially on your blog is beyond me.

I hope your better days start to become more frequent than your not so good days.

Still thinking about you.

karen said...

Still thinking of you Stephanie. Karen Stewart

Anonymous said...

I think that with all that you have shared with other people, it is important that they understand what your "boundaries" are. What happened to your family is tragic and I think it is always a good idea to review and practice the principles of prevention. We can only do our best, and sometimes, even then, tragic things happen. Here's to living in the now.

annie said...

You are so right. I would like to go back and have a fence around the pool, even though we had always had a pool and the kids had always learned to swim. I never imagined Isabelle would get into the pool. She was terrified of the water. I didn't realize that she might reach in and fall into the water for such a brief moment, but long enough. I never expected to see my child without life. I never imagined diapering a child who will be six tomorrow. I wish that these accidents were preventable, but have learned that the "what ifs" can make me crazy. I am thanking God and praising Him for all the blessings.
I now say that if you have a body of water, any body of water and a child, that water should be treated like a loaded weapon.

Anonymous said...

Hi Stephanie,

I want you to know, I have not even wondered the details of Camille's passing--- they just don't matter. It doesn't change a thing. Does not change a single thing.

I have to tell you how helpful this blog was to me. I came home yesterday after being gone the better part of the entire day to my pool gate being unlocked.

I sat in bed last night SOBBING to my husband at even the prospect of what could have happened while I was away and our sweet babysitter was here with our 4-2 and 7 month old.

I am SOOOOO thankful at what you wrote and will act immediately.

Stephanie, you are not alone. As a Mom, I feel your pain. I can't help it. I literally feel in my stomach your pain. As your fellow believer and Mommy that's just what we do.

Please know your blog is being used by the Lord. Please know that I support you and am your friend, even though we've never met.

I know nothing will take away your pain, but you are doing so much to process it and to use it for God's Glory.

Thank you for being you, and being so transparent.

In HIm,

Cuddle Cottage said...

Hi Stephanie, I agree that your boundaries should be treated with the utmost respect. I too visit your blog fairly regularly and I think you've shared so much. I grieve for you, and I am inspired by you each time I stop by.

Kr!sty said...

whew. I don't know you and simply found you from a friends blog, but I must say to you, "Thanks."

I have 2 boys (one 3yrs. one almst 6 mo.) and more often than not I find myself yelling at the 3yr old and feeling anger because of small, unimportant things.

After reading your blog (clear back to April) I not only cried for your pain, but for the ignorance of myself. For not always treating my beautiful son the way our Savior would. I have such a short fuse many days & reading about your basket in this life has made me re-think about my [re]actions toward "His little ones".

I really need to be more kind and let the little things go. I need to have more patience & enjoy the everyday musings of childhood. Like you said in one post, "They don't stay little forever". I will try harder tomorrow. You never know when it will be the end for you or someone you love.

Thank you again, Stephanie, for helping my eyes to see that we can be better through our trials. I am so sorry for your loss and can clearly see that you are a stronger person and that your faith has increased. May our Heavenly Father bless you and your family.
Much love & respect,
Kristy--P.G. Utah

Amanda said...

I can honestly say I hadn't even really pondered the events leading up to your tragedy simply because, as you said, it only takes a minute for a baby to drown. Maybe even seconds. What I am in awe of, however, is your "working against us" desciption. It gave me chills.

I love reading your blog, even when it makes me sad, because it moves me. It lets me know that we are so small and yet so big in the grand scheme of things.

And now I'm off to finish reading a story about a girl named Fannie.. fascinating!

Tanya said...

I just found your blog by a link from someone else. I am so sorry for your loss. I have suffered a loss of a child too, in a different situation. You are right about not sharing details and not derailing your life into blame. It is too easy. I read your blog all the way back before the accident. It is clear that you love and are devoted to your family. I think you have a unique voice and the grace with which you carry yourself is a testimony to your faith. Although I am not LDS it is easy to see that your faith is helping you through this difficult time.

May you continue to be blessed and supported through this difficult time.

Heather B said...

Stephanie, I am another new reader to your blog, and I am just so grateful for your experiences and your willingness to share them with us. I will admit it, I have cried my eyes out while reading your posts. I am also a member of the church, and I also live in Vegas. I will keep you and your family in my prayers- I know I don't even know you, but I do know the love of a mother, the love of a child. I feel like I'm becoming a better person every time I read your blog. Thank you again, and know that you are changing a lot of lives out there.

angie said...

Dear Stephanie, I have hesitated to writing to you because I feel that everything I want to say has been said, and I didn't think it would really make any difference to you! But then I realized that even though it might make little or no difference to you, it has made an incredible difference to me! You and Camille have changed my life forever! I have 6 children 9 and under, and I love them more than life, but now I love them through the Savior's eyes thanks to you! I guess I just want to say I love you and pray for you and your family every day! Thank you for sharing your feelings, your words, and your experiences with all of us! I admire and respect you more than words can say! I hope and pray that you can feel how much love we all have for you and especially how much love your Father in Heaven has for you! Thank you for opening my eyes and that you have helped me be the mother that I have always wanted to be!
Love and prayers always!!

Liz's Blog said...

Hey Steph,
What a great post! Your post was perfect. You said it perfectly...we can prevent many things, but Heavenly Father does have a plan for each of us. I think that even though you share so much of your thoughts and feelings, bounderies are good and are healthy. Even though curiousity might make people doesn't matter. We love you to much to ever want you to discuss ANYTHING that you do not want to. Love you! Liz

Camille said...

1st off, I hope by seeing my name (your angels name) I don't add sorrow to your broken heart. I found your blog after reading a friends blog that spoke of your inspiration. I am so touched by all of your words. I have read almost every entry from June 14th on. I think I have been on here for over an hour. You are such a strong and spiritual person. I have really enjoyed your testimony. I hope to have one that strong someday. I too am LDS. And my biggest fear is losing a child or my husband. I can only hope to be 1/2 as strong as you. My heart is with you and I will keep you in my prayers.
Things like this happen for a reason, and maybe yours is to see that Only by this trajedy do you see how strong you are and how inspiration you are to others. You will never know how many people your strength will touch. I am so grateful for you and your honesty and your willingness to share you life. Thank you!

jaanderson family said...

I just wanted to let you know we are constantly thinking of you and praying for you and your sweet family. -Amanda Anderson

Bingham Bunch said...

Dear Stephanie,

I am a mother of 6 children, 5 who remain here on earth with me. I have found renewed courage and strength borne in me through you. It has been nearly 11 years since we lost our oldest son and I have ultimately decided that living with a certain amount of heartache, and calculating dates will be my challenge. I have found that has actually brought me closer to God because I understand His perspective of aching for us as His children. You are very strong, I did not deal as well as you did in the initial days, weeks, months.... I have struggled with depression, attempted suicide and really allowed the opinions of the "natural man" and the adversary get to me. I eventually reclaimed my usually happy personality, had more children and overcame living in constant fear of tragedy. I, like you, refuse to speak of any details regarding my son's entrance into the spirit world. He's there doing his work and I'm here doing mine, and when I occasionally have those private moments of pain due to his absence I feel and know that he is able to be close--I have felt him close. I think the biggest challenge to me has been the question when meeting someone new, "How many kids do you have?" I briefly panic wondering if I really want to give a lengthy explanation of things I don't want to explain, or if it is wrong to say "5" and act like he isn't one of mine. I have decided to say, "I have 5 children I am pleased to be raising right now." (and to myself I say....another one returned to me later). You are correct to decide to not dwell on details, I'm sure enough people "doing their jobs", as you have politely stated, have put you through enough. I enjoy reading your blog and honestly have never wondered about what happened. I pictured multitudes of angels welcoming Camille home and then remaining to tend to you and your family in your time of need. Some of us were given the gift of knowing we gave birth to someone so valiant, he or she did not need to remain on earth to prove him or herself worthy of celestial glory. I have to constantly remind myself that is something to rejoice in and motivate myself in not despair in. It was very kind of you to make this post on prevention--too many people in life want drama and details to place blame when someone who hasn't reached retirement age leaves this life. The truth is we do the best we can, trust in God, and if something happens, we still trust in God and his ultimate plan. I will let the one perfect person judge me and my actions and what anyone else has to put in has no bearing on my salvation. There's good that comes from every situation, and for me I used to be far too judgmental. After December 6, 1997, I was in no position to judge. It was a beginning for me to realize life is more productive when people choose to listen, support, and give unconditional love. On a final note I enjoyed your post on helping someone who suffered a loss. I think the one thing that stands out in my mind days after my loss was a member of the relief society who just showed up at my front door at noon with a picnic basket (in the middle of December in Utah). I reluctantly opened the door and she came in with a huge smile (why is she smiling? everyone else comes weeping!), gave me a hug, threw down a picnic blanket in my living room, pulled out a whole bunch of food variety and paper plates, blessed the food and dished up two plates. We ate together in silence, which she didn't seem uncomfortable with at all (shocked), and when we finished she cleaned everything up, tidied the rest of the house, gave me a hug and left. I appreciated that she understood that at that time I couldn't talk about anything because my world was upside down AND she acted normal and allowed me to take the lead on where conversation or anything else would go that day. I want to be like her, she knew she couldn't take away any pain, but for that 2 hours I was so stunned by a picnic in my living room in December that I was distracted and my face was actually clear from the burning tear streaks. Take care and keep the uplifting posts coming....I am a contributor to the Happy Mommy blog and we have a link to your blog. We would welcome you to contribute or comment anytime--we like to keep things on a positive and inspirational note on just dealing with the job of Mom, from diaper rash, to tantrums, to puberty, testimonies, and teaching. We also get visits from all over the fun! Take care!

Many prayers for your continued strength,

Andrea of Ft.Worth, Texas

Sleepless In St. George said...

Thanks for the pool reminders....we have been so much more diligent this summer. Like I have commented before, asking how it happened is something people shouldn't do. Thanks for the reminder to us all to be more aware of how quickly terrible accidents can happen. I took the kids to the movies and spent the entire time in the hall with the baby and thought of Jonathan. I quickly said a prayer of thanks that I was able to spend some "alone" time with her in the hall! Thanks for the reminders.

Anonymous said...

Hi Stephanie,

Thank you for this post. Thank you for your entire blog. You have such strength to share such a painful time in your and your family's lives with the world. I know you and your family already know that Camille is changing the world for the better, but I wanted to add my voice to the others here who have said thank you for sharing your baby girl with us. You've inspired me to live a better, more purposeful, more loving life. I'm in awe of your faith and strength. Thank you for your example. I am praying for you and your family to know some peaceful moments.

-R, in CA

Brittany Osborn said...

My friends had a self-locking gate but their little girl was inexplicable able to squeeze through. They had never imagined that. So there's one more thing to add...make sure the kids cannot squeeze through!

Brittney said...

Dear Stephanie,
For the last couple of weeks I have been starting to doubt what I believe. Questioning why things happen to certain people. And in my own bitterness I stopped saying my prayers. I read your blog for the first time last night and then I prayed to thank my Father in Heaven for how blessed my life is! Thank You for for being so brave to share your thoughts and feelings! You helped me and I wanted to tell you Thank You!

Twinkletoes said...

You have shared more than most would share and your sharing is greatly appreciated! You are truly an inspiration. Not only have I rethought "worrying about the little things" but I am also so unbelievably AWARE and cautious around any water. Thank you Stephanie! Thank you!

chesnye said...

I found your blog through a friend and I have just been amazed by your strength during this time. I too agree with you that the Lord has a plan for each of us and that plan is already in place. I also think it is such a brave decision to keep Camille's accident a private matter. I hope that everyone will respect this decision and the speculating will be over. I just wanted you to know that you have touched me and made a difference in my life.

Anonymous said...

I found your comment, " . . . it is more a matter of how than if or when" interesting. I have always thought that the when counted most. I have presumed that as a part of our pre-mortal life we had a knowledge of our time of death and even a knowledge of the how of our deaths. I think I would like to change the word presumed to "a visceral feeling." I appreciate your words because they make me think and think and feel and feel more than I ever have. You and yours are in my prayers daily. Your soul has lifted mine on a daily basis.

tharker said...

I hope you know that people like me who don't know you at all are constantly thinking about you and holding a prayer in their hearts for you and your family.

I wholeheartedly respect your need not to share the details of Camille's passing. I feel like you have such a purpose in sharing what you have, and I thank you for that. Your faith is a beautiful example to me.

Thank you also for sharing these suggestions on pool safety. These tips are invaluable.

Anonymous said...

Stephanie: I have been SO touched by your blog! I have never had a child die, but I have had a few severe tragedies in my family. I remember asking a therapist I was seeing (following one of these horrific events), "Why are people so rude? Why do they want to know all the horrible details? Why do we immediately slow down our cars to try and see an accident, for example?" (Even I'm guilty of that!) What she said was very interesting to me. She said, "People are just curious by nature. Most people do not mean to me rude or inappropriate. (Of course, there's those few that do, too!) It's just part of human nature to take in information (especially if it's shocking or disturbing to our senses in some way; think "survival mode") and immediately try to make sense of it. In reality, it is a self-protective measure." (i.e. "Could this happen to me?", etc.)" I know when she told me that, it shed a whole different light on how I interpreted peoples' questions, how I responded, etc. Somehow, it made it easier for me to understand where people were coming from and it helped me be a bit more patient with them. I was even willing to talk more about those painful things in my life, if I felt they had my best interests at heart and truly cared. You seem to have picked up on this by doing the VERY best thing you could: warning readers of how to protect their children. That, in the end, is all parents really need to know! You continue to be in my prayers DAILY!!

Adam and Megan's Mom said...

THANK YOU for this post. I have a two and a half year old, a four month old and a hot tub on our back patio. It has just a regular lid on it. I always just think to myself that there's no way Adam could get out there without me knowing (all the doors beep when they open) and if he did get out there how could he get the lid off by himself (no locking mechanisms on ours)but your post has made me realize that it can happen, in just the blink of an eye! We are currently draining our tub until we can get a locking lid on there. Thank you once again for sharing your life and your faith with us.

Evs & The Hubby said...

I actually never have wondered at all. Mostly because of who you are and the way you and Jon treated me in LB. It may sound weird but I knew the minute I read about Camile and my heart broke for you because you two would do anything for your kids. You actually set more of an example to me than you know on how to be a mom. I just need to try it out now. Thanks for the tips/rules. It is alwyas so helpful to learn more. I love you both!

Michelle said...

I'm glad you did this prevention post. I often times think of a friend (of a friend) who was taking a nap while her daughter slept in her crib. She climbed out of her crib (for the first time) and went through the doggy door and drowned in the pool.

I think tragedy happens in ways that we can never imagine possible. I know we could all really drive ourselves crazy as mothers thinking of all the bad things that could happen to our children. I think we just have to do the best we can and prevent things when possible.

marykay said...

I am glad you wrote this, the rules are good ones but, accidents and thats why they are called that can happen anytime even with someone watching. I enjoy reading about you and you family. thank you

Anonymous said...

I am very sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and wisdom with all of us. You do not know me, but it sounds you may have a tort action law suit on your hands.

K said...

Thank you for this.

I too am a mom who thinks "I don't need to lifeguard so closely, they're 9 and 11."

I need to log off and go sit and watch my kids swim. Thank you for the gentle - and much needed - reminder.