Monday, March 23, 2009

9 Months

9 Months. It is the gestation period of a human life. It is an eternity of time to a pregnant woman. To a grieving mother it is like the passing of a few days at one moment and a lifetime of experience and sorrow the next. 

Last week I passed the 9 month mark since losing Camille. I have been slow in posting this record of how I am doing. I was sick when we passed the mark. I was sick with the same head cold when Camille passed. It was the first time I had been sick since Camille's accident and it took me back to dark places in my memories. 

In so many ways I do feel stronger now. Stronger than before Camille's accident. I am more confident in my ability to shoulder this heavy trial. I have stronger empathy and understanding for others and their weaknesses and sorrows. I am stronger in my faith. I have an increased appreciation for and personal understanding of the healing side of the atonement. There is more love in my home. I am more patient as a mother. I appreciate my children more. I treasure them even more - I didn't think that was possible. In many ways I am a better mother to them. I have hope again and my hope is greater than it ever has been.

Yet, there are ways I feel so much weaker now than before, or even just after Camille's passing. I am more anxious as a mother. I hate this. It is a trait I have purposely avoided since the birth of my first child. I fight it now. But even when I can control my outward reactions, my anxiety jumps into high gear at the first suggestion of potential harm to my children or other children.

I am less open and far less friendly. I feel like I have a huge wall built around myself. Grief leaves you so vulnerable. At first everyone expects you to be raw and broken. It would seem unnatural for you not to be. So it is easy to show this rawness to the world and announce your pain to the world. You are shocked if perfect strangers cannot see it just by looking at you.

As time passes, you must find ways to function. You grow stronger and some of the wounds begin healing- at least on a surface level. It is as if time adds layers of new skin. But time does not heal that core wound. I am not sure any amount of time heals that. It just becomes less visible, less exposed. 

Still some comments or questions or situations still penetrate through to the core and reinjure the wound. And that core is just as raw as it ever was. And this core still needs treatment despite the layers of skin. In waves it bursts to the surface demanding to be recognized. Pressure from the wound builds up and must be periodically released. Waves of grief. They come less frequently but they still come.

Now people expect you to be better. They expect that your faith will make the pain easier. It doesn't. The pain builds the faith as you feel supported by the Savior. But the pain is not made less. The burdens are not lessened. It is the individual that is strengthened and made strong enough to bare the burdens through faith.

So it becomes less comfortable to share the pain of the wound. The waves of grief -- those times when the wounds pressure must be released -- are suffered more silently. Only in the company of other wounded souls is there safety to expose the rawness and let the wound breathe through the wave.

And with very few experiences to reinjure the wound, a wall seems to build. The pain of reinjury is just to great. A natural defense must go up. And mine has. I don't like it. But I am less open and less extending and friendly - especially with people who didn't know me before. I am working to gain the strength to overcome this. It makes me quiet at times when I should speak - because in speaking I would expose the wound. Sometimes I just feel that I am too vulnerable to expose that to people who don't understand the nature of this wound and how deeply it runs. 

To give a quantitative analysis of how I am to the record: I feel good and strong and whole most days. Maybe all but about 2 or 3 a month. I only cry on those 2 or 3 days. I do have teary moments if something triggers the grief. Like yesterday when my mother in law shared a story of her mother's passing and she and her siblings wondering who would be the first to have met her in heaven. 

Would it be her mother and father? Then their dad said no, it would be their son who had passed away. I mean - come on - things like that are impossible for me not to feel to the point of tears. But those feelings in the moment pass in a few minutes and I am able to gather myself.

I only have the heavy crying on my closet floor moments a couple times every month or so. Some months I don't have any at all. When they come, they last a few days, maybe 3 to 5, and then gradually I get my strength back. 

I do still think of Camille's accident and the events surrounding it everyday. This is very difficult. Most times I let the thought pass and get busy doing something else. On those hard days that come every once in a while, I have a hard time pulling myself out of these thoughts. I think I will always think of Camille, but I look forward to a day when I don't think of her accident - a day I don't see the image of her in the spa in my head.

I still have periodic nightmares relating to the accident or other children drowning. I still have a really hard time laying in bed awake waiting for sleep to come and ease my spinning mind. It is hard to find the strength to direct my thoughts at night. Often I watch TV or read till I am so tired I know I will fall asleep quickly once I lay down. 

So I am doing much better in most ways. I am pleased with my progress through this thorny path of grief. There are ways I want to improve but I am not hard on myself about them. Some times I just tell the voice inside telling me to open up, "I will. But just not yet." And the voice inside understands. It keeps prodding but it understands.


Brimaca said...

I can't imagine. I doubt anyone expects you to feel healed. I didn't even know her in life and am not healed. I think of her often. I appreciate those moments because it makes me appreciate my life. I gain strength from your strength and I think you have handled your grief amazingly - especially with thousands watching.

Krista said...

I have been folling your blog for some time, but this is the first time I have commented. About 3 years ago, my husband made a grave mistake and had an affair. I went to the temple everyday for a week seeking guidence and comfort. There I was promised that if I stayed, and believed int eh atonment, I would find great joy. I have found that joy, but I still mourn at times. Your feelings that you have written are so very true with all lose. While I am so greatful for teh strong marriage I have now, there are days when the memories of that time in my life come washing over me. People except me to be better, those few souls that know about the accident never seem to relize the hurt i feel. I know our situations are so very different. I understand that you probably feel like there is no comparison. i jsut wanted to let you know that grief in all forms takes times. you are strong and wonderful. Thanks for your blog.

Kendall said...

Thank you so much for your post. I stumbled on your blog a few weeks ago and have started to read it faithfully. Almost 7 years ago our first daughter, Elle, died at 2 1/2 months while awaiting a heart transplant. Although it has been a long and often hard 7 years it does get easier and you do get happier (or a fuller happiness). I can honestly say that I have experienced "peace that surpasseth all understanding". Fortunately, this peace remains and continues to buoy you up even when the world has moved on. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Lori said...

I wish that I were there to give you a big hug. I have never met you or been in your situation, but I can feel your pain through your words. I pray that God will comfort you and heal your weary mind.

Noorda Notebook said...

i just want to say that i think you are so friendly and open and mostly kind which is the most important quality in a good friend. you don't see yourself as as good as you really are and i think that's pretty common for most of us. good job, steph. you're doing great. :)

Jen Lee said...

Your insight and faith are inspiring. And while you may not open up vocally to people as much as you may like, I am so impressed at your strength and courage to open up to so many strangers (like myself) on-line and share your deepest, darkest feelings and emotions~ along with the joy and love you are able to find in your daily life. You are a wonderful example to me of someone striving to live a Christ centered life with an eternal perspective. Thank you!

Jennie said...

I am sorry you have such an "anniversary" to remember. You have showed so much grace during this trial. You are eloquent with words, and help other's understand a little more of what you and other's in similar situations may be going through. You possess so much strength, and I think you are capable of so much more than you think. It surprises to me that you don't feel open, because on your blog, it seems as if you are amazingly open about your thoughts and feelings, and it's a quality I greatly admire. I can't imagine that people would expect you to be healed. I don't imagine that would ever fully come to fruition. I do pray that your memories of that day will be replaced with pure joy someday. I have been uplifted by you, and your beautiful testimony. You and Camille have taught me to be more patient, and appreciative of the little moments in my life. I will be forever grateful for that. My prayers are still with you and your family.

Shanan said...

We love you, Steph!

Jen said...

If you can know one thing, know that you have affected so many women and that they have become more patient and appreciative mothers with their children. Thank you.

Heather & Greg said...

You are doing amazing in this trial and on those days that you don't feel like you are doing so good know that all your blogging friends are here to bouy you up. None of us expect you to be perfect but from an outside view it seems like you are handling it perfectly! I continue to pray that you will be comforted through all your hard times and feel the love of all those around you (and not around you).

Amanda said...

I don't think losing a child is something that you'll ever be "better" from. As you say the times between the grief become fewer and futher between but it'll always be there, always as raw.

I know what you mean about the wall you have built up around yourself. I have that same wall. It serves it's purpose well, protecting you when you're to vulnerable to protect yourself but it's a very hard thing to get rid of. It's always so much harder to be what you were before the wall. Harder to trust, harder to let anyone in.

I always have and always will think that you are one of the most amazing people that I've ever come in contact with. You're so honest and frank and you let all of us readers in on your life and your pain many, like myself are unable to do that.

Bless you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your posts... Ones like this one help me know better how to act and what to say and not say to a friend who is struggling with the death of a loved one. I wish I had some words of wisdom that could help, but instead, you are the one who is always giving them to us! It helps. It REALLY helps. Thank you again. M

Samantha said...

Wow, so much of this rings true for me too. My brother drowned almost 7 years ago and I still feel the pain and grief of it. I still cry about it and I still miss him so very much, in fact I often expect him to walk through my door and wonder when I will stop that. Yes it made me stronger, and a little more self protective, but I have also become crazy protective of my kids. When you experience a loss through tragedy it is so hard not to always picture what happened or what could happen at any time. My heart aches for you, I have no idea what it is like to loss a child, but besides my own pain I witnessed my mom's grief and at times it was unbearable. I know that time doesn't make it easier, that piece of you will always be missing until you are re-united, but time, and God's love and your families love can help replace those awful memories with good ones and heal your heart. You seem to be well on your way. These next few months will be hard but that beautiful little boy your are going to have will help you ALL even more. Take care and God bless, Sam.

Anonymous said...

I am going to make this post anonymous. I have been reading your blog for quite some time. I'm really glad you posted this. I have wondered for a long time if you hid your grief and frankly (as a mother) I thought you were 'too strong' for what has happened to you. I am glad you wrote this post, it was real and it was vulnerable. I am sorry you have to have visions of the accident. I can't even imagine how awful that would be. I hope they will fade for you.

bills said...

The birth of my third was a bit traumatic (for a weakling like me). After the birth, as all mothers are, I was exhausted but every time I closed my eyes...I lived it all over again. If only our sleepless nights could be thoughtless too.

Wrap your comforts around you. "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven" (Eccl. 3:1). Being "friendly" may be something for you to experience again in another season, for this time, perhaps others are given the opportunity to open up to you.


Marylin and Jimmy said...

Steph I often think about our close friends that pass and even though they were not my children I am so close to their Mom and she has said so many of the same things that you have said, she sometimes feels like she should be strong for others sake because she doesn't want to be a "bleeding wound" all the time for everyone around. I hope you know that I think of you often and pray for you more, so that strength will be added to you and your sweet family.

Angela said...

I think of you often and I know too well of the visions that do not leave our minds because of the drowning of our precious angels. I thank you so much for your help in my healing and an outlet with the angelblog. I hope to meet you someday. You are a wonderful person and am grateful for your openness...even though it makes you/us vulnerable.
(Evan from Heaven's mom)

Anonymous said...

Stephanie, I am not LDS, but this family's name was passed on to me through my church, and when I visited their blog I immediately thought of you. It is a small world. I read your blog because my sister-in-law in Utah had a link (I think she knows someone who knows a brother of yours?) but Camille has remained in my thoughts all this time. Now here in Oklahoma I have been asked to pray for this family in Arizona - and I am posting to you in Nevada. I am sure you can help this mother, and I will pray for you and your lovely family especially today, Stephanie. (congratulations on having a boy! totally different (and more slovenly :> ) experiences lie ahead of you! Thank you so much - Jenny W. in Oklahoma City

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, I am not good at this blogging thing. Jenny W. in Oklahoma City

Anonymous said...

Sending love.

kathryn said...

thank you for this truthful and open update. i am inspired by you and the tremendous courage and strength you have shown over the last 9 months. you are so much stronger than you give yourself credit for. i'm also so sorry for the sorrow. xoxo

Anonymous said...

Your blogging life is only a small part of who you are and what you feel.

But I hope that it helps you and provides some support and comfort when you need it.

That's why I visit. To provide support and comfort in any small way that I can.

Love to you,


Mimi's Toes said...

So beautifully said. I think of Camielle often and her little angelic face is etched in my mind. You are an amazing person and have ministered to so many people. I know you are so looking forward to your new little son. By the way, did you decide on how you are spelling his name yet?

Stephanie said...

Mimi's Toes,

We will spell his name

Morgan Noble Waite

They are all family names so there is no real debate about how to spell them. We are sticking to the way his grandfathers names are spelled.


kathryn_m said...

Hello my dear friend:

Reading this post brought a bucket full of tears to my eyes. Many times your posts have been especially timely in relation to my own life. This was one of them.

Having never lost of child, I cannot know your pain yet I can feel it. I've always felt that empathy was one of my richer blessings.

I like to think that memories are Heavenly Father's photo album for us -- but they can be a doubled edged sword.

Most times when we refer to memories, there is an assumption of happiness attached to them. Sadly, this is not always true.

Twice in the past 2 weeks, memories and their effects have confounded me.

Last week, Haylee had one of her nastier seizures while Ray was down visiting his ailing father. In my bedtimes prayers, I expressed my gratitude that her Dad didn't have that scenario etched forever in his mind. It was one of the few positives that I could pull from an otherwise dreadful experience.

Several days later, I was about to venture to the hospital to visit Pops. This would have been only my second time out of my home since the holidays due to my own ill health. It was a blistering cold evening with a wind-chill well into the minus 40's. As I was about to get my boots on, Ray forewarned me that Pops was not likely to recognize me. With that real possibility, I made the decision not to visit -- I decided to "protect" my memories of better days. He passed away about 30 hours later. I have no regrets.

While the memories Ray has of Pops' last hours are something he will carry just as I will those of Haylee's seizure, we agreed how blessed we were that the other was spared those images.

Like most things in life, we must take the good with the bad. When I told Haylee that her beloved Papa was gone to be with the Angels, she teared up. However, the next evening at visitation, she was aglow with cheer - no doubt not understanding death -- she could see her Papa surrounded by the roses he loved -- all was well in her world.

I though a lot about that. Would I trade my memory of her eyes sparkling as she greeted all her relatives -- quite pleased with her new clothes and hairdo -- being the center of attention for those who hadn't seen her in a while -- would I give them up to erase that horrible day?

Stephanie, please know that I am in no way comparing my images to yours. The very thought of what your "mind's eye photo album" brings to your attention at times is too horrible for me to even contemplate.

How I wish we could erase or delete. Instead we must balance. Our task is to ensure the bad doesn't erode the good.

When my mind takes me to unwanted scenes, I will try my best to refocus on those church images that brought me such joy. The "triggers" -- so unexpected and unnerving.

Haylee exuded the same delight as did Camille when doing her balancing dance in her Dada's hands.

Sorry for the lengthy reply but I do wish to add that I can understand this protective wall we create. While done for different reasons, my "shield" has served me well.

Hold tight to the hope that these images fade over time and allow the delight to the forefront.

I wish you peace, my friend.

Love n' hugs,

Micaela said...

I want to tell you something that you've never heard before, but I have nothing. I know, however, that I can't read this post and not say something because you have become my friend through blogging. All I can say is that I am sorry for the sadness, the hurt, the sorrow you feel. I first found your blog and began reading right after Camille's passing. As an unknown and unseen friend I mourned with you and cried as I prayed for you and your husband. My heart broke for you. I still think of what happened but often forget how you must be feeling. I am impressed by you. By your strength when you feel strong and by your honesty when you begin to feel defeated. You are an inspiration to so many.

Your Friend,

kathyrn_m said...

Hi Stephanie:

It is presently 3:33 AM and I am feeling really nudged by the Spirit concerning you and your sweet family. I wish I could explain in greater detail but I am at a loss to do so.

I need you to know that I love you and I am so sorry you are hurting.

Blessings & prayers,

Judy said...

I'm pleased you share. I had a daughter die 28 years ago and I think the blogging is a healing source for you and a learning lesson for those that aren't a member of our unexpected club.
"mothers who had babies die"

Stephanie said...

Just wanted to say that I do feel I can be pretty open here on the blog. It is way easier to write than to speak these things. I feel a bit more safe here for some reason.

And Kathryn M - your comment was so kind and empathetic. Thank you. I really do wish I had a memory Sharpie to wipe out certain images from my mind. But I would rather carry them myself than have one of my children have to do that. And I do so often immediately replace those dark images with one of Camille calling me for me only hours before from the top of the step ladder in the pantry. She had climbed to the top (it has 2 steps) and was so proud of her self and just smiling and so happy stomping her foot and yelling for me with a big smile on her face. She was so cute I called Jon over and said "See that. That is our little girl. Look how cute she is." How glad I am that I took the moment to savor her charms.


kathryn_m said...

How wonderful it is to have such a delightful memory so that you don't have to grasp for one when it's needed. I can envision the sparkle of achievement in her eyes -- that unique toddler-twinkle.

Be well, Stephanie.

love 'n hugs,

Jennifer said...


Thank you for sharing all your emotions and feelings on your blog.

I was allowed 90 minutes with my youngest son, but during that time I felt what pure joy feels like.

Since his passing three months ago, reading your blog has been something that has brought me peace, understanding, and hope. You are able to describe the feelings I am starting to experience- and it helps me to not feel so alone and alienated.

Today's post was especailly touching. I am starting to build walls so that I am not hurt by careless comments.

I admire your strength and testimony. Again, thank you for sharing it with your blog friends.

- Jennifer

Grandma Holt said...

Oh Stephanie. I am a grandmother now and how I relate to so much of what you feel. I lost my grown son at the age of 26 ten years ago this month. Grief seems to be a unversal thing. You have helped me more than you can ever know---you have helped me to understand my own grief---the waves, the walls, the moments of joy, all of it! What an inspiration you are my dear. What a club we belong to, and how changed we are. Yet, I finally see that so many of the changes are good. I don't have to elaborate, you already know. God Bless!

rebecca said...

Stephanie - this is a beautifully honest and insightful post into your personal sorrow. My heart aches for you daily and your deep wound. I wish I could comfort you and make everything better. I wish life didn't have to have such painful thorns. Know that I love you. I enjoy hearing your sweet memories of Camille:) Give the girls hugs for us and take care of yourself in the final stretch of your pregnancy.

Rey and Meegan said...

Thanks for the emotion and reality of how hard it is to lose a child. Thanks for sharing your feelings with those of us who don't know you, but pray for you often. We love you, and know healing is a slow process. The Lord is blessing you with sweet memories to have rather than the harshness of your pain. May the sweet memories continue to etch your mind and spirit with healing power. Meegan