Thursday, April 30, 2009

Bedtime Story

One of my kids favorite bedtime stories is the true story I tell of the time I was most scared in my life. Seeing as nothing much has been happening around here and I haven't anything more exciting to post about, I thought I would share this bedtime story for my post tonight.

Long ago when I was a little girl about 6 or 7 years old, I slept in an antique white wrought iron bed. It was about a foot off the ground and I used to hide under it when I was trying to hide from my parents or my siblings. It made a perfect hiding place.

Because it was such a good hiding place I was always scared that a monster of some sort might be hiding under there when I went to bed. Each night I would turn off the light in my room and take as few steps as possible before jumping onto my bed from as far away as possible. This was all just in case there was something under my bed. I didn't want it to be able to grab my foot.

One night I followed this routine and then as usual began the nightly wait to fall asleep. I have never been able to fall asleep quickly. As I lay waiting for sleep to come, I felt my bed shake. Now I was a rather logical and reasonable girl and I knew beds could not shake themselves. I also couldn't believe there was REALLY a monster under my bed. I mean that was just a crazy fear right? 

I thought to myself, "maybe I accidentally moved and made the bed shake." It was a wobbly bed. "Or maybe it was the wind." Then I did note that the window was closed and so there couldn't really be "wind." Still I was not ready to accept the "monster" theory so I laid perfectly still, making sure my feet and hands stayed on the center of the bed, and waited. 

A minute later my bed moved again. This time I was SURE it was not me or the wind and I had definitely felt my bed shake. So like any typical little girl, I screamed out "DAAAAADDDD!!!!"

A moment later my father groggily came to my doorway. He had obviously been sleeping. He turned on my light and asked what was wrong. I told him something was under my bed. Like a typical father, he said, "Now Stephanie, there is nothing under your bed. Look under there and see for yourself and we can all go back to sleep."

I shook my head no. There was NO WAY I was looking under there. "No way Dad," I said. "There is something under my bed. My bed MOVED! YOU look under my bed!"

My dad tried a couple more times to get me to look under my bed but I would not budge on the issue. Finally he said, "okay listen. How about I will look under your bed and make sure nothing is there and then you look under your bed and see for yourself. Then we can all go to sleep."

This sounded like a much more reasonable proposition and I agreed. So my dad walked over to my bed. Then he began lifting my bedspread to look under my bed all the while with his eyes fixed on me and saying in a teasing voice, "I'm looking under your bed. I'm looking under your bed..."

Just then the something under my bed reached out and grabbed my dad by the ankle. In one fail swoop my dad jumped completely out of my room and back into the hall with a surprised scream. That right there was the scariest moment of my life. Whatever it was under my bed and just made itself known and my dad had left me alone with it in my room.

Then I heard my older sister's laughter floating up from the floor. My dad, now FULLY awake, came back into my room and got my sister out from under my bed and into her own room. 

I learned that night that when we face our fears they are often not as bad as we imagine. Sometimes the monster under your bed is just your big sister playing a trick on you.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

On the Same Page

I love my doctor. She is so willing to follow my wishes and make the birth of this baby on my time table (or my body's) and not hers. Today I took in a "birth plan" I wrote up a while back. Normally I am not such a believer in "birth plans" because labor and delivery can be so unpredictable and really so much has to be decided during the process.

But I really wanted everyone who attends to me during this labor and delivery to be aware of my story. I want them to know that the last time I was in the hospital I was saying goodbye to a child. I am not sure how or if my grief will play into this birth. I have come to realize how unpredictable grief can be. Times I think I should be a disaster I feel strong and other times I am hit with a wave for no apparent reason.

So I wrote up my story for those who attend to me to read. I have a hard time telling people without losing it. There just isn't an easy way to tell people you had a child die. I included a bullet pointed list of things I know I do or don't want during the labor. 

I shared this "plan" of sorts with my doctor. She already knew about Camille. She was fully supportive of everything I wrote and put the plan at the top of my chart so it would be the first thing people would see. I love it.

Also, I told her I couldn't have the baby this week because of the talent show. She was totally helpful and told me to come back Monday to have my cervix checked then. She didn't want to accidently disturb things and get me started. I feel pretty confident that I can make it through Friday without going into labor now. After that, I think I will be ready to play ball whenever little Noble decides the time is right.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Not This Week!

I have my doctor's appointment tomorrow. My doctor has been predicting an April baby for a couple of weeks now. Last time I went and she checked me (a week ago) she got all excited. "I'm touching the baby's head. You are dilated to a 3! Let's break your water and have a baby!" She is funny--totally energetic and excited. 

"Hmmm. No this is not a good week," I replied. "I have company coming in town this week." She was sure that this fact would put me in to labor. Yet, alas I am still pregnant. 

Today I found out that both Sabrina and Ann Marie made it into their school talent show. Apparently they only had room for 12 acts. Sabrina will be singing "Maybe" from Annie and Ann Marie is playing Allegro on the violin. They have practices after school this week and the performance is on Friday. 

So that pretty much translates into "I can't have a baby this week." Hopefully my body will cooperate. I do still have one more week till my due date. And I have been dilated to a 3 before and still gone over due and had to be induced so I am hopeful. I can wait. Hopefully Noble can too.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Be Believing

"Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly and remember the covenant wherewith ye have covenanted one with another." Doctrine and Covenants 90:24

My sister-in-law Nikki recently sent me a letter/paper her uncle wrote to his children on why bad things happen to good people. He wrote it many, many years ago. I have found it to be faith bolstering and well thought out. He has a few points that I found to be particularly profound. One of the points he makes has to do with the above scripture. 

For those who are not familiar with the "Doctrine and Covenants," it is primarily a book of revelations given to the prophet Joseph Smith from Jesus Christ in the early years of our church's founding. It is part of the LDS Canon of scripture.

In his letter, this man (my sister-in-law's uncle) points out how important "being believing" is to having all things work for our good. I have given this point some thought further. I have often said that even in my lowest moments where my faith is weakest, I have chosen to believe. 

Believe what? Believe that the Lord loves me and knows what will be best for me. Believe that it was Camille's time to leave this Earth. Believe that her death is part of His plan. Believe that somehow this trial - all our trials - will work together for our good. Sometimes that last one is really hard to "believe," especially in those low points that are so filled with pain. But, I have come to realize how much more endurable the pain and trials of this life are when faced with a believing heart and a mind firmly focused by faith.  

I feel best, strongest, most at peace, and most happy when I doubt not but trust in the Lord and BELIEVE that this is part of His plan. Certainly I have had moments of question and doubt over the last 10 months. But those moments are low, depressing, and hopeless. I do not want to live my life in the emotions of those moments. I am SURE the Lord would not have me live my life that way. Therefore, when those moments come, I CHOOSE to believe.

That choice helps immediately to pull me from the dark corners of my mind. And soon my "belief" is confirmed by the sweet peaceful feelings that fill my soul. Often I become so sure in my belief that I am brought out of my grief and can feel to thank the Lord for His work in my life. There is always the missing. But often when I am most "believing" I can see His great work and Camille's part in it. And I feel as if I am the mother of a missionary -- missing my child, but not willing her to be anywhere other than where she is. 

Naturally, these moments of doubt and highs of believing go around and around in cycle. But the further along this path I walk, the more rare the moments of doubt become. And the majority of my time is spent in a sweet, even, peaceful feeling of trust and ... BELIEF. 

Friday, April 24, 2009

In Good Company

The past three days I have had the pleasure of hosting my good friend Brittney and two of her children. We were joined here one night by our friends Tiffany and Michelle. All of us lost a child in a tragic accident. All our children were between 1 and 2 years old. 

We had a get together one night that went late into the night. We laughed and cried and shared coping strategies. We also talked about various other subjects like weight loss and exercise and American Idol. 

These women buoy me up. I feel stronger with them by my side. They are remarkable women, each of them. We each have our own strengths and weaknesses, our own unique aspects to our trials, our own stories. But we are all evidence of life after the death of a child. And I love to see how beautifully life can be lived even after such heart ache.

Tiffany, Britt, and I hung out most of yesterday letting our children play. They played in the spa and Britt and Tiff worked out. (I have given that up for the time being.) We just enjoyed the day and being in the company of other "amputees." 

Britt has just left to go back home to Arizona. I come away from these days feeling grateful. Grateful to be me. Grateful for all the gifts and talents with which the Lord has blessed me. Grateful for the testimony and witness God has given me. Grateful for my family and friends. Grateful for the support I receive from all corners of the earth through this blog. Grateful for great friends who really KNOW. Grateful for the eternal plan of our Heavenly Father and to know as much about it as I do. Grateful to be a mother to children both on Earth and in Heaven. Grateful for the joys in my life and even grateful for the great sorrows.

I know my sorrows sown now will one day yield up fruit sweeter than I have experienced thus far in my life. And for that fact and the knowledge of that fact, I am grateful. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wouldn't you know it ...

Remember that line in my last post about feeling good and how tomorrow I would probably regret that? Ha! Well wouldn't you know it. Last night I woke up at 2 in the morning (after about an hour of sleep) sick to my stomach from my prenatal vitamin. (I should know better than to take it on an empty stomach). Add to that my headache and I was not in a good way. 

I spent about two hours in and out of the bath and timing stomach pains wondering if I was going into labor. This was not how I wanted to start labor. Still the pains were regular and about 5 minutes apart. Finally around 4:15 I woke Jon up and told him he better start packing for the hospital. (I hadn't quite gotten around to that yet.)

He jumped up and started gathering things. A few minutes (and one more trip to the bathroom) later the pains subsided and I felt sleepy. My sweet husband was wonderful about me waking him up to my false alarm and just went cheerfully to work. I love this man.

Just a false alarm and I am feeling fine today. But I found it ironic that this came right after I said I was feeling really good. :)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Today as I sat staring at my belly waiting for my doctor to come in and check me out, I had one of those moments. You know those moments when it hits you how incredible it is that there is a whole person there moving around and soon to join the world. It is just amazing that we are able to assist in the creation of life. 

I am playing the waiting game now. I am mostly ready to have this baby. I am two weeks from my due date. My body is ready. It is just waiting for things to start and the baby to come. Yet, unlike most other pregnancies, I am not as anxious as I have before been. I feel pretty good as long as I don't do too much. 

I know now that I have said that, tomorrow I will feel terrible. :) But for now I feel pretty good. I really want to go into labor on my own without being induced. I hope that happens for me. I am tempering my patience so I can stick it out for the long haul.

I would really like to go drug free through this labor. I haven't ever done that before. I have always wanted to do it. My mom had me without drugs. I was the only child she did that way. I think it will be empowering and cathartic to experience the natural pains of bringing a child into the world after having felt the natural pains of returning one to the presence of her Maker.

I hope those around me will help me to be strong when I feel weak and want nothing more than to make the pain go away. I hope I can find my way through the pain and to the joy of birth and new life. 

Till that journey through the pain begins, I am left here incubating, waiting, and preparing as best I can.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Birthday for an Angel

As the last hour of Camille's birthday slips into yesterday, I am reflective and unable to sleep with the jumble of thoughts in my head. Overall, I would say it has been a wonderful day. I feel I have a better idea now of how I want to spend this day every year. There were some special moments today that I want to make annual traditions. There were some parts that while nice this year, I don't feel I need to continue to do.

A few of the highlights for me were eating oatmeal with the girls this morning and singing Happy Birthday to Camille with them. Oatmeal was one of Camille's favorite foods. I really felt Camille with us this morning. I felt her happy and smiling and present. 

We all wore blue today and wore our Camille bracelets and necklaces. I loved that. We finished opening our "Easter eggs" that were meant to be done between Easter and Camille's birthday. I loved our activities. One of them was to draw pictures of what the day will be like when Jesus comes again. I loved our girls pictures. Annie's had all of us with Jesus and Dado was petting a tiger and a bear. She also had our butterfly that died flying around in the picture.

Maybe my favorite part was the part I feel Camille inspired. We spent the day doing good deeds. Tonight when I checked my blog I read of all the good deeds you have done and I felt so cheered. I really feel like that was what Camille most wanted for her birthday. I feel like she wanted us all to make the world a better place in whatever small way we can. I think she is happy to know that her short life has inspired so many to do a little something extra to make the world, or our families better. 

Thank you all for sharing. And if you haven't done anything yet, please know that it is never too late. I loved watching my girls come up with ways to serve and Jonathan and I came up with a way to contribute as well. But I have to say that hearing of all the good acts done by all of you was the highlight of this idea. Thank you so much.

Now I am off to read and hope my reading will take me to dreamland. 

Happy Birthday my Angel Girl!

Two years ago right now I was feeling much the same as I am feeling right now -- VERY PREGNANT.  I was at the hospital all hooked up to IVs and monitors starting the induction process. I was just a few hours away from my first sight of my sweet little Camille.
What a day of pain relief that was. The pregnancy had been by far my most painful, especially in those last 3 months. Even this one has not compared to it. And my epidural only worked on one half of my body so the labor was also one of my most painful. Her birth was a glorious healing event for me.

Yesterday was a very long day. We began early with the planting of our Camille tree. Our other tree was bent over beyond repair by a storm this week. So my dad brought a truck over and hooked the tree to it and pulled it out with my husband's help. 

He and my mother took me to the nursery to look for a replacement. We went to Davis Nursery which has been around as long as anyone here can remember. The owners have known my family for generations. My grandfather used to spend his lunch hours walking through the nursery enjoying the plants. 

The owners mother was there and she knew my grandfather. When she asked if I would be naming the baby I was having Morgan after my dad who was standing next to me I said "yes, his name will be Morgan Noble."

"Noble?" She said. "As in Noble Waite? The one who..." The next 15 minutes were filled with a complete history of Noble Waite and his complete family tree. She told me fun stories about his wit and humor. While I have never met the man, all her stories sounded very consistent with everything I have heard about him. 

I had brought a leaf of a tree in our neighborhood that I liked. As we were going to go look at them, she suggested I look also at a red oak. She showed me pictures of how beautifully they grow here and how colorful they get in the fall.

We looked at both kinds of tree. I chose the red oak for a couple of reasons. First we wanted a strong tree that could withstand the heavy winds that life will throw at it. Oak trees are some of the strongest on earth. Secondly, since this tree is in honor of Camille for her birthday, I thought I ought to get a really beautiful tree. And I think this is a beautiful tree.

Also, the fact that this tree will change colors in the seasons will remind us that this life is but a season of our existence and after the winter, spring will come again. It will grow tall and wide and shade our house from the heat of the summer. We will treasure its red, orange, and golden leaves in the fall. And in the spring it will remind us of the new life we are promised with our Camille when Christ comes again.
Here she is freshly planted outside the front window. That is the window to the blue room that I decorated about a year ago now inspired by my sweet little Camille's eye color.

More tomorrow or later tonight on how we have spent today celebrating the birth of our angel sister.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Heart Burn

What do you do when you are woken up at 4 a.m. by intense heartburn? Well after you get up and down several TUMS, you blog ... right? 

Now this may be a messy post because I don't have my glasses or contacts on and I can't really see my screen. But I thought I would share something I have noticed about the heart here since I am feeling the "burn" quite literally right now. 

My heart has had quite the ride this week. I have had some pretty great highs and some fairly low lows. Many of these have come within hours of each other. But overall the highs win the day out. I think the reason for that is the fact that they have been "spiritual" highs. 

This has had me thinking about how the greatest "highs" and the lowest "lows" I have felt in this life have been spiritual.  Really the hardest days for me have been the days in my life when I have felt forsaken. 

On the other hand, nothing can compare to the joy of a spiritual high. It can lift you out of depression or sorrow quicker than anything I know. Sometimes it is difficult to maintain as Satan HATES it when we feel this way. He is always biting at the chance to drag us down. But I have had a few spiritual highs in my life that have left such an impression that even years after the high is worn off I can remember it and even relive a bit of it in the retelling of them.

One of these came the day I got my answer about the church being true. I have related that story previously. I have had several as I have witnessed small miracles in my life -- finding lost rings in seemingly impossible circumstances, having small prayers answered etc...

I have even had a few since Camille died. These have been mostly centered on feeling a clarity of  thought about the greater plan of my Father that took Camille from my arms to His. There have been a few times when I have felt such deep and abiding peace about where she is and how these circumstances have changed me and affected so many  others.  

I had one of these moments this week.  I am still riding the high of it. It has tempered me through the lows that have come. I have felt a validation  and love from my Father that I have only felt few times before in my life. These times have told me I was doing something right. 

It seems every time they come shortly after I have gone through some really scary big life change. Often I have been uncertain  about the path I have chosen in such circumstances and I feel as if I have stepped out into the storm on faith alone that somehow I  will not sink but be able to walk on the water. Often there have been "sinking" moments when I wonder what I am doing and why I am doing it. But then ultimately there have been those moments when I become sure footed through the help of the Savior and his love and validation. 

I wish I could fill my life with these spiritual highs. Perhaps that is why heaven is so wonderful. It must be like an Eternal spiritual high to be in the loving presence of our Savior and the Father and continuously engaged in their work.

I pray that through our work for good and our steady faithfulness despite adversity we all may have more of these highs -- highs when our hearts feel a touch of the Divine.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Camille's Birthday

April 19, 2008

Sunday is Camille's birthday. We will be celebrating the 2 years of having her as part of our little family. Last year we invited the neighborhood over for cake and ice cream. This year we are having cake and ice cream with family. We will also let her cousins exchange dollar store gifts that remind them of Camille. We also will be watching a slide show of photos of Camille. Tomorrow we will be planting a tree in memory of her. (More on that tomorrow). 

One of my out of town brother's and his wife and three kids wrote me a note to tell me they each made a donation to our church's missionary fund in Camille's memory. This meant so much to me. Especially because I do believe that Camille is out there helping so many people find the inspiration they need in their own lives.

This gave me an idea. I would like to invite all my readers to join us in a "random act of kindness" drive for Camille's birthday. I invite everyone who reads this to do something above your normal good doing for the day in honor of Camille. Tell a friend. Spread the word. Leave an anonymous comment to tell me what you did. 

It can be making a donation to a charity like my brother's family did. It can be giving blood. It could be doing work at the temple. It could be reading extra stories to your kids at night when you are really tired and would rather not. It could be taking your kids out to ice cream for no reason. It could be sending someone tulips for no reason in particular.

Be Creative. Just do something, big or small, that will spread goodness in the world and that you weren't already planning on doing. I have felt strongly that this is what Camille would most like us to do for her birthday. The rest of our "party plans" are really for my other kids and as a tangible way for us to "celebrate" her birth and her becoming part of our family then; and being part of our family forever.

Spread the word and please let me know what you do. I love hearing the good my sweet little girl inspires in this world. Thanks!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Aching Heart

Last night I had one of those nights where out of nowhere the missing just hit me like a train. I went up to bed and just knew sleep wasn't going to come before a good cry. So I went to Camille/Noble's room and let the flood gates open. 

I got out the trunk of Camille's things and read over the "instructions for Camille" I had written a couple of weeks before Camille died. My parents and in-laws took care of her while we went to Disneyland with the older girls. I had written her daily schedule and likes and habits on this. I hadn't been able to read it before this. But last night I figured I was crying anyway, may as well. 

One of the notes on these instructions was about how to put her to bed. I wrote about how she liked to snuggle up to her soft blanket, no binki, and if she was tired she would just nuzzle her face in it and go straight to sleep with no crying.

I pulled out the blanket. We called it the Shrek blanket because of its fun and funky color scheme or green, black, and purple. It is super soft. It was made by a good friend of mine. I held this blanket and in my tears, thought about how grateful I was for the dear friend who made it- this simple little blanket that brought such pleasure to my sweet little girl in her short life.

I had just seen this friend at my baby shower a couple weeks ago. I had heard she was pregnant also. I learned at the shower that we shared the same due date and were going to deliver at the same hospital. We joked that maybe we would see each other in the recovery rooms.

This morning the nurse who took care of me and Camille after I gave birth to Camille called me. My friend had her baby last night and this nurse was her delivery nurse. After the normal delivery there were complications with his breathing. He was transferred up to Salt Lake with Dad by his side. He passed away this morning.

It is a gray and cold day today. There is no great wind or storm, just a stillness and chill that shouldn't be. 

Last night I ached in my missing. This morning I ache for my friends.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sneaky Little Ladies

So the other day I was working some in the office and I noticed Ann Marie and Lauren being sneaky. A few minutes later Jonathan asked where the girls were. I told him they were doing something sneaky. They had been very quiet this whole time. 

Now some kids and some ages you really have to worry when kids are being quiet and/or sneaky. I know when my kids were a bit younger this was almost ALWAYS a bad sign. But they are not generally destructive anymore so I don't get too worried when things get quiet around here. 

Still, after a long while of quiet I thought I better go see what kind of sneakiness was going on. I had to take a picture of what I found. 

Two Ladies at the Beauty Shop 
I have to point out a few things about this picture. First, note the magazines they brought up to my bathroom from downstairs. What beauty shop is complete without magazines. The funny thing is that my kids haven't EVER been to a real beauty shop of any kind. 

Second, if you know me really well, you know this is pretty darn clean, or uncluttered, for my bathroom. Note there is no toothpaste, face wash, or contact solution on the counter. No, I didn't clean it up for the photo. They cleaned it up for their "beauty shop."

Third, note the cup for water in case one of the customers get thirsty. Fourth, I love that Annie has her art smock on like a hair cutters smock. Fifth, note the beauty case of make up on their table. Annie got this as a birthday present. She loves it.

And last but not least, note that Lauren is playing along. She was up here the whole time "reading" with Ann Marie. She doesn't read. She is just happy to be included in the game and be a big girl like Annie. So she sits and pretends to read.

I love my little beauties.

Monday, April 13, 2009

10 Months - Long Term Care

Periodically, I think it is good to give a real dose of what it is like in the grieving process from where I stand. I also think it is especially important to give tips to all of you on how to treat people who have suffered a loss like mine. I like to call these Long Term Care tips. 

Just as with any major surgery, there are different stages of recovery with their own challenges. Depending on how major the surgery, the recovery period varies. It will also vary by the individual, based on a variety of factors ranging from how healthy they were before the injury to the dumb luck of which patient gets an unrelated infection or has complications arise. 

The same is true for any great loss. The loss of a child, especially a young child, has particular challenges that span far deeper into the psychological realm than other types of more common loss. It feels like the physical equivalent of losing a limb. Okay so I haven't lost a limb, but losing a child has so many commonalities that I feel as if I have. 

Like losing a limb, after the loss of a child, you are never the same. A child is flesh of your flesh. A young child depends on your for life. As children grow they become more separate physically, psychologically, and emotionally. But that is a gradual process. Young children still feel very much like a part of you in every sense. To have one die feels like a part of you dies. There just is no such thing as being the same after such a loss.

Like an amputee, your wound does heal to a certain extent. It becomes non life threatening. You learn over time to live with your handicap. But the physical healing does not happen as quickly to the psyche. Like an amputee, there are phantom pains that last (as far as I can tell) your whole life through. Perhaps they lessen in frequency, but from what I gather from those I know personally who have lived decades without their child and seem to all the world to have "moved on," those feelings of pain and loss can come back with freshness at a moments notice.

And from my own experience so far I can say that sometimes you NEED them to. Sometimes you need to mourn and feel and know that your child was real. Their reality comes to you in the pain you feel in separation. There is nothing wrong with feeling this pain as the years go by. It is a healthy part of mourning, grieving, and living without someone you love.

Now to the psychological aspect of these wounds. For me personally, this is the hardest part of this loss. I consider myself a strong minded person. But this loss is so much bigger than me. It is like a strong swimmer facing the power of the ocean. In calm waters I am fine to float on my back, but when the winds blow ... I often find myself at the mercy of the sea and its overpowering waves.

Let me highlight a few of the my own waves. First is the wave of anxiety. I am an optimist by nature. But this loss has robbed me of the "things like that happen to other people" mentality. I used to be calm in the face of possible harm. I no longer have that luxury. Now that I live with this pain, I have greater anxiety when reinjury seems even remotely possible. I fight against this. I hate that I feel this. But I do. 

When we were in Cancun we lost track of Sabrina on the beach for a few minutes. I thought she had headed up to the bathroom and after Jon came back not having found her, I panicked. I would not have done this before. But now... well it was as if I was back in that day all over again. All the while Sabrina was just 20 or 30 feet away playing in the sand. That scare kept me up all night. I couldn't calm my nerves. The panic ... a feeling not natural to me ... just wouldn't leave me.

I fight against the heightened anxiety I feel about my children's safety everyday. This is especially true anytime we are around water. I feel my heart race when I see a pool without a gate now. If my spa gate is left unlocked on accident it sets my heart in a panic. If my kids leave a bathtub full after they get out my stress level skyrockets. 

Logically, I know that there is no absolute prevention of accidents. I know this in my head. But this anxiety is beyond my control. I fight it and try not to let it show, but I feel it and I do all I can to avoid being in situations that give life to it.

A second wave is the intrinsic feeling of failure. No matter how well my children are doing, no matter how many times logic tells me I am doing fine as a mother, there is an innate feeling of failure as a mother when you have failed to keep your child alive. This is true in accident cases, even accidents that everyone would agree were unavoidable. It is also true in many cases of natural death as well. A mother's instinct to protect her child can not be underestimated. 

A third wave is the misconception that spiritual truths take away the pain of this loss. Spiritual teachings and faith do give us hope. But, they do not lessen the pain. In the blessing Elder Clayton gave me just after Camille died, he blessed me that I would be able to experience my grief normally and fully. He blessed me with grief sufficient to allow me to heal normally over time, but not above my ability to endure. 

The gospel does not take grief away from us. Rather, it gives us hope through the grief and it teaches us to look to the Savior to help us walk on the water when the tempest is raging. My husband was counseled to be patient with me in my grief. It is different for him than it is for me. Everyone finds their own path through grief. We all enter from different places and have different obstacles along our way. 

Because of this, we simply cannot judge another's grief process. We can only love them, pray for them, listen to them with as much understanding as we can, and know that they are ultimately in the Saviors hands.

So now let me turn to the DOs and DO NOTs of how to treat people at 10 months out.

Do expect that we are still grieving. Maybe not as often as before, but don't be surprised if we break down in tears once in a while. Know that this is normal and natural and don't be so worried that this needs to stop. We ought not to rush past our grief. Certainly the Savior did not.

Do be patient, open, loving and supportive when we feel like opening up. If you haven't been through this, you cannot understand. We know that. It is easier to talk openly to someone who freely admits they are not going to understand but will be supportive no matter what than someone who wants so much to understand that they try to put themselves in your shoes and judge the way you are grieving.

Do be gentle with us. I have particularly appreciated how gentle my bishop has been with me. He has not felt this himself but is mindful that this is a long journey through healing. He lets me know that I am welcome to come to him when the grief gets hard. He knows it comes in waves over a long period of time. He is mindful and watchful of me at times he thinks things might be difficult for me. I very much appreciate this.

My family is gentle with me as well. This is a great blessing to me. We all process this loss differently. For some it is easier not to revisit the past or to think much about Camille. This is simply not an option for me. I allow those in my family who would rather avoid that right and am not offended by it. We all get through it any way we can. They in turn do not judge me in my grieving process. They don't put a timeline on when I should be "better."

There are times that I get feeling really heavy with the grief and feeling very alone in my suffering. Last month I had been feeling this way for weeks. I felt unable to express it and did not want to have to explain it. One night I stayed up till 4 something in the morning spilling out my feelings to a sister in law who is acquainted with grief. She lost her mother very suddenly when she was in her early twenties and still single. It isn't the same as losing a child and she knows that, but this sister in law understands what it is to grieve. 

I hadn't planned on this impromptu therapy session but her open, non judgemental, accepting attitude made me feel safe revealing dark emotions I had a hard time admitting even to myself. The best part was I felt so much better after having talked to her. Sure I couldn't function very well the next day due to the lack of sleep, but many of the dark emotions that had been weighing on me so heavily felt lifted just in my expressing of them. 

Perhaps these dark emotions will return again. I am learning that often issues you think you are done with do find a way of returning through one trigger or another. I am glad to know that I have safe places to turn to express these dark emotions without fear of judgement or worry that I am not getting "better." 

Another DO -- Do anything you can to help ease the psychological stumbling blocks that trouble us. Family especially should affirm over and over that we are doing okay as moms. I do this with my own kids affirming over and over that they were good sisters to Camille and that she appreciates them and loves them. We need to hear this. 

Do try to help them avoid situations where anxiety is bound to be high. We had only had our spa for 5 days when Camille drowned. I wouldn't let anyone near it and asked my father to handle the matter of getting a gate put around it. I know a gate is not a cure all answer. But that gate provides me with a great source of peace of mind. 

Be patient with our paranoia. I hate paranoia. I hate it in others and I hate it especially in myself. But here I am stuck with it and it isn't going away so I am having to learn to be patient with it and accept that it is just a part of me for now. We may forgo certain activities or events because of our paranoia. Don't take it personally. Just realize some events are not worth the anxiety or return of grief they will cause us.

Do not worry about us. I know this is hard for those who love us most. Mom's want to "fix" their kids hurts. But some hurts are unfixable. Limbs lost will not be restored until the resurrection. We will miss and mourn the loss of our limb till then. But we mourn with hope and we are learning to function fairly well despite the loss. Your worry is an added burden, your confidence in us lightens our load. 

The Savior has confidence in us. He walks beside us with perfect understanding. Even through the darkest hours He is with us. Even for those of us who are angry at Him, He stands patiently beside us waiting to help us. Oh that we all could be like Him, the grievers and those who love us and are trying to support us. 

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Lovely Easter

We decided to do a simple Easter this year and forgo the extended family celebrations. We generally spend holidays with either some of Jon's family or mine since both are local. Sometimes we try to do both. But since Easter has taken a deeper root in our souls this year, we decided to do it different and spend it here at home by ourselves.

We started the morning at 6 am. We woke up the girls and they all came in our bed. We opened all the window blinds and watched the sunrise out the view from our bedroom. In the background we had Handel's Messiah playing over the house intercom system. I know that is typically a "Chirstmas" tradition but I just think it carries the joy of the Savior's coming and it fits Easter for me.

As we waited for the sun, we talked about how waiting for it's arrival is a little like waiting for the Savior to come again. We can see the light and know it is near just as we see signs of the Second Coming. Still we didn't know exactly when the sun would show up (we didn't check the internet) and no one knows exactly when the Savior will come again. We just know the sun will rise and the Savior WILL come. 

After the sun finally peaked over the mountains, we had family prayer and went downstairs to find Easter baskets and have breakfast. I made a dutch baby while the girls found their baskets. After breakfast, we opened our last Easter egg from our advent calendar and our last Resurrection egg. We read the scriptures on the Resurrection and the last activity was to plant a seed. 

Luckily each girl got seeds and gardening gear in their basket so we planted strawberries, tomatos, basil, and flowers. By this time we adults were rather tired having been up late putting together baskets and hiding eggs the night before. So we went up to take naps while the girls played with the activities in their baskets and went hunting for eggs in the backyard. 

After our naps, we all got ready for church. The girls had new dresses to wear and new bracelets and lockets from their baskets. They looked so cute with their freshly cut hair and new dresses and shoes and jewelry. 
After church we came home to homemade rolls I had rising during church and lamb chili my mom had put together for me. (I don't cook so much these days. It just takes too much out of me. Thanks Mom!) It was a simple meal. I love that it is a meal that could have been something the Savior could have eaten--no exotic preparation or ingredients. 

After dinner the girls cleaned up and Jon helped them color Easter eggs. Now the eggs are drying and it is time to get the kids in bed. All in all a wonderful simple peaceful Easter filled with joy in knowing the Savior lives and because He does, so will our little Camille someday.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

Jon came in to get dressed this morning - he works in his PJs from 5:30 till about 8. I was still in bed. He came in and said "Hey it is Good Friday!" Apparently he forgot that the stock market was closed today. So while he did end up working the whole day, it was kind of a day off for him. In other words he was able to do all the work stuff he needs to do but never gets time to do.

The beauty of this "good" friday is an even better Saturday. We should have more time to spend together as a family because he got so much done today. I plan on filling the day with Easter crafts, coloring eggs, a block party, and maybe a movie.

We will see how the belly is feeling. I am getting more limited in how much I can do as the days roll by. Between the contractions and the pelvic pain from PSD I end up spending most of my day sitting in my lazy boy. Sad but true. 

I try to get one outing in each day. Today we went to the LDS Temple here in Las Vegas. This is something we try to do once a month. This was the last time I will be able to go for some months.  It is hard to leave a nursing newborn baby long enough to attend a session at the Temple. 

There is such peace in the temple. I wish I could stay there for hours. If you want to know more about LDS Temples go watch the two videos about Temples HERE.

May you all enjoy your Easter weekend! 

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

4 Weeks To Go

Someone requested an updated photo to make their guess. Here is one for you all. This was taken 10 minutes ago. I have 4 weeks till my May 5th due date. 

Good luck in your guessing!

Take a Guess

My awesome friends made this cute board for a baby shower for me. Guests were asked to guess the baby's following statistics:

1) Date of Birth
2) Length
3) Weight

I thought it would be fun to invite anyone reading the blog to participate. So leave your guesses in a comment. I will give 5 points to the person who guesses closest to the date. I will give 2 points to those who guess the length right. And I will give 3 points to those guessing the weight right. As a tie breaker I would like you also to guess the TIME OF BIRTH and be sure to include am or pm. This will be worth 5 points.

The person who guesses well enough to earn the most points will be sent a fun prize. I will post who won and they can email me their address.  Sound fun?

Okay and to make sure things are fair, I will give you some general stats from past births.

Sabrina was induced overdue. She weighed 7 lbs. 14 ozs. and was 21 inches long.
Ann Marie was induced a full week overdue. She weighed 8 lbs. 6 ozs. and was 20.5 inches long.
Lauren was induced a couple of days overdue. She weighed 9 lbs. 4 ozs. and was 21 inches long.
Camille was induced a few days overdue. She weighed 7 lbs. 7 ozs. and was 19 inches long.

Does that help? Well, give it your best guess.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Day 4 Years in the Making

This is me four years ago. I was 5 or 6 months pregnant with Lauren. As you can see I had long hair. This was the longest my hair had ever been in my life. I had been growing it out for years to donate it to Locks of Love. When it was finally just long enough to cut and donate, I started a program trying to encourage others in my church and community to donate as well. So I kept growing it for another 8 months and cut it with everyone else who joined me.

All together we ended up donating hundreds of ponytails to Locks of Love. It was a great success. I spent lots of time working on this campaign, doing radio spots, newspaper interviews, visiting local churches to invite participation, and signing up hair cutters to volunteer hair cuts for those donating. 

Jon and I spent our anniversary that year in Brazil and as soon as I got home, I cut my hair.

This picture was taken shortly after I got my hair cut. All this while, Sabrina watched my doings. She loved my hair and loved to twirl it in her finger. She was sad when I cut it. She asked if I would leave one lock long for her to twirl. I told her she would have to twirl her own hair. 

After I cut my hair, she decided she wanted to grow her hair out and donate it to Locks of Love as well. About a year later, when her hair was almost long enough, she and Ann Marie played a game of "beauty shop" with real scissors. The result was a short bob for Sabrina and a VERY short bob for Ann Marie with some strange layers. :)

Since then, Sabrina has been growing out her hair with renewed effort. Yesterday I straightened it and took photos of how long her hair had gotten.

As you can see it was pretty darn long. She was tired of having it hot on her neck at night and put it up in a ponytail nearly every single day and night.

Then our wonderful Aunt Marleen came over to do some professional hair cuts for everyone. Sabrina cut a 12 inch ponytail off to donate and ended up with a really cute short stylish cut. 

She loves her new do. 

While I was sad to see her long hair go, she reminded me that she was sad when I cut my hair too. Just after Marleen cut off the ponytail I looked at Sabrina and said "Wow! You just look cute no matter what length your hair is!" And she is. 

Way to go Sabrina! I love you and am pleased with your decision to donate your hair to kids who can't grow their own hair. 

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Feeling Full

Today has been a full day. I feel spiritually fed and physically spent. Conference was great. The kids watched all 4 sessions with us. That is not to say they listened to every talk. They did spend lots of time working on conference packets and coloring, but they sat through it all. I was pleased.

As for today's talks, all I can say is that Elder Holland is amazing. There were lots of good talks today but for me, Elder Holland's talks always stand out. Today that was especially true. His talk on the events of the Savior's life his last week and how through those events He above all understands feeling forsaken, was inspired. 

When we really understand the Savior's sacrifice for us, it helps us feel less alone. He truly knows our every sorrow and pain. Elder Holland puts these truths into such a clear perspective. It is truly a talk worth watching.  Make it a part of your Easter celebration. You can see it HERE. Look on the Sunday AM section.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

A Conference For Me

I just finished watching the first two sessions of conference. As always, a few talks stood out as favorites for me. Right off the bat, I loved Elder Hales talk on Provident living and might do a post about that another time.

What really stood out to me, of course, were the talks by Elder Pino and Elder Scott. Both spoke of lost children. Elder Pino spoke about a family who had a 3 year old daughter who drowned. Elder Scott had a daughter that died a few minutes after being born and then six weeks later had a son who died after a surgery to try to fix his heart.

Both talked about the blessings of the temple and how the covenants we make there are such blessings to us. I loved the line in Elder Pino's talk when he said "At times we mourn, but we mourn with hope."

I feel so strengthened and uplifted by the examples of faith and hope and submission Elder Scott and the family in Elder Pino's story have shown. I know they must have felt much of the same sorrow and pain I have felt these last nearly 10 months. But, they have held on to the hope born of their faith through their mourning and grief. I strive daily to do the same.

This is the true great miracle produced by such intense trial. The miracle that is the product of steady faith in the face of prayers answered in a way other than what we had hoped. It is the miracle of the house still standing on the rock throughout the storm. It is the miracle of being held up by the Savior to walk on the water with Him when the storm seemed too great to withstand. 

Many are astonished by the miracles of healing, but I am learning that greater miracles are done within the soul than to the outward body. The faith, submission, obedience, and healing of the broken heart is a far greater miracle than the obedience of biological elements needed to produce a physical healing. More often than not, it is the former that the Lord asks of us. For it is this miracle that holds greater potential to more surely bring us back to Him.

Can't wait to hear more tomorrow.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Conference Weekend

This weekend our church holds a General Conference for all members all over the world. Saturday and Sunday meetings will be held in a huge Conference Center in Salt Lake City. These meetings will be broadcast throughout the world over the internet (see, via television broadcasts, and at meeting houses around the globe.

At these meetings, we have a chance to hear directly from the living Prophet on the earth today and from members of the quorum of the Twelve Apostles. I always love this special weekend when we can gather in our homes and listen to a prophets voice. There always seems to be one or two talks that speak directly to me.

These conferences are held twice a year--once in the fall and once in the spring. To make the occasion more memorable for the kids, we have a few traditions that we do each conference time. 

First, I always make rolls. Sometimes they are cinnamon rolls. This time I am doing orange rolls. I will make the dough tonight and then roll them out and bake them tomorrow. It is great to have yummy food to eat while we watch.

I also try to have activity packets for the kids to do while they listen. If I get too busy to get these together for the kids, I just pull out paper and crayons. Then I ask them to draw a picture for each talk of something that person talked about. Luckily my kids love drawing so this works well for us.

If you are not a member of our church, but have any interest in finding out more about if there is really a prophet today on the earth like there was in scripture times, I invite you to tune in to this conference and give a listen. Conference sessions will be from 9-11 am and 1-3 pm PST both Saturday and Sunday. You can watch on the internet HERE anytime during or after the live broadcast. 

The Prophet's name is Thomas S. Monson. While he will likely not speak at every session, you can be fairly sure to hear him if you tune in Sunday morning. 

And if you listen to conference regularly, what are some of your favorite conference traditions? I am always looking for new ideas to make this weekend special. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Lifted Up

I just got home from the graveside service for little Dax Royce Gubler. He is the son of our friends who passed away 12 hours after being born. It was an interesting experience for me. The service itself was lovely. It was just long enough and filled with sound doctrine, faith, and peace.

This was the first service for a child I have been to outside the one we did for Camille. At Camille's service ... well was just totally different being the mom. I felt very much like I was attending my own funeral, and in a way I was. The Spirit there was thick and I could feel the opening between heaven and earth in that spot. At Camille's funeral it helped me keep my head above water. I needed that heavenly support to survive. 

Today I felt that same connection open to the heavens. Today, however, it just filled me with hope and lifted me up. I didn't even need to get my kleenex out. Overall, I found the service encouraging. Mostly because I just felt so close to heaven I think. There is such a joy in heaven that it can't help but bring peace to my soul and lift me up with it when I come close to it.

I am grateful for the prayers of those who prayed for me today. I am sure that is another reason going to this service was not hard for me. I am sure it is through their power that I was able to feel the hope from the other side of the veil and be lifted up in such a time of sorrow.

I hope the Gubler family also felt and will continue to feel the love and support of all those present today, both from earth and from heaven.