Two Weeks Without Him

November 10, 2018 § Leave a comment

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Tonight will mark two weeks since we suddenly and unexpectedly lost my Dad. A lot of people have reached out to ask how I’m doing and I really, really appreciate that. I have to say, thanks to the support and love of my family and friends, I’m doing okay. I am so fortunate to have my amazing Mom, sister, and brother, PLUS Nick and two little boys who are so busy and funny and fun that I cannot help but to be forced into the present every day while I’m with them. Charlie has no idea what happened (and the fact that he won’t have any memories of his own of his Grandpa makes me so angry/sad), but Henry now understands. We talk about Grandpa and what Henry thinks happens when you die. There’s a lot of family photos in his room, including three that Grandpa are in, so we say goodnight to him. But five years old is too young to really obsess about this for too long.

When I do have time to myself to think, like while practicing yoga, walking down the street running errands, or during the massage Nick booked for me last weekend, I think of my Dad nonstop. I also had a teary moment with a Mom of one of Henry’s friends in the schoolyard last week while talking about it, since she too lost her Dad suddenly and was very close with him.

Thank you so much to those friends that have sent flowers and cards and goodies to us in the past two weeks. I can’t believe how lucky I am to have all these thoughtful, loving people in my life. Not that I didn’t before, but moments like these make me appreciate the people I have collected throughout my life and like my Dad would have, I will always love and appreciate them.

Some things that have made me feel better during the past two weeks have been reading about grief. Here are some of my favourites that I’ve found and connected with:

“Rather often I am asked whether the grief remains as intense as when I wrote. The answer is, No. The wound is no longer raw. But it has not disappeared. That is as it should be. If he was worth loving, he is worth grieving over.

Grief is existential testimony to the worth of the one loved. That worth abides. So I own my grief. I do not try to put it behind me, to get over it, to forget it… Every lament is a love-song.” via

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“My heart is with the Miller and Northcott families who are now struck with the task of learning to love in absence after the luxury of loving in presence.” via

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“Alright, here goes. I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents.

I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter”. I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.

As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.

In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.

Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.

Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.” via

 

Remembering Dad

November 4, 2018 § 2 Comments

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It’s been one week since my Dad suddenly passed away. It’s been a crazy week with every moment claimed by planning for his funeral and then Henry’s fifth birthday party, but now that things have calmed down, I wanted to share and save the eulogy that Jenn, Ryan, and I gave on Thursday. The officiant of the service, Tonia, basically told the three of us that we’d be writing and delivering the eulogy and at first we were like “Us??? But didn’t we just hire you for that?” And then she phrased it perfectly: this would be the final gift we could give our Dad.

It was really something to put our energy into writing the perfect piece about Dad and putting together the perfect slideshow to represent his 63 years. Here’s what we said and some photos from the slideshow.

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Charlie’s 1st Birthday Party

July 8, 2018 § Leave a comment

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Charlie turns ONE on Tuesday, but we celebrated his birthday yesterday with a whole bunch of family and his best friend, Evan’s family too :) Here are some photos from the fabulous day.

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Both of Charlie’s Grandpas were there!

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For the first time since my niece Anna was born, all 7 grandkids/cousins were together in the same place.

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The Spiderman pinata was absolutely destroyed by the kids.

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Charlie and his best friend Evan.

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A blurry, but only complete family photo of the day.

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One of Charlie’s favourite new toys!

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We ended the evening by going out for dinner with the grandparents at Swiss Chalet, where we all ate ravenously, especially Charlie.

Thanks to everyone who helped us celebrate this little ray of sunshine!

Henry and Harry

May 9, 2018 § 2 Comments

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I’m back after a long blog hiatus because of two of my favourite things: Harry Potter and Henry.

This morning at breakfast, Henry asked me if Dumbledore was a “good guy”. He had been playing a LEGO Harry Potter video game at his friend’s house on the weekend. Also, at Henry’s age, he and his friends are very into “good guys” and “bad guys”. I said, yes, he’s a good guy and a great wizard in the books. Henry asked who the bad guy was, so I reminded him about Voldemort. (We haven’t read the books yet, but of course, I love to tell him anything he wants to know about Harry Potter whenever he asks ;) )

Henry’s next question was a good one and proof that kindergarteners can really make you think sometimes: why is Voldemort bad?

In school this year, Henry’s really paying attention to the other kids’ behaviours and trying some of it on for himself, experimenting with what behaviour gets what kind of reaction, but in the end, Nick and I like to remind him that we like Henry the best, and he’s back to himself shortly after. He tries to tell me that some kids are bad, but I like to ask him questions about why he thinks his classmate was acting that way. Were they sad or tired or grumpy? Maybe they were having a bad day. Can he remember a time he felt like that?

So I was faced with this question about Voldemort that I’ve never really stopped to think about before, despite being a huge Harry Potter fan. In a movie or book you just accept that the villains are the villains and the heroes are the heroes. But I wanted to give an empathetic answer, so I told him how Voldemort had no parents and no friends and maybe that just made him a sad and angry person. Then I told him how Harry actually told Voldemort how he felt sorry for him because he will never know love or friendship in the big fight scene at the end of The Order of the Phoenix. It sounds so cheesy, but it really is what life is all about and Henry got it immediately. He teared up and came to me for a hug.

Four year olds ask the best questions sometimes. And I cannot wait to read these books full of great life lessons to Henry and Charlie.

One Month With Charlie

August 10, 2017 § Leave a comment

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Charlie is one month old today! Here’s what he (and we) have been up to. _DSC7982

We have been adjusting to life as a family of four and I think we’re just really starting to find our rhythm. Nick went back to work full time this week and Henry’s been hanging out with his sitter & her son Monday through Thursday for about 6 hours a day. This is great for Charlie and I being able to have some time together, even if it means him crying and fussing and nursing til he falls asleep. Things are pretty loud in a two bedroom apartment with a nearly-4-year-old and so it’s nice to have some time where it’s just the two of us, Charlie sleeping peacefully and me being able to shower/read/re-apply for Canadian Citizenship Certificates, etc.

The time between babysitter leaving and Nick getting home where I have both kids usually involves a TV break (so we can all hang out on the couch happily) or me carrying Charlie around in the Ergo so he doesn’t fuss and I can play with Henry. Making dinner is still an adventure, but I’m figuring it out, even if it means Charlie crying a bit because I can’t hold him all the time.

Nick has been taking “Summer Fridays” off for the month, so we can spend them together as a family. Last Friday, we actually made it into the city to go to the Museum of Natural History! Sure, Charlie and I had to make an emergency evacuation of the planetarium show because he wouldn’t nurse and wouldn’t stop crying, but it was all worth it! He just wants to sleep on you for a good part of the day right now, so we might as well carry him around in the Ergo (which he MUCH prefers to his stroller at the moment) anywhere we need to go.

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Charlie is a champ when it comes to eating, so he’s grown a ton in the past month. His head and face are filling out along with the rest of his body. In the photo above he looks so much like my dad and brother! Also his skin is peeling, his baby acne is clearing up, and his darker hair seems to already be falling out in his bed while he sleeps. He’s also starting to wear some of his 3 month-sized clothes. I can’t wait to see what he’ll look like in the next couple months.

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We’ve found a pretty good balance when it comes to spending time with both kids too. Whenever possible, Nick will take Charlie for chest naps in our bedroom while I hang out with Henry. I also do bath and bed time with Henry every night while Nick takes Charlie after I give him one last feeding for a while. Up until this week, Nick and I have had from about 8:00-9:00 to hang out in the living room and watch Netflix and eat popcorn together, but the last few nights, Charlie has refused to sleep until we both go to sleep at 9:30 or 10:00. The lack of time of having both kids asleep at the same time kinda sucks, but it’s worth it because he has been sleeping much better – only getting up 2 or 3 times a night to nurse! Such an improvement from Henry who would wake me up about 6-7 times a night.

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I also caved and bought a Dockatot after Julia praised its magic. I’m sure that has something to do with the improved sleep ;) Thanks, Julia!

My Month 1 necessities: the DockatotCool Air Mesh Ergo, KIND Bars for night nursing refueling snacks, coffee, ice cream sandwiches, and wine/beer :)

Charlie’s First Two Weeks

July 24, 2017 § Leave a comment

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We have officially been a family of four for two weeks now! We already love Charlie so much that it seems like he’s been here for a lot longer, although we are still regaining our footing and figuring things out with this big change. The two biggest things we’re adjusting to are Henry’s new role as a big brother and the fact that we are pretty much bursting out of our apartment! _DSC7934

Henry has been used to having my full attention for his whole life since I work from home and he only has a babysitter part time so he’s had his ups and downs. Whenever I can, I make sure to put Charlie down or hand him to Nick so that I can just sit on the floor and play with Henry for as long as possible, giving him my full attention. I still do bedtimes with him too, which seems to really help. Despite the good and bad days, we are proud of how welcoming he’s been with Charlie. He just wants to hug him ALL THE TIME – sometimes a little too enthusiastically ;)

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Charlie spends most of his time sleeping, eating, and as Henry likes to make sure to point out, pooping. He’s already gone from his birth weight of 7 lbs 14 oz to over 8 lbs 8 oz (as of last Tuesday)!

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Charlie’s already been going out and about with us and has also met a few close friends like Unckie Paul!

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My parents came to visit this past weekend to meet Charlie and visit us all. _DSC7932_DSC7948

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They also took Henry to our amazing neighbourhood toy store and told Henry he could pick out one thing, whatever he wanted! Of course he chose an enormous and loud, but pretty cool truck crane.

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Nick has been working from home for the past two weeks and will be home with us for another two weeks. With no family living around us plus Henry’s big adjustment to our new addition, it’s so helpful that he’s doing this. If it weren’t for my amazing husband and awesome sitter, I don’t know what I’d do!

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The sleep deprivation isn’t as bad as it was with Henry, mostly because between already having a kid who goes through good and bad stages of sleeping, plus not sleeping well during the last trimester of my pregnancy anyways, I am kind of used to bad sleeps at this point. Also, as a second-time parent, I know that everything is a phase and in just a few months, things will get a lot better. Also getting up three or four times a night would be a lot harder without that cute face to look at!

Welcome, Charlie Wolfe!

July 15, 2017 § 1 Comment

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Introducing Charles Wolfe Storch, 7 lbs 14 oz, born Monday July 10 at 6:30pm!

After my friend Julia – my pregnancy partner/good friend who was due just 10 days after me – gave birth to her son on Saturday within hours of having her water broken, I knew I was over being pregnant. I was ready to meet Charlie and get this whole birth ordeal over with. Sunday morning and afternoon, Nick, Henry & I spent at two birthday parties in the hot sun, wrangling our excited kid. I was 5 days past my due date at that point and definitely exerted myself a bit in the heat, but by dinnertime, I was finally starting to feel contractions!

Around 9:30pm, I was suspecting that my water broke after a contraction. Getting ready to have a baby when you already have a 3 1/2 year-old is so different than your first time around. This meant that we had to have Henry’s babysitter on-call and ready to come over when my contractions were close enough together to go to the hospital, which also required a tricky balance of giving her enough notice to come over, but not going to the hospital too early and being sent home. We had also hired Aimee to be our doula again so Sunday night consisted of communicating with my midwife, doula, and babysitter in addition to giving my parents a heads up so they could think about booking their flights to come visit. It was a lot of texting! In any case, by 11:00 pm Henry was asleep in his room, but our sitter Valerie and her 10 year-old son Caylan, plus Aimee’s back up doula, then eventually also Aimee were all over while I was dealing with contractions. It’s a good thing we have a big sectional couch because Valerie, Caylan, and Aimee ended up sleeping over on the couch, waiting for me to get to the point of being ready to head to the hospital.

Of course, in that type of pressure, I never did. As soon as I heard Henry wake up early in the morning, my contractions had stopped altogether. (Apparently this is a common occurrence with moms when it’s not their first baby and they have other kids to worry about.) My midwife did call to let me know that because I thought my water broke the night before, I had to head down to the hospital around 10am to check it out. This actually worked out perfectly because I just needed to get out of my crowded apartment (thankfully Valerie took Henry with her to drop off Caylan at his soccer camp) and concentrate on going into labour.

I arrived at triage in the hospital and they ran the tests to see if my water had broken, which were inconclusive. I was still having contractions, but only when I’d move – sitting and lying down were not doing me any good. The doctors wanted to put me on an IV in bed on pitocin which I refused, and thankfully my awesome midwife called me directly on my cell after speaking with the hospital. She recommended we go get lunch and go for a walk for 2 hours, then come back, which seemed like a much better option than what the hospital wanted!

Nick, Aimee, and I got egg & cheese bagels, iced coffee, and walked around Fort Greene Park for two hours. Thank goodness there was a hilly park right beside the hospital – a much better place to deal with increasingly strong contractions than a busy Brooklyn sidewalk! By the time we returned at 2pm, I was 5 cm dilated, almost fully effaced, and Charlie was very low. Before Aimee arrived, my drug-free birth spirit was a little broken and I was just so tired I thought I’d have to get the epidural this time. By the time we were back at the hospital and things were happening, plus with Aimee’s great communication and encouragement, I was back on track. After all, with Henry I gave birth without an epidural, but on pitocin to make my contractions worse – if I wasn’t on pitocin, it wasn’t going to be quite as bad.

Well things were intense and I did so much yelling that my throat was sore by the end of it, but Charlie was born at 6:30 pm that day! Despite a bit of a scare of his heart rate dropping and the umbilical cord being wrapped around his arm on the way out, everything went well. My midwife on call, Beth, doula Aimee, and the nurse on staff were awesome and it was nice to have just those three people, plus Nick, in the room.

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We spent two nights recovering in the hospital and came home on Wednesday afternoon so Henry could finally meet Charlie. He had been telling everyone he’d run into that his brother was on the way! Charlie “got Henry a gift” – a truck he’d has his eye on – and when Henry got back with Valerie, Henry didn’t even know what he should be more excited about. Finally meeting his new little brother was an adorably special moment and although we’re still adjusting to our new situation, we’re so happy to be a new family of four.

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[Read about Henry’s birth story here.]

[Charlie’s middle name is a family name to pay homage to my awesome grandparents.]