Juliet's Birth Story

When Penelope turned one, I felt relieved.  I had made it to my baby’s first birthday without getting pregnant again.  Maybe we had this thing down.  After four children, I think I’ve figured it out.  I was so sad that Penelope was getting older.  I wanted my baby to stay a baby!  I wanted that feeling that I heard other mothers talking about.  How they were “done.”  I didn’t feel done.

But would I ever feel that way?  Even if I kept having children?  I wasn’t sure.  I had two boys and two girls.  I should quit while I’m ahead, right?  I just wasn’t sure.  I was sure I wanted a little space this time though.  But when Penelope turned 2, I decided to be open to having another.

I found out I was pregnant in May of 2010.  Penelope was 2 and a half.  I was excited.  Usually my nausea waits until about the 6th week.  Not this time.  It started earlier.  Before I even took the test some of my food aversions had set in.  We went camping with some friends just a few days after I had found out.  Even though they were some of my closest friends, it was really early and I wasn’t telling anyone.  Plus, I didn’t want that to be the topic of conversation.  I was just getting used to the idea myself.

I was miserable.  Hormonal, nauseated, tired, hungry, and the cycle would repeat.  I will never forget it.  I was trying to have a good time but my body (and newly informed mind) was totally focused on something else.  It was a fun trip, though, and on Mother’s Day weekend!

When it was time to tell people, I was most concerned about my mom.  She had seen the strain having four young children was for me.  She knew we weren’t extremely stable financially.  She was always telling me to eat more or go to bed early and other motherly things like that.  I decided I needed to let her know.  I was afraid of a negative reaction.  Not that she wouldn’t be thrilled to have another grandchild, but just that her initial reaction might hurt my feelings.

So one afternoon while I was talking to her I decided to do it.  I was telling her funny things about the kids (I remember I had locked them outside with popsicles and they were done and banging on the door) and after we talked about 15 minutes I said, “Mom, I need to tell you something.  I’m pregnant.  So why don’t you just think about that?!”  And I hung up, without giving her any time to respond.  That way I saved her of having to give any reaction without time to think about it.

She called later (much later) that day and voiced mild concerns but was of course elated and also glad for time to think about it and get excited before she had to react.  I told her that the baby was very much planned and wanted.

Late in May Jimmy and I went on a trip to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary.  My mom kept our four kids and while I was disappointed that the trip was somewhat tainted by nausea and sheer exhaustion, I was thankful that for five days I could rest whenever I wanted, eat whenever I wanted, and not have to chase any children around ever at all.  It got me through the 8th week of my pregnancy.

I was determined from the beginning to pray and aim for a totally natural delivery with no intervention.  That had been my easiest labor and I figured since this was probably my last, I wanted to go out on a high note.  I thought about it a lot.  And of course I also thought a lot about the sex of the baby.  I wanted another girl. Three boys and two girls seemed like a lot.  But three girls and two boys seemed doable.

Because of getting insurance squared away (and because I wasn’t really in a hurry to start the inconvenience of Dr. visits) I didn’t go to the doctor for the first time until I was 16 weeks along.  They wanted to do the blood work that comes about that time, so I had to have an ultrasound to measure the baby and confirm my due date.  Even though she didn’t have to, I asked the tech if she could check the sex of the baby.

I was alone, there was no fanfare (I didn’t expect to do it that day) but I felt no need to wait for my husband to be with me (or any of the other kids).  I wanted to know ASAP!  She was nice.  She checked.  GIRL!  It was an awesome day.  I was extremely excited.  We all were.  It had been three against three in our family and now the girls would win.

The name search began.  I had already considered Juliette.  (In the hospital after she was born we decided on spelling it Juliet.)  I am the youngest of three girls, and this baby would be too.  So it was fitting her name should be so close to mine.  Everyone in our family has a J initial for either their first or middle name.  I wanted this baby to actually go by a “J” name, because only Jackson uses the J name to go by.  I looked through the J names and there just weren’t that many that appealed to me.  Juliette could be like my junior.

The middle name was more difficult.  We had a very hard time with it but came up with a short list, which I printed out and placed in my hospital bag.  I didn’t want to be unprepared.  I was very nervous about making an emotional, hormonal, post partem decision when it came to names.  That is why I had always picked them out well in advance.

My swollen veins were back and absolutely terrible.  It started extremely early, at about 16 weeks.  My nausea had finally ceased, but I had gained a lot during the first trimester.  I always felt much better if I ate, but even more so this time.  My weight gain was also more because of the circulation issues; I felt better in that respect if I sat or lied down and elevated my feet.  I tried to swim whenever I could but getting away from four kids and fitting it inside our schedule and the pool hours was not easy.

To put it plainly, I was miserable.  The bulging veins in the back of my legs and ankles would get better at night, because my circulation didn’t have gravity working against it.  But when I would get out of bed in the morning and stand in the kitchen to make breakfast for the kids, my veins would pool with blood and it was extremely painful.  I dreaded getting out of bed and standing up in the morning.  

At a checkup when I was in my 30th week of pregnancy, I asked the doctor to see if the baby’s head was down.  He discovered that the baby was breech.  I was extremely surprised.  This had never happened to me before.  I immediately started praying the baby would turn.  I did not want to end up with a c-section, which I knew was more likely now.  I researched and learned that the more babies you have, the more stretched out your uterus is and it’s easier for the baby to turn around.

At every visit we kept checking to see if the baby had turned.  She did not.  I had read about lying upside down, playing music near the bottom of my uterus, but it all seemed like a crock.  My doctor agreed.  He said that if she hadn’t turned by 36 weeks, he could try and turn her himself, by pushing on my belly.  I was all for it.  I trusted him, and I really wanted a normal vaginal delivery.

When she was still breech at 36 weeks, he scheduled me for a version, to try and turn her.  I would have to go into triage, be admitted to the hospital, and given medication to relax my uterus, and he would use his hands and an ultrasound machine to try and get her head down.  I was nervous about this, but hopeful.  He said it worked for him much of the time.  

The night before, I was sitting on the couch (with my feet up of course) watching TV.  All of a sudden I felt a large movement, and something else weird I can’t articulate.  I thought maybe she turned!  I felt for her head (I had learned to find it at the top of my uterus) and I couldn’t find it.  Again I tried to find it when I woke up and I couldn’t.  I was hopeful, but didn’t want to get my hopes up.  I thought it was wishful thinking.

My husband and I got to the hospital early and went through the process.  But I told the nurse that I thought maybe I felt her turn, so my doctor checked before they gave me the medication.  I felt a little foolish, like I was asking too much.  She hadn’t turned in six weeks, why the night before?  But to my relief and somewhat surprise, she was now head down.  It was an awesome day.  My baby was in position.  I had asked many to pray for this!

Originally my due date had been January 5th, but based on the ultrasound and size of the baby my date had been moved up to December 31st.  So in my mind, I wasn’t hopeful for a delivery any time before the first week of January.  I was determined to not intervene, if at all possible.

The last weeks of my pregnancy were awful.  I was carrying a lot of baby and extra weight gain.  My vein issues were so painful I couldn’t really go anywhere for any length of time.  I couldn’t stand up during the singing at church, and my ankles and feet began to swell to a terrible size.  I had never really had issues with fat ankles but I understood it now firsthand.

On the night of December 30th, we went out somewhere.  I can’t remember where, but I do remember that after we got home, we put the kids to bed and then I put on comfortable clothes and made my way to the recliner to put my feet up.  I lifted up my shirt to scratch my belly and said to myself, after looking at the spectacle that I was, “I’m not going out in public again until I go to the hospital to have this baby.”  I had hit my limit.  I was done.

I woke up at 5:30 am early the next morning to go to the bathroom and when I stood up I felt a gush of fluid come out.  This was it.  Right?  My water had never broken ahead of time before.  I didn’t know what to do, but I felt I should go and get checked out.  We called a friend to come sit with the kids.  We called my mom and she set things in motion to come.  I swept the floors while we waited for my friend to get there.  Jimmy was just staring at me.  He asked me how I felt.  I said, “Well, I’m not having any contractions.”  This should have been my clue to sit tight for a couple hours and see what was going on.  But like I said, my water had never broken before, so I didn’t really know what to do.  Plus, I’d been having a lot of pre labor, so I was hopeful things would get moving quickly.

We went to triage and I wasn’t really having any major contractions in the waiting room.  They did a strip test and it looked like I wasn’t leaking amniotic fluid.  I might be going home.  But then they did another strip test (I think it was something different) and it did show that I was leaking amniotic fluid.  I had been prepared to go home and let things happen in their own time.  Now, if I chose to go home it would be against medical advice and I didn’t really think I wanted to go down that road.

Plus, it was December 31st.  We could have our baby on New Year’s Eve.  She’d have a cool birthday and we’d make the tax break.  So I geared up for the day.  I was having some contractions, so I was hopeful.

Things didn’t move quickly at all.  I was not having the delivery I wanted.  I can’t remember exactly how it all played out, but I was encouraged by the Dr. on call to have pitocin to start things going.  Now I wondered:  Should I have an epidural again?  Even though I had hated it so much?  I decided to do it.  I was having to be flexible.  I was leaking fluid, and didn’t want my baby to be low on it, so I went for it.

I feel now that I was pushed a little to just do it in a way that was convenient for the hospital staff.  I even remember the Dr. saying, “Let’s just get you an epidural, give you the 'pit', and get the baby out.”  She was really nice about it, but I felt like it was like she was saying, “You just lie here and don’t move and I’ll keep track of your contractions on the monitor, and we’ll get the baby out today.”  I felt like I was taken out of the equation.

Not really though.  This time the epidural was as it should be and I could actually feel enough to know when I was having contractions.  I had to be given way more pitocin than I was comfortable with, but eventually it began working and labor picked up.  I actually knew when I was in transition and knew when I needed to push and was able to be fully involved in the birth.  It was, of course, wonderful.  She was amazing and I was glad to be done.  She was born at 7:11 p.m. on New Years Eve.  I had not called my Dr. (even though he had told me I could call him for delivery) because I hated to bother him on New Year’s Eve.  He told me he wished I had called him.  I wished I had too.

After the birth, I was wasted.  I was hungry.  I was tired.  It had been 24 hours since I'd had anything to eat.  At about 10 p.m. when it was time to be moved to a regular room, everything came crashing down.  I did not think I could get out of bed and into the wheelchair without passing out or throwing up or both.  I’m pretty sure my blood pressure had dropped and it was as if my body just couldn’t recover from such an ordeal.  I did make it, but felt extremely overwhelmed and alone in those moments.

I feel like now, looking back, that my body was made to do something in just a few hours that it may have taken days to do on it’s own.  With the pitocin, it is like you are fast forwarding labor, and that is extremely hard on your body.  During transition labor I felt very out of control.  I wish I had been able to wait, but I am not bitter or angry at anyone.  Looking back, I’m not sure what I would have done differently.  If I had stayed home even though I was leaking fluid, I would have been worried and anxious that I was making a dangerous choice for my baby.

The ending of my hellish pregnancy was over though and I had a beautiful baby girl.  My husband and I rang in the new year by turning out all the lights and going to bed at 11:45 p.m., me holding my newbie on my chest.  It was an amazing way to bring in 2011.

For the middle name we tossed around Eve, since she was born on New Years Eve.  I think that was Jimmy’s first choice.  But I didn’t really think she needed the birthday AND the name.

So in the middle of the night of the second night, I had some sort of spiritual experience (I can’t really remember, probably just prayer and a feeling) and decided that I thought her name should be Juliet Hope.  Because one of my favorite passages of scripture is Romans 5:1-5:

1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

I had been through quite the suffering because of the painful pregnancy.  Yet, this being my fifth, I knew and had hope that the ending would not be disappointing.  That I just needed to persevere and boast in the hope of the Glory of God, which is revealed to me never as greatly in my life as when I am experiencing the birth of my children.  So she was Juliet Hope.  And she would never disappoint.  It was worth it and I would do it all again.


Snapshot of Now

Yesterday after a decent morning of home school the children began their normal post lunch pre-  quiet time play.  It's always something.  I love it.  They love each other and they love playing together.  Yesterday, however, was especially messy.  I'm not really sure exactly how or why or when, but the house had become quite a mess of toys and pretend.  Much of it was a large cardboard box.  I let them cut it up and play with it because it is, quite simply, art.  But the aftermath can make a mom a little loopy.

From experience, I knew the only way I could get them to put everything back in order without literally standing over them with a spanking stick was if I withheld food from them.  I told them that I would not allow them to eat anything else until they had cleaned up.  I cleaned half the kitchen, then told them that the rest of the kitchen and two main living areas had to be up to the same standard.  There would be no snack, no dinner, until it was finished.

To make a long story short, they did get to eat dinner.  Some of them had snack.

And then, during dinner, I remember shaking my head as I found myself calling them back to the table and telling them that they could not get up and play until they finished their food.

The irony!  You can't eat until you clean up from playing!  You can't play until you finish eating!  Ahhh!

Meanwhile, I am so pregnant I think amniotic fluid is going to start oozing out my eyeballs.  I am no fun to be around.  I'm trying to be nice but I don't want anyone touching me, or touching the bed I am sitting on, or getting in my way if I'm walking somewhere.  I can't sit comfortably.  I can't stand for long periods.  Lying down is okay...until my hips begin to ache and the leg cramps begin.

I am severely with child.  I always reach a point where I feel so gross and so huge and have nothing to wear that I declare, "I'm not leaving this house again until it is time to go to the hospital!"  Sadly, I feel I hit this place a few weeks ago.  But life goes on and I am trying to stay mobile, for fear that I will not be able to make it to the hospital when it really is time.

In my head I keep picturing Leonardo DiCaprio in "What's Eating Gilbert Grape?" when he tells people, "I could go at any time..." He means he may die, of course, but I mean I may go into labor.  I could go at any time.  I'm trying to keep things in order here, as I don't want to be caught with my pants down so to speak if I have to leave all of a sudden.  (Not a great metaphor, since I certainly don't want to deliver a baby with my pants up.)

I think our dog has pica.  She eats crayons.  This has nothing to do with anything.

I just dumped my phone of all photos so as to have plenty of space for snapshots of the babe.  The last time I dumped it was right before I found out I was pregnant.  So it is sort of a photo journal of my pregnancy.  Interesting and wonderful.  Funny that nesting, now, includes not only cleaning out closets and junk drawers, but also dumping memory cards and phone photos.  It's a virtual nesting.

A few days ago the new bathroom was finished to the point of being able to use the toilet and sink.  It is almost totally done...just some details to go.  Jimmy banned the children from what can now be called our bathroom and it is nice.  We have a master bathroom.  It has been 10 years since we lived in the apartment and had one.

So that's pretty much it.  A snapshot of our life now.  Before adding another member to the j train.  I am praying for a safe delivery and a healthy and strong baby girl.  Last night Juliet felt her hiccuping (which I called kicking) and was so thrilled she came up to me a few times today and put her hands on my belly to see if she could feel something again.  We all feel something...very excited and blessed and ready to meet her!


Penelope's Birth Story

Penelope was a surprise.  My third, Cash, was only 11 months old when I found out I was pregnant again.  In the days before I took a test to be sure, I was pleading with God to grant someone else a child besides me.  My plate was full.  I wanted more children, but not yet.  I had two in diapers.
After peeing on the stick and getting the results, I went from the bathroom to my bed and got into it, pulled the covers over my head and cried.  I had a lot going on.  I was thinking about adding nausea and exhaustion and the metabolic equivalent of climbing Mt. Everest daily to my already busy routine.  It was overwhelming.
I think also I knew that it may be my last, and I hated to run into it, to not anticipate it.  To be robbed of the decision to try for another, and then also robbed of the time and mental preparation you get when you are “trying.”  It was done.  I was pregnant.  
Almost immediately God said to me, “I am gracious and compassionate, full of mercy, and abounding in love.”  I believed it, but I was still completely and totally freaking out.  I was going to have four children.  In just over six years.  It was crazy.
It didn’t take long for me to get used to the idea, because I thought about having a baby girl.  How it would be so neat to have two boys and two girls.  How I would have boy, girl, boy, girl.  All of a sudden I wanted a girl so bad I could taste it.  Would it come to be?  Time would tell.
 When it came time for my 20 week ultrasound, I wore my lucky pink shirt again.  My husband and all three kids piled into the ultrasound room early that morning to find out if we would have a brother or a sister.  Much to our delight, it was in fact a girl.  My daughter said, “She will belong to my room!”  It was a joyous moment.  The kids started to get restless and Jimmy decided to take them to the van and wait for me there.
After they left, the ultrasound tech drops a bomb.  She told me I needed to go for another ultrasound on a bigger and better machine because the baby’s head was not quite perfectly round.  She told me they called it a “lemon sign” and to not worry or anything, but that they should check it out further.
 I went out to the van and tried to explain to Jimmy what she said, but he was trying to get to work and the kids were being loud.  I was scheduled to come back at 12:00.  The excitement of having a girl was shadowed by this worry.  I went home and called a friend to ask if she could keep my kids.  Until it was time to leave, I put them in front of Sesame Street and got on the internet.  I searched “lemon sign” and started to get a little scared.  It was a sign of a neural tube defect, usually spina bifida.  I read enough to be really afraid of what might lie ahead and called my family to pray.  Then I prayed myself and clearly felt I should stop reading anything.  I felt in my heart that everything was fine, but had nothing but that feeling to base it on.
When I went to the ultrasound, the doctor was in the room as the tech put the wand on my belly.  Within about 3 seconds he said, “This baby is fine.  Completely normal.  The head is perfectly round.”  I couldn’t believe it.  I was so relieved.  The tech in my doctor’s office was just being cautious.  Whew.
 Unfortunately, that wasn’t my last time going upstairs to the higher level ultrasound machine.  Throughout my pregnancy I was measuring small and my doctor feared I had a low fluid level.  He wanted to get  a very accurate reading of what was going on.  I was always fine, but just barely.  I did not have any extra fluid, just enough.
Also my vein issues were back.  I had not had them with my boys, only with the girls.  It was painful and I tried to go swimming as often as I could.  My husband was out of work much of the summer I was pregnant (I was due November 4, 2007) and so I would leave him during nap time and enjoy the solitude of swimming laps by myself, trying not to be too much of the spectacle that a pregnant woman at the pool is.  I remember lying by the pool and soaking in not only the sun, but the serenity and peace of no children.  Because I was about to have yet another.
 But I was so excited.  I enjoyed getting everything ready and especially girly things.  My first baby girl was born in the summer, but now I would have a newbie in the winter so I had cute tiny warm hats and blankets.  It could not happen soon enough.  Mostly because I was really tired of the pain of the pregnancy.

As I got to the end, it was more checks of my fluid level.  My doctor was not happy with how borderline I was, so he recommended induction.  He was on call on my due date, so he said if I didn’t go on my own before then, that I should come in and he would break my water and hopefully things would happen on their own.  This is what I’d done with my first, and things moved quickly, so if it came to this, I was hopeful.

I really wanted to go into labor on my own before then, and really thought I would, so I agreed to the induction.  I prayed like crazy that I’d just have the baby on my own.  But it was not to be.

I came in for the induction, but waited two hours for my doctor to have time to talk to me personally before I would let anyone come near me with any instruments.  I asked him, “Why are we doing this?” and he held up his index finger and thumb in sort of a ‘C’ and said, “Your fluid level is here.”  And it was right at the bottom.  I knew the dangers of low fluid and I really did want to have my baby that day.  So I let him break my water.  This was at about 11 in the morning.

Contractions started, but not really with any gusto.  I walked the halls for what seemed like forever.  I had been about 2 cm when he broke my water and at 3 p.m. I was three centimeters.  So, disappointing.  He wanted to give me pitocin.  I really didn’t want it.  I’d had three good experiences giving birth naturally.  I was afraid of it.  I’d heard it is horrible.  I hadn’t eaten anything all day.  I was already exhausted.  I told him that if I had to have the pitocin, I wanted an epidural.  He agreed.
I was really nervous and scared about the epidural.  Not about the needle, just about the whole thing.  Being so removed from what was going on down there.  Having to get a catheter, not feeling my legs, the whole thing freaked me out.

And rightly so.  I hated it.  I have had an epidural since then, so I can say now that I got too much of the medication.  I was too numb.  I started to panic.  I couldn’t feel anything.  I know that’s the idea, but it was too much.  I was having a mild anxiety attack about the whole situation.  Meanwhile, my body is having drug induced contractions and going through labor, but all I can think about is how weird I feel.

I started to ask the nurse about pushing.  “How will I know when it’s time?  I can’t feel the urge if I’m numb.”  She seemed to think it wouldn’t be a problem, that I would feel “pressure.”  Finally I tried my best to just relax and let my body work.  I closed my eyes.  My husband was watching football.  He thought I was sleeping.  When really, I was doing my best to not go completely and totally mental.  It was hard.

About two and a half hours after I got the epidural and they started the pitocin, my nurse said, “You know what?  I’m going to check you and see what’s going on.”  She didn’t have to check anything, she could see with her eyes that I was ready to push.  I had no idea.  I felt no different.

My doctor came in.  Finally, after seeing me through four pregnancies, he was actually going to deliver one of my babies.  He begins to suit up and get all the instruments ready.  He had a student who had been to some of my appointments and who had been in and out that day.  It seemed like a lot of people were in the room.  I still couldn’t feel a thing, I had no idea how this was going to work, exactly.

When I had to make the decision to get an epidural, I asked the nurse if I could take pictures while I was delivering.  After giving birth naturally before, I figured if I wasn’t in pain I should be able to do anything, right?  She said she would hand me the camera when it was time.

My doctor was almost ready, dressed in his little blue delivery suit and washing his hands when my mom and Jimmy called him over because the baby’s head was sliding out by itself.  He came over, a little surprised, but I’m sure he’s seen it all, and out she came.  The nurse handed me the camera, and he held her up real good for me and I snapped a photo of her crying in the typical baby arms spread out pose.  It was over.  And I hadn’t pushed at all.  The student shook his head and said, “I’ve never seen that before!”  Me either, man.

Immediately I started asking them to stop the drugs and get the tube out of my back and the catheter out of me.  I hated that part.  But I didn’t have to have that much pitocin and my baby girl was here.  She was my smallest, 7 lbs. 4 oz. and looked different than the others.  My wild card.  I loved her already.  I wanted a turkey sandwich.

When my three kids came to meet their baby sister, it was awesome.  They were so excited.  The loved her and I loved them for loving her.  My baby, Cash, was not quite 19 months.  He was having to grow up so fast.  He sat in his stroller next to my hospital bed watching cartoons.  I held out my hand and he grabbed onto it.  It is a moment I will never forget, lying in the hospital holding my baby’s hand after having another baby.  It was magical.

Before I even got pregnant, I had a glimmer of hope inside that one day I would have another baby girl.  I had already picked out a name- Penelope.  I just liked the sound of it.  After I got pregnant and learned it was a girl, I picked out Jane to go with it.  It was too perfect.  It was a “J” name, it meant “God is gracious” and it went really well with my other daughter’s name, Elizabeth June.  Penelope Jane.  The same number of syllables and all.

Now I just had to convince my husband.  He wasn’t crazy about it.  He kept saying that, but never made any other suggestions.  I told him that in my mind that was her name so he better hurry!  One day for fun he googled, “Penelope Jane.”  He discovered that Johnny Cash’s daughter, Roseanne Cash, had written a children’s book with the same title.  We had talked about how funny it was that all our children’s names were associated with Johnny Cash, but not at all on purpose.  Cash, of course, was named after him, but our daughter’s middle name was June, the name of his wife, and our other son was Jackson, the title of a famous duet they sang.

So Jimmy took it as a sign.  Penelope Jane would be associated with Johnny Cash too and that would be her name.  (We would not call her Penny, though, as I wanted to avoid having a Cash and a Penny!)

She has since become Pip or Pippi and she is everything wonderful.  God more than proved his graciousness and compassion through my gift, my baby girl, Penelope Jane.


Vacay before the Babay

For the past three days we had the amazing opportunity to stay at a beach condo in Panama City Beach. It was a generous gift from a couple in our small group from church.

The condo was huge and wonderful and I forgot to take any photos of the inside of it. Hey, I was on vacation. So photography is optional. 

Three was the number of the trip. Three pools, three nights, three televisions.  When you don't have cable, you enjoy lots of HGTV and Disney channel. 

And there were three trips down to the beach as well. It was very relaxing and fun being together without the daily grind. I enjoyed the weightlessness of swimming and everyone else in the family enjoyed the hot tubs. 

When you vacation in the middle of the week after school has begun, there aren't many kids around. So basically it was us and a bunch of retired couples. But hey, we don't care.  We can hang with the leatherbacks. 

And when you're less than three weeks from your due date and you're waddling around in a swimsuit you can feel the stares. They bore into your belly. But I can let those roll too. We are on vacation. 

One of my favorite parts was watching Penelope play with a sticky hand she got at Dave & Busters, the arcade where we took the kids with a coupon. It was one of those things you fling and stick the hand to stuff and it grabs papers and sticks to walls and such. Just very Penelope. She carried it everywhere, even to the beach. I love it when kids can be entertained and have fun with something so small. 

Last night we enjoyed ice cream and The Lego Movie. I love my family. 

I think I will remember the trip for a long time; such a gift to be able to go, and sort of our last hurrah before baby number six.  I will be tracking contractions before long. Vacay over, time to get down to baby business.