I thought Hannah was going to come a week earlier than she did. I was having contractions that would wake me at night, so I would start timing them to see if I needed to go to the hospital. But they always stopped. I would lay in bed awake wishing them to start again so I could deliver little Hannah.
As it was, she still came four days early. On the morning of November 24, Richard's alarm went off and he got up to get ready for work. I had been awake timing my contractions again. I told Richard they seemed to be sticking around this time, so I started to brush my teeth and pack my hospital bag. But I also told him to go ahead into work, because the contractions weren't strong, and weren't too frequent either. It could be another false alarm.
Richard hesitantly went to work in a taxi. Oh yeah, the taxi is a whole other story. You see, we had to turn in our American drivers licenses in order to receive a Belgian license, and there was a period of several weeks before we received our new Belgian license where we didn't have any license at all, and therefore weren't allowed to drive. As tempting as it was to just drive without a license, we actually didn't have a car either. Our rental cars had been taken away, since the company found out we didn't currently hold licenses, and our new cars were not yet available at the dealership. So all that being said, we were taking a taxi service everywhere. I would reserve a taxi to take me to the grocery store even. They would wait in the parking lot while I took my big pregnant belly and my two kids into the store. Then I would come back and load up all my groceries into the trunk, and we would head back home. It wasn't easy, and I was hoping to be done with that by the time the baby came. However, we ended up getting our licenses a few days after Hannah was born, which wasn't so bad.
So, back to the story.... Richard got a taxi to work, only to be called by me when he was five minutes away from work. I told him to turn around and come home, because I needed to go to the hospital. Richard's taxi driver had another job, though, and told Richard he didn't have time to bring him back home. But after Richard told him his wife was in labor he cancelled his other job and brought Richard all the way home. Thank God!
Meanwhile, at home, I started calling friends to see who could watch the kids for the day. Out of everyone on my list only one friend was available and I'm so grateful she was! I was beginning to think the kids would have to come with us. So we got the kids up and dressed, and called another taxi, dropped the kids off and headed to the hospital.
Based on how quickly my past labor and deliveries progressed, we thought this baby would come quickly as well. And she did, but not too quickly. I still got to the hospital in time to walk around calmly as my contractions got stronger (with my first two deliveries, I was screaming in pain by the time I got checked in to the hospital). So I walked around until my contractions were strong enough that I felt I needed to get ready to push. I told the nurse I was ready, started pushing and Hannah was born soon after. This delivery was different from my others, because I was in control the whole time. Instead of the nurses and doctors telling me what to do, I told them what I wanted to do. And I never felt like the pain was too much to bear. I just breathed and pushed through it all, until she was born. I really felt very strong this time!
We had arrived at the hospital around 8:45 AM, and Hannah was born at 11:46 AM. She was 7 pounds 9 ounces and 19.3 inches long. Like Gabriel, she was born "sunny side up". Had she been flipped around, she would have come much faster.
We chose the name Hannah, because we thought it was a beautiful name that comes from the bible. Hannah was the mother of Samuel, and she had much faith in the Lord. Her name means "gracious" or "favor".
The name Kay, is after two very special people. My mother, Kathryn, and my good friend, Danielle, who's middle name is literally the letter "K". We wanted to honor them both, and so the name Kay seemed the perfect fit. Although we did not pick "Kay" for it's meaning, I love that it means "pure". Now I think of our little girl as gracious and pure.
Hannah's coming into our family has seemed very natural. She receives a lot of kisses and snuggles from us all, and Gabriel and Hope love to help whenever they can.
We went to Ireland as our last trip before the baby is born. What a beautiful place! It was wonderful to travel around the land and shoreline and take in the beauty that God has made there.
After landing in Dublin, we rented a car and drove down to Killarney, where our lodging was for most of the trip. Richard drove the entire trip. It was the first time had driven on the 'other' side of the road. The most difficult part was shifting with his left hand. The next day we drove around the Ring of Kerry. This is a circular drive starting in Killarney and following the shoreline of the Kerry Peninsula, until you get back to Killarney again.
The Ring of Kerry was perfect for children. It was a full day of driving, but we stopped frequently to enjoy scenic views, visit historic sites and try local food. The children were able to stretch and run often as we made our way around the ring.
Our first stop was Muckross House, a Victorian mansion located in the National Park near Killarney. Ownership has gone through different hands, it has been given as a wedding gift (gee wouldn't that be nice?), and even Queen Victoria stayed here at one point in 1861. Unfortunately, the tour wasn't available when we arrived, so we only saw the outside and the surrounding scenery. But even from what we saw, it was beautiful. Here we are at the entrance. A kind stranger took a family shot for us, but left out the house behind us.
From the side of the house, you have a large lawn and an amazing view of the lake and National Park beyond.
This is the side of the house that has the lake view.
And the backside has a pretty rose garden. Here's Hope making a typical silly face.
Next stop was Staigue Fort, which is a circular fort with stone walls. The fort is thought to have been built around 300-400 AD.
Richard and the kids on top of the fort's wall. See how green the grass is and how blue the sky is? I love it!
The kids had fun exploring the small storage areas that were dug at the base of the fort.
After a delicious local lunch with soups and sandwiches, we headed to Derrynane Beach. We practically had the beach to ourselves which made the experience even better. We watched the waves come in and threw rocks into them. We played in the sand and climbed up boulders, then ate a delicious chocolaty treat we saved from lunch.
We also stopped at Coomakista Pass, which is a scenic view of the shoreline and islands in the distance.
On the next day we drove up to the peninsula just north of Kerry, called Dingle Peninsula. Our first stop was Kilmalkedar Church and grave site. The church no longer has a roof, but many interesting architectural details still remain. Of note are the designs in the archways, and the stones with carved letters from an ancient alphabet.
Next we stopped at Gallarus Oratory, which is believed to be an early Christian church. You can see it's shaped like a bee hive, and some huts have been found in the area that have the same bee hive look to them. This oratory only has two spots where light can come in; the door and a small window on the wall opposite the door. On the cloudy day we visited, it was difficult to capture a picture of the inside, but the only difference in the walls, is a spot near the door where one could set a candle for light. Other than that, it's just an empty room.
Off we went to the town of Dingle, which is a cute little fishing village. They have their own brewery, called Dingle Brewing Company. We took a tour and enjoyed the beer, which the kids had some orange juice.
A must-do before leaving Dingle, was a stop at the well-known Murphys Ice Cream shop. They serve up unique, high quality ice cream that is delicious!
The last full day we went back to Dublin and visited Trinity College and The Guinness Storehouse. Trinity college was a pretty site with its old buildings that are well maintained.
We went into the library, which was gorgeous. Yes, a library can be gorgeous! It had floor to ceiling books on two levels and winding metal stairways to reach them all. You're not allowed to go through them, because the majority of these books are very old, and the college is working on restoring them. There is also The Book of Kells on display in its own room (no pictures allowed), which is an old copy of the four Gospels. Two copies are on display, while the other two are locked away, and rotated in for security. It was interesting the view the book, which was written by quill and ink on calf skin in Latin.
At The Guinness Storehouse, we took a tour through seven different floors, and ended up at the top level where we enjoyed some Guinness while viewing the Dublin skyline.
Even the baby got to try some. ;)
I highly recommend a trip to Ireland for anyone thinking about it. It's absolutely beautiful and filled with things to do and see!