Today is Charli’s first birthday! I can hardly believe that its been that long since she was born. It really feels like yesterday that we were going through the whirlwind of her birth and the complication during and after. It is just so crazy to me that now she’s a perfectly happy, healthy, and gorgeous one year old.
As with Tori’s birthday post, this is more for my own record keeping- so if this disgusts you to read details, do me a favor and spare me your complaints- no one’s forcing you to read this. And just a forewarning- its SUPER long!
We decided to try for Charli in the summer of 2007. Dave and I had gone through some pretty rough times with life and family and we felt stronger than ever as a couple, and that it was time to think about another little munchkin. A few of my friends had talked about how hard it was to get pregnant with the 2nd and so we figured we’d start trying and in about 6 months we’d be pregnant. It took me a little while(5 months) to get pregnant with Tori, so I figured it would be the same. Not so. Three weeks later we were announcing another one was on the way! The first people we told were Geoff and Jill, Dave’s brother and his wife. It was actually the night before their wedding that I took a test and it was positive. We let them know at their reception, but decided to wait until the next day to tell anyone else. On our way out from the reception Dave said something about needing to go and get Tori in bed and Dale said something like, “Get Tori in bed or someone else?” We never quite understood that, but it seemed he had a sneaking suspicion. I called some close friends that night and they were ecstatic!
The next day was Sunday. Dave’s cousin was speaking in church and so we went with his whole family. Dave made a couple cards that were to Grandpa and Grandma that Tori was going to get out and give to them at church, stating that she was going to be a big sister. As expected, Dave’s mom started crying, and his Dad had what Dave calls, ‘The Proud Smile” on his face. We told my family over the phone, as they live far away. This is what Tori looked like when I was first pregnant with Charli.
The pregnancy started off ok, but quickly I realized a lump in my stomach that caused terrible heartburn and was pretty painful. I went in to my regular doctor and she had a scan ordered and sure enough, as she’s suspected, it was a hernia. We visited a surgeon who explained that for obvious reasons surgery, and opening the body up during a pregnancy, is not ideal and that unless it was life threatening, they would only do it around 15-18 weeks if the pain was unbearable and it was causing complications. A few weeks later at about 17 weeks, I was going in for surgery. The hernia continued to cause problems, as well as rapid weight loss, as I could not keep anything down, and even water would give me heartburn so bad, I’d throw up again. It was not fun.
The surgery went fairly well and afterwards they were able to have someone come in and check the fetal heart tones to make sure my baby was alive and doing well. The surgery itself was possibly one of the oddest experiences of my life. I’d been through a c-section, where you’re awake and you can hear the doctors talking about slicing you open, but there’s a tangible human being at the end that you get to hold and cuddle and love that makes it worth it and keeps your mind distracted from whats really going on. The anesthesiologist and surgeons had decided that the safest option for anesthetic would be a spinal block. Talk about weird. They used a cauterizer, so I’m laying there, smelling my own flesh burning, and listening to them the whole time. It was definitely something I’d rather not experience again-EVER.
The recovery was difficult. My mom came out for a 6 days, but after that I was on my own. I was told to not lift anything over a gallon of milk- about 5 -10 pounds. Tori was nearing two, so obviously over 10 pounds. I’m regretful to say that it was not possible to follow those instructions. The hernia came back out in mid January and I had to deal with it the rest of my pregnancy, which was miserable, especially later on when Charli could kick it out on her own!
About a week before surgery I had a nightmare I was in a car accident. I’d never been in any car accident, other than a minor fender bender, and certainly never caused one myself! 5 days before surgery, I was coming home from picking up some pregnancy books. I was not familiar with the intersection and found myself sitting perpendicular to traffic, in about 3 lanes, with a small truck coming full speed at us. Tori was with me and we were very lucky it was not a lot worse than it was. We had some angels watching over us that day and thankfully, no one was hurt. I had some whiplash and a few other minor things, but thats about it. An ambulance came and kept asking me to ride with them to the hospital, but besides the whiplash and a small bump on my head and sore hips, I felt alright. I did NOT want to ride in that! I called my mother in law Rose and she came and got Tori and I and took us to the hospital. It was quite a day. I spent about 6 hours being checked out, as well as the baby, and needless to say, was exhausted by the time we got home. It took nearly 2 months for our car to be fixed, and sadly its never been the same! Here is our wrecked car- it doesn’t look so bad, but it was about 10K in damages!
The rest of the pregnancy was filled with ups and downs. In November Tori and I got the flu and were sick for what seemed like forever. In December we drove all the way to OR to see my family for the last time as a family of 3! It was a LONG drive and I would never do it again pregnant. On the way there and back we drove through blizzards, which is also something I’d rather not ever do again. In January Tori turned 2 and we had a big party for her with a big Cookie Monster cake.
In February Tori and I got Hand, Foot and Mouth disease, which normally only affects little kids, but since I had a compromised immune system I got it. It was miserable! I had about 20-25 canker sores all over my mouth, cheeks, tongue, lips and gums. I lost 15 pounds in about 10 days and it was not fun.
March came and went without incident. My family came the weekend before my due date. They stayed for about 5 days and waited for Charli to show her face. She was not having anything of it. While they were here, my dad suggested I move around a bit(as if being a mom to a toddler allows me anytime to not be moving). So, I played some lacrosse with my Dad and little brother. After that didn’t induce labor he suggested jumping jacks. Its always hilarious to me to hear men suggest how to bring on labor. Anyway, did that too, with no results! My midwife attempted to strip my membranes, but couldnt quite get to them. We ate a garlic chicken pizza from Cafe Trio thats supposed to induce labor. My doula did some aroma therapy and accupressure. I went and had an accupressure massage. I drank raspberry leaf tea. I walked for hours, and even up a massive hill. All to no avail. Of course there are a few other methods we tried, but I’ll spare those details. Charli did NOT want to come! I’d been having regular contractions for quite some time but they’d always fade.
A few days before, at the very end of March I had contractions, strong and steady, for about 5 hours. I was sure I was in labor. Nope. They quit and didnt come back full force till a couple days later. The night of April Fool’s, I’d had some really good contractions, probably do to my earlier appointment with my midwife. After multiple attempts to strip my membranes, she was finally able to do it! It hurt like heck, but all day I’d been having strong, consistent contractions. After tapering off some, I ended up just going to bed that night and being able to sleep, which I thought obviously meant, no baby. At the time we were living in our old crappy duplex and the neighbor was a semi truck driver. I remember the morning of the 2nd, he started his truck at about 6am. It woke me up and I realized I was still having contractions. I got up and was starving! I remembered with Tori’s labor I woke up starving in the morning and had eaten a crappy breakfast, which turned out to be my last meal for 2 days, and I’d regretted it all during labor when I was so hungry and weak.
That morning of the 2nd I went upstairs by myself and watched the sunrise and Fox News, while enjoying a bowl of Strawberry Frosted Mini Wheats. And by a bowl, I mean half the box. Finally satisfied I went back to bed. It was around 8:30 that Dave woke up. I was still having contractions and at times they were intense, and mildly uncomfortable. Dave delayed going into work and we kept wondering if it was the real thing. At about 10 I finally told him to just go to work; this baby was not coming today. HA! A few hours later I called him and screamed at him to get the @#$% home cause I was having a baby. It felt like FOREVER waiting! I had some leakage and figured that my water broke, as it was a green tint- which means meconium stained. No bueno. Originally our plan was for a VBAC and to stay home as long as possible. I knew this was not going to be feasible.
After calling Dave, I called his mom and she asked if I was in labor. I was in so much pain and so shocked that she thought I’d just be calling her to come and take Tori in the middle of the day, the only thing I could think to say was, “CAN YOU PLEASE COME GET HER?!” She said she’d be right over.
The pain was so incredibly intense that I got in the shower. Tori was just over 2 and adament she get in. She stripped off her clothes despite me begging and pleading and hopped right in. Literally- 5 seconds later, my water REALLY broke- right all over her! I was freaking out, cause it was badly stained with meconium(due to me being 10 days post date!) and Tori just kept saying, “Mommy pee on Tori!” While I insisted I did NOT pee on her! I managed to get her and I out and get her dressed. Thankfully Dave showed up minutes before his mom. I let him know I wanted no one in the house and he finished getting Tori all ready and out of the house.
After they left he and I enjoyed some quiet, painful moments, in which he reassured me everything was going to be fine. It was pretty intense, but at the same time so tender. With Tori, neither of us knew what we were doing and so we raced off to the hospital while I called everyone I knew. It was a rush and I’ve always wished we would have stayed home longer. Their was no intimacy or sweet moments of reflection on the journey up to that point. It was nice to be able to just relax some with him there this time around.
On the way to the hospital, I called my doula, who I thought Dave had already called. Turns out, he had accidently dialed a different Jennifer, from his mission(!), and left a frantic message about how I was in labor and how my water was meconium stained and we were going to the hospital. So, she was surprised we were already on our way. She talked me through contractions on the way up and kept me calm.
When we got to the hospital, Dave asked if I wanted him to drop me off. I said that no way was I being dropped off, or put in a wheelchair, cause soon enough I’d be stuck in a bed for way too long. We walked into the hospital and I just remember some annoying person coming up and asking me if I wanted a wheelchair- they were standing right in my way! I responded “NO! I’M FINE!” and kept walking. In the elevator there was BARELY enough room and I just sat there looking at the full crowd thinking, “OH MY HELL, if I do not get on this elevator I’m gonna cuss someone out.” Thankfully people moved and let us in. When we got in I just tried to keep my head pointed to the floor so that no one could see my face writhing in pain. The girl next to me asked if I was in labor. DUH. I wanted to reply, “Nope, actually this is a watermelon I regularly carry around, and I enjoy hyperventilating- what about you!?” I answered a very forced “yes”. The whole elevator was so excited and as we came up to the second floor they were all full of congratulations and well wishes, “Good Luck!”, and “IS IT A BOY OR GIRL!?” I yelled “ITS A GIRL!” as the elevator doors closed.
We’d called the hospital to let them know I was coming and to reserve a room with a tub in it. My preferred method was to do a water birth. The room was already to go and we walked right in. Shortly after, my sweet doula Jennifer arrived. She immediately helped me calm down and breathe better. The nurse we were assigned at first was terrible! I had been diagnosed as Strep B positive and was supposed to get a crap load of antibiotics as soon as I arrived. I let the staff know I wanted nothing additional. When Irma came in she immediately started doing her thing without any sort of consideration for me. I called her out on it and asked what the heck she was doing. I didnt want IV fluids galore. She went off on me. She told me it was going to burn like hell and if thats what I wanted she’d give it to me. A few minutes later I asked Dave to go get me some crackers, as I felt very nauseated. She happened to be in the room and asked me, “You know you’re not allowed to eat while you’re in labor right?” I was livid. Here I was in extreme pain and about to birth a child and this woman thinks its time for a b— showdown. So I handed it to her. I told her that it was my understanding that eating during birth is discouraged, not forbidden, due to the risk of aspiration of vomit. Since I was fully conscious and not dilated past a 3, I let her know the risk was little to none that I’d throw up, before digesting these crackers AND furthermore- you would not ask an athlete to run a triathlon on an empty stomach with no water or sort of rehydration. She replied a very curt, ‘Well we don’t want no one eating no big macs and french fries” I was disgusted by her lack of proper English, lack of professionalism and lack of empathy to the situation. I looked at her and asked her “Did I ask for a big mac and fries? No. You can leave now, I don’t need you in here” Jennifer then looked at Dave and I and asked us if it was ok the way she was talking to me and treating me. Obviously not. She gently reminded Dave of his role and he went out and informed the nurses that Irma was not to come in our room again, and we’d be needing new nurse.
My labor drug on and on and on. A family friend is a high risk OB/GYN at the U and so he came in and talked to us for a little while before leaving for the night. We ended up, to my dismay, getting internal fetal moniters as well as the OB on call(which happened to be our friend’s partner) regularly checking on me. I wanted this to be very intimate with little to no people around. Thankfully it was still able to be like that. Dr. Howard Sharp, was the OB, and while at first was a little stand offish- warmed up after Jennifer gave him a talking to. He was fantastic and we couldn’t have asked for more. My labor went on until about 12:30am, at which point, 3 midwives, and 2 OB’s checked me and both confirmed that my pelvis narrows towards the base instead of getting bigger. Charli was showing signs of distress, I was physically spent and verging on delirious from all the pain. I’d gone the entire time without any medication for pain. And on top of that, had 2 rounds of ridiculous amounts of antibiotics pumped into me- which burn like crazy! I looked at Dave, Jennifer excused all the staff for Dave and I to talk, and we decided to do another c-section. My scar from Tori’s birth was tearing, our baby was distressed and it was enough. It was possibly the most disheartening and joyous moment of my life. I did not know it was possible to feel such defeat, but yet such excitement as well. Around 1am we wheeled out of my room, past the nurses station onto the OR.
I glanced at these poor nurses, who for the last 12 hours had no doubt heard me scream every cuss word in the book, as well as some new ones, as they had mistakingly put me in the VERY FIRST ROOM as you walk into the delivery ward! Funnier even still because my doula had interviewed with another prospective mom and while discussing past births, this lady gasped, “THAT WAS YOUR BIRTH?!” She had apparently gone to take a tour of the maternity ward the night I was in labor and heard me screaming. Poor woman. That was her first child too. In my defense, Jennifer had told me she’d never seen a “transition phase” last as long as I did. Dave later informed me there were stretches of contractions that lasted 7 minutes with no break. Tell me about it! My coping mechanism was to count. I’d count through each contraction. I knew they’d last about 100 seconds at most and so I figured if I could get to 50, I was half way over and on the down turn. At one point I had counted to something like 400 and yelled, “WHEN THE —- IS THIS GOING TO END?!” After my delivery, Dr. Sharp came in and let me know that I’d made a “college effort” for natural birth, and certainly had “climbed the Mount Everest of childbirth”.
When we finally went in for the C-section, I had another sub-par anesthesiologist. He was a jerk! I’m not a fan of residents(aka STUDENTS), but in this case, the resident was so profressional, and kind, and caring and the “pro” was the opposite! My OB, Dr Sharp and his team were so caring and had Charli out in only a few minutes. When he pulled her out, he immediately held her over the drape and said, “HELLO MOMMY!”. To me, a display of concern and a realization that this was more than just a job he was doing, and that I was a human being- not just another patient number. When I saw her, I of course started sobbing! Dave went right over and watched as they got Charli cleaned up. I knew something was wrong, when I kept asking how much Charli weighed and got no response. She was screaming bloody murder and her cries were only broken by what I assume, was the suctioning out of her lungs. It was nerve wracking. Here she is minutes old.
Before Dave left with her to the nursery, he was able to bring her over to me.
Jennifer was able to stay with Dave and I during the whole surgery, and after Charli and Dave went to the nursery, she stayed with me. I do not know what I would have done without her! She stayed with me through the hours of recovery, and until we were able to go see Charli. She was with me when the pediatric residents came in and informed me Charli was in the NICU. She was such a strength and comfort to me, when previously(with Tori’s birth), I had been all alone. I am so glad we hired her, and even more glad, she continues to be a great friend. Here is Charli in the NICU.
After the ped. residents came in, my mind went into a delayed frenzy. I could feel the adrenaline rushing throughout my body, but it was the oddest experience, because I’d lost so much blood, was so exhausted and still in shock of what had transpired, it was like this out of body experience, where in my head I could feel the frantic-ness of it all, but I was not physically able to express it.
We were later taken to Charli and they informed me that she had bilateral pneumo-thoraces and some sort of infection. Her CRP levels were ridiculous, her white blood cell count was an issue, as well as all of her other vitals. After a very short visit, they sent me back to my room. Jennifer left shortly after.
My parents had said not to call if it was after 12am or before 6am their time. I figured they’d want to know about this though, so I went ahead and called them at about 3:30 PST. I just started sobbing. I could barely get it out and was a wreck! I could not move due to the anesthesia and just wanted my baby. After I got off the phone with them, I looked at Dave and just started bawling. Everything was incredibly stressful and I didnt even know what to say or do. I tried to sleep, but woke up sobbing every hour.
In the morning, we were able to go and be with Charli while they did xrays on her tiny little body. She was put in a “headbox” which gave her 100% humidified oxygen 24/7.
Thankfully she was only in the NICU for about a day and a half. Those were the most stressful hours of my life and I was so scared and worried for my little baby. I felt terrible for being so upset, as in comparison to her room mates in the NICU, she was doing fantastic. The NICU nurses kept remarking to us how nice it was to see a “normal” baby with so few problems. But of course, I kept thinking that if she had so few problems then why was she in there. Here’s mommy and Charli bonding for the first time.
There were a couple of really crappy nurses in there and at one point I had to get really upset. We had come in for a visit and Charli was screaming. Instinctively I knew it was not a baby scream- this was a hurt scream. I called the nurse over and she said she was fine, but that I was overstimulating her and we were causing her to cry. I was furious. She walked away and I looked at Dave and told him that was not it. I started looking all over for something that could be wrong. She was getting hefty doses of antibiotics because of the infection that showed in her blood. I knew they burned but couldn’t figure out why her cries were so continuous. I finally checked her IV. There was a problem with it and blood was coming out into the line, and her port had gone bad. The antibiotics were continually dripping into a bad port! I have a cousin who was badly burned at birth on her hand, because (from what I remember) she had a bad IV and the drugs had seared her skin. She had to have skin grafts and still has a scar.; I’m just so glad I was insistant. I called the nurse back over, who finally agreed that something was wrong. They switched the site to Charli’s other hand and she quickly fell back into a semi conscious state, AND stopped crying. Look closely and you can see her little bloody IV.
Every time we went in to visit Charli I’d ask when she’d be out of the headbox and when I’d be able to hold her and nurse her. I was always given wishy washy answers and it was very disheartening. On Friday morning, there was a lady who I thought was a volunteer. She appeared mentally handicapped to me, and I was shocked they’d allow her back into the NICU- turns out she was a nurse- OUR nurse at that! I did my normal round of questions and finished with, “Can I hold her now?” She answered yes, but wanted to go check with the doctor. I was so excited and freaking out. I was ready to nurse her, and even more ready to hold my baby for the first time. She came back and said the doctor said I could not hold her. I looked at Dave and tears welled up in my eyes. I was ready to lose it and start punching this woman. Dave quickly suggested we go back to the room so that Charli and I would both be able to get some more rest.
I went back and crashed. I sobbed the whole way back to my room and then fell asleep. I swear it was only 10 minutes after I’d fallen asleep that I heard my door open. I had not slept more than a few hours in about 48 hours and Dave and the nurses were constantly asking me to slow down and just rest. I couldn’t believe that one of these nurses would come in while I was sleeping! It turned out to be my nurse, Michelle, who was a God-send. She was spectacular. We later learned that the charge nurse Carol, who admitted Charli and was the one to diagnose her “pneumos” had handpicked Michelle for me and had continued to assign her to me for the duration of my stay. She was fantastic.
Michelle quietly came over and layed her hand on my arm and said, “Sarah, the NICU just called and they’ve said you can come down to feed your baby.” I about flew out of bed. I yelled at Dave to wake up and get me out of that bed and down to my baby-NOW. I wasnt taking any chances that someone had been misinformed and had told us wrong. We were going to get down there before someone could change their mind. On previous trips, I’d always had to tell Dave to slow down because every little jerk or bump along the way hurt so bad. This time, he slowed down once and asked me if it was too fast. I quickly let him know he was not going fast enough, and to quit talking, just push.
When we got there, the “special” nurse was still there and I gave her a glare/staredown and she quietely and quickly unhooked Charli from what she could and then drew the curtains for us. In that tiny room I was able to hold Charli for the first time, close to my heart, and just weep. After a few minutes of just holding her she started to root around, showing she was hungry! I was SO excited. They’d fed her my milk through a feeding tube in her nose previously, but she didn’t “handle it well” and was put back on strictly IV fluids only. The whole time I told the nurses that of course she didn’t handle it well- its not normal to eat through your nose! That if they’d just let me nurse her, she’d do better. At about 10am Friday morning, Charli nursed for the first time. She didnt eat much at first, but quickly decided that she did not want to be put down or unlatched from mama. We stayed for about an hour and then spoke to the doctors. Her vitals had improved, as well as her oxygen saturation. We finally convinced them to let her out of the NICU, based on her improvements. Here is the first time I was able to hold Charli, as well as when Daddy and daughter were able to be together in that tiny little room.
She was moved to the nursery on the maternity ward side at 2pm that day! She was still not allowed to be in my room, and only one person plus Dave or I was allowed to be back with her.Here is Tori getting her first look at her sister.
She was not with other ‘normal’ babies, but it was a definite step from where we’d been! She spent all of Friday in the nursery, and anytime she cried when we weren’t there, I had them call me and I came down to feed her. Saturday afternoon they released her into my room! We were so excited. She still had to be taken back to the nursery every 2-3 hours, but that meant we could have her for 2-3 hours solid, just in the privacy of our room. That also meant that Tori could meet her little sister! Tori was a little unsure, and since Charli had an IV in her head, it was different from what she’d expected, and what we’d prepared her for. Overall, she was just excited to finally be able to meet Charli and was anxious to hold her. Here they are together for the first time!
There were some pretty intense moments with the doctors and staff during the rest of our stay. They wanted Charli to stay at the hospital 2 days more after my release. I had a hard time seeing what was so wrong with her because all her stats were within the ranges they wanted. She was eating great and seemed alert and just fine. Her blood levels were the only concern. Finally, the doctor on call, Charles Ralston, met with us and agreed that, it was more important for us to be together and to go home together, than it was for her to stay for the antibiotic treatments twice a day. He agreed to release Charli at the same time as me, if we’d agree to come back for two days and get antibiotic shots in his office. At that point, I’d agree to about anything to take her home with us! Dr. Ralston was actually recommended to us by that same charge nurse Carol, who was also a living angel during our whole ordeal. Dr Ralston is now both girls’ pediatrician, and he’s spectacular. Here is our first family photo!
As everyone knows, Charli is now a happy healthy one year old! She is a fantastic baby, and rarely fusses without cause. She is so very different from Tori, but still tries to do the same things Tori does. She is a lot more even tempered than Tori, but makes it known when she’s unhappy. About 12 weeks after I had her I had major surgery- She never skipped a beat. She ate from a bottle(reluctantly at first) but then only a few days later went right back to nursing. She weaned herself a few weeks ago.
Charli was born with bright blue eyes and a gorgeous little smile. She loves to giggle.
She already says about 10-15 words and loves to play peek a boo. She is a MONKEY!
She will attempt to climb anywhere she thinks has something enticing. She has no fear, and keeps pretty good pace with Tori.
She loves her sister and loves to follow her around the house and when Tori doesnt want to pay attention-Charli will come up and clap her hands or swat at Tori to get her attention. Its quite hilarious.
Charli started walking right before she was 10 months and is a very speedy kid! She hates baby food and went right from breastmilk to cereal and onto table foods. She is more finicky than Tori, and eats like a bird. She is tall and skinny- about the 80th percentile for height, and 40th percentile for weight. At birth she weighed 7 pounds 8 ounces, and was 21 inches long. Now, at one year old, she weighs 20 pounds and is 31 inches long!
Its crazy to me how fast time has flown by. I have so much enjoyed the baby phase with Charli and am so sad to see her grow up so fast. But, I’m also so excited to see the things she’ll do in life.
She always has a ready kiss for me and is a sensitive, intuitive babe, with so much joy and happiness that she shares with everyone. She has the wildest hair and people comment on it wherever we go. She’s gorgeous and I could not have asked for a better baby. I’m so glad that I’m her mommy.
I’m so glad(most days!) that I get to stay home and watch Tori and her interact. I love the bond they are forming already. They are both so sweet to each other and I love hearing Tori call Charli her best friend or tell her she’s “the bestest sister in the whole world”.
These times with them are simple and I’m so happy to be where we are. I wish life could stay this simple. While its not always easy, and things get pretty frustrating, especially lately, I am always keenly aware of how short it all is and how it can be taken away in an instant. We are so glad that God has blessed us with two beautiful little girls that we can raise to be amazing human beings who I know will accomplish much. I’m so proud of the two of them already.
Thanks to all who called or wished Charli a Happy Birthday. Tonight we just did a small dinner with us and Dave’s parents. Charli enjoyed chocolate frosted chocolate cupcakes, which she managed to eat quite a bit of considering all the places it was smeared! She got a “Little People” SUV and a pair of fleece lined crocs from my parents, and Dave, Tori and me gave her a fisher price zoo toy. She played with both, and shared, though reluctant at times, both with Tori. We are so blessed and are grateful everyday for the lives that we have. I am so happy to be a mom, no matter how stressful and aggrivating it is at times. I love my girls, and Dave and I love the life we’ve made for ourselves.
Daddy and the girls dancing.
Charli clutching her goods…
The girls on Halloween(that one’s for you EMS!)
But mostly, I’m so thankful that all of that turned out so great. Charli is such a blessing in our family.
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