In those first few sweet days

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In those first few sweet days as a new family of five, right after the hospital, life is beautiful and exhausting and very interesting. Lovely in its own sort of way. Adjusting was easier then ever before. We knew what to expect. We knew how to plan. This was familiar territory to us for which we were extremely thankful. Those blessings that may seem small and insignificant, even overlooked most of the time, were comforting and refueling. The bigs were sleeping well in their new shared room together, Evangeline had transitioned into letting Daddy be the one to do bedtime routine with her very nicely, Kuyper was old enough to really help me with the baby in ways that mattered, Matt’s work was once again being flexible with him and graciously understanding when he needed to be home with us, our new babe was nursing extremely well and seemed to have a laid back happy go lucky personality and I knew this time with no guilt or shame that I should and needed to nap EVERY CHANCE I GOT before Matt returned to work.

Matt took the kids on adventures to the library, the donut shop, the zoo, and of course multiple trips to Target while I stayed home and rested with Calvin, dear friends visited with meals, coffee, flowers, baked goods and presents to gift the big brother & new big sister! Gram & Pa were here when Calvin was born and Papaw & Nana came shortly after. We felt loved and thought for in many ways. God has brought close friendships to us in the past year and a half in places we weren’t expecting and during times we weren’t planning for but are now so thankful for. God’s timing has been beautiful and we hadn’t come to appreciate it to the depths that we do right now, until we needed to call on them for prayer when baby Calvin was late for delivery, when we needed a place for our bigs to go during my check ups and somewhere to stay on August 30th for the entire day! Blessing upon blessing upon blessing.

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Calvin Foster

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If you know us, then you know all our kids’ names have meaning somewhere behind them. Both Kuyper and Evangeline were named after people in the big story of life as well as in their vein of that story.
Calvin is no different. We took Calvin’s name from John Calvin the reformer. John Calvin was around centuries ago and helped to lead a movement called Calvinism. This movement was a further reformation of the Catholic Church that began with Luther. We like to place emphasis on our kids that they are involved in a larger story than just themselves. That there is more to this world than just them and that their full story has been going since the beginning of time. We hope that like John Calvin, Calvin will be a reformer in his own right, calling other’s to good and helping people to see what is important in life.

Foster is Calvin’s middle name. Foster is also the middle name of Matt’s Grandpa Shoup (his mom’s dad). Matt’s Grandpa was born before the great depression. He lived through that and enlisted in the army. He was involved in World War II and was in France two days after D-Day. He went all through France and into Germany and was there when Germany surrendered. He came back from the war and made a life for him and his family in northeast Indiana. Like Donald Joseph Foster Shoup, we hope Calvin is a man who fights for what he believes in and works hard. We hope he loves his family and is proud of what he has accomplished just like Grandpa Shoup. We can already tell he is going to be a little bit stubborn like him too (that may be a Brandt thing though).

Calvin Foster, we are thankful & excited you are here and can not wait to see the man you become!

He’s here! – The Long Awaited Arrival

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Once I went past due date, my OB was ok with that until week #42 as long as I came in to visit him twice a week for a check up. At that point, it seemed as if the pregnancy was taking over every aspect of our lives. We were walking almost every day (sometimes multiple times a day) trying to start labor, going to bed thinking surely he’ll come tonight (since the other two came at night!), and getting the kids ready early on the days of my check ups, packing lunches, taking them to a friend’s house (who was 110% amazing and kept our bigs almost every single appointment the entire pregnancy–she definitely got more then she bargained for those last few weeks), going to my appointments where Matt met me every time (we are completely blessed by DEMA and their mindset of how important family is), then driving back and getting the kids home all before nap time in the afternoon. These things made for long days and busy evenings. At one point, K even complained his feet were hurting from all the walking we’d done as a family. ☺️

Even though it wasn’t particularly hard or disappointing when our baby didn’t come on his due date, it did get exceedingly harder for me come week #41, knowing I only had days left to allow him to come completely natural on his own without intervention from the doctor & hospital. I had moments of stress and anxiety for sure, realizing we needed to rewrite our birth plan and make some new decisions we had never been forced to think about before incase he didn’t come on his own. This was difficult to focus on at times in the midst of trying to keep the mindset that he had “plenty of time” still to come with no help from us (which was my biggest desire).

We also had a pretty great plan for K&E and where they’d go/who would help us out with them, etc when labor did start. Well, all of that went by the wayside as we approached the second weekend of being past due with our babe and most of our dear friends were headed out of town for the holiday. No one, including us, would have dreamed I’d carry our baby past due date, let alone 2 wks past due! So we had lots of rearranging and thinking to do! At my last check up appointment on the 42 wk mark, my OB wanted us to head to the hospital to begin augmenting labor. He was no longer comfortable with me continuing to carry our little babe.

After many tears and more prayer, we arrived at the hospital at 11:00 that morning after first running home to get my pillow & the printed copy of our birth plan. We called to check on the kids (who were at a loving friend’s house for our check up and very prepared to keep them longer if need be) and decided to call and ask Matt’s parents for help. We needed them to come to stay the night with the bigs at our house while Matt coached me through labor & delivery. We just weren’t sure how long this would take obviously and nothing had gone as planned up until this point so we were prepared to be laboring into the night hours just in case.

Registration & paperwork seemed to take forever (especially since I’d never had to be a part of this part of the process either time before) and they didn’t get my IV started until 1pm (it sadly took 6 attempts and a specialist to get my veins to cooperate). This was very painful and they ended up having to resort to putting the IV in an unideal spot which caused extreme irritation & uncomfortableness for me throughout labor. Finally by 2:15pm, the first round of antibiotics were started because I tested Strep B positive. By the time it was about half way complete, my OB ordered my water to be broken by the house doctor on duty. This was painless and a very odd experience to have happen in the hospital in the bed with staff around me since with my first two pregnancies, my water breaking at home was the first sign that hard labor would soon begin. My OB was perfectly fine with allowing my body another 24 hrs at this point before urging me to take the next step in triggering labor to begin. So now, we waited. It was comically torturous for Matt & I to be sitting in the hospital just waiting. Everything was so unfamiliar at this point in the process. So many unanswered questions and lots of waiting. By 5pm, I had made progress from a 4 to 6cm dilated but this was just very slow compared to what my OB predicted (taking into account how I had been dilated for days and how fast my other labors had gone). We found ourselves wishing we had brought a movie to watch or a book to read to help pass the time. I never thought to pack those things ahead of time obviously with my specific history of barely making it to the hospital parking lot, let alone in the doors! We managed just fine with conversation though. Matt is a great question asker and anyone who knows me very well knows I like to talk so we did alright in that area. Contractions were every 5-7 minutes apart at this point. I was still laughing lots and took a few little naps to rest up because we knew I’d be having a baby AT SOME POINT and needing energy!

Did I mention the hospital wouldn’t let me eat?!? Anything solid, that is!!! WHAT?!? This was not ok with me. I was STARVING after being there for only an hour because it was oh LUNCH TIME! Had I known the hospital would object to my doctors “signed off on birth plan,” I would have stopped to eat on our leisurely drive in. The hospital pleaded that it was against policy but I knew my OB had always reassured me that he had control of what happened with me. So when my doc called to check on me and asked how I was feeling (he continued seeing patients at this office all day as I labored just down the road at the hospital), I was honest. He was confused at why I had been refused food and spoke with the staff thankfully. Now I know this is a policy for a reason and that the nurse was simply following procedure, but I also knew I was starving and that my doctor deemed it completely acceptable to eat if I wanted (AND I DID). Matt had been good to his laboring wife, knowing full well our doc felt fine about me eating, and snuck almonds and rice cake bites to me (that he found in the gift shop) until we got this all settled so I didn’t totally feel like I was dying of hunger.

Around 8pm, Matt’s parents were passing through the area on their way to our house so we orchestrated the kids getting dropped off at the hospital around that time as well. By now, my contractions were more intense and closer together, about every 3-5 minutes apart. These caused me to take deeper breaths and occasionally stop rocking on the laboring ball or pause in conversation. Matt did bring his parents in to say hi when they arrived as well as our kids and the friend who had kept them the entire day (big big shout out to Rachel for that one). I got to hug and kiss the kids goodnight and assure them that they’d be meeting their baby brother in the morning! They were so sweet and quiet when seeing me. They’ve really never spent the day away from me like that so it was really special for me to see them before they went to bed for the night.

It was probably an hour or so after this that the baby had his first deceleration in heart beat. I had been doing more walking at this point once everyone left. It was slow going (especially because I had a hospital gown on and was careful to move myself in a way that didn’t reveal skin-ha!). Again, something else I would have brought if I had known so much laboring was going to happen at the hospital–my own gown that didn’t have holes & full slits in them. This decel happened when I went to the restroom so they rushed me to the bed where I had to get on all fours in an effort to get our little guy to maneuver into a different position. This helped within a matter of a few minutes and they allowed me to move around again but I was exhausted from holding myself up on the bed like I had to through multiple contractions as my arm with the IV in it grew very weak and more irritated. So instead of walking around more, I told Matt I really needed to rest.

Shift changed had occurred by now and we had quickly fell in love with our evening nurse. I told Matt when she walked out of the room that we needed to begin praying that she would be our delivery nurse; that our baby would come on her shift because she really connected well with us, listened to our desires and fought for what we wanted. She is the one that got the hospital to except my doctor’s approval for eating food while laboring. Then she followed that up with finding me a huge bowl of fresh fruit! Not the nasty stuff in all that sugary juice from a can, but the fresh seasonal fruit! I was in heaven and gobbled it up before falling asleep for a bit. My body really needed that food and rest because by 11pm by doc was called into the hospital. I was measuring 7 cm and also had experienced another late decel that had the staff decently concerned. This decel lasted for about five minutes probably and things were really becoming more intense for me.

As my OB comes to check on me around 12:30am, I begin having another late decel for which he stays to monitor closely alongside my very sweet amazing nurse, Jamie who had been by my side now for some time. I was really having to concentrate on those contractions at that point and needing desperately for Matt to breath out loud and very exaggerated with me to slow my breathing and keep them at a normal pace. I can tell from the murmurings of the staff around me and my breathing that they were becoming increasingly concerned. Our baby’s heart rate was dropping at times (which again, was odd for us to even know this time around) and it was extremely hard to breath in a controlled way like I knew I could do and should be doing. Finally at some point, the monitor indicates enough concern that Dr. Forseter requested oxygen to be placed on me for the baby. Matt later told me that it helped our baby pretty quickly but there were no signs of that from how I was feeling. I began to grow concerned and knew I couldn’t let my emotions or anxiety of the unknown hinder me from doing my very best for our little guy. Even through the pain and experience I was going through, I KNEW what I could do that would help him and myself would be to slow my breathing. I grabbed Matt, told him I couldn’t slow down and that I really needed his help and he continued breathing even louder right in my ear so I could hear him over all the noises in the room and I began praying. I knew there was nothing left for me to do but to ask God to protect me and our baby, to choose to breathe well for him as I allowed my body space and time to do what I believed it was naturally designed to do and to come to grips with the fact that something felt very different (and possibly wrong) to me this time and that my fear may be coming true.

I feared very much of having a c-section. I had feared that from the first time I was pregnant and that fear sets in with every pregnancy still. Matt knew how I felt about interventions often leading to c-sections and my great fear of this. I especially feared it this time because we had to start the laboring process artificially. So as I laid there on that bed, feeling very scared as I was unable to breath properly, God really brought a blanket of peace over me telling my heart that it was all ok and that I was doing my very best for us and that He knew that. I instantly gained an increasingly noticeable awareness that if my biggest fear did come true, that I still tried my hardest, that he had brought us to the choice of a hospital birth vs a home birth for a reason, that I was in very good, educated, capable hands in that hospital and that bringing a baby into the world through natural delivery or a c-section is still bringing a baby into this world and how incredibly blessed we’d be to be holding our little guy very soon. This peace was beyond anything I could have ever talked myself into because my fear was very big. I knew God was with me and that He loved me and that my husband was right by my side no matter what. Since I was still at a 7cm last they’d checked, my prayer quickly became: Lord, I know you are capable of bringing me to a 10 as fast as you want so please do that NOW because if that doesn’t happen soon, I am scared something is wrong with him and I will need to have a c-section. (There was never any talk of this but these were the two extremes I felt in that moment because I just didn’t feel like I had before during labor with the last two. I absolutely felt like I had to be further along than a 7 or something was wrong. I knew I couldn’t labor for much longer at that pace of not being able to breath well, having oxygen blowing on my face and in my eyes unfortunately (it was as if the oxygen mask was too large for my face) and feeling so utterly uncomfortable and weak.)

Less then 30 minutes passed by once I started struggling to breathe slowly & controlled like I wanted, became scared, had the oxygen put on me, had my fears escalate, and have that most beautiful peace and awareness of God’s love, protection, and provision for my life and His story swallow me up. At 1am, I recognize the urge to push right away. My dilation hadn’t been checked in awhile and the staff questioned my statement of it being time to push. My doctor tells me he’ll have to exam me before it’s safe to start pushing but I was unable to control this. My body started pushing very intensely and I just kept saying “Matt it’s time. I have to push!” I then have 5 or 6 extremely hard, long and fast pushing contractions back to back which left me unable to allow the doctor to exam me. He tried to wait for the contractions to subside so the exam would not be painful but I couldn’t stop my body from pushing so I sternly instructed him to check anyway. Within a split second he was telling the staff that it was “go time.” We’ll just say he didn’t have to do a full exam to realize I was right and at a 10! I heard him tell Matt that it was time for me to push and that I could get in whatever position I wanted to deliver the baby but I couldn’t move…at all! I remained exactly how I was laying in bed (up on my side) and told them “Lets do this. Now. Help me right here! I’m not moving.” After our baby’s head is out within a few pushes, my doctor realized the umbilical cord was around the baby’s neck and began instructing me more specifically. I experienced the most pain I’d ever felt in my life but remembered to allow my body to do exactly what it was designed to do and heard Matt and the staff tell me that the pushes were beautiful and very controlled. I remembered that I could do this and feel reassured that I’m doing very well! It took just a few more pushes to get the shoulders out which were the hardest pushes because Dr. Forseter asked me to push even when I wasn’t feeling the urge to push. There was some confrontation between us at that moment for sure because (I later learn from Matt that he was trying to get the umbilical cord out and taken off) it’s nearly impossible to push like you need to when your body is not ready and needing to rest at that very moment. From there, things sped up and my hardest work was behind me. Our baby was finally born at 1:27 AM! He came out “white and floppy” as they called him, but after he was roughed up a bit to get him to perk up and given oxygen for two minutes, he was doing just fine.

I remember laying my head back, looking at Matt, then staring at the ceiling saying “God, oh my God, that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done! That was the hardest delivery of them all.” They then brought our precious son to us swaddled up and ready for me to nurse and…I couldn’t move. I was freezing. All of the sudden I was freezing, and shivering uncontrollably and couldn’t move. My mind told me to take the baby but I just couldn’t move my arms. They were shivering and I had even less energy then before (I didn’t think that could be possible.) I was scared to hold him because I had no strength at all. I asked Matt to take him, which he lovingly did but with concern in his eyes. He knew that would never be my response if I could do something about it, muster up the slightest bit of energy but I couldn’t. I had none! So I laid there praying that our son was fine and that I would nurse soon if only I could rest for a few minutes, then surely I would have some strength back. I soon told the doctor it was time to push again for the placenta and what came out first was a very large blood clot. The shivering I was experiencing turned into something more…my whole body was shaking and I couldn’t make it stop. Matt’s slight look of concern quickly turned to worry as he’s stood over me holding our swaddled little baby. I reassured him I was just cold and needed warmed up. I remember my legs shaking some after delivery with our first two babies but not like this. Matt got the room as warm as possible for me and requested warm blankets. Finally after the placenta was delivered, I needed examined and cleaned up, before they’d cover me up. It seemed like time was moving in slow motion because in those moments, I desired nothing more then to hold our little babe and nurse him.

The nurse brought me juice and a turkey sandwich with another large container of fresh fruit! After a juice refill and finishing off my very early morning post delivery meal, I was finally feeling well enough to take care of our babe. I knew taking care of myself was vital at that point especially since I lost so much blood. I can happily report that things at that point took a dramatic turn for the best and much more familiar to my other experiences. Our baby nursed wonderfully, my energy was restored to a more appropriate degree and we both got healthier & stronger by the minute!

Our third baby, Calvin Foster weighed in at a whopping 9lbs & 4oz and measured 22.5″ in  length! All the staff were taking bets on his measurement upon delivery because he was huge! 😊 The other noticeable trait of our son’s is his hair! He came out with a head full AND IT WAS DARK! We love it and love how it’s something different that makes him stand out a bit from the others at this point.

Preparing and waiting

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So much waiting this time! It’s hard to think of how our summer was with the all consuming thoughts of labor & delivery. It wasn’t really like this with the first two. I felt like I prepared ahead of time adequately and we were excited but I never wished those last weeks or days away. It didn’t bother me to be pregnant into the hot days of summer and working with Kuyper or to be up & chasing a toddler around all day being pregnant with Evangeline. I loved it! Every minute of it! Truly. Both of my first two experiences with pregnancy were similar. My body handled it well, I experienced typical pregnancy symptoms like the average woman does and I gave birth a few days earlier then projected. I recognized there was a due date and that was my finish line. I saw that as my goal and could easily press on til that time frame.

Not so much the case with this one! Things had started out similar enough…This pregnancy seemed to fall somewhere in between the very few differences I did experience with the first two. For example, the first time around I recall two very short lived moments were I felt a touch of nausea but with the second pregnancy, I felt sick every morning for the entire first trimester–yes these are “opposites” but very well within the norm of pregnancy symptoms. Another example was how long it took to feel Kuyper move (he was just a relaxed little baby, easy going for the most part) and with Eva, I felt her very early, weeks earlier then Kuyper actually (she was and still is a very active, energetic little girl). So with this pregnancy, I felt like he fell somewhere between the first two, making it a typical pregnancy for myself and one that I thought I could predict to be similar to the very end. With this pregnancy I had some morning sickness but nothing in comparison to what I felt with Eva. She seemed to drain the energy right out of me on a daily basis for nine straight months. 😊 And it actually took a long time to feel this baby move which resembled my experience with Kuyper a bit more then what I felt with Eva. So like I said, I just thought this pregnancy and delivery would fall within a range I could identify with easily because it lined up pretty similarly with what I already knew & experienced in the past.

Boy was I wrong! Week 38 hit and I was done. Our house was ready to bring our new baby home to– we had moved the two ‘bigs’ into the old spare bedroom/playroom with their new bunk beds (the transition went beautifully), the nursery was as complete as it needed to be functionally, our room was ready to go with my rocker and the bassinet, the clothes & cloth diapers were washed up & in place, and baby equipment was pulled from the shed and hall closet cleaned & in their new spots like the baby swing and bouncy seat. So on a practical level, we had placed check marks all down our ‘to do list’ with time to spare. Now here comes the weird and out of ordinary, unexpected part of this pregnancy. I started feeling terrible. Physically, I was sick. I felt extremely nauseous, unable to leave the couch for hours, no appetite for entire chunks of the day, a real decrease in appetite, and increased swelling in both feet no matter what I did to try to help. This may sound normal to some people, but not me. I had never experienced this before. Of course I was tired at the end of my first two pregnancies but it was nothing like this in the slightest. From our best guesses along with my OB, we all thought that maybe my due date was off slightly and that it was possibly getting very close to delivery time. My body started dilating a little more with every doctors visit which completely shocked us since with Eva, I never dilated beforehand or showed pre-labor signs really. When it was “go time” with her, it was just time to let my body do it’s thing! With every passing day those last few weeks this time around, I became more and more ready for our baby to join us, not because I was convinced my due date was really off or that it was truly time for him to come, but because I just didn’t feel like myself at all. I was starting to loose a bit of weight due to my serious lack of hunger at certain meal times, it was hard to think for myself and our bigs on a daily basis because of how yucky I felt pretty regularly and I could barely squeeze my flip flops on my very swollen feet. With the exception of a few good days during weeks 38-40, I mostly wanted to sleep as much as possible and not really interact with people if I didn’t have to. This saddened my heart so much! I love people; I love being pregnant; I love planning our days out and making the most them! I was so used to being in full swing, keeping up with my kids and pregnancy not stopping me, that these new limitations were devastating at times. Like I said, I was ready to be done if this is how it was going to be. I didn’t want to feel so yucky all the time. Matt & I began wishing & praying that it was time for our baby to join us for the mere fact that I could soon after return to normal & resume functioning more like myself. We had never been the people who just wanted it to be over but this time, this time we wanted my old self back enough that that’s exactly what we wanted–for our baby to come!

Well, we were all WAY off. 40 weeks came & went and no baby in our arms! The interesting & neat part was through our prayers and through sharing with close people around us how I was feeling and what was going on, God answered prayers, just not in the way of a delivery. I began feeling great again. My swelling went completely away, I was able to bend over and load the dish washer or dryer without becoming more sick or frustrated in my limitations, I had energy again, a joyful heart and a normal appetite that brought my weight right back up and even continued increasing again. People had told me to reach your due date, having it come & go would be hard, disappointing or even frustrating and where I can see how those would be totally typical and normal feelings to have, that wasn’t my experience at all because at full term, at the 40 week mark, I felt good again! I felt like I was back at week 35, just enjoying life and going with the flow. My body was back to rockin the whole pregnancy thing again for which I was so thankful!! I was beyond thankful…speechless actually. I now had a better understand that what I usually experience isn’t the way it always is for everyone else. That many pregnancies can be difficult and not within anyone’s control. You can try your hardest to do what’s best for you & baby but that doesn’t always mean you have an easy and uncomplicated pregnancy. I’m thankful I only experienced my rough period for two weeks and no longer. I recognize an entire pregnancy can be even harder then what I felt for a simple fourteen days. So when my due date came & passed, I was just happy to feel like myself again and took advantage of that energy and good health by scheduling play dates again, started another year of preschool with Kuyper, and went many different parks for our bigs to run around and enjoy the summer sun again before our lives changed forever by adding our third child to our family.

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Missouri Botanical Gardens

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We’ve heard of this little treasure since we moved here but have never made it before now. The Gardens is in the city so it’s only about 20 minutes away but the fee isn’t cheap so we always choose another activity I suppose…that is, until our friend Deb invited us to go along with her (the benefits of having memberships to the amazing attractions in our city)! The timing was perfect too– Matt was gone on a work trip out of the country and by the 4th day of his absence and me being 36 wks pregnant, it was a huge blessing to have a new activity to do with the kids, explore a new place and enjoy the company of a loving friend who was willing to share with us.

We packed up lunches just like we do when we go to the zoo, picked up Deb and headed out for the day. We had a great time talking on the way there & back, getting to know each other better, seeing new things, learning about flowers & plants and realizing we want to go back again sometime and take Matt with us this time! The kids napped wonderfully that late afternoon and it helped pass the time before Matt came home the following day. Deb caught some great moments on her camera which she posted on Facebook but here is what I took on my phone. Just a glimpse of our fun day…Thanks again Deb for an awesome day!!

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A change of pace

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Matt leaves the country & we do crazy things like pack up a cold dinner of random left overs & head to the near by park last minute after we realize our yard was too full of bugs that were in the biting mood one night. Initially I intended to let them run around and burn some energy after nap before dinner one night while playing in the sprinkler but we were eaten up by bugs within the first ten minutes so I spontaneously loaded the kids up in the van, wet & all, threw whatever healthy food we could eat cold in a lunch box and drove to the park. The kids were completely confused because this mommy never really does random or spontaneous but I was thankful for the creative idea & spontaneity that I felt in the moment so we joyfully went with it & it turned out great!

The kids played in the splash pad while running to me for bites of dinner here and there. It felt wonderful to get a little wet because it had been sick nasty hot the whole week Matt was gone for work so playing in the water while the sun went down actually felt wonderful. And bonus–no sunscreen needed! After water time and dinner was over, we played on the playground for a bit too before leaving and my goal for the evening was complete- tired wore out kiddos before bedtime! It was a fun lovely evening!

 

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