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…born into water at home 14th June 2012

Before writing my second birth story i think a little preface of the first one is appropriate. It was your typical pregnancy with no complications. We completed the calm birth classes and were looking forward to a natural water birth in the hospital.

Unfortunately my labour was quite long, labelled ‘failed to progress’, administered with an epidural and pitocin and then on a 4-hour clock… and since my contractions pretty much ceased during this 4 hours and no baby arrived we had an emergency c-sec. Our son was born at a healthy 3.8kgs, perfectly healthy but seemingly stuck in the birth canal for a while. His head was quite misshaped for a day or so.

What followed was a c-sec wound that popped open on day 5, a huge infection, an open c-sec wound for 9 weeks with daily hospital visits for wound dressings and eventually another operation to clean my wound and seal it up again. It was hard, tiring and i felt sick and incapacitated for at least 4 months post birth. Emotionally, it took a lot longer than 4 months for me to heal.

As soon as we decided to get pregnant again i decided i definitely wanted a natural birth, so we started planning our vbac. I hired a wonderful doula to help us with our journey, began yoga classes, joined a vbac support group and booked into the same hospital… and thus our journey began.

The hospital seemed very encouraging of my vbac plans and i got in with the community midwives so i was very confident that i would get my natural birth. Unfortunately after 2 borderline (and i mean only just borderline!) tests for gestational diabetes i was transferred to the high-risk clinic. I was no longer allowed the care of the community midwives and i was seeing Dr’s who were talking about ‘doing things’ to me once i got to a certain date… 38/39wks… this was not in my plans.

After a week of continuing to eat my normal foods and testing my blood 4 times a day i had not one high blood sugar test (not a single one!). I was perfectly healthy with no signs or symptoms of GD and i was absolutely confident that there was nothing unhealthy about myself or my baby. I was doing yoga, meditating and communicating with my baby as often as i could and together we were sure that we did not need any intervention. Despite my best efforts to prove my health to the Dr’s they were unwilling to listen and my care with the community midwives remained discontinued.

In hindsight, and after reading recent medical data, i would have declined all testing for GD.

It was decision time – After another visit to the hospital ending in tears i had a good chat with my doula, Lauren, about my fears, followed by night of quiet mediation with my baby. In the morning i decided it was time to at least explore the option of a homebirth. My husband and son were in Adelaide together at the time and so i called him to seek his opinion. He was initially hesitant but open to discussion and together we decided to at least talk with an independent midwife, and we met Lisa.

By 34 weeks we decided to change our hospital plans to homebirth plans and from there we never looked back. To be honest, if you had told me that i’d be planning a homebirth at 34wks i would have laughed at you… and felt very uncomfortable, but after all we’d been through it just felt so right.

During my final 6 weeks of pregnancy i had one appointment a week with Lisa, each one was as encouraging as the next. It felt normal and i started to really believe that we’d have our baby at home. I had a wonderful blessingway, belly henna, made placenta plans and got ambulance cover – just in case!

The Birth Story…

June 13th – I had recently smashed my fancy touch screen phone and acquired a much less fancy one as a replacement. As part of the set-up my new phone i realised that i had not entered the ‘due date’ (or birthday) of our baby. Since falling pregnant i always said my due date was the 14th. The first hospital scan we had said the 13th and the hospital had written it down wrong as the 15th… but i maintained the 14th and this is the date i entered into my phone as our little girl’s birthday.

June 14th – i was woken with mild contractions at 3am. These contractions were not regular or overly painful and i continued to doze on and off until 6am. I sent a text to Lauren and Lisa saying that i was feeling mild contractions and that today seemed like a nice day to have a baby.

Contractions continued every 5 – 10mins and we sent our 2.5yr old son, Jackson, to daycare. I also packed up his things to spend a day or two at Nana’s house, which is only a few minutes away, then had a good  breakfast of eggs and toast. I knew my parents were returning home from their 2 week cruise today and that my Mum could stay at my Nana’s to help if need be. Subconsciously i think i was waiting for my Mum to get home before having the baby. I knew she was worried about the homebirth and i wanted her to know we were ok. I also wanted her to help my 81yr old Nana with our 2yr old!

At about 10am i put the beef and red wine casserole in the slow cooker, i had been planning my post-birth meals for a few weeks now and wanted this to be my first ‘real meal’. I was so happy not to have hospital food on the menu! At 11am i was tired of having contractions that didn’t seem to be doing anything and so i took a nap while i listened to my calmbirth cd for an hour.

I woke up and had chicken soup for lunch and cooked a groaning cake for post-birth ‘birthday’ celebrations. Contractions continued on and off, getting regular and then dropping off again in the afternoon. Once again i went to bed and took a nap, this time listening to Shamanic Drums. When i woke i was quite disheartened that i felt my contractions had stopped again and that i wasn’t progressing… the last remaining fears from my first birth were coming to the surface to be dealt with. My husband Matt had said he heard me have 2 contractions while i was sleeping but i didn’t believe him. Who sleeps through contractions?

About 4pm i spoke with Lauren  and told her i was feeling disheartened and she helped me verbalise my fears about not progressing. I had a bit of a cry and spoke to her for a few minutes about trusting myself and my baby. I felt a bit better after that. Then Lisa came for our 40wk visit and i had another little cry about the same thing. She checked the baby’s position and assured me that she was not posterior (another fear which stemmed from the first birth) and that we were all perfectly prepared for the birth.

During her visit my parents returned from their cruise and were at our place picking up their car. I could feel my contractions becoming more regular and a bit more intense but i was still not convinced that i was progressing, i was sure they would drop off again and that i’d be in pre-labour for days!!

Everyone left about 6ish, i think? This is when my labour really kicked in. I recall having a few quite intense contractions and wondering why Matt was in the kitchen cooking sausages and chicken chippees… each contraction was obvious by my verbalisations and he would come running from the kitchen and put pressure on my lower back. The verbalisations i practised at yoga were amazing at helping me through each contraction and the counter pressure on my back reduced the pain by about 50%.

At some point i allowed a chicken chippee into my mouth and regretted it and i remember thinking “why did i let Lisa go home… and why haven’t i called our doula yet?!”

We called Lauren and she was at our place within 20mins. It was about 7pm and things were getting serious. I was labouring in the bathroom, which came in handy when i had to use the toilet! Lauren made me a labour aid drink but i think i was too deep in my labour to appreciate it, i was still sipping water but only because someone kept shoving a straw in my mouth, thank you ‘someone’!

This is kind of where my memory gets hazy and i thank the birth gods for labour hormones J

I was in transition and i felt completely out of control, yet completely in control at the same time. I hopped in the shower and put my head right in the corner against the tiles and as i verbalised my Ohms, Haa’s and Ohhh’s i could feel the humming vibrations all around me. I remember thinking “yay for wall to wall tiling and its wonderful acoustics” although i’m sure my neighbours disagreed!

It was somewhere around this point that Lisa came back… although i have little recollection of who called her, or when. Although i knew she had arrived, her arrival was so peaceful and laid back that i barely noticed. She was listening to me labour and perhaps blowing up the birth pool? I’m sure she also came and checked the heart rate with her Doppler at some point… but i don’t recall. I know that in the midst of transition when i almost lost it completely she laid a quiet hand on me and made me feel like everything was going to be alright.

It was about 9.20pm when my water broke with a very distinct “pop” and amongst the birth haze i was able to stop, take note and say “my water just broke!” It was a very exciting moment for me as this didn’t happen in my first birth and it made my experience feel different and i definitely knew i was progressing then.

I knew the pool was full and Matt had suggested we go to it a couple of times but during transition this just felt like too much to do and i wasn’t sure i could have a contraction in the hallway without having a complete meltdown… so i waited. During this whole time Matt had stayed by my side, using counter pressure, encouragement and breathing with me to help me stay focussed, his unwavering support is etched in my mind forever. Truly the best birth support husband ever!!!

Although i didn’t know it at the time my contractions had changed a bit and i was getting ‘pushy’ in the bathroom. It was at this point i felt ready to get in the pool and so i did the walk… and as soon as i got one leg in the pool i just felt so relieved that i almost jumped in. Lauren had done the most wonderful job of completing our birth space with aromatherapy, music, candles and most of all her divine presence and belief in me… just knowing she was there was enough to make me feel confident.

As soon as my body was immersed in water i felt the haze lift, transition was over and i was pushing. Each contraction was an opportunity to help bring my baby into the world and i wasn’t going to waste a single one. My yogic chanting had its time and was gone. In its place was a raw and powerful noise that came from deep within. I felt like a lioness roaring for her cub and nothing could stop me.

After a few pushes i realised that i had no idea how dilated i was… another fear creeping in… i stopped and said something along the lines of “I’m pushing. Am i pushing? I think i’m pushing. Should i be pushing yet? I don’t know if it’s been long enough?” From the look i got from Lisa i realised that everything was just perfect and that i simply needed to trust my body and go with what i was feeling… and back to being a Lioness!

I don’t recall the pushing stage being painful at all. I remember the pool being replenished with hot water from the pots on the stove… the smoke alarm going off from all the pots being on the stove… not letting Matt go to fix the smoke alarm because i would not let him out of the bear grip i had on his hands… then one tiny little bit of pain – one little tear – and then i could feel her descending.

Slowly during each contraction i could feel the head of my little girl move down and then back up again, slowly stretching me and moving back up. My pushes got stronger and stronger as her head moved further and further down. I felt my pelvic bones readjust to make more room and i recall vocalising the word “Open” to encourage this movement.

I also remember stopping and saying “I can so totally do this!”

Shortly later, time had no meaning, her head emerged… and i took a little break. Then in a couple more pushes her body was born.

Although we planned for Matt to catch her i had completely forgotten and would not release him from my grip, so our wonderful midwife Lisa brought her to my chest and i breathed her in, taking in everything i could.

Ruby Jane Ash was born at home into water at 10.34pm 14th June 2012 weighing 3.9kgs (8 pound 8 ounces) and 52cms long.

…but alas, our story doesn’t end there… once our little cherub was born we realised it was a little cold. Lisa suggested that we slip down into the water a little more so that Ruby could stay warm. So i wiggled a little and slipped down we did! So much so that i dunked my newly born baby back into the pool. She swallowed/inhaled a little water and we had to give her some oxygen but she was perfect.

So there we have it, i dunked my newborn and will never live it down… but it was still the most perfect birth i could ever have imagined.

We cut the short cord once it finished pulsing and i birthed the placenta after about an hour.

While the ladies cleaned up we had some wonderful skin to skin time and started breastfeeding and when the cleaning was done we all had some groaning cake and a good chat.

By 2am i was tucked safely in our bed with our baby and our house was quiet again… the end, and the beginning.

So i guess its time for another post… since its only been forever!

Extra! Extra! Read all about it: Milk&Bread is pregnant and there’s no doubt about it!

That’s right folks we’re expecting a baby. I am 20wks pregnant and it’s a girl 🙂

“A pigeon pair” to quote the many people who now know we have a 2yr old boy and are expecting a girl.

Without googling the saying i am assuming that it means we have one child of each sex, which, is no doubt extraordinarily wonderful, and would be desirable if we were collecting pigeons in the hope of mating them… is that what the saying means? And, if that is what it means, then wouldn’t that be applicable to any pair of animals? Except of course, gay pairs (which is completely ok) AND SIBLINGS!! So, this is where the colloquialism gets a little messy for me and i don’t understand it. Am i hoping for a male and female child in the hopes of collecting a mating pair? Googling the saying may clear up the confusion for me but then i would have nothing to blog about.

For those of you who know me, will know that the birth of my first child was not ideal and my recovery was utterly deplorable and in an attempt to avoid that i will be attempting a vbac… what the hell is that? It is a Vaginal Birth After Caesarean. Some people call it an NBAC (Natural Birth After Caesarean) but not me – I want the baby to come out of my V therefore it’s a Vbac. Too much information? Sorry folks but it is natural and normal and should be talked about, in great detail and with people who have had normal natural births that were lovely and wonderful and intense and exciting.

I am excited to be attempting a Vbac and no doubt you will be hearing more about it… you will also be hearing about my experience having a Doula, Potty Training in 3 days (the e-book) AND our subsequent success at potty training our 2yr & 3mth old boy… even at night! Ooooh exciting, stay tuned folks 🙂

…and in the interest in staying fit and healthy for my self, my baby and my birth i am off to get ready for my YOGA class with


This is a story about a night that occured rather recently… its my version of a “things that go bump in the night” story, except in my house, things go crack.

Before i tell my story, it needs a bit of background, a preface if you will…

My son, J, has never liked sleeping in our bed. He never even really slept well in our room. For this reason he has slept in his own cot, in his own room, since about 5 months old, and i have spent many a sleepless night comforting him, feeding him, rocking and patting him and singing to him in his own room. I have even slept with a pillow and a blanket on the floor of his room because i knew he would just wake up again in an hour and i would end up back in there. He is a very light and sensitive sleeper and wakes up easily to sounds, lights, movements etc. Yay for me!

The first 12 months of his life were difficult and sleepless, but once he turned 1yr old things began to change. He started sleeping, through some small noises, through some big noises and mostly, through the night! Except for when we travel. As i said, he’s a sensitve sleeper, so it goes without saying that travelling, port-a-cots and strange rooms make sleeping difficult… and here begins our story…

We have recently returned from a trip to the lovely Bega where we enjoyed a relaxing stay with my parents. J slept in a full sized cot, in our room. He woke up most nights and came into our bed for cuddles and we all slept reasonably well until reasonable times of the morning… say, 7am. And it was all reasonable because we were on holidays, no work, no pressure and the option of an afternoon nap or early night if the mood so recommended it. Wonderful!

Except, since we returned home, the night waking has kept up and so have the cuddles and sleeping in our bed. Unfortunately, with the added pressures of housework, actual work, no napping time and just life in general, both myself and my husband have become rather sleep deprived.

I suppose i should justify this, and especially for the childless people who have never had a toddler in their bed, (um, sorry that sounded a bit wrong, but you know what i mean) that sleeping in bed with a child (more specifically, my child) is like trying to sleep while wrestling a giant octopus who is trying to pick your nose… and take your socks off, at the same time.

So we made a decision, no more sleeping in our bed! Maybe if it’s 5am and it’s cold and we want another hour sleep then it’s ok, but no more 10pm, 11pm etc etc… No More!

The 1st night was tough. I spent an hour in J’s room resettling him when he woke up and responding to requests for mook (milk) and “Mummy pat” or “rockwhy baby” (rock-a-bye baby)… and i did it all in good nature and with motherly calmness because i expected it and i knew i had to do it in order to return to our normal sleeping arrangements. The second night was the same except it only took 5 minutes and the 3rd night there was no wake up… great! Problem solved! Until the 4th night…

This night was particularly uneventful, until my husband decided it was his turn to wake up in the middle of the night. You see, he’s a sleep talker… a rather boysterous one. So, at about 11pm he decides, in his sleep, to make this weird-ass bird-type kind of noise and grab my arm, which of course wakes me up. So i give him a huge elbow to the ribs, of course. This then triggers him to do some kind of giant commando roll, in the air, over the top of me and almost dive head-first off the bed. Now i am really awake, and wondering what the hell is going on. Then i hear “mummy… Mu-ummy… MUMMY!!”


Husband gets another giant jab in the ribs, for good measure, and a few choice words, including a thank you for waking the baby up, and so i get out of bed. As soon as i get to J’s room i can hear the husband heavy breathing again. Already!! Really?? *sigh*

What happens for the next 45 minutes is a mix of requests for milk, water, pats, rocks, cuddles, pats, rockwhy baby and so on and so forth and what have you… So i do my best and i get him back to sleep, and i do this at least 7 times, i think it was 7, that’s how many i can remember anyway. Why do i put him back to sleep 7 times i hear you ask? Well, as i mentioned, he is a light sleeper and things in my house go “crack” in the night.

The first time i put him to sleep i was trying to leave the room and my ankle cracked…. then i hear “Mummy, Mummy….”

The second time i almost managed to leave the room but the floor cracked… and then “Mummy pat?”

The third time i turned the door handle as i was leaving the room and it squeaked… okay, not officially a crack, but, whatever, he woke up.

The fourth time i left the door open, smart right? but then i put the milk back in the fridge and because his door was open the fridge-noise woke him up… yep, gonna go postal real soon…

The fifth time a floor board cracked as i was getting back into bed… and then this happened again, which makes 6 times so far.

The 7th time is a charm and i make it back to bed… and the bed cracks, and yep, he wakes up.

GOOD LORD I AM GOING TO KILL SOMEONE! and i apparently let another few choice words fly… to which my husband responds groggily with “i’ll fix him up, don’t you worry, you shhtay in bed” and he bounds of bed banging the mirror, wall, door and anything else in his path on his way out of the room while trying to put his trackies on. Floor boards are cracking and his feet are thumping the floor and door handles are squeaking and i am thinking “oh yeah right, you’ll fix him alright!”

Then i hear “Mummy?” and the husband says “No, its Daddy, and its time to go to sleep. Good Night” (that’s it, no patting, no milk, nothing.) and he closes the door – very loudly – and bounds his way to the bathroom… and does his business – very loundly –  and flushes the toilet! Then thumps his way back along the creaking floorboards and into the noisy cracking bed.

…and you know what happened then?



I don’t hear another sound. huh?

Husband starts heavy breathing again and J is quiet… apparently sleeping too, and now i am so angry i can not go back to sleep for another half an hour.

Now i am not an overly religious person but i start praying: Lord give me the strength not to get up and find that misguidedly-purchased Marilyn Manson CD i have and start blasting it, really loudly, on the stereo. Amen.






Let me begin by saying that clearly i am a horrific blogger. It’s been for-ever since my last blog and the words are bubbling up at such a rate that i have no idea what will flow once i start typing. I am a cauldron of words, sentences & paragraphs… I am filled with the joys and tribulations of travelling, Christmas, family, friends, children and the vast array of sumptuous goodness that accompanies all those things.

I am unsure where to begin… my travels which consisted of taking a not-quite-toddler 12hrs in a car, my Christmas which began as a gourmet feast and ended up as a cold meat and salad affair or my new year which was laden with many a daiquiri, wine, fabulous friends and only 4hrs sleep but i think i will begin with the mornings – ahhh… the mornings.

On the one hand it is unfortunate that Queensland doesn’t have daylight savings and that we can not enjoy the beautiful sunshine state until 8pm in the evening and on the other hand it absolutely SUCKS that it rained every day (EVERY SINGLE DAY!) of our 7 day holiday and that my son changed his usual wake up time of 5.30/6am to about 3.30-4.30am. So instead of being able to enjoy a holiday sleep in, a leisurely afternoon swim or a warm evening barbecue, i endured sub-human wake up times, attempting to keep my child entertained inside all day and going to bed earlier than a senior citizen on NYE. All i can say is, thank goodness i packed his gumboots!

Our days were spent mostly inside watching the food channel on foxtel, which we don’t have at home, and a few visits to family and friends, and of course, there was the food. What else could we do on those rainy, rainy days but eat    eat    eat. Although i must say that even though we didn’t get to see the beach or a theme park we did have a lovely time at Ripley’s Believe it or Not! and Build-a-Bear in Surfers Paradise (yeah, it was just us and about a million other rain-sodden holiday makers).

But there is one good thing i can say about my holiday, i had an epiphany. I don’t think it was officially my first epiphany but it certainly was a significant one. In my head it goes kind of like this:

“No wonder kids love Christmas holidays so much, it’s because the adults

in their lives work their damn butts off to make sure they have a good time!”

That’s right, i think this is officially the moment i appreciate all the hard work my parents put into making my holidays great. So thanks Mum and Step-Dad and thanks Dad and Step-Mum for i now understand why you drank at lunchtime and went to bed so early, but most of all i now understand how hard it is to make Christmas holidays so damn wonderful for your kids!

…and a special mention to my wonderful husband who did all the driving, also endured the early mornings and didn’t complain nearly as much as i did.

Feeding a baby is difficult, however you choose to do it and although i am a big supporter of breastfeeding i make no judgment on the way others choose to feed their babies – whatever their reasons. Each person’s choice must be the right one for them and their family and it’s not open to inspection or judgment from anyone else. It’s for this reason that i thought everyone should mind their own business about my frequently feeding and regularly grumpy baby.

At six months my son still did not sleep through the night, in fact we had just been through about a month or so of hourly waking and only just managed to return to 3 hour sleeps at night (Woohoo!!!). It was at this point in time that people became surprised that i was still breastfeeding, and i was surprised at their surprise. He was fragile, helpless, he could not walk, talk, chew food – or even swallow more than a few spoons of puree or rice cereal without regurgitating – but he was expected to be holding his own bottle full of formula and sleeping all night on his own in his cot without any human contact…it didn’t make sense to me.

At nine months there was a definite shift. He slowed down his feeding and was eating more ‘real’ food and sometimes sleeping 6 or even 8 hours on his own but to my surprise my breastfeeding was now deemed not only inappropriate but unbelievable. My own best friend even remarked “how long are ya gonna be doin’ that for?” and the most popular one “what about when he gets teeth?”

Well, he has 2 teeth and just the same as i have taught him not to touch the oven and not to bang on the tv i have taught him not to use his teeth on me… by the power of the word NO!

Now that he is 12 months and i am still going it seems as though i begin speaking Swahili when i dare to utter the phrase “I’m still breastfeeding”. Somehow people go deaf or just simply don’t understand and i get replies of “what?” “sorry?” “STILL!” and my favourite, the ever quizzical “Ohhh…” followed by an uncomfortable silence.

It’s really a shame that breastfeeding isn’t the norm since all the evidence seems to overwhelmingly support this natural option. The World Heath Organisation even recommend breastfeeding until at least 2 and state that the worldwide average for weaning a child is 4 years but i’m not here to preach, just to share my story and hopefully discover a kindred spirit or two along my journey.

Of all the friends, family and general public opinions i have come across that are surprised and bewildered in my choice to breastfeed i can unequivocally say that there is just as much, if not more, support for me to continue and this comes in the form of The Australian Breastfeeding Association, local hospitals,  family care cottages, local midwives, early childhood centres and anywhere you see a ‘breastfeeding friendly’ sticker.

I respect a person’s right to choose and in return i make my own choices.One day i’ll stop breastfeeding… one day…

As a mother i feel the urge to ensure my baby is properly nourished. I choose to do this by feeding him breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. I also choose to breastfeed.  When i began breastfeeding him as a newborn ,a whole year ago, it was expected and considered normal. No one commented or gave us funny looks if i was feeding him. I had a newborn, he was hungry, i fed him and that was that.

He was breastfed at cafes, restaurants, bus stops, parents rooms and sadly i also fed him in a few public toilets. I promised myself i would not be ashamed to feed my baby anywhere anytime but sitting opposite 3 elderly men in a doctors waiting room and in a crowded bowling club with my grandmother and all the other elderly people was too much for me. It wasn’t their fault, it was mine, i was too self conscious. I wish now that i hadn’t been. I wish that i’d had the strength and assertiveness to simply feed my baby, or at least move to a different chair so i would feel more comfortable. I wasn’t really prepared for how self conscious i would be with my breasts in the public arena and my baby was never comfortable with his face covered up – and why should he be?

When he hit 3 months it was still considered fairly normal to be breastfeeding but I had a somewhat ‘windy’ or ‘colicky’ baby who regularly appeared unsettled and would feed often, sometimes up to 10 or 12 times a day. This led others to the conclusion that he was obviously always hungry and needed either solids or a bottle of formula and once i was even told by an 80 year old woman to “feed him a chop!”  To all these people i simply replied that my son was breastfed and if he needed an extra feed or a top-up then that’s what he got. Regardless of my sleepless nights i was very determined.

At one stage we went through what i now know was reflux and he was waking hourly, even at night. When i took him to the doctor she suggested i switch him to an anti-reflux formula. When i told her that i was still breastfeeding she didn’t know what to recommend…in the end she suggested a food thickener in some expressed breastmilk, but it didn’t work. After reading the whole internet (seriously!) and using my powers of deduction and motherly intuition i decided it could be an intolerance to cow proteins found in milk and other dairy products. I went off dairy and the reflux stopped.

I guess i just felt that i was constantly justifying my choice to breastfeed and that the bottle-feeding Mums had it easy – after all no one offered them advice if they fed their baby a bottle and then offered them more after another hour or so, but if i did the same with my breasts then there must be something askew. Of course now i know i had it wrong. My realisation came when my first Australian Breastfeeding Association magazine arrived and i found that women who didn’t breastfeed often had feelings of inadequacy, guilt and constant justification, not to mention the constant barrage of washing, sterilising, boiling, measuring and the extra money needed to buy formula.

Neither group seemed to have it easy and i concluded that feeding a baby is hard work, no matter how you do it.

Well, i was enjoying feeding my baby, no matter how hard it was. I knew that either option would have its difficulties and i had made my choice, but i wasn’t sure for how long…


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