Thursday, March 06, 2008

The truth

The truth is, it still hurts.

The truth is, I don't love it yet.

The truth is that I wrote this post to remind myself that there was at least that one time that Bird was able to satiate himself to the point of bliss at my breast. Because it rarely happens.

I pump, trying to store away breastmilk for when I start working again in a week or so. I do this after I nurse him, but inevitably, he will wake up right after I'm done pumping and be hungry again. So I give him what I just pumped in a bottle and in turn, have nothing stored for him.

He and I aren't gelling. Our schedules are off somehow. I feel my biggest letdowns when we are out on a walk, or when he is sound asleep. When he is nursing, he gets fussy. He claws at my breast. He thrashes his head about. He pops on and off uncontrollably until my nipple feels as though it's been run through a cheese grater and I have to give up and go get a bottle.

Fixing those bottles makes me feel like the widow that Elijah visited. Her oil never ran out, remember? That's what my milk feels like. I always have just enough to give him, but no more. No extra for when I start teaching. And that has me stressed, unlike the widow who just took it as an opportunity to trust. Not me.

I wanted to be a mom who loved to breastfeed. And I refuse to quit until I've had a more positive experience, but damn. I need some positive reinforcement here.

I keep hearing different time frames.

"Just give it two weeks."

"At a month, you'll see a turn around."

"After six weeks, the two of you will have the hang of it."

"It took six months for my little one to finally get his latch right."

The thing is, I don't know if any of these will be our timetable. If I just knew that there really would be a time when he wouldn't seem to hate it, and I wouldn't be in constant pain, then it would be easier to tough it out. Not knowing though, is driving me crazy.

Days like yesterday and today have me beat. He cries, and so I cry. I cry because he's not happy. I cry because it hurts like hell. He cries because, well, I don't exactly know why.

Don't tell me anymore that "if you do it right, it doesn't hurt." I know that a bad latch will hurt, and I know how to get a good one. What I don't know is how to help Bird understand that if he rolls his tongue all around in his mouth and clamps down with his gums??? That it hurts me very badly.

This is why I haven't been blogging. Because this is all I think about. And it's got to be a boring read by now. But then again, I write because I need to. I need to get it all out.

One thing I didn't know before Bird was that a lot of moms combo feed. That means that they breastfeed and they use formula. I see this as where we are headed, and I'm trying to reassure myself that it's alright. I know that it is - there are women who have been hugely inspirational to me to keep going, and they are combo feeders.

But the stigma. I won't feel like I can put a little ticker under my signature that says how long I've been breastfeeding. I won't feel like I have a "Booby Baby." I wanted a "Booby Baby" so badly.

So we keep trying. And tonight when he is ravenous and I'm exhausted and the milk blister on my right nipple is bleeding again and my left one is as flat as a pancake still? Well, tonight just may be the night I join the ranks of the combo feeders. Giving my child as much breast milk as I possibly can, and then unashamedly giving him the formula he needs to break out of the 10% of weight.

Little skinny 10th percentile Bird. He's a cute little skinny Bird.

Man. I didn't think it would all be this hard.

And for the record? I'm wearing the same clothes now that I put on 48 hours ago to sleep in. Two nights and two days.

Gross.

32 comments:

  1. I think you know I understand exactly how you feel. If you ever need to talk about it, you know I'm here to listen.

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  2. Anonymous10:02 PM

    When my first son was born, the nurses wanted to bring other mothers into my room to show them how easy nursing was - "he's a Hoover!". Fast forward 29 months, and my second son didn't get it. He'd nurse for ten minutes, fall asleep, and be screaming an hour later. I got mastitis at about 2 months (very painful). I couldn't pump to save my life. Jack didn't sleep thru the night for a year.

    The bottom line is, if I had had Jack first, I know I would have given up. And I think I would have been okay with that. But I knew I knew how to breastfeed because Joe had been so successful, so I forced myself to stick with it. (I also consulted a lactation consultant and my earth mother sister who nursed her third child for almost four years....) I'm also lazy and cheap.

    Whatever you choose to do will be right for you. Try supplementing; maybe having more time between feedings will help your supply. Is your doctor worried about the baby's weight?

    FYI, nothing grosses my children (now 17 and 14) out more than talking about how they both breastfed for over a year...

    Thinking good thoughts.

    Bobbie

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  3. Milk blisters hurt like hell. This third time around is the only time I haven't had one. With my second, her reflux was so horrible I wound up pumping and giving up on nursing. Sucked. With number three, he also had horrible reflux and hated nursing for the most part ...or did just because he had to until like a month ago. So yeah, waiting and waiting for the goodness of it to come is hard. It does happen. Differently with all of mine.

    Are you able to nurse laying down at all? Swaddled and laying down? Does he have reflux at all?

    Oh and I'll quit the novel and just offer a virtual hug. Thanks for giving voice to the tough parts from another mom who knows some of the many things about bf'ing that just aren't so warm and fuzzy.

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  4. I so wish that I could give you a huge hug (I'd squeeze you real hard). What you're going through is so tough. I remember feeling so frustrated and hopeless intially also.

    Is he clamping from the over-active let-down? *kill me for assvice* If so, has anyone recommended nursing in a prone position?

    Either way, Canape, I hope that you are able to know in your heart that you are doing the absolute best for your boy, combo-feeding or not. Everyone has a unique time-table, like you said.

    But even so, I know it's hard when things aren't as you want them to be.

    xo

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  5. Oh honey!! I wish I was closer so I could come over and give you a big hug!!

    The thing is you can't pump and feed him at the same time. Pumping only worked for me when I missed a feeding.

    I hesitate to offer any advice because nursing is so personal. You're right it can hurt like hell. I definitely cried a number of times just at the thought of whipping my boob out for the pain. Unfortunately, the more you stress out about it, the worse it's going to be. Don't worry about storing milk right now. If you have to give him formula, so be it. I know some folks recommended to me hanging out in bed with the baby for a day and just let them nurse at will. It might work to get you guys in sync with each other. But like I said...I hesitate to offer any advice.

    Please email or call if you need to vent or want to talk about it. I've got the saggy boobs to prove that I've been there.

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  6. Oh honey, I am so sorry you are having trouble with this. It is so hard being a mom, new-old-seasoned- whatever. It's especially hard when you have hopes of how things will work and go and then those hopes are not always reality.
    You're doing a really wonderful job. It is not boring to read about what you are going through because so many of us have been there before.
    I attempted to nurse both of my children but because of medical issues I was forced to stop. During the time that I was nursing I did end up supplementing because I just wasn't giving them enough. At first, it was hard for me. I wanted, like you, to have the booby babies. It took me time to realize that it was ok perfectly ok for my children to have formula because it meant that they were being sustained and happy. While it was not coming directly from my body as I wanted, it was still coming from me. It was still coming out of my love for them. And It was still all about me nourishing them and feeding them and bonding with them.
    You will know what's right. Maybe the supplementing with the pumping will allow for more milk production. Maybe it will give you just a little less to think about that you and Bird will mesh and gel and figure each other out.
    I had the hardest time trying to remember that not only was I trying to figure out this crying infant but he was trying to figure me out, too.
    It's the not knowing that makes all of this motherhood stuff hard! But you're doing great, really you are. You love your little guy more than anything, that's clear! Just keep up the loving and things will fall into place.

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  7. For the record - I've stayed in the same clothes for 2 days and I don't have a newborn. ;)
    SO sorry you're struggling....I know you'll do whatever works for you and Little Bird. I have seen many friends travel this road and it is not the same for any one. I know you will both be ok in the end.
    Hugs from someone you don't know....but who wishes you peace.

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  8. Oh, my heart is going out to you. I know how bad it hurts and what it's like to wonder how long the excruciating pain will last. And I know about the crying. And the doubt and guilt and disappointment. If you want to know my stories, you can email me, but I won't give you that now. I'll just say that it is absolutely okay to feed your baby formula. Really. You and bird will be okay. It is not a weakness or a failure. It is a perfectly valid choice. You will still be a good mother if you give him formula.

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  9. Hey. It happens. Don't beat yourself up over it, 'k?

    Breastfeeding is hard. Four weeks, six weeks, whatever your personal timetable turns out to be. It just is. And then it does get easier.

    But do what's best for you both, okay? You know, deep down, what that is.

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  10. I'm so sorry you are having such a rough time. I really have tears in my eyes for you. I had two "booby babies", I breastfed my first for 2 1/2 years and my second is now 7 months old and doing well. I hope you hang in there, even if you have to supplement. And if you are out on that walk and you feel a huge let down, pick up your baby and nurse right there. It isn't always easy, especially when you don't feel like you are "in synch" with him. Have you tried taking him to bed with you at night? Lots of babies do their best feeding at night because both they and you are relaxed. I slept and currently sleep with my babies. Maybe wear a sling with him. Mine loved that. You will get through this and be a great momma.

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  11. It is so hard. Especially with the pumping. And with all three of my kids, even when they latched properly, it hurt for the first little while.

    I also assumed I would be a total breast feeder. But at six months when my middle son lost a couple pounds and it turned out I'd stopped making milk, I didn't have a choice. My qualms about it were sated when I saw how much happier and fuller he was.

    I'm not suggesting that you jump right into bottle-feeding. All I'm suggesting is that there is a different combination that works for each pair. You'll find the right one for you. And you and your little one will both end up happy and healthy from it. Just follow your heart. And try not to beat yourself up too much.

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  12. I know how hard this.

    I never considered anything but breast feeding before my little one was born. Unfortunately, we just couldn't get it. We tried and tried (she bit me so hard with those little gums that she drew blood and left full mouth prints - not once but three times!). I pumped and gave her what I could and supplemented for anything I couldn't come up with on my own. After almost four months we were moving to Germany where the power supply would be different (therefore, my electric pump wouldn't work any more) so I had to wean her fully to formula because we just couldn't get it together for breastfeeding.

    It broke my heart to not get things "prefect" for her and the way that I'd planned. But, I have a happy, wonderful and outgoing child (oh, and she was also 10th percentile until about 9 months when she just exploded - now she's in the 75th percentile for height and weight!) and a happy Mommy. Our lives don't always go the way we plan; despite our best intentions.

    I wish you the best.

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  13. BTDT, I understand how you feel. My dd didn't feed well and I had to quit and go to EPing. I felt the "not gelling" for so long. In retrospect, I wish I had been kinder to myself and combined nursing with formula. I wanted that booby baby so badly too and I never had it. And you know what? When they are 6 (like my dd is now): it doesn't matter anywhere near as much that they were or weren't a booby baby.

    Be kind to yourself. You are doing a wonderful job and really truly honestly the first months with a new baby can be the hardest time of your life. Give yourself a pat on the back for all your hard work, make sure it comes in the shape of chocolate or nice cookies though :-) Hard as it may sound, try to get some sleep too. Someone else can take the baby between feeds, at least at the weekend. You'll feel so much better if you get some sleep. (((HUGS)))

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  14. Reading this broke my heart, not because you may need to supplement with formula, but because you're hurting. I'm sorry. I truly know that pain, and it's excrutiating. If I could hug you right now, I would. I'd also hold Little Bird for you while you went a took a shower and put on clean clothes. I'd even clean your house and do some laundry.

    I'm sorry it's hard right now. I swear on MY CHILDREN that it WILL get better.

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  15. Oh, Sweetiepie... No one understands how hard it is, better than we do!!

    I LOVE what Stella wrote up there:

    "At first, it was hard for me. I wanted, like you, to have the booby babies. It took me time to realize that it was ok perfectly ok for my children to have formula because it meant that they were being sustained and happy. While it was not coming directly from my body as I wanted, it was still coming from me. It was still coming out of my love for them. And It was still all about me nourishing them and feeding them and bonding with them."

    That was ME, all three times!! The first time was the most difficult decision to make... I, too, wanted desperately to breast feed, but no matter how hard we tried, we just couldn't make it work exclusively. She simply could not latch, and so I pumped and fed her as much as I could, for as long as I could, and supplimented with formula. I felt terribly guilty for a long time, but do you know what? When my babies were well-fed, they were satisfied and happy. And as a result, I became satisfied and happy!! We felt better, we slept better, we relaxed and finally began to bond and settle into a routine.

    You are NOT "giving up" or letting anyone down by feeding your baby. It is YOUR choice!! You know what is best, Canape, truly you do. Giving Bird some formula isn't "the easy way out", or anything like that. If it's what you decide to do, then it will be what's best, because YOU are his mama, and YOU know best.

    We love you!! You're doing great, honest.

    We're all in this motherhood thing together!! Email me if you need a shoulder, or a listening ear.

    xoxo CGF

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  16. Anonymous8:42 AM

    Just a nice word for you - STOP BEATING YOURSELF UP!! When I had my son, I could not nurse because I did not produce enough milk . .. I had no choice. He is a happy healthy 2 year old. My doctor told me I had to do what was going to make me happy, if I was unhappy he would be. So, I stopped being upset and made a decision. I am happy with my decision. Decide what is BEST for you and your baby, but don't make a decision based on "what is right according to others" you have to decide what you feel is right for YOU!!!

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  17. It's totally a personal choice. My son was a "combo" baby from the beginning because he couldn't suck. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. He ate every two hours and I just couldn't keep up. I thought of his formula bottle as my "Selfish" bottle every day. It gave me a break and my husband time to bond with our son, too!

    Bottom line, no one can tell you what is right for you. Keep your chin up!

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  18. Oh honey, breastfeeding is hard. It's exhausting, time consuming, and babies and life are unpredictable. Moms today put so much pressure on each other to be successful at breastfeeding. I supplemented 3 of mine with formula but never gave them a bottle in public out of fear of being judged for not nursing full time. How sad I felt that way. 100 years ago there wasn't this kind of pressure. Mothers truly believed it takes a village to raise a child and nursed each others babies. I'm not saying we should nurse each others babies but we do need to support each other and realize that breastfeeding isn't easy for most and that it is not for everyone.

    Now I'll get off my soapbox and share my experience. I'm working on my hours to be a lactation consultant and hope to help new mothers breastfeed but also support their decision to supplement or exclusively formula feed.

    I nursed all 4 of mine for a year. They all weaned by one. Just lost interest and I was sad. I looked at other moms who nursed passed one with a pang of jealousy. Seems silly to me now but it definitely wasn't back then. Mine just lost interest not because I "failed".

    I had toe curling pain with all mine in the first few weeks despite that they all latched on correctly. I had horrible bleeding and cracked nipples with my first.

    I was never able to pump. My mind and body needed nipple stimulation from baby to produce a letdown. Looking at a photo or just thinking about my baby didn't work but my milk would letdown several times a day all on its own. I was so desperate with my first to exclusively breastfeed that when I had a surprise letdown I had empty bottles nearby so I could hold a bottle under my nipple and catch the milk. I even did this while nursing. By the end of the day I would have a full bottle of that good fatty milk.

    My advice to you is to give yourself permission to supplement and give yourself props for getting this far. Have Guy give little bird a bottle once or twice a day so you can get some rest and a break so your body can build up a good supply. This will also help get you both on a schedule for when you return to work. Even if you end up only nursing once a day or not at all you will have to come to terms with that being okay and I know that will be hard. We put so much pressure on ourselves and no matter how many of us tell you that supplementing or exclusively formula feeding is just as good YOU need to feel good about your decision. I know this seems huge to you now and the days are dragging on but this time goes so fast. A year from now it won't matter to you how little bird got fed but that it all worked out and you have an adorable, healthy little bird hanging on you because YOU are the center of his universe.

    Now go get some rest.

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  19. No advice, just (((HUGS)))!!!

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  20. Unfortunately I have no words of wisdom.

    I send you love.

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  21. My Assvice?

    Do what you have to for a HEALTHY CHILD.
    You don't need to be exclusively feeding from the breast/breast milk to still be a "booby mom"
    You can do bottles of expressed milk, or bottles of formula in addition to the milk you produce.

    There are no time frames. You and Bird will get it when you get it. Time frames are just to make people feel better. Let go of the imaginary worry of "it's been 3 months, now what???? What am I doing wrong?" because the answer is "There's nothing wrong. This is how you two work together"

    Has Bird always been 10%? Or is he dropping weight?

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  22. ImpostorMom3:45 PM

    My heart goes out to you it really does. It is hard to breastfeed exclusively even when things are going well so I know it must be frustrating for both of you.

    Some breastfeeding is still breastfeeding even if you are supplementing. If you go that route don't feel like you have to give up the other side. Do what is best for all of you.

    hugs.

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  23. i wasn't able to successfully nurse jacob when he came home. it ws a bummer - i'd had no trouble with his sibs, after all. i finally decided wth... and pumped exclusively. and when i got to the point where i just couldn't hack it anymore, i weaned. and jacob is healthy and happy and that's that.

    if breastfeeding was simple and easy, i'm guessing there wouldn't be so many lactation consultants.

    i hope things get easier for you

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  24. Huge hugs. So been there. I just want to point out something you said.

    "I feel my biggest letdowns when we are out on a walk, or when he is sound asleep."

    My Keyboard Psychology Degree says that these are the times that you are the most relaxed, the times you allow yourself to take a deep breath, look at your little man and feel the love. These are not the times that you are worried about his latch or your hold or his fussing or any myriad of other things that you might do incorrectly. When you are out for a walk your nipples are not being assaulted. When Bird is asleep your feelings of self-worth are not being challenged. It is very hard to let down when you are in pain. As evidence I will share a small story.

    My first day back to work I was ready in record time & all proud of myself. I had the car warming up outside and had loaded the baby in his carseat in the house. I turned to carry him outside & saw the car begin to roll down the drive. For whatever stupid reason, I ran out to catch it. In the process, I tripped over my own two feet where the drive begins to slope downward, fell & skid on my elbow, chest & face across the drive & into the gravel.

    Can we all say "ouch!"? Yes. Ouch! I drug my sorry, road-rash self back into the house & called work to tell them I wouldn't be in afterall. I chipped some teeth, skinned my face & arm (down to the nerves). But the worst was my boobs. Ugh! I was breastfeeding and I had BAD roadrash from my midchest to my nipple on one side!!!

    Well, lets just finish this up quickly by saying that for whatever reason, within 2 days of that accident my once over-productive breasts were dry as bones. Eventhough I'd continued to feed on the other side I still dried up.

    So, if you end up needing to supplement (and I am not telling you this to promote it), it may have an added benefit of giving your poor girls some much-deserved R&R that might just increase their performance in the end.

    Whew! That was a post in itself! Sorry!

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  25. Maybe he's not a booby baby and that's OK. Have you thought about exclusively pumping? I did that from about 5 months to a year and it worked out great. I always knew exactly how much milk he was getting and I loved that he was still getting my milk (and I still got all the physical benefits of breastfeeding). You're not admitting defeat, you're just going about the battle from a different route.

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  26. It took five months for my second born and I to get a good routine established. I had oversupply/letdown issues (she'd gag and get furious, then refuse to nurse, but want to nurse again 10 minutes later). If you think you have a problem with a forceful letdown, The New Girl has great advice. Try nursing lying down on your side with the little one, so that gravity is more on his side. I felt absolutely dedicated to nursing, and frustrated when it felt more like a struggle than a joy. 3 bouts with mastitis, a thrush infection, something called nipple vasospasm....I would have called it quits if she would take a bottle, but she refused, the stinker. Well, happy ending here, we made it work for 18 months.

    You'll find something that works. Hang in there, mama. Do what you feel like you need to, for your baby and you. Pumping is okay, supplementing is okay.

    A good resource is called 'Kellymom.' Just do a search for that, they have an exhaustive info section on breastfeeding issues. They may help you find a solution and put your mind at ease.

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  27. I have no advice, just hugs and lots of positive thoughts and prayers for you both.

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  28. I wish I had something positive and helpful to say. But all I can do is send hugs and prayers and love that it gets better for you both.

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  29. Canape (& kelly)
    *Pardon my lurking in these comments here...lol*

    I actually had to nurse prone, as in, lying on my BACK with the bebe on TOP of me. We couldn't do side lying for months and months b/c of the overactive letdown. It was the only position that she was able to tolerate.

    It looked funny but it worked really well until she got a little bit bigger.

    Thinking of you.

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  30. Hang in there! It's totally hard and that sucks, but just keep loving your little bird and that's what matters. You feed him and love him and if that means formula or whatever that's what moms do. There is ABSOLUTELY no shame in making sure your child is taken care of. Yes, boob is best, but if bird needs more, then do what you have to do.

    I felt so unsure the entire time I nursed Peanut (11 months). I worried constantly and doubted every move. I look back now and wish I would have relaxed and not worried so much where the food came from as long as he got it.

    It's ok if you don't want sore/bleeding boobs anymore, Bird will still be cute/smart/wonderful. Enjoy the baby. Hang in there! You're doing great.

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  31. Stephanie9:18 PM

    Hi, I've come to your blog from WhyMommy's -- I'm one of her MOMS club friends.

    I'm sorry that nursing's not going too smoothly for you and the baby as yet. That is hard.

    I had some initial latching problems with my baby (he had a short frenulum -- that bit of skin under your tongue that attaches your tongue to the floor of your mouth), so he had a hard time latching on. His nursing was not very effective, and it hurt.

    A lactation consultant gave me a nipple shield, which is kinda like a baby bottle nipple, but one you put directly over your own nipple for the baby to suck on. The main purpose was to help him be better able to latch on (which it did), but the other benefit was that it protected my nipples a good bit from the pain of (poorly) latching on. I don't know if that would be helpful to you in your situation (I'd check with a lactation consultant), but it would make nursing a lot less painful, might be helpful as a short-term thing to give your nipples some time to heal up a bit.

    Best of luck as you figure out whatever works best for the two of you.

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  32. i would totally recommend those nipple shields!! they worked out great for me and my boobs (and babe)!
    from the day i used them everything went nice and smoothly and for the first time i could just RELAX while nursing....
    oh, by the way, you don´t really know me, i´m just a lurker from the "five-monkey´s-mom":)
    but, i have blog on my own, if you want to read it, just write me and i´ll invite you over:)
    leslieann@web.de
    leslie

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