My Childbirth Story

Back when I first started blogging, I can’t say that I ever imagined writing a post about giving birth. But hearing and reading the very open stories from others about infertility, pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum helped me feel more informed and comfortable about my own experience, and simultaneously showed me just how different every woman’s experience can be. I know that hearing details on these topics isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so feel free to skip over these posts if that’s the case!

6 AM – FIVE days before my due date

I woke up with sharp tightening pains in my lower belly. I’d been having a lot of gas cramps and Braxton Hicks contractions (aka “practice contractions”) throughout my pregnancy, so assumed it was just that and tried to fall back asleep! But after the pains kept coming, Nick tracked them on an app and saw they were happening regularly at ~7 minutes apart. My heart started racing as I realized these might be REAL contractions, and I was hit with a rush of emotions. I was excited to meet our baby, but I also loved growing and carrying her in my belly more than I’d like to admit, and felt bittersweet that chapter was coming to an end.


After frantically putting the last of my hospital bag together, my contractions actually started to slow down to nearly 1 hour apart (they usually grow closer in frequency as labor progresses). Our doctor had advised us to use the “5-1-1” guideline, which says no need to go to the hospital until your contractions are as frequent as 5 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute each time and going on for 1 hour. If you show up too early, they may send you home because you’re in pre-labor and not yet active labor.

I called my OB and she said the heat and humidity might be causing early contractions. She went on to tell me about the doctor who’d be on-call at the hospital over the next TWO DAYS. I was shocked to hear “two days” since I didn’t realize pre-labor could go on for that long! I started to mentally prepare myself for what could be an uncomfortable 48 hours.

4 PM

I decided to try and nap, but was awoken by a warm trickle of liquid between my legs. “Grab the pee pads!” I yelled to Nick (my Grampy had given me some of his elderly incontinence pads for this specific purpose ; ) Not much liquid actually came out and the whole water breaking seemed anticlimactic. And then a contraction hit me – the strongest one yet. It had me on all fours on the floor barking at Nick to back away and stop touching me (poor guy was just trying to be supportive rubbing my back). Luckily we had laid the pee pads down because next thing I know I hear a “POP” like a balloon bursting, and then another, larger spurt of fluid come out – my actual water breaking.

I then called the doctor on-call with these symptoms, and she told me to take my time, eat some food, have a warm shower and make my way to the hospital in about an hour or two.

4:45 PM

Thinking I had plenty of time, I randomly remembered that I wanted to recreate a cute vintage pregnancy photo of Nick’s mom right before she gave birth to him. I leisurely picked out an outfit for it, when my contractions suddenly grew stronger and had me doubling over and hollering. All of a sudden, they were coming in at just 4 minutes apart (the photo effort was quickly forgotten), and Nick was tripping over his own feet trying to escort me down four flights of stairs and shove all our bags into the car. On the ride to the hospital, I was literally cradling my belly tightly around every pothole and turn (our car has very stiff, “sporty” suspension according to Nick). The cars next to us could definitely hear me cursing loudly, as I thought that baby was going to get bounced right out on Commonwealth Avenue!

extra petite birth story contractions
preparing car for labor delivery water breaking
Nearly amputating Nick’s fingers during contractions // Incontinence or puppy pee pads to protect the car

5:30 PM

By the time I checked into the hospital I was pretty much a walking contraction begging for an epidural – apologies to the folks who had to ride the elevator with us! I don’t remember this, but Nick says as they tried to move me to the delivery room in a wheelchair, I kept insisting I could walk. But as I stood up, I was shaking uncontrollably and told the nurse an odd sensation had overcome my lower half. “Does it feel like you have to take an urgent poop?” she asked. Umm yes… she looked at the contractions monitor and said I was likely entering the “transition” stage of active labor. Needless to say I ended up taking the wheelchair.

6:00 PM

Prior to placing an epidural, they need to put in an IV to give you fluids. I was a bit dehydrated, and heard the nurse and anesthesiologist discussing how thin and dried up my veins had become. After 7 attempts poking veins on both of my arms and hands, the IV was finally inserted. Needles are my nightmare (the fear did not get better after IVF) but I was more than preoccupied this time by the contractions!

6:30 PM

When the epidural was finally placed (which went smoothly compared to the IVs), I was about 7cm dilated. It was like day and night pre and post epidural … going from a raging, mind-numbing pain to tranquility. An epidural typically slows down the labor process, so the nurses encouraged me to take a nap and build up energy for pushing later. I was way too anxious to fall asleep, but did conveniently use some of this downtime to slap on mascara for pictures later!

beth israel hospital boston childbirth

The waiting game – feeling anxious, excited, nervous.

9:30 PM

The nurse came in every so often asking if I felt the urge to poop again, which apparently signals that your baby is ready to be pushed out. (Side note: I know a lot of ladies are worried about having a bowel movement on the delivery table, but every doctor and nurse I talked to says they don’t bat an eye and it’s truly nothing to be embarrassed about). I didn’t feel the sensation again, but she checked my cervix and exclaimed that I was fully dilated. So how soon is the baby coming, I asked? And this was my face when she responded, “probably in 10 minutes!” :

extra petite labor birth story

“What do you mean the baby’s gonna be here in 10 minutes?”

9:35 PM

Before I started pushing, the nurse told me she was going to empty my bladder with a catheter, since you can’t feel your bladder muscles with an epidural. I was expecting a little puddle (I always thought I had small bladder issues), but moments later I see her wheeling away a half-gallon tub of liquid, which Nick told me with an evil chuckle that it was all my pee…

Next, the doctor came in and gave me a crash course on how to push – deep breath in, push, breathe out. Repeat three times during each contraction. So when the next contraction came, I pushed with all my might and was so surprised to hear “we can see the top of her head!” and see a VERY wide-eyed and frozen Nick.

The nurse offered me a mirror, which I initially declined … but when curiosity got the best of me and I changed my mind, the mirror (a hot commodity apparently) was occupied by another laboring patient. With the second set of pushes, I heard “Oh she has a lot of hair on her head! About an inch long.” And after another few pushes, the doctor said her head was out and advised me to push more gently to minimize tearing when her torso comes out. After a final little push, there was a feeling like something very large coming out on a Slip N Slide followed by a gush of liquid, and Nick jumping back (to avoid being splashed, he claims). And then there was a quick silence. And then a loud, loud baby “waaahhhh!”

9:58 PM

I was always certain that I’d cry when meeting my baby. But to be honest, I was just so astonished that she was actually here. We shed many emotional tears over the next few days, but in that moment, I think our feelings could best be described as shock and awe when they laid this little one on my chest.

boston birth story photography beth israel hospital

“What do we do now?!”

beth israel hospital extra petite baby birth story
extra petite birth story boston beth israel
dad and baby newborn skin to skin

Dad’s first “skin to skin”

nora birth story extra petite blog

beth israel boston birth story labor rooms

Nick enamored by his baby girl

The next hour or so involved cutting the cord (which I didn’t even realize Nick did until later), delivering the placenta, getting stitches, doing “skin-to-skin” time, and learning how to breastfeed – but it was all a blur. At the end of the day, I had a fast and straightforward labor (according to the doctors) which I’m extremely thankful for. But it was such a special yet hectic experience for us, and I am grateful to have a few photographs to help fill in some of the mental blanks and remember it by.

PS – By chance, the resident doctor who delivered our baby in Boston was Nick’s high school classmate in San Diego. He realized it partway through, but decided the midst of childbirth wasn’t quite the right time to reminisce about track team ; )

To the mamas out there – how was your delivery and labor experience? How did it compare to your expectations?

extra petite blog boston birth photographer story

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Leave a Comment


  1. Chelsea E Barbosa wrote:

    Amazing story I enjoyed it so much. Congrats.

    Posted 6.10.21 Reply
  2. Yen wrote:

    I’m expecting a boy in July so I’m currently doing all the research I can about people’s experiences and am very grateful that you decided to share yours! I’m extremely apprehensive about the healing process, but it helps to plan things I do have control over. Thanks again for sharing such a personal story and useful tips (like leaning forward when peeing!). + Congrats on your latest news!

    Posted 5.11.20 Reply
  3. Margot wrote:

    Congratulations on the birth of your beautiful girl. My babies are 30 and 26 now, but your birth story brought emotional tears recalling the excitement, joy, and fear of this amazing process.
    My two were both emergency c-sections after long labors. The first was rough. All the reading and preparation we did didn’t quite prepare me for the reality.
    My husband is 6’1” and his babies are big with his big brained head. I am 5’0” and don’t quite have a child bearing pelvis for big babies. Our oldest was 8lbs 5.5 ounces. He got stuck face up and was not able to transition properly. His brother was 8lbs 3ounces. We had done all the VBac classes and I was determined to have a “normal” labor. No intervention and no epidurals.
    The labor itself was a wonderful experience right up until the bag of waters fell out during a move from the birthing bed pulling the cord down next to his head. Emergency c-section within minutes. Not how we wanted things to go but really, a healthy baby is what matters most.
    Wishing you and Nick and baby Nori the very best. Thank you for sharing her with us. 💗

    Posted 10.7.18 Reply
  4. Shirley wrote:

    Thanks for sharing. I had two kids and the first one took forever because I took the epidural so I didn’t feel any pain. For the IV fluid i think it was easy for them but for the epidural it was tough because they said i have a crooked spine so i was literally slanted when they gave me the needle. The second one i wasn’t so lucky. I had my contraction in the middle of the night and by the time we got to the hospital it was midnight. The nurse said they had a skeleton crew. There were only two Anesthesia Doctor and both were preoccupied. One was doing a surgery and the other a C-Section so i had to tough it out. That finger picture reminded of what happened to my husband. I was on the delivery bed and I was dying in pain and moving so much i almost fell off the bed and they were so scared i might bite my tongue my OB-GYN screamed at my husband to quickly give her something to bite on and so the quickest thing he can think of was his sleeve and i ended up biting his finger. So the doctor was screaming at my husband and another nurse to hold me still while she was trying to catch the baby as I push and my husband screaming as i was biting down on his finger. Good thing i had my second one last otherwise i swear i would not have another child. So in case you decide to have a second child make try you avoid going during the skeleton crew hour because without the epidural the giving birth process is extremely painful.

    Posted 9.28.18 Reply
  5. yushi wrote:

    Congratulation! A whole new family life start for you and Nick! I need to say that you had a petty lovely birth story…all the people I know had complication. Bonne chance!

    Posted 9.17.18 Reply
  6. ebk wrote:

    Congratulations! You kept it very real (LOL) and I have to give you credit for that. Childbirth is not a terribly dignified or glamorous experience 🙂

    Enjoy Baby Nora. She’s precious.

    Posted 9.13.18 Reply
  7. EBK wrote:

    Congratulations! You kept it very real (LOL) and I have to give you credit for that. Childbirth is not a terribly dignified or glamorous experience 🙂

    Enjoy Baby Nora. She’s precious.

    Posted 9.13.18 Reply
  8. Aw, congratulations! What a lovely birth story.

    I wasn’t prepared the first time around–for the length and how the laboring and delivery process would *really* feel like. The second time, though, was super quick and a lot smoother.

    Posted 9.6.18 Reply
  9. Martha Artyomenko wrote:

    Congratulations! I hope you are settling and resting up from your hard work. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story!

    Posted 9.5.18 Reply
  10. Amanda wrote:

    Beautiful recounting Jean! If Nick has not already written down his view point of the day, I highly encourage it. My husband and I both independently wrote out our “birth stories” and they are fun to read next to each other 6 months after the fact.

    I delivered fast and furious in early March, only 13 hours total labor, and I was in labor and delivery for less than 2 hours before our Nora was born! When asked about pain management I yelled “OUT!” A few minutes later my water bag burst all over the midwife’s shirt (much to her displeasure), and about an hour of pushing later she was here!

    I wish you three the best!

    Posted 9.4.18 Reply
  11. Theresa wrote:

    Congratulations again and thanks for sharing! Nick’s bloodshot fingertips are killing me!! 😀

    Posted 9.4.18 Reply
  12. Gaelle wrote:

    OMG – thanks for sharing and being so honest!! Plus, you included pics. I loved reading your story so we know what to expect when our time comes. Congrats again!!

    Posted 9.4.18 Reply
  13. Kay wrote:

    Great to read about your childbirth story – I haven’t experienced it but I am curious! Thank you for sharing!

    Posted 9.4.18 Reply
  14. Wendy wrote:

    Hi Jean! I’ve been reading your blog for ages – ever since med school, when I needed to really step up my professional fashion game. I’ve never commented before, but reading your birth story was amazing. I’ve just come off a 4 day long weekend call on the Labour and Delivery ward, where you see lovely straightforward deliveries like yours, as well as long, arduous, heartbreaking stories. It’s easy to forget how amazing and wonderful this process can be. Reading it from the patient perspective reminded me again of exactly why I decided to go into Obstetrics. I am so happy for you and your family. You look beautiful and Nori is the cutest sweetest girl! Congratulations again to you and Nick!

    Posted 9.4.18 Reply
  15. Jade D wrote:

    Thanks for sharing. My story was almost exactly the same including the thin veins and difficulty with iv until the epidural. After two tries it [epidural] still had no effect on me and the pain kept going. All together 24hrs of labour and after being fully dilated for more than 3 hours they decided to do a c-section. Cried all through it until they showed me my girl, stopped to gaze into her eyes and when they took her away again continued crying. She was about the size of your girl but is now 6kg and 65cm long at 3 months! Good luck and wishing you lots of patience for the following weeks.

    Posted 9.4.18 Reply
  16. So happy for you! Lovely story and photos!

    Posted 9.3.18 Reply
  17. Anna wrote:

    This is the first birth story that made me cried! So happy for you and your family! Nori is beautiful!

    Posted 9.3.18 Reply
  18. Sarah wrote:

    Thank you for sharing! And for maintaining a sense of humor about it all. What a beautiful family you have started.

    Posted 9.3.18 Reply
  19. Maira wrote:

    Hi Jean, thank you for sharing your beautiful journey to meet baby Nori. It is refreshing to see how human you are, in spite of all the gorgeous picture you always post, which would often trick me into thinking your life was always perfect. But you dared to show the other side and for that, you have my readership guaranteed!
    I am a mother of two girls, a 5 and a 2 yo. I opted for going without the peridural both times and I am very thankful for having a co-worked introduce me to that idea. It is true that the whole floor knew I was in labor, but I hope they forgave me 🙂 the first reaction of having my baby in my arms couldn’t be more true, you brought me back to that moment!
    I love the content of your posts and the humor that you bring. Congratulations on your new addition, you guys will be great parents!!!

    Posted 9.3.18 Reply
  20. Bethany wrote:

    Congratulations to your beautiful family. I’m pregnant with my first and love reading birth stories so thank you for posting.

    Posted 9.3.18 Reply
  21. Nina wrote:

    Congratulations Jean and Nick! Your daughter is so precious. I had my daughter almost 3 years ago. When we got to the hospital I was very sure the nurse would send us home so I told my husband to leave the go bags in the car. It is just amazing that despite the hospital tour and several visits to the hospital you just forget where you’re supposed to go once in labor. I have to go up 4 flights of stairs so many wrong turns before we got to where we were supposed to be. But the time I got to the delivery room the nurse told me I was 9cm and there was no time for an epidural! So after 2 hours, we welcomed our first baby girl. It was indeed an amazing experience and you realize just how tough we mommies are. Much love you your beautiful family. xxoo

    Posted 9.3.18 Reply
  22. Such an incredible post – congratulations again and mind yourselves!!

    Rebecca |

    Posted 9.3.18 Reply
  23. Awww I loved reading about this so much! Congratulations again to both you and Nick, Jean! Words can’t describe how happy I am for the both of you and your families! <3

    Posted 9.3.18 Reply
  24. Anele wrote:

    Hi Jean
    Congratulations to you and Nick on your bundle of joy. I had my baby in July (winter time in SA) my due date changed so many times I ended up having a c section 2days after taking leave from work. I thought I had everything planned out. My bag wasn’t packed though because I thought we had time. We had to hurry back home from my appointment and bf had a nightshift that day. I was admitted at hospital on the 12th and gave birth to our daughter on the 13th. The tugging during a c section felt so weird and then boom we heard her scream. I cannot forget her scream I felt my tears just rolling down my face. Bf was the photographer lol.

    Posted 9.3.18 Reply
  25. Anonymous wrote:

    Such a sweet story, congrats on Nori – she’s beautiful and parenthood is

    Posted 9.2.18 Reply
  26. Sandra wrote:

    Thank you Jean for your beautiful blog – i loved reading your journey into motherhood and also reading on other mother’s journeys, as it is a gloomy day here in Sydney. I had an emergency-c section as i was overdue but actually i didn’t realise that my waters had broken days before – i had to go a few times to pee – as i had no labour pains whatsoever (although i did have mild discomforts similar to morning sickness). When she did arrive – all dark and almost out of oxygen – i was so shocked that i couldn’t believe that i had carried her for 9months and she was so long!!! She had just celebrated her 8th birthday yesterday but seems like she is going on 16!! Time flies by so quick so enjoy the time with her and don’t feel pressured by others – listen to your gut instinct because only you know whats best. (i wish i did as i was judged constantly by my husbands family members and kept telling me that i was doing things wrong and to the point i was not being a good mum – i had post natal depression without knowing). I wish i could rewind the clock back. 🙁 xxx

    Posted 9.2.18 Reply
  27. Liz wrote:

    Thanks for sharing! So interesting to hear your birth story. I had an emergency C so very different but my water did break and I remember being so surprised by how much water it is! The pee pads are such a good idea. Front seat of our car was soaked during the 10 minute drive to the hospital! You did an fantastic job, mama, so now time to rest and recover and love on your baby girl ❤️👏

    Posted 9.2.18 Reply
  28. Trace wrote:

    Thank you for sharing your birth story

    Posted 9.2.18 Reply
  29. Shu wrote:

    Thank you Jean for sharing your story! Was looking forward to this as I am an expecting mother myself.

    Posted 9.2.18 Reply
  30. Nicole wrote:

    Congratulations on your beautiful baby girl! Thank you so much for sharing this. I am now 15 weeks along expecting our first, and thankful for stories like yours!

    Posted 9.2.18 Reply
  31. Lucy Liu wrote:

    Congrats again jean, first antispation is always so scary. Everything is a blur, right until the moment your child is born. My experience with my first baby girl was loosing oxygen myself, causing my baby to loose oxygen herself, I pushed through and she soon followed afterwards. It was the most scariest moment ever. Will she make it? Will they cut me open? Will she be healthy? Reading your journey is so inspirational because it bought me back to when I was on the bed, wondering what could happen. Thanks for sharing your story jean!

    Posted 9.2.18 Reply
  32. esmerlda -uk wrote:

    Congratulations!! My little girl was delivered emergency c-section. I was late, we thought it was a check up – I don’t why but we didn’t take my maternity bag (packed 3 months prior) or our stem cell box. It worked out fine, we wrapped our baby in a hospital towel, my placenta was collected & they managed to collect enough stem cells for my daughter – Idea she can use it for herself (if she needs to ) & maybe form a miracle for someone els. I didn’t experience any contraction which i know I would’ve loved so hearing about your experience is always nice! . Congrats again ! Amazing !

    Posted 9.2.18 Reply
  33. esmerlda - UK wrote:

    Congratulations!! My little girl was delivered emergency c-section. I was late, we thought it was a check up – I don’t why but we didn’t take my maternity bag (packed 3 months prior) or our stem cell box. It worked out fine, we wrapped our baby in a hospital towel, my placenta was collected & they managed to collect enough stem cells for my daughter – Idea she can use it for herself (if she needs to ) & maybe form a miracle for someone els. I didn’t experience any contraction which i know I would’ve loved so hearing about your experience is always nice! . Congrats again ! Amazing !

    Posted 9.2.18 Reply
  34. Susan wrote:

    Jean, your birth story had me crying from about halfway through it! My heart is bursting with joy for you guys…you’re going to be such wonderful parents! I had the same reaction as you did when they showed me my daughter (couldn’t put her on my chest because it was an emergency c-section after failed pitocin-induced labor at 41.5 weeks) — I was just in shock in that moment, even though I had cried many times in anticipation of finally meeting her. Enjoy every precious moment…they grow up way too fast! All my best wishes to you and your beautiful family. 🙂

    Posted 9.2.18 Reply
  35. MissLilly wrote:

    First of all thanks for sharing! Such a positive birth experience! I was planning for hypnobirthing and read loads about it but at week 40 I’ve ended up with an emergency c section. It was a roller-coaster but so grateful she was born healthy and is now a gorgeous toddler. Lots of love for you and your new family 🙂

    Posted 9.2.18 Reply
  36. SK wrote:

    How did you get those beautiful photos? Did you hire a photographer throughout the hospital experience?

    Posted 9.2.18 Reply
  37. Maureen wrote:

    Congratulations Jean and Nick! Nori is a beautiful baby girl and what a birth story. Like you, Jean I have read stories but until I had my son I didn’t really know what to expect. We ended up having an emergency c-section for my pregnancy because my son was first feet instead of head first as Doctor originally thought at 32 weeks. Surprisingly my son actually didn’t want to come out because I was pregnant with him up to my 40th week! He was similar in weight and height as your baby girl 6 lbs and 19 inches. I hope you and family are having a good weekend and relaxing with baby girl. Looking forward to your updates!

    Maureen |

    Posted 9.2.18 Reply
  38. Tina wrote:

    What a beautiful birth story! Brought tears to my eyes.

    Posted 9.2.18 Reply
  39. Jane wrote:

    Congrats, Jean! Looks like other than the IVF journey, you had a great pregnancy and delivery, which is amazing! Not many have those so I think you guys are truly blessed. And Nori is so precious. Hopefully you guys are getting some rest. I’m a mama to a toddler, and just newborn twins! It’s been fun following your fashion (extra petite here as well!), and now mama stories. Congrats again!

    Posted 9.2.18 Reply
  40. Rachel wrote:

    Congratulations!!! Both of my labors were very similar to yours. Doctors told me to stay home both times meanwhile baby came within a couple hours of that warning! I had epidurals with both and highly recommend. Your post reminds me exactly how we felt when our first came out, complete shock and that what do we do now? Feeling. Enjoy and try to get some sleep!

    Posted 9.2.18 Reply
  41. Vanessa wrote:

    I started to tear reading this. I am so happy for you and Nick and love your vulnerability to share this with us. Many many congratulations !!!!

    Posted 9.2.18 Reply
  42. Mallory wrote:

    I love reading birth stories, I’m 19 weeks with my second baby boy and can’t wait to meet him! My first was a loooooong labor haha but worth every second. Definitely hoping this next one’s a bit quicker though! Congratulations <3

    Posted 9.2.18 Reply
  43. Isabelle wrote:

    What a beautiful story Jean! Thank you for sharing! I didn’t have the epidural option because I gave birth with a midwife, and was always curious to know how it goes with the epidural. 😊 Congratulations to you and Nick. Little Nori is adorable and I think she looks so much like you!

    Posted 9.2.18 Reply
  44. Annie wrote:

    Love your birth story and your beautiful baby girl! I just had my first baby girl six months ago, and it’s crazy how much love you can have in your heart for this new weird lil nugget! I was in l&d for 46 hours and cause of all the different Ivs and medications I had had over those two days, I blew up like princess Fiona! I weighed more after I delivered, it was crazy! You look so amazing in your postpartum pics!! But anyway, i just wanted to comment that I too thought I would be crying, sobbing when I first met my baby girl. But I was so tired and quite dazed that in all the pics I look like they just placed an alien on my belly! Haha but afterwards when she was cleaned up and they put her on my chest – she just stared into my eyes and I simply fell in love. You guys are gonna be great parents, i know you guys will cherish every minute.

    Posted 9.2.18 Reply
  45. Mickie wrote:

    Thank you for sharing! Pee pads. Brilliant! At 10:00 pm after I labored for 16 hours they decided I wasn’t going to dilate fully and needed a c-section. My husband and I nearly High-fived at the news that it would be over soon….not so fast. First I had to have 2 IV bags of antibiotics and by this time the epidural had quit on me…our son was born at 2:18am. Enjoy this time, listen to your own instincts and you will figure out what works and what doesn’t…and always remember: YOU’RE Nori’s mom and what YOU say goes!

    Posted 9.2.18 Reply
    • Alie wrote:

      Wow – thank you for the honesty and transparency in sharing your story. I feel that child birthing experiences I have read on blogs are sugarcoated or presented in vague or extreme terms. The enigma surrounding the child birthing experience, including reticent attitudes of mothers to nulparious women, does little to reinforce the positives of the experience and further encourages the stereotypes associated with traumatic birthing. Thank you for freely sharing your story – both your struggles and your joys are what gives hope to other women who may become mothers as well. Congratulations to you and Nick!

      Posted 9.21.18 Reply

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