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Sep 18, 2015 BY Joy McCarthy

My Birthing Story

—  found in  Family  —

As I sit down to write this, our baby girl Vienna is sitting on my lap sucking her fingers, wrapped up in the most comfy looking swaddle. On a side note, I think they need to make these for adults - I wouldn’t mind being swaddled hehehe.

Many people have been asking me to share my birthing experience so I thought I would take this opportunity to do just that!

The evening I went into labour was our two-year wedding anniversary (Sept 7).

To celebrate this joyous occasion, we had a fun evening planned of drinks at the Ritz Hotel Bar (virgin mojito for me!) and then dinner at one of our favourite restaurants, Buca. We arrived at the Ritz, ordered our drinks and I looked to my left and at the table next to us were two members of the band ACDC – kinda cool!

As I’m sipping away on the most delicious mojito, I feel a strong gush coming out of my lady parts. I’m wearing a fitted/stretchy, light blue dress so I get up slowly to go the washroom to check to make sure I’m not completely soaked. Then I realize I need to full-on sprint because this wasn’t just a gush, this was full on Niagara Falls coming out of me. I ran into the washroom, whipped my dress up and BAM it’s everywhere. My water broke as I was entering the washroom. I read enough blogs and articles to know this was exactly what was happening.

People always say “you’ll know when your water breaks”. Oh I knew!

I thought to myself: "How the heck am I going to tell Walker what has just happened without having to walk through the bar with a soaking wet dress and ACDC sitting right there!?!" So I simply yelled from afar once I got out of the washroom “Walker, my water broke we gotta leave now!”. I felt such rush of excitement and uncertainty about what was to happen next...

We only live about a 5-10 minute walk from the Ritz but we cabbed home given the situation. Our cab driver was nice enough to offer the ride on the house (I should tell cabbies my water broke every time). We got home and I immediately called my midwife. Fast forward a few hours and my contractions were getting closer and closer together. It was really comforting to labour at home at first and found that sitting on the stability ball (same as a birthing ball) really helped. My mid-wife arrived around 1am which is when we decided it was time to go. We chose Toronto Birthing Centre for the birth of Vienna, but Mount Sinai Hospital was our back up.

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Walker drove at a snail’s pace to the birthing centre because I was having lots contractions in the car. Thank goodness it was the middle of the night, otherwise we would have been sitting in traffic on Adelaide St in downtown Toronto forever. Arriving at the Toronto Birthing Centre felt like home away from home - the energy was perfect and it felt like a safe place. Walker and I had a tour several weeks earlier so we knew what to expect – a huge private birthing room with a large tub, double bed, stand up shower, bathroom and birthing ball.

If you are a regular reader of Joyous Health, you may have guessed that it was my intention for our baby’s birth to be as drug-free and natural as possible. That being said, if I needed drugs to get through it, I was open to changing the plan.

Luckily, I had an awesome birthing team that supported me the entire way. Team joyous included two midwives from Midwives Collective in Toronto, a doula from Toronto Yoga Mamas and of course, my hubs Walker. My midwives, Amanda and Hedry were incredibly knowledgeable (aka birthing goddesses), confident and supportive in their roles. My doula April was also an incredible support, offering lots of natural methods of pain relief, including a tens machine, acupressure and hip squeezes, all of which came in handy throughout my labour. And finally, Walker was my rock through the whole thing – he was a pro with the aforementioned hip squeezes (more on that in a bit…).

During the hours of my labour (pre-pushing) not once did I think to myself that the pain was unmanageable. I knew my body was well equipped to deal with the contractions. It was pain with a purpose.

My eyes were closed 99% of the entire process and I kept repeating in my mind over and over again “I CAN DO THIS”. Yes I barfed multiple times, yes I was shaking a LOT and there was lots of stuff gushing out especially when I had super intense contractions... but I knew ahead of time that these were all completely normal reactions from my body. I didn't resist this from happening and went with the flow.

Then the time came to actually push. I had about 2.5 hours of pushing which is a little longer than the midwives like but because Vienna’s heart rate was continually strong and healthy, my midwives let me progress as my body wanted to. During this time all I could think was “let’s get her out so I can meet her”.

This was the hardest work I’ve ever had to do in my entire life, but was comforted knowing I was 100% in control of how hard I pushed (with guidance from my midwives of course). It felt like I was pushing a freight train through a garden hose, so I had to dig really deep within myself and connect with the power of all the mamas before me (just like my affirmations) to bring Vienna to us.

When I finally pushed her out it was the most incredible rush of emotions I’ve ever experienced: total and absolute relief, PURE JOY and so much happiness.

When my midwives placed Vienna on my chest the tears were flowing. Walker and I were both bawling like a babies (more so than our baby Vienna) and it was music to my ears to finally hear her cry.

There’s no other feeling that compares to the feeling of holding Vienna for the first time. I felt so present in this moment and the whole experience was both totally insane and incredibly magical.

I read a great quote in a book my cousins gave me called Birthing from Within that summed things up pretty accurately: It’s going to hurt. It’s work. It will be worth it. And I would add to that: You can do it.

The stats: Vienna came into this world on her actual due date September 8, 2015 at 8:44am weighing exactly 7lbs. She’s so punctual, just like her daddy!

Lastly, during my pregnancy I did a few things to help prepare my body for birthing:

  • Hypnobirthing: You can read my post about it here.
  • Lots of yoga: I had an unlimited pass at Toronto Yoga Mamas because I hired my doula from there and purchased a package the included yoga, so I did prenatal yoga 4 times per week. In fact, I did a class the day before I went into labour!
  • Chiropractic: This was only in my final trimester (wish I started it sooner) but it really helped me avoid aches and pains, plus keep Vienna in the right position. You can watch a video about the daily exercises I did on my ball here with my chiro Dr. Aliya
  • Walking: Being married to Walker it would only make sense we walk a lot (okay... bad joke), but seriously... we walked every single day. Walking helps bring on contractions after all!
  • Nourishment: This one is kinda obvious since I'm a nutritionist and food is my priority. But eating well makes it easier on the mama. What I mean by that is your body is going to do whatever it has to do to get the nutrients to grow your baby. If you eat like crap, your body will have to pull from your own stores of nutrients to sustain the life growing within you. Give your baby and you the best by nourishing your body well. You'll need plenty of energy for birthing so please please please make eating well a priority while pregnant! And don't feel guilty for the odd indulgence -- I ate my fair share of gelato ;)

So that pretty much sums things up. The first 10 days have been both unbelievably rewarding and challenging at times (the recovery of the lady parts is a whole entire blog post), but I wouldn’t change a thing.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. When I was pregnant, I wish there were more articles out there with a positive view of birthing, so I hope this helps you if you are also pregnant to know that birthing does not have to be a scary process that needs to be totally medicalized (although it's sometimes necessary). It's a beautiful experience that your body is MEANT TO DO. You can do this!!

I'm off to feed Vienna. :)

Have a joyous day!

Joy

P.S: I developed The Complete Self-Care Guide For Mamas as this was the exact recommendations I followed post-pregnancy and that I would recommend to clients who experienced great success with it!

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Sep 18, 2015 BY Joy McCarthy
65 Comments
Mandy King   •   September 18, 2015

Congrats Joy!! Vienna is absolutely adorable and you look great :)

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Joy McCarthy   •   September 18, 2015

Norma-Jean   •   September 18, 2015

Such a lovely story to read. Big smiles, teary eyes and a happy heart for you this morning. Glad it was such a beautiful and healthy experience. Enjoy your morning cuddles with your girl <3

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Joy McCarthy   •   September 18, 2015

Gabriela   •   September 18, 2015

I just posted on FB but I'll do it here to. Loved the post! Thanks for sharing. It gives me such comfort. I'm not preggos yet but hopefully it will happen soon and this is the type of experience I want to read about! Thank you thank you and congratulations!!

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Joy McCarthy   •   September 18, 2015

Laura O   •   September 18, 2015

Enjoy this precious moment Joy!! It's magical <3 I have 3 daughters and your story made my tear up bringing me back to those years of pregnancy and giving birth. I too had natural labours, it was very hard for me to tell a group of nurses (back in the days in Atlanta GA) not to give me any pain medicine, unless my baby was in danger, meanwhile I was having contractions at the same time. Unfortunately I didn't know how to prepare my body like you did, but I knew how to prepare my mind....and that made all the difference!! Welcome to this amazing world Vienna, you're so loved by many <3

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Joy McCarthy   •   September 18, 2015

Samantha   •   September 18, 2015

I just love this story Joy and I love that you were being so kind and loving to yourself and your body throughout what was most certainly a stressful experience! Congratulations on the birth of your little angel, enjoy this precious time. Would love to meet her! xoxo

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Joy McCarthy   •   September 18, 2015

Martha   •   September 18, 2015

Congrats Joy and Walker. She is beautiful!! Joy, you exude confidence and knowledge when you describe your birthing experience. This is, however, just the beginning. Having had 4 children myself, the next 6 months will test your stamina, and fortitude. Keeping well hydrated and nourished is the key. I figured that at 4 months of age, I was outputting about a litre of milk per day. Lots of energy required! I saw you speak, Joy, in Woodstock in the spring at a function put on by Inside U. I also have your book, Joyous Health, which is on loan to my partner at the moment. Please enjoy Vienna.

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Joy McCarthy   •   September 19, 2015

Katie Zeppieri   •   September 18, 2015

Beautiful story! So very happy for you. Wishing blessings for you and your family ??

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Joy McCarthy   •   September 19, 2015

Elizabeth Cherevaty ND,RAc,Doula   •   September 18, 2015

Congratulations Joy! Thanks for sharing your beautiful birth story.

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Joy McCarthy   •   September 19, 2015

Anita   •   September 18, 2015

Enjoyed reading about your birthing experience, Joy! Made me chuckle to imagine you at the restaurant. :) I agree, giving birth is an amazing experience and one that is completely normal, and that our bodies are made to do. I remember all of the labor/delivery horror stories that people seemed to enjoy sharing with me when I was pregnant...all three times but especially the first! My own experience seemed like a cake-walk compared to what I was warned about! haha Knowing now how well it went, I would have loved to have my babies at home with a mid-wife, but I didn't want to take any chances (that was 24 yrs ago in a small town). The birthing center you used sounds like a wonderful option! Congrats again and savor the moments with your precious, Vienna! :)

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Joy McCarthy   •   September 19, 2015

Laura Franklin   •   September 18, 2015

Amazing and beautifully written birth story, Joy! Congrats.

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Joy McCarthy   •   September 19, 2015

Lorna   •   September 18, 2015

Congratulations! Thank you so much for sharing your positive birth story. Two and half hours pushing is a long time so all that yoga and positive thinking clearly paid off. I was so lucky to be at home for my second baby. How blissful the whole experience was and how happy I have been as a mother for twenty years! By the way, the first weeks are the hardest by far. Everything gets easier and easier. Look after mum and baby will be fine :)

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Joy McCarthy   •   September 19, 2015

Carla   •   September 18, 2015

Good for you. Clearly you didn't get the magic that is 29 hours of back labour. Had intended an unmedicated birth but after 19 hours of extreme back labour with contraction 4 minutes apart and only 3 cm of dilation an epidural and a pit drip were clearly necessary. The concept that we are made to do this is a bit misleading. Yes we are, but babies and mothers die when we just leave things to be natural. Times have changed and with an expectation of everyone making it through alive, medical interventions are very much necessary. I wish you were a bit more upfront about that. You story, while very nice, could leave many women feeling as though the birthing experience they had was less than satisfactory or "perfect" but it meant that they and their baby stayed alive. Just my opinion.

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Joy McCarthy   •   September 19, 2015

Gloria   •   September 18, 2015

OH WOW! Such a crazy, funny yet intense birthing story! I am so glad all went well you welcome baby vienna to the world!

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Joy McCarthy   •   September 19, 2015

Shannon   •   September 18, 2015

thank you for sharing your beautiful birth story. As I sit on my steps with tears in my eyes thinking about how all my babies came into the world and today being the bday of my second born. You have inspired me to sit down and right my birth stories. Thanks again for sharing you are amazing and inspiring don't ever change xo

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Joy McCarthy   •   September 19, 2015

Sarah   •   September 18, 2015

Congratulations on your beautiful bundle of JOY!

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Joy McCarthy   •   September 19, 2015

Isra   •   September 18, 2015

I love your honesty! Such a beautiful and empowering read. Thank you for sharing. Vienna is precious! Congrats Joy

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Joy McCarthy   •   September 19, 2015

Carol Langman   •   September 18, 2015

Just beautiful! I hope all expectant moms read this! Giving birth is the most wonderful rewarding experience a woman will ever do. Seeing your baby for the first time is priceless! Vienna is beautiful. Congrats both of you <3

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Joy McCarthy   •   September 19, 2015

Becky   •   September 18, 2015

Congratulations! I'm not a mommy yet but hearing stories like this are empowering, thanks. Enjoy your time with your new little one!

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Hazel   •   September 18, 2015

Love this post. Full of humour & so insightful too. Great way to model a healthy birthing experience Joy!

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Joy McCarthy   •   September 19, 2015

Michelle Tirmandi   •   September 18, 2015

Congrats on your beautiful baby! And thank you soon much for sharing this story - it is so great to see birth in such a positive light. You'll be a great mama. Wishing you happiness and joy with your new fam! Michelle

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Joy McCarthy   •   September 19, 2015

Anna   •   September 18, 2015

I'm 17 weeks pregnant and love reading positive birth stories, thank you for sharing yours!

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Joy McCarthy   •   September 19, 2015

Danielle   •   September 20, 2015

What a beautiful story! And please share more about these magical hip squeezes!!! I had such intense hip labor with my first that I almost caved and took the drugs.

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Khava   •   September 20, 2015

That is a wonderful story! I was tearing up when reading the part where your beautiful bundle of joy comes into the world. She is SO adorable! I wish you all the congratulations in the world :D.

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Caroline   •   September 21, 2015

Congratulations to you and Walker! But specially to you :) I'm so happy for you! you must be so proud! I can relate so much to your story, our baby girl was born on September 9 last year. I was in a birth center with my midwife as well, and I was hoping for a vaginal birth after having a c-section for my first baby 2 years before. I tried everything, I did my best and my baby too, everything was going so great but my body doesn't dilate after 3 cm... (the same thing happened twice). It's so nice and generous of you to share your experience. Thank you!!! I think it's such a beautiful thing to have the chance to prepare the birth of our babies with a midwife. It changes eveything. As a woman, we feel so much more in power and connected to our body and our baby. there is a world of difference between a regular follow-up in hospital and one with a midwife. Even if I had to go to the hospital and get a second c-section, this second time around helped me to make peace with the birth of my first one. I know I tried everything I could and that it wasn't my fault the first time around if nothing happened like I wished. We never know what's gonna happen when we give birth, but knowing it's possible to have a beautiful, (but painful!) and non medical one is important when we're pregnant. If I knew I was going to have a c-section again, i would had have a completly different pregnancy. Reading beautiful stories and talking with my midwife and my friends who had positive experiences helped me a lot. So, thank you Joy! And be happy with your beautiful family! You really are an amazing woman. (sorry for the long message!)

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Charlene A.   •   September 23, 2015

Great birth story! What a tale to tell through the years about sitting next to ACDC when your water broke. I'm so glad you had the birthing experience you wanted, but it's great to read you were open to other options, too. I had three c-sections and my experience(s) was very positive. All births are meaningful and it sounds like you understand the realities. I really hope you're enjoying bonding with Vienna. It's such a special time :)

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Nichola Reid   •   September 23, 2015

Congratulations to you and Walker. Vienna is beautiful and she looks so peaceful. When my two were young I did not pay attention to what I ate but I did pay attention to what they ate, which is why I ended up making my own food for them when they started on solid foods, the jarred stuff was awful. Thanks for sharing your birthing story. Love that two members of AC/DC were right there too, that is really cool.

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Kate   •   September 23, 2015

Thank you SO much for sharing your story in such an honest yet lighthearted way Joy - I am newly pregnant and dont have any friends downtown who have had babies yet, so it does feel really comforting to read someone else's experience and follow your blog posts about the process. I'm at the same midwife agency so I'm happy (but not surprised!) to hear they were amazing! I had been looking for a good prenatal yoga place as well and am starting at Toronto yoga mamas next week! I'm sure everyone is a bit terrified of the actual labour process, but your story is another awesome reminder that I (we all) can do this!! So, thank you (: Congrats on your sweet new babe!

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Kate McDonald Walker   •   September 23, 2015

Dawn   •   September 23, 2015

Congratulations mom and dad on the birth of Vienna, your sweet baby girl! I always look forward to your posts and was so excited to find that you, Joy, were expecting. And now she's here, safe and healthy and so loved.

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Nancy   •   September 23, 2015

Hi Joy What a lovely story. So happy for you and Walker. Vienna will open up a whole new experience to you. Enjoy your beautiful daughter.

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Judy Hill   •   September 23, 2015

So great to hear about your experience. I have always thought that the last thing I remember is all the negative details of the births of my two girls and only how excited and happy I was to finally meet them. They are 25 and 27 now and I still remember all the wonderful "Joy" I felt. Still do! Welcome to the world of "loving something so precious that you don't know what you would do without it".

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Kim Hutchinson   •   September 23, 2015

Beautiful story and delivery!! Blessings for a beautiful, happy and fullfilling life to Vienna!! May she always live with JOY!! Thank you Joy for sharing all your knowledge to us, I've learned so much!

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lorraine   •   September 23, 2015

Dear Joy Congratulations, on the birth of your beautiful baby Vienna she is so precious. Your birthing story is only beautiful and so inspiring for all mums to be. You are so lucky that you had a normal delivery and it all went so well. I too consider myself very lucky as I have a beautiful daughter, who I wouldn't have only for the doctors that helped to bring her into the world because I could't do it without medical intervention. I too went in with my tens machine but maybe it was my positive attitude that helped me. When I read all of the comments, I think that you can't compare births because they are all different, even with each child they are different. This is a beautiful time for the 3 of you so tresure it because it goes very fast xxx

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Kate McDonald Walker   •   September 24, 2015

Megan   •   September 24, 2015

Thank you so much Joy for posting this! I am 32 weeks pregnant currently and have a very similar birth philosophy. While we don't have any birthing centres in town, I have a midwife team and am planning a hospital birth, but ideally with no medial interventions. I really appreciate your story and the positive focus that we are built to do this. It will be painful, but it's pain with purpose. Feeling very motivated to follow my body and my baby to have the best birth possible for our family. Thank you again & congratulations on your beautiful Vienna!

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libby   •   September 25, 2015

Thank you for sharing your beautiful birthing story. It has been 25 years since I experienced my first pregnancy and it is something I will continue to share and remember. It's life changing..still ...my life's greatest accomplishment.

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Haydee   •   October 2, 2015

What an awesome story, Joy. I'm glad it all worked out. I absolutely agree! More positive birth stories are needed in the world. Yours was perfect! Hugs to you and baby Vienna. :)

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Michelle   •   October 5, 2015

What a lovely story! You are very inspiring and courageous. I'm planning to do a natural birth as well and I'm pretty scared. However your story gave me confidence that I can do this! Thanks! Do you have a prenatal vitamin that you used or recommend? Thx

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Joy McCarthy   •   October 5, 2015

Erika   •   June 10, 2016

Congrats! Just wondering what snacks you recommend during labor? Also do you have a recipe for a labor-aid electrolyte drink?

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Heather Allen   •   June 10, 2016

Brittany McDonald   •   January 14, 2018

Hi Joy, you have such a beautiful family! How did you know when you were ready to try for baby with your career in mind?

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Joy McCarthy   •   January 14, 2018

Brittany McDonald   •   August 13, 2018

Thanks Joy for your response from January :) I'm pregnant now and very happy we made the decision to try for a family despite all of the things we constantly heard from experienced friends/family about losing sleep, freedom, and balance. I am confident that I can still enjoy the things that brought us joy pre-baby - post baby, and that they are just that much sweeter. I have another question for you now that I am with child. I have been reading a lot of different info. about foods to avoid due to listeria and other potential risks to the unborn baby. I am overwhelmed and confused by the conflicting info. and I'm also finding it to be very difficult to avoid some of the foods that are on the "bad list" considering they were a part of my daily diet before pregnant and I truly enjoy them. I'm having some pretty bad nausea, heartburn and reflux, and my appetite isn't where it used to be so I would love to be able to continue to eat some of the foods I loved pre-pregnancy to make sure I'm not under nourishing my body. The foods in question are : feta and goat cheese, salmon or ahi tuna, sushi, charchuterie board type deli meats, sprouts, and lately I have been having an odd reaction to gluten (never had a gluten intolerance before!?) Some friends have said that pasteurized feta and goats are fine, and others have said that all of these bad foods are fine, but most books and research I look at says otherwise, causing me to be very cautious and avoid a lot of food I would normally eat. What are your thoughts on this? Thanks for any help, I love eating and esp. healthy, flavorful foods and hope I can return to this without harming the baby.

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Joy McCarthy   •   August 16, 2018

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