Guest Writers, Pregnancy, What's Cookin?

Home Birth, Green Smoothies & Banana Cream Pie

2 Comments 19 July 2011

guest post by Danielle

I’m a foodie at heart.  Always have been. Always will be.

When I began planning my home birth at 7 months of pregnancy, little did I realize that the experience would literally change the way I thought about indulgence, treats, and gourmet dining… forever!  Food was about to get a whole lot more exciting!

Here’s how it all started:

We were getting ready to welcome our second daughter at home, with about 6 weeks or so to go, and our first daughter was just on 12 months old at the time.   Between late night pregnancy bathroom trips, night time toddler parenting, and carrying my pre-walking babe between chores each day… I was feeling downright fatigued and struggling to get through the day to say the least. You know how it goes!

I was certainly in no physical or mental state to cope with labor, let alone to look forward to the birth with excited anticipation (the emotional place that I really wanted to be).  You read in all those lovely pregnancy books, and glossy mags to rest in late pregnancy, put your feet up, nap during the day, do a little deep breathing outside on your morning walk, and hey… head on out and treat yourself to a maternity massage once a week.  But, as I’m sure many of you know only too well… these tips work wonders with the first pregnancy… sometimes a little (or a LOT!) more challenging for the second, with toddler in tow.

So here’s what I did in my state of exhaustion:  I asked for a solution to present itself to me. “There’s gotta be a way for this to work” I thought.  “Geez I can’t be the only tired, exhausted, run-down mama who’s desperately wondering how she’s going to ‘do this birth thing’ all over again.“

You know what, I must have put my intention out there pretty clearly, or with the right vibe, or something…. because in less than one week from sending out that heart felt request to the universe, I had my answer!

You wanna know what it was?


Yep, I’m talking good ol’ spinach and celery (and later I would come to discover kale, carrot tops, dandelion and wild growing weeds).

I’d stumbled across a flyer for a Green Smoothie Workshop being held at my local health food store.  On that very same day I’d ‘co-incidentally’ received an email from my good friend and kiniesiologist proposing that the magnesium minerals (and other goodies) found in high doses in dark leafy greens may be just the solution to my predicament that I’d been looking for.

Now don’t get me wrong, I really didn’t get too excited about this at first.  After all, everyone knows greens are good for you right?!  That you should eat more of them?

But…. there was something about the way those few ‘green smoothie converts’ spoke at that little health food store workshop that night:  the high-energy passion in their voice, the sparkle in their eyes, the apparent relief that they had in fact found the solution that they had been seeking (whether that be increased energy, or weight loss or a calm nervous system).

I knew I had to find out what this was all about for myself.  I had to know.  I had to feel it.

So… with less that 6 weeks till B-Day, I re-allocated my pregnancy multi-vitamin funds, and started to have a big fresh green smoothie box’ delivered every week.

I committed to myself that by the end of each week, every single leaf and stem and apple that was in that big box in the fridge was going to have gone through my blender, and then gone through me.  If I could do that for 7 days straight (I was drinking about 1 to 2 litres of smoothie per day), I’d know if I was on the right track.

Within 2 days I began to feel more energetic, clear headed, and able to again cope with late pregnancy while mothering my toddler; within 7 days I was feeling more alive and excited about life than I had done certainly within the last 2 months of pregnancy, and probably within the last 10 years of my life!

The transformation was quite startling and obvious to my husband, and he soon wanted to partake in this weird green swamp sludge that was coming out of our blender.  Again, the benefits were clear for all to be seen as he started to rapidly recover from long held body aches and pains that had accumulated through years of working in the construction industry.

My 1 year old didn’t want to miss out on the daily ritual either, and as she began to drink her own little cup of sweet, green goodness, the dark circles under her eyes (which to be honest I hadn’t really even noticed up to that point) disappeared within days.

We all began to radiate with health (even as we continued to eat our regular meals of pasta, bread and potatoes).  We had enough energy to be present for each other despite long days working or mothering, and most exciting of all, I had my wish granted: I was now looking forward to this birth with confidence, knowing I had the energy I needed to see it through.

So where does the Banana Cream Pie come in here I hear you ask?

Well, as yummy as Green Smoothies are… I knew they probably weren’t going to satisfy those nagging pregnancy cravings, or desires for indulgence that popped up daily (at least not for me anyway!).  But with all this good I was doing for my body, it seemed odd to then duck down to the store and buy a packet of trans-fat filled chocolate biscuits to munch on top of it (a regular favourite in my first pregnancy).

I did a little research, and found out that “these raw food people”’ who had taught me about the magic of combining greens and fruits in a blender, also had a few other nifty tricks up their sleeve!

They could show me how to indulge in delicious desserts every day, that included only those ingredients that were pure and delicious: good for me and my growing babe!  I learned how to make:

  • Banana Berry Cream Pie
  • Velvety Chocolate Mousse
  • Walnut Fudge Brownies
  • Scrumptious Energy Balls to snack on during labor…

… and a whole lot more, using nothing but fruits, nuts, seeds and a little raw, organic coconut oil and honey.

Wow!  What a revelation this was for me!  Sweets that were as good as the real deal, but without the heavy uncomfortable feeling that usually follows.

My favourite was making the Banana Cream Pies (I just love to say those words Banana Cream Pie too… that’s almost as satisfying in itself).

I’ll share with you here how I did it:

To make the pie crust, I ground up a cup of raw almonds with a cup of soaked dates in a food processor.  Pressing the sticky dough into the bottom and sides of a pie dish to form the crust, I then left it to set in the freezer.

Next, I’d take about 6 ripe bananas, half a cup of soaked cashews, half a cup of desiccated coconut (I hunted down the organic kind without the preservative 220), some raw organic honey to sweeten, and a few big tablespoons of coconut oil to make the whole mixture creamy and luxurious.  Blending it all up in a blender or food processor, it was then ready to pour it into the pie crust.

To add some beauty and zest, I’d decorate the top with beautiful fresh strawberry slices, or a big pile of raspberries, and allow the whole thing to set in the freezer.  Once it’s a firm consistency (but before it’s frozen solid), you can slice up a piece of creamy luscious pie.  The ingredients are all so nutrient-dense and good for you, sometimes my toddler and I would even sit down to a slice for breakfast (after our morning green smoothie of course).  Kept her happy.  Kept me happy!

If this kind of dessert gets your mouth watering, go ahead and do a Google search, for raw food pie recipes. You’ll find endless variations.  Sometimes I’d add raw organic cacao to make a chocolate cake, other times I’d whiz up some ripe mango and swirl it into the top with a chopstick, pretending I was a gourmet French pastry chef.

As you don’t bake this pie, there’s no need to be exact with ingredients.  Just sit a pile of yummy stuff next to your blender or food processor.  Then pour and taste test between nappy changes, nap times and breastfeeding.  There’s nothing to measure, nothing to burn, and no hot ovens to keep little fingers away from.

So there you have it.

My homebirth experience not only changed the way I view birth forever… it literally changed the way I approached eating and indulging, and nourishing myself and my babes.

The whole world starts to look brighter when you have the energy to show up to it fully, and in no other area of life am I more grateful for this than in being a mother.

Stay tuned for next time Kaitlin invites me to share, and I’ll be sure to post my recipe for those little power-packed Energy Balls that I prepared for snacking on at home during labor.

*Note: If you think you’d like to try Green Smoothies in the large quantity that I mentioned above, speak to your midwife, naturopath or doctor for advice first.  I’m glad that I kept my midwife informed of my diet along the way, as it meant that she didn’t have cause for alarm when I had some greater than expected blood clotting.  She knew immediately that the cause was all the Vitamin K I’d been ingesting through dark greens, and could respond accordingly.


Danielle Greason is a nature-loving mamma who loves to hang out with the Raw Moms, Raw Divas and Green Smoothie Queens as blog editor at The Raw Divas.  She lives in Costa Rica with her husband and two toddlers, where the greens are wild and the mangoes are ripe!

Motherhood, Pregnancy, Reviews

Every Town Needs a Birth Kalamazoo

No Comments 26 June 2011

The United States would be a better place for women to give birth if every town had a Birth Kalamazoo.

As a natural birth advocate, how many times have you run into situations where you wish you could direct an expecting friend to a safe, informative place to gain knowledge about birth?

In Southwest Michigan, that place is Birth Kalamazoo.

Allow me to set the scene:

Say you’re in Ohio and your best friend lives in California. She asks for resources.

Such as How to find a doula.

You could tell her to look at bulletin boards and suggest books, movies and an independent childbirth class. But that would be the extent of your reach. She’s ultimately left to her own devises, the opinions of those who live closer, and her care provider.

That is why every town needs a Birth Kalamazoo.

Birth Kalamazoo is…

“Offers natural childbirth & breastfeeding classes, birth doulas, postpartum doulas and lactation consults. Birth and early parenting is such a precious time, we help make the journey as smooth and centered as possible.

Birth Kalamazoo connects families with birth doulas, natural childbirth and breastfeeding classes, post-partum doulas and lactation consultants.

We believe that birth is transformative, and that mothers and new families deserve caring, knowledgeable support for that journey. While we have a special love for natural birth, we honor the birthing process for every family, wherever it begins and ends.”

The doulas of Birth Kalamazoo have created a community for women in Kalamazoo, Michigan and surrounding areas.

Since early Spring of 2011, Birth Kalamazoo has been the host of a new monthly series of meetings called Birth Matters (click the link to learn more about the July meeting, “Whatza Doula?”).

“Birth Matters is a FREE group for pregnant moms, those with little ones and women who plan to soon begin a family. Come and gain insight and understanding of the amazing journey of pregnancy, labor, delivery and the postpartum period with other experienced moms in a fun and casual atmosphere! The group is sponsored by Birth Kalamazoo and co-led by doulas Beth Hawver, Jody Swank and Jessica English.”

Each month, as word spreads, the group gets larger. Women have driven as far as an hour to attend.

I am grateful for the information and support I have received from the Birth Kalamazoo doulas.

When I was pregnant and looking for a doula, I soon became familiar with post cards and business cards distributed by Birth Kalamazoo at local coffee shop and natural grocery store bulletin boards. It was a blessing being able to access the kind of information I was looking for so readily.

This kind of marketing has been key to Birth Kalamazoo’s success, along with word of mouth.

I picked up a post card and emailed Jessica English, birth doula, childbirth instructor and owner of Birth Kalamazoo.

She was so helpful and kind, suggesting events for Eric and I to attend and giving me information about her upcoming natural childbirth class, which we ended up taking. After a few classes, we decided to hire Jessica to be our birth doula for our home birth. She was terrific!

Our relationship has continued to blossom and I had the pleasure of interviewing her last July during Bring Birth Home’s webinar series featuring Birth Kalamazoo.

Eric and I have hired Jessica to be our birth doula again for our second (quickly approaching!) home birth. I honestly can’t imagine birthing without her!

Imagine if every town in the United States had a Birth Kalamazoo.

I could rest easy at night knowing that women all over our country had the same kind of access to natural birth information and support as I do in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

If you are a childbirth educator or doula who feels inspired by this blog post, follow suit! Make doing what you love a full-time job if it isn’t already, and start a Birth Denver, or Birth Cincinnati!

Gather other doulas in the area and create a safe place for women. It doesn’t have to be huge. Start small. You don’t even need your own building.

“Like” Birth Kalamazoo on Facebook today and learn from them!

And here is the official website of Birth Kalamazoo:


A Letter From Bring Birth Home: The Details of My Online Maternity Leave

3 Comments 21 June 2011

Dear friends, fans and family of Bring Birth Home,

I am 38 weeks and 2 days today.

Each day is bringing me closer to birthing and meeting the new addition to our family. I’m so excited to discover the gender of our child and look into his/her eyes for the first time!

If you’ve been keeping up with my pregnancy journey, (there is a list of all my pregnancy updates at the bottom on this post) you’d know I’ve been working hard at crossing off items on my to-do list before baby arrives.

Eric and I have accomplished a lot in this past week, and it has been tremendously relieving/stress reducing. So much so that I joked around with my midwife this afternoon saying, “I swear, every time I cross something off that list this baby drops a little bit more.”

I’ve been putting off this blog post, (and falling asleep at night while nursing Ella to sleep) but the time has come. I don’t want to miss the opportunity to let you all know what’s in store for BBH over the next month.

I have decided to take an online maternity leave for the month of July.

If there is one thing I don’t want after my baby is born, it’s to be distracted the computer.

Heck no! I want to enjoy my baby moon with my family, at home, period.

This is not to say I won’t give the occasional teensy-weensy update now and again.  But I’m talking once in a blue moon.

Do not fear, BBH will not fall silent – I couldn’t let that happen! I have asked two fantastic gals to take over posting and general community “maintenance” while I’m away and they said yes!

Introducing the awesome BBH helpers, Melody & Stephanie

Hi! I’m Melody.

My husband and I have 2 boys, who keep us entertained 24-7. My first son was born in the hospital 3 years ago, and although it wasn’t necessarily a traumatic experience for me, after I watched the documentary “The Business of Being Born” I was able to relate to it in so many ways. So after really doing my homework the 2nd time around, we were blessed to be able to have our 2nd son at home last July.

Becoming a first-time mother was really an incredible experience for me, despite the overmedicated hospital experience I had – but being able to compare the two: hospital vs homebirth, I can honestly say that our homebirth was one of the most perfect, euphoric memories of my life. It was healing for me.

While pregnant last year, I felt lonely much of the time because of not having a “homebirth” support system. Most people looked at me like I was crazy for wanting to have a homebirth “on purpose.” But I always found encouragement through the BBH comunity, and empowered by this group of supportive, loving women.

I am so blessed and honored to know Kaitlin. She has taken a stand for women all across the world, and I wish her all of the strength and love in the world as she welcomes this new life in the world. I am looking forward to getting to hear from all of you over the next several weeks!

I’m Stephanie.

Greetings, friends of Bring Birth Home!

I’m an interior designer, musician, activist, friend, daughter, mother, and wife. I live in New York City with my feisty daughter and musician husband. I love travel, learning, writing, singing, and going for long adventure walks with my little silly goose (yes, she answers to Goose). Oh, and dark chocolate. I really love dark chocolate.

I have a confession to make. I’m a birth junkie.

It started 2 1/2 years ago, when I found out I was pregnant. Watching the videos, reading the books, meeting other moms…I was really excited for birth. But then…December came. I had a homebirth. In my wildest dreams, I never could’ve imagined how amazing that experience was. Since then, I’ve realized just how important a peaceful beginning truly is for the motherbaby. So important, that I am dedicating my free time to becoming a childbirth educator and birth doula. I feel strongly that gentle birth, respect for the newborn following birth, and protection of the new family could be the most powerful –and simple– way to help heal humanity. Peace on earth begins at birth

I am so honored to be a part of this community, and look forward to getting to know you all better. Enjoy your babymoon, Kaitlin Rose. We’ll be here when you emerge from your love nest.

I owe Melody & Stephanie A HUMONGOUS thanks for helping me out during this very special time period of my life!

The two of you have been so supportive for such a long time! I think the world of both of you! Thank you times a million.

And I want also to say thank you to all the friends, fans & family of BBH for all the well wishes and positive, kind thoughts you have shared with me over the months of this pregnancy. All of you mean so much to me and I feel so blessed to be in your thoughts!

Bring Birth Home Pregnancy Updates

Special note to those who follow @BringBirthHome on Twitter: I’m not very consistent on Twitter and am not shy in admitting the our Facebook page is what I consider to be the true heart & soul of the BBH community. For this reason,  I will be linking the updates from Facebook directly to Twitter for the month of July.

Home Birth Advocacy, Home Birth Safety, Pregnancy

Pregnancy Update #16: Checking Off the To-Do List Never Felt So Good!

3 Comments 16 June 2011

Now that I’m 37 weeks, I’ve been seriously dealing with my to-do list.

The first task was actually making the list.

That in itself was a duty I’d been pushing off. Once I’d finally written everything down, I began feeling less overwhelmed with those nagging, floating thoughts.

Many of you have asked to see my to-do list. Some are just curious, and some are at a similar point during your own pregnancies. Whatever the reason, here ya go!

My 37 week, get done before baby arrives, to-do list (in no particular order):

  • Lake house  party with all family & friends
  • Mother Blessing ceremony
  • get exercise ball & baby car-seat from Melissa
  • buy new single or full bed
  • order birth supplies
  • ship out remainder of Joan of Arc bracelets
  • make better playroom for Ella downstairs
  • buy another baby gate
  • buy a new fan
  • newborn diapers from Becky
  • publish at BBH
  • email BBH helpers with details
  • one more big giveaway at BBH
  • get the house cleaned!

Not bad, eh? I’m getting there!

And for those of you who are interested in my home birth supplies list, I would be more than happy to share that as well.

  • 24 maxi pads
  • 20 blue underpads
  • 2 waterproof sheets
  • 6 4×4 gauze pads
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • rubbing alcohol
  • 2 mesh panties
  • 2 peri bottles
  • hot water bottle
  • bulb syringe
  • organic cotton nursing pads
  • 2 bendy straws
  • emergen-c
  • lasinoh
  • perineum healing wash
  • candles
  • arnica
  • epsom salts

You can find all these items and more in the custom Bring Birth Home home birth kits at the BBH Store.



Mother Blessing | The Story of My Mother Blessing

10 Comments 14 June 2011

Warning: this post is long and sentimental. Please read if you are: a) a birth junkie, b) are pregnant, c) interested in obtaining knowledge of  Mother Blessing celebrations, or d) just want to!

The night began when I wished Eric and Ella off for the evening.

I stood waving in the driveway. Breathed a relaxed yet excited exhale. Tonight was my night. Guests would be arriving in roughly a half hour.

Going inside, I surveyed the surroundings. Dishes put away, counter wiped, plates, forks and glasses set out on the counter. I walked around the house checking for anything out of place. It looked good.

Finishing touches on hair and makeup, then upstairs to get dressed. After thinking about this night all day, I had an exact outfit in mind. Black leggings, black tube top, (which is actually a long belly band) and the lacy purple shirt over it. My new home birth necklace from Moon Over Maize was the perfect addition, and seemed most appropriate for the occasion.

The first guest arrived.

Melissa. I was glad she was there first. We’ve known each other since before I became pregnant with Ella – the oldest friend who would be attending. I was calm in her presence. She brought over homemade truffles, my mother’s exercise ball that both she and I used during our labors, as well as a newborn carseat to borrow (score!).

Cathie got there next. The friend I have known the shortest. She’s so sweet. Seemed so genuinely excited to be there. We stood in the kitchen and chatted. My doula Jessica and Beth were right around the corner.

With their arrival, the celebration began to progress. Desserts and drink were placed on the counter, and Jessica moved to the table with the ease and confidence of someone both accustomed to and graceful at leading a group.

I gave the ladies a tour of my home.

They ooo’d and ahhh’d, commenting on the various locations that would be nice to give birth. The jacuzzi tub upstairs was a particular hit. Someone said I could rent it out, which followed with “your house could be the new birth center!”

Greetings were heard between Chelsie and Jessica. I walked down to receive a beautiful prayer plant and big hug. I met Chelsie through Jessica’s recommendation about two months after Ella was born. She was planning a home birth and was expecting her baby to arrive any day when I called her on the phone to offer my support. We had never officially met, but I felt drawn to connect with her. I shared my recent home birth story with her that night and we’ve been friends ever since. Her prenatal yoga class got me whipped into excellent pregnancy shape!

We made our way into the living room and Jessica began guiding our ceremony.

First things first – introductions. Our name, who were the mother of, and the name of our mother, her mother and hers, as far back as we could remember.

Next, she directed our attention to a pile of smooth river stones on the table. “Sit quietly and think of a word that you would like Kaitlin to have before and during her labor. When you’re ready, write that word on one of these stones and tell us what your word means.”

Melissa: Believe – believe in yourself.
Chelsie: Dance – dance your way through birth.
Beth: Release – release your mind and body.
Cathie: Baby – this is the first time you and your baby will work together.
Jessica: Peace – I wish your family peace during this birth and your transition into a family of four.

Birth blessings/poems.

They were all so beautiful, I have to share (I told you this would be long!).

Birth Blessing by Natalie Evan,read by Melissa

“Close your eyes and breathe deep.
Breathe in peace, breathe out pain.
Imagine your feet -
toes curling in dirt…
think if yourself as rooted;
think of your place in the Earth.

How did you come to be here?
Through generations of women named -
a maternal lineage
that brought you to this place.
Think of their birth stories.
Realize their births carry deep wisdom.
Some may carry the memory of joy and transcendence…

Each birth is a powerful experience.
Each birth traces down to you.

Just as you pass this knowledge on to your baby,
understand that your birth is your own.
It will be different from all others.
Like the swirls in your thumb,
your birth will have a unique pattern
unfolding with each contraction,
rising and falling like a newborn’s chest.

This birth belongs to you:
it is an opening;
it is the end and a beginning.

May this blessing of birth come to you without fear.

May this blessing of birth come to you with great understanding.

May this blessing of birth come to you and make your heart soar.

May this blessing of birth bring shouts of delight to your lips.

Blessings to you and your birth.”

Reflections on Motherhood by
Sandra May Samen, read by Chelsie

“Moms aren’t just those gals that do the birthing – they are also the stepmothers, mentors, teachers, friends and people who do the nurturing and loving. I am talking about the women in our lives who teach, care, listen, act, hug, wipe away the tears, tell us everything is going to be all right, say no, say yes, guide us, who pray and have faith in us.

These special women share the blessings of a mothering spirit as they touch lives and hearts forever. They mother because of their great capacity of love, and they give their generous spirit without expectation.

Mothers get to love with all their heart, they care  and nurture another life, sing songs out loud, play make believe, snuggle under the covers, splash in bubble bath, play peekaboo, dance when spirit moves them, carpool, jump in the pool, and  do anything it takes to help their child be all they can be.”

Within, by Beth

“You are strong ~
May you know the strength you possess.

You are powerful ~
May you feel the power within you.

You are wise ~
May you gain wisdom from those surrounding you.

You have connection ~
May you trust your intuition.

You breathe birth~
May you let your body take over.

You are beautiful ~
May you have just the birth you were meant.

You believe ~
May you always Trust the Process.”

Quote by Maya Angelou,  
read by Cathie

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Cathie chose this quote for me because she thinks of me when she reads it, which I consider an incredibly high compliment. Thank you Cathie.

Chant of the Pregnant Goddess
by Jana McCarthy, read by Jessica

“I am the mother of the moon 
sister of the stars
child of the light in your eyes.
I am powerful.

The geometry of my shape shifts
from gentle curved lines
to expanding circles:
earth, moon, sun.

I am powerful.
I am strong.

The tempo of my vibration quickens,
increasing from
butterfly wings, to floundering fish,
to beating drum,
erupting volcano,
the rhythm as old and constant as 
the cycles of the sun
and the turn of the tides.

I am powerful.
I am strong.
I am beautiful.

I hold the hope of my ancestors
the knowledge of my time
the fate of my future.

I am powerful.
I am strong.
I am beautiful.
I am mother.”

Each woman lit her candle after she finished reading her blessing.

I cried. I laughed. I felt so loved and honored.

Now it was time to connect one step further.

This was Chelsie’s ritual and gift. She took out a spool of red yarn and asked us to sit close together in a circle. We would wrap a few strands of yarn around our left wrists, each saying a silent prayer for me and my birth while keeping the string connected between us.

“Close your eyes and relax your shoulders. Open your heart. Let a gentle smile spread across your lips. Think of Katie and  her birth.”

We cut the pieces between us and tied our bracelets into strong knots. We will wear them until baby has arrived, safe and sound.

Then I received a pregnant goddess massage!

No kidding – Chelsie rubbed my ears, jaw, neck and upper back while Jessica and Beth (the doulas!) each took a foot. They used a clary sage and lavender oil blend that Jessica used on my belly during my labor with Ella.

I was adorned with a daisy crown which
Jessica made for me. I felt like royalty. So pampered and cared for.

We snacked and chatted for the rest of the evening. It couldn’t have been more perfect. The perfect ladies in attendance, perfect poems, perfect guidance and time spent together.

I wish every expectant mother could receive a Mother Blessing ceremony.

While baby showers put focus on the baby and emphasis on gifts, a Mother Blessing honors the mother, and the baby in which the mother will be bringing into the world. It is my firm belief that mothers deserve to be honored and highly appreciated for this task.

See more of my Mother Blessing photos.

Do the honors and host a Mother Blessing celebration for a friend.  I hope you got some good ideas from this post.

Motherhood, Pregnancy

Bring Birth Home Mother Blessing (photos)

3 Comments 12 June 2011

My Mother Blessing tonight was wonderful. I can’t yet put it into words. So here are the photos. The rest of the night is for calm reflection and appreciation for the wonderful memories accumulated. Enjoy!


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