Life

Life After Baby

Today I wanted to share some updates about life with a newborn, the birth process and general thoughts. I promise that this won’t turn into a mommy blog by the way – there are so many superior ones out there with great material! So please indulge me as I promise it won’t be very often….here are some of my thoughts and discoveries, good and bad, that I can share after the arrival of baby.

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Three weeks old

I wasn’t prepared for the physical recovery after childbirth. When I was pregnant, especially in the third trimester, I really looked forward to the day that baby popped out. I thought that I would feel so much better at that point, more free and light. I didn’t really think about how I might feel during or after labor…except that I thought I “might” try to go without an epidural (spoiler: I went through 9 hours of painful labor before yelling for the drugs. It was like hell and heaven.).

What I didn’t realize was that I would feel pretty bad after giving birth too…like really bad, especially for the first week or two. I popped out a seven pound, nine ounce boy…yet when I left the hospital, I had only lost four pounds? WHAT? The first time I looked in a mirror I couldn’t really recognize myself…my face was swollen, and one of my eyes had a bunch of burst blood vessels because I had pushed so hard. I felt like I had been beat up. That, combined with the craziness of a new baby, really threw me for a while. I wish I had known more about what to expect after childbirth, so I would have been more mentally prepared. It wouldn’t have seemed so scary or been such a shock.

It’s crazy that the United States has no federally mandated maternity leave. It’s a shame on so many different levels. You can read this article about the topic (or at least look at the graphs) via NPR that explains more. If you’re international, I’d love to hear how maternity/paternity leave works where you live.

One’s choice of romantic life partner should ideally be thoroughly vetted before children. This maxim should be obvious, but unfortunately I don’t see it being put into practice as much as it should. I’ve been annoying all my single friends be repeating over and over again-  “Make sure you really, really love the person before you marry them. Seriously! SERIOUSLY!!!”

“Yes yes, we know,” they all say. But I didn’t know. I had no idea how much the arrival of a baby could truly test a relationship. I feel so lucky that I married Mr. Feather because he’s been a wonderful father and partner.

I don’t think everybody should or needs to have children. I was wondering if after giving birth I’d become one of those people who go around proclaiming that the true meaning of life simply cannot be fathomed without children. Do any of you watch Seinfeld? “Elaine…move to Long Island and have a baby already!!”. Anyway.

I have quite a few friends who’ve made the decision not to have children. Because they’re wonderful, intelligent, kind people, I believe that they would make excellent parents and their lives would be full if they had children. But their lives are full as they are, just with different choices. Having a baby has been a unique, amazing and fulfilling experience. But I believe that there are just as wonderful experiences out there that don’t involve children. For me, looking down at baby Feather reminded me of watching the sunset while in South Africa. A slow feeling of utter contentment and satisfaction that I wished I could keep with me forever.

I’m happy to suffer and do things I never thought I’d be willing to before. If you read my travel posts, you can probably tell that I like to travel efficiently. No checked baggage, ever. Global Entry all the way. I get all my stuff ready as soon as the plane is taxiing to the gate, so I can be positioned to be one of the first off the plane, and avoid long queues. Any and all lines at an airport are to be avoided like the plague by preparing beforehand, combined with super fast walking. I like a super streamlined, as-quick-as-possible experience.

So I have to admit that I was freaking out a bit while pregnant, about how we were going to travel with a newborn. It just seemed like so much trouble and hassle. I actually felt quite annoyed! But since having baby Feather, I realize that while travel is going to be a big pain..it’s worth it. I’m looking forward to showing him the world. And I find myself being totally willing and happy to do all kinds of inconvenient things that would have been unfathomable before…like yes, waiting for checked baggage. And enduring long immigration/customs lines! I’ll still be annoyed I’m sure…but like I said, worth it 100%. It’s just what you have to do.

Having a baby makes almost everything better. Sorry to end on a sappy note, but it’s true. I appreciate sleep more. I appreciate being able to go out for a bowl of pho with my best friend. I’ve reconnected with people who I hadn’t spoken to in years, who took the occasion to reach out. I appreciate my mom (oh so much). I love my husband. I miss my dad. I think about my life before, and it now seems like it was so fun and carefree and wonderful. Some of the aspects that made my life great before, have lessened now (like my freedom to travel). But of course, I’ve gained a lot too. If it makes any sense at all, having a baby has made both my life before, and after baby, better.

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73 Comments

  • Reply
    Sonya
    August 31, 2015 at 8:31 am

    Loved this post. I hope you write more like these.

  • Reply
    Whitney Farris
    August 31, 2015 at 8:35 am

    It will all fall into place and sounds like you are well on the way! I delivered through c section. I was so upset after my daughter was born and someone asked me when the baby was due! My heart sank! 😞

    I felt like I would never get back to the person I was before baby……weight…..beauty routines etc. It took awhile, but I got my groove back…..and have the most precious daughter in the world! Who is twenty now, I’ve told you time flies.

    I did not have the perfect mate , but that is another lifetime ago. Age has taught me many things, one being…….that you can NOT make a person, into the person YOU want them to be!

    Five years ago ,I met the perfect person for myself and my daughter. He is the best spouse and stepfather to Slade. Yes, vet them and vet them so more! Relationships change after baby, and sadly some just don’t make it!

    PS. Have you experienced that fantastic baby smell?

    • Reply
      Katherine
      September 1, 2015 at 10:42 am

      I HAVE experienced that smell and thought of your comment. You are right, they should bottle it up! I’d buy it for life 🙂

      • Reply
        Whitney Farris
        September 1, 2015 at 2:58 pm

        I know! I will never forget that smell! I,too would buy it forever!

  • Reply
    Julie W.
    August 31, 2015 at 8:52 am

    I really enjoyed your honest and practical post. Hope you and Mr. Feather will be able to take your baby on amazing adventures soon!

    • Reply
      Katherine
      September 1, 2015 at 10:42 am

      Thank you, I hope so too!

  • Reply
    Jennipher
    August 31, 2015 at 9:03 am

    This is all so true! You really hit the nail on the head. The part that really resonates for me is the post-birth feeling. Everyone makes it sound so perfect and magical, and while I’m sure that is the case for some people, it was not for me. It caused me to really question myself (and frankly beat up myself a bit) and wonder what was wrong with me that I didn’t feel wonderful right away. I wish I had heard more people talk about the stressful and physically painful side of things before I gave birth so I would have known it was normal. Great post, and your son is absolutely adorable!

    • Reply
      Katherine
      September 1, 2015 at 10:42 am

      Hi Jennipher, thank you for the kind comment and for sharing you experience.

  • Reply
    Lilian
    August 31, 2015 at 9:26 am

    FF, congratulations! Baby Feather is adorable, and thriving (eek! the cheeks!). Several things: 1). Yes, bar the Duchess, we all look ‘tore up from the floor up’ after having a baby. That’s how it’s meant to be! With #2, however, you know what to expect, and trust me, it feels MUCH, MUCH better! Nobody tells you about the bleeding, dehydration, exhaustion, pain, donut pillows…because we truly do forget it all! 2) Forget Britney, Angelina, Hilaria – they have nannies galore, and quite honestly, everyone is different. Two months from now seems like a lifetime away, but you’ll slowly start to recognize the old you. It took a year or so to get your body ready to deliver Baby Feather…take as much time, if not a bit more, to get close to the old ‘you’ back. And quite honestly, you really don’t want the ‘pre-baby you’ any more – your post-baby curves are much nicer (all the better to hold baby on your hip with!). 3) Traveling with kiddos (done it with two, done it with a potty-training toddler while 6 months pregnant, on a safari) is yes, not easy, but oh, so much fun! I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Your planning skills will come in very handy, and there are a TON of bloggers out there with more tips than you can shake a stick at. 4) So true – make sure you can put up with your partner before turning him into a Daddy! You’re stuck with him as a co-parent for 18+ years 🙂

    • Reply
      Katherine
      September 1, 2015 at 10:41 am

      Thank you for your helpful comment! I cannot believe that you did a safari while pregnant and with a toddler – I bow down!!

  • Reply
    Jan
    August 31, 2015 at 9:34 am

    He’s beautiful! I enjoyed reading your honesty. Having children pushes your limits and teaches you so much! But best of all, you never knew how much you could love something until it happens to you. cheers!

    • Reply
      Katherine
      September 1, 2015 at 10:40 am

      Thank you Jan and you are so right!

  • Reply
    Iris
    August 31, 2015 at 9:38 am

    So happy that you are embracing the post-kids time! I can feel your joy! Thanks for sharing it with us! Would love to see more pics of baby feather!

  • Reply
    suz
    August 31, 2015 at 10:17 am

    First off, Congratulations on the new baby!

    Such a cutie! Hope you already have (or the the way) to adjusting into post-partum life.

    I feel bad about the no paid leave in the US though. Here in the Philippines, fathers are given seven days paternity leave from the day the child is born, as for mothers, they get sixty days for normal deliveries and upto eighty for c-section. Mothers also get financial benefits during that time. As should be, in my opinion, because after having a baby, life changes a whole lot.

    It may feel difficult and tiring now but when they have grown up, you will look back and wonder how fast time seemed to pass.

    • Reply
      Katherine
      September 1, 2015 at 10:40 am

      Hi Suzy, thank you for sharing your experience, and I’m glad to hear about the laws in the Philippines – I had no idea before!

  • Reply
    Alice
    August 31, 2015 at 10:43 am

    Aww mannnn why’d you have to go and allllllmost make me want to have a kid? WHY? That’s ok, I’m still not entirely convinced it’s right for me haha. But your last point was a really beautiful read.

    • Reply
      Katherine
      September 1, 2015 at 10:39 am

      Thanks my friend! You are SO young so I think you have quite a bit of time to decide still 🙂 You’d make a wonderful and super stylish mom!

  • Reply
    Lisa
    August 31, 2015 at 11:03 am

    Thank you for such a sweet and honest post. Your precious baby is so adorable. My husband and I are also efficient travelers and in the beginning it is overwhelming traveling with babies. I recommend not traveling at all when they are around 18 months….airplanes and crying, curious babies who won’t sit do not mix. 🙂 Now that our kids are a little older it does get so much better and I love seeing the world through their eyes.

    • Reply
      Katherine
      September 1, 2015 at 10:39 am

      Thank you for the advice! I heard the same thing about 18 months…or at least to stick to road trips 🙂

  • Reply
    nancy
    August 31, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    Did you do the Chinese month long recovery? zuo yuezi?

    • Reply
      Katherine
      September 1, 2015 at 10:39 am

      No I didn’t…the closest I got to it was my mother trying to force me to eat some pigs feet soup, ha! I ate one bowl 🙂

      • Reply
        nancy
        September 1, 2015 at 3:10 pm

        I found my friends an americanized version @motherbees in LA. I’m for sure going to do it. Preserve! But need baby first.

  • Reply
    Marie G
    August 31, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    You should get Global Entry for Baby Feather! We got it for our daughter when she was 8 mo old.

  • Reply
    tata
    August 31, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    yes travel a lot with your little one! while you only have 1 child, it’s a piece of cake! once you have 2, it becomes a little challenging. but children learn so much through traveling!!! my favorite place to travel with little ones is Paris! Parisians are very understanding when traveling with children and Paris is a very kid friendly city! good luck!

    • Reply
      Katherine
      September 1, 2015 at 10:38 am

      Nice to hear that one of my favorite cities is child friendly! Thank you for sharing.

  • Reply
    Dina H
    August 31, 2015 at 2:32 pm

    Hi Catherine,

    Congratulation for the birth of baby Feather. I have 2 myself so now exactly how it goes. As for travel – totally agree, it is so worth it. my first born had his first international travel when he was 4 months old.

    I live in the UK and here we have up to 52 weeks of maternity leave. For the first 39 weeks there are statutary pay that the company has to pay us and the rest are unpaid.
    I took the full year off for my 2 and so glad I did!

    • Reply
      Dina H
      August 31, 2015 at 2:35 pm

      Sorry misspelt your name! C instead K.

      • Reply
        Katherine
        September 1, 2015 at 10:38 am

        UK sounds great…I’d take the full year as well!

  • Reply
    Celine
    August 31, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    Please excuse me for intruding but did your father pass away?
    If so, I am terribly sorry for your loss.
    My father passed away prior to meeting my kids and not a day goes by that I didn’t wish he was still here to meet them and see them grow up.

    If not I apologize for misunderstanding. I remember you posting a picture of him having fallen asleep in a parked car and I thought that he seemed like such a fun and cool guy to have as your father.

    The baby is gorgeous. Motherhood is an amazing experience. We’re all happy for you! 👏🏼🎉💥🎉💥

    • Reply
      Katherine
      September 1, 2015 at 10:37 am

      Hi Celine, I’m sorry to hear about your loss. My father did pass away last year, I didn’t write about it but I wish my child could have met him as well. Thanks for your kind comment 🙂

  • Reply
    S
    August 31, 2015 at 4:41 pm

    Hi Katherine,
    Baby Feather is so beautiful! I loved your post. Post birth is a unique time. I agree with you , friends and relatives reach out and give invaluable help and advice. The world becomes a different place with a baby. I found people to be generally kind , friendly and helpful everywhere when they saw a small baby. We have always traveled with the kids even when they were a few months old. Initially I only traveled to visit my relatives and for short easy trips but by the time they were about a year and half it was ok to go on longer journeys, only difference was the way we travelled with lots of organizing 🙂 !!! I am sure you and Mr Feather will soon be going on lovely trips and managing with confidence!

    • Reply
      Katherine
      September 1, 2015 at 10:36 am

      Thank you for sharing your travel experience! Glad to hear that all went well and smoothly!

  • Reply
    Jo
    August 31, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    Hello Kat,

    Thank you for always sharing so honestly. Baby Feather is such a cutie and I’m sure there will be many happy travels for the whole family!

    Here in Singapore, mothers get 16 weeks of maternity leave (8 paid by the company and the other 8 paid by the government). Mothers can also share 1 week of their maternity leave with the fathers. There was also a recent announcement to increase paternity leave from 1 week to 2 weeks. The 2nd week is paid by the government and companies have to option of whether they want to provide it. For parents with kids under 6 years old, they also get an additional 6 days childcare leave on top of their existing annual leave allowance.

    • Reply
      Katherine
      September 1, 2015 at 10:36 am

      That is a very nice benefit from Singapore and quite thoughtful as well in terms of the childcare allowance. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  • Reply
    Sonita
    August 31, 2015 at 8:13 pm

    Beautiful baby, family and reflection, Kat! Congratulations!

    • Reply
      Katherine
      September 1, 2015 at 10:36 am

      Thank you Sonita! I hope you are getting more use out of the Chanel jacket than I currently am!

  • Reply
    Ammu
    September 1, 2015 at 1:03 am

    What a beautifully-written piece – you write with so much empathy, it’s one of the reasons I keep coming back to your blog. I wish you much happiness and strength as you move into this next chapter – baby Feather is just gorgeous 🙂

    • Reply
      Katherine
      September 1, 2015 at 10:35 am

      Thanks Ammu and I hope you are doing well!

  • Reply
    honhon
    September 1, 2015 at 4:10 am

    experience of having a baby and seeing it grow speeds up the broadening a woman’s (mother’s) spectrum of horizon – positives and negatives, and at the end it ties into one. everything is connected and probably equal and justified at the end. the beginning is the ending and ending is the beginning. life seems more not a line but a dot.

    • Reply
      Katherine
      September 1, 2015 at 10:35 am

      I like the last few lines of your comment…very true 🙂

  • Reply
    bisbee
    September 1, 2015 at 4:29 am

    Congratulations again on your beautiful baby! This post was a joy to read…you are really a gifted writer!

    • Reply
      Katherine
      September 1, 2015 at 10:35 am

      Thanks very much bisbee!

  • Reply
    Susan
    September 1, 2015 at 4:44 am

    i love love love this post and although I respect your disclaimer, I personally would love more mommy posts in the future!
    Regarding maternity leave, I’m currently living in Germany and had a really positive maternity experience so far. I had paid maternity leave six weeks before the due date, which was such a relaxing time that I look back on fondly.. Enjoying the last weeks of pregnancy, quality time with hubby, preparing the apartmen for the little ones arrival. After the birth, I had 8 weeks paid maternity leave, and hubby took one month off as well. I also had a difficult postpartum time and felt weak, especially with the pains of breastfeeding, so I was thankful for this time to rest.
    Many of my friends took one year off, I took six months since my schedule is more flexible and I don’t work a 9-5 job. Child care is also subsidized, so I was able to find a nanny.
    I don’t want to make it sound like it’s perfect though. There are of course downsides too. Some jobs might assume that if you’re a woman at a certain age, that you will take a year off for each child, and while discrimination is illegal, it happens. There’s also still sometimes stigma towards mothers in the workplace.

    I do consider moving back to America in the future, but I wonder how it will be to adjust to certain things. I know so many moms that do an amazing job, so of course it’s possible. I guess we will have to see…

    Btw little feather is beautiful!!

    • Reply
      Katherine
      September 1, 2015 at 10:35 am

      Thank you Susan! It sounds like Germany has a pretty good system with some nice benefits. Maybe move back to US once you are done having children, ha 🙂

  • Reply
    Sherry
    September 1, 2015 at 5:11 am

    Your life has changed forever. Life before baby and now life after baby. Everything you do, eat, think, breathe, experience, will be with your child in mind. Your love will grow more and more, and in ways you never thought possible. You’ll want to make the world a better place, you’ll get involved with causes you never thought you would. What things you were interested in, may not interest you as much at all. Maybe you were into fashion for yourself, but after baby, you will become very health conscious, or maybe you will want to find out what’s the best way to educate children, or how to find out if the labeling on consumer foods is really accurate. Be open to exploring those new facets of yourself, as you grow as a mother and a person. This is your blog, and dont’ feel pressure to keep doing it as you have done it before. Yes, you may lose a few readers, but along the way you will gain new ones as well! Embrace the person you are, and use your blog to be your voice and enjoy the ride! And above all, please dont’ apologize for sharing what is one of the life’s most beautiful gifts: parenthood.

    • Reply
      Katherine
      September 1, 2015 at 10:34 am

      Hi Sherry, your comment was lovely to read. Thanks for your encouragement 🙂

  • Reply
    Sandy S
    September 1, 2015 at 7:27 am

    He is just beautiful! I cannot believe the US doesn’t have a mandated maternity program. I live in Canada and we get 1 full year of leave, along with $ from the government called Employment Insurance. Not too much money, but it can cover groceries, gas, necessities, etc. Husbands/Partners can also take a leave called Parental Leave with the same benefits. I cannot imagine having to go back to work soon afterwards.

    • Reply
      Katherine
      September 1, 2015 at 10:33 am

      Thanks for sharing your experience in Canada. It’s crazy that the US has nothing!

  • Reply
    keren
    September 1, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    Congratulations!!!
    You did a wonderful “job” of deciding to be a parent, pregnancy, l&d, now being a parent
    Don’t expect too much of yourself . Your body takes a while to go back to normal. I know by your posts you are a disciplined person so it will happen.
    Your life will be different and will take some adjustment.
    I think of my children as something my husband & I did together and a reflection of our past generations.
    You & Mr Feather have a beautiful baby boy feather. Be proud of yourselves!!’

    • Reply
      Katherine
      September 6, 2015 at 5:23 pm

      Thank you Ruth!! Especially for the advice to feel proud of ourselves – something I’ll tell future parents to feel as well 🙂 Very wise!

  • Reply
    Monique
    September 1, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    Hello Kat,
    Your baby is really adorable! Love your post about motherhood! I hope I can join your exclusive club of motherhood real soon. I just knew I have lost him yesterday and try to get my hope up.
    All the best to you, Katherine!

    • Reply
      Katherine
      September 3, 2015 at 7:04 pm

      I’m so sorry to hear that Monique. You are in my thoughts, all the best to you too.

  • Reply
    Olyvia
    September 1, 2015 at 8:53 pm

    This post brought tears to my eyes! And baby feather is so handsome! I’ve been telling people that I never ever want to have kids (seeing the hard struggles mothers have to endure…) but I’m glad to read your point of view…especially the last paragraph. Gives me courage that if I get knocked up…it’ll be okay 🙂

    • Reply
      Katherine
      September 3, 2015 at 7:04 pm

      You’ll be great either way I’m sure! 🙂

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    September 4, 2015 at 11:44 am

    Katherine!

    This is such a lovely post. Motherhood truly is wonderful and life changing. It is one of the toughest jobs I’ve taken on so far in my life, but so rewarding in so many ways. PS. Your son is adorable! Keep posting pictures of him (how could anyone get tired of baby pictures!?).

    Take care!

    xo-

    Samantha

  • Reply
    Ali
    September 5, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    Congratulations, he’s absolutely perfect. You’re right, no one tells you about how hard it is after the first one, but the good news is that if you ever decide to do two, the second birth is usually a piece of cake comparatively. I was pregnant with my second when a good friend was pregnant with her first and while I tried to be honest about some of the experiences I had during labor and the recovery afterward, everyone’s experience is different and the more I told her, the more the hormones and anxiety kicked in and made her extremely worried…. So just one thing to think about :-). Of course, it didn’t help that her delivery was exponentially harder than my first had been, didn’t live that down for a while. I think the view a lot of moms take is you can’t avoid birth and you have to go through it so experience it for yourself? Yeah, I know, not helpful. Also not helpful, but as time goes by you do recover and eventually find the “new” old you and while it’s an adjustment, I’d never go back. Life with my little ones is the most amazing (and crazy) adventure I’ve ever been on! Thanks for sharing, always love reading about new moms and the transition to parenting their first little one.

    • Reply
      Katherine
      September 6, 2015 at 2:00 pm

      Thank you for sharing your experience Ali – glad to hear the second is easier (though we are awhile off, ha!)

  • Reply
    Wonderland Boudoir
    September 6, 2015 at 10:20 am

    Katherine!

    Thank you for sharing such an honest post about life post baby! I don’t have any children yet, but honestly the thought have carrying one, labor, and then the months after scared the hell out of me. Thanks for being so candid.

    Korin
    http://www.WonderlandBoudoir.com/blog

  • Reply
    hera
    September 8, 2015 at 1:33 pm

    Life will be better, your body will feel better, day by day. And still – no checked baggage! You will learn to pack even more smartly and choose the right stroller and carseats, that you can board the plane with! Good luck to your new journey.

  • Reply
    EK
    September 10, 2015 at 10:40 am

    Hi Katherine,

    I love you blog especially travel ones. I love traveling too:)
    We are currently expecting a baby girl in November. I am sure at some point you will start travelling with your baby. I am very looking forward to read travel with baby post!

    • Reply
      Katherine
      September 10, 2015 at 6:47 pm

      Thank you EK and congratulations on your upcoming baby girl!!

  • Reply
    TheFashionableTeacher
    September 10, 2015 at 8:41 pm

    I felt great after giving birth. I didn’t care about how I looked or that my clothes didn’t fit. I didn’t like being pregnant at all. It was a relief. You would think that I would be a terrible mother, but I couldn’t stop looking at my boys. I couldn’t wait to get them home.
    As a teacher, I agree that not everyone should be a parent. I see it first hand everyday. I would never make anyone feel bad about not wanting kids. Parenting is hard work.

  • Reply
    Dean
    September 15, 2015 at 1:30 am

    Hi there, I’m from Singapore. Actually travelling with babies/toddlers has its “benefits” too! Such as Priority queues at customs, boarding and taxi??? Hehe…

  • Reply
    Lara
    September 29, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    congrats on your beautiful boy.

    I have four kids and have travelled with them right from the start – yes, there are periods where they are more annoying than other times but now my older ones are all set, kick of their shoes, get out the ipad and are disconnected for the entire flight – and it is worth it. yes, lots of pain and fuss and being exhausted, annoyed, etc but at the end, nothing more rewarding for me.

    enjoy your baby and don’t think too much about everything – it is normal to have the tendency to overthink and to have high expectations – just take it one day at a time 🙂

    • Reply
      Katherine
      September 30, 2015 at 7:50 pm

      Thanks so much for the encouragement! You’ll be an inspiration when we travel with baby 🙂

  • Reply
    little luxury list
    December 9, 2015 at 6:51 pm

    Belated congratulations! I’ve been meaning to write you. Labor, delivery, and recovery are all difficult and painful for moms. It is really important to have such a supportive network. Nothing will ever be the same, but it really is true that you forgive and forget quite a bit when you hear your little one laugh and marvel at the little miracle you created!

    xoxo,
    little luxury list formerly Chic ‘n Cheap Living

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