Friendship & Infertility: Feeling Alone Is Normal, But Don’t Stay There

It was the start of 8th grade. Having only known life as an Air Force brat, this was my eighth different school since kindergarten. But this year was different. I had just come from a school with twenty students in my grade, and my new school had over 220. My teachers and classes went well, but then came that dreadful lunch hour. Although I had changed schools before and had to make new friends, this was my first vivid memory of feeling alone.

Being alone isn’t necessarily a negative thing. Solitude is good and needful at times, and usually because you want to be alone. Feeling alone is more of an emotional state or reaction. I felt isolated.  I remember wondering what I would do during lunch hour, where would I sit and eat, where would I stand outside afterwards until the bell rang to go to my next class. Whether that feeling lasted two days, two weeks or two months, I am not sure, but I know I didn’t stay alone.

One girl befriended me. She was not new to the school, but she must have seen or sensed I felt alone and she reached out to me. Another girl I met was new that year, too. I didn’t know there was someone else like me who felt like I did. Although the school I had just left was 10 miles away, she had moved all the way from Alaska to Oklahoma! This happened over 30 years ago, and I honestly can’t remember whether she found me or I found her, but I know God brought us together.

Multiply that isolating feeling from 8th grade lunch hour many times over, and you can only imagine how alone I felt at times when we found ourselves facing years of infertility. Or you might know exactly how I felt if you are there right now facing it yourself.

The trials we endure throughout life or compared to others are different, but we can apply what we have learned in other circumstances to help navigate through a different set of circumstances. Just like the girl, who was not new, befriended me at school, I can tell you of many women who befriended me in my infertility. Women who had also experienced infertility found out I was going through the same thing, and they reached out to me through notes and hugs, listening and tears, and most of all, prayers. Even women who didn’t know exactly what it was like to experience infertility still showed compassion by seeking me out to encourage me and fill me with hope. I felt alone at times, but because of them, I didn’t stay there.

During that 8th grade lunch hour, I may have looked around for someone who was quiet like me and eating alone, or perhaps she was the one who looked up and noticed me standing around the courtyard by myself, looking lost. You may think you are the only one on this journey of infertility, but if you and I took the time to look at others around us, we just might find a friend on the same infertility road.

We look at the woman with the college degree who works full-time and automatically assume she must be putting her family on hold to climb the corporate ladder. We don’t see she just might be trying to get pregnant and longing for the day when she can have a baby and be a stay-at-home mom.

We look at a young wife and form an opinion that she is so newly married that we don’t even realize she’s had several miscarriages already and is quietly grieving.

We look at a happy couple that loves dogs and decide they must be animal-lovers and not really want kids of their own. We don’t even consider that they could be privately enduring heartache after heartache of infertility.

Two different circumstances, the same feelings of isolation – they are both normal experiences that other people are going through, but we don’t have to stay alone. We can accept the support when others reach out and not feel isolated anymore, and we can stop the seclusion and look for someone who could be experiencing similar pain and try to encourage each other.

I understand that however long your journey of infertility is, you will still feel alone at times and that no one seems to care. We are never alone because we have Jesus. Whether you know Him as your Lord and Savior or not, He knows exactly what you’re going through. He will hear when you cry out to Him. There is no need to hide the pain, the fear, the tears, the questions. He already knows, and He cares. This verse from the song, “Untitled Hymn – Come To Jesus” by Chris Rice makes me cry and smile at the same time.

Sometimes the way is lonely and steep and filled with pain.

So if your sky is dark and pours the rain, then cry to Jesus.

Cry to Jesus. Cry to Jesus and live.

In friendships, or the lack thereof, you can feel alone. The girl who reached out to me that 8th grade lunch hour became my friend and although we have not remained close, I still remember her reaching out to me. It brings a smile to my face, and I will always be grateful for her. The girl from Alaska became my best friend that year and I still consider her one of my best friends and am thankful she loves me in spite of my failures and flaws. If I ever have feelings of being alone in this area, and once in awhile, those feelings crop up, I look at this little album I made called the A to Zs of Friendship and am reassured of the special friends God has given me throughout my life, from those who have accepted me as I am to those who have zipped to my rescue. I am not alone!

In infertility, you can truly feel alone. But with the concerted efforts of Resolve to bring awareness, you can see you are not alone. I can look at my facebook profile and count 37 friends who have experienced infertility and loss and those are the women I know about. That’s over 12% of my facebook friends. I am not alone. You are not alone.

With God, we are never alone. “And lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Matthew 28:20b

NIAW - National Infertility Awareness Week

Psalm 10:17 God will always hear our prayers.

“Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear:” Psalm 10:17

Encouragement from Matthew Henry’s Commentary:

1) The Lord never said to a distressed suppliant, “Seek in vain.”

2) May we not hope that he who has been will still be, will ever be, a God hearing prayers?

He had heard and answered their prayers: “Lord, thou hast many a time heard the desire of the humble, and never saidst to a distressed suppliant, Seek in vain. Why may not we hope for the continuance and repetition of the wonders, the favours, which our father told us of?”

He pleads their expectations from God pursuant to their experience of him: “Thou hast heard, therefore thou will cause thy ear to hear, as, Psalms 6:9. Thou art the same, and thy power, and promise, and relation to thy people are the same, and the work and workings of grace are the same in them; why therefore may we not hope that he who has been will still be, will ever be, a God hearing prayers?”

But observe, (1.) In what method God hears prayer. He first prepares the heart of his people and then gives them an answer of peace; nor may we expect his gracious answer, but in this way; so that God’s working upon us is the best earnest of his working for us. He prepares the heart for prayer by kindling holy desires, and strengthening our most holy faith, fixing the thoughts and prayers, raising the affections, and then he graciously accepts the prayer; he prepares the heart for the mercy itself that is wanting and prayed for, makes us fit to receive it and use it well, and then gives it in to us. The preparation of the heart is from the Lord, and we must seek unto him for it (Proverbs 16:1) and take that as a leading favour.

God gave me you – at the best time.

God gave me you necklace

It’s Christmastime! I wanted to write about my necklace – my husband asked me what I wanted for my birthday and this is it! The words, “God gave me you” spoke to me above all the other beautiful pieces I saw at The Vintage Pearl because that is what our son’s name means, “Given of God” from I Samuel 1:17. When I picked up my special order a week ago, the first thought that came to my mind was that God gave me Jesus. God gave us Jesus, His only begotten Son. This is the best gift of all – a gift all of us can receive because God offered this gift to all of us. Jesus came in the fullness of time. He came at the right time, at the best time. All of us can choose to receive this gift of salvation.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

As Christians, we are assured through God’s Word that Jesus came at a time of God’s own choosing. I also had to be assured that my baby would come in God’s time. I remember waiting, more waiting, still waiting, trying-to-be-patiently waiting for my baby. Holidays can be harder, especially holidays like Christmas, which we dream of being the perfect time to give a pregnancy announcement or the perfect photo op to show our baby, our gift under the tree. Before God gave us Grant, a precious friend shared with me the thought I’ve not forgotten – maybe it’s not about us and when we think the timing is best for us, but the timing God would have our children be born into this world.

“For such a time as this.”

That phrase comes from the Book of Esther, who was indeed born for a great purpose and fulfilled that purpose. God gave me Grant when He wanted him to come into this world. I don’t know whom his life is supposed to impact. It may be a few people or many. It is for a particular generation. I just rest assured knowing he came at the right time. It’s easier to be assured of that now that he is here, but I still marvel that God gave me him. It isn’t a coincidence who his friends are, who his teachers are, who his life is intersecting with. As parents, we just pray for wisdom, grace, patience, and love as we help raise, train, and direct him to fulfill God’s purpose in his life.

May this song, “At The Right Time” by Mosie Lister and performed by the Booth Brothers encourage you this Christmas season as you realize or remember, “God gave me You – Jesus.”

While You Wait For Your Happy Mother’s Day

05-12-2014 10;59;46AM

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Mother’s Day 2014 has passed. Do you feel like a survivor, having endured another Mother’s Day? I remember how emotionally draining it was for me. Maybe that is why I haven’t even written about Mother’s Day but once.

My husband and I taught the newly married couples in our church for about five years and we loved it. We were childless, but at first our newly married couples were childless, too. After all, they were newly married! We had been teaching this class for a few years and one night at church (in 2002, I know because I journaled about this), I was helping in the nursery.  As usual, the topic of who the latest pregnant ladies were came up, and the three were ladies in my class.  Another worker said to me, “Boy, your class is really cranking out the babies.”  Then she declared,  “I think God is giving Greg and Joy big babies.” I remember answering, “Well, I guess He is giving us grandbabies, too.” That was probably a very tacky reply, but it seemed nicer than what I really wanted to say, which was, “If you’re trying to make me feel better, it’s not working.”

My husband didn’t take any offense in what she said or see it as negative; maybe it isn’t as personal for a man. I let her steal my joy, but I also hoped she meant well, and maybe at the time I was so concerned about not having what I wanted that I didn’t fully realize or appreciate how God was using me then. You see – there was truth in what that woman said to me. We didn’t have children, so we devoted our time and energy to that class, to those couples. We really loved them and wanted to see them grow in the Lord.

The pictures at the top of this blog post are a card and a note I received for Mother’s Day in 2004 and in 2005 from two very young moms in our Adult Bible Class. In the card, this precious lady thanked me for what we had done for them, including giving baby showers, writing notes, being a friend. She said even though I was not her mother, she looked to me as a spiritual mom. I received the note a year later from another precious lady who, along with her husband, had been saved at our church. Her words were full of compassion and maturity, and she said they had been praying for a year and a half that the Lord would give us a child. She also said I was truly like the mother she never had.

Those words are more precious to me now even though I was very touched by them the day I first received them. Looking back, God really did give us big babies. I am thankful God chose to use us in that capacity, and I trust our investment in those couples made a difference in their lives. I know it was not in vain. My encouragement to you is to realize and appreciate how God wants to use you right now – while you wait for your baby – whether you teach a class of newly married couples or 4-year old boys, help in the nursery, work a bus route, or find a teenaged girl who needs a mentor.  The Lord may use you to impact someone’s life as a spiritual mom or a mom they never had.

My wish is someday you will have a Happy Mother’s Day – from your “big babies” and from the baby you are waiting for.

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“For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.” Isaiah 64:4

Resolve To Know More About The Cost Of Infertility: Financial, Emotional, Spiritual

2014-bloggers-challenge-badge

 

This week is RESOLVE’s National Infertility Awareness Week, and the theme is “Resolve to Know More.” The meaning of resolve is 1) to find an answer to 2) to settle or solve something 3) to reduce by analysis 4) to reach a firm decision about 5) to deal with successfully.

Infertility costs. The price infertility charges you will cost you financially, emotionally, and spiritually. No matter how long you have been on this journey of infertility, decide together right now with your spouse to resolve the cost of your infertility.

Financial Cost

My husband and I were prepared and blessed to pay for fertility treatments without going into debt. It wasn’t our choice to wait nine years for a baby, but since that was how long it took us, our DINK (double income, no kids) status along with my husband’s innate frugal mentality prepared us for this financial obligation. Still, we covered our steps and decisions in prayer and carefully considered the costs of adoption and fertility tests and treatment options.

Financial stress is consistently one of the leading causes of marital problems, according to Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. If you become blessed to bring home a baby after the expense of adoption or fertility treatments or both, the actual cost of raising a baby or multiple babies would be additional financial strain. My purpose in sharing this isn’t to advise you to go into debt or not go into debt to have a baby. Having children was very important to us, and now that we are blessed to have one, we can say he was worth every penny. Once we had our son, our finances were a bit more of a strain, as we made the decision that I would be a stay-at-home mom, yet God has provided all of our needs.

Couples must still depend on prayer and God’s provision, godly counsel, common sense, and creativity to decide together how to have a baby. Besides prayer, we can go to godly counsel, and for godly financial counsel, one such source would be Dave Ramsey. I have linked a couple of questions people asked him about debt and infertility and his answers.

“Moving Forward with IVF”

“Pausing For Adoption”

In addition to godly counsel, we should also use common sense and creativity to determine our course of action. When we looked into adoption, we looked at the whole spectrum from international adoption to domestic adoption. Within domestic adoption, we considered relatively cost-free adoptions like DHS or ICW (Indian Child Welfare), to more costly options like an adoption attorney or adoption agency, to a blend of the two such as an adoption outreach that asks for a balance of your time and money. The Adoption Tax Credit can help lessen the financial burden, and some companies provide adoption benefits to employees. When we pursued fertility treatments, we weighed the cost of treatment versus the chance of success. Our employers did not provide medical benefits for fertility treatments, and our state does not have an infertility insurance mandate to provide coverage (only 15 states currently do), but we compared the costs of different specialists in and out-of-state and explored options like shared risk, which is eventually what we settled on. Creatively come up with ways to reduce your current debt and increase your cash flow to fund your fertility expenses before or as they come due.

Emotional Cost

Unless you truly have a care-free attitude about adding to your family, whether it be “Que sera, sera – Whatever will be, will be” or you can leave it all in God’s hands – “If He wants it to happen, He will make it happen”, you will find your infertility journey to be an emotional roller coaster. The emotional cost is really unavoidable, but help is yours for the taking and you are not alone. RESOLVE offers support through its website as well as its presence on social media. This is also a great Fertility Authority link explaining how infertility is not just a disease, but also an emotional experience.  I’m even thankful for search engines that allow you type in a phrase or question and find the websites or blogs that provide answers and emotional support. The more we can make people aware of infertility and the effects of it, then hopefully, the understanding and support of your church, family, and friends will help bear the emotional cost of infertility.

Spiritual Cost

When we experience infertility and pregnancy loss, naturally, we want to get at the root of the cause, physically. We want to analyze every aspect and gain knowledge from books and blogs to finally seeking out a Reproductive Endocrinologist. Sometimes you may not be able to pinpoint a reason, like endometriosis or PCOS. After all of your tests, your doctor may come back and say you have “unexplained infertility.” Medically speaking, it may be unexplained, but your infertility is not without cause. Resolve to know more about the cost of your infertility, spiritually speaking. Realizing it is for a purpose will help you deal with it successfully.

As believers in Jesus Christ, we have to realize, even expect, and God forbid, rejoice, that trials will come into our lives to mold us to be more like Him, to glorify Him, and to encourage others. Our trial of infertility is a test, designed only to try – not to ruin – but to try our character, strength, patience, and trust in God.

“God’s design in afflicting his people is their probation, not their destruction; their advantage, not their ruin: a trial, as the word signifies, is an experiment or search made upon a man, by some affliction, to prove the value and strength of his faith. Our Christianity depends upon our faith; if this be wanting, there is nothing else that is spiritually good in us. Christ prays for this apostle, that his faith might not fail; if that be supported, all the rest will stand firm; the faith of good people is tried, that they themselves may have the comfort of it, God the glory of it, and others the benefit of it. A tried faith is much more precious than tried gold. Gold is the most valuable, pure, useful, and durable, of all the metals; so is faith among the Christian virtues; The trial of faith is much more precious than the trial of gold; Gold does not increase and multiply by trial in the fire, it rather grows less; but faith is established, improved, and multiplied, by the oppositions and afflictions that it meets with. Gold must perish at last–gold that perisheth; but faith never will.”  – From Matthew Henry’s Commentary on I Peter 1:6-7

“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” I Peter 1:6-7

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” I Peter 4:12-13

“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort, Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.” II Corinthians 1:3-5

“But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” I Corinthians 5:10-11

 

 

“God Makes All Things Good” by Kate

My husband Will and I have been married for about six years. We began trying to start our family as soon as we got married because in my heart I always knew it would be a journey. I always knew I wanted to be a mother, and God had placed it on my heart that it would be a long, hard journey. Thirteen months after we were married, we found out I was expecting our first child. We could not believe it.

Everything seemed healthy and fantastic until our 12-week ultrasound. Will and I had heard of a woman who lost her baby through a miscarriage just the night before our ultrasound, and we talked about how if something ever seemed to be wrong, we would trust that God was in control. We still had no idea, but God knew and He was preparing our hearts for the next morning. What a good God He is.

We went into the ultrasound full of hope and excitement. My husband was video recording it all until the ultrasound technician asked him to turn it off. My heart sank. I asked to see the heartbeat and she told me she had to get the doctor. She left the room with a beautiful picture that is still etched in my mind of our child’s side portrait. My heart was pounding. I could hardly hear the doctors words as she coldly told us our baby had passed away weeks prior. My world felt like it was crumbling and Will picked me up off the table.

We prayed together before our doctor came in and explained we were experiencing something called a ‘missed miscarriage’ and I would need to have a medical procedure to safely remove the baby. My husband asked if there was anything else that could be done to save our baby, and she explained our sweet child had passed away two weeks ago and we would need to move forward.

I have never spent so much time in bed. I cried and prayed constantly. None of my friends or family had actually experienced the loss of a baby, so no one had any kind or compassionate words to offer. My husband and I grew very close, and I found God working in my heart to deepen my reliance on Him. At that time, God placed on my heart to seek a fertility specialist.

We were blessed to get a referral to one of the top fertility specialists in Texas. He had so much compassion and insight into our feelings; it was a true blessing to start seeing him. He ran multiple tests and quickly found out I suffered from PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) and he also suspected endometriosis. To confirm the endometriosis, we had to undergo a procedure. The week before this procedure had been scheduled, we found out I was expecting again. During this pregnancy I was given ultrasounds weekly to monitor our baby’s development. Will had made it to all the appointments but was unable to make the 11-week ultrasound. We decided I should still go and be seen.

During the ultrasound, the technician asked what had happened the first time we lost our baby. I explained the heartbeat had stopped. I asked her if it had happened again and she confirmed we had lost our second baby one day after the last ultrasound. She had tears in her eyes and was so full of compassion. God knew I needed that exact technician at that time since my husband was not there. She sat with me while I called and told my husband, and once again, I had to undergo a medical procedure to remove our baby safely.

We were much more angry this time and found ourselves much more distant from the Lord and our church. We decided to stop all fertility treatments and focus on just our marriage and enjoy ourselves. Six months later Will was offered a promotion to Oklahoma and we willingly took it, knowing the change would be good for us. God is so amazing and He began confirming right away that we had made the right choice to move. I was looking into a job as a nanny where I met the family’s previous nanny who had also experienced a loss. She was my first friend to really connect with on this level, and she became such a support and an encouragement to me.

After a few months, my husband and I began seeking out doctors to help with our fertility struggles. We went to two doctors who were very unsuccessful in helping us, and we were beginning to get a little disappointed. We kept praying and trusting and we were finally directed to our current doctor. He has been a true answer to prayer. He confirmed the endometriosis and PCOS. He began fertility treatments right away, and after a year of IUIs and injectable fertility drugs, we were directed to IVF. The price of IVF was very intimidating to us, especially after our last year of unsuccessful treatment, so we decided to wait and instead put a down payment on a house. Two months later, we had closed on our home and also found out we were expecting baby number three. During the previous year of fertility treatments, my doctor had also found out I had a blood clotting disorder that can result in pregnancy loss, so he started me on blood thinners right away.

The peace and grace of God were unmistakable during this pregnancy. My levels were super low, but I had faith this baby would make it and he did! We even experienced an unbelievable scare during the third trimester when our baby boy was diagnosed with fluid in the back part of his brain. The fluid grew so large the specialists here directed us to seek a specialist out-of-state. In my heart, I knew God would make it good, no matter what that meant. I knew it would all be OK. We drove to Boston to see the specialists and found out our baby boy was healed! Even the doctors, who had told us he might never walk, talk, breathe on his own, or even possibly live through childbirth, were incredibly amazed.

Our church family had surrounded us in prayer and love, and I have no doubt in my mind the power of prayer and the strength of our God, the ultimate healer, are the reasons our son is with us today. I will never take His presence or a milestone achieved for granted. We were even in a car accident the week after we got home and yet again, God protected our sweet boy. He was born healthy and strong two weeks later. We are now expecting a baby girl in May and she is growing healthy and strong.

God laid on my heart my journey to motherhood would be hard and long, but I had no idea what that would include, and I still don’t know what lies ahead. What I do know is that God makes all things for good. He hears our cries and prayers. He is the only comfort we need and He is the ultimate decider of our future, not a doctor. God has grown our faith these last six years in ways we never thought possible. He is good and mighty. The Bible verses that have brought comfort to me through the years are Philippians 4:6-7, Philippians 6:10-18, 2 Corinthians 12:10, and Romans 8:28.

Kate

“Don’t Give Up (On The Brink Of A Miracle)” by Mike Adkins

I have shared two of the three songs I loved hearing the Hicks sing at a Southern Gospel Jubilee years ago.  The first two were “No Need To Doubt Him Now” and “In His Time.”  The third is what I call a fighting song.  I love the words.  Fighting songs keep you going when things look bleak and the results don’t seem very promising.     

“Don’t Give Up (On The Brink Of A Miracle)”

By Mike Adkins

 

Satan would have you look

at the trials of life that surround you,

And he tries to appear, and he brings

doubt and fear all around you.

Don’t look with your eye or listen with your ear.

Just cry out to God; He is always near,

And in your darkest hour, your miracle is here.

 

Oh, the devil is a thief

and he sends these troubles to confound you.

And he lies and he says,

“This time there’s no way you’ll make it through.”

But you remember God’s true Word, the battle is the Lord’s.

Don’t give in to fear; Think on things that are pure.

And praise the Lord, you’re miracle is here.

 

Don’t give up on the brink of a miracle.

Don’t give in; God is still on His throne.

Oh, don’t give up on the brink of a miracle.

Don’t give in; Remember you’re not alone.

 

On February 2nd of 2005, we had our first IVF-ICSI attempt.  I woke up feeling like something good was about to happen – our embryo transfer was at 10:45 am.  I was staying at my sister and brother-in-law’s house, and my sweet, five-year old nephew gave me two roses, one a melon color and the other yellow.  How special he (and my sister) made me feel!

The embryologist had called the day before and said we would have a transfer in the morning; one morula was ready, and he thought the 10-cell would be ready so we could transfer two.  The other two embryos had slowed down, but we were hoping they would be able to freeze them if they reached blastocyst by day 6 – the day after transfer.

At the procedure, I saw my embryos on a TV screen.  For some reason, I wrote in my journal that it was neat but not as exciting as I thought it would be.  My doctor mentioned that they were morulas, not blastocysts (optimum maturity) and that probably had to do with the condition of my eggs.  The other two embryos did not continue to develop.  This really discouraged me, and after we were alone, I cried.  I woke up at 4 am the next morning to use the bathroom and cried some more.  I sang to myself the songs I heard the Hicks sing – “No Need To Doubt Him Now” and “Don’t Give Up On The Brink Of A Miracle,” as well as Guy Penrod singing “I Just Feel Like Something Good Is About To Happen.”  I quoted Psalm 113 and my poem of faith, rejoicing, and trust, and then I remembered the words of a friend, “Stay encouraged, stay in His Word, and praise Him.”  God brought to mind our pastor’s most recent sermon from James.  I didn’t want my faith to be like the wind, driven by circumstances.  Faith and tears of doubt don’t go together.  I was encouraged in the Lord.

Yet, eight days later, my results were negative.  It was hard to hear.  My husband’s words were that he was still confident I would get pregnant, so we would just sail on.  We didn’t give up.

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