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The Childless Mother

Dealing with infertility and finding happiness

Introduction

For many years I have found writing to be a therapeutic tool. When I tried to process some of the most dark moments of my life putting pen to paper seemed to help in the way a pensieve does in the Harry Potter books. Carefully pulling the threads of dark thoughts and heart break out of my busy head and keeping them safe between the pages of my diaries. Blogging seemed like a natural progression from diary to internet.

I am by no means a professional writer and in truth a lot of what I have done was for me, that was until I started to share the story of our losing our babies. So many other women have since reached out to me that I finally feel like the last 12 years of heart break may have some meaning. I decided to separate my blogs and create one for our journey to become parents.

I hope you will find some comfort from our stories, I will share with you various stages of our journey as well as ways in which I have dealt with those awkward family moments.

To start this site I will give you a summary of who I am. I am 36 and I have been with my husband for nearly 14 years. I have PCOS and we have suffered multiple losses at very early stages of pregnancy. My life over the last 12 years has been consumed with baby making, I have felt broken and useless and totally alone. I have only recently started to pull myself together and acknowledge a future without children.

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Featured post

Mental health day

So it’s World Mental Health Day. I didn’t want to let it pass without acknowledging the pain I know a lot of us are in and the battle we fight that perhaps no one knows about in our “real life” and maybe we don’t even know the effects that it can have on our mental health.

Having problems getting the family we crave can take its toll. The “this is our month” can only go so far when you are repeatedly slapped down each month. Accepting there is a problem at all takes courage to then continue and find a way to keep going or worse to decide to call it a day and accept life childfree is hard when having a child has been your dream.

I tried for years to put my brave face on and keep going but it did get to the point where I couldn’t hold on to it any longer and it seeped out. Anger was the emotion of choice for me. I was raging at everything and then I crashed and was so low. What was my purpose now? How did I live the life happening around me when I dreamed and wanted a different version so badly.

I wouldn’t ever say I had suffered from depression or anxiety before. I have people close to me that do so I know how it can take over your life, but not me I thought I had it all under control. Lol.

I did not. And admitting that was difficult for me. I was always the glass half full type of person. I would be the one pulling people around me up, motivating who I could. I didn’t realise just how badly I was dealing with everything.

There is nothing wrong with admitting you need help. It might be that those people close to you in your life don’t know you are struggling, but believe me they would want to if you could find the words. Even if you can’t do that, maybe find support through your doctors. Don’t try to do it alone. The little voices that are telling us we are defective and in my case worthless. They are wrong .

I’m doing a lot better now after some drastic changes in my life. I am not saying we all need to do that but it started with me being kinder to myself. To admit that it’s a pretty shitty hand we have been dealt and it’s ok to feel angry about that. I’m not OK all the time. I still feel sad. But I no longer feel like I’m worthless. That’s got to be progress right?

Birthday Blues …. getting older and still no baby!

On the 19th of this month it’s my 38th birthday.

Well …..FUCK!!!

Birthdays after 30 have been mentally difficult for me because the world tells you your fertility decreases rapidly after this time. Now here I am nearly 40 and still no baby and honestly I just want to not give a shit anymore.

Sorry this ones a bit sweary lol. Just the way I’m feeling.

I wanted to make a big deal of this birthday to take my mind off all the ones before it I had tried to ignore. The passing of time is painful.

I was fine, but then the last couple of days I just feel that anxiety again. That feeling of being on the verge of tears constantly. I’m fighting the urge to take to my bed and not get back up. I won’t of cause. If I start to do that then it will only get worse.

I’m going to try really hard to celebrate it. As we all should. Not everyone is afforded the luxury of another year, each year you grow older is a blessing.

It may seem silly. What’s the difference one day to the next. It’s not like in reality my eggs just suddenly dry up a little more the next day another year passes. Even sillier is that mine aren’t that great in the first place so age is only one factor.

I’m so close to acceptance. No children for us. I can feel it. But then something will happen to knock me back.

A random middle of the night thought of what will my later years look like. If I’m lucky enough to reach old age, will we be lonely? Who will come to visit us at Christmas and random Sundays? My brain is a torture device I’m sure of it.

So instead of enjoying the moments and the now of it all. Here I am worrying about a future I don’t even know will happen. I frustrate myself!!

So this year. I will take the weekend. Because it’s a Friday this year so of cause you get the whole weekend to celebrate!! I’m going to hope as always the Birthday Fairy knocks me up or leaves enough money so we can keep trying πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ.

Bloody 38!!! How did that happen ?!

I hate you pregnancy test!!!

I would think that over the last 15 years I am at this point keeping these pregnancy and OPK test companies in business.

It starts with the excited buy in the early stages of trying. The optimist in me would buy the expensive brands and in bulk. They would sit proudly on my bathroom cabinets like a promise of the future we wanted. I couldn’t wait to test.

With each passing month the affection for these tests and that promised future, they started to take on a cruel light. As the fertility testing starts and the scheduled sex, the waiting to take the next test is torturous.

Then you get within a few days of aunt flows arrival and try it early because you never know and I can’t wait any longer …..

Flashing ….. flashing…… flashing…….

Listening to my heartbeat in my ears from anticipation.

Waiting….. waiting……. waiting…….

Hands and feet cold with fear. And then…..

Negative. Negative. NOT PREGNANT.

Feeling nothing for a few moments, almost a resigned “I knew it would be negative” followed by overwhelming sadness. Another month gone and no baby. Sitting cradling the cruel test, hoping the answer would change. Maybe it was too early??

The following few days until aunt flow arrives a small glimmer of hope remains symptom watching and googling “early signs of pregnancy” like a crazy person. Convincing my cray-cray brain that I am indeed peeing more (I Wasnt) or that my boobs did indeed hurt (they did but they do every month) that those cramps must be implanting cramps (they were not. They were period cramps.) That usually ends with me in a bathroom somewhere silently crying after another failed month.

It takes strength to pull yourself up and dust yourself down and go in for another round. Hopes a cruel bitch.

At this point it feels like the only option is IVF for us. In recent years I haven’t bought any tests. One, because I hate them and two because if I get pregnant then I will know at some point! What’s the point of the repeated torture.

In some ways I am probably delaying the last little bit of weight I have to loose because if we do the IVF then there is a chance I have to look at another negative pregnancy test. I know most people won’t understand that but anyone in our shoes will.

It may seem slightly kooky but I would like a ceremonial burning of everyone I have ever had to take along with the OPKs.

I imagine how it would have been to have simply gotten pregnant and not needing all these tests.

To not know what the anxiety of the two week wait feels like.

To have not experienced the crushing disappointment of each passing month, or worst of all those rare tests that were in fact positive but then ended in bitter loss all the same.

Can you imagine that. All those years waiting. To finally see that PREGNANT only to feel that life leave you. That dream leave. My heart to just break.

So yep. I hate those damn tests. I will avoid that aisle at the supermarket, but if one day on the news you hear of a woman smashing up the pregnancy test alley at a North East supermarket. You can bet your arse it’s me. Harley Quinning the shit out of those smug blue boxes.

I’m not bitter of cause. Not at all πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚. Lol.

Waking from grief.

If I think too hard back over the last ten years I get an ache in my throat. Tears often threaten. Life’s a wonderful gift, but sometimes it’s an evil bitch.

I have had some of the best moments, marrying my husband, my best friend. Cheesy but very true. New travels, new experiences. But it’s also brought with it some terrible lows. Especially the last three years.

Every miscarriage I have experienced has layered more and more sadness on my heart. It’s chipped away at it’s normally very optimistic exterior. After all, how could I not be optimistic, I found Ben.

When my cousin fell ill and then sadly died I felt a bit of me go with him. Again cliche to say that, but it’s the best way to describe how I felt. I just am not the same person I was before. We dealt with what had to be done at the time as a family then we disappeared back into our own worlds to try and process the loss.

It felt like every day I was screaming in pain silently. My exterior often smiled but then in the quiet places when I was alone, my tears fell freely. It felt like dealing with the loss of my babies and Gavin all together. It twisted and wrapped itself up in one big lump of pain that’s just with me all the time.

They often say times a healer. I don’t find that true. What I do believe is time gives you an opportunity to learn to deal with the pain you are feeling. It becomes the new normal.

I retreated from everything. I barely saw my friends even my family. I was happiest in my house not having to do anything or see anyone.

Then earlier this year I had a car accident. A really bad one and my cheese well and truly slipped off my cracker. All that time to stay still, all those hours alone. It wasn’t pretty. My world literally felt like it fell apart.

I made some big changes. I left my job. I stared my own business an extension of my husbands already successful company. We sell and fit blinds commercially and domestically. We spend A LOT of time together. I love it.

Just recently I have started to notice a change, like a fog lifting. I don’t feel so heavy all the time. I don’t feel the need to hide away as much. My smile is no longer forced, my laugh is genuine.

Don’t get me wrong there are some days the fog slips back and I feel the loss completely again, but it’s less frequent.

I can think of Gavin without feeling the urge to brake something.

I don’t feel like all of a sudden I’m over the losses we have experienced, I know there will be bad moments to come. Like when I see something I desperately want to tell him about and I still go to message him, for those wonderful few moments he’s with us, then I remember he’s gone.

It’s the small steps that are helping. The little glimpses of the old me.

Finding where we fit in a world that the “norm” is having kids is sometimes hard. I discovered this week that those of us many years into trying but still not lost hope completely, apparently we don’t fit in with those who defiantly can’t. The fact we still have hope however small separates us. Was a little upsetting as I have always taken comfort in anyone on this journey. Even if some have had children. We still bare scars from the journey.

So my circle now is even smaller it would seem. I’m 37. I have lost my babies, I am trying to learn how to get my head around the fact we will likely never be parents. Yes I still have a small glimmer of hope, but that is dimming with every passing year.

The grief I feel from the label “Childless”. One day I hope it’s a label I can wear without causing me pain. I feel like it might happen. Now the fogs lifting.

Happily Ever After …

As a child I loved fairytales. I completely bought into the Prince Charming saving the princess and living happily ever after. I believed in wishes coming true. I believed the Disney version of life. I knew one day I would get married and have kids just like the stories told me I would. Because that’s what being happy looks like.

Princess meets prince who saves her and they get married and have a family πŸ™„πŸ™„. Now how much those expectations have changed and I feel cheated. Over time, that picture I built fades and as I move further away from it I try to see something different.

If I had been granted wishes as a kid no doubt I would have used them for superficial things. How I looked probably. To be beautiful. As I grow older those wishes change.

Now as an adult I would simply have one wish. To be a mother. Well actually, that’s not true. I would take two wishes, one to bring Gavin back and for him to have never been ill or felt one moment of pain and then I want to be a mother. Would I want to go back and erase all of my bad experiences to get my wish? No I don’t think I would. That pain, as hard as it has been, it has shaped me. It’s made me stronger. It’s made me appreciate my husband so much and the life we have.

I feel like these stories have set me up for a massive fall. There is only ever one version of a happy ending and it’s not the one I am living. Childless in your late thirties character’s would probably only make it as the evil spinster or witch in the Disney version. No one really ever thinks to write about the happy ever after for the childless couple. Perhaps it’s hard to imagine.

Am I happy? Absolutely. I may be a little broken and of cause I’m still grieving but I don’t want that to stop me from living in the now.

I think that there are probably pros and cons of both versions, with or without children. I’m sure some of our friends with children may envy some of our lifestyle, as we do theirs. It’s human to wonder what it’s like to have different things but that doesn’t mean that I’m not happy. I at least got my Prince Charming ….. well in truth he’s more of a grumpy character but he’s mine all the same πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚. I am no princess either. I most definitely do not need saving.

I hope as time moves on the happy ending tales perhaps include alternative endings. Time is already starting to change that. Some people may not understand why that needs to happen, I would say to those people. Be thankful that you haven’t ever felt like the outsider. That your story has probably been told over and over again as the ‘normal’. Maybe those new versions need to be told to offer hope and strength to those who just want to feel less alone.

The differences in all our stories are what make us so wonderfully human. I would wish one day that no one would ever experience infertility. ……See I’m getting greedy with the wishes now πŸ™ˆπŸ™ˆπŸ˜‚. That couples would never have to experience the heartbreak and sheer devastation of losing a pregnancy or a child.

Adapting to the new version of our story has taken some time. Yes sometimes I feel like I have wasted time always looking forward, it’s hard not too when you are always thinking that you may be pregnant this time next year or have a new baby. The more years that pass and it doesn’t happen it has taken its toll on my optimism. It’s also forced me to look at a different future. That alternate ending for us. For me that looks like many more years happy with my husband, appreciating how lucky we are to have each other. I hope to be traveling as much as we can.

Maybe one day I will be writing something like this….

“and her heart was no longer hurting, she no longer felt her arms ache from the burned of emptiness. She found contentment in just being the two of them, no longer wondering what if. They lived happily ever after. The End.”

πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ One day. Who knows. ❀️❀️

Childfree in a sea of parents.

I don’t think I ever felt like I was “normal” who is right? What even is normal nowadays? I don’t really even like the word!!

Dealing with infertility and PCOS has just increased this feeling of not really fitting in. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I don’t mind being slightly different. Having said that there are times that as a couple in our thirties and childfree, I feel we stick out like sore thumbs. It can catch me quite off guard at times too. Then I get angry at myself to allowing the self pity back in.

On Friday we had some time to kill between work appointments. We decided to go to the cinema and the only thing that happened to fit with our schedule was “Christopher Robin” – loved it, deffo worth a watch. Pooh Bear is so cute!! – but of cause it was filled with families.

Here we were. In our work clothes (looking like we just came off a building site) no children and watching a Disney movie. I didn’t think much about it at first until the cinema filled up and I realised we were in fact the only childfree people in there. Including a mum with her toddler and beautiful baby bump that walked right past inches from my face to sit next to us. ……. πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈ awesome!

I suddenly thought ” What must people think about us?!”

The fact is we are both big kids, we love a good Disney movie and the reality was probably no one even noticed we were childless but my damaged brain repeated hurtful things to me. You don’t belong here, you shouldn’t even be here, what must people think, why would you be here without children….. imagine what it would be like if you had a child here to share this with.

I’ve never been self conscious about this sort of thing before. This is new. I think maybe because the older we get we are the only couple now that doesn’t have children in our circle of friends, it feels like we are alone. That being said, we don’t need to have children to enjoy childish things.

I feel distant sometimes from our friends for this reason too. There is a certain connection that parents share from knowing what it’s like to be going through parenthood. A comradery almost (well until they are trying to out do each other with costumes and PTA bullshit then they are straight up enemies!) Still there are things that we can’t share. Birthing stories, Shared activities, children’s parties, clubs, education, trends etc. It feels sometimes like Im a spectator watching a game I can never play and I don’t understand the rules I just sit quietly at the side lines. I can do nothing about it. That’s what hurts the most.

I could allow myself to be consumed with anger and the “why us” of it all. I try not to. I embrace the life we have. It’s not the one I imagined but it’s a good one. My marriage is so good. We have fun and laugh more than we cry. He still makes my stomach flip after 16 years. That doesn’t mean we don’t mourn the life we imagined, the little boy or girl that would have completed us, but we aren’t just surviving. We are happy.

The song “This is Me” from the movie The Greatest Showman is so completely perfect for me, I cry almost every time I hear it. I feel the words passionately. I am broken and bruised. My scars may not all be visible but they are there and I wear them proudly. For every baby that lived however briefly inside of me. I feel like shouting THIS IS ME!

We almost apologise for being as we are, like we feel an obligation to make others around us feel less uncomfortable with our infertility. Often passing off events or moments as no big deal when secretly we are screaming inside. I don’t do this anymore. I make no apologies, we didn’t ask for this it’s no ones fault, we all just do the best we can. It’s not my responsibility to make others feel ok about it and it’s not theirs to make us feel better. We are coping the best we can.

So no, I may never be living the “normal” life I imagined as a child but I am living the absolute best life. Not a constellation prize type deal. It’s an actual good life. I’m just a little brokenis all.

Am I strong?

I talk about us being warriors a lot. I believe that 100%. How else do we get through the day like it’s all ok. When some days it just isn’t.

I do however think it’s ok to admit when you can’t be strong. So many people will say that, how brave, how strong we are and I appreciate those words so much. They give me actual strength. It doesn’t mean that sometimes I don’t fall apart.

That’s ok too.

In the first few days after my last miscarriage it felt like I was sitting watching the world happen. Like I was removed from everything around me. Every time I tried to grasp what was happening I would feel the ache and loose control.

People talk about broken hearts. They use it to describe break ups and hardships. I have done this. Nothing compares to that pain, it’s not a metaphorical pain. It’s a physical one.

All the cliques feel true. It is a unique pain. Loosing a child you desperately long for. Going from a lifetime of possibilities of plans, to nothing. Worse than that for me, because I have lost our babies so early there is no record of them ever existing. No one would ever know their little hearts did beat at one time. Now mine beats slightly off, it is missing the beats of our children.

To survive I have built a shell almost, so that I don’t feel the pregnancy announcements, I don’t feel the words misspoken and I don’t feel the loss of the unlived life with our children. That’s by day.

Then by night, when it’s quiet and my thoughts are my only company my shell cracks. Often in the middle of the night I can be found silent tears falling onto my pillow. The bathroom is another place my shell crumbles.

Grief is a strange experience. I have heard it described as waves. I can relate to this. One moment I can be perfectly fine and then a wave hits me and I fall apart spectacularly. I’m not ashamed of these moments. I’m human.

I absolutely believe that we are warriors, but it’s ok for us to feel the pain we need to to move forward. I don’t want to forget that I was ever pregnant and only look forward, I can’t always be looking back either of cause but I owe it to my babies to not forget them.

I don’t have them in my arms. I never will. My nursery may always be empty. My arms may never know the joy of holding our children. It then becomes about how we survive it.

It’s really simple for me. I am able to continue. I am able to keep the strength to share to help others because I may be a broken warrior, but I’m a warrior all the same. I get most of my strength from my husband, we are a team. Life may not be going how we planned but even with what we have been through, we laugh far more than we cry.

I’m always going to fight to keep going, but it’s ok to allow a little sadness out. It’s perfectly acceptable to mourn what we have lost. I don’t need to be strong all of the time. I’m ok with that too.

β€œWhy don’t you just adopt?”

I’ve mulled over the idea of this blog for a while now. It’s a tough one to write about because I have so much respect for those families who have adopted or are going through the adoption process. Let me start by saying that.

But.

So many times people have said to us “You could just adopt”. Here’s my issue with that statement, while being from a good place. It’s probably one of the worst things to say to me as someone who can’t have kids. Bare with me.

Don’t get mad.

This is why. ….. the word “just” is the killer for me. It makes it feel like they are suggesting it as a runner up prize. Adoption if you choose this route is so much more important than that.

Adoption is not a fertility treatment. It’s not a quick fix for the years of desperately trying. Adoption is a completely separate decision that any family can make if you can or can’t have children.

For me if I were to go down this route. I would need my husband 100% on board with it. It needs to be a decision you are both happy with and both healed enough to move forward, because if not, that’s not fair to any child that may be placed into your care.

My issues with not being able to conceive and carry my own child are issues that are about me and my body. I don’t feel adopting a child would magically fix those aches. I long to carry a child in my own body, I even want to experience giving birth. I want to feel that baby moving inside me. Most of all I yearn to hold a child that’s a little bit of me and a little bit of my husband, who’s the love of my life. Not everyone does feel that need, but I do.

While I know for sure if we do go down that route the child placed with us would be ours. No question. I believe that blood doesn’t always make a family. But the place I am at right now, I know I’m not ready to give up on the dream of having our own child and when someone suggests that we should adopt. Here’s what I feel.

GUILT.

I feel bad about every little life out there that needs a home and a loving family. I know we would make great parents but it’s not fair of us to half arse it and that’s just me being honest. So this suggestion just adds to my pain.

The adoption process is a difficult and emotional one. Deciding if you are willing to take a certain age, a child with difficulties or disabilities, would you take a sibling group the choices you just wouldn’t have to think about if we just got pregnant. Reading the bios and looking at those photographs, at each beautiful child and trying to decide who would get us as parents that’s something I am not in the right place for. My hearts already broken from loosing our babies, what happens if the process falls through. How would we deal with that?

Moving years into the future how would I feel if the child wants contact with their birth family. Feeling like someone would possibly take my place. Again after going through what we have with our own babies I know that would kill me.

Another consideration for many people not in the UK is the cost. It can cost a lot of money to start the adoption process. Not everyone is in the position to do that.

People often are curious about the Infertility journey. Some people it comes from a place of love, they want you to feel less pain so they say things to try and help. For some people it’s just about being a bit nosy. They want to know to satisfy their own curiosity. Others would try to make it about the greater good and “doing the right thing” I’m amused by these people as I am yet to meet anyone offering this piece of advice that has been through what we have or even adopted themselves. Those people will say it like a – “wow don’t moan about it … just adopt” – like it’s something that’s as easy as that. Problem solved. All our pain magically gone.

If when you know that having kids isn’t happening for you and you have grieved the loss of that imagined life enough to feel ready to adopt, I truly applaud you. I really hope one day that I can get there too because having time to contemplate giving a home to a child in need really is an unexpected pain of infertility. I beat myself up about this all the time.

The simple fact is, like the decision to have any children, it’s a personal one.

I understand some people may view this suggestion as a perfect solution. I don’t think you can truly understand the conflict until you have lived it. Some couples know even before they try for children, if it doesn’t work they will adopt. This is so wonderful. I wish that’s how I felt. But we all have to go through this however we can, we do our best to survive it.

The adoption process here in the uk also asks for a set amount of time before starting the adoption process if you have had fertility treatment etc. This is completely the right thing for them to ask in my opinion. Again I will say it. Adoption is not a infertility treatment. The children involved deserve so much more than that. I really hope one day we can heal enough to do that but in the mean time please try to think before you speak.

I don’t mind answering the question ;

“have you considered adoption?”

That’s so much better than saying to me;

“Why don’t you just adopt?”

There’s nothing “Just” about it. It’s a completely awesome thing to do.

The DUFF, weight loss for ivf and PCOS

Loosing weight for me is so desperately frustrating. I have all these reasons I should be doing it. Mainly because we want IVF but everything just seems like it’s gone to pot since my car accident in March.

I have always felt like the DUFF in my circle of friend. I don’t say that for cry’s of “no your not!!” It’s just the facts. I have carried a lot of insecurities over the years for the way I look and I spend a lot of time judging what is wrong with my appearance. I can honestly say I have never felt beautiful, no matter how many times my mum or husband tell me I am. They have to right?

What pisses me off is that I am a strong woman. I have faced some of the worst human experiences and am still standing. I have put a brave face on and worked through loosing my pregnancies and continued to try. I have dealt with the knowledge that I would probably never be a mother even though it’s a dream I have had from being a child.

I carried on the day before Gavin my cousin died after spending a night with him, the same night he was told he was going to die. My hearts never been so broken watching him struggle with that information. I loved him so much and cancer ripped him from us. I continued to breath after he actually died even though it hurt to even do that. My grief screams silently everyday. Mostly no one would know. I continue on.

I have it in me to fight. So why do I find it so hard to fight for myself? For my self esteem. Why do we look for the faults? It’s so easy to do that. I know I need to continue with the weight loss but equally I know that I need to find acceptance no matter my size. Find a way to feel like I look good, to ooze confidence. I am beginning to realise no amount of weight loss will do that for me. I have to do that for myself from the inside.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so they say. So I might not have a skinny arse, tiny waist but does that mean I am less than? Why does that make us feel so bad that we don’t always make that standard of beauty around us.

I have been struggling to keep motivated since the accident. I have since changed my job I’m doing more physical work now which means my appetite is insane so it’s been easy to eat off plan.

Things are finally settling down into a routine after a couple of months setting my company up. It’s going so well, actually smashing my targets but I’m worried I’m taking my eye off the weight loss plan.

I want to do it. I need to do it. I’m getting angry at myself for giving in to bad food choices and justifying them because I’m doing so much physical activity. I run much longer ….. my joggers are still as tight. Argghhhg!!!! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚.

I need to get a grip!!

Tomorrow is a new day ….. oh my goodness wish me luck. AGAIN πŸ™ˆπŸ™ˆπŸ™ˆ.

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