Every once in a great while, someone comes along and changes the way you feel about life, the world, the secrets of love. This is that story, told my own way, with hope and confusion and frustration all around.
My story begins seven years ago; a number I've checked and rechecked this past week. Seven years ago, I was working at a retail-type job with a boy I fancied but barely knew.
It was adorable.
We laughed and flirted and created all sorts of giddy cuteness. Quickly, this coworker and I began dating, but not before I made friends with a customer of ours, Steve. I remember the very first conversation I ever had with Steve. He’s that kind of friend.
There was drama from the beginning.
My coworker and I were each being kicked out of our houses, both seeking roommates, so we moved in together, a process that forced us to become exclusive. Hard not to in a one-bedroom apartment, which was all that we could afford.
Steve, believing he was simply helping me move, helped us move. Steve became friends with the two of us, laughing, having fun being included. He helped us keep our cars on the road, invited us to family parties, and found ways to show me that he had my back - no matter what.
We - The Three Stooges - worked together at a nightclub a few nights a week. I’m sure I was quite a trip – 20, female and not exactly scary. I had my team, though. Who cared? Those were the good times - I felt amazing.
So it started. No, rather, it continued.
Steve and I - from the moment we met - were smitten. We were those people. Meanwhile, I was still dating my coworker. We'd had a fling – though it didn’t feel like a fling – Steve and I, the first time my coworker broke up with me. Alas, Mr. Coworker and I still shared a one-bedroom apartment, our reunion was inevitable.
That reunion changed so much of my life.
Steve, my coworker, and I all worked together, at another retail store. This was the place I earned the nickname "Girly Eyes." Oh, how my eyes twinkled!
Everyone knew. It was hard not to. Even my coworker. The jealousy, the tension, felt GOOD. My coworker knew about the fling. He'd known it would happen.
Then I turned up pregnant – a pregnancy that occurred during my reunion with my coworker. I knew that Steve wasn’t the baby’s father, but oh did I wish he'd been.
I still look for pieces of Steve in pictures of that child.
That son was placed for adoption at birth, and my coworker and I moved across the country. We weren’t happy together, but it was the best I had.
When I moved, Steve was in a pretty bad position himself.
His fiancee was pregnant, still married to - and living with - her ex who was a police officer. Her ex didn't know he wasn't the DNA match for her growing pregnancy. I didn’t know this until later, but we were both living in hell.
One day out of the blue, Steve called. He was now the father of a beautiful little girl. My heart grew that day just as it did when I'd birthed my son. There was a certain pride in his voice I’d never heard before. He finally loved something more than himself. I desperately wanted that baby to be ours.
My joy was hard to hide; news did not make my coworker nearly as happy. The news was hard to share, my coworker was (understandably) biased against Steve.
I had my own frustrations with Steve – for a long time he was the boy no one could pin down: he was here and there and everywhere. Full of fleeting truths and whatever it took to get him what he wanted, still giving me the butterflies. When he had a baby, he wanted a family. Oh that ache - I knew that ache. Steve's voice told me that he did, too.
We talked occasionally that year. I bought clothes for his daughter but couldn't bring myself to send them. He didn’t get to play Daddy anyway, another complication that broke my heart.
We’d talk about his daughter, my son, how much we wanted our kids to be ours. He became one of my best friends, someone that understood what many others couldn't. I'd been dating my coworker for four years by now and I was still unhappy.
Steve and I spoke as often as I could steal the time away. Steve split with the mother of his child and the baby went with her. We fell out of touch, both hurting, both scared.
The next summer we reconnected.
I'll never forget the feeling of the sun on my shoulders, the laughter in the air. We'd talk for hours. We'd daydream, talking about we wanted from life. We talked though his break-up with another woman he'd loved.
We talked about my son, the heartbreak for a child I don't know; likely never will. We planned to meet each others children: he'd meet my son through our open adoption, I'd meet his daughter during his weekend visits. Our friendship glowed.
That, I think, is when I really fell in love.
Contact waxed and waned awhile. I visited home and got a tour of Steve’s new house. I took a third wheel with as I knew I would never leave the state if I didn't.
There were sparks when we touched. He was magic. I was strong; stronger that I could've imagined. I left without a single thing to feel guilty about - I was still dating my coworker, unhappily as ever. He'd previously cheated on me; I didn't want him to feel the way I did after he'd done that.
The desire, the possibilities, the hope - oh how I can still taste them.
We finally split, my coworker and I, in a manner he deserved - leaving in a police car. Meanwhile, my spark with Steve grew forever stronger. He owned my heart, a heart more broken than he realized.
See, my coworker had been abusing me for years. I didn't know how to ask for help from a friend; how to accept the love, how to heal.
Here it was again, dancing in front of me: what was I going to do about it?
Like an idiot, I did nothing. I planned to move - I quit my job, lined up a new one and rented an apartment. The plan, however, was to move home to be with my coworker. What an idiot.
I was in love, yet couldn't shake a bad habit. Looking back, it was probably my last chance.
The move fell through. Time and again, Steve's asked me to move home; to start OUR family. For two years, I've seriously thought of it.
I said something to him, during that first fling, that I tell him now, when he is beyond the walls I built around my heart. "Don't tell me that," I say, "or I just might believe you." It's true. I've given him the chance to wiggle out of our relationship, but he always comes back; still meaning it.
Now here I stand.
He is engaged again. We've both lost all contact with our children - six months apart in age. I'm still oh-so far away.
Last week, my phone jingled.
A text, from a number I cannot forget. Like always, we picked up where we left off. There was no dancing around it this time.
"Marry me" and "I love you." I'm in a relationship now; one that's winding down and away. One I cannot stand to fight for anymore. How does Steve manage to show up when I need a reminder that someone loves me?
Then it happened.
His fiancee found out that he was talking to me and threw a fit. Apparently, he tells women who've never met me about me. Whatever it is that he tells them, they feel threatened.
I can't begin to blame her. His ex, the mother of his child, tried to get Steve and I together when they split. It's obvious. I had to play the friend card; to act like he hasn't held my heart for many years. My skin jumps at the thought of him, yet there I was, telling her how proud I was that he's finally settling down.
That’s what a friend does, right?
I decided upon that I'd have a new role as his friend.
But I'm in love with him. I love the idea of us with a future together. I'd been entertaining the daydream of moving back for years.
But I can't.
Right now, my job is to be his friend, to support him as he he starts a new chapter of his life. They haven't set a date, I don’t believe he will marry her, but (for now) I need to be supportive. For now, love means being bigger than myself.
I say that, I mean that, yet you haven't seen the way my face lights up when I hear his voice. The "girly eyes" are certainly not gone. I simply know that no matter how in love with him I am, no matter how in love with me he professes, right now this is what we are. Friends.
Maybe, maybe one day I'll get to live out our daydream.
After all, he told me (again) that he's not putting a wedding ring on a woman's finger until it is my finger.
Grief and grieving can hit us in the most unlikely ways.
This is her story:
My husband got a vasectomy a few weeks ago.
Getting a vasectomy was a decision that we'd made together after much conversation. We agreed that two children are right for our family.
I have a number of health concerns including an autoimmune disease that relies on heavy drugs (psoriasis and psoriasitic arthritis). After I finished breastfeeding our last baby, we committed ourselves to my health. This meant taking heavy duty do-not-conceive while injecting yourself with this drug.
We have two beautiful daughters.
We talked about the vasectomy... a lot.
At first, I wasn't sure if I was ready to commit to being a mother of two. Truth talk now: I'm tired, my body does a great job at making babies, however my health and comfort is another matter entirely. I have to take medication for depression, I broke my pelvis as a teenager and spent both of my pregnancies in sheer agony - I couldn't even get to the bathroom alone during my eighth month of my pregnancy. And of course, there was all-day sickness (don't you dare call it "morning sickness," you jerk) during all three trimesters.
Our family felt (feels) complete.
When our youngest was two and a half, I told my husband "Okay, let's do it quickly, before I change my mind!"
We searched for urologists. We spoke to men we knew who'd already had a vasectomy. We Googled the crap out of the recommendations we received. We decided on a doctor. Found out how much our insurance would charge. Set the appointment.
I took time off of work to be there, drive him, and pick him up afterwards. The surgery went well, although it was hard to see him in a hospital gown attached to the IV drip. He had a good 77-year old anesthesiologist. Oh, and since he's the primary caregiver parent in our family, he'd scheduled a play date on the day of his surgery.
This is my life:
Me: "Hi, Mother of my 8-year old's best friend, this is 8-year old's mom!"'
Her: "Oh hi!"
Me: "I don’t know if my husband told you that he was getting a vasectomy today but I was wondering if we could pick up your son tomorrow instead of today? I think he over-committed. Plus, he’s pretty hopped up on pain killers."
Her (a former medical office manager): "OMG! Of COURSE! What was he thinking!?!?"
Me: "I have no idea."
He iced himself over the weekend and popped his pain medication as prescribed. I handled the play date.
As an aside - I'm SO not ready for play dates. I wanted to curl up in the fetal position sobbing afterwards; very stressful.
Anyway, he took time off work and school to heal.
Last night I cried.
I grieved the loss of our opportunity to have more babies. I cried because I'll no longer have the thrill of those first kicks. Of getting the hang of breastfeeding together. Of baby soft hair and milky breath and sweet devotion.
I'm fine with our decision to have a vasectomy.
Still, I cried those ugly sobs usually reserved for knock-down, drag-out fights.
As I was crying, he said, "Well, it would have been nice if you'd brought this up sooner."
Now, my husband is a sweet man. Manly in his way, but raised by his mother and sisters. But sometimes, he has these complete bone-headed moments.
I wasn't crying because I wanted more babies; I was crying because I'll never have any more babies. I'm okay with this, but I need to mourn that loss. I didn't realize I'd feel that way: I didn't know.
Now I do.
So today, I mourn the loss of our ability to have another baby. I mourn our unused boy name, "Anthony Lee."
I am sad.
I am also happy; grateful that he went through this for us.
So here we are.
At the end of our child-making years and the beginning of our birth-control free years. Frankly I'm excited for that - no more of the constant worry about the 0.2% chance of catching The Pregnant.
I'm ready to focus on my daughters, my career, and my marriage.
And as I told my aunt - if our family feels incomplete years down the line, we can adopt.
Right now though? Even though I'm crying?
It feels right.
P.S. To my beloved Band Mates: I did speak with my husband about this; I explained my feelings and he understands. He doesn’t “get it,” but he understands. This is not a rant about my husband; just the emotions surrounding a vasectomy we both wanted.
Love you guys.
Grieving the potential loss of a dream is as real as experiencing the loss of a loved one.
This is her grief:
I'm 33 years old, with multiple chronic illnesses and chronic pain, which play a role in this post, but are stories for another day on Band Back Together.
Night sweats are the story of the day and a new, uncomfortable symptom I've been experiencing. Night sweats are uncomfortable because, well: Ew. It's freezing cold, but my legs are clammy and sweaty, and all of the sudden I can't sleep with pajama pants on anymore.
The sweat is a feverish feeling, the kind that makes me roll over and take my temperature at three in the morning. I never even get the thermometer to a normal body temperature.
In the larger scope of my symptomology, and given the fact that it
1) doesn't physically hurt
2) isn't disfiguring
3) is the worst at night, when I can lay without pants, it wouldn't ordinarily be a huge concern for me.
Except, what do we most often hear that night sweats are a symptom of, ladies?
Here's where you laugh at me because I'm only 33 years old, and that's some paranoia you've got going on there.
Yes, when I did some research, it turns out that hot flashes tend to be experienced in your upper body during menopause, and that there are a million more likely (for me) reasons that night sweats have begun:
New medications (check), the presence of autoimmune conditions (check), thyroid or hormonal issues (check), certain infections (maybe?), issues surrounding The Pre-Diabetes (perhaps), cancers (hope not), just because (sounds like me), and early menopause, which is, of course what I am fixated on, because: NO.
I can't automatically assume that these new symptoms aren't some weird new manifestation of whatever autoimmune ruckus my body has decided to participate in this month. Not when you consider last month's allergic reaction rash to... nothing in particular, or June's random mouth sores, or November's numbed fingers. I can't put anything past the chaos of is own wacky configuration of unexplainable, largely-untreatable, chronic illnesses.
My mother began menopausal symptoms early - her doctor didn't believe it was menopause because she was only 35. It took another ten years before her symptoms became intense and life-changing, but her random symptoms began in her mid-thirties.
Both of my grandmothers, on the other hand, showed no such early menopausal proclivities - one of them had her four babies between the ages of 25-38 and the other started at 23 and didn't finish until she was 46! And why this is the first time I've actually done the math on that is a whole 'nother thing to think about.
Still, it's a concern.
It's a concern because I still want babies - as unrealistic and far-fetched a pipe dream as that may seem to anybody (including me) who sees how I struggle to get through my life right now. I still want kids, some day. And the idea that some day might not happen is pretty freaking devastating.
I had a near-breakdown a while back while discussing children with one of my sisters; just started bawling, because I know there's a very real chance that this may never happen for me, given that I seem to be getting sicker, rather than better. Plus, I don't ... date or have relationships or do anything besides survive, most days. Not having kids is something I may have to learn to accept.
It's very difficult to accept that having a life-long desire for a baby, that having more than enough love for a child, having the longing for a ten-year-old freckle-faced firebrand of my own, is not strong enough to overcome not having the physical health for a baby. The financial stability for said toddler. The energetic wherewithal for the freckle-faced firebrand.
It is a bitter pill, and it's combined with so many other bitter pills that I just... I can't.
It's not that I'm giving up on all of those hopes, not yet.
It's that I feel like that door is being closed for me - by time and health, by money and relationship status, by living at home, by being able to work or drive, by all the other nameless concerns that I have. I don't know what to do about any of it.
In the meantime, everyone I went to school with, or am related to, is pregnant. Or nursing. Or trying to conceive. Or complaining that their one year-old won't crib train, or their 8-year old won't clean her room.
And instead of doing any of those things, I'm battling my own skin, my lungs, my pain, squeaking out a (smaller, sometimes heartbreakingly so) existence as best I can manage.
I want nothing more than to be there with them, to feel only empathy instead of the jealousy-tinged empathy I feel right now. Oh, to have teething to complain about (she says safely from her child-free side of the fence.).
I don't know how to fight this particular battle, or even if it's winnable. It's just there: something on my mind at almost all times.
There should be a word for the specific kind of lonely you feel when you long for a child and can't seem to have one. It's like being homesick, but for a home you've not yet lived in. For me, it's a spiritual version of my fibromyalgia - a psychic sensitivity to touch, an all-over heartache that appears incurable.
Without tooting my own horn too much, I'm an exceptional Auntie - all my godchildren and nieces and nephews would agree, I hope. I'm good at spoiling and sleepovers; I rock at finding the missing sock or remembering who got to sit shotgun last time. I don't bypass any of the necessary time-outs or disciplining, and I've always got the newest book to read or game to play.
I make weekly phone calls, Facebook tags, "what's news" texts to check in with The Littles in my life. But - even though I've helped raise some of them from the day they were born - at night, most nights, they go home to their parents, and I say good-bye.
And when they leave, their parents decide whether or not they can watch TV or have an iPhone when they're ten; whether they should play soccer or ballet or both; what their family's holiday traditions are and when they can visit their auntie. That's okay - that's how it should be. But wanting that for myself? Wanting to be the Mom, not just the Auntie, is... overwhelming right now.
Do you, The Band, have any advice for her? Any tips for coping with this anticipatory loss?
When I was a little girl, I loved playing the game of Life.
My heart would skip a beat and I would get so excited when I would land on spaces that said, “Congratulations it's a boy,” or “Congratulations it's a girl,” or, my favorite, “Congratulations you are having twins!” I fantasized about what names I would give my children and I would daydream of being a mommy.
I've always been the mothering type. Whether it be mothering my friends and being nicknamed “Mom” by everyone or whether it was helping to raise my two little sisters due to having alcoholism in my family.
I'll never forget the first time I received a Mother’s Day Card from one of my little sisters. She thanked me for everything I had done for her – taking her to doctor appointments, registering her for school, driving her to school dances. Being recognized in that way touched me so very much and really made me feel like I was a mother for the first time. It was an amazing feeling I will never forget.
I met and fell in love with my husband in 2004. We were married three years later and soon we adopted a furry-child – a golden retriever we named Murphy. He quickly became exactly that – a furry-child. He was the center of our lives and I got to practice my mothering skills on him. He was a willing participant and he enjoyed the long walks, the birthday parties, the photo cards I made with his picture on them, and the professional family pictures we had taken with him every Christmas.
They say that the first step toward starting your family is adopting a pet so it was only natural that we started trying for our first child soon after Murphy came into our lives. We adopted Murphy in April of 2008 and we became pregnant in October of the same year.
To say we were overjoyed is the understatement of the year; we were over the moon happy. Jason and I didn't hide our excitement from our family. We told them when we were seven weeks along. Shortly thereafter, I started spotting. I lost our first baby at eight weeks along, in our home. I was devastated. I took a week off of work to grieve the loss of my pregnancy, of my baby. I started blogging; it became excellent therapy for me by allowing me to journal my feelings. It provided the outlet I needed so very much.
The little outfits I had bought prematurely went into a chest of drawers – tucked away out of sight. The picture of our ultrasound when we saw the flutter of a little heartbeat went into a frame and was displayed on my dresser. We knew we would try again, but we waited three months like the doctor advised. I thought we would get pregnant right away again, but it was nine months before I saw the faint line on the pregnancy test that told me I had a positive reading. We were pregnant again! Oh, how I hoped and prayed that God would bless us and would allow us to raise this child.
My pregnancy was very difficult, both physically and mentally. I was very sick for the first 16 weeks. I worried all of the time – about everything – due to my earlier miscarriage. I was hospitalized twice for dehydration; I became anemic and was diagnosed with asthma, as well.
I went into preterm labor at 35 weeks and was put on bed rest. I was so swollen during the last part of my pregnancy that I had to place ice packs on my legs and feet. I did everything the doctor told me to do. My sole purpose at that time was to be everything I needed to be for my baby in order to get him here safely.
Through it all, I was still a happy pregnant woman. I was definitely ready to be a mommy. I read all of the books and took several classes to prepare for the arrival of our baby boy. I bought little outfits and had three showers to welcome our baby. I sanitized every bottle, every toy, and washed every piece of clothing while I was nesting.
After the early labor was stopped, my son became so comfortable, we had to schedule an induction. We went to the hospital early in the morning of August 10, 2010. My husband and I couldn't have been more excited to become parents.
My labor was long and it was trying. I was in labor for fourteen and a half hours and pushed for an hour and a half and still hadn't delivered. The doctor discovered that our son was too big for me to deliver, so they wheeled me in for an emergency Cesarean section. The doctor prepped me and it wasn't long before I could hear the cries of my newborn son, Landon Jason. I was so happy that he was finally here and he was healthy and perfect. The nurse brought Landon over to me and I was able to look at him for the first time.
He was beautiful.
We took our first family photo and he was swept back into the nursery. I was happy, but worried because I hadn't shed a single tear - I'm usually very emotional. What I didn't know is that I was emotionally detached. I was beginning my battle, my own personal war with postpartum psychosis and postpartum depression.
Postpartum psychosis is a monster.
It comes on sudden, takes its powerful hold, and strips you of everything you have ever known yourself to be. I started displaying symptoms almost right away. My husband and I had never heard of postpartum psychosis, so we were ill prepared. I couldn't sleep. When I did, I had terrifying dreams that led me to fear sleep. I was obsessed with keeping schedules of diaper changes, visitors, breastfeeding - you name it and I developed a schedule for it.
I thought I was dying.
I was so afraid that something was going to happen to me, that I would leave my husband without a wife and my son without a mother. At one point, I was left home alone with my son (he was five days old) and I was pacing back and forth. I didn't know what to do. The voices in my head were telling me to do crazy things and I knew – somehow – that my son was not safe with me.
I made the choice and called my mother and told her to get to the house right away. I had my psychotic break at home, scaring my husband and family enough that they had to call 911. At that time, I was a danger to myself. By the grace of God, I did not harm myself and I never did want to harm my son. I thank God every day that I never wanted to harm my son.
My husband admitted me to the hospital against my will. I was hospitalized for seven nights and eight days; it wasn't long enough. During my hospital stay, I had to start the process of piecing myself back together again – just like a puzzle. I was separated from my son during my hospitalization, which was difficult. I was so happy when I found out that they had little bottles of baby shampoo. I carried that around with me and smelled it whenever I really missed my boy. I wanted more than anything to be “the old Tina” – to be a good mom – to be a good wife. I could not believe that I had finally been blessed with a child, but was so very sick that I could not enjoy the first part of my son’s life.
Postpartum psychosis robbed me of that.
When I was released from the hospital, I found I was still terrified to be alone with my son. I didn't have any self-esteem and I didn't believe in myself as a mother. I thought that everyone else could do a better job than I could do and Landon didn't need me. I felt so hopeless and the suicidal thoughts began. I formed a plan; my husband and Landon are the two things that stopped me from carrying out that plan. I couldn't allow my husband to be the one to discover my body. Thank God I didn't remain silent and shared what I was thinking.
I was hospitalized again, but this time for only four days. It wasn't long before I went back to work. I was still unstable, but coping. I was on another mix of medications and seeing my psychiatrist regularly. I quickly discovered that I had gone back to work too soon. It was overwhelming and I felt like I was failing as a wife, as a mother, and as an employee. I felt so worthless; the feelings of hopelessness and despair returned along with the suicidal thoughts. I had to take a leave of absence from work and returned to the hospital. We went with a different hospital this time along with a different psychiatrist. I stayed for eight days -it was the longest stay and most beneficial.
I haven't returned to the hospital since.
I've really started enjoying my son. I still feel guilt and shame over missing out on the first two months of his life. I was there for some of it physically, but mentally I was checked out completely. Since I've begun the journey of healing and finding myself again, I've really enjoyed motherhood. My son is happy and healthy. He is surrounded by love and I could not ask for anything more than that.
Please, know that if you are suffering from postpartum illness that you are not alone. There are many women who have experienced it. We've survived it. We have made it to the other side.
Life can be and will be good again and you will look forward to your tomorrows again.
Just for today, live life moment to moment. Celebrate taking a shower, doing the dishes, getting grocery shopping done. All of the little moments help in the healing process and help to pull you out of that depression. You are going to be okay.
And you ARE a good mother.
Up to 15% of women experience postpartum mood disorders after the birth of a child.
This is her story of postpartum depression:
Growing up, I often changed my mind about my chosen profession - I wanted to be everything from a ballerina to a doctor.
While that changed regularly, the one thing that never changed was my desire to be a wife and mother. That wish came true in August, 2008 when my then-boyfriend and I found out we were expecting a baby. We got married that October and settled down to start our family.
Pregnancy wasn't what I had envisioned.
My first trimester was absolutely awful. I had morning sickness that routinely lasted through the afternoon. I was so sick that I had to quit my job sooner than I'd planned. I can't remember when the sciatic nerve pain began, but it was so severe that many days, I could hardly get out of bed; that is, unless I wanted to end up on the floor. I'd anticipated some mood swings but what I experienced was over-the-top severe. The amount of weight I gained was much higher than it "should have been," even though I was watching my diet and exercising.
Childbirth was absolutely awful.
I was pushed to have an induction. After 32 hours of back labor and abdominal contractions, followed by three hours of pushing, my baby was born.
I was exhausted.
But I thought, "It's over now - this is when the fun starts!"
That wasn't quite the case.
My mood swings became steadily worse - I'd find myself in tears for no reason or over stupid things. I'd be sad one minute, filled with rage the next, and numb immediately after that.
I spent a lot of time simply rocking my baby and staring out into space. I can't remember what I thought about during those days, but they weren't happy thoughts. I was constantly exhausted but couldn't sleep at night. It was awful. I had no idea what was wrong with me.
I felt like a horrible wife and mother.
One night, I couldn't sleep. I found myself standing at the top of the stairs looking down. I thought about how miserable I was and how easy it would be to throw myself down.
I shook myself and walked away, deciding maybe I'd better go to bed before I did anything dumb. As I headed to bed, the thought popped into my mind: my husband still had pain medications left from his ankle surgery. It'd be so easy to take a bunch of those before going to sleep.
The intensity of these thoughts rattled me and I realized that what I was experiencing wasn't the normal "baby blues" and that I needed help.
My husband is in the Army and, mostly still asleep, recommended I call the Battalion chaplain first. The Chaplain told me that I needed to go straight to the Emergency Room at the hospital on base. He would meet me there.
I was diagnosed with Postpartum Depression and ended up hospitalized twice. I was on medication as well as seeing a therapist for six months before some lab-work finally showed that I'd developed hypothyroidism (did you know pregnancy can cause hypothyroidism? I didn't!). Treating the hypothyroidism also treated the PPD and I was able to come off of the antidepressants.
Postpartum Depression is a monster and a beast; a nightmare I thought I would never wake from, but I did.
I just wish I hadn't waited so long to ask for help.
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