Category Archives: Pregnancy

Where I am Now

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The “good luck” pregnancy mug/ planter that my friend gave me. This mug has passed through 30 friends. I hope it still has some luck left in it for me too; I can use every bit I can get.

At 25.5 weeks pregnant, I’m currently a full-time resident in the “Ante- Partum” section of the hospital, a place I had no idea existed. It’s like a purgatory between the labor and delivery and post-partum sections of the hospital- though don’t get me wrong- I’m intensely grateful I’m not in those rooms yet. Every single day I can hold these babies on the inside gives them just a little more chance.

I’ve been at the hospital since Thursday night. T and I were watching TV when I felt a small “bubble” from “that” area. When I got up to go to the bathroom, there was blood. Not much, but bright red.

I came out of the bathroom, my face white. “Blood.” I told T, shaking.

T, lucky guy, somehow is still oblivious in the range of “bad things that can happen when you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant.” So he wasn’t overly concerned.

“Just call the doctor and let her know,” he said. As if this were just another Thursday night.

Of course I was already calling her, my hands shaking.

On the line, the doctor confirmed my fears, that the bleeding was likely from my placenta previa, telling me we had to go to Labor and Deliver immediately.

I burst into tears and handed the phone to T. He spoke with the doctor while I stood in shock, crying.

It was 10pm. Our daughter was sleeping upstairs. We have no family near by. T ran out the front door and started knocking on neighbors’ doors to see if someone could stay with E while we went to the hospital. Thank goodness we have such good neighbors; T found someone and we were off to the hospital. No hospital bag packed yet of course. We were quiet in the car, for the short three-mile drive. My fears were too big to even begin to share with T.

I walked gingerly from the car, holding my belly as if I could protect the babies by holding them to me in there. Realizing just how small my belly still is, even with twins- how small and vulnerable these babies still are.

Checking in at the Labor and Delivery front desk, I felt faint as I answered their question about my due date:

October 22nd.

Still so many months away.

In the room, I changed into a hospital gown, along with the hospital-grade giant maxi pad and underwear they provided. The bleeding had increased, watery and bright red when I sat on the toilet.

The nurses gave me an IV and hooked me up to the monitors for the babies’ heartbeats and for contractions. The babies’ heartbeats were reassuring, strong and happy sounding.

I had told the nurses that I wasn’t feeling contractions, but after monitoring me they said I was having contractions every four minutes. They explained that each contraction, even small, could squeeze my placenta and cause more bleeding.

The team of doctors and MFMs came in and gave us the chilling worst-case scenarios. That if I started to hemorrhage, they would need to do an emergency c-section. They asked if we wanted them to do everything they could for the babies, explaining all the potential long-term health implications if the babies were born at 25 weeks.

T gripped my hand and we looked at each other full of fear for our babies. Their existence was such a miracle already. We knew we wanted to do everything possible to give them the best chance whenever they arrived in the world.

We signed the paperwork for the c-scection and for the steroid shot to give the babies’ lungs a boost. I hated to think about my babies already getting all these drugs in their system but I knew they would need every advantage they could get if born so early.

It was a long night. The bleeding while not fast, wasn’t stopping. Every time I tried to close my eyes to sleep, the monitors would fall off and the nurses would come in to adjust them again.

The next morning, T dropped E off with some friends and met me at the hospital for a parade of high risk doctors coming through our room. The neonatologist gave us the cold statistics of survival rates and risks for premature babies. They assured us the NICU at this hospital has some of the very best outcomes in the country.

The ultrasound showed that both babies are almost two pounds each, growing well. I remind myself of this, and take solace in the sound of their strong heartbeats on the monitor.

The doctors answer my questions, carefully balancing optimism with caution as they do so well. They say that I might be able to go home in a week if the bleeding stops, but there’s 100% chance I’d be back with another bleed soon that likely would be worse. With twins, the uterus is stretching so much more, so the risks are greater. Even the five minutes it takes to get from my house to the hospital (and we are lucky we live so close) could be too long if there’s a bad bleed. So they tell me to make myself at home at the hospital.

On Saturday night they moved me out of labor and delivery room to this “ante partum” room. It felt good to know they no longer thought I was at imminent risk of labor, but they made it clear this could be my home for a long while, giving me the largest room with a view of the garden below and lots of trees outside the window.

The precariousness of the situation is so hard. Being away from T and E, grieving over the small summer plans and preparations for the babies that would not happen now, and of course, how our babies’ start in life would not be ideal, as even in the best case scenario they are likely to arrive much too early.

All I can do is take it one day at a time. Hoping we can get as far as we can. Wednesday the babies will be 26 weeks.

I’d like to say I’ll be blogging more during these long days in my ante-partum room, but to be honest, dwelling on all this isn’t the most helpful distraction. So I’ll check in when I’m feeling up to it. In the meantime, know that no news is good news, and all your support is so appreciated.

Whatever positive thoughts, wishes and prayers you can send our way- we can use them all.

 

 

 

 

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Gender Reveal for Brave New World Babies

Carrot cake to celebrate the two babies on the way.

Carrot cake to celebrate the two babies on the way.

Before I reveal the genders of the two new Brave New World babies, I have to admit that I’ve been reluctant to update here for a while now. It just seems so unfair that I not only have a sweet little two year old from IVF 3.0, but now now I’m pregnant with twins while so many of my dear friends are still waiting for their turn. I feel like I’ve taken more than my share of the pie. I’m so grateful for every slice, but I feel guilty, as if my extra helping could have been someone else’s.

Ironically, exactly three years ago I wrote “Confessions of a Newly Pregnant Infertile” in which confession #6 was survivor’s guilt, and confession #7 was “afraid of being too happy least the gods take it all away.”  I’m still right where I was then.

I’m slowly telling friends and family our news, but I can’t shake the feeling that something terrible will happen if I let myself be too happy, or if I forget for a moment all the pain I went through to get to this point. So I haven’t shared my happy news too widely, and I certainly haven’t posted it to Facebook. (When I show up for my 15 year college reunion next week with an extra 15 pounds that isn’t from the “freshman 15” I’m sure I’ll get some interesting sideways glances.)

So I’ll whisper it here for now- how happy I am. How amazed I am by these two tiny growing babies. Frozen in a dish for four years, and now growing- and kicking. My eyes still fill with tears of gratitude every time I hear their heartbeats (matching heartbeats at 156 bpm last week), and every time I see their little fists and legs dancing on the ultrasound. Mr. T and I look at each other and say ten times a day that we can’t believe it. How lucky we are.

We made the 3,000 mile trek home to see my family this week- my last trip before I can no longer travel. When we arrived, we had a little “reveal” party celebration for the babies. Mr. T and I had found out the genders a few weeks ago during our 15 week ultrasound, but successfully kept the news quiet. We hadn’t found out ahead of time with our daughter, and that moment when she was born and Mr. T. announced, “It’s a girl!” is a memory I will always treasure. However, for a variety of reasons this time we decided to find out ahead of time. But I still wanted it to be a special moment.

I bought a couple balloons and put them into gift bags for E and her cousin to open after dinner. Everyone in the family made their guesses about who the newest family members would be before they opened the bags. I was amazed that not a single person guessed it correctly!

Our two Brave New World Babies are:

It's a girl! And another girl!

It’s a girl! And another girl!

 

Three daughters! I think some people feel badly for us that we won’t have a boy, but honestly, I couldn’t be happier, nor care less about the gender. It’s just fun to celebrate the first clue as to who these little people might become. Now that we know they are both girls, Mr. T is convinced that they are identical (the two that split resulting in three gestational sacks at our 6 week ultrasound.)

The balloons are floating around the house now, making me smile.

We have our big anatomy scan in a couple weeks, after which I’ll exhale a little bit, while I keep praying each day these babies want to stay right where they are until they are fully cooked. Celebrating one day at a time.

 

 

Double the Joy, Double the Worry

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6 weeks and 2 days: Baby A and Baby B and empty sack for Angel Baby C in the middle who likely split from either A or B.

We had our second ultrasound on Thursday. I had been feeling especially “well” that day, so I was sure something bad must have happened.

To my surprise, Dr. L. found both babies and their flickering heartbeats right away. He said he had heard from Dr. A. about the third sack, and wanted to check that out so we started our tour of my uterus there, confirming that sack A was empty (I never thought I’d be relieved to see an empty gestational sack). Measuring it, he found that it was only about a third of the size of the other two sacks.

Dr. L said that unless Mr. T and I had sex and fertilized an egg at the same time as our transfer (which I reminded him is entirely impossible unless I was having an affair- and even then still quite unlikely) he said that one of our embryos must have split. Which means that it’s possible- although unlikely, that Baby A and B are identical.

He zoomed in on Baby B next. To my concern, Baby B is measuring 6 days behind. Little B should be at 7 weeks 1 day, but is only measuring 6 weeks 2 days. Heartbeat was 119. Dr. L didn’t seem to concerned, but he’s always nice and generally optimistic. He said the fact that the heartbeat was strong and baby was continuing to grow was a good sign. That B would likely catch up.

Baby A on the other hand is only 2 days behind- at 6 weeks 5 days. Dr. L turned on the sound and the heartbeat was so loud and fast at 146 bpm that I couldn’t believe it was coming from such a tiny little speck.

Overall, I should have left feeling happy. But measuring behind always worries me, based on my unhappy experiences. And now that I’ve had a chance to see Baby A and Baby B, and hear their sweet little heartbeats, I feel that much more attached to them. I’m already picturing the two of them keeping each other company in the womb as they did in the freezer for four years, snuggling together as babies, holding hands as they grow up and being best friends forever.

Mr. T and I left, under my self-imposed somber dark cloud of worry. Poor Mr. T. All these years of carrying my worry. He said as much in a rare outburst on the car ride home.

And I decided that even if I’m right to worry- Mr. T is right that we deserve to be happy in the moment once in a while too.

So this weekend I threw all caution to the wind, and made the bold decision to tell my best friend on Saturday. She’s expecting her second baby in May, and was overjoyed for us. It felt good to let myself be happy.

Then I went to the bathroom and was spotting brown. It’s as if the universe felt me getting too happy, and wanted to keep me in check. I lay down for the rest of the afternoon, convinced it was the beginning of the end.

The spotting stopped by the time we headed out to a friend’s birthday party that evening where we would see all our closest friends. On the way over, Mr. T asked if it was ok if we told everyone there. They know what we’ve been through- and most of them knew we were starting the FET process, but I had been vague about the dates, not wanting the pressure of keeping everyone posted about each milestone along the way.

But now, I realized that this might be it. It might be the only time we could celebrate these two miraculous little heartbeats with our friends. These two embryos had waited so long- they deserve all the hope and joy and love from our friends. And so did Mr. T. After all, this is the last pregnancy announcement we’ll ever make- no matter what happens next.

So we told them. And their hugs and love and the outpouring of joy they had for us was amazing. Any misgivings  I had about sharing our news were gone when I saw Mr. T’s  happy face across the room. Thinking back to his diagnosis of Azoospermia five years ago, not sure if we’d ever be able to have children, let alone the big family he always dreamed of- he deserved this moment.

We still aren’t telling our families until we are out of the first trimester- from past experience we’ve learned they need more comforting and ask more questions than our friends when things don’t go well. 

But celebrating Baby A and Baby B with our friends felt good. No matter what happens next, I’m glad we had this moment. Maybe after five years of infertility, I’m finally learning to be braver. I can only hope. And continue to hope for Baby A and B with all my heart.

 

 

 

 

 

The Last First Ultrasound Ever

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The view in 2011. So much has changed since then.

When I left the house this morning, I consciously left the music on. I didn’t want to come home to a quiet house if we got bad news today.

I’ll skip right to the good news here- it turns out I didn’t have to worry about that.

Mr. T and I arrived at the clinic late, and had a bit of a wait. In the waiting room, we looked out the panoramic windows at the city, and all the buildings and the new bridge going up across the river- marveling at all the changes in the city since we were first there as new patients five years ago. It’s strange to think that during all that building, our little embroys were sitting here frozen in time.

Finally we were called in to see my favorite of all my wonderful doctors at the clinic- Dr. A. She’s the one who did our ultrasound for our last miscarriage- and for our daughter. At IVF 3.0, I had such PTSD from the click and measure sounds of the ultrasounds in the past, always measuring and coming up short, missing heartbeats- that I had to wear headphones and listen to music to stay calm, squeezing my eyes to block everything out until Dr. A told me it was ok to look. That day in May 2011 was a good day.

Today, Mr. T and I held hands tightly as she prepared the ultrasound and “Mr. Wandy.” For a long time Dr. A didn’t say anything- and I was starting to think it was bad news again. Then she turned the screen toward us.

“Wow!” I laughed in surprise- wonder-struck by what I saw.

Mr. T, not so versed in the ways of ART and ultrasounds- looked at me puzzled.

“It looks like two…” Dr. A said. “And a third one… but that one looks empty.”

I wish I could have captured the look on Mr. T’s face just then. I know most people when they hear we are doing IVF expect that means twins or more- but in three pregnancies- with six embryos- we only had singletons each time- and as you know, all but one pregnancy ending in miscarriage.

Dr. A clicked and zoomed in. “let’s call this one baby A…” she said, as I instantly fell in love with baby A. She clicked and zoomed in. She measured and I tried not to notice that the measurements looked behind date. But she turned on the sound and there it was- Baby A’s heartbeat, filling the room. 114 beats per minute. Mr. T and I grinned like fools at each other- at the sound that we will never take for granted.

The Dr. A adjusted the wand. “And here’s baby B…” And I fell in love with Baby B. Again, baby B seemed to my untrained eye as small for date. I mentioned this, but she said not to worry – that measurements could vary up to 5 days at this point. I wasn’t so sure about that- but when she turned on the sound, and we heard Baby B’s heartbeat- 101 beats per minute. So beautiful.

At 6 weeks, 2 days- Dr. A assured me this was good. But of course, that it was still early. (Subtext- anything can happen- as we all know.)

She zoomed in on the third mysterious object, confirming it was empty (to my great relief.) We had only transferred two, but one might have split. (I initially worried about transferring two during IVF 1 since there are twins on my mother’s side of the family, and ending up with triplets is a scary proposition.)

But the joy of this moment- seeing our family expanding in ways we never thought would happen- is more than I can describe right now.

Dr. A printed out three pictures- one of Baby A, one of Baby B, and one of the two together. I clutched the photos as we left the exam room, beaming and hugging the nurses I knew who we passed in the halls.

As I write this, I keep pausing just to look at the picture again. Just looking at the printout now- I’m so head over heals for these babies already. I know twins won’t be easy (if we are lucky enough to meet them both) but I’m so grateful for today.

Dr. A said she wants to see us again next week. By then we’ll be 7 weeks, two days. I hope.

Thanks to everyone who held my hand over the past month. Finding the courage to do this transfer wasn’t easy. So grateful to have your support- in whatever comes next.

Brave New World Baby’s Arrival

Welcome, Baby. We've been waiting for you for so long.

I’m sorry it has taken me so long to share news of Brave New World baby’s arrival. Since our little one lost over a pound in the first five days of her life, we had a traumatic start, and have been on a strict feeding regimen of breast-feeding, supplementing with a tube feed at my breast, and pumping. This takes an hour and a half every three hours, leaving me with scraps of time to sleep, eat and shower.

But now that she has gained her weight back, I’m squeezing in a few minutes to finally share the story of her arrival.

It all started on Monday night, January 2nd. I was four days past my due date and didn’t feel any signs that baby would be coming along soon. That night, like many, I was lying in bed not being able to sleep, worrying about this final stretch to get baby safely here. Without warning, I felt a small gush that seemed to be more than what I might blame on my pregnancy compromised bladder. I got up to go to the bathroom, leaking more along the way.

With a thrill, I realize that this was it. I woke up Mr. T who jumped out of bed in a daze.

In a fluster of excitement and nerves, he grabbed my stack of pregnancy books and began to rifle through them to see what we should do since contractions hadn’t begun, calling the wrong hospital in the process, confused and concerned when they didn’t have a record for us.

They told us to come in right away, so we grabbed a few more things for our over-night bag, pausing at the door to take one last picture.  Then we set out for the hospital, just three blocks away. I had imagined this walk so many times, and now here we were, on our way to meet baby.

Immediately after checking in, they hooked me dup to the monitor and an IV to administer fluids and antibiotics as I had tested positive for GBS, a bacteria that could be very dangerous for baby if untreated. This IV tower would be my constant companion for the next two days.

Because of the risk of infection once the water breaks, and because of I was a higher risk  being GBS positive, I knew I was now on the clock to get baby out safely. They gave me an induction drug to get things going, and told me to try and get some sleep in the meantime.

As if I could sleep!

But later on, I wished I had. For by Tuesday afternoon, I still wasn’t dilated and still wasn’t having contractions. After trying a painful and unsuccessful procedure in which a balloon was inserted and inflated against my cervix to get things going, they dialed up the Pitocin, and finally the contractions began around 9pm on Tuesday.

I like to think I’m pretty tough (after all, I’ve endured multiple IVF attempts), so I had hoped I could cope with labor without needing an epidural. The idea of a wire in my back seemed more terrifying than the pain of contractions. But after several hours of intense contractions, at 1am, 24 hours after first checking into the hospital, I knew I couldn’t last much longer. I got in the tub to see if that helped the pain, but when they told me I had only dilated to 2, I demanded the epidural.

Almost before they had finished administering it, I had fallen asleep exhausted. I woke up early in the morning on Wednesday, without pain but worried that we weren’t any closer to getting baby out after all this time.

Much to my relief, when they checked on Wednesday morning I had dilated to 7.

“You’ll have this baby by noon,” they promised.

But baby had other plans. After 39 hours of labor, I realized how tightly I had been holding on to baby during this hard-won pregnancy. Now that it was time for baby to come out, it felt like we were both reluctant to let go.

Finally, around 1pm, we were good to push. Somehow in our childbirth class, the instructor had glossed over the pushing part. She made it sound as though the hard part was getting to the pushing. Not the case. It was hard, and especially after two days of labor, exhausting.

After pushing for two hours, my temperature had risen and baby’s heartbeat was faltering. I felt their alarm and doubled my efforts. At each push, I thought of how much I had put into this journey to baby, and I thought of you all- my strong IF friends- and how much we have all endured for the chance to hold our babies. I needed to get this baby out soon- and safely.

With these thoughts, I summoned all my strength and pushed with everything I had. I felt baby’s head coming through, and then all at once baby was out.

“It’s a girl!” I heard Mr. T say, overwhelmed with emotion.

They placed her on my chest, her little legs, arms and head so tiny but so solid, kicking and screaming. I was crying as loud as she was, though my tears telling her again and again how much I loved her, how long her daddy and I had been waiting for her, how we would do everything we could to be the best parents we could be.

Every day I look at her and marvel. After three rounds of IVF, two miscarriages, 25 eggs, 14 embryos, only two slow day 6 embryos surviving for transfer in April 2011, we have this sweet baby, worth everything and more. Our wish upon a thousand stars, our little Estella, is finally here.

Making that wish a thousand times more for all of you still waiting for your babies.

I am so grateful for all of you who have read my blog and offered comments and support since I began sharing my story a year ago. This was never intended to be a baby blog, so now that I’ve reached my own happy ending, I’m planning to use this blog to share other stories of hope and continue support and encourage those of you still waiting for your own miracles. Thank you again for supporting me, encouraging me, and keeping me sane through some of the toughest times of my life.

Our wish upon a thousand stars comes true. Our little Estella is here.

Facebook Dilemma

For those of us dealing with infertility, Facebook is an emotional landmine. It might as well be called “babybook.” Pictures of pee sticks, ultrasounds, pregnancy updates from “friends” who post their pregnancy update before the pee is even dry on that stick- this is the land of clueless Fertile Myrtles. They roam carelessly here, reminding us incessantly of what we don’t have.

I would have been one of them too too if circumstances had been different. So many of my dearest friends live far away, and Facebook keeps us connected through the changes in our lives. They posted their baby bump photos and baby pictures and I’ve been truly happy for them all. I’m sure I would have shared a few of the milestones and joys of pregnancy myself by now if I weren’t part of this club.

But at 22 weeks, 2 days, I still haven’t posted an update about the most wonderful news I’ve ever had to share. I watch other announcements and baby bump pictures fill up my news feed, and still can’t bring myself to add my own.

Last week Mr. T’s ex-girlfriend posted her first baby announcement. (Mr. T and I both still keep in touch with our college sweethearts, as well as each other’s-another story for another time.) As silly as it sounds, I have been dreading this moment- when one of our exes posted their pregnancy news. I knew it would happen before we ever posted any news of our own. So, seeing her status update instantly turned my stomach upside down, even though I have my own growing bump now.

Then, reading her update again: “Excited and grateful to be welcoming a baby in December,” I began to wonder if she was one of us. She had waited until past 20 weeks to share her news, and she had used the word “grateful.” Only those of us in this club truly appreciate what it is to be “grateful” and not just “excited” to be expecting.

That evening, Mr. T told me that he had congratulated her on her news privately, sharing our news as well, and how it had been a struggle for us. Sure enough, she had been through her own struggles, with multiple miscarriages before this pregnancy.

Her subtle status update made me realize that it is possible to convey pregnancy news in a way that is understood by others still struggling, without having to spell it out to those Fertile Myrtles who aren’t owed any explanation. After all, I have no desire to share with my 7th grade teacher, work colleagues and random classmates from grade school that I’m “Finally knocked up after 3 rounds of IVF and 2 miscarriages.”

Still, I haven’t posted my own update, and I’ve been debating if I need to at all. On Sunday I had a chance to meet dear Twitter blogger friends @alethea and @breannadk, explaining my dilemma to them. It suddenly struck me that the reason I haven’t posted isn’t entirely selfless, being sensitive to other Facebook friends who may be silently struggling- it’s also because I’m still afraid. I’m terrified if I announce it to the world, something bad will happen.

It’s the same reason I haven’t picked out names, painted the nursery, or started a baby registry. It’s the same reason that the only baby thing we own is a plastic giraffe named Sophie- a gift from friends.

@alethea and @breannadk agreed that I need to post to Facebook, as a small first step to all of these other wonderful things I should be thinking about.

I’ve been depriving my husband from sharing this joy on Facebook too- and after all we’ve been through- we deserve our moment. He only recently admitted to me how jealous he’s been of all our friends’ little ones- he deserves to shout it from the rooftops now. This little one, our miracle from the dish- deserves to have all our friends to share in our joy too.

I still don’t know how I’ll share this news on Facebook, but I’m pretty sure I’ll use the word “grateful.” Nothing else says it quite as well. In fact, maybe “grateful” should be our code word- our way of telling others still struggling that it took time and tears and heartbreak and pain- to get to this joyful moment.

As I sit here writing this, baby kicks me to agree.

So unbelievably grateful. 

Kick me Baby

When I was about to embark on IVF round 1, I met with a woman who had been through several rounds of IVF before finally having success. She told me how the experience changed her forever, how hard it was on her marriage, that it took a high emotional and physical toll and that she still had moments of sadness- but that she’d do it all again in an instant for her three boys.

Her story terrified me. It had a happy ending yes, but I didn’t want to change.  I wanted to believe that pregnancy would instantly banish all the sadness and raw emotion that comes with surviving a journey through infertility. That I’d have a baby and go on being my happy self.

Well, I’m over 20 weeks pregnant now, but I’m not “cured.”  I worry- a lot- even though I constantly promise Mr. T and you all that I’m done worrying. The saddest part is that I’ve been afraid to let myself love this little one too fiercely, to be too happy. I’ve loved and lost before. I can’t bear another heartbreak.

So sad isn’t it? I won’t admit this to anyone in real life- only to myself here and to you all.

But this week, for the first time, I felt baby kick. Not just a little flutter that could be indigestion or gas, but a full forceful series of kicks. I shouted to Mr. T who came running from downstairs, afraid something terrible had happened. (Maybe I’m not the only one in our marriage who is always afraid of the worst.) T put his hands on my tummy where I had felt the kicks, and sure enough, baby responded with another kick.

Laughing (and crying a little bit), I hugged my belly and my husband. With each kick I felt like I was waking up and coming back to life.  This was real. This tiny little person, who started life as an embryo in a dish, the only survivor of 14 eggs and 7 embryos, was here with us, kicking so that we could both feel it.

I needed that kick.

I’m not the same person I was before the three rounds of IVF, before my losses, before this pregnancy. Sometimes I don’t like how I’ve changed, that I’ve exchanged some of my carefree optimism for cynicism. But worrying doesn’t mean I’m weak. It means I’m becoming a mother. I’ll take that.