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Dispelling the "perfect birth theory" - Page 2

post #21 of 178


I actually have to dig deep to remember anything that was not satisifactory.   Both were quite pleasant. 
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by philomom View Post

Eh, I did have "perfect births". I talk about birthing with a huge smile on my face even many years after. Yeah, I did have a midwife, I exercised, took Bradley classes and did the Brewer diet. And it is peaceful post-partum not to have any birth regrets or anger like so many of my friends had. But maybe I was just lucky.


 

post #22 of 178
I am genuinely pleased for people who are happy with their birth experience, whatever it was, but I really don't understand why those of us who are not happy should be told that we have issues, or unrealistic expectations or are. It sufficiently grateful for our lives or our babies lives.

Is it really so hard to understand that a woman may feel sad that she won't ever get to experience labour or the sensation of pushing her baby out? Or that she may mourn the loss of the benefits to her baby? My caesarean-born baby is 20% more likely to develop type I diabetes for example. I acknowledge that I am a privileged developed country woman but Im not going to apologize for not being thrilled with that.

By all means rejoice in your experience of it was positive for you but please try to find a way of honoring your experience without dismissing mine.

*sent from my phone so apologies for any typos
post #23 of 178
I am genuinely pleased for people who are happy with their birth experience, whatever it was, but I really don't understand why those of us who are not happy should be told that we have issues, or unrealistic expectations or are. It sufficiently grateful for our lives or our babies lives.

Is it really so hard to understand that a woman may feel sad that she won't ever get to experience labour or the sensation of pushing her baby out? Or that she may mourn the loss of the benefits to her baby? My caesarean-born baby is 20% more likely to develop type I diabetes for example. I acknowledge that I am a privileged developed country woman but Im not going to apologize for not being thrilled with that.

By all means rejoice in your experience of it was positive for you but please try to find a way of honoring your experience without dismissing mine.

*sent from my phone so apologies for any typos
post #24 of 178
I guess the issue I sense in many women is this irrational preoccupation with perfection. Sometimes there is this undercurrent of competiveness between women, made evident by judgemental attitudes and constant comparison. It isn't uncommon and aside from being ridiculous in that there is usually no prize or even recognition for being the most perfect, it also robs the woman of fully appreciating the present moment for what it is because it is so seldom "perfect".
post #25 of 178


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LadyJade View Post

 

I attempted a home water birth.  After 21 hours and no progress and midwives trying everything, we transferred.  Shortly after that, there were some dangerous decels and I had an emergency c-section and a perfectly healthy baby boy.  And I ended up with some very serious PPD coping with the aftermath of the birth.  All of the "normal" people in my life were so happy for me - a gorgeous, healthy little boy!  But I was in tears all the time mourning my lost home birth and the "perfect birth" I had planned.

 

Took me months to shake it off and realize I had been duped and it was only all these expectations and promises that if I just believed and prepared and took these vitamins and stuck enough EPO up my hoo hah that birth for me would be peaceful and natural and wonderful.  Lots of women are lucky enough to get that, but that's all they are:  lucky.

 

I find it very annoying when people don't admit to being lucky. Of course, we like to assign anything positive to our valiant efforts, but very often, it's wishful thinking.

 

I know it's hard to give up the feeling of being in control (even if that feeling has no basis in reality), but I've often seen the need for control get absolutely ridiculous, and the resulting "patting oneself on the back" (if the things go well) to be absolutely annoying.

 

I've known women who did no health diets, took no birthing classes, didn't exercise, and had a perfectly easy, quick birth. And they were nice enough to acknowledge that it was pure luck, they were smart enough to see that they didn't deserve any credit for it. And vice versa, some women do all the right things and prepare in most healthy ways, and bad things still happen.

 

It's sad when women buy into the whole "do these things, and your birth will be perfect" mentality.

 

And it's really awful when those for whom things did go well - by luck, tell others "You got a cesarean (or any other complication), obviously you did something wrong, or you caused it in some way, or you'll never achieve this holy grail of perfect birth", etc., etc.

 

Some complaints I've seen are quite an eye-opener - for example, complaining that the pain in childbirth was awful, even though she did the Hypnobabies class. There wasn't supposed to be any pain, not with Hypnobabies! I just don't get it. Another story mentioned how the future mother was so sure that she could birth her baby, naturally, she hasn't been more sure about anything in here life - and then she needed a cesarean. I know people tend to be optimistic when it comes to their health and safety, but how can anyone have such 100% certainty, far in advance, that they can birth a baby on their own?

 

Perfect birth is such a lofty goal, such a high pedestal, and falling down from it will surely be painful! Why are people setting themselves up for such disappointment?

 

post #26 of 178

I think this all plays into some dangerous ways of thought that humans are suspectible to.  For the fortunate, it is so much more pleasant to believe that you are *virtuous* rather than merely lucky.

 

Some women who have birthed naturally don't realize that they are basically the George Bushes of birthing -- landed on third base (normally formed uterus, well-positioned baby, roomy pelvis) through luck and believe they hit a triple.

 

Others fervently believe that nothing bad can happen to them -- like the UC-er who did not seek medical attention for a cord prolapse because God would never let anything happen to her or her baby.

 

At the end of the day...We want to believe that we are virtuous and our virtue will be rewarded, we want to believe our faith will be rewarded, we want to believe that bad things don't happen to good people, we want to believe we control the uncontrollable, we want to believe that if something bad happens to someone else that they *deserved* it and we *don't* deserve it and that whatever we ascribe to (God, karma, positive reaffirmations, the universe generally) will protect our righteous selves. 

 

post #27 of 178

I freely admit to being a George Bush of birthing (love that turn of phrase!)  I seriously feel like nothing about birth was under my voluntary control at all.  Birth ran over me like a tornado and left a baby in my lap.  Hypnobirthing (which I did prior to my first) was about as useful as an umbrella in said tornado.  I didn't bother with any labor prep the second time bc by then it was clear that things were going to happen as they were going to happen, regardless of any conscious participation on my part.

 

And I find it weird and unsettling that people who know my birth stories give me this bizarre kind of praise, like calling me a 'superwoman' and whatever.  (My first was a hospital birth to which I showed up pushing, second was a precipitous labor and accidental UC - but really UC, the baby and I were the only people in the house unfortunately.)  I think this view of an uncomplicated birth as some kind of achievement on the part of the woman is false and can be really harmful to women whose births don't go as they'd hoped.  It needs to be debunked.

post #28 of 178

I know I was  lucky. I have chronic painful condition. My body failed me so many times. I am petite woman and I had large babies. I was lucky!

 

My college  degree....that was an achievement.

post #29 of 178

 

Quote:
Is it really so hard to understand that a woman may feel sad that she won't ever get to experience labour or the sensation of pushing her baby out? Or that she may mourn the loss of the benefits to her baby? My caesarean-born baby is 20% more likely to develop type I diabetes for example. I acknowledge that I am a privileged developed country woman but Im not going to apologize for not being thrilled with that.

I have come a long way in making peace with my c-sections but I have to agree with this.  There are so many increased risks.  THAT is why I wanted to avoid so many things.  I was so drugged/wiped out I hardly saw my first daughter for 3 days.

Do I think that my my c-sections were needed?  Yes, I now do believe they were and I will likely have another but I will probably always grieve when I see another mother hold her baby, still warm from the womb, to her naked chest.  I think that's ok to want that.

 

I agree that ALL women should be supported in their birth experience, whatever that is, but that includes supporting a mom if they don't like the way things went.


Edited by CoBabyMaker - 2/18/12 at 9:49pm
post #30 of 178

I prepared for birth before I was even pregnant.

19 months of research, dealing with fears, visualizing an awesome US with just my husband present. 

On other forums, women encouraged me through my pregnancy, I  had an amazing, uncomplicated pregnancy.  I had TONS of support, I was full of peace about the whole labor/birth experiance.  I truly believed that I could do it.  I was looking forward to it so much, just to experiance the raw feelings and emotions that go along with a natural birth.  I didn't have any doubts that things would go wonderfully.  I did all the things you're *supposed* to do to get a natural, perfect birth. I had the impression from the women I talked to that EVERYONE can do it naturally and that the women who didn't, were just too pansy or uneducated to make it happen.  I was also under the impression -- from things posted on other boards about other women who hadn't acheived a natural labor -- that all the women were disappointed in their peers who hadn't been able to have their babies at home, naturally.  No one ever came right out and said it, but there are subtle hints...and not so subtle too.

 

When I finally went into labor, it was wonderful...at first...and then after 45 hours of labor with no sleep, almost no progression I transferred to the hopsital, pushed for a few hours and then caved for a c-section when I was completely exhausted.  My son and I almost died during surgery because I hemorraged.

 

Recovery SUCKED!!!!!!!

I felt ashamed of myself, I was in pain, I had PPD for over a year.

Here, I'd done all this research, I'd known how to avoid c-section and other interventions and I went down that road anyway.

 

Why did I feel so shamed?  Why did I mourn over the c-section?  Why was I so disappointed?

Because I was led to believe that ALL women can and should have a natural birth and that those who don't have failed.  

No, people don't come out and use those words (well, some do) but it's there.

 

Yes, I think it's a good idea to aim for a natural birth.  It's better for baby and mama.

BUT, I think somehow women have the idea that EVERYONE CAN.  And the vast majority of women CAN, given she is educated and has supportive people around here.  Still, there are exceptions to the rule and for those of us who have *failed* -- according to a growing number of people -- we feel like s**t if we couldn't do it...even if we are well educated and well supported.  For whatever reason, we didn't get the birth we wanted.

 

That being said, some women go into their experience not expecting anything "natural", end up with a c-section or many interventions and still get PPD.  I do think there is something to be said for a natural, vaginal birth that gives a women a sense of accomplishment.  So anyone who thinks that a woman doesn't have a right to feel emotional about the way she birthed her baby needs to look at things from a different perspective.  What she needs is good support from family and friends and others AFTER birth as well, if things didn't go very well.  She needs to feel like she didn't fail.

 

I agree with the other posters who said that women who have a "perfect birth" were lucky.

The "perfect birthers" would like to chalk it up to all their preparation before birth, as if they MADE it happen.  And while preparation and education before birth helps, it doesn't mean you'll end up with a perfect birth.  Not even if EVERYTHING is perfect BEFORE birth.  I am living proof.  

 

 

post #31 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by DoubleDouble View Post

 

Some complaints I've seen are quite an eye-opener - for example, complaining that the pain in childbirth was awful, even though she did the Hypnobabies class. There wasn't supposed to be any pain, not with Hypnobabies! I just don't get it. Another story mentioned how the future mother was so sure that she could birth her baby, naturally, she hasn't been more sure about anything in here life - and then she needed a cesarean. I know people tend to be optimistic when it comes to their health and safety, but how can anyone have such 100% certainty, far in advance, that they can birth a baby on their own?

 

 


I completely agree that some people perpetuate an unrealistic idea of childbirth, creating a disappointment for women who don't have the 'perfect' birth. I'd like to say that in the case of someone who took a Hypnobabies class and expected a completely pain free birth, they had the wrong idea about Hypnobabies.  Hypnobabies does NOT promise a painless perfect birth.  Some women do have that experience using Hypnobabies hypnosis but Hypnobabies instructors and the Home Study materials are VERY clear that is not the goal.  The idea is to have an enjoyable, comfortable birth and to be educated enough to make the best decisions for your family before, during, and after your birthing.

post #32 of 178

My grandmother burst my "perfect birth" bubble.  She told me that even though I expected it to be perfect and wonderful... prepare for swearing, fear, anger and extreme pain.  Thanks granny.  But she was honest and she was right.  All the other moms I knew that told me what a beautiful experience it would and even colored breastfeeding like it was the easiest thing on the planet.  They were quick to point out I was messing it all up when I got mastitis within two weeks and happy to tell me to get over it.  It's been years and I'm still pissed at the one friend who chastised me for my problems with DD1. 

post #33 of 178

I'm pregnant now and this discussion has been helpful.  I really appreciate reading people's stories.  So maybe we should say birth is part luck and part accomplishment?  Some well-prepared, well-read people with lots of inner strength aren't able to have a "natural" birth without luck... some of these women have not-the-greatest luck during birth and still manage to soldier on, stay determined, and get their natural birth (what an amazing accomplishment!).  And without doing the advance reading, classes, healthy lifestyle, and inner work, some otherwise lucky people may not be prepared enough to go all the way though a natural birth... but some do (what amazing luck!).  Just because luck plays such an important role, doesn't mean we shouldn't hope for a "perfect birth" (whatever that might mean to you) or work hard preparing, reading, taking classes, being healthy, finding the best birth team, and doing the inner work to get it. 

 

Someone mentioned that it's not wise to set your expectations so high that you'll set yourself up for deep disappointment.  And I agree - it's not healthy to have ridiculous expectations, ignoring the many possibilities that things won't go your way.  But it's equally unhealthy to work toward and hope for something, and then when it doesn't happen, dismiss it without feeling disappointment or going through a healing process.  I think both of these situations are unhealthy.

post #34 of 178

I think that birth can still be 'perfect' although it was imperfect.

 

My last two births - UC's - one was a 42 hour labor w/ a posterior baby. One was a 41 hour labor w/ a nearly 10 lb baby.  They were HARD and I definitely would have preferred not to have such lengthy labors, and positioning issues, but I still consider them perfect, even in their imperfection.

 

If YOU are happy w/ your birth, excellent!  And if you weren't, that's ok too.  Do what you need to do to be at peace.

post #35 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by DoubleDouble View Post
Perfect birth is such a lofty goal, such a high pedestal, and falling down from it will surely be painful! Why are people setting themselves up for such disappointment?

 



OK, I know that you are asking this as a rhetorical question, but I thought I'd answer for myself.

 

I don't feel like I was one of those who expected a perfect birth...in fact, there were plenty of reasons to believe that my birth wouldn't be perfect. I was an "old" mom who had had trouble conceiving, and I was planning a hospital birth, which I didn't consider "ideal" but it was what was do-able for me...so I expected that perhaps some interventions might be necessary, and I had an idea that a c-section wasn't out of the question. I just knew that I would give everything I had to a natural labor, and I figured that would sort of innoculate me against disappointment if I had a c-section...I would at least have the satisfaction of knowing that I "tried my best."

 

What I learned is that being prepared for "less than perfect" in the abstract is one thing; having a long, grueling labor is another. I had no way to know what it would feel like to spend hour after hour with painful contractions and vomiting, but no progress in my labor. I had no way to prepare myself for the surreal feeling of beginning my second night in labor and still not really knowing what was going on that was making things so difficult and taking so long. And I certainly had no concept that by "giving it all" to my labor, I would have nothing left for my recovery.

 

My physical recovery was in many ways worse than the labor & c-section. I was so exhausted & depleted...I didn't really recognize myself. All my coping mechanisms were completely exhausted. I really could handle very, very little. My support network would have been just fine if I'd had a "normal" labor & delivery; it was completely inadequate to handle the degree of dependence that I experienced after my birth. And I was joyful that my daughter had arrived, but I almost didn't have the physical capacity to express that joy. It was more of a conceptual joy. I don't really know how to explain it.

 

What I discovered in my recovery was that trying to find a perfect zen "acceptance" of my situation was just another impossible ideal that I couldn't live up to. I really felt like s**t and it felt more honest and more healing to just say, "this sucks & I feel like s**t" than to berate myself for not being more "at peace" with my disappointment. In fact, a recurring theme for me during the past 3 years is giving up on the notion that there is one perfect way to do this...and by "this" I mean, birth, parenting, and integrating a tough experience into my life. My labor had it's own time frame and it's own trajectory, and my recovery is the same. I might wish that things would progress faster and look more pleasant from the outside, but the real healing seems to happen in the moments when I can be honest about things, even when they are ugly & unpleasant.

 

And I've also had to forgive myself for not knowing more than I know when I know it. I wasn't trying to set myself up for a train wreck, but a train wreck is what I got. I have to forgive myself for that every day.

post #36 of 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by Babydoll1285 View Post


I completely agree that some people perpetuate an unrealistic idea of childbirth, creating a disappointment for women who don't have the 'perfect' birth. I'd like to say that in the case of someone who took a Hypnobabies class and expected a completely pain free birth, they had the wrong idea about Hypnobabies.  Hypnobabies does NOT promise a painless perfect birth.  Some women do have that experience using Hypnobabies hypnosis but Hypnobabies instructors and the Home Study materials are VERY clear that is not the goal.  The idea is to have an enjoyable, comfortable birth and to be educated enough to make the best decisions for your family before, during, and after your birthing.


This is a good point. I think perhaps the confusion comes from how we each interpret "enjoyable, comfortable" birth. If I had invested in a method that I believed was going to lead to a "enjoyable, comfortable" birth, I would assume that while there might be pain, even significant pain, I wouldn't expect excruciating pain, so I might be surprised if that's what I got. And "education to make the best decisions" would seem to me to be incongruous with "a feeling of total loss of control of my body and the laboring process." So yes, I would be surprised if I expected to have an enjoyable, comfortable experience where I would be empowered to make good decisions, and instead got an experience where I experienced mind-boggling pain and a feeling of total loss of control.

 

Obviously, if a woman expects her Hypnobabies training to lead to an entirely pain-free birth, she's misinterpreted the program and is setting herself up for disappointment. But she might have a completely reasonable expectation and still be surprised/disappointed. Some births are just like that.

 

post #37 of 178

I don't understand this 'enjoyable, comfortable birth' thing. I've been exceedingly lucky and had 'quick, easy' no complication homebirths. While I will admit they were quick, easy they were not! Stuff coming out of both ends that's not a baby, horrible burning, cramping, churning, turning you inside out pains, being torn in two from the inside out, screaming, people making stupid (to me at the time) comments, hyperventilating, etc. What's ideal about that? Birth is painful, exhausting and would be humiliating if you weren't so dang tired, preoccupied and in pain you didn't care. I have to psych myself up, every time before getting pregnant and I go into every labor with extreme trepidation.

 

I have a small farm and see plenty of 'natural' births. They don't always go well and I've never seen a painless one. This thing about our bodies being made to give birth annoys me no end. Yes we were, but we were also made to walk, breathe, the heart to beat, etc. Sometimes those things don't work right. You don't see most people telling someone to man up and have faith in their body during a heart attack

 

To me, an ideal birth is one where mother and baby both come out the other end, no matter how they get there.

post #38 of 178

I have had 3 very different births, all resulting in delightfully healthy babies and mom.

 

After each experience, there is one thing I recognize that lets me be at peace with them.....owning the decisions made regarding my birth, and feeling like I had the knowledge to be confident in those decisions. 

 

My first birth was spontaneous, no pain meds, no augmentation, nothing. I was 20 yr old and not nearly as educated as I am not. While I was pushing, my OB mutter "going to make a little cut and help you out" as I was in my own world, but an episiotomy without further discussion and I had a handful of stitches, and that was that. 

 

My second was 8 yr later. I had a great OB that was very pro natural birth and supported me. I was GBS+, water broken, almost 36 hr later I had no contractions.  After much research, that was my comfort level to go time stamp myself at the hospital.   OB had us do every natural induction method possible. FInally she gave me the option of trying a little pit to see if we can get my body going, keep waiting, knowing if we hit 24 hr and nothing happened we may look at csec. We ended up with pit, still took 9 hr to start contraction, and I pushed out my 9lb baby without pain meds of other intervention.

 

My third was a walk in the park. Went to hospital at 8cm, pushed her out, no anything, home next day.

 

In hind sight, although my 2nd labor had more intervention, I was happy with that because I felt like I owned every decision I made. I had the knowledge and did what I was comfortable with.  My first, which was intervention free other than the episiotomy, I felt robbed and bitter, because I didn't have a say and felt kind of out of control.

 

Everyone is different, but I think when women are empowered with knowledge to make decisions and ask the questions to their care providers that they need to, in order to feel like they own the decisions, then there tends to me less mourning the "perfect birth experience" if it doesn't happen.

post #39 of 178

ITA.  I think the sense of a loss of control can be one of the greatest harbingers of disappointment about the birth, regardless of how everything ultimately turns out or what was planned for or idealized.

post #40 of 178


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alenushka View Post

 

The only type of perfect birth to me is the one that end with healthy mom and baby.  The rest is cherry on top. The rest is the privilege of First World  spoiled citizens.


 

While I see what you're saying and I too agree that the healthy mom and baby is paramount, I think that the birth experience is still more than just the cherry on top. The "birth trauma is a first world problem" argument doesn't work for me. Obesity is a first world problem. Does that mean it doesn't still cause disability, disease, and sometimes crushing depression due to social pressures? No. Just because people in the first world have the privilege of not having to worry about starving to death in the next famine doesn't mean that they don't have real problems due to a messed up food culture. In the same way, first world women have the privilege of having a very small likelihood of dying in childbirth; this doesn't mean that they do not have problems that arise due to a messed up birth culture. If anything, I think it is appalling that, with all of the resources available in the first world, so many women still feel so strongly that they were violated or disrespected in their births. While some of that comes from inflated, unrealistic expectations of natural birth, I have also read many, many stories from women who went into birth with no expectations, only to have terrible experiences under hospital care that later led them to question the prevalent hospital birth norms. There is no excuse for this, given the resources that we are so privileged to have. And those women are part of the reason why things have improved a lot in many hospitals in respect to how women are treated.

 

I personally had a long, mild labor of 37 hours. I called the hospital twice during that time; they asked if the baby was moving (she was), and told me to come in when I couldn't manage with the pain any longer. Well, I realized in transition that if we didn't leave immediately we wouldn't make it. I got to the hospital fully dilated and pushed the baby out easily standing by the bed. I had a couple small tears. I wouldn't say this was due to luck - after all, the majority of young, healthy women with low-risk pregnancies do have uneventful vaginal births - nor do I chalk it up to virtue on my part, for the same reason. 

 

Then 15 minutes later my placenta came out and I hemorrhaged. Since part of the bleeding was coming from my cervix, they had to put me under general anesthesia for a couple hours so they could stitch it up. I left DD with DH, in a big hurry. I did not feel traumatized in the least by this experience, because all of the very competent medical staff were talking to me, telling me what was going on and asking for my consent for various things the whole time between when I started hemorrhaging and when they put me under. Had they ignored me and whisked me off without explanation or engaging with me, well, I would still be alive and I would be grateful for that, but I am positive that the experience would have been overall highly traumatic. In fact, the only thing about the birth that left a bad taste in my mouth was when the midwife lied and manipulated me to get me to go along with her postpartum routine (this was before I there was any sign that I would bleed) rather than engaging with me and respecting my wishes as a rational adult in a non-emergent situation. The point of all this is that medical procedures themselves are not traumatic; it is how they are applied, how the staff treats you when they are carrying them out. Human dignity is a real thing, and respecting it is paramount, even (or particularly) during sensitive, life-and-death events like childbirth. I think many of the women who experience trauma from their births feel that they were not listened to or respected. And, from my own experience with a serious complication requiring urgent care, it is perfectly possible to respect and engage the woman at the same time as carrying out lifesaving procedures.

 

I think it's sad that a respectful, positive birth experience is considered a privilege by many. Obviously birth cannot be planned, it isn't a comfortable thing, and many women hate it. That doesn't mean that there aren't things that can increase the likelihood (NOT guarantee) of a more positive birth experience. No woman should be made to feel bad about how she birthed, or how she felt about it. And yes, in the end, the birth is but a tiny moment in your life as a parent relating to your child. But women who do feel bad about what happened in their births should not be silenced with the "oh, you spoiled westerner, why aren't you just happy that your baby is alive?" line. In the same way, most people would agree that first world women are justified in complaining about workplace discrimination, even though women in many parts of the world have no legal rights whatsoever and are clearly much worse off. Depression from a birth experience perceived as traumatic is real, and has real consequences for the parent-child relationship. Women who experience that should be allowed to talk about their personal experience in public, including sharing things that they think would help prevent such traumatic experiences, without being accused of making other people feel like their birth wasn't good enough.

 

We aren't confined to the massively inadequate resources that result in so much preventable tragedy in the third world. We have no excuse to content ourselves with the bottom line, which is life for the mother and baby. We have overwhelmingly achieved that goal in the first world. "Sucking it up" and repressing real hurts while labeling them as self-indulgent or whiny does nothing to help the women suffering in poorer countries. There is absolutely room for women to evaluate and sometimes mourn their birth experiences *if that is how they feel*. For some women, that comes with a rejection of the natural birth paradigm; for others, it comes with a rejection of the medicalized birth paradigm. We are lucky enough to have the space to be able to do that, and we should not feel guilty about taking full advantage of this glorious, unprecedented luxury which is relative safety through life events like birth.

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