Grief is a Funny Thing

Grief Square

 

 

I haven't blogged much the past month (actually at all) talking about the ectopic pregnancy and recovery process I have been going through since my surgery where they removed the baby and my left fallopian tube 7 weeks ago (if you are new to my blog you can read more about it in the blog archives here).  Partly just because I've been so darn busy I haven't had much time to write.  My husband has been so busy on a huge project at work where he has been putting in 80-90 hours each week, so I have been taking on the extra work at home as well as getting ready for the Arnold Sports Festival next week and documenting everything in my 4-week Shred program (a 4-week program where I am journaling exactly what I do as I get ready for a photoshoot - workouts, macros, meals, mindset, that members of my site get access to)....each day I put up a post takes around 1.5 hours to write and by the time I get the kids to bed, get caught up on work stuff, there is just no time left for any other blogging.  I enjoy writing and talking about this experience, it has been a really healing process for me.  Being quiet about everything this past few weeks have forced me to self reflect on some of my feelings and I guess the best way to describe everything is just....confusing.  Grief is a really confusing thing.

Grief

The majority of the time, I have peace in my heart about everything that happened.  I've accepted that this experience is now a part of my life story and I've wrapped my head around the fact that there truly was nothing I could have done to prevent what happened.  But then sometimes, out of nowhere, something tiny will happen that will cause me to feel sad all over again.  It's weird.  It's as though in those moments all the healing I've gone through the past two months just disappears and all the same raw, painful, hurtful, fearful feelings creep right back up.  For example, I volunteer at our church each Wednesday night watching the 1-5 year olds while their parents attend Small Groups.  One of the moms came in last week and as we were chit chatting she casually said that she was so thankful she is finally out of the nausea phase.  I didn't know she was pregnant and was really happy for her, congratulated her, and asked when her due date was.  I heard the date and felt a lump start to form in my throat.  Her due date was two days after my due date (or, rather, when my due date would have been).  I was really taken off guard that something so small as the mention of a date made me feel so emotional.  The sadness had nothing to do with that mom....I was then and still am so happy for her....it was just a random thing that for whatever reason triggered those grief feelings.

There have been so many times where I have found myself walking through the grocery store, or at the gym, or in any other random place thinking to myself, "these people see me with my two cute kids and have no idea of the pain our family just went through and that we have a third child in heaven."  Sometimes I wish I could either just hole up in our house and not have to face real life, or I could somehow have a sign on my back saying, "we just went through a really hard event as a family, please be sensitive to that".  But, of course, neither of those options are realistic or would even be helpful.  I guess this entire process has really opened my eyes and helped me remember that so many people are facing hard trials in their life, really hard trials, and most of the time we have no clue the heart wrenching trials other people are silently struggling with.  

At first, people would say to me, "at least you already have two healthy children" and at the time it felt like a slap in the face.  Yes, I have two beautiful, wonderful children who I love so much but that doesn't take away the pain from wanting this baby.  However, it has actually been the smiles and joyfulness of these two who truly have made me so happy at some of the times I felt most sad.  I'm going to share a few videos of my sweet 1.5 year old little girl, Phoenix.  She is so fiesty, and strong willed, and bull headed, silly, and sweet all at the same time.  Videos like these just make me so happy.

(And just for the record so you don't think I was just being a mean mom....I didn't actually have any candy or anything she just asks for it 24/7)  🙂

The other area I have really been struggling with is the idea of wanting more children.  It is something I have truly felt so conflicted over the past two months and I don't have peace with either decision (stopping with two or trying for another).  On one hand, I look at my two healthy children and think I could be really happy just having a family of four.  It would be so much easier to just have two kids, would be so much less expensive, family trips would be easier, we are young parents to begin with so we would still be young when our kids graduate from high school, it would be easier for my work, etc etc.  There are so many times (more often than not) that I feel like I could be at peace with this little family of ours being complete.  But then, in my heart I really do think I would be sad in 10 years if I looked back and knew I didn't try for another baby just because I was afraid.  Gosh, even just typing this up makes my eyes water because it brings up so many emotions.  It's just a hard decision and one that I don't feel like I have a strong answer for either way.  I guess the only thing stopping us from trying for another baby is fear.  I am so, so, so afraid of having to go through that experience again.  An ectopic pregnancy is something I wouldn't wish on anyone and was really traumatic for me (still is).  I think it would just tear me up so much to have to go through that again, and I don't know if I want to risk putting myself in that situation again.

I was talking with one of my best friends, Holly, yesterday and I was trying to explain to her these feelings (they still are confusing for me and I feel like I'm not great at really describing how I'm feeling) and like she always does she really gave me some beautiful insight and guidance.  She reminded me how the Bible talks about how we aren't meant to live in fear and that I should probably try to resolve the deeper issue of living in fear before I attack the issue of another pregnancy.

Joshua 1:9 "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”"

2 Timothy 1:7 "For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control."

This is something that I thought a lot about last night.  I think, regardless of your religious affiliation, the idea that I need to come to terms with the fear I am feeling instead of the logistics of another pregnancy is really wonderful advice.  I am hoping that with time I will feel peace with either decision and not feel so conflicted like I do right now.

Listening to music has, surprisingly, been a really healing thing for me.  Here are a few of the songs I have listened to over and over again when I start to get that sad feeling.

 

Have you ever been in a situation where you truly just didn't know which decision was the best one to make for your family?  Have you ever felt paralyzed to make a decision out of fear?  I would love to hear any advice or insight you might have.  Truthfully, hearing and reading some of your stories has been one of the most helpful and healing pieces of this whole experience.  I would love for you to put your input in the comments below.

Your Friend,
Natalie

 

UPDATE:
If you are just stumbling across this post, I wrote quite a bit when I was going through the entire surgery and recovery process.  Here are the posts I wrote in the order they were written starting from the day of my ectopic pregnancy surgery.

 

-------------------------------------------

15 Comments

  1. Ur friend has aound advise. I always tell my son to not make decisions based on fear, eventually u’ll regret it. While i’ve never lost a baby, i know the feel of empty aching arms. It took us 6 yrs to have our son (9yr old now) and while i’m absolutely thankful beyond measure for him it doesnt take the ache away of wanting more babies.

    People just truly dont know what to say so they try their best. My neice miscarried and she had an amazing book on lost babies. One piece stuck out to her that it is a grieving process. Someone u loved died, the only difference is that u had not meet ur baby here and now, but it does not change the love you have for that child. Allow urself the time and space to grieve and then start to heal with ur new reality. Reality is that u have 3 babies but ur arms get to hold only 2.

    We wilm be praying for you and ur family and peace. Peace that can come only from Him.

    Reply
  2. last year I had four miscarriages back to back. A couple of them only went 6-8 weeks and a couple of them went to 12 weeks. Of course we thought we were safe after we got to 12 weeks but little did we know. A very hard year for me because I spent an entire year being pregnant with nothing to show for it. (And that sucks because of dealing with the changes in my body for nothing)It was/is hard for me because we have family pictures from our summer vacation that show me clearly pregnant (my stomach pops out right away and this was on week 12). It’s really sad to see them and know that there was a baby there that is no longer with us. I’m upset that my ideal family would have children that were no more than 2 years apart. I know that can seem silly but I just thought it would help my children to be close if they were close in age like me and my brother. So after a year of miscarriages we are now at least a year and 10 months away from the family we would love to have. We also wanted to remain young parents and now I’m 28 and if we got pregnant now I would be 29 after the baby is born. All of that is incredibly frustrating to me. Sometimes I feel upset when friends of mine are having their second child now when we were pregnant with our firsts together. I realize that I really shouldn’t feel that way and I should be happy for them. Actually I didn’t even know I still felt so emotional about all of it until writing this.

    My husband and I did some genetic testing and it turns out that he has a balanced translocation of his chromosomes and that it was pretty amazing that we were able to get pregnant with our first child and have no problems. This problem tends to lead to multiple miscarriages. It took us a while to decide if we wanted to try again or be ok with just a family of three. Not that our son isn’t enough but I would really love for him to have a sibling. I had three other siblings growing up and I loved it. We have decided to do ivf to weed out the chromosome issue. We aren’t 100% decided on the issue but our thought process is that when we are older and look back on life we would be happier with ourselves if we can say we did everything we could. It’s our last shot and if it doesn’t work at least we can say we tried. It’s definitely very scary to be looking at the prospect of having another miscarriage or possibly not even getting pregnant from the ivf but that is not as scary as the regret we might have later on in life if we didn’t do it.

    Reply
  3. Natalie, I was going to say that God does not give us a spirit of fear, but then saw you posted that verse! I can’t say that I know the pain of an ectopic pregnancy/miscarriage, but I do know the pain of a miscarriage. I remember friends telling me of their pregnancy shortly after and being heartbroken inside while trying to show them my joy on the outside. Do I still think about it? Yes, but not as often as when it had just happened. It did help to talk about it, and it also helped others who wanted to pray for me. You have been on my heart and now I know how to more specifically pray for you guys. We too are at a point where we are deciding if we want to grow our family, or be content with where we are and what we have. I do believe that God will make it clear to us, as well as you! It may not be on our timeline, but that’s where faith and trust come into play. His plans are perfect and you will know when the time is right if you are to grow your family, or remain as four (with one waiting for you in heaven)! Your on my heart and in my prayers! Lisa

    Reply
  4. Thankfully it’s after regular work hours I’m reading this because I’m just sitting at my desk crying.

    My story isn’t the same as yours, but I can share in your struggle with grief. When I was much younger, I found myself pregnant and while I was shocked and nervous I come from a loving family and had been with the man I was dating at the time for several years and thought, ok this can work out. What I wasn’t prepared for was his reaction, one that he shared with his two brothers, that there was no way I was having this baby. I was young, and scared, and they were ruthless and horrible, no one would love the baby, it would ruin everything, their family, etc, and within a few days of finding out I was pregnant I was registered for, and had an abortion. It sounds stupid to say, but I don’t even know how it happen, how I never found my voice to tell them to go to hell …but I didn’t and I have never ever gotten over that grief, and loss and betrayal. It’s been almost 10 years since then, and I haven’t been able to date in more than 7 years, and I’ve gained twice my body weight. Even nice days I’ll be driving home from groceries singing to the radio and then it settles in” ah man, I just wish I weren’t alive”. Mostly whenever my mind has time to settle and thing without a distraction I’m sad. There’s long stretches of good, I have a job, friends but then long stretches of bad…just a few weeks ago it would have been the 9th birthday of my child…my old boyfriend and his wife are now expecting their second child, and while one brother doesn’t want children, the other way busy planning his daughters and seeing them with everything they denied me has just caused so much anger and grief. It doesn’t much help that the only ones in the world who know it ever happened, is them. I know God forgives me, but I can’t find a way to forgive them, as much as I’ve tried. I know it harms no one but me, but I can’t find away around it. The sadness, grief and anger has never been so bad as it’s been in the last month, just crying all the time at home, actually hurting myself the other week and thinking more that if I were to kill myself, and blame them…they would have to take notice then right? Have to finally see the impact they had on my life, take responsibility for it, answer for it. But I don’t know that they really would care all that much.

    Grief is hard to over come.

    Reply
    • Hey Di,
      Thank you so much for taking the time to write out all your feelings and emotions, I know how hard it is to get those thoughts on paper sometimes. I want you to know I prayed for you last night and this morning. I know I don’t have the right words that will make your situation any better, but I hope you can find peace with the decision. Have you ever considered talking with a grief counselor? Many insurance companies will cover the majority of the visit and everything is completely confidential so no one would have to know you went if you didn’t want. It could be a really healing thing for you (as it was for me). *hugs*
      Much love,
      Natalie

      Reply
  5. Natalie,

    Your story is inspiring and I love everything about your posts. Bare with me as this may be a long comment. I had a very rough marriage and subsequent divorce that left me with 2 amazing little boys, 8 and 4. I spend some minutes with so much doubt, wondering if I am doing this thing called parenting correctly as a single mom. Everyone tells me that I am doing an amazing job with these two boys, but it is so easy to get lost in the doubt. I am unable to work out during my lunch break as it is taken by picking up my son from preschool and moving him to daycare. There is no child care at gyms early in the morning before work hours and no one to watch them if I wanted to go to an early morning boot camp. We do go to the YMCA a couple times a week, but I often feel that I am neglecting the boys as I only get a couple hours a day with them – they shouldn’t spend it at child watch at the gym. So, we do what we can because working out is my peace.

    Almost 2 years ago, I met a man that completes my family. He is amazing with my boys, loves them, and they both love him back. He shares much of the same interests as me and makes me a better person and parent. Since my divorce, I have said that there was no way that I would ever get married again or have another child and he knew that going in to the relationship. We suffered an ectopic pregnancy a few weeks after yours (second week of January) where my ovary ruptured. I have an IUD and was slightly bleeding for almost a month. By the end of the month, the pain was unbearable. After the third doctor visit, we figured out what was going on and was in emergency surgery a few hours later. They removed the ovary and a tube and I got the dreaded 4 to 6 weeks of no lifting or working out (do they know that a 4 year old physically can not stop himself from jumping on you).

    My struggle: I saw the twinkle in my boyfriend’s eyes when we were told we were pregnant, even though it quickly turned to fear when we found out the severity of the situation. He would be an amazing father and financially we would be fine having a child, but I can’t shake the feeling that I am not sure if I want to have another child. How will that effect the boys? Will they feel that I am starting a new family? Starting over when both of my boys are self-sufficient (to an extent)? I finally have gotten them to a point where I can enjoy a date night when the boys are with grandparents and not worry. I am also afraid of getting married again. Although he says that he is not worried about a piece of paper that says we are together, I know that is what he wants. He says that he would be happy not having his own child, but I know him better than he knows himself and I don’t want him to resent me someday. I selfishly can see a future with him and another child, but I selfishly feel that I am stuck in my own fear of marriage and starting another family.

    Yours,

    Deanna

    Reply
  6. I was in a similar sitation. Mother of two beautiful, wonderful children, had a very sad miscarriage at the end of thenfirst trimester with a tthird. It was heartbreaking. It seemed like everyone announced their pregnancy right as I miscarried and none of these people knew my heart break. I was working at our front desk one morning and had to excuse myself to go cry. It was innocent and a kind comment from a member saying they’re glad to see me, they heard I had been off sick. My son, who was 4 at the time and my daughter who had just turned 2 would say little things about how they couldn’t wait for the baby and I would have to tell the over and over again that the baby wasn’t healthy and we hoped there might be another baby someday. Silly me, we were excited and told them days before I miscarried. We were fortunate enough to have our third baby the next year and her middle name is Faith. Dont let people tell you it is not meant to be if itmis something you really want. Xoxo. Take care

    Reply
  7. Although my situation is different it is similar in someways… October of 2013 I found out I was pregnant with my first pregnancy and started to spot. After 2 weeks of dr appointments it was discovered that my uterus only contained a sac and no baby so I had a D&C. That was emotional but I moved on and tried again. In February of 2014 I found out I was pregnant with my second pregnancy. I started to spot again and had pain in my left side. So my husband took me to the ER during an awful snow storm and after ultrasounds and blood work they suspected it was an ectopic pregnancy but couldn’t confirm it. So I was sent home and had blood work and ultrasounds done for the next week. It was determined that it was an ectopic and I was given a shot of methotrexate to end the pregnancy to avoid surgery and removal of my tube. The shot was one of the worst experiences I’ve ever faced. Countless blood work and ultrasounds mixed with side effects of the drug. I would have rather had surgery when I look back on the toll the shot took on me. I was scared to death and struggled with the fact of never wanting to go through that again and couldn’t decide on what I wanted in my future regarding children. I understood that my chance of having a second ectopic is now 1 in 10 which is pretty high. So I decided to hold off on trying for a baby (and waiting for my husband to emotionally be ready again) and now it’s been a year and the scary thought that crossed my mind a year ago, every single day for a good six months doesn’t cross my mind until I hear of it or read about someone going through it. So I think with time your maternial instict will help you make the right choice. Me personally… I can only see a perfect baby in my future and hope and pray for the best. The thought of being a mom completely outweighs the thought of having another ectopic.

    Reply
  8. Natalie,

    I SO wish I could just call you and talk to you! I COMPLETELY understand how you feel. I had a very traumatic miscarriage nearly 3 years ago and experienced pretty much everything that you have mentioned (the grief, sadness, fear, etc.). I also had a friend who was due 5 days before I would have been due. She now has a beautiful son who is a little over 2 years old, and every time I see him, I think of my baby and how it would’ve been the same age. I wonder what they would’ve looked like, what their personality would’ve been, etc. I think that’s totally normal too, so please don’t beat yourself up or feel bad/weird for feeling this way.

    I also was SO scared to have another baby following my miscarriage. I was totally in fear of having to go through the experience again, just as you are. The thing that helped me was leaning on my faith, and reminding myself that God is in control of what happens, not me. There was a reason why my baby wasn’t meant to survive, and if I were to get pregnant again, he will have a different plan for that baby. (I figured, it’s highly unlikely that he’ll have the exact same plan for both babies, right?!). We waited nearly 5 months after the miscarriage before I finally felt ready again to start trying, and wouldn’t you know it, I got pregnant that first month. I had a completely normal pregnancy, and now have a beautiful, feisty, energetic 18 month old daughter (I also have a wonderful 4 1/2 year old son). I guess my best advice is to wait until you truly feel ready. It has only been 7 weeks since you lost your baby, so don’t feel like you have to make a decision right now. Give yourself some time, and you’ll know what the right decision is for you.

    I know how bad this hurts, and I still struggle today. I think of my baby often, and will feel overcome with emotion and just need to cry, even now, almost 3 years later. I think as a mother, we always feel a bond with our children, whether they are here with us or not, no matter how old or “far along” we were. It is still a LIFE, and I think we will always mourn the loss, no matter how much time has passed. To me, it truly feels like a small piece of my heart will always be gone, but with time, I have come to accept it and find peace in order to move on. I pray for the same for you, but please allow yourself to move forward in whatever way you choose and at whatever pace is right for you!

    Stephanie Willke

    Reply
  9. Have you followed my sister Kara’s blog at all? She just lost a baby at 22 weeks. A little girl. Devastating. I lost one at 5 weeks, to an ectopic, but it doesn’t compare to seeing her sweet babe at 22 weeks. Reading your experience reminds me Of the feelings she has shared over the last 2 months. Her blog is inspiring. Check it out if you haven’t. She can totally relate.

    Reply
  10. Hi Natalie,

    I’m new to your blog and came across it today from a shared FB post. I felt compelled to read your story about grief, even though I never had or desired to have children (plus, I had a hysterectomy a few years ago at age 43). I’m not religious, so I can’t related on that front either. But I felt inclined to write and say that your feelings of grief & fear are perfectly normal and I think you’re rushing your decision, which is leading to your confusion. Grief is a process and it’s only been 7 weeks. Allow yourself TIME to heal and recover emotionally & physically before deciding if you want to try again. This will also help release some of the deep anxiety I sense that you’re feeling because you’re trying to force yourself to make a decision so soon. I think the fear will subside somewhat and you’ll be able to make a clearer choice when the time feels right.

    On a side note, nearly all of my dear friends have had one or multiple miscarriages, as well as healthy babies. I can’t imagine what you’re going through, but I DO know that you have the strength & spirit to overcome your fears! Loss is never easy. Just remember to be gentle to yourself and take time to heal. xoxo

    Peace be with you!

    Reply
  11. Natalie,
    Thank you for sharing your story and raw feelings, your struggles and decisions, it’s so helpful to read.

    Two years ago my husband and I had our first miscarriage. We weren’t trying to get pregnant, we were young and hadn’t been married long, and I hadn’t even told my husband I was pregnant. I had found out a few days before Valentine’s Day and thought I would surprise him then. It was so hard to keep that secret, and I would soon regret it. The day before Valentine’s Day he came home to me in a heap on the kitchen floor. I had miscarried a baby I hadn’t even told him about. It was so hard, but we slowly came to terms with it, decided to be more careful in preventing pregnancy and life went on. A year later I had tons of medical problems. At 22 I had a pulmonary embolism that ended in major surgery, a cancer scare that ended in surgery, and overall just bad health. After 7 months, 6 of them on tons of medication, and 3 surgeries, I was finally healthy, and the doctor cleared us to try to get pregnant, something we had wanted for 5 months by then. But after all my health problems my body wasn’t ovulating so we started the fertility medicine to force my body to do that. After 4 months my doctor said I really should probably be pregnant but not to worry too much, but he would only let me do one more month of it before we had to take a break from the medicine. I was so heart broken and discouraged, I thought it wouldn’t ever happen! That last month I was so surprised to see the word “pregnant”. We were over the moon!! But I had a tiny fear every second that something would go wrong. The day before our first appointment I went to the bathroom at work, I’d been cramping a lot, and when I got there I saw my worst fear. There was the blood I so desperately didn’t want to see. I told my boss and went home with the week off, I called my husband to come home and then I let myself fall apart again. Again I was feeling my heart ripped from my body. Again I felt like my world ended and my dreams would never come true. I felt this all over again, but worse. I had put my body and myself and my relationship through so much to have this baby and in a second it was gone. Another angel.

    After a few visits to the doctor we thought we knew why this was happening, and yet again we were given the okay to try. I was losing hope, but my desire for a family was too big to give up, so we tried. A short 3 months later I saw that word again “pregnant”. I immediately went to doctor and got on he medication I needed and was scheduled for lots of check ups, things were going great! I decided I was tired of telling people I had been pregnant but I’m not anymore, so this time we told people. Our families, coworkers, and close friends shared in our utter excitement and hope for this baby. We saw our baby measuring perfectly, and the first time we saw our baby’s heartbeat was amazing, and our doctor said he had so much hope and excitement, he thought we were out of the woods. But one day I knew we weren’t, I don’t know how I knew, but I knew. It was almost like someone that couldn’t be seen or heard gave me a hug and told me “sorry you have to go through this” I convinced my husband to go to the doctor with me, and when we got there the doctor said he would be happy to check. He put the jelly on my belly, and then the paddle, and then I saw it… It didn’t look right. I knew in a second my feeling was right. A few seconds later the doctor said the reason we couldn’t see anything clearly was because my uterus was full of blood, the baby had a heartbeat but it was slowing down. My body was preparing to miscarry. I’ve never ever felt so broken as this last miscarriage. This time when it happened I saw our baby. Our tiny little baby that barely had arms, I saw a tiny mouth and tiny eyes, and my favorite were baby’s tiny little legs and feet. I sat on the toilet and held it in my palm and let my heart break into a million pieces. I’ve never felt more angry at God. I’ve never felt so betrayed by my body. I’ve never felt so bitter towards someone who has what I want. This time there isn’t much hope. This will probably happen again, we need to see specialists and get thousands of dollars worth of tests done, and we still might have no answers. So what do we do now? Pay for testing? Keep trying without testing and just hope and pray? Do foster care? Get ready to adopt? I don’t know yet.

    I do know grief is a funny thing. Sometimes I’m okay, and sometimes I can’t breath. I wish I knew the answers, I wish a had a baby here on earth to kiss and hold, to remind me what I’m fighting for. I’m so sorry for your loss. I wouldn’t wish that upon anyone. No mother should have to send their baby back. Sorry for the long long post. This is the first time I’ve written this, I just felt like I should and did it before I chickened out.

    Reply
  12. Thank you for this post. Five years ago my first baby girl was born and very sick in the hospital and I remember feeling similar feelings of suffering as I stood in line at the grocery store, or driving in my car. My heart was so broken and if anyone even looked at me wrong, it hurt so bad. It taught me so much about being kind because you never know what others are dealing with. I have appreciated your honest posts so much. I had a late miscarriage this past summer and am still working through the emotions that come with it. Just reading this reminded me that I should have a little newborn right now. I too am grateful for my faith in a loving God who is aware of my hurt. Prayers for you and your beautiful heart.

    Reply
  13. Di, I just had to comment after reading your awful sad story. I don’t have any great advice or comfort for you but I wish I could give you a hug and a shoulder to cry on. I pray that your pain will heal and that someday you may hold a little one in your arms.

    Reply
  14. Thank you so much for this post! I just had surgery to remove my right tube due to the pregnancy implanting there. This is after a miscarriage in August. My due from that pregnancy would have been April 9th to find we were pregnant on the 10th, only to have this happen. I was mad, sad and everything in between and went thru the why us God thoughts. In the end God grace is sufficient and I’m greatful for his love. Even though it was a rough time for you thru this blog you blessed my heart and helped me to release my fears to God who is the author and finisher of my faith. God bless you

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

*