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Hi there
I started a thread a couple of months ago about my concerns as a single female wishing to have a child without much support and finance. The big emphasis on this site is for women who have already embarked on treatment or are very close to starting treatment. I was wondering if there were any other single women out there who feel they can't start at present due to practical constraints?  At present I'm in between jobs (hope to start temping soon), am living in a small rented studio (unsuitable for bringing up a baby) and wouldn't be able to rely on either family (health not good) or friends (have their own lives) for support. I've been told before that where there's a will there's a way and that I'm thinking too hard and should just be ruled more by my heart than head but try as I may I can't see a way forward without having the practical basics in place ie. proper accommodation, support network, secure income. I'm 38 now so am very aware of the clock ticking away and whilst I do have some savings that could pay for treatment they couldn't sustain me in the longer run and I can't afford to get on the property ladder in London. The option of just getting pregnant and applying for a council flat I think will be too emotionally stressful as I'd still be left with the problem of how I'd support myself and a baby plus I could be quite isolated and unhappy as some of the estates in my borough aren't very nice. I wouldn't want to bring another life into this world without thinking responsibly about what sort of future I could give him/ her. It would be great if there was a housing commune for single mothers where we could all support one another.  If anyone else is in the same boat or has overcome a similar situation I'd be really glad to hear from you. Thanks.   Jeanette
 

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It is a tough one when you decide to TTC alone.  I guess it is doing like a self assessment that they would do for adoption,so my single friend had to demonstrate her support systems, finances (she didn't have to be mega wealthy as she is a nurse) she didn't have to own her own home, although she does, she had to consider playgroups that reflected the dual hertiage of her and the child would have and she would develop this- so she had to explore the mother and toddler groups and that side of support in the community. The friends that you make via baby will come ie: antenatal class, NCT, mother and toddler and therefore different support networks that you don't have now will develop.

My lesbian friends had a son and the other partner is now pregnant and one of them works 4 days a week as the bradwinner of the family, but they said that you adjust your lifestyle to your income, they are also looking to relocate up North.

Would you consider a job or getting on the property ladder out of London - as you are in between, I live in central London and would not want to bring a child up in London after a year old, I would relocate to Sussex if I could get a job there.

I don't think council housing is automatic even if you have a child as you could find yourself in a hostel/b+b. I don't know what line of work you do, but there are keyworker schemes if you are in teaching, nursing, police, and some local gvt jobs.  My friend is a drugs worker and got a lovely keyworker home.  You also need to consider that you may not be entitled to paid mat leave depending how long you have work with a company.

There are some groups for single mothers by choice.
I think that because we have to plan everything so much we can become obsessed with it, but if you got pregnant in a pub tonight you'd get on and things would work out.

L x
 

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Hi Jeanette,
I too had all these doubts before embarking on this journey, I always said that as I was single I would have to have everything worked out before treatment.

I would have to work regular hours (work shifts), would need to price up nursery places, save money for whilst on mat leave etc etc. which is part of the reasons I left it as long as I did.
I am fortunate that I have a good job although hours are not baby friendly and they will have to change, and do own my own home. I do have support from family and friends but are not local enough to help out with child care.

In the end I just decided that I had waited too long and if I didn't just jump in and start the ball rolling I would still be sat here, trying to plan for all eventualities.

I am now 2 years since first consulting clinic and am still not pregnant and am now 40 yrs old, so I would say from my experience if you are sure you want to become a mum then don't leave it too late as you don't know what type of obstacles will lie in your way.

As JJ1 says you could go out tonight and end up pregnant by accident then you would cope.

Hope this helps a little - we had a discussion, I think New years Eve, about a single mums commune and that it would be ideal to help each other out and then have a big party next New Year  ;D

roo xx
 

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Hi Jeanette,

Can completey relate to your thoughts, my main issues to be honest are financial, although family are not too keen about the idea of me going it alone I am sure when the time comes they will be there.  I've been wanting to do this for a couple of years now but just have not got the funds for treatment, let alone work out how I will manage with a little one.  Part of me thinks it will work out and I should just go ahead anyway, these things do tend to fall into place and people can cope with very little, but doing it alone makes it all the more scary.  Like you I sometimes wish I could throw caution to the wind, start tx and work it out when it happens, but its just too much to deal with, too many what ifs to get my head around.  Its frustrating because I know 110% its what I want and ££££ is the only thing holding me back. 

Sorry, not much help here, think we are in similar situations practically.  Annoying isn't it!  I've shed many a tear and got very angry that it all comes down to ££££, it really shouldn't be about that xxx
 

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Jeanette -  ^hugme^

It's really very hard isn't it? I'm a very sensible non risk taking person too - I did endless spreadsheets etc before I embarked on ttc so that I could be comfortable that I had everything covered. But, you know, things can always change, and who knows whether I'll still have a well paid job etc in the future? My job requires me to travel frequently (approx fortnightly - all over the world) and I'm totally in denial as to how I would cope with that when I have a child - chances are I will have to change jobs, which will likely result in a pay cut etc etc. I guess all I'm saying is even if you think you have all the pieces in place, they might not always stay that way...

I'm lucky in that I have family close by - my mum and younger sister are only 20 mins away. But having said that, my mum has very bad arthritis and would not physically be able to look after a baby, and my sister has a career and life of her own - so whilst I will undoubtedly get emotional support, the practical support they can provide will probably be quite limited. But there are always solutions. For example, I have a colleague who flies via Glasgow whenever she travels on business to drop her daughter off with her parents there as she has no babysitting locally....where there's a will, there's a way.

So whilst I totally understand where you are coming from, I would also encourage you to think creatively and look at ways around the challenges. I know that seems like an easy thing to say and a hard thing to do, but it's got to be worth a try. For example, are there any single mum groups in your area, can you go along and chat to some of them about how they manage? And kind of thinking along the commune lines, if not a commune, could you find another person in a similar situation to share childcare etc?
I don't see rental accommodation as a barrier to having a child at all. In some countries (eg France), it's common for people to rent their entire lives and never actually buy property, so I wouldn't worry too much about that. It's more about building your network for support - and that may come from some quite unexpected corners....

The thing that convinced me to move forward with this, despite feeling that things still weren't 100% in place, was imagining how I'd feel if I didn't. I knew that I would always regret it and I didn't want to go through the rest of my life with that regret.

But of course everyone is different and if you don't feel you're in the right place to start trying, then of course you shouldn't. But I just wanted to say that even those of us who might seem like we have it all worked out, probably don't  :) Sometimes you just have to make a leap of faith and believe that it will all work out for the best somehow

Good luck
Laura
x
 

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If it helps re the job situation - I'd vote for getting a permanent job (you will feel much more secure job wise etc) and don't worry about juggling tx and work. It is challenging for sure - I live/work in Hampshire and am having my tx at LWC in London so it's a 4 hour round trip - but it's do-able. Although of course it depends what your work is - I work in global marketing, so I can be quite flexible, as long as I get the work done. I just end up doing evenings etc to make up for the hours spent on clinic visits. And with 2 hours on the train every day I go to LWC, I get lots of reading done then as well....
But I'd say if your line of work is such that you can be a bit flexible in the hours, then go for the permanent job to give you longer term security and then just work round it for tx. Having a much longed for baby is so much more important than work anyway, and your employer doesn't need to know anything about it (mine doesn't...)

Don't give up, even if right now is not the time to start tx, your time will come,
Wishing you all the very best
Laura
x
 

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If you ask to access work issues thread, you will see even the women who temp via an agency are entitled to mat leave/pay- as the agency is seen as the employer.

Good luck
l
 

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Hi Jeanette

You should probably also keep in mind that with referrals, possible waiting lists for sperm and then actually getting pregnant you potentially may have been in any job for a year before you conceive and so would be entitled to maternity benefits.

I can understand all your concerns, I have several issues to resolve before I can start treatment. I thought I was going to have to change jobs not so long ago (but last week for the promotion I was after hurrah!) and was concerned about the timing of everything as I, ideally, would like (if I'm ever lucky enough to get a BFP) to take as much maternity leave as my job (and finances) will allow.

I think :aura summed it up for me ...
how I'd feel if I didn't. I knew that I would always regret it and I didn't want to go through the rest of my life with that regret.
 

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Hi Jeanette,

I am also quite a practical person and although I’m only 31, I am considering having a baby via DI due to not having found my ‘prince’. Although I own a property, the mortgage payments are quite hefty so I would like to try and make sure that I have a bit of financial backup before embarking on such a journey. Thus, I have been doing overtime at work and I am slowly starting to put money into a high interest savings account. On the support side of things, although I have parents (they both work full time), a sister (who is also a single mom to 2 beautiful girls) and brother (who has his own family), I don’t think that I would be able to rely on them (or friends) constantly for support either. Fortunately, I have time on my side so I am able to postpone my plans in order to try to better-prepare myself.

As Laura said before, don’t give up your dream!

Lou-Ann x
 

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Hi Jeanette,
I've been offline for about 6 weeks, so sorry I'm slow to reply.

I can 100% get where you are coming from. Sometimes I look at my friends in couples, with 2 sets of healthy (young!) grandparents able to help, that don't have the costs of IVF or IUI, that have built up equity in their homes and honestly, I think I am mad for even considering this route. But, I've also seen people who seem to have loads of friends end up very alone in the hard times, so I try to remember it isn't how many friends you have and at the end of the day we all only really have ourselves to rely on!

I'm really pleased you got out of your bad job situation. I am sure a new position would be a good move as you'll be entitled to maternity pay, possibly help with childcare (many have 15% voucher schemes) and they'll have to consider flebxible working. I know you're in London and I've found NHS and some of the major charities are great jobs for single mums - maybe not the highest income, but good maternity and adoption pay, good annual leave, great flexible working policies etc.

I was away for a variety of reasons, one of them being quite poorly (thankfully recovered now!) and while I was recovering I read a lot of financial books, something I've always been scared to do before. They actually taught me a great deal both by reassuring me and making me see what I do need to do before I start. The reality is, you are right we do have to take these things into consideration. We do need to worry about how we'll afford mat leave, childcare costs, a larger flat etc, but, I've also found a few changes can go a long way. Here's what my new plan is

1. My first goal is to pay off all of my debt - I'm about to switch to a 0% interest card and then if I put aside a certain amount over the 15 month term it should be gone!

2. I read Dave Ramsay's book (a financial expert) and he states that one of the big goals is to get an emergency fund of 3-6 months expenses. I've thought about this and I really think as a single mum I want to make sure I have 6 months worth of expenses saved. This isn't necessarily income, but what I would need to support myself (and baby!). My goal is to build this up before I TTC. If I have 6 months expenses, then I have a safety net that will make me feel better about doing this on my own.

3. I'm setting up a TTC account. Once my debt is paid AND my emergency account is at it's goal, I will start putting every spare pence into a TTC account. I'd like to make it to about £10, 000. This should (if it all works out) allow for treatment and some left over to offset my maternity pay and/or if TTC doesn't work, to put towards an overseas adoption.

4. I am forcing myself to stop worrying about being able to afford a bigger place. I've recently sold my house (yeah - although didn't make anything on it, but that's another story!) and am now renting a small 1 bedroom place. If I have to stay here until my child is 1 or 2, then so be it. Most often babies sleep in their parents room in a cot for the first year anyways. I'm actually even thinking that once this rent period is up, I'll look for somewhere smaller to save even more. I really think that with the way the market is now, in another 3 or so years, it will be a good time for buying a property. Maybe at that time I'll move out of London into a smaller, cheaper part of the country, I'll do what I have to do to purchase a small place for me and hopefully my child including looking at new creative solutions like co-ops. I have had to really work at stop worrying, but it feels much better now that I have!

I'm a pretty average income earner. I don't have family that are in a financial position to help (nor would I want them to!). I've employed the following strategies.
1. My food budget is £80 a month now
2. I allow myself £50 a month for entertainment/non-necessities this covers everything from buying the paper to a meal out with friends or a drink in an evening!
3. I've gone on the lowest mobile phone tarriff and cut out things I don't need including gym membership etc. I plan to get rid of my mobile once my contract is up! 
4. I'm going to do extra work - at first I thought maybe get a part time Saturday job, but then found I could do some work for my previous employer about 4x a year and it should work out to the same.
5. I'm realistically giving myself 18 months to save save save as much as I can before I start. Even though I'd love to start right now, and probably some people would in my shoes, I know for me, I want to make sure I have the money to pay and something set aside for an emergency. If my TTC was successful early on, I need to know I can afford to have time off with my baby etc.  If I had a house with significant equity in it (like 30 or 40K) then I would probably start sooner, but I've accepted I need to balance age with reducing financial stress.

I actually started an online finance journal to encourage me and even though I'm in the VERY early days, I can't believe how little I've spent in the last week compared to my usual spends.
Since I started my online journal, I can't believe the number of people I've come across who are downshifting, living frugally, changing their values and spending to be with their kids, to be able to afford another child etc. The funny thing is, that many of these people previously lived in London, earning a lot more than I do, often with 2 incomes and yet they are happier now earning £12, 000 -£20,000 a year, growing fruits and veggies, working part time, learning to sew and bake, walking with their children instead of spending time at mother and toddler yoga and having music morning in their house instead of paying for expensive mommy & music classes. They are now spending £300 on a caravan in Dorset for a holiday instead of 2 weeks in Mexico and yet they honestly feel they are better parents. So I'm really adjusting my thinking away from the capitalism that we've grown up with and think is normal.

Re support, I can honestly say that I am in a similar boat. I lived abroad for some of my Uni and several of my working years afterwards. Most of my good friends, the ones I know would be there for me in any situation, are on a different continent and I see them once every few years. What's more some of my good childhood friends here have emmigrated. Here in the UK I have 4 good friends I know I could call if I was low, I would trust leaving a baby with for baby-sitting and would help me if they could, but one lives in Scotland, one in South Devon, one in North Devon, and one in the part of Essex that is the furthest from London possible. So in actual fact, really, none will be a daily or weekly support! I'd love to have supportive friends surrounding me, but right now I don't. I really hope to meet some other ladies from this board once I finish my move and am settled and meet new friends who are supportive. Right now, I'm trying not to worry about it. I am sure even people with lots of local friends feel alone at times.

I guess the point of my long and rambling post is that it is a balance. We are in a unique situation as single women, hoping to become mothers, living in a very very very expensive city on average incomes, renting. This unique situation doesn't mean that we can't achieve are dream, it means we need to be smart and balanced about making it happen! Everyone has different feelings and attitudes towards when is the right time to have a child. I read a blog of a single woman who decided at about 30 she would become a mum on her own if she didn't meet someone once she was 47. She worked her behind off, saving, investments, 3 jobs, so that the day she adopted she could afford to retire. Personally I don't want to wait until I am 47, I am the child of older parents and so want my child to grow up knowing a grandparent (of course we never really plan for these things!), but it was right for her. She adopted 4 times in a couple of years, is a SAHM to 4 wonderful children through adoption and is 100% content. On the flip side I've heard of people who had nothing saved and decided to become a single mum and it has been a very hard journey - ended up not being able to afford rent (due to TTC costs coupled with loss of job), assumed there would be a council flat and all of a sudden at 39 found herself living in a hostel (surrounded by 16-21 year olds) in temporary accomodation for a year. Seeing what she went through stays with me and while it doesn't make me say I can't do this on my own, it has made me see that I need to be realistic about what I need to have set aside before I begin.

I don't think there is a right and wrong way to go about this, I think that we all do what we have to do to make it happen while knowing what our own needs are. If you have good savings and feel you need a 2 bed flat before you can begin, then maybe a couple years of saving every penny and then relocating to a cheaper place where you can get a mortgage and buy a property is right for you? There are certainly parts of the UK where you can get a nice flat or small 2 bed home in a good area or £120, 000. If house prices come down the 30% they are expected to then that home would be more like £94, 000. Only you know what's right for you, it's about balancing the ideal with the less than ideal but necessary. Or maybe working hard on saving and then being able to rent a larger flat in London is right for you?

Things became a lot clearer for me when I made a 5 year financial plan, laying out exactly what I wanted for Year 1, Year 2, Yeatr 3, Year 4, Year 5. I suddenly could see that what I want will be possible, just not now and I'm finally full OK with that! Although on the tough days you all may need to remind me of my words!

p.s. Sorry to have been away so long ladies, I really hope you are all well and some of you had some positive results?

Bluebelle
 

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Ju I was going to ask the same, I need to get my finances sorted out, things are getting worse!  Bluebell what's your secret?  I loved your post, wish I could be more pro-active

Love Jovi xx
 

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Hi Ladies
Sorry, I've actually been in hospital and very ill with a lung condition! Consultant was very helpful and told me to have a baby asap, of course being single it isn't that easy!

Anyways, am back now, feeling a little better. Only just saw your requests for more info Coco Chanel/Ju and Jovi, I'm sorry its taken me this long.
So to answer your questions re food, budget etc

I read lots of books, two in particular I found helpful and basically came up with a plan for me. I had a good look through my finances and could see where I was going wrong, was when I had emergencies crop up, not necessarily even big emergencies, but things like dentist, perscriptions, needing a taxi as I missed a train etc. I ended up having to dip into savings, those savings are what I need for IVF etc. So, here was my plan (I should say I'm no financial expert, but this is what works for me, we are all different so what I do may not work at all for you!)

1. Build a baby emergency fund (not related to babies!) - this holds £500 - £1000 and is used for unexpected bills - I have it in an account attached to my current account - easy access but not there to spend. This copes with all unexpected expenses like the car needing new break pads, dentist, etc

2. Build an emergency fund - the "word on the street" is that it needs to hold 3-6 months expenses. As someone who wants to be a single parent, I'm leaning more towards the 6-9 months expenses (post baby, so I'm including what I'd need each month if I had a child). This is if the worst case scenario happens and I need to give up work, or I lost my job etc. This is only for this use,not for IVF or house downpayment etc.

3. Pay off all debt except mortgage - Once I had 3 months expenses (see point 2) I started paying off my one credit card (which wasn't too much, but still better not to have it). If I had car loans etc.

4. IVF fund - I want to get this to £10,000 to £15,000. I will probably opt for the 3 IVF package @ LWC plus blood tests, meds etc, I would imagine it's somewhat realistic,although who knows how many attempts it will take. As I am desperate not to only have one child and really want my child to have a sibling, I'm saving the higher amount (15K) in hope that I will be able to have a second child.

5. Retirement Savings - paying into company pension (already doing so!) also putting aside a small amount each month privately.

Honestly, what helped me,was seeing my money going into my savings as "paying myself". The way I used to see it, was buying a CD or going to to theatre was paying myself, actually the reality is, I don't really benefit from those things. I give myself an entertainment budget (£15 a week) but it's amazing how great it is to see money building in a savings account. I feel like I'm in control of my finances now, and while I still  have a long way to go, I feel I have a plan.

My biggest problem is how expensive my rent is in London (!) but I'm looking at alternatives there to help me save more etc. Anyone fancy a flat share for a year? ha ha

The other thing I started doing was allocating all my money, so instead of putting things in savings and then pulling out to pay for a holiday etc, which became a habit, all money is allocated - so I have a set amount each money that goes into my holiday fund, into my emergency fund, into my ISA etc.

Re food:
I do once a month internet shop - removes the temptation of magazines, newspapers
The rest of the time I go to a market or small shop (1x a week) and buy salad, 3/4 types of veg and 3/4 types of fruit for the week
I buy two ready meals when I do the internet shop - means I don't get take away!
I make soup once a week which gives 4 meals - i.e. Monday evening, Wed lunch (then freeze the other 2)
I  make a vegetarian spagetti bolognaise -gives me 2 meals i.e. Wednesday evening, Thurs lunch
I make veggie stir fry which gives me 2 meals - ie. Sunday night, Monday lunch
I gave up diet coke (!) and bottled water and only buy 1 bottle of wine a month now
I gave up using cleaning supplies and got a big bottle of vinegar - cleans better than expensive potions!


I can honestly say, not only have I saved 50% - 60% off my grocery bill, but I've also noticed physical signs that are good re fertility, the food budget has forced me to eat healthier! 

I'm happy to share a more details budget sheet for those that are interested. 6 months ago, I never thought I could be this detailed or dedicated - it's actually addictive!
 

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Hi bluebelle - so sorry that you have been ill, hope you're now on the mend.

Thanks for sharing those tips - look really useful, I think my main downfall is food shopping, I always seem to be shopping - do have a full freezer and fridge though and am trying hard not to throw so much away.

Have done really well last month though and have managed to save around £800  :eek:. I do like your idea of having different accounts/funds for different reasons.

roo xx
 

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Thanks Roo it's been awful, I just hope it gets better. I'm definitely trying to maximize savings so I can start as soon as possible!

Well done you saving £800 last month!!
 

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Best thing was I didn't even try

But don't really want to have to go through the emotional turmoil of the past month ever again.
BFP - Miscarriage - mum poorly  :'( 

Hurry up and get well, would be great to meet up later in the month - sunday lunch sounds like a plan.

Roo xx
 

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Bluebell - sorry to hear you've been poorly.  Hoping you feel better soon.. ^hugme^

dx
 

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An inspiring read Bluebell and best wishes for a full recovery. You are really organised and I think that you will get what you want!!

Jeanette, I would echo what others have said. The journey is not a short one generally and it will take some time to get to the point where you start actual treatment. You can go through the tests and consultation without having to yet decide on the treatment but if you don't go through that first step, you won't know what hidden issues there could be (hopefully none). Without being negative, at least if you find there are things that need to be addressed, you have a little time to work through it and if not at least you have some reassurance if you decide to wait for a while.

As a 40 year old, I would really strongly advise you to think about the "what if I leave it too long?"...I regret having left it till I was 39. I have no known probs, good test results, have lots of eggs at collection and as yet have not become pregnant. They tell me that age is the crucial factor here and it's the one thing I can't do anything about. You have to do what is right for you but please believe me that once you start the process, you may well suddenly realise that leaving it longer would have been a mistake. We are told often by caring people who are trying to help that "you'll meet someone...you've got plenty of time..etc etc"; this is well meaning but not really helpful because age is everything in fertility terms (well obviously there are other things but it's crucial!). Would you consider leaving London...has to be the most expensive place to be trying to do this? Going abroad is cheaper too and lots of girls here are doing that so you wouldn't be alone. 

As others have said, working for the government (NHS, local council, soc services, inland revenue etc etc) is a good way to go for flexible working and great mat benefits and support. May not be first choice but the benefits can be really good even if pay isn't always the highest. My pal in inland rev got best maternity pay I've heard of...6 months full pay!! She was single and had twins!

Whatever you decide, best of luck.  :)

Muddylane
 

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Oooh Muddylane that makes me want to work at inland revenue!!!

Thanks for the kind comment & recovery wishes, I'm doing so much better this week than the last  6 weeks which is good! It can only get better. In many ways its been a blessing at really making me realize that despite the fact I'm still on the younger side of the singles, time is still precious!

I echo your wise words about age, I have 2 good friends in early 40's who keep saying "when I meet Mr Right" I always find myself stuck between trying to make them think about what they'll do if they don't meet Mr Right vs. getting them to stop putting their lives on hold until they meet the right man who may or may not ever come along, or certainly at this stage probably won't come along in time for motherhood!

 
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