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bedrest stories

I want to thank all of you who answered my message about "tightening" of the uterus. I heeded your suggestions and called my OB who told me to come in immediately. It was indeed contractions which I hadn't recognized because I was expecting big dramatic convulsions people talk about with labor. My cervix had flattened to 1cm but fortunately had not begun to dilate. She sent me to the hospital for monitoring and the contractions were four minutes apart. I got a shot of terbutaline and they continued monitoring all day. When it finally calmed down to about one or two an hour they sent me home with terbutaline pills and orders to stay on COMPLETE BED REST for the duration (I'm at 24.5 weeks). I have bathroom priveleges and can sit up for a few minutes to eat some food that someone else has prepared but the rest of the time must lie down on my side.

This was Monday. Yesterday (Wednesday) I had been doing so much better that I thought it would be OK if I went for a short ride in the car just to see something else. HUGE MISTAKE. When I got home the contractions started back up every five minutes for almost two hours. We finally got them calmed down with some extra meds (and OB over the phone), and I learned my lesson. Now I understand that bedrest means bedrest. I'm lying here on my side trying to type into my laptop, which is not easy but not impossible, although it is giving me a backache.

New question for those of you who have gone through a substantial period of bed rest (mine will be about 12 weeks). The doc said she could keep the babies in til term if I do as I'm told, so I'm relaxing a bit on that count. What I do need to know is how to keep from going stark raving mad. I'm in the middle of writing my doctoral dissertation, but reading difficult books is a real challenge from a horizontal position (they put me to sleep!), not to mention writing. My bottom side goes to sleep and I try to switch sides every hour or so. I was in good shape and now I'm afraid my muscles will atrophy. ...

I really feel this group has saved my babies' lives.


I shouldn't be doing this from work, but I just read your thread on bedrest and want to encourage you to follow your doctor's orders. It is a very common precaution that many of us had to endure. While I was never put on bedrest (bless my doctor's heart for recognizing how impossible it would have been with a 5-year-old), I was very restricted in my activities.

Bedrest definitely helps prolong pregnancy. Several months ago, a work associate of my mother's got pregnant after many years of trying. Her doctor told her that she had to take it easy, and he put her on restricted avtivity. She was feeling good and getting very bored so she chose to ignore this advice and went back to full time work. I'm very sorry to say that she ultimately lost the baby at about five months. Moral of that story is please listen to your doctor's advice. Hold on to those babies for at least six more weeks to be safe. Many on the list have told of problemless pregnancies that went full term -- I think it inhibits the rest of us as we feel that we haven't done something right! From what I've gleaned, most multiples are delivered about four weeks early, on average. My doctor was emphatic about having to wait until at least 34 weeks for the babies to be "ready" for birth -- I made it to 36 weeks and delivered on the day my doctor predicted. The girls were small (5 lbs. 6 oz. and 5 lbs. 13 oz.) but very well developed and healthy (thank God). They were in the hospital for only a week to ensure they could maintain their own body temperates. I fully credit this success to heeding my doctor's advice. I honestly feel that if I had not cut back my activities severely, I would have dropped them much, much sooner (just the weight on my pelvic floor after 30 weeks was so great that I felt like they were going to fall out!).

Good luck. You've made it to 30 weeks, which is tremendous!! It seems like forever until it's over, but it will go by before you know it -- and then the real fun begins!

I thought I'd tell you my story. It may not be directly applicable to your situation but you might want to consider the possible developments of real preterm labor from here on out. You should learn about all the warning signs of preterm labor, just in case, and should feel like you can call your ob at any time if you have any weird or uncomfortable feelings about anything!

Some warning signs include:
  • Diarrhea
  • Low back pain
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Pelvic pressure
  • Any sort of 'intuitive' feeling that something's not right.

I had a very easy pregnancy up through 23 weeks. I was walking several miles per week and taking low-impact aerobics classes up to week 22.5 but then started noticing more contractions. One night at 23 weeks I woke up from abdominal cramps--just like menstrual cramps. They were strong but I didn't think too much about it and decided to wait until morning to call the ob (it was about 3:00 am). I even went to work before I called the ob and he wanted to see me *RIGHT AWAY*. Little did I know as I locked my office door that I would not return for another 6 months!!

I was hospitalized straight from the dr's office for a week. I was given a bolus of terbutaline that stopped the contractions and began taking oral terb (low dose but I can't remember the amount) every 4 hours. I went home on bedrest and with a home monitoring system. This consisted of a transducer that is belted around your belly to record contractions and their relative strength for 1 hour in the morning and 1 hour in the evening. The transducer can be attached to a modem provided and the recordings are transmitted to a service staffed with registered nurses. The nurse that I spoke to daily became a good friend and a bright light in an otherwise pretty dull existence for what ended up being 4 months in bed.

Except for that one initial night of cramping, I never felt any pain or discomfort with any other contractions for the next 4 months. Now and then I could really feel my belly tightening but it wasn't painful.

From weeks 23 to 34 I was getting an injection of celestine, a corticosteroid used to mature the babies' lungs, just in case they do come early, to prevent many of the respiratory problems in premature infants. I had my doubts, but at this point know that, like most issues in pregnancy, you have to consider the benefits and risks. I found the risk to be zero and the benefit to be 2 very healthy, good-sized babies that nursed within 2 hours of birth with no problems and came home with me after 2 days in the hospital after their c-section birth! One baby weighed 5 lbs 9 oz and the other weighed 6 lbs 10 oz and they were born at 38 weeks and 1 day!

I attribute the successful containment of my babies from weeks 23 to 38 to the terbutaline, the bedrest, my dr's conservative care (I had to be hospitalized from weeks 30-34 again because my uterus just wouldn't slow down--I went to a dose of terb every 3 hours, then an increased dose and still, at one point was having 11-12 contractions per hour when my threshold was 3) and my wonderful husband taking such good care of me.

Bedrest is also very commonly used as a preventative measure with preterm labor, though it seems to be very controversial as to whether it works or not. It's something that you have to decide for yourself. No harm done if it doesn't work, but will you always have nagging doubts as to whether the babies might have stayed in longer if you had taken it more seriously and lain on your left side more if you decide not to reduce your activities?

As mentioned, the girls were born at 38 weeks and 1 day. My ob says that 38 weeks is actually full-term for twins--others on this list mentioned 36 and 40 weeks as full-term according to their drs. The surfactant in the babies' lungs that allows the exchange of oxygen from the air sacs to the blood from that first big breath is not fully ready until about 34-35 weeks in most babies, without intervention. That's why my ob let me go home from the hospital at 34 weeks, though I was still taking terbutaline till 36 weeks. I thought for sure the girls would be born within an hour of stopping the terb but, no, they hung on for another 2 weeks after all that!

During the entire time I was having preterm labor, my cervix stayed long, hard, and closed. Effacement and dilation of the cervix doesn't seem to be directly correlated to number of or strength of contractions and suddenly you can be dilated and there's no stopping the birth. I was very fortunate in that regard. I was dilated 1 cm at 37 weeks--the first change noticed!

The first water bag broke at 5:30 am and I was fully dilated by 10:00 am. So maybe those practice contractions did do some good there! I hope that some of this, along with other replies you are sure to get from the twins list folks, will help. I tried to become as informed as possible and asked *lots* of questions of my ob all the time. You may want to discuss prematurity and gather as much info as possible, just in case, to be prepared when you might suddenly be thrust into making decisions about your child/ren while in an emotional-physical-non-coherent situation. I tried to prepare myself but I'll be the 1st to admit that there was a point at which I was getting stressed-out and depressed more than getting informed. There's a fine line....

I found that while on bedrest, I functioned better with some sort of routine that seemed to help pass the time. I did get a *lot* of sleeping in and, boy, it sure seemed that I needed it! But I tried to develop a regular routine of hygiene; shower, lots of lotion (especially on that itchy belly), clean XXL t-shirt, watch T. Berry Brazelton and Penelope Leach every morning on Lifetime TV, some crocheting (I crocheted 5 blankets and 3 sweaters in 16 weeks--a new world record for me!!), some crosswords, watch the news, gallons of water, which meant lots of bathroom visits, some other activity (my husband gathered up our *boxes* of old photos and I put them in order by year and began putting them into albums--unfortunately I made it up to 1991, the girls were born in 1992, and I haven't had time to put another photo in an album since bedrest!!), more catnapping, listen to particular radio shows daily, etc. I had no access to a computer then and the Twins List didn't even exist at that time so you have a wonderful advantage there, as far as an extra source of information, advice, suppport, and entertainment!!

I read a lot while pregnant but it was mostly baby books, twin books, birthing books, books on prematurity (for a while anyway) etc. I had a hard time for a while adjusting to the terbutaline--it made me jittery and I had no desire to read, plus my vision was a bit blurry for a few days. Friends lent me magazines and lots of great novels that I'd been wanting to read but I just couldn't get into them. I was completely absorbed by what was happening in my body and wanted to learn as much as possible. I was reading all kinds of medical journals and texts by the end of my pregnancy! Use any and every pillow in your house to lean your hips to the *left* (I assume you know that you don't want to lie flat on your back because the weight of the babies can press on the vena cava (the main large vein from the lower extremities to the heart) which gets the most blood to the placenta(s)). Maybe even invest in a body pillow which will come in handy as your belly expands and you need the support as you lie on your side. (They run from about $10 on up). Shift position often to avoid body parts going to sleep or developing backaches because at 29 weeks, I'm sorry to say, you ain't seen nothin' yet! As your organs get squished and your bones and cartilage get stretched, there will be *lots* of aches and pains. It's funny how I've tended to forget all that..............:)

My husband was so kind as to call a masseuse to come to our home and give me a massage a few times during the bedrest. It was heaven!! If anyone asks what they can do for you (and the dishes and laundry are already done), mention a massage! I also had a couple of adjustments from my chiropractor during some rough times when my shoulder and neck went haywire after about 10 weeks on bedrest. He even came to my hospital room (but don't tell the hospital staff)! I used a tennis ball to dig out sore spots in my back, especially lower back, when home alone--just sort of rolled around on it--it worked!

Bedrest on a drug that makes you feel like you want to do some spring cleaning, wash the car, and run a marathon is definitely work, though not many around you will think of it that way. It's a labor of love and it's *extremely* important that you listen to your body, talk to and listen to your dr, and do whatever it takes to keep those babies in utero to give them the absolute best chance at a healthy and wonderful start in life. There's no second chance. And this truly is a blink of an eye in the expanse of your babies' lives that will impact and influence the rest of their lives immensely. Every day and every hour that your cervix stays closed, hard and long is a huge step toward the births of your healthy, bouncing babies! Positive thinking and visualization can't hurt and can lead to relaxation and less stress about your situation.

Take care and I hope that we will see more posts from you in the future. You are absolutely doing the most wonderful and admirable thing you can by just lying there and directing all your energy into growing your babies!

Best wishes for a long and uneventful pregnancy!

PS: I found an excellent resource book called 'When Pregnancy Isn't Perfect' (Laurie A. Rich, 1991) that has all kinds of information about bedrest, its psychological effects, its physical effects, etc.

PPS: I should mention that I am a Sidelines volunteer, as are several women on the Twins List. Sidelines is a support group for women having complicated pregnancies, on bedrest, preterm labor, etc. You might want to call them to get hooked up with a person more local to you with whom you can talk over the phone or sometimes even visit, if you like. I have been put in touch with 2 women here in the SF Bay Area in the past 1.5 years that have held on to have their twins at close to full-term after months of bedrest! Sidelines is headquartered in LA, I think. The number is (714) 497-2265. They can give you the number for the coordinator in your area. Again, best wishes to you and your husband, your daughter and your babies!

BEDREST, the last rest I had:

I also wanted to add my two cents to this thread for others who might need a little encouragement. My twins are now 19mos old and the smartest, healthiest, most active toddlers I've ever seen (really, it's true, just ask their dad and grandparents!!!) They were born at 35 weeks, 7.5 and 6 lbs, Sounds easy right? They wouldn't be here without a lot of trust in medicine. After numerous years of infertility and going through several Drs who we didn't feel we could put our trust in, we finally were pregnant with twins!!

I was one of these women, who at 27 when we "decided" to start our family, planned on continuing skiing, aerobics, running, etc. and then walking out of the delivery room after delivering a healthy infant. During our 9 years of infertility, I gradually became a little more realistic. Maybe that helped me to focus on doing whatever I could for my babies while pregnant. I had to take it fairly easy during my first 12 weeks, due to my history and the fact that I was taking progesterone to maintain the pregancy. But then I began moderate exersize until I became uncomfortable - I was already suspecting that I was having mild contractions by 20 weeks, but just kept eating well, staying moderately active but not lifting (I found the "tightness" happened whenever I overdid it or lifted). My husband was great-- he took over the laundry, washing the dogs, carrying groceries in, etc. I just went to work did some light cleaning and cooking.

My doctor suggested I should work part time or not at all by at least 28 weeks to avoid being put on complete bedrest. I had a co-worker whose doctor suggested the same thing for a single pregnancy and she fought it and became sicker every week. I was able to begin part-time work at 25 weeks and then at 28 weeks decided I agreed with the doctor (I'd had a home TOKOS monitor from 20 weeks and found that monitoring my contractions twice a day I could see for myself that I'd better take it a little easier. Every time I became stressed at work, or decided to carry the laundry myself, I saw the affect during my next monitoring session.)

After one especially "exciting" weekend (baby shower, lots of walking) however, we got our real scare we'd been trying to avoid. WE made our practice run (thankgoodness) to the hospital at 31 weeks. I'd had a couple of days with too many contractions during my monitoring sessions and finally one day asked my husband to come home from work early. In the hospital, my doctor told us that I had come in less than 1cm dilated so they could send me home with a tiny infusion pump of terbutaline that I could take care of myself. The TOKOS nurse came every few days to do a physical and replace my medication, and I lived on the living room couch with the needle pumping the anti-contraction medication under the skin in my leg. I was able to change the needle myself but had to get my husband to pull the tape off of my leg each time. What a wimp - I can stick myself (after giving yourself a pergonal injection in the rear end while looking in the mirror for the "target" my husband drew before he had to leave town, the tiny needle was no big deal) but I can't pull a bandaid off!

Because I had been so cooperative, though, my doctor never put me on strict bedrest. They told me to use my monitor and my judgement. Some days I would feel well enough to walk around the yard with the dogs or ride to the grocery store with my husband (and sit in the car!). Other days I lay on the couch and listened to music and read magazines. Yes it was frustrating not to be able to set things up in the babies' room, etc. But I kept telling myself that I'd have nothing to set up if I didn't bring home two healthy babies. My goal was 35 weeks!

Some days I did get frustrated, especially if I didn't feel well enough to sit up at all. I do feel for those of you who spend weeks on your left side with only bathroom priveleges. I was always able to at least make a pass throught he house every few hours. My two dogs lay at my side most of the day - actually, they were protecting the kids already - having them (2x80lbs) lying next to the couch made it nearly impossible to get my feet on the floor and stand up anyway. My husband made sure I had juice, snacks, the CD remote control, portable phone and plenty of magazines when he left each day.

By 35 weeks, my contractions were elevated constantly, in spite of the increasing doses of medication and I was often being instructed to give myself extra doses. The side effects of the medication, breathlessness, increased heartbeat etc., plus the intense itching I was experiencing (those wooden spaghetti "spoons" with the dowels to separate the pasta are great scratchers. You can reach your feet without trying to bend at the waist and bring on more contractions. I had mine in my hand all night and would wake up scratching myself somewhere!) made me pretty miserable, but I had friends with healthy children after preterm labor who reminded me that it can't go on longer than another few weeks!

Sure enough, just after 35 weeks, it didn't seem to matter how much medication I took. Those kids wanted out. Our Dr. told us on a Thurs. am we could rip out the pump. We waited until noon, so my husband could go in and get a few hours of work done and stop at the grocery store. At noon, I took out the pump and started moving around the house. That evening, we sat in the backyard with the dogs and I walked a little. By 10 pm I was having the type of contractions that a few weeks ago would have scared us. I got off the couch at 4 am and began addressing birth announcements at the dining room table. These contractions were a little different than before. At 6 I finally woke my husband and at 8 we called the Dr. By noon we were checking into the hospital and then by 6 am Saturday (6:01 and 6:03) the babies (7.5 and 6 lbs.) were here and we all went home together 2 days later (they were ready to go before I was!)

I still find that if I'm having trouble sleeping for some reason that I'm most comfortable lying on my left side on that same couch. We became quite friendly for awhile there (although, at my husband's request, the couch was covered with a layer of plastic under my blankets in case my water broke, so it was kind of noisy to move around) We had just bought it before I got pregnant to replace one flooded in Hurricane Andrew- we didn't want any more floods in our house!) I should add that my husband would have gladly given up the bed and stayed on the couch, but I had trouble getting out of the bed on my own. I preferred always having the back of the couch to lean back on and to push off of when getting up - plus it was only 10 steps to the bathroom and 15 steps to the refrigerator!

This is kind of a long addition to this thread, but women on bed rest have a lot of time to kill. Listen to some good music, dream about what your kids will look like, let someone wait on you because this is the last chance you'll get! It will be over soon and you'll hardly remember how hard it was. Good Luck.

Hang in there! Sounds like you are doing well on bedrest. It does sound as though you've hit the 'transition' stage from pregnancy and bedrest woes to real, live 'holy cow, this is IT!' thoughts; from feeling those squids kicking all the time to imagining what they will look like as you hold them in your arms. It's an important part of the whole process and it won't be long now before those babies are here and changing your life as you've known it! Best wishes.

In the ob/gyn literature, there are mixed reports on bedrest. Once upon a time, almost all twin mothers were put on bedrest as a matter of course; they found that this did not seem to change the outcome of the pregnancy. Now, bedrest is usually used when something occurs to indicate its necessity-premature rupture of membranes, for instance, or contractions. If I had it to do my pregnancy all over again, I would have gone on voluntary bedrest at 30 weeks (I made it to 33), again, there's no way of knowing whether that would have changed anything or not. My waters broke at 33 and I was put on bedrest then, but the babies were born the following morning anyway-both perfectly healthy with no problems and just under 4 pounds. Every day those babies stay inside you is an accomplishment and just wonderful for them, so keep on truckin'.

I had my 24 week sonogram the day before Thanksgiving, where they also measured my cervix. That night, we got an emergency call from my doctor. Seems she talked to the radiologist, and my cervix is "shortening, and soft". I was admitted to the hospital on Wednesday night, and I had to be put on Brethine, a drug to stop the contractions I wasn't aware I was having. The doctors feel that the shortening was totally a result of the contractions, but we'll know for sure a little bit down the road. I was monitored for 2 days (happy Thanksgiving -- the hospital's turkey was not quite what I was expecting!!) on the drug, and since it was helping the contractions, I was allowed to go home with a pump that is attached to my leg and administers this drug constantly into my system. I also have a home monitoring device that I use twice a day for an hour, and transmit the results to a nurse, who tells me if I have any contractions. I also HAVE TO stay on my side (either one, but preferably the left), and can only get up to go to the bathroom, shower, and eat. I have to do all of this until I reach (oh God, please let me get that far) 36 weeks, which is February 18th. Yikes! Having twins is not easy!!

On the bright side, the twins looked great at the ultrasound, each measuring 1 1/2 pounds and as active as ever. Also, my Fetal Fibronectin test came out negative, so temporarily I'm safe. My wonderful, wonderful, (did I tell you he is wonderful?) husband has been the best! He has me all set up on the pull out couch with my computer convenient to my left side, the television, about 20 video tapes, and some really good books. He's also taking care of all housework, cooking, etc. I'm so lucky to have him!

So, has anyone else started having problems this early (24 weeks) and made it to at least 36?

I read your post and just wanted to say hello and give some support.

My twin pregnancy was very uneventful until week 22 when I noticed a real tightening in my tummy that wouldn't go away. I was at work so I left and went to the hospital to be monitored. DH was out of town because his dad was extremely ill so I was quite scared and nervous. I was having contractions and they put me on Brethine and kept me overnight for monitoring. I was planning to leave my job at 25 weeks (my dr.'s standard practice for multiples), but due to the contractions I had to leave work immediately. I was sent home on oral brethine (5 mg. every 3 - 4 hours) and restricted activity (no chores, outings, ect) Basically just able to read, watch tv, ect.)

Week 32 was our "magic" number since lung development occurs by then, but she wanted me to make it to 35 if possible. I just counted down the weeks. Feeling that each week was another major milestone. I had about 10 more trips to the hospital "just in case", but they all turned out to be false alarms. I figured I would rather be safe than sorry, so whenever I felt the contractions were stronger than usual I went directly in. By week 31, all the contractions, just seemed to "go away". My dr. said that that happens. That week 20 - 30 are critical, and if you can get past them, often the contractions will subside.

Anyway, I stopped the brethine at week 35 and delivered 5 days later. Not because of contractions, but because my water broke. They actually had to INDUCE to get the contractions going again. Ironic isn't it. My boys were very healthy for being 4 weeks early (6.8 and 5.11) and have kept me moving ever since.

Just wanted to let you know, yes it is possible to make it. But, stay off your feet as much as possible. Let the house go, let DH and others fend for themselves (as much as possible) w/ regard to meals, laundry, etc. Get help if you can. My mom came and stayed for awhile and it was a tremendous help. Our church also helped with meals which lightened the burden. Don't be "embarassed" to go into the hospital even if it is nothing. Better to be safe.

Yes, it will be boring. Yes, time will go slow. But after those wonderful babies arrive, you will forget all about it. And you'll be so busy you'll probably long for the "resting" time you had prior to the twins. Good luck.

I wanted to tell you my story quickly, as it might reassure you. At 26 weeks, I was feeling "twinges" in my abdomen. I went to the doctor, who hooked me up the monitor and found that I was contracting A LOT. I was sent to the hospital, where it was found that my cervix was slightly dilated. I was put on Brethine and sent home the next day. At 31 weeks I had more contractions and again spent the night in the hospital. The Brethine dose was doubled and I went home. (I was on bedrest from 23 weeks) Anyway, at 36 weeks they took me off the medication and bed rest. At 37 weeks I was INDUCED because the babies were ready and my blood pressure was going up. The babies did not spend even a minute in the NICU, and we all went home the next day. Soooo, don't panic! All will be well.

Hang in there. While I wasn't put on bedrest quite as early as you (I was put on at 28 wks), I know exactly what you are going through. I also had a terbutaline pump and monitored contractions twice a day. I'm sure you know, but drinking water is extremely important. If you are monitoring contractions above your baseline, they will ask you to drink 2 or 3 8oz glasses of water and then remonitor. Water helps to stop contractions.

To be honest, I did not mind being on bedrest. I actually got a lot accomplished: I put all of our old photos in albums, I read many books and old magazines that I was saving. My mom did all of the shopping for my layette, and I got to select what to keep and what she should return. While I was on bedrest (April - May), the weather was particularly lousy - lots of rain - and I was happy to not have to get up and go to work. I did look forward to my weekly doctor's visit...that was my only escape, and at around 32 wks, I was allowed to go out to dinner once a week.

I was allowed to remove the pump at 36 wks, which worked out to be over Memorial Day weekend, but because I felt I had so many errands to run, I elected to keep the pump in through the weekend. I removed the pump on the Monday of that long weekend, and at 3 am. on Tuesday morning my water broke. I definitely believe that in my case, the terbutaline was keeping things in check.

Best of luck to you.....just remember, listen to your doctors, drink lots of water, and enjoy this precious downtime. It will be over before you know it.

When reading this thread, I had to write in hopes of helping someone else through the misery that is strict bedrest. At 28 weeks of a twin pregnancy, my MD placed me on strict bedrest because of a short and soft cervix. I wasn't feeling any contractions, but my MD did give me a steroid shot for the babies' lung development (ouch!). Before I left the hospital, I went through the NICU as my doctor told me it was likely my twins would spend some time there. Seeing all the tiny babies ( it is a 32-bed unit) really strengthened my resolve to adhere to my bedrest. Please, listen to your physician carefully about bedrest- I was only allowed to be up a total of one hour per day, and meals were to be eaten in bed - talk about heartburn. When my doctor told me at 34 weeks that I could finally eat sitting up, I went into labor three days later. My boys were only 3.5 and 4.5 lbs., and spent a week in the NICU. Although they were relatively healthy, I would have gladly spent another month in bed to give them a chance to grow. Just remember, you have a choice- at home on bedrest, or sitting in a NICU. Home is definitely better. Just a few more things to remember about bedrest- ask for help. Don't be embarrassed or ashamed because you can't do things. Be a big baby. If no one is around to baby you, get on the phone and get everything delivered - meals, laundry, etc. Also, it is perfectly normal to resent 'normal' pregnancies. There is nothing you can do about it except focus on your babies. Surround yourself with positive people - don't listen to those nightmare baby stories some people feel the need to share. Finally, get on the cordless phone a ring up a huge phone bill talking to anyone who will help you get through the day...Good Luck!!

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