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Adapted for my own selfish uses, 1 Samuel 27.

Recently it has come to my attention that in the midst of the complaints and funny stories about vomiting, and hot dogs, and late-night peeing, I’ve perhaps misrepresented the journey to parenthood for us – how we’ve gotten here, how it wasn’t a walk in the park, and how, above all, we feel truly, deeply, and completely undeservedly, blessed.

(This is a really, really long post.  It gets really personal.  If you only read one thing on this blog, you should understand this.)

There is simply no easy way to become a parent.  There are harder ways, and more expensive ways, and faster ways, and slower ways, and there are ways that are marked with more trials than others, but at the end, with *any* method of growing a family, there is loss, there is pain, there is suffering, and there is expense.  If children could simply fall out of the sky, there could be a painless way to grow a family.  But there simply, simply, is not.

I think about this literally all of the time.  Literally.  I think about how incredibly blessed we are, that we are able to start this process with a natural conception (because it is, perhaps, the easiest of the three routes here – not easy) – because we surely did not expect it.  We feel very blessed.  We feel very fortunate.  And we are very, very, very acutely aware that there are thousands – millions – of families that are not so fortunate. Perhaps we will not be so fortunate to have a living child at the end – we are not so foolish to think that the next 6 months will be smooth sailing – but we feel very, very, very blessed to have gotten this far.

For us, adoption and natural conception were two equally acceptable ways of growing a family.  We were very open to either option.  For us, and I want this to be clear – for OUR situation, for US – assisted reproduction techniques were never an option.

That doesn’t mean I see children who are added to our family through biology and through adoption as exactly the same.  I don’t.  I used to, and perhaps this is part of my own growth that I have come to see them as different, but the two – adopted and biological – are simply not the same.  With a biological child, I will need to answer to them why Mommy and Daddy risked what we knew about our genes to create them – and I will have the (uncomfortable, perhaps) answers.  I will know every step of this child’s existence intimately.  The child will have the experience – I do not know if this is a gift – of not being questioned every day we are in public.  And when we announced that we were pregnant to our families, this child will have had the benefit – and of this, I am very sure – the benefit of everyone knowing *just* how to react.  “OH, how wonderful!” – they have said.

For our adopted child, we will not have the gift of information.  For sure, we will need to be able to look him or her (sticking with him from here out for brevity) in the eye and be able to say, without a flicker of hesitation, that we did *everything* we could to ensure that his biological mother and father wanted him to live with us, Rachel and DB, here, in America.  Perhaps we will have an open adoption – that we hope very much – so that we can help with those answers.  But I am cautious, even now, about how this child will be received in our family, and how we can maintain birth order when we want to adopt so close together.  I am cautious because we started with adoption, and when we announced that, there was excitement, but there was not the same excitement.  I am cautious because I’ve read an email from one of our family members to a friend of mine who is an adoptive parent, and it was something that I shuddered with horror reading.

How can I protect my child from *those* attitudes?  How can I ensure that my children see themselves as siblings, as equal in our love and equally protected by their parents?

So no, they are not equivalent.  As I said, we see these options as equally palatable (bad word, sorry) in growing our family, but I see them each as presenting their own challenges.  Perhaps as we actually become parents, my anxieties about all of it will dissipate.

Perhaps.  Although knowing myself, it is doubtful.

No, what I really wanted to write about was that we truly – truly, truly – feel deeply blessed.  This is something I wrote in a protected post, but I am not sure who actually read it.  So here it is, in an unprotected (for the next few weeks) post:

For most of my life, I did not think it was possible for me to bear biological children.

In college, I was told that I had some antibodies that recognized my own tissue as hostile, and created cardiac problems in an unborn infant (this is still true).

In graduate school, I was told – by a student health radiologist, no less – that my uterus was heart-shaped, possibly had a septum, and was not capable of supporting a conceived life, without invasive reconstructive surgery (this turned out not to be true).

Following that, my student health OB/GYN told me that there is no way she would recommend a conception, given the risks of any potential pregnancy (this turned out to be questionably valuable advice).

The summer after I graduated from graduate school, I went to Vietnam, and as part of my work with the UN, visited an orphanage outside of Da Nang.

I fell in love with a child there.  He was a child that had a father who couldn’t afford to keep him at home, but visited him often, so he was not freed for international adoption – but he stole my heart. I think he was 8.  Or 10.

He definitely wasn’t an infant.  And he definitely, definitely, definitely needed a mommy or a daddy that lived with him all the time.  He was 8, or 10, but he was young.

Did I mention how he stole my heart?

A few months later, I moved to this city.  That fall, when I was hemorrhaging so heavily that we considered going to the ER, even without adequate health insurance to cover it – I was advised – ON THE PHONE, no less – to get a hysterectomy.  By a male GYN.

About a year later, I found out that I had adenomyosis, which are tumor-like growths in the lining of my uterus.  (Similar to endometriosis, but the growths stay in the lining of the uterus.)  The only proven treatment for this is a hysterectomy, and finally, finally, finally, I cried.

And cried.

And cried.

Because it wasn’t that I wanted so much to become pregnant.  I had already started the process of researching adoption agencies.  (It was also in this period that we realized our significant autism risk, which simply compounded our belief that we were called to adopt.)

It wasn’t even that I planned to become pregnant.  When we started dating, I told DB about my antibodies, and my apparently defective uterus, and he simply said, “I don’t love you for your uterus.  I love you for YOU”.

I do really love my husband.

But for some reason, the latest nail in the coffin – the adenomyosis, plus the antibodies that had only increased in strength (and therefore clinical relevance) – crushed me.  Perhaps it was the growing realization that I was a graduate student, in growing amounts of student debt, and my husband worked for the government, and there was no possible way for us to reasonably afford an adoption and successfully raise the child.

I felt like there was really no way out.  That we would remain childless forever.  Perhaps I was overly dramatic (and obviously, hindsight is showing that I was) but that was how I felt at that time.

I struggled.  Friends (upon friends, upon friends) became pregnant, easily, and gave birth to healthy babies.  Other friends had friends who “just adopted from [fill in the blank rogue country – Guatemala, whatever], and *they* are so happy – why don’t YOU do that?!?” – and I just wanted to avoid everyone.  I was tired of the questions, “When are YOU having kids?!?”

Healthy?  No.  But with every cute baby face, and every cute baby belly, I was sinking.  And sinking. It became really hard for me to celebrate other people’s joy.

I had a friend whose pregnancy was accidental, and she was devastated.  Up until the birth of her child, she was trying to figure out how she could possibly love this child.

It took everything I had to be able to relate.  I really couldn’t relate.  I really wanted to say, “Hey!  Wake UP!  There are lots of us that would KILL for a baby! Any baby!  Pick yourself up!  Get happy!  What the hell is your problem?!?!?”  (I didn’t.  Don’t worry.  And she is now very bonded to her child after a tough road.)

It was during this time that we started our bid to adopt from Vietnam, and then realized that what had happened in the last shutdown was still happening, and we took a step back.  That part has been amply documented on this blog.

We had a doctor who suggested that a Mirena IUD would thin the lining of my uterus, strip the adenomyosis, and hopefully staunch the excessive flow of blood (that was causing me to be extremely anemic and need blood transfusions and iron infusions that I turned out to be allergic to).  We never intended to use this as a way to be able to conceive – really, the goal was simply to avoid the need for iron infusions and prevent severe anemia and blood loss – but when adoption looked like we could not stomach moving forward, we reconsidered conceiving.

Right when we made that decision, I had a stroke-like incident, and a follow-up MRI in the ER revealed a brain lesion.

This fall was horrendous.  We were devastated.  On one hand, if it was lupus, the end-game would be psychosis and death.  Pregnancy could hasten that, and I did not think *any* agency – international or domestic – would be eager to allow us to adopt a child.

On the other hand, if it was multiple sclerosis, we might have been able to conceive, but the doors would be slammed shut to adopt.  (And I didn’t think conception was really the greatest option, given the exigent circumstances.)

After six months of intense anxiety, it turned out to be…nothing.

We removed the IUD.

We started trying to conceive immediately.

We had about a window of three months before my iron levels got too low and I would no longer be able to support a pregnancy.

If we failed after three months, I was going to have another IUD implanted – so that I could keep my iron levels as high as possible, to stay healthy to be an actual parent.  Of something other than a pet.

This entire time, I had been praying to God, fervently.  My prayer varied, but it was essentially something along the lines of, “Please, God, we want to be good parents.  Please open the doors that You want opened and close the doors that You’re going to close and comfort us through this process – please, please, please, please”.

The night we conceived Little Squirt, we prayed, again.  And this is really personal, but we did.  We prayed, fervently, “Please, God, we are open to any route you want to make us parents, but please, if you want us to be biological parents, please please grant us this child and protect him/her.”

Two weeks later, I peed on a stick and found out that I am not, actually, the type of person whose hCG fails to make that second pee stick line.

We have no idea what to make of this.  We know that the Bible says “Ask, and you shall receive”, and we both fervently believe that this is one of the most warped (by people, for their own purposes) phrases in the Bible.  We believe that we do not know what makes some prayers obviously answered and some prayers answered “later” and some, seemingly, not answered.  We do believe that God is all-knowing, all-seeing, and He uses all things for His good….but that sounds cheap, really, or just too easy – in some situations.  I know that.  It does.

We know that countless, countless couples have prayed more fervent prayers, are better Christians*, for certain better witnesses**, will be better parents*** – who have prayed these prayers, and come up with nothing – no child, no options. Who struggle, and cry, and wait, and who put money down with rogue adoption agencies or pay fees to adopt, only to have foreign governments inexplicably shut its doors to international adoption.  Who have babies make it to term, and are born still.

As I said, we have no idea about the outcome of this pregnancy and we try very hard to assume nothing, although we are hopeful.  We continue to pray and we continue to rejoice, but we continue to petition God on behalf of the thousands of other parents struggling to expand their families, too.

We feel so unworthy.

We feel like it is a miracle, and we celebrate every. single. minute. that I continue to be pregnant.

No, it is not glamorous.  Yes, I’ve puked more than some others, and yes, I’ve puked in every appliance in our house and several buckets.  But as I said, not one way of becoming a parent is devoid of pain, heartache, or loss.  And not one way of becoming a parent is any less blessed, or miraculous.

We choose to celebrate our every single minute, and we will continue to choose that path with our next child (who will be adopted) and we hope that everyone – our friends, family, and those close to us – will join us.

In celebrating, as responsibly and ethically and thoughtfully as we can.

Because there is so, so, so, so much to celebrate and wonder.

*I hate that phrase

**This phrase is better

***Of this, I have no doubt

I should preface this post by saying that I really hate Valentine’s Day.  I think is the most contrived holiday, which perhaps has some nice origins, but now has simply given way to a day on which people who don’t have a significant other feel like losers, people who DO have a significant other have unrealistic expectations, and little kids are forced to give stupid commercial cut-outs with, like, Hannah Montana on them or something, to every. single. person. in their class, and I have no doubt that there have been many the “forgotten” (either intentional or otherwise) little kids that are then crushed for life.* So call me the Valentine’s day scrooge, but I think it’s stupid.  So there.

Anyway, now I’m married and perhaps I should like Valentine’s day, because I have this built-in-always-friend around when I want to celebrate it, but I was fortunate to marry someone who felt equally negatively (although perhaps not quite as emphatic) about the stupid holiday so we really don’t celebrate it very much.

Enter our mutual gift to each other:  chocolate covered strawberries and grapes.  OH FRUIT HOW I LOVE YOU!  OH CHOCOLATE HOW DB LOVES YOU!  OK, let’s be honest:  It was mostly a convenience purchase because we both love it, it’s normally totally out of our budget and we had a coupon.  I do think it is super dumb that they have “Valentine’s” fruit arrangements (versus a…”birthday” fruit arrangement…and what is the difference?) (MMmmmmm fruit) but whatever.  I love it.  They could call it “Christmas” fruit and I would find it delicious in July.  I cannot wait for it to get here.

Moving on…

I decided to use Valentine’s Day to jump on Laura’s post about her husband.  See, it was her anniversary the other day, and I made it to her post because apparently she had a dream about me and her skinny jeans, and DB has given me some ripe fodder these days because, it seems, he is pregnant too. So it’s kind of almost like he’s watching Oxygen right along with Ed, Laura’s husband.  They seem to be of similar ilk.

(Hi DB, I love you…)

So first, DB’s diet of late.  It seems that he has this thing for pickles.  As in, I ate that one pickle back in the day, asked him to get some more, and haven’t been able to touch them since.  However, DB has really picked up the slack.  He eats pickles for every meal.  Like, um, a pregnant woman.  He also ate ice cream for dinner last night.  (I ate a sandwich.  He didn’t eat ice cream because of me, that’s for sure.)

On the flip side, DB is my culinary hero.  Two nights ago, I asked him to pick up dinner at a local deli.  This place has a massive menu of sandwiches, fried food, and things like burgers and hot dogs.  I asked him to get a LOT of food, since I wasn’t so up for anything in particular and I figured I would find something in the array that I could eat…so he bought a sandwich (that he hates), some mozzarella sticks (that the last time he purchased about a month ago, I was so in love with I wouldn’t let him touch), and, for himself, a chili dog.  With the chili on the side, since I thought perhaps I would want a *bite*.

I am a vegetarian.  The notion that I would *want* a bite of his hot dog is a totally foreign concept.

Anyway, he came home with all of this food, and opened up his hot dog to take a bite.

I looked at that hot dog.

If there was a soundtrack for my life, it would have sounded like the heavens opened up RIGHT ON THAT HOT DOG.

It looked like…well, words can’t do it justice.

So I asked him for a bite.

Unhesitatingly, he handed it over.

I took the first bite.

It!  Was!  Orgasmic!


I swooned.

He watched me get giddy over *his* meal.  With *TWO* other options in front of me.

I asked him if I could take another bite.


I have never been so in love with a food object before, let along a processed meat product.  Who the heck am I these days?!?

He had to eat PB&J that night.


OK, moving on from food…

Sleeping:  I did not know this before getting pregnant, but apparently one has to pee a LOT in the first trimester.  I am up at least once (and usually twice) every night to pee.  It kind of sucks.

In the beginning, it sucked for DB, too, since apparently I am as graceful as an elephant getting in and out of bed.

However, a few weeks ago, I noticed a strange new phenomenon.

I was not the only person getting up through the night.

For some reason, DB, too, must wake up to pee through the night.

??  That is just weird.

Puking: DB has always had a very sensitive stomach.  I call it efficient.  His stomach detects something undesirable and boots it out, quickly.  Flip switch, eject.

Recently, he’s gotten more pukey.  (Perhaps it is the diet of ice cream and pickles…)

However, on the flip side, I must end with this tidbit of why I do love my husband oh-so-much.  These days, I’m only pretty much throwing up once a day – at night.  It’s tolerable, since I am not really nauseated the rest of the day.  (I mean, it would be better to keep it all in, but I’ll take this.)  (I did not throw up the orgasmic hot dog.  And no, I cannot think of a better adjective than that.  I think it really says it all.)

So ANYway!  Last night, I brushed my teeth gingerly, hoping it wouldn’t incite the stomach to blow.  As I was leaving the bathroom, I sensed a problem.  Being the very independent woman that I am, I called out, “D!!  She’s gonna blow!” –

He charged in.  “Oh, no, honey.  Just relax.  Take a deep breath,” rubbing my back.

Oh, no.  Too late.  I yacked in the sink.

Here is where I have a wonderful awesome husband:

UNFORTUNATELY, some yacked up parts did not make it down the drain.  The sink began to back up.  (I did not share the similar story of when I was in the shower and I was alone, but I think there are some things I need to keep to myself.  Go figure.)  DB ran to the kitchen, got a plastic fork, and started to jam. barfed. up. tomatoes. down. the. drain.

How insanely disgusting is that?

I know.

And then we went to bed.

Happy Valentine’s Day, honey.  I think it is a stupid holiday, but I wouldn’t want to share it with anyone other than you.

*This has never happened to me, although I moved a lot as a kid and I have no doubt that it could have.

So I have nothing but joy to report today.

I took the 1/2 unisom + 1/2 B6 last night, fell asleep, and woke up…with nothing but waking up.

Drove a friend to an eye doctor appointment, WAITED for the eye doctor for 3 hours (!!), drove her BACK to her house, then drove her to pick up her car, because it had been towed (whoops).

Although I did eat no less than 4 (FOUR) meals in that time period, I did not:

a) puke

b) curl up in a ball and wish I could puke

c) cry from the agony of not puking

And, in fact, it was ABSOLUTELY LOVELY.

Now, I will say that I originally planned on taking this *only* on the nights before I had class.  I figured that was a good idea.

By noon, I was thinking that this stuff was equivalent to crack, and I needed a new game plan.  My friend agreed.

DB also agreed, mostly because last night was the first night in many, many weeks that he got a full night of sleep.  Apparently, I am (as Mel’s husband Ali called her) the “queen of the fidget people” on this side of the pond, at least.  He said he woke up at 5:00 am feeling more refreshed than he had in weeks.

Basically, this is a win-win all around.

When I got home (after – drumroll, please – EIGHT HOURS OF DRIVING AROUND IN A CAR THAT PREVIOUSLY MADE ME VOMIT), I looked up Diclectin – aka – unisom + Vitamin B6, only marketed as one pill in our friendly country to the north – and *it* is rated by the Canadians as pregnancy category A.

Meaning, go nuts, Rach.

So, because I am really a wannabe Canadian, and more than that, I am a wannabe productive person, I am counting…




to bedtime.


Thanks, J & Tara, for the tip.

P.S.  I have another protected post brewing.  It is actually about something unrelated to barfing, believe it or not, and it is about adoption.  I also have some political posts brewing that will be without a password.  If you’ve recently started reading, you will need to email me for the password.


At DB’s plea, and at my absolute wits’ end, I talked to the doctor’s office.  She said I really did try everything, and to try out the Unisom/B6 combination.

I took it an hour later, when my lunch was about to come back up (saltines, applesauce, and grape tomatoes…I mean, seriously.  We are not talking about a big, pushing-the-envelope meal here, right?) (I just have to keep justifying that I am taking something at almost 8 weeks for NVP).

What does it say about me that I am trying *really* hard to prepare for Bible study, and all I can think about is food?  Like all of the wonderful things I might be able to eat now?

Is this the Unisom talking, or am I getting better?  (This would be why, FYI, people stop taking anti-depressants when they feel great.)

All I know is that I am dreaming of a hummous wrap with lettuce and tomato, or a tomato/pesto/mozzarella sandwich, and those things have not sounded good to me in about a month.


So I have to say – I am dejected.

This morning was the worst morning so far.

Up until now, I’ve woken up, had breakfast in bed (yes, my husband is amazing), spent an hour or so of happiness, then progressively got sicker until nighttime, when I finally collapsed and started the day again. There is vomiting at various points in there, including through the night.

Last night, I woke up, was about to vomit, and put on the Relief Band in a desperate attempt to stave off puking, and it worked.  I was PSYCHED.

This morning, however, was a different story.  I woke up with an insane migraine, which I was determined to ignore until I was about to vomit from the PAIN, plus DB was sick himself, so no breakfast, so I was all messed up.  I tried to eat something, it came back up, I eventually took one Tylenol for the headache, and then, with chills and patheticness, eventually got back to sleep.  The two of us slept until (this is embarassing) 1:00 pm.

I woke up when I dreamt about milkshakes and asked DB to make one.  🙂  It was delicious, although it basically served as a vehicle for whipped cream and marachino cherries, which apparently were the real reasons I wanted a milkshake.


So the jury is out.  I got a bit better over the afternoon, but this is my worst day so far.  Chills, headache, puking, shakes, dizziness – it felt like the plague.  Literally.  Minus the dying part.

The only evidence that I have that the Relief Band prevented things from being worse was that when I showered, again, I got sicker.  So perhaps I am just totally screwed.

Also?  I decided I ABSOLUTELY NEEDED a cinnamon raisin bagel tonight.  I rarely have cravings these days, so when I do, I try to capitalize on them.  We trucked out to Bruegger’s – they were closed.  CLOSED!  So we ended up at Panera, where I got many, many bagels (the kid behind the counter thought I was insane) and DB got some broccoli cheese soup.  Can I say?  That soup is the smelliest, most nauseating thing on the planet.  He even threw the container away outside, and I can STILL SMELL IT!

Out out damned spot…

But! In an effort to be positive, here is my thankfulness list:


b)  Classes just started yesterday, so I have not missed much (yet)…

c)  I had a pickle tonight and I realized why it is a stereotype for pregnant women to like them.  MMMMMMMmmmm it was DELICIOUS!

d)  I ate 10 marachino cherries and they were DELICIOUS as well

e)  I got to spend an entire workday with DB, who thought he was sick until he saw me.  We did not do so much except sleep but it was still fun.  (And no gutter minds.  Seriously, we slept.  And we are about to sleep some more in about 10 minutes)

f)  I did the research on Unisom, and it looks like that is my next step if tomorrow doesn’t improve, because this is not a way to live.  Epidemiological studies with n=180,000 are my kinds of studies.  I am not the kind of girl who takes things because someone tells her to, but I am the kind of girl who does a lot of my own research.

g)  I praise God DAILY that I have the lamest job on the face of the planet now.  I am so thankful that I am not the sole wage earner in our family, and that I have the total luxury of sitting on my ass being sick all day.  I know there are many, many, many women who get fired for absenteeism in this stage, and I am so insanely grateful that I am not in the position of needing to be concerned about that.

h)  I am also thankful that I do not have another child needing attention because I seriously question how it is that anyone functions like this.  I realize people do, and you all are amazing.

*I* am a total wuss.

A huge, GIGANTIC, hip hip hooray for the Relief Band!!!!!

I have to say, I wasn’t sure what to think.  I had it on all day.  I was dancing.  I cleaned the bathroom.  I ate some pasta.  I had to lay down a bit in the afternoon becuase I was feeling pukey, but it wasn’t BAD pukiness – just uncomfortable. I wasn’t sure if it was the band, or just a really good day.

And then I decided to get ready to go to class (which unfortunately started tonight – oh, help me Lord get to this class every night…with my gradually worsening during the all-damn-day sickness) and I jumped in the shower.  Sans, of course, the shockwatch.

Oh my heavens.  I was back in the fetal position so fast…and then dry-heaved into a bucket as soon as I left the shower.

Shockwatch back on….happy, sitting up Rachel.

If that is not a rousing review, I do not know what is.

I mean, it is not perfect.  I can still feel the acid rising in my throat, which isn’t amazing, but I am no longer gagging with every bite. It is also expensive and not the greatest thing for the poor environment (which is reeling from my abominable pregnancy habits – how many grape tomato containers can we go through?!?  Even though we recycle, I don’t think it’s good enough…) because it requires a new battery every 150 hours, and if I wear it for all of my waking hours…that’s a lot of batteries. I will still be taking the B6, because maybe that will augment the performance of the shockwatch, and it can’t hurt, right?  Right.

But that aside…


on my dog.

I’m kind of couch-ridden, resigned to watching whatever we have on DVR (not much) and whatever is on daytime TV (which sucks).

Right now, we (Little and I – the cat is cruising around looking for trouble, and she seems to know that I am too pathetic to stop her) are watching the Dog Whisperer.

Little is watching it, cocking his head, like, “what’s going on there?” – while this little Jack Russell is terrorizing its owners.

I can see the wheels turning.  He better not be planning anything.


And, in a puking update, I got the shock watch today.  I put it on immediately.

I will say, I was a little depressed initially.  I stuck it on my left wrist and apparently it’s not my best wrist, because I couldn’t figure out where it was supposed to go and I was getting sicker and sicker and ahhhh noo I am not ready to start taking DRUGS yet (having stopped ALL medication for this, I am not ready at 7 weeks to start again, even a category B drug…not yet, unless I have to…and I am still holding down water, so I consider that to be the drawing line).  So I took it off, was sick, and sat back on the couch.

I will admit, I did cry.

And then I decided to check out the right wrist.

Hallelujah!  PRAISE GOD!!!!

In about 20 minutes, I got HUNGRY.  (!!)  Hungry!

And I ate!!

And I didn’t puke!

So far, so good.  I’m VERY hopeful here.  I am back on the couch (ie, we are watching stupid reruns of dog shows) but I am sitting up and not puking.


I also took B6 today, which may or may not be helpful as well – I am normally very anal about when to start medications (never two at a time, so I always know what is freaking out what) but today, I broke the rules out of desperation.  Which means I’ll probably be on the B6 + shockwatch cocktail until I can stomach the idea of not taking the B6.

Stay tuned…


Also, does Cesar ever put on his failure dogs?  He *must* fail, right?  I am more in love with Victoria Stilwell – it’s Me or the Dog.   I don’t watch too much Cesar Milan any more.  A more avid watcher – does he ever show cases where he hasn’t succeeded?

I am intentionally unpasswording this.  I seriously doubt anyone else reads this beyond the people who actually have the password, so it’s kind of dumb to protect it.

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