Sunday, June 2, 2013

Is Age Really Just a Number?

It's a pretty important one where the ability to bear children is concerned. With today being my 35th birthday, it had had me thinking...more like dreading what it means. In case you didn't know, 35 marks the official milestone in the medical field known as AMA or Advanced Maternal Age. Fertility declines sharply, as do pregnancy rates, success rates for IVF and live birth rates. The only things that go up are risks (miscarriages, birth defects, gestational diabetes, cesarean rates, etc.) Someone hand me a kazoo! Happy birthday to me!

In reality, had I known ten years ago how fertility changes with age, I probably would have stopped taking birth control sooner. I was completely clueless! My mom, who was pregnant and married at age 16 and done by age 23 with 3 kids, put the fear of God into me my whole life that I better not have sex or get pregnant. I took a child development class in high school where they proceeded to scare the pants off of every teenage girl. If you couldn't even make it a week without your "egg baby" dying a horrific Humpty Dumpty death, then you obviously weren't ready to procreate. I thought I was being smart by continuing to take birth control until I was 30 and "settled down."

Talking about the risks of teenage pregnancy is a no brainer, but what about teaching young women about the reality of fertility decline past a certain age? I know I'm not the only one who was caught by surprise when my RE showed me that SCARY line graph that plummets along with quantity of viable eggs with each passing year. It actually baffles me that we simply don't teach young women in this country how fertility is increased AND decreased during certain years. Surely we can find a way to teach this without encouraging any increases in teenage pregnancy rates whatsoever. At least that is my opinion.

It seems that some experts in Britain are also aware of the need to educate their citizens. A new campaign called Get Britain Fertile is getting attention because of it's photo centerpiece....

Get Britain Fertile Campaign (doctored photo)

Their goal? To create a conversation surrounding the increasing number of women putting off motherhood. Check out this short clip from the Today Show talking about the campaign. Personally, I think it's great! I think whatever gets people to take notice that there IS an expiration date to begin with, is welcome. Maybe more women choosing to wait will realize that it may not end up being a walk in the park.

There have been other women speaking out on the topic of waiting (perhaps too long) to start their families. NBC's Rock Center ran a great piece on their show recently where they interviewed the former CFO of Lehman Brothers. Great clip if you have ten minutes to watch! In the episode, she talks very openly about her career and family planning choices. I thought her story was a breath of fresh air amidst all of the "Lean In" hoopla circulating in the media and corporate circles as of late.

It's kind of depressing to know we started TTC one month after I turned 33 and still nada. If my first pregnancy would have stuck, we'd have a one year old running around right now, but I digress. Leave it to my hubby to find the perfect way to cheer me up. Friday afternoon I came home to this...

My beautiful flowers- Yellow & white roses with hot pink mums!

Inside the bag was a BEAUTIFUL diamond cross and inside the card read an equally inspiring bible verse handwritten by the hubs...

For I know the plan I have for you,  declares the Lord,
Plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
Plans to give you hope and a future.
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me,
And I will listen to you.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

-Jeremiah 29: 11-13


And yes, I bawled my eyes out.
He's such a sweetheart, and I am a lucky woman. Screw AMA! Nothing more I can be doing that I'm not already really. I decided to make the most of my birthday weekend! Saturday night we went out with a group of friends to dinner...

Wearing my lovely new cross and enjoying
some key lime margarita cheesecake.

And then bowling...

Fab 5 Ladies of Bowling

Such a blast! We had our own lane and the guys had theirs. I can safely say we had more fun that anyone in that bowling alley. haha! Today hubby and I finished out my birthday weekend with some relaxation and got 80 minute massages. Long live Travelzoo coupons!

In even better news, after a 44 day long cycle spanning April and May, Aunt Flo finally arrived on Friday! We went in for my baseline ultrasound; No cysts, lining is ready, and all systems are go to begin our FET cycle!!! I added a new tab at the top of my blog titled "FET Calendar" where you can find my schedule of meds, expected transfer and test dates. I will update with more as it unfolds.

In the meantime, I'd love to know what you think...
-Do you wish you had known how much infertility changes with age or your diagnosis?
 

-Do you think the gov. should include some form of education on this in schools or publicly?

-What do you think about the Get Britain Fertile campaign or other women speaking out in the media?

48 comments:

  1. Happy Birthday!!! You are just beautiful :). I'm obsessed with your necklace- it's just stunning. Im glad you were able to enjoy your special weekend. xoxo

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    1. Thank you darling! Yes, he did good this year....always outdoing me on birthdays. Now what to get him in August to top it?

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  2. Happy happy Birthday! I hope your weekend has been nothing short of amazing because you, my friend, deserve every ounce of happiness. I am very excited about your FET! Can't wait to follow your newest journey. XXOOXXOO

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    1. Thank you for all the excitement! It's contagious! Love it!!

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  3. Emily, happy birthday! Gorgeous necklace and flowers. And the best bday present of all- you got AF! Freaking finally. Did it take two weeks? Do you think you were one of the lucky ladies who o'd after taking it? I remember you mentioning progesterone symptoms...

    I had a freak out when I turned 35 last year and I'm even more dreading my 36th. My RE assures me that the nose dive doesn't happen til 38 btw... we still got a few years!

    1- I think I've always been concerned about age and fertility. :)

    2- Well, actually I have some thoughts on this because I think my students actually think it's impossible to get pregnant after 30. Or even in your late 20's, LOL. Most of them are having babies too early and it's not a good thing... but I might be jaded because I work with a very specific population that is not the norm, nor the ones who are postponing pregnancy. :) Many of my students don't even postpone til after high school, blah.

    3- LOVE it. I think women speaking out is the answer because I feel the right women will reach the women who need to hear this message.

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    1. Yeah, I can definitely see any education for young people would have a certain place. The class I took was a bunch of middle class girls who were just taking the class as an elective because we already had enough credits to graduate. It went through every single step of procreation from conception through each week of pregnancy very detailed. I learned a lot...including how it only takes once to get pregnant! I just wish it would have included at least one chart or something that showed how fertility declines....even if it is still teaching kids the BEST time to have kids is from 24-29 or something, it would still send the message to wait, but not too long. Maybe even just a college course instead? I can't believe I was so clueless into my 30's even.

      And yes, I know there is another even bigger decline at 38. I'm now racing the clock to beat that one I feel. Sigh.

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  4. ps, I'm super stoked about your FET. I've heard such good things and I'm really hopeful for you. I stalked your calendar and yay, maybe we can both have June BFP's. :)

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    1. I just uploaded a revised calendar. It was hard to read before, but this one is slightly bigger once you click on it.

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  5. Happy belated!!! Sounds like a terrific weekend, can't go wrong with bowling with friends, delish wine and cake, and sweet flowers and necklace from the hubs! Remember, no matter what the statistics tell you, it's just a number! God knows the plans He has for you! He doesn't care how old or young you are! And yes, I wish I would have known more about infertility, for sure!

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    1. Thank you for the encouragement!

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  6. Happy Birthday! Looks like we'll be cycle buddies after all. Mine is scheduled the week after yours. Let's hope June is a lucky month!!

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    1. Awesome Lisa! I know it's been a long road for you, and I really hope this is it for both of us!

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  7. Happy birthday Emily! I was missing you on our IVF thread so I wandered over here to catch up on how things are going for you. I'm glad you finally got AF and I'm excited for your FET! I know it's hard for some of you "vets" to put up with IVF "noobs" like me, but I wanted to let you know that I really appreciate you sharing your knowledge and experiences. I have learned a lot from you and hope you'll continue to check in on us when you feel up to it.

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    1. Don't be silly Bethany! I would not consider anyone doing IVF to be a newbie by any means. I haven't been on any forums at all lately, but I need to pop on and say hi to you ladies, esp. now that my cycle FINALLY started! I wasn't having much to say since I was stuck in the neverending cycle until Friday. Excited this show is finally on the road, and I'm excited for all of you as well! :)

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    2. I think everyone needs a break from the forums now and again, no matter what stage you are in. Sometimes I feel like a newbie and I'm glad there are wonderful ladies, like you, to help me along the way. I'm glad you're finally on your way with this cycle!

      Oh, and the age and fertility thing. My mom had all 5 of her kids in her 30s, no problems, no losses, all natural deliveries. So I was naive enough to think I may have inherited her fertility. But I didn't and neither did my sisters, all have had one kind of issue or another (and they have all TTC in their 20s). It sucks because my issues are directly related to my age, but I can't really see a way we could have started TTC any sooner than we did. But I also though starting at 30 was still early. I'm not really sure what the solution is as far as education, but it would nice to see something. Where I am from (UT) they teach abstinence-only sex ed and most get married very young so everyone is TTC in their 20s anyway, which makes infertility an even more taboo subject because the social norm is that everybody has a lot of kids, in their 20s, still in college, etc.

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  8. Happy BLated Birthday, Em! Ur bday is just a day after J's and my bday is in August. How funny is that? That is a lovely necklace he gave you and that card was just sweet. Im glad you have someone so sweet by ur side to help u get through this journey. Im excited for your FET cycle, hope that everything turns out well. Rooting for your June BFP!

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    1. You are married to a Gemini? So sorry to hesr that. Ha! ;) Thanks Jojo!

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  9. Happy Birthday! Lots of good thoughts and prayers for your upcoming FET. Elizabeth's just worked and I'm praying yours does too.

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    1. Thanks Amber. I look forward to congratulating E once she feels comfortable enough to tell the world herself on her blog!

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  10. Happy belated! The necklace and flowers are gorgeous, lucky girl! I so wish I would've known about infertility and age, now more than EVER I can hear my clock ticking, it's the worse thing! I am all for education and educating young women, I truly wish I would've known what I was up against years ago and feel that I could have spared my sanity!

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    1. I know right...no warning given on this little hurdle of life!

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  11. Aww... Happy Birthday! I'm glad it turned out okay... it helps to have a good husband!

    As far as the public service announcement and education in school... I think it's not only a good idea, but necessary. It's a disservice to women to only teach them how NOT to get pregnant. There's a very small window of acceptable time for a woman to get pregnant. I actually DID know about the risks of waiting too long. I started trying at 25, and yet I'm still here. I'll always wonder if trying at 22 would have made the difference. But women who wait until their 30's and then find out the yucky truth... man, my heart breaks for them. It's a woman's right to know the truth.

    Praying for a successful FET.

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    1. Good point Amanda! Learning when that fertile window happens is just as important to prevent pregnancy as it is to encourage it....again something I didn't fully even understand intil age 33. Yeah, I feel pretty dumb now.

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  12. Sending you the happiest of birthday wishes!! Looks like a lovely weekend and your husband very appropriately spoiled you. Well done, hubs!

    I'm super excited that your FET cycle is FINALLY beginning. I'll be praying that you can finally put an end to this TTC journey with a very healthy and happy pregnancy.

    I think about AMA all the time now. I wish I had thought of it sooner. I never minded birthday's before I started TTC, now I dread them. I wish more than anything, I could rewind the clock.

    I am hugely supportive of awareness of any kind. Cancer, Infertility, etc. I will always be first in line to advocate something that can be beneficial to other women to prevent even one woman from going through the pain that I have.

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    1. The significance of birthdays definitely change once you're past 30 and TTC. I never understood this "clock" thing people use to talk about in such a joking way. Well I do now and it aint so funny!

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  13. Happy birthday!! Love the gifts from your hubby- what a sweetheart! So happy you got the green light for your FET! Excited to follow that journey.

    I wish SO much that my sex education wasn't just of the scare the pants off variety too. I knew it only took one time. I knew all the risks, but no one educated me about how a woman's cycle actually worked, meaning you can't get pregnant every day of your cycle. I think a program would be great, but I also wish that my Ob/Gyn would have educated me a bit at age 16, when I was slapped on BCP to control out of control periods. I wish someone would have warned me that having "regular" cycles once off BCP doesn't mean you are fertile. I had to learn all that crap the hard way. And I went off bcp at age 24...here I am about to turn 32 and no baby.

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    1. Yeah, OB's need to be better too. My OB knew full well when I was super fit that I hadn't had a period in almost three years. She knew I wanted children someday and this was ages 30-33. The only thing she told me was, "Whenever you're ready you'll probably just need to gain a little weight." Hahaha

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  14. Emily! So glad to hear that AF arrived! Mine was delayed too...I guess we shouldn't be too surprised given what our bodies have been through! I fell off the earth into vacation bliss...but now I'm back. This will be our FET...I HAVE to believe that!

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    1. It's nice to take a step back and forget about infertility isn't it? Hope you had a nice breather. Wishing you all the very best with your upcoming cycle too!!

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  15. Personally I had heard how much fertility declined... but it never sank in... I always thought that with all of the advances in new technology having a baby in my late 30's would be a breeze. still... I am glad that you are going to be able to do an FET soon!! I am hoping you will have a slightly late birthday present. Baby Dust!!

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    1. Exactly! I mean, I guess I'd heard it's harder when you're older, but then I also have friends who had kids easily in their 30's. Everyone wants to throw in those stories of the aunt who got pregnant in her 30's and 40's...if she can do it you'll be fine! Thanks for the bday wishes. Hoping you are right...sure would be a nice little gift this month.

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  16. Happy belated birthday gorgeous! Love your necklace and flowers, you got a sweet hubby, lucky girl!

    I had been told many times how fertility declined with age and my mom repeatedly told me that my eggs wouldn't just wait for me for whenever I felt like having a child... I just kept seeing all this celebrities and people all over with young children in their 40's and I thought my mom was just outdated and that I would be fine like everyone else. What an idiot! On the other hand, at 35 I was able to produce 17 to 22 eggs and many chromosomal normal embryos up to age 39, I know I'm not the norm, but if it wouldn't be for other issues, issues I would still have at 20, I would have a child by now. And probably same with you. You do make good embryos, you may have had this same problem in your twenties...

    But I see your point. Education is needed. But then what? What if you are not ready for kids? Is like some of my girlfriends, they do know of my struggles and how getting pregnant can be hard, but something in their lives is preventing them from having a child at the moment, not married, not stable, not financially ready, etc, etc. Do you just have them because you are getting old?

    But yes, I still agree despite of my rambles, everyone needs to know that fertility does decline with age. Even if the only difference that it would make is to stress about it.

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    1. Very good points Kharini! I can see how, even if your mom told warned you, you thought she just wasn't up with the times. I think celebrities have had a huge effect on people waiting longer, and that is just too bad a clearer message isn't sent out to the larger public. All we see is the happy ending!

      I am really hoping we get some better options for women who aren't ready to conceive yet, even though they may want to take advantage of their fertile years...just not married yet, etc. Egg freezing will be a great option for those who want to be proactive once it improves more. I know it's available now, but it's just not all that reliable with unfertilized eggs as it could be. I'm really hoping we see improvements in live birth rates for IVF with frozen (unfertilized) eggs in the not too distant future.

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  17. Happy Birthday! I'm glad you had fun hanging out with your friends, it looks like you all had a great time! Also glad everything's a go with your FET.

    I'll be surprised if I make it to 35 without a hysterectomy so age related fertility decline has never been something I've worried about.

    I definitely think there needs to be more education on fertility in general. It's wrong to say don't, don't, don't without also saying when you should and giving the information necessary for that. I have only ever been with my husband and I hope for that for our kids, but I plan on giving any daughters we have TCOYF after they have their first period anyway. You should never be afraid to educate people.

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    1. Thanks lady! I do agree that some issues are just present even at a young age. I am sorry you are dealing with such terrible endo and I know it's a thorn in your side no matter what the age. I think on some level I feel like some of my issues were present even if my 20's (blood clotting, etc.) but I guess if I would have known about them at 24 vs. 34 I would have had a whole extra decade to learn how it could affect things and the clock wouldn't be ticking so loudly while I took a course of action.

      I looooove the idea of giving the TCOYF book to our daughters. That is the type of education I'm talking about!

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  18. Hi I just found you blog and am excited to follow your journey :) My hubby and I are both 34 and I worry about the very same thing all of the time. We were 33 when we first saw our RE and he said we were still young so I hope he is right! I'm just encouraged that I see many women still get pregnant around our age and a little older.

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    1. Yes, my first RE told me I was "young still" but my current RE has never said that at all. Having had a low AMH reading I think changes the ballgame slightly, although I don't put full stock into that as a determining factor either. Those silly age charts just scare the pants off of me, but older women do encourage me as well. Thanks for reading Amie! :)

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  19. Just wanted to let you know I nominated you for a blogging award! http://frozenoj.blogspot.com/2013/06/super-sweet-blogging-award.html

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    1. Well aren't you sweet! Thank you thank you thank you!

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  20. There are so many things I want to say about this post. First of all, I'm so sorry for your loss and for the fact that you have to deal with this infertility stuff in the first place. It's such an ugly, cruel disease. What you said about teens and birth control is so true. I absolutely think there's a way to teach women about fertility and age without encouraging teen pregnancy. When my doc discovered my PCOS at age 15, I was put on birth control...for nine years. Sometimes I wonder what sort of impact all those years of bc had on my fertility. But I did appreciate the fact that my doctor told me right off the bat that I'd likely have trouble getting pregnant. I'm guessing she assumed I wouldn't be on of those girls who would take that info and decide it was okay for me to have unprotected sex...and she was right. But knowing that pregnancy might not come easily for me was really a game-changer. My husband and I started trying to conceive before we were really "ready," knowing that we didn't have much of a choice. And then we pursued clomid after only three months of trying on our own. I'm really grateful that my doc had that straight talk with me.

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    1. You know what? It does seem like the only women I know who had a real head's up from a doctor were those diagnosed with either PCOS or endometriosis at a young age. I guess it's the "unexplained" people with no real issues that really get caught off guard the most.

      And yes, there should be more warning about using BCP's for so long too. Some people have no problems coming off of it, but a lot do. I was on it for 10 years before stopping at age 30 and I swear it's like my body forgot how to even make hormones on it's own.

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  21. Hi! I wanted to email you about the post you left, but didn't know your email! (wasn't sure if you would go back and check if i commented on it). I do know of that website, how cool she wrote a book too! That is so awesome she started that at Joel's church!
    It is definitely a need in all churches! I'll be in your town this weekend :) Yay for austin!

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    1. Hope the group went well! We will keep the sun shining brightly for you here in Austin. It's supposed to be sunny and mid 90's all week. A little hot, but gorgeous! Enjoy your family this weekend!

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  22. Happy Birthday my friend!!!

    I love that you wrote this post because I completely agree with you!! I think the more information the better, and it is healthy to be well informed. I always say I don't like to make decisions until I have all the information, but when it comes to fertility education I think a lot of information is lacking. It is all focused on preventing unwanted pregnancies, and hardly anything on infertility. I posted about how women's fertility declines with age and my 29 year old best friend said that was the first time the thought every crossed her mind that her time was limited. Not to mention we see so many famous people (like Halle Berry) having children late in life and we assume we can all be so lucky!

    Great post :)

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    1. Thanks mama! Yes, Halle Berry...I was watching her in a recent interview and she says, "This pregnancy was a total shock to us!" The interviewer with a confused look says, "Oh really?" I could tell the interviewer was confused as if she knew she'd had to have help at her age. Then Halle says, "Well, yes because we just didn't think it was going to be possible anymore."

      Um yeah, she made it sound like she got pregnant by accident or something, and I'm 99% sure she had to do IVF. Comments like that from celebrities blur the lines to what it's really like to TTC in your 30's and 40's. Drives me insane, because that is what the public hears and doesn't know any different unless they've been educated themselves or had a friend go through fertility treatments.

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  23. #1 New follower!
    #2 Happy Birthday! (belated)
    #3 Yes, i feel the pain of turning 35 and still not having any tiny human beings running around... and yes, if i had known, i would have thrown out the BCP a LONG time ago. SIGH.
    I'm excited to follow/catch up on your TTC story... we are doing our first IVF this summer. :)

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    1. Hi Shay! Welcome and thanks for reading! :)

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  24. God yes. My mom had me (her first and only) at age 41. Back in 1971-1972, of course they didn't do IVF or things like that. I was just her lucky baby. She never told me anything about difficulty getting pregnant or anything-- and she passed when I was 17 so obviously we didn't have those conversations back then. Anyway, I thought if I got started by the time I was 40 I'd be fine... and I got started "early" at 38! What a shock to read all those statistics. I wish, wish, wish I'd known I needed to hurry instead of lollygagging.

    Sigh.

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