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Archive for August, 2012

Infertility Podcast Series: Journey to the Crib: Chapter 24: I Look Pretty Good in Scrubs

By David Kreiner, MD

August 31st, 2012 at 9:54 am

Welcome to the Journey to the Crib Podcast.  We will have a blog discussion each week with each chapter.  This podcast covers Chapter Twenty-Four: I Look Pretty Good in Scrubs. You, the listener, are invited to ask questions and make comments.  You can access the podcast here: http://podcast.longislandivf.com/?p=126 

I Look Pretty Good in Scrubs 

It is easy for an IVF partner, male or female to feel left out of the process.  After all, the IVF patient is the focus of all of the attention of the physicians and nurses, from the initial consultation and exam to the testing, ordering of medications, monitoring, etc.  

I have seen partners, who busy with their own jobs, appear to neglect their loved one who is going through IVF.  Unfortunately, partners are much needed for their support during this critical and stressful time. In some of the worst examples, I have seen relationships suffer as the IVF patient undergoes the entire process alone building resentment that can be difficult to overcome. 

I have also seen partners get involved by accompanying the patient for her office visits and procedures.  Many partners pride themselves with their new found skill in mixing hormonal medications and administering injections for their partners.  It helps those especially who are used to caring for their partners to be in control by administering the medication for them.  Whether it is the feeling of “playing doctor” or the knowledge that they are contributing significantly to the process, most people relate to me that giving their partners the injections was a positive experience for them and their relationship. 

The feeling can be euphoric when partners accompany the IVF patient to the embryo transfer.  Many women feel that at this moment… when the embryo is transferred into their womb… that they are pregnant.  Life may be starting here and it is a wonderful opportunity to share with your partner.  

I strongly recommend that you don those scrubs, hat and booties and join your partner as the physician transfers your embryo/s loaded from the laboratory dish by the embryologist. Watch on the ultrasound screen as he carefully releases the drop containing your embryo/s into her womb.  Inside that drop may be your baby in nine months. 

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Was this helpful in answering your questions about the partner’s role in IVF? Do you have an experience you’d like to share about going through IVF as a couple?

 Please share your thoughts about this podcast here. And ask any questions.

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LIIVF Announces Fourth Early Entry Winner in Free Micro-IVF Contest!

By Tracey Minella

August 28th, 2012 at 11:48 am

It’s finally over. At midnight on Sunday night, the “Extreme Family-Building Makeover” Contest we launched during National Infertility Awareness Week in April came to a close.

Now all that’s left is choosing the Grand Prize winner of the Free Micro-IVF Cycle. A panel of LIIVF doctors and staff are carefully considering all entries, both video and essay, to make the difficult decision. The decision will be revealed one week from today…on the morning of September 4, 2012…right here on the blog.

If the winner is local, she may find out from one of the Long Island IVF doctors in person by a knock on the door. How exciting! So if you live on Long Island or in Brooklyn or Queens and haven’t already done so, please email Lindsay your home address (at her email address below). Don’t worry though. If the winner is local but is not home next Tuesday morning, she will not forfeit the prize. And as we indicated, you don’t need to be local to win. A prior winner from Georgia didn’t find out she’d won in person.

We know all the entrants are dying of the suspense. And we know we can’t really take your mind off the results. But we can provide a bit of distraction. First, by reminding you of our fun weekly photo caption contest, called Nearly Wordless Wednesday. Each week we put up a fun photo to caption and the person who submits the best entry wins a little gift card. It may be to Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts or McDonalds. Who knows? It only takes a minute to enter and you have all week to think of something since the contest is open until each Tuesday at midnight EST. So go over there now and try your luck.

The second way to distract you is to award the final early bird incentive prizes for entries received in August. Each month the essay and video entries that get the most “likes” and/or comments win an early entry incentive prize, or in the event of a tie, the prize is awarded at the discretion of LIIVF. Today’s prize is awarded based on August entries. August was a quiet month for video entries but many essay entries came in.

Congratulations to Valerie for her essay entry which had the most activity (i.e. comments/replies/likes) of all the August entries. Valerie, please email your full name and address to Lindsay at lmontello@liivf.com so we can send you your prize: a beautiful, hand-made fertility-themed necklace from Hoping Believing Waiting, identical or similar to this one.

Again, thank you all for sharing your stories. We hope getting your story out was therapeutic. An essay or video telling the story of your fertility journey will make a wonderful personal keepsake for the future, whether or not you win the Grand Prize.

We know it’s hard to wait. But at least it’s not a 2 week wait! Hang in there.

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What Armstrong/Aldrin and Kreiner/Kenigsberg Have in Common

By Tracey Minella

August 27th, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Many of you may be too young to remember the adventure of Apollo 11 and Neil Armstrong’s first step on the moon in the summer of ’69, beyond what your history textbooks tell you. I myself gave the historic moment only a few seconds of attention before rejoining more important kindergartener pursuits. But I do vaguely remember the sense of excitement and awe of the grownups gathered ‘round the 13 inch black and white television set. There was national as well as local pride as the lunar module built by Long Island’s Grumman Aerospace Corp. landed on the moon.

Only nine years later, the world’s first “test tube baby” Louise Brown was born. But in my household, news of her birth in 1978 was stifled by my parents who did not want to have to answer the reproductive questions of a young teen.

But I clearly remember my fascination as a young college kid when Elizabeth Carr, the first US IVF baby was born in December of 1981. She was a product of the Jones Institute in Virginia. [For some reason, that stuck in my head. A little mental note…”Got to go to Virginia for that if you ever need it”.] The story sparked much debate in the dorm. Little did I know then that I would need that technology myself… in another decade or so.

Lucky for me, I live on Long Island and was raised in Port Jefferson, the town where Jones Institute-trained Dr. Kreiner co-founded Long Island IVF with Dr. Kenigsberg in 1988. By the time I needed them in 1992, they’d already made history and brought Long Island its first IVF baby years earlier. No need for Virginia after all. Great doctors were literally in my own backyard! Like Armstrong and Aldrin, they were pioneers… not in space, but right here on Long Island.

So when I heard of Neil Armstrong’s passing on Saturday, and listened to the recounting of his place in history, and his famous quote, I couldn’t help but make some comparisons between the mystique of both the space program’s lunar landing and reproductive medicine’s “test tube babies”.

Both events had international impacts.  Both captivated the attention of the world audience, tapping into our emotions of shock, fear, and awe. Both boldly went where no man had gone before. Both could certainly be summed up in Armstrong’s quote: “One small leap for man. One giant leap for mankind.” What profoundly important advances of our time!

So, here’s to pioneers. Here’s to national heroes and role models. Thanks, Neil Armstrong.

And here’s to local family-building heroes as well.

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Where were you when Armstrong landed on the moon or when you heard the news of the first IVF baby’s birth?

Photo from NASA public domain//source: http://www.treehugger.com/clean-technology/neil-armstrong-first-man-moon-dead-82.html

 

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5 Ways to Protect Your Fertility from Environmental Toxins

By Tracey Minella

August 20th, 2012 at 1:41 pm

credit: Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot /freedigitalphotos.net

 

 

You never know what dangers may be lurking in the environment.

I grew up in the 70’s in a typical suburban American neighborhood of parallel tree-lined streets with houses on each side of the road. My street was the last one in the development… and the houses on my side of the street didn’t have other houses behind them. So, we had the premium lots. Dad said we paid more for them. No neighbors to deal with behind us. Just lots and lots of lush, never-to-be-developed-or-sold land. A right-of-way for the utility company. In fact, with all those tall, thick green trees, you could hardly even notice those giant electrical wires looming in the distance.

I lived in that house from just after birth until I was ten. My little group of grammar school friends and I played for countless hours in the woods below those wires in the days before organized play-dates. We played hide and seek, marked trails, and went sledding. We even had picnics on the huge, discarded wooden “spools” that the wires had been rolled in on. We’d stay out until our moms called us in for dinner.

Fast forward a couple decades to a grammar school reunion, where rumors over time get confirmed and puzzles sometimes come together…

You’ll be amazed to hear what happened to some of the kids from my neighborhood. Kids who all lived within a two block area of each other.

“Dee” was diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer. “Peg” adopted after having had countless miscarriages despite medical intervention. “Jan” could not get pregnant and never had children. “Penny” could not get pregnant and never had children. “Ron” and his wife had a child with autism. And then there was me, who also could not get pregnant. I’d had a miscarriage after IVF and another four failed IVFs before I finally had my two children…one with autism. It’s interesting to note that Ron and I, with no family histories of autism, lived in the “premium” lots– closest to those wires. And that’s only what we know of from this small sampling of the Catholic school neighborhood kids at this reunion. What if the majority of the neighborhood…the public school kids…had similar stories?

Coincidence?

We can’t turn back the clock, biological or otherwise. And we can’t always pinpoint the causes of our infertility or health concerns, no matter how many fingers may point at a particular suspected factor.

However, there are studies indicating real relationships between environmental toxins and infertility in both men and women. Toxins can affect a woman’s egg quality and the number of eggs she produces, and can negatively impact implantation of embryos.* In men, toxins can lower sperm count, motility and morphology (shape).**

There are things you can do today to try to minimize or eliminate the effect of some environmental factors on your fertility and possibly on your future children’s health.

Here’s five helpful hints to help protect your fertility:

  1. Avoid bad plastics, like BPA, which have been proven to disrupt the functioning of reproductive hormones. Some common sources are water bottles, the lining of canned foods, and even register receipts!
  2. Eat organic. “You are what you eat” is true, so avoid hormone-enhanced, pesticide-covered meats, dairy, fruits and vegetables.
  3. Use “green” household cleaners, or make your own from inexpensive ingredients like vinegar and baking soda. There are “recipes” on the internet.
  4. Take precautions or avoid prolonged direct exposure to known or suspected environmental hazards such as cell phones and other radiation-emitting devices, utility poles and wires, pesticides, volatile compound (VOC) paints and solvents. For the men, avoid sources of testicular heat including hot tubs, laptops on the lap, or jobs requiring close proximity to hot ovens.
  5. Be vigilant. Before you put it in you or on you, be sure it’s safe or healthy. Not just the obvious things like alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and excessive caffeine. Fragrances, personal care products and certain dental fillings are some other potentially harmful items.

Following these suggestions isn’t a guarantee of fertility, of course, but rather a recipe for general fertile-focused wellness. So, make the best and most healthful choices you can. Control what you can. Use common sense. Listen to that voice in your head if you’re uncomfortable about a situation that may impact your health. Err on the side of caution.

And think twice before buying that premium lot…

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When YOU look back on choices you made or circumstances in your past are there any factors you now think may have played a part in your infertility?

 

* http://www.fertstert.org/article/S0015-0282(10)02794-9/abstract

** http://www.ourstolenfuture.org/newscience/reproduction/sperm/2003/2003-0519dutyetal.htm

 

 

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Infertility and the Irony of Birth Control

By Tracey Minella

August 18th, 2012 at 9:14 pm

credit: brandon sigma/ freedigitalphotos.net

 

What better day than National Birth Control Day to look back at the time when we used to use birth control? Can you even remember?

The embarrassment of buying condoms, the gynecologist visits for prescriptions. Oh, what we went through just to be sure we would not get pregnant. Because really, that would be the worst thing that could ever, ever happen.

Maybe you even experienced a time or two of sheer hysterical panic worry over a birth control “lapse”. Isn’t it amazing how totally opposite surviving that “two week wait” is from surviving today’s two week wait?

And the money wasted!!! Why, if we only knew then that we didn’t even need birth control because some sinister infertile force was lurking within, we could have dumped all that money into the future fertility treatment savings account instead. Heck, we could have steamed up all the car windows with reckless abandon.

When I think of the years on birth control, the irony kills me. I imagine the fertility gods laughing at me behind my back. Well, not really, but you know what I mean. I feel a little stupid, like life made a fool of me, and I resent feeling that way. Here I was the responsible one. We used birth control until we were ready to start a family. We had a plan.

Ha! A plan.

If we only knew.

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Do you ever feel resentful about the time and money you spent on birth control?

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IVF (and Life) Do-Overs

By David Kreiner MD

August 14th, 2012 at 10:20 pm

 

I was at a college graduation party for Rebeka, one of the first IVF babies I ever helped create. Her parents and grandparents beamed with pride, bragging about Rebeka’s achievements and plans while passing the hot wings and beers. I shared in this proud moment, feeling as if I bore some responsibility, since were it not for IVF, the party itself would never have happened.

Among the guests was a family friend, Conrad, who talked about the old neighborhood. He grew up inKew Gardens and I was from Queens Village and Floral Park. Conrad asked me if I remembered playing handball and what would happen when the ball hit a crack on the floor and took an awkward bounce away from its original path, preventing a player from returning the ball cleanly. “It was called a Hindu and you got to do the point over.” Yes, I remembered “Hindus” and “do overs” and thought to myself that it would be an ingenious concept if we could extend the “do over” beyond the game to life in general.

Who hasn’t come across some crack in their path that causes an unexpected detour? My patients grow up expecting that they, like everyone else, can create their own family when they reach a stage in their lives, perhaps married and financially and emotionally secure. When a woman does not get pregnant as expected, it’s as if she hits that crack in her path — just like the handball — and her life gets thrown off track. If only she could get that “do over” and set her life back on its rightful path.

We also see these “Hindus” in our IVF cycles especially when a patient develops an LH surge and her ovulation is accelerated so that her eggs and ovulation are affected prior to retrieval.

Perhaps we need to consider the “do over” rule. IVF is a great way to give a couple a second chance to replay their errant family building when a “crack” in their fertility prevents successful procreation.

Fortunately, Rebeka’s parents got a “do over” and now, 22 years later, are celebrating their baby’s college graduation.

Life can throw a lot of cracks in our path that will detour us along our way. We should help each other by offering “do overs” whenever we have the opportunity.

 

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A Disney Movie About an Infertile Couple

By Tracey Minella

August 10th, 2012 at 2:45 pm

credit:digital art/ freedigitalphotos.net

 

Disney’s new movie, The Odd Life of Timothy Green, opens this week and looks like a must-see for infertile couples. So, bring the tissues. Boxes of them. Better yet, bring a bucket. I can’t even get through the trailer without goosebumps and tears!

The trailer opens with an infertile couple, who has exhausted all medical options, receiving bad news from their fertility doctor. So they go home understandably devastated and contemplate the advice to give up. As they cry into their wine, they start to talk about the traits their child would have had. It becomes a big therapeutic vent session as they take turns quickly yelling out things like, “He’d be honest” and “Just once, he’d score the winning goal in soccer” and jot each one on a separate piece of paper.

Then they quietly, sadly put the papers in a wooden box, and go into their dark backyard and bury the box. (Floodgate warning: No couple who has experienced infertility will be able to hold back the tears.) They go to bed. The wind kicks up. The weathervane spins. Disney magic happens.

Come back after you see the trailer to answer the question below and you may be the random winner of a movie gift card. The Odd Life of Timothy Green opens this week.

Here is the link to the trailer* to experience the rest: http://www.traileraddict.com/trailer/the-odd-life-of-timothy-green/trailer

We realize it isn’t the same as enjoying Disney movies like CARS or Cinderella with your child. And the wait for that moment is maddening. But it is a diversion from reality and a little Disney magic for your infertility journey.

Never underestimate the power of pixie dust.

UPDATE ON MONDAY AUGUST 20, 2012: THE RANDOM WINNER, PICKED FROM ALL ENTRIES SUBMITTED, IS JENNIFER LAMBERTI. CONGRATS AND THANKS FOR PLAYING. PLEASE EMAIL LINDSAY AT lmontello@liivf.com to claim your movie gift card.

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The Big Question: What are the top three (3) traits YOU would put into the box if you were the couple in the movie? Give us three traits (i.e. honest, athletic, kind etc.) Answer in the blog comment section below and check back on the blog next week to see whose name got picked. (Not a facebook contest.)

All answers will be printed out, put in a hat, and one random winner will get a movie gift card!

*trailer link courtesy of TrailerAddict.com

 

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Long Island IVF Seminar Next Tuesday! Meet the Team!

By Tracey Minella

August 7th, 2012 at 3:37 pm

image courtesy of salvatore vuono/ freedigitalphotos.net

Have you been glued to the TV watching the Olympics night after night? Yes, they are exciting, but they’ll be over by next Tuesday. Have those awesome athletes inspired you to get off the couch yourself? Well, we can help!

The Olympics are a great diversion, but we can really help you get your mind off all the worry that comes with trying to conceive and failing. Is there a voice in your head saying there may be a reason why you haven’t gotten pregnant yet…but you keep ignoring it out of fear?

Well, don’t miss this chance to meet and mingle with the Long Island IVF team next Tuesday, August 14th, and get all your questions answered! Think about that. Free access to privately pick the brain of a Reproductive Endocrinologist. No co-pay. No check. No cost. Just listen, learn, and then ask your questions in private. It’s kind of like having your own Olympic “One Moment in Time” and dancing with destiny. Get it? The Whitney Houston Olympic theme song? [Wow. Tough crowd…]

Don’t sit there paralyzed by fear. Take control of your fertility. Why not spend some time with us learning all about IVF? After all, knowledge is power. We’re a very knowledgeable and approachable group.

So, why not grab a friend* and come down to meet some of our “Gold Medal” team… and we’ll give you a Starbucks card for yourself?

Can’t get your friends to come with you? Well, you still have US…and we’re the best friends someone suffering from infertility could ask for…we understand AND can help! You’ll get riveting, cutting edge fertility information from some of the most respected doctors, embryologists, and staff members in the reproductive medicine business. You could even make a new friend.

As if that’s not enough…we’ll have cookies. That’s right. So all you’re really giving up is the TV for part of the night.

While you’re at it, why not get familiar with the doctors and staff who may be helping you with a FREE MICRO-IVF CYCLE if you win the Grand Prize in our ongoing Extreme Family-Building Makeover Contest. See the April 23, 2012 post on this blog for details, or the Long Island IVF Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/longislandivf

Remember, after you’ve learned everything there is to know about IVF, you can have all your personal questions answered privately right after the speakers wrap up their quick presentations. And the best part is that you don’t even have to be a current patient to come! Just come in off the street. Have an early dinner and come over afterwards. Or swing by after work.

Have you been trying to conceive without success? Maybe suffered one or more miscarriages? Is your day 3 FSH in the stratosphere? Have other programs told you to give up?  Have they said you’re too heavy to conceive? Do you need info on grant programs and financing? Would you like to hear of contests where you could win great prizes like restaurant certificates and free or discounted infertility services? If so, you really need to come down and meet the some of our professional team.

Don’t you owe it to yourself to just check it out? When was the last time you could corner a RE and ask all your questions without them politely dashing out? For free.

Come on. We’re waiting for you. And your legitimately interested friend*…who, by the way, can’t be a spouse, partner, parent, child, pregnant neighbor, octogenarian, or octomom. (That would be cheating!)

Seminar begins next Tuesday, August 14th at 6:30 pm at: Long Island IVF, 245 Newtown Rd., Suite 300, PLAINVIEW, New York 11803

 We’ll be there ‘til the last question is asked and answered…or we run out of cookies…whichever comes first ;-) Be there. 

Photo credit: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/search.php?search=olympic&cat=

 

 

 

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Sisters and Infertility

By Tracey Minella

August 6th, 2012 at 11:25 am

Sisters are an important part of IVF.

If you have a good relationship with yours, she can be anything from your egg donor, gestational carrier, or surrogate to your shoulder to cry on and your biggest cheerleader. Raised in the same home, she likely shares your values, knows your dreams better than anyone, and has a sense of when you need space and when you need hugs.

On the flip side, if you have a bad (or no) relationship with your sister, the stress of infertility can make things worse. Especially if she easily had the family you’re still trying to have. Or if she married after you or is younger than you and she gave your parents their first grandchild. And it’s worse if she complains about how she wasn’t even trying to get pregnant with that fourth one…or gloats how her husband just has to “look at her” and she gets pregnant. Of course, if your parents show favoritism (or you imagine it), the frustration will grow even more.

Sisters don’t have to be related by blood. Some friends are closer than sisters. And for many, sisters are the friends you choose yourself. As an only child, I consider my closest friends to be my sisters and could not have gotten through my IVF years without them.

If you missed National Sisters Day yesterday, now is your chance to give your own sister a “shout-out” for her role in helping you along your infertility journey. She does so much for you. Why not let her know right now? I’ll start. Thanks to Lisa M., Rose, Lisa G., and my sweet sister-in-law, Sue, in Heaven.

Go on. It’s your turn now…

 

Photo credit: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=6610&picture=5-sisters

 

 

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The Importance of a Soul Mate in IVF

By Tracey Minella

August 3rd, 2012 at 8:13 am

courtesy of Rosen Georgeiev/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I should begin by applauding the single ladies doing IVF. I didn’t do IVF without a partner by my side, but had the circumstances required it, my desire to have a baby would have put me on the IVF road myself as well. I imagine you all having amazing strength simply for undertaking the challenge of single parenting, never mind the lengths you’re going to to make it happen.

But IVF with a partner is obviously very different. It must be… simply by nature of there being a relationship involved.

There’s the issue of blame. There shouldn’t be. But there often is. If one of the pair has the diagnosis, there’s often guilt to deal with. That’s never good for a relationship.

Sometimes, there are the issues of donation and third parties. Donor eggs, donor sperm, donor embryos. Or the need for a gestational carrier or surrogate. More complicated stuff.

There are almost always financial issues unless you are lucky enough to have generous insurance coverage. If your jobs don’t offer infertility insurance, or your employers aren’t supportive of your situation, there can be stress at work…which spills over into the home.

Then there’s the stress of watching other couples have it all. The baby you can’t have without the treatment. The house or vacation you can’t afford because of the treatment. Why you?

Infertility is isolating. It’s just the two of you. It’s like living long-term in that moment of your vows where you said “for better or for worse; in sickness and in health” but never thought the bad stuff would really happen to you.

For me, the lows were so low at times that I didn’t always appreciate my husband’s support while we were going through it. I was too consumed by the details, too worried about failing, too focused on the goal. Not focused enough on the guy at the end of that long needle each night. The one who quietly absorbed the brunt of my hormonal outbursts. The one who held me when the bottom fell out of the world. The one who never questioned my need to try again. And again.

There’s no doubt that infertility is one of the toughest tests of a marriage. Most couples that make it through successfully are surely stronger for it. I feel that most couples who come to the end of their journey together…whether it ends with a biological baby, an adopted baby, or a decision to remain child-free…proudly wear an invisible badge of marital courage.

But I feel for those whose marriages crumble from the strain of infertility. Would they have survived if not for those stresses? Would they have been one of those happy couples who skate through life escaping all real adversity? Or were they doomed anyway, and infertility just happened to be the blow to expose their already weak foundations? It’s hard to say.

Looking back, I wish I’d been better at stopping the world from spinning and re-connecting with my partner along the way. Try to do that. You are the only two who understand what you are going through and what is on the line. What you have to lose…what you have to gain. Don’t lose sight of each other when simply going through the motions of your treatment. Show your gratitude.

All journeys end. Most end happily, though not always the way we imagine happiness will be when we started. Then you get to look back on it years later and laugh at things you never thought you would. And realize you’d never have gotten though it all without your soul mate.

Happy 27th Anniversary to mine.

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What’s the one moment on your journey that you realized you were/were not with your soul mate? What would you tell your soul mate to thank him/her?

 

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