PLEASE NOTE: If you are struggling with infertility or are currently trying to conceive and you DON'T want to read about my pregnancy (which I totally understand), I recommend starting at the beginning of the blog (March 2010) and reading from there. I find out I'm pregnant in June 2011 so there is a lot of trying to conceive posts in between that you might find funny, helpful or relatable. Wishing you all the luck in the world!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

No Cheese. Just Whine.

This past Sunday, we got the call that the embryo transfer would be on Monday, Memorial Day and that we still had just the one embryo. The three immature eggs they tried to fertilize were unsuccessful so all our hopes, dreams and money were now riding on the Rudy, the Lone Embryo (the sequel). Are there such things as Memorial Day miracles? Anyone remember any television specials on the subject?

The nurse I spoke to didn’t know the quality of the embryo. She just said, “Be here tomorrow at 11:30am unless we call you and tell you otherwise.” And I knew what that meant. It meant that calling me and telling me otherwise would mean that there were no embryos left to transfer. For the remainder of that day and the next morning, I hoped that my cell phone wouldn’t ring. This is the exact opposite of how I was when I was single but obviously, things were different then.

When Monday morning arrived, we headed to the clinic and despite the fact that I hadn’t received any calls to the contrary; I was still terrified that more bad news was to come. When I spoke to my parents on Saturday night to bring them up to speed, my dad said, “You really can’t catch a break, can you?” I know he said this out of frustration for me, which I appreciate but that sentence has echoed in my head over and over ever since he said it. Probably because it feels that way: I can’t seem to catch a break and when I do, it feels like it just prolongs the torment.

It only takes one… but I paid for more.
At 11:30, we walked in and I gave the receptionist my name. She put a bracelet around my wrist that had my name and birthdate on it. I figured if she was doing that than we must still have something to transfer. As she fastened it, she looked at me for a second and said to me, “Why do you look so sad?” I was completely taken aback. My first though was ‘Is she f*cking kidding me?’ Where to begin? I’ve been trying to get pregnant for two years! I’ve just spent all my savings. The odds of this working are close to none. This nightmare feels like it’s never going to end. I had an entire laundry list of reasons that I didn’t feel all smiley at that moment. However, instead of telling her all this and risking having a crying fit in the waiting room, I responded with, “I’m Catholic. We’re always sad.” She laughed as I quickly backed away from her and found a seat.
After a few of us changed into our gowns, we were told to follow the receptionist to a separate waiting room that’s outside the procedure room where the transfers were to happen. As we were walking, a nurse called my name and told me to stop. I turned around and she was standing there with a phone in her hand. “It’s for you.
Of course, I thought it had to be either someone calling to tell me that I had nothing to transfer or it was the president calling to give me instructions on a secret mission. Really – this call seemed so dramatic and bizarre, I had no idea what to expect. Shockingly, it was my doctor who was the last person I expected to hear from simply because I haven’t heard from her at all this entire cycle.
With regards to the clinic I’ve been going to, you go in, you get blood work and you get instructions through a nurse later that afternoon. Then, when you start getting sonograms, you get whoever the doctor is on call. The same goes for the retrieval and the transfer. As it happened, my doctor wasn’t there for any of that. I have no doubt she’s been involved behind the scenes and making decisions here and there but truth be told, this phone call was the first I ever actually spoke to her since we started this round of in vitro.
Her first sentence was, “Well, the fertility report wasn’t what we had hoped.” Gee, there’s an understatement.
She continued, “You do have a beautiful 8-cell embryo though and I’d rather have one 8-cell embryo than two 6-cell embryos’s any day of the week. All in all though, we’re going to hope this cycle works but if not, I think its clear there’s an egg quality issue that we’ll need to treat and there’s a few ways to do that.
I must point out that I’m standing at the nurse’s station in my hospital gown right as I’m about to go into my transfer and I’m being told that I have one great embryo, shitty eggs and if this cycle doesn’t work (you know… the cycle that I’m still currently in), I’m going to need to spend thousands of more dollars I don’t have. Not to criticize but I’m not sure if this is the ideal time to be having this conversation.
I said to her, “You realize that you had me to the estrogen priming protocol and you added Menopur to my stims and it didn’t do anything to help in the least. We had the same exact response as I had with my clinical trial, which wasn't even tailored specifically to me... and was free by the way. Also, I’m happy to hear you have other suggestions as to what we can do going forward, but I don’t have any money. I just spent it all on this. We have absolutely nothing in our savings account.”
Her response? “Well then I guess this one has to work.

Ummmm, yeah. That would be nice, wouldn't it? If only one of us could make that actually happen.
We made some closing statements to our call and I hung up completely dumbfounded, pissed off and as always, hormonal. I walked into the hallway and there was the receptionist who had asked me why I looked so sad earlier. She handed me a cap to put on my hair and she said to me, “Look. Take a deep breath. You wouldn’t be here if they didn’t think there was a chance this could work so try and think positive.” It was at that moment, I burst into tears. So much for having a positive attitude.
I appreciated her pep talk (or at least her attempt at one) and I know that when it comes to infertility, this is how it is. It’s emotional, expensive, and more than anything, there is no logic. Really. I’ve heard stories of women having tons of amazing embryos that never get pregnant and then I’ve heard stories of women who had only one halfway decent embryo that went on to have healthy babies. You just never know and you have to hang in there. The trouble is I’m all out of pep and I’m fresh out of hope.
No more money. No more insurance. Three IUI’s. Three In Vitro’s. No pregnancies ever. And now, if my eggs have been determined as crap, we have to figure out how to handle that. Yes, I know there are donor eggs, but they cost $4000 and even then, even if we could afford that, we STILL have no guarantees it’ll work or that we don’t have yet another undiagnosed problem. If my life were a VH1’s Behind the Music, this would be the point where I started a cocaine habit.
I’m going to follow the instructions, do whatever I can in this two week wait that I think might help and hope for a downright miracle but this, my friends, it the lowest I’ve ever been. I’ll get through it, as we all do, but today, at this moment, I honestly don’t know how.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Déjà Vu All Over Again

When bad things happen, I find there’s no other way to break them to people other than just saying it. So, here’s the deal…

My fertility report was as follows:

13 Eggs (the most I’ve ever had)

10 Eggs Mature

1 Embryo

Yes. The same thing that happened last time has happened again. Rudy – The Sequel (http://the2weekwait.blogspot.com/2011/02/rudy-lone-embryo.html). Good amount of eggs – one embryo. After an entirely different protocol, switching to a new clinic & a new doctor and after many additional tests, we have the very same result. The only difference between this cycle and last cycle though is I’ve just spent my entire savings account.

When I heard we had 13 eggs yesterday, I had learned my lesson from last time and did not get excited or enthusiastic about it. My mantra was, “I’ll wait and see what the fertility report says.” I’m glad I did this as obviously, the outcome was the same. Mind you, keeping my feelings in check doesn’t make this any easier but I’m pleased that I at least went into this realistically.

I even had dreamed last night that my doctor called, told me the report was a disaster and yelled at me about it. “What did you do? Did you follow my instructions?” I woke up shaken and nervous. As soon as I got the call today and I heard the tone of voice the nurse had, I knew it wasn’t good. Frankly, right now, nothing with me ever feels good these days. I just can’t believe I’m now getting charged so much to feel like a failure. “Well Jay, this is the second time this has happened so it’s got to be you. Now give us $10,000.

A doctor from the clinic (not my doctor but the doctor who did my retrieval) called me minutes later letting me know that they are going to try “immature ICSI” on the 3 immature eggs. Basically, they are going to try to still fertilize the 3 immature eggs and hope that something comes of it. That would be nice but am I hopeful? Nope. Not really.

Obviously, something is going on if this has happened two separate times at two separate clinics. Will the doctor’s ever know why? Probably not. They’ll probably just tell me it was bad luck again. I guess I’m just lucky in an unlucky way. I am a negative miracle. Go me.
Yesterday, before the retrieval, they gave my husband a piece of paper with instructions with regards to him giving his sperm sample. The paper told him to take a shower before heading to the clinic and to “Be sure to wash your penis, anus and scrotal area.” When I broke the news to him today that we only had one embryo, we just sat there looking at each other. Even though neither of us cried, the pain in the air was palpable. After a few solid minutes of this, we tried to work out what to do or how to feel. In an effort to break this tension, Sam said, “Well, at least I have a clean anus.

When a clean anus is your only source of comfort, you know things are bad.

I was also supposed to talk to one of my closest best friends today. I describe him as the Will to my Grace. We’ve been friends since college and yes, he’s gay. I mention this because I texted him this morning that I wasn’t able to chat this afternoon. I told him what was going on and he said he understood. My final text to him was, “Only straight married men should be subjected to crying hormonal women.”

So, let’s just quickly review: One uterine polyp, two years of trying, three inseminations, three IVF’s (the 1st had the least amount of eggs (5) with the most amount of embryos (3), the second had 10 eggs, 1 embryo and this one had 13 eggs (the most so far) with again, only one embryo) and absolutely no pregnancies of any kind.

Oh… the trying to conceive humanity.

Many of you have been reading my blog for a while. So many of you have been so beyond lovely with your time, emails, comments, texts and especially with your medication donations. Even recently, I came home to find a package filled with two chocolate bars and super nice soap. I don’t know who sent this as there was no note or return address but I REALLY appreciate it. You’ve all been generous enough to share with me your stories, your experiences and at times, your hope. You’ve supported me and laughed with me. I will never, ever be able to thank each of you enough. So, this may sound crazy but I need to say this to you: I’m so sorry I don’t have better news. This story deserved a better ending for all of us.

Yes, we have one embryo (so far) and I know it only takes one. Trust me – I know this as we all said this the last time this happened. The trouble is I’m out of pep talks. I am searching to find the enthusiasm I mustered for the first Rudy, the lone embryo and it’s beyond difficult. We’ve been exactly here before and it didn’t work. Nothing has worked and at this moment, it feels like nothing ever will.

Throughout this whole journey, I’ve always tried to see the humor in things. However, this is one of the few times I’m struggling (although I did make an anus joke so you’ve got to give me some credit).

I know in my heart I’ll get through this and I think in times like these, that’s all you can cling to. You can’t have hope or faith in what you can’t control but you can have hope and faith in yourself. I’m hurting desperately (as if it isn’t obvious) but I know, somehow, I will get through this. I haven’t figured out how yet (other than chocolate, alcohol and endless crying) but it’ll happen.

So, as I end today’s sad little blog entry that is clearly bereft of hope, I again want to thank you for being there. I know we don’t know each other personally but your presence in my life has been immeasurable. I promise to keep you posted.

In the meantime, if it isn’t clear, my diet is so the fuck out the window.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Infertility Football

If you were to go deep into my subconscious today, you’d see a football game. The weather is overcast and the people in the stadium are not happy to be there but they're still interested in the outcome. The band is warming up and the cheerleaders are working on their cheers. "We're number three! We're number three!" They look at each other disapointed in how lame their chant is. They are all wearing “IVF” on their sweaters… as they have for the previous two games.

I take the field wearing an adorable football uniform (that has Spanx built in) and get into position. Suddenly, the head cheerleader bounces over to me and says, “Ummm, Jay?” She flips her hair. “So… the girls and I were talking to the band and ummm, well, we just can’t do it. I’m sorry.” She hands me her pom-poms. “Good luck though, kay'?” The band packs up their stuff, the cheerleading squad gets on a bus to go home and I stand alone on the field.

That’s how I feel about In Vitro Number three. I’m about to play another game and my inner cheerleader and her friends have blown me off. No music and no “Go team, go!” Just me, holding an infertile football, two deflated pom-poms and several Gonal-F pens with little hope and even less enthusiasm.

Tonight, we start stims (Gonal-F and Menopur) and for the first time in my fertility journey, I have such low expectations that it’s almost embarrassing. When I paid the majority of my IVF this morning and saw my Savings Account diminish to almost nothing, I didn’t think, “Here’s hoping this works!” Instead, I thought, “Well, there goes my savings. Maybe next time, I should just set my money on fire.

You know how they say all of a cocaine addict’s money goes up their nose? Mine appears to be going up my uterus and so far, it’s yielded no results. At least with cocaine, you are productive and lose weight. With estrogen, you cry over missing a subway and become as bloated as a dying Elvis. It’s simply not attractive.

Today, when I told my mom how I was feeling, she said, “I’m so sorry you have to spend your money on this. You could be using it to travel, to buy new furniture, a new vacation or even a down payment on your own home.” Although I truly appreciate her attempt to empathize and I know in my heart she meant well, she basically gave me a list of all the things I now can’t do or can't have thanks to our unexplained infertility. I swear, sometime her pep talks are downright depressing. It’s a good thing she never worked a suicide hotline.

Adding to the fun, one of my dear online friends sent me boxes of Ganirelix. Unfortunately, the person who delivered this package of goodness proceeded to put it on the radiator in our building... thus compromising its effectiveness. As you may remember, a few weeks ago, the dog downstairs ate a package that was sent to me… and now this. You must all think I live in a cardboard box in Times Square. Next week, I'll be telling you an homeless man ran off with my progesterone. Rest assured - I plan to address this. I’m going to have a serious chat with both the mailman and the dog. Four letter words and hand puppets will be used in each conversation to make my point clear.

As a side note, it goes without saying that if any of you kind blog readers have any extra Ganirelix lying around that you could spare, I’d sincerely appreciate you letting me know. I promise no one will eat it or cook it this time.

Now, getting back to our unexplained infertility… my husband and I got all our additional test results back this past Friday and we’re fine. No autoimmune diseases, no blood clotting disorders, no fragmented sperm: Nothing. Zip. Nada. We’re healthy. This is technically good news but it’s also frustrating as we still have absolutely no reason at all as to why I haven’t gotten pregnant after two years of trying, three inseminations and two IVF’s.

On top of this, it occurred to me recently that the fact that I’ve never been pregnant might be a bad sign. As far as I know, I've never even been pregnant for 5 seconds. I’ve had friends who have had miscarriages and/or chemical pregnancies. Mind you – I SO don’t mean to make light of either. I can't even imagine what that's like and for any of you who have gone through it, I'm truly sorry. The thing is, I can’t help but almost feel jealous that at least these know they are capable of getting pregnant.

And how sad and insane is that? I’m now officially jealous of women who have had miscarriages. What the HELL is wrong with me? I long for the days when I was just jealous of women who had great hair.

So, to sum up: Unexplained infertility + no pregnancies = Why should I believe this is ever going to happen for me? This is my fertilty theorem.

It really isn’t that I’ve lost hope (or my sense of humor for that matter) but this is my third time playing this game and frankly, I’d like to win for once. It sucks showing up to the same field over and over again being the losing team. I have become the infertile Charlie Brown and I have no doubt that Lucy is going to pull the ball away again at the last second. Why? Because that’s all I ever known so far. I only know what it’s like to miss the ball. I only know what it’s like to lose the game.

The one major positive is that at least I’m still in the game… and it starts tonight. Even though I’m not gung ho, even though the band and the cheerleaders have left and are probably splitting a pizza somewhere gossiping about who is sleeping with who and even though the odds are against me winning, I’m suiting up and plan to play the best I know how. Here goes nothing… WE'RE NUMBER THREE! WE'RE NUMBER THREE!

* Please also check out my piece this week on Fertility Authority called, "HOPE IS A FOUR LETTER WORD" at: http://www.fertilityauthority.com/blogger/jay-bronte/2011/05/19/hope-four-letter-word

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Places You’ll Go To Give a Sperm Sample (Dr. Seuss Style)


By most standards, “Estrogen Priming” is when you’re asked to wear a patch containing estrogen to down-regulate your Follicle Stimulating Hormone receptors before an IVF.

To me though, “Estrogen Priming” is when you decide to spend the week before you start your latest IVF by watching movies such as Thelma & Louise, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones's Diary and The French Lieutenant's Woman.

Since we’re currently on “Estrogen Overload” at our house right now, I thought we’d do something a little testosterone related on the blog. That’s right -- this one is for the fellas and the women who love them (and their sperm counts)!

I’m very proud to say that not only is the below written by my very funny and talented husband but it’s also about the many places you’ll go to produce a sperm sample. Even better, it’s written as a Dr. Seuss book! Why you may ask? Why the hell not! When it comes to struggling with infertility, there’s no reason not to get all ‘Cat on the Hat’ on its ass!

So go to the kitchen, make yourself some green eggs & ham and enjoy!

Oh, the Places You’ll Go! (To Give a Sperm Sample)

Oh the places you’ll go!
Most of you will never know.
Just to give a sample,
One that is ample.
One that will do the job,
One that will get you a boy named Bob,
Or Judy, or Rudy
Or Harry, or Larry

You’ll give a sample in the lab,
Maybe in the back of a cab,
Perhaps on the train,
Possibly in the rain.

You’ll give a sample to a nurse,
Carry it in a purse,
And I have a hunch,
You’ll give one at lunch!
Maybe two at night?
You know I’m right.

You’ll do it on the spot,
You’ll do it when it’s hot,
You’ll do when it’s cold,
You'll do it to porn that’s old!

You won’t believe what it can take,
For the baby you want to make.
In a coffee shop or a diner,
Even in North Carolina!

If you want to give a sample at home,
Just make sure you unplug the phone!
It could be your Mom or Dad,
Which would kill any mojo you had

So do what you can,
To step up and be the man.
Give it your very best,
Just don’t make a mess.

You won’t believe the things you will do,
To give a sample of you...


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mothering Myself

Last night was the end of a LONG day. It was around 9:45pm and I was standing backstage at a show I was hosting in the city. I leaned against the wall, closed my eyes and started to think about how happy I’d be the instant I got home, took off my heels, control top pantyhose and the bra that makes my boobs look fabulous, but at this point in the day, were slowly strangling me. Beauty and comfort don’t seem to go hand in hand, do they?

In addition to dreaming about putting on sweats and never taking them off again, my mind wandered to what I’d eat for dinner that night. When you’ve been dieting for a while, fantasies are no longer about winning the lottery or having sexual relations with your favorite hot actor. They are about food. Last night, I was picturing cheese cake. What toppings I’d put on it. Would I eat it plain? Would it be American or Italian style? Oh, the things I’d do to that cheese cake! “You like that cheesecake? I bet you do…

When I got to the part of showing my imagined dessert who was boss, I was interrupted by the next performer reminding me that I needed to bring him onstage in a few minutes. My imaginary cheesecake quickly morphed into a plate of grilled vegetables. Dammit.

Any big plans this weekend?”, he asked.

I almost told him that I was going to start estrogen priming on Mother’s Day for my third IVF but as I studied this 21-year-old hipster who had a t-shirt on that read, “I’m not a proctologist but I know an asshole when I see one!”, I was pretty certain he wouldn’t appreciate my plight nor the irony that I would begin estrogen priming on Mother’s Day so I responded with a simple “Not really.

He then went on to give me what felt like a four hour dissertation on his weekend. I sensed he asked me about my weekend solely so he could tell me about his. Eventually, he got to how he was sending his mom flowers for mother’s day. As he blabbering on about how pissed he was about how much money it cost, I thought to myself how great it would be if we had a “Mother-in-Law’s Day” where instead of sending flowers, we sent poison ivy.

As I pictured my mother-in-law scratching her hands and smiling to myself, Mr. Hipster asked me, “So... are you a mother?

I was in no mood for this question and without much though, I responded with a snarky, “Does a funny mother fucker count?

He chuckled briefly and then stared at me with a confused and somewhat afraid expression. I’ve been getting this look a lot lately.

Last month, I saw an interview with Oprah on the OWN channel where she talks about the universe trying to communicate things to you. She says it starts as a whisper and the more you ignore it, the louder it gets. I turned to my husband and asked him, “What do you think the universe is trying to tell you?

The universe is telling me to change the channel. The game is on.” he answered.

Now although I don’t know if I completely agree with Oprah’s theory (lord knows my husband doesn't), I do feel like I may have recently experienced the point she was trying to make.

In the last year of our trying to conceive, I’ve heard stories here and there about the effect autoimmune diseases have had on women trying to get pregnant or various anecdotes of women who have done multiple in vitros and then after the third, fourth or fifth one, they finally get a test that explains what the issue has been this whole time.

It’s because of this that every doctor I’ve gone to, I’ve asked if they could do autoimmune testing and every single doctor has said they don’t think it’s relevant and/or that they don’t “believe” in it. This cracks me up. I realize that finding something may not always help or that data on autoimmune diseases may be up for debate but to totally not believe in it? It’s not Santa Claus people. It’s a blood test for crying out loud. If you can test for something, then it exists.

So, what seemingly started as a whisper, in the last couple of months especially, became louder and louder. I started hearing more and more stories on this subject. Several found out they had a blood clotting disorders well into their trying to conceive efforts. Others found out that they had an autoimmune issue that created implantation problems. A few found out through a laparoscopy that showed one thing or another standing in the way of conceiving. I was reading about it on Twitter, on other people's blogs, in emails I was receiving and in people I was talking to.
In fact, this past Thursday night, the night before I hosted the show that wouldn’t end, my acupuncturist told me a story about a client of hers that had done five in vitros and who was about to do her sixth when she went to a doctor who did autoimmune testing. Previously, she had gotten pregnant three times through IVF but they all ended in miscarriages. When her recent blood work came back, they found out that her body was attacking any of the embryos they would transfer so they addressed the problem; she ended up getting pregnant naturally and is due in two months.

After acupuncture, I headed home and started thinking about this story. I thought about how they still don’t know why I haven’t gotten pregnant. That there aren’t even any real concrete theories. I started to think about how much I’m not looking forward to this third in vitro. That the term “estrogen priming” sounds like something you do with a pump and that Mother’s Day was this weekend and the thought of it was almost too much to bear.

Then, in the middle of the night, something happened that I can’t remember ever happening to me. I was dreaming about one thing or another (probably another kind of dessert I wish I could eat) when I woke up in a panic. It was like my subconscious was screaming at me. “Jay! You’ve GOT to get more blood work! Insist on getting these tests! Do it now! NOW!

I’ve been known to worry. I can even obsess if I’ve got the time but this was different. This didn’t feel like I was scaring myself needlessly. This felt like I couldn’t be comfortable proceeding with this next in vitro without having additional tests done. Actually, it was stronger than that. It felt like my body was yelling at me that if I didn’t get this done, this next in vitro would be sure to fail. Obviously, this may not be true at all… but that’s not how it felt. I was a woman possessed.

I sat and stared at the clock waiting for it to be 9am. As soon as it was, I immediately called my clinic and left the following voice mail, “I know my doctor doesn’t feel autoimmune testing is necessary but I want it done. I also want any tests for blood clotting disorders. I’m about to spend my entire savings on this in vitro and I need to make sure we are covering all our bases. I don’t care how much it costs or when we do it, I want it done. Thank you very much.” Short of asking for a pony, a hug, and a slice of coffee cake, my message was clear: I wasn’t taking no for an answer.

I'm happy to report that at 1pm yesterday, I got all the blood work I requested. I also got that same look that Mr. Hipster ended up giving me later that night but frankly, I don’t give a shit. I don’t care if the whole clinic thinks I’m crazy. I had to have this done. I just had to.

Even though the rest of the day, I felt like crap (they took A LOT of blood), even though I did an entire show with a big ugly bruise on my right arm from where they drew the blood, even though these tests may not show anything, even though they are still more tests I could and maybe should do and even though this third in vitro may be the death of me, I’m still relieved I got them done as it’s that much more we can cross off the “Why the fuck can Jay not get pregnant?” list. And if they DO come back with something, anything that might help, then I’ll be that much more insanely relieved.

After the show, I was on the subway home and thought about the “Are you a mother?” question. I thought of a few more colorful answers like, “I’m a fairy godmother” or “I am a mother but I just don’t have kids yet.” or “Isn’t obvious? I’m a sexy mother fucker! Awww, yeah!” and then, out of nowhere, I had a thought that’s a tad silly but it brought me comfort.

I thought that, in a way, by insisting I get these tests done, I was my own mother. Of course, I have a mom. One that thinks I’m cursed (thanks mom!) but one who I’m close with and love dearly. Still though, right now, I’m mothering myself. I’m looking out for my best interest. I’m making sure that I’m getting the attention I feel I need. Hell, I’ll even give myself milk & cookies on the days that I need it! With regards to my fertility issues, I am my own mom and that’s actually kind of nice.

One quick final note, if you’re someone who is struggling with infertility, I wrote an “Infertility Contract” for the Fertility Authority this past week. It’s a contract you make with yourself in an effort to keep yourself sane during this insane time and I recommend you check it out: http://www.fertilityauthority.com/blogger/jay-bronte/2011/05/03/infertility-contract

And of course, if you’re someone who is a mom or soon to be a mom, then I truly wish you a very happy mother’s day. I am living vicariously through you and hope that you’re good fortune will rub off on us all!