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Archive for the ‘Fraternal’ Category

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Post #1: What Happens After the Stroller? by Jennifer W.

Our story begins with two Aggies meeting on E*Harmony in 2005, and getting married in February 2006.  We started our family early; we had our first child in August 2006. While still getting use to our first son we were pregnant again.  Thinking nothing of it I went to the doctor to find out that we were having spontaneous triplets.  So I carried our triplets for 36 weeks 6 days and had the perfect pregnancy with no complication or limitations put upon me. Four months later we were pregnant again with our last child.  So if you are asking yourself, “I do not think they know how that happens!”  We do and we finally decided that we would have 20 children unless we had surgery to prevent that from happening.  So we are a family of 7 with 5 children under the age of 3.  When our children were small we called them the “zoo” because they were gated in our house.  Now that they are older we call them the “safari” because they roam my house.  You can find our adventures, experiences, and the confessions of a tired mother on our blog: The Wilcoxson’s.

JenW1 

After we found out that we were having triplets there were several things that went through our mind, one of them being that we could not logically escape being a minivan family.  With that dilemma out of the way we had to find a stroller.  We decided that we would get a triplet stroller and still have our single stroller as well.  The nice thing about strollers is that you have some protection from the public and some warning when the grandmother or curious mother gets too close to the stroller.  What happens when the stroller is no longer an option or something that your child dreads?

With our oldest almost 3 and the triplets turning 2 they are at the stage where they no longer want to be strapped into the stroller, but want some of the freedom that comes with being in a family with singletons.  With that want and need for independence my husband and I had to find a way to give that desire to our children.  Independence was not going to come at the cost of safety though.  Holding hands was not an option because my husband and I do not have enough hands.  We like to tell people that we cannot play man-on-man with our children but zone defense.  So the searching began. 

There was an option for leashes, but I could see that in the newspaper: “Mother of 5 decides to walk her children like a dog walker.”  We did not need anymore attention than we already receive when we are in public.  Then one day I was looking at educational toys on the internet and found the solution.  With a little engineering and some common sense we were going to make this work for us.  You see I found a toy for beading animals or cars at One Step Ahead.

14463_2We decided that a rope with 5 animals on it would do the trick.  So my husband and I ordered the beads, got some nylon rope and decided that we were going to put the tractor and the barn at the end so that mommy and daddy could have a bead as well.  Each child gets an animal and then there is a loop for their hand when they get older and do not want to hold onto the animal any longer.

JenW2

After we put our “leash” together we had to try it out before we went into public with it.  For about three weeks we walked to the mail box and around our street to get the kids use to the walking together and the distractions around them.  Then we moved up to using it at church for about a month.  Now my kids will not go anywhere unless they know that the animals are in the bag.  I am so proud of them because they do not let the animal go unless we give them permission and they do not let other people distract them from the “mission” at hand.

I have found that as our children grow older the independence and freedom that their singleton friends have will take some strategic planning on our part to give them the same freedom or a resemblance of that freedom.  No matter if we are in a stroller or walking we will always attract attention and people looking on like we are aliens from another planet because we have more than our normal quota of children in our society. 

Post #2: I Have Two Turning Three, by Alix

Alix is mother to nearly-three-year-old identical twin boys, Nathan and Max.  She spends her time in one of the following ways:  working from home (read: balancing her lap top in one hand while reading Cool Cars for the forty-seventh time while simultaneously microwaving leftovers for dinner), staying up late (read:  loading dishes and folding three hundred size-3T tee shirts), and relaxing (read: actually sitting down while the boys run circles through the house).  Luxurious, it is not.  But fun?  Oh, yeah! Alix works part-time, mostly from home and shares child care with her husband, a university professor.

I found out I was having identical twins at 9 weeks.  Just for the record, this is not a post about the always-humorous but repetitive “I fainted on the ultrasound table!” or “My husband threw up on the ultrasound tech!”.  Or even, “I thought I was having a heart attack!” (O.K., I actually did briefly think I was having one, but that’s for another post).  However, I will say that for the most part, the weeks following this very unexpected news are now a total blur.  One of the few distinct memories I have from that period is of my mother-in-law saying to me, “I’ve gathered that parents of twins say the first three years are the hardest.”  She wasn’t saying this in a patronizing way.  On the contrary, I think she felt a bit of the overwhelming sense of awe and fear that I’m sure I was feeling (but can’t really remember now).  THREE YEARS?? That moment I do remember.  That moment is stamped so clearly in my mind I can actually remember the glare of the fluorescent kitchen light overhead as I tried to absorb this concept (and, of course, failed).  Who can absorb three years??

Fast-forward to May 2009.  My identical twin boys, Max and Nathan, will be turning three in one month.  This is definitely not a post about how everything has suddenly become efficient, peaceful and orderly in our home, nor is it a post about how I pine for those oh-so-difficult-yet-magical early days with two babies (really, I don’t, but again, that is for another post).  Rather, this is a post about the evolution of our family, and the ever-changing challenges of raising two boys born on the same day.

My husband and I spent the first year or so reminding each other that the boys would eventually sleep through the night (they did), they would actually use the bathroom and thus eliminate the need for refrigerator-sized boxes of Costco diapers (again, they did) and would become more independent (still waiting on that but optimistic).  And at every point, we were surprised that the things we waited so eagerly for happened so quickly that we only remembered how eagerly we awaited their arrival after the fact.  I have no idea if this is the same for parents of singletons, but certainly we were so busy and exhausted that all sorts of things in our household were only noticed after the fact (lack of clean laundry, groceries, gasoline in the car, etc.).

The second year of the boys’ lives, the death grip of exhaustion lessened.  I was still nursing, but only in the mornings and before bed, which felt incredibly liberating compared to the hours I’d spent nursing every day during the first year.  The boys were now sleeping, eating regular food, and walking.  Somehow, though, people seemed to think that life must have gotten a lot easier for me than it really had.  People would stop me and say, “Wow, that first year with two must really have been rough, eh?”.  Or, “I bet you feel lucky to have survived that first year!”.  And as I madly chased after two toddling boys incessantly moving from one source of danger to another (and often in opposite directions), I thought to myself, “What the hell??  I’m still just surviving here, people!  Isn’t that obvious?!”  And my mother-in-law’s words came back to haunt me. 

And I knew then, I just had to make it to three.

And here we are.

I decided to host a birthday gathering for the boys, their first big celebration of this sort.  They are really excited to have a party, and I realize that I am, too.  I feel as though this celebration is for all of us.  We have made it this far.  We got to three.  We got to three!!

The boys’ third year will, I know, bring its own round of challenges.  The boys will start preschool in the fall and my husband and I are finding it hard to imagine not having them running through the house trailing laughter and chaos all day long.  This will be a big transition for all of us, one of many.  I remember a parent of twins saying to me, “The days pass so slowly, the months and years, so quickly.”  So true. 

Three, here we come.  I think we’re ready.

Post #3, By Sarah

My name is Sarah and I’m a mid-thirties mother of four.   After a seemingly normal full-term pregnancy, my first baby, Abigail, was born sleeping in June 2006.  In an odd twist of fate, I became pregnant with spontaneous identical triplets a few months after Abigail’s death.  Against the odds, the girls were delivered at 35 weeks, 6 days gestation.  I work full time in the wonderful world of tax and enjoy photography, writing and running in my very limited free time.  I currently blog about our daily craziness at http://thegreatumbrellaheist.blogspot.com/

Today, as I pushed over sixty pounds of toddler in our triple jogging stroller, I thought of that common question asked of parents of multiples everywhere.  When does it get easier?  If you peruse any message board for caregivers of twins, triplets and more, you will see that question asked over and over and the response is usually the same.  It doesn’t get easier.  It just gets different.  So now, as I listen to my three toddlers scream in their cribs because going to bed is such torture, I really do wonder when it will get easier.  My husband, Rich, and I have told ourselves that the magic age will be five.   It seems better than choosing three or four and then being disappointed and I don’t think I can make it to seven or eight. 

We moved into our current home approximately 18 months ago.  The girls, who were 6 months old at the time, began to share a bedroom.  It was a new experience for all of us.  My husband and I debate the room sharing situation on what feels like a daily basis.  We can discuss and theorize all we want – the hard truth is that our standard builder’s special only has 3.5 bedrooms.  The .5 room is an office and seeing as Grammy, my mom, sleeps over quite a bit, we only thought it appropriate to give her a bedroom.  That leaves us with three girls in one room.

I have good friends who are twins and they shared a bedroom until their early 20’s.  I remember being slightly jealous of their camaraderie because I was not lucky enough to have a sister.  I have convinced myself, through a sleep deprived thought process, that once the girls are older, they will enjoy sharing a room.  I expect there to be a lot of comforting going on.  You know what I mean.  One of them wakes up afraid of the dark and her sister will tell her that it’s okay.  Okay, maybe if I believe hard enough, it will happen.

When the girls were about 18 months old, we pushed their three cribs together to form a big square in the middle of the room.  We thought it would be fun for them to share books and dollies during that wind down period prior to falling asleep.  For the most part, this crib configuration worked out.   We experienced a few incidents of book stealing and book tossing.  And by book tossing, I’m referring to a book landing on someone (possibly on the head) while she is sleeping.  It’s not very pleasant – I can assure you.  But then there was the night that I crept into their room to check on them and found Emily and Allie holding hands through the crib slats, asleep.  My heart just about burst open.

We, unfortunately, separated their cribs last month after I caught Allie pulling Anna’s hair.  The girls didn’t complain too much about the new set-up – not that they really could, anyway.  We were hoping that having some space between them would lessen the number of times that they awaken each other.  It hasn’t.

Of course, having the girls share a room means that there is a constant source of entertainment for us when listening in on their conversations.  The latest phase is Allie, the oldest of the three by 30 seconds, telling her sisters to go to sleep.  That’s exactly how she says it.  “Emmy, go to sleep.”  You see, although my girls are genetically identical, their sleep habits are not.  Allie seems to require and/or want more sleep than Emily.  Anna, the middle child, varies.  Allie has decided that the other two should conform to her sleep schedule.  

So back to when does it get easier.  At six o’clock Sunday morning, an alarm went off in the girls’ room.  We keep a sound machine and a Bose CD player in there and apparently, one of the girls accidentally set the alarm while they were “exploring” their room before either nap or bed.  And by alarm, I mean the annoying beeping kind.  Rich ran in there to turn it off and optimistically thought he could sneak out unnoticed.  I listened to events unfold over the monitor from the warmth and comfort of my bed.  Rich picked up Emily, who was the first to spot him, hoping to prevent her from awakening the other two.  Anna started in on one of her uncontrollable crying jags while Allie yelled, “Anna, go to sleep.”

In some sense, life is easier, although different, now.  It is far easier for one adult to care for three toddlers versus three infants.  When mornings such as these occur, my husband and I take turns napping.  I can nap at any point during the day so I always offer Rich the first adult nap slot and I take the next one.

And yes, at almost 26 months old, my girls still sleep in their cribs without crib tents.  I am blissfully unaware of any attempts of crib escape.  Believe me, they will be sleeping in those cribs for as long as possible.

Do your multiples share a room?  If they do share a room and you had the resources, would you separate them? 

Post #4: Best-Laid Plans, by Jen from Diagnosis: Urine

I’m a freelance writer, and mom to a 6-year-old, 4-year-old twin boys, and a 2-year-old. I worked full-time until February 2007, and since then we’ve relocated for a job, lost that job, experienced unemployment, and have lived to tell about it. My blog, diagnosisurine.blogspot.com, is an attempt at entertaining people with my angst over transitioning from breadwinner and go-getter to stay-at-home mom to a tiny quartet of destruction.

Like many others before me, I was at my most knowledgeable during my first pregnancy. I had researched it all. I had a birth plan, an infancy plan, and a toddlerhood plan.

But, alas, “The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men…” You can guess how long my plans lasted.

Having twins two years later was like my first go-‘round all over again. I relearned everything, from the mechanics of breastfeeding to the mechanics of folding the double stroller. I did it while working full-time, mostly from home, while caring for a 2-year-old as well.

A baby’s cuteness blinds people to the reality of caring for a newborn. “Enjoy every minute of it!” kindly grandmothers admonish in the grocery store, and you smile and nod but fight back tears thinking of how very tired you are, and how the baby only sleeps when you’re out of the house, and how the longest stretch of sleep you’ve had in a week, is 30 minutes.

The baby-blindness goes double for twins. I remember getting a lot of, “Oh! You’re so blessed!” But I didn’t feel especially blessed. My boys were healthy and for that I was grateful, but in all honesty we’d tried for one baby, and we couldn’t afford two. I spent the twins’ first year steeped in guilt for all the times they cried and I could only comfort one of them, for the times I snapped at my daughter, for the way my marriage and the housework were neglected, and for the concessions my employer and coworkers had made for me.

When people saw me out with three kids under three and said, with a chuckle, “It only gets worse!” I wanted to cry or smack them, depending on the day.

I’m here to tell you the truth: It does get better.

My twin boys are four now. My oldest daughter is six, and we even added a fourth – our youngest daughter is two. I work for myself now, so I get to stay home and figure out my own hours. It is worlds easier than our lives were four, three, or two years ago.

Now, because I’m here to tell you the truth, I’ll also admit that it still sucks sometimes. There are speech delays, potty training crises, typical childhood phobias and obsessions that are only magnified by the presence of four children experiencing them simultaneously under one roof. Yes, there are days I hate this.

Today, for example, wasn’t out of the ordinary, but I’m three hours past the deadline for submitting this post. There were fevers and diarrhea and encounters with neighborhood dogs and trampolines, and minor squabbles and tricycle jousting, and that was in the course of about an hour. I do the best I can. Most of us do. Sometimes my best involves a “teachable moment” and a cute blog post with pictures, and other days it turns into me growling at the kids, each word punctuated with brief, terse silence; followed by a blog post lamenting my numerous failures.

So, in case this is the only post of mine you ever read – especially since I am late and will be lucky to be included at all – please know that it does get better. I promise you, what you go through during the newborn and toddler years with your twins is exhausting and punishing and of course it’s worth it, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. And it’s not 18 years away.

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I’m not much of a girly-girl.  I don’t really do makeup, I don’t have a purse or shoe collection. The SAHM thing means I spend my days in jeans and t-shirts.

By extension, it would seem, my daughter isn’t the girliest thing around, either.  I have a very pragmatic approach to dressing my kids, and I prefer casual and inexpensive clothes that let them climb and get dirty.  And my little girl, in particular, is quite a little monkey.  She’s very active and climbs all over the place.  Not only are frouf-y headbands and frilly dresses (with tights!) not my style, but they just don’t seem all that practical for climbing ladders and digging up handfuls of dirt in the yard.

But then, as all neurotic mothers will do, I start to wonder how I’m impacting my child and her view of herself as a girl. Am I imposing a “tomboy” label on her that has more to do with me than with her? Am I going too far in trying to avoid the stereotypical pinks and ruffles? Am I doing it more (or less?) because she has a twin brother? I don’t really think so.  She’s an active kid, there’s no two ways about it.  And plenty of her clothes are pretty clearly styled for girls.  But still, I wonder.

Silly girl

Now, as we approach her second birthday, she is once again letting me know how silly this all is.  Now that she knows her colors, she seems to be expressing a mild (but not exclusive) preference for pinks and purples.  She finds the baby doll in the pile of stuffed animals and gives it a hug and a kiss. She is (finally) letting me put a barrette in her hair to keep it out of her face. Of the two demands she will sometimes make in clothing choices, one is an insistence on butterflies (the other is her collection of Obama shirts… sometimes a little brainwashing isn’t so bad…).  And, of course, she still loves to run and bounce, she loves to kick a ball, she loves monkeys and pirates.

pink striped dress

And I have allowed myself to develop a love for dresses.  Still not the fussy, frilly (or expensive) type. Those still go too far against my fairly practical nature.  But a nice jersey knit from Old Navy?  Easy to wear and wash, and…. oh my lordy, so very cute.

21 Months

I will still try to keep checks and balances on how I impact my kids in terms of gender expression and stereotypes.  But darn it if that little dress isn’t fricking adorable.  And, at least now people don’t look at my kids and say “oh, two boys!”

What do you think? Do you struggle with clothing and gender stereotypes or practicality?  Do you just embrace it or ignore it?  Do you think your kids’ gender combinations (b/g, g/g, b/b, etc.) impact how you choose to dress them?

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It never ceases to amaze me how different my two kids are.  Of course, they’re genetically just any old brother and sister, so clearly they would be two different people.  But being twins, you still somehow expect them to be a bit more alike.  Even if you logically know there’s no reason for it.

There are the big differences: more than four pounds apart in weight, completely different body shapes, different coloring.  Their personalities are also very different from one another. My daughter is more independent and pushy.  My son, though bigger, is more sensitive and cautious (sometimes).

But what has made me laugh this weekend is the small things they do differently, and make you wonder why.  Clearly they’ve had the same mom this whole time, living in the same house, etc.  Their environment/nurture could hardly be closer to the same.  So is it really genetic that they would splash the water in the bathtub so differently?  Rebecca prefers a side-to-side wave motion, which my husband thinks indicates a future breaststroker.  Daniel is just straight up-and-down – maybe butterfly (or doggie paddle)?  They both do the sign for “more,” but Daniel’s is like two fists banging together while Rebecca’s is little tapping fingertips.

I know there’s no particular gene sequence that determines side-to-side bathtub splashing. But isn’t it funny, the things that seem to almost randomly occur?  We think so much about the influence we have on our kids.  And we do have a huge influence.  But then there are all these little things that you realize their little brains compute on their own, even if you’re trying to teach them the same thing at the same time.

What about you?  What funny little things do your twins do completely different from one another? Or what random things do they do exactly the same?

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File this one under “crazy things I shouldn’t waste energy worrying about,” but I figured some of you guys would know what I’m talking about.

One of the many things people love to comment on when they see twins is something like “oh, they’ll always have a playmate!”  “Friends for life!”  But as someone who had a little brother quite close in age, and as someone who fought like cats and dogs with said brother until we finally hit college and lived in different states, I have to wonder…  Is simply being a twin any kind of guarantee that my kids will be friends? That they’ll be close to one another?  I know, I know.  They’re only 12 months old. They steal toys from one another and scream.  That’s normal.  But I don’t feel like they even seem to notice when the other isn’t there.

There’s plenty of cute interactions, of course.

"Sharing" (grabbing) the dog's toy.

"Sharing" (grabbing) the dog's toy.

If one is being tickled or otherwise having a giggle-fit, the other will start laughing, too, even if they’re in the other room.  They babble and laugh at each other when I put them down for a nap (adorable, but sometimes frustrating). But aside from having their cribs next to one another, we never really co-slept them like I imagined I would.  As newborns, my son was much fussier and often slept in the swing.  Putting them together didn’t seem to provide any additional comfort, so we didn’t really do it.

But I wonder… are there things I can (should?) be doing to foster closeness between my different-as-can-be boy/girl pair?  I know it’s developmentally rather early for them to really play together, but should I try to encourage more activities together?  Obviously, they’re pretty much with one another all day, every day.  I’m a stay-at-home-mom, so it’s only one parent to two kids most of the time.  There’s no such thing as only one of them going for a walk or going outside on the swings.  If one goes, we all go.

And does it really matter? My brother and I were together plenty as kids.  Only 17 months apart, there were several years when we were home most of the day together, and we shared a room up until I entered first grade.  No matter. My brother and I could scarcely be more opposite.  I was a sensitive people-pleaser who liked arts & crafts and cooking, he was aggressive and athletic, and a biter for nearly two years.  We get along pretty well now, but I wouldn’t say that we’re close, and there was a solid 18-20 years there where we hated each other so much I can practically taste it.

I guess I just hope that my kids really do have that “special bond” that everyone talks about.  I’m no fool, I know it’s no guarantee against slammed doors and fights.  But it would be nice to know that, at the end of the day, they still want the other one around.  And I’m sure it’s just one of those parenting/life lessons: there’s only so much you can do.  You can encourage, you can provide opportunities, and then I guess you sort of have to just hope.

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They’ll speak their own language. They’ll feel each other’s pain. They’ll always have a special bond. They’ll always have a best friend.

Ask any twin parent, and they’ll testify; as soon as a multiples pregnancy is announced, those legendary lifelong predictions are made. The fascination with children that arrive in pairs is undeniable (seen any news on Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt lately?); subsequently, as a byproduct of all the associated assignations, parents expect, and often, project.

Last week, we spent the afternoon at The Playroom, a destination requested close-to-daily by our duo (and one conceived of and owned by a fellow twin-blessed family). As I strategically sat on the perimeter of the play area, I could observe a la Jane Goodall how my little monkeys behave in the wild. When one falls off the bounce house platform, does the other wince in pain across the room? Do they gravitate to the same structures and sensations? Are they a mini-herd unto themselves? After close to two hours of scrutiny, here are the results of my research:

They will pursue their individual interests…

(If they don’t offer a “zookeeper” option on future career days, I’m unsure what Darren will do…)

(Surrounded by bouncy castles and playhouses, God love her, Sarah still gravitates to the art supplies.)

They will dip toes into the gen pop pool and explore different opportunities with other members of the group…


(Or in Sarah’s case, at least share the art supplies with others…)

They’ll re-venture out for some solo time…


But at the end of the day, their lack of twin-language and synchronously experienced pain aside, they do share a special bond. They are each other’s best friend.

___________________________________________________________________________
Cross-posted from Twinfatuation

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I’m a planner by nature, so when we found out at 18 weeks there were two boys in my huge belly, I needed to know the answer to one question – are they fraternal or identical? My boys were in separate sacs with separate placentas, so an ultrasound was inconclusive. In addition to my twin pregnancy reading, I also read articles about the pros and cons of knowing zygosity. I came to the conclusion I wanted to definitely know their zygosity.

When the boys were born, they didn’t look anything alike. At all. We painted Nate’s toenail in the NICU as a precaution but we never re-painted it because no one ever got them confused. By the time the placenta test came back inconclusive, we knew in our hearts they were not identical but I needed scientific proof.  We ordered DNA tests and got to play CSI at home. As expected, the results came back and the boys are fraternal.

Shortly after the boys turned one, a crazy thing happened. Nate’s baby hair fell out and in came blond hair. Alex’s eyes turned from blue to brown. I now have one blond hair blue-eyed boy and one brown hair brown-eyed boy. There is no question on their zygosity. However, I’m still glad we did the DNA test. It just would have been nice to save the $175 in an already expensive year!

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Oh Gross!

(Just a little something to make you laugh, copied from my personal blog: adventuresintwinparenting.blogspot.com)

Allow me to set the scene this morning…

Breakfast was oatmeal and applesauce, pancakes and banana’s. Both Faith and Jonathan were covered in a sticky glue of banana, with pancake adhering too all areas where the banana had been. They were an absolute mess. So, I cleared my kitchen counters, and ran water in the kitchen sink. I think this is only the second time I have tried this, but I was desperate, and I really didn’t want to leave a crumb trail taking them upstairs to the big tub.

Thankfully, the baths went pretty well. Dried each baby off, and dressed them in their diapers. I decided that since they were playing so quietly, I could get the bottles washed and kitchen cleaned before I dressed them fully.

As I am finishing up in the kitchen, and preparing to tackle the messy highchairs, I see Jonathan pull himself into a standing position, using Faith’s diaper. I told him not too pull down her diaper, and caught a suspicious whiff of something foul.

I detour to the play room, and decide to change the owner of the smelly diaper, when I see Jonathan holding something centimeters away from his mouth. It looked like a squished bean, and as my hand reaches out to grab the “bean” away from his open mouth, my brain is shouting “but we haven’t had beans this week.”

“What an odd looking little bean…” I think to myself, as I take a identifying sniff. Yep, poop! Poop that he plucked out of the back of her diaper and almost ate!!!

I am so grossed out, but would have been more so if he had poop breath later in the day.

I formally announced to Faith and Jonathan (after scrubbing my hands in scalding water), that they must wear clothes at all times, because they obviously can’t be trusted to not eat poop.

I am still shuddering.

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