VBAC story from Jodi Mockabee

March 10, 2010


Redemption: How I got my VBAC (and so much more)

My story starts back twenty-plus years. Lots of young girls dream of their wedding, their dress, the flowers. Not me. From as far back as I could remember, I dreamt of my births. I dreamt of the miraculous way each body would enter the world, I loved everything baby-related.

Fast forward to February, 2006. My husband and I were giddy with excitement over our home visit with my midwife. We were planning a home birth, which was, of course, a part of my childhood dreams… somehow this stemmed from the inspiration of my mother giving birth to my oldest brother on the kitchen table (which has been graciously handed down to me, thank you, and if you’re shocked, well, you wouldn’t be if you met my mother). Everything was in order, sanitized, prepared. I had candles set everywhere as naturally, a pregnant body looks much more elegant birthing in candlelight. Two days later I was given the devastating news that our firstborn son was breech. Devastating may be an intense term to describe the moment, but being that this birth was what I had dreamt of for as long as I could remember, I was devastated. My midwife would not deliver a breech baby. We tried every possible action to get our son to turn. Acupressure, chiropractic, massage, stretches, handstands, swimming, floating, and our favorite: smoking mug root on my pinky toes (the best part is it smelled like pot, so we were pleased to circulate rumors in our neighborhood). March 7, 2006, our son, Carter, entered the world via-c-section into a bright, cold, and sterile room. It was far from what I had dreamed.

Regardless, he was there, with us, and he was beautiful. Two years later, we had moved from our country environment to the “big city”… our new insurance would not allow me to have personal midwifery care, but I was informed that I could try for a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean). This news was exciting to me as it is a growing trend in the medical community to ban VBAC’s. As the due date approached, I sadly felt a very familiar sensation: a head… in my ribs. My second son was breech as well. Again, devastated. I also knew this blew my chances for a VBAC in the future as two cesareans usually means your chances to give birth like a normal woman would are gonzo. March 21, 2008, our son, Everett arrived. The not-so-good news? His lungs were filled with fluid, a very common side-effect of elective cesareans…he spent four days in the NICU in which I had to sneak in like a ninja just to breastfeed him. The only word I could use to define the entire situation was unnatural. Everything about the process was completely unnatural.

We recovered, though, and eventually had two healthy, busy boys. One year later, I found out I was pregnant. From the beginning things were much different with this pregnancy than the previous two. At the end of my first trimester, we had a scare and thought we lost the baby. Come to find out, we had lost one, not both of them…that’s right, I was pregnant with twins! What a shock it was, but what a relief as well to know we had “fighter” in there. We found out weeks later that the fighter was a little girl. As my pregnancy progressed, my body did as well, in a way that was foreign to me. My hips spread, wide. The pants I wore all through the pregnancy with both boys wouldn’t even fit past my thighs. Something within me knew that my body was doing what nature had intended it to do, and a spark of hope stirred within me. This is when I decided to do all I could to fight for a VBAC. I’ll spare the details of my journey, but in the end, I was granted the opportunity to birth vaginally. I was elated. To add to my joy, my daughter very much cooperated with my new wide hips, had nestled head down and stayed there for the remaining time of my pregnancy.



We hired a doula as my husband and mother were quite nervous about me laboring at home (there is a slight risk for uterine rupture with VBAC’s). I wanted to labor as long as possible at home because I knew I would be on close watch at the hospital if I didn’t progress on their standard timeline… February 23, 2010, six days past my due date, had found me a miserable, tired, and grouchy mother and wife. I did what everyone advised against… I drank castor oil. I’ll refrain from all of the lovely details, but what I will say is that, by surprise, my beautiful daughter, Scarlett, was born near my bathroom floor (out of my very capable vagina, I might add), into the hands of her daddy. I held her on my chest, looked into her eyes, nursed her, talked to her, all while leaning against my husband. Her cord remained attached, her and I, still joined together for 20 minutes. My mom used chicken scissors to cut the cord, the doula delivered the placenta (which remains in my freezer to be planted–yes, you can gag, but at least we didn’t’ eat it), and we all sat shocked at the beauty of the VBAC that took place. Even though it took two very medical births to get there, we got the home birth I had always dreamt of…except this time, it wasn’t planned by me, it was given from her.

From Jodi Mockabee of The Bee Hive
Image via Design Crush

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Note from Design Mom: for the duration of my pregnancy, I’ll be posting advice, memories and stories about pregnancy, childbirth, adoption and growing a family on Wednesdays. You can find them all by clicking here. I’d love to hear your story or memory or advice, feel free to submit it to gabrielle@designmom.com.

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{ 2 trackbacks }

Mockabee Mocks the Naysayers’ Mantra of “Once a Cesarean, Always a Cesarean” « Mona Lisa Smiles' Blog
April 22, 2010 at 9:28 am
>A new sisterhood
September 7, 2011 at 10:05 pm

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Blogful March 10, 2010 at 1:07 pm

Having had two breech babies (and two c-sections of course) this story is very cheering to me. I really really want a VBAC and have been told so many times that it isn't going to happen. I'm going to keep looking and fighting. Thanks for the inspiration.

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2 Emily March 10, 2010 at 1:21 pm

What a beautiful baby girl and what a beautiful story!

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3 happyfamily March 10, 2010 at 1:41 pm

Yes, it is very cheering to me as well. Crazy that it's so hard to find anyone that will do a VBAC, much less a VBAC after two c's. Even in a city, where one might think there would be more options instead of fewer. I'm not pregnant with my 3rd yet, but your story gives me hope that next time around it'll be different…

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4 The Sweetest March 10, 2010 at 3:00 pm

I have tears of joy, right now. So beautiful for you and your family! I am reg with my second and hope to have a VBAC. Keeping my fingers crossed!

http://thesweetest3.com/

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5 Emmie {orange + barrel} March 10, 2010 at 3:33 pm

What a beautiful story. I want to deliver at home as well…one day when we have a baby.

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6 i*adore March 10, 2010 at 3:37 pm

This is such an inspiring story. I have never thought of delivering at home and actually, never thought it possible unless by accident. You've given me a new insight into what I'd like to call 'untold beauty' and for that, I thank you. :)

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7 mrs.notouching March 10, 2010 at 4:10 pm

So happy for you! And that baby couldn't be more adorable!

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8 Aurora March 10, 2010 at 7:56 pm

Thank you for sharing this story…my first baby was also breech and delivered by c-section (much to my dismay!) I am now pregnant with #2 and REALLY hope to be able to have a VBAC…my doctor is all for it as long as this one isn't breech too. Fingers & toes crossed! :)

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9 by Sara Hicks Malone March 10, 2010 at 10:19 pm

I'm so happy this turned out well for you, Jodi. I have a friend- however- who was determined to do a VBAC as well. Her uterus *did* rupture, her healthy baby boy got trapped without air before an emergency c-section, and now he suffers from cerebal palsy as a result. Is he still a blessing for her? Absolutely. But it absolutely kills her that he was born of CP because of those circumstances. There is a reason that so many hospitals refuse to do VBAC's. My friend is now suing the Dr.- though he had warned her of the potential risks. I just wanted to comment to highlight what a dangerous procedure that can be. No one wants to believe they will be the 1% that will happen to. (I in no way want to take away from the joy of your story, however).

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10 easr May 7, 2010 at 10:00 pm

just a little fyi – uterine rupture can and does happen in regular, non-VBAC births as well.

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11 Kris {The Freestyle Mom} March 10, 2010 at 10:21 pm

I usually avoid these posts as I'm still struggling with hard feelings from having to have 2 C-Sections (one a failed VBAC when baby didn't tolerate labor). But for some reason, I read this one, and I am grateful. It's nice to find inspiration and hope for a VBA2C. Thanks for sharing this story. I needed it tonight.

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12 Kris {The Freestyle Mom} March 10, 2010 at 10:26 pm

I would hate for someone to receive incorrect information and not look into what is best for them, so I need to respond.

Hospitals do not refuse VBACs because of the risks (most studies show C-Sections are riskier). They refuse them because insurance companies can charge outrageous prices in order for hospitals to do them.

Please, if you're choosing a VBAC or Repeat C, find good sources. There's not one right answer for everyone.

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13 The Bee Hive March 11, 2010 at 12:30 am

Thank you for your kind comments, I am so glad that this is encouraging for everyone!

I know it's a personal choice for people… but do know that the risks of uterine rupture are much lower than risks for a c-section (especially if it's a repeat c-sect)…do your research and go with your heart. (like Kris so eliquently said)

We did and are far beyond blessed with our outcome…and trust me, I had to have my facts down STRAIGHT in order to get one! :-) (you think the doctors were hard to convince, my husband and mom were even harder!)

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14 tiffany March 11, 2010 at 12:46 am

I loved hearing your story Jodi. My last baby was a VBAC and it was a wonderful experience.

In my situation, my doctor wasn't at all concerned with attempting a VBAC since I was the "perfect" candidate–having had two vaginal births before my c-section, and more than eighteen months between pregnancies.

I know it's not for everyone, but for me, I was so, so happy and relieved that just because I had had a csection, didn't necessarily mean I had to have another one the next time around.

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15 adriennep March 11, 2010 at 4:47 am

My first baby was breech and delivered via c-section despite all attempts to turn him around. Turns out it was very lucky that we went to the hospital for the "version" (which is what they call pushing like mad on your poor tummy to make that baby move) because once there, we discovered that he wouldn't turn because his cord was wrapped around his neck multiple times. Then, while I was being monitored, I had a very hard contraction and they discovered that every time I contracted, that cord squeezed all the breath right out of our boy and his heart rate dropped off completely. Emergency c-section! Since then I have had two VBACs to get our two little girls here. They were not without complication, but my recovery was soooo much easier than it had been post-cesarean. If it's a safe option for you, a VBAC can be a great thing. Now we'll see how hosptial policy has changed when we go for our fourth in a different state with a now-older mama!

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16 Kitty March 11, 2010 at 10:07 am

Lovely story that brought a tear right up!
I dearly wanted a VBAC, however, after 15 days had gone by past the due date, yes, castor oil as well, and all the pessaries, etc to try to get me to go into labour… it was decided it was not to be. Good thing, #2 turned out to be 11 pounds 9 ounces!
I just never go into labour. I've been told my hips aren't wide enough (yeah, tell that to my jeans) and the baby's head never can settle into place. So, I've ended up with three C-sections, but, three perfect babies. (And, all above 8 pounds 8 ounces)
The birth lasts a few hours, their life is for life. That's the important point. Don't be selfish, I say, do what is best for your child. And that might NOT be a VBAC…

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17 www.rustdesigns.com March 11, 2010 at 1:09 pm

I had to fight for my VBAC. I'm so very glad I did. I can say with 100% certainty giving birth naturally is easier and worth the fight. Fight for it ladies!

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18 Lakshmi March 11, 2010 at 5:51 pm

Beautiful story. I am glad you were able to deliver the way you always wanted. I understand the 'need' for delivering the natural way. Happy for you.

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19 Doodle away ... March 11, 2010 at 5:51 pm

Beautiful story. I am glad you were able to deliver the way you always wanted. I understand the 'need' for delivering the natural way. Happy for you.

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20 Amber March 11, 2010 at 6:00 pm

wow, this is awesome. what a strong woman to be so in tune with her body and know exactly what to do.

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21 Eliza March 11, 2010 at 6:35 pm

Beautiful story.

Just had to add, because I have a personal interest in this topic…the risk for uterine rupture in a VBAC (especially a VBA1C) is lower than 1 percent in unaugmented labors, closer to 1 in 200, while in augmented (such as with Pitocin or Cytotec) labors it is higher. But it is still a scary risk…all the more reason to avoid a C in the first place if you can! In general, repeat C-sections are more dangerous than VBACs, but it is always best to make an informed decision about that along with an informed doctor or midwife, as others have said here.

I delivered a healthy baby girl (hospital VBAC) seventeen months ago. It was the most triumphant day of my life up to that point and I was very grateful for all the factors that came together to make it a wonderful experience. I also have a friend who had a home VBA2C and was very happy with her choice.

My unsolicited advice to other hopeful VBAC moms (or any expectant moms) who want it is: Follow your heart, do your research, and hire a trusted professional, and your birth will be as safe and as wonderful as possible. (Since I want to have more kids, and the "Previous C-Section" stamp is always going to be on my medical records, I need to follow this advice too. :) I definitely also recommend the combo of Birthing from Within by Pam England and The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer! Loved them!!

Yay for healthy and happy newborn babies and moms, no matter the circumstances.

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22 Anonymous March 12, 2010 at 1:12 am

Congratulations on the birth of your daughter! I have three children–one was born "naturally" and two were born via c-section and I VASTLY preferred my c-sections. Much faster recovery and my poor body wasn't torn from stem to stern. All three of my babies were 4 weeks early and had to spend a short time in the NICU, including my first, who was delivered vaginally. I did not feel like a "ninja" sneaking in, I'm sorry you had that experience. The nurses were amazing and did everything they could to help me establish nursing. I called them any hour of the day or night (during the few hours I wasn't there myself, ha!) and they were always so kind. I felt empowered and supported during my most recent (and final) birth in the OR. My team was all female and they were amazing. My daughter's birth was a joyful, spiritual experience for me and for everyone in the room. I held her immediately after she was born. I hate that women get scared and/or feel bad about their births. It is one day in your life and your baby's life. A beautiful day to be sure-but one day. No need to get hung up on how the baby arrives, truly. I'm glad you got the birth that you wanted given how important it was to you.

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23 Toddler Boy Clothing March 13, 2010 at 3:55 pm

Fantastic story, Beautiful little girl!

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24 gretchen March 14, 2010 at 8:50 pm

"I also knew this blew my chances for a VBAC in the future as two cesareans usually means your chances to give birth like a normal woman would are gonzo."

This quote really disturbed me as someone who has had an emergency c-section. "normal woman"??? Seriously? Luckily my baby was healthy and that is what is most important. I can't believe you would feel abnormal b/c something as unpredictable as childbirth didn't go according to your childhood dream. I had no desire or intention of having a c-section or even using drugs during labor and delivery. However I found out quickly that things don't always go as planned this realization alone has helped me immensely as a new mother.

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25 gretchen March 14, 2010 at 9:50 pm

"I also knew this blew my chances for a VBAC in the future as two cesareans usually means your chances to give birth like a normal woman would are gonzo."

This quote really disturbed me as someone who has had an emergency c-section. "normal woman"??? Seriously? Luckily my baby was healthy and that is what is most important. I can't believe you would feel abnormal b/c something as unpredictable as childbirth didn't go according to your childhood dream. I had no desire or intention of having a c-section or even using drugs during labor and delivery. However I found out quickly that things don't always go as planned this realization alone has helped me immensely as a new mother.

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26 FC Mom March 16, 2010 at 7:06 am

This post gave me goosebumps!
I was lucky enough to be there for my sister's accidental home birth (her second, right in the bathroom) and it was the most incredible thing I have ever experienced- totally changed my view of birth.
Anyone who does not understand why a mom might be upset about not getting to try a VBAC is a fool. (Not that every mom SHOULD want that- but many moms get flack for wanting a vaginal birth- or for wanting no epidural- and I think it's shameful they get pressured for medical interventions.)

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27 FC Mom March 16, 2010 at 8:06 am

This post gave me goosebumps!
I was lucky enough to be there for my sister's accidental home birth (her second, right in the bathroom) and it was the most incredible thing I have ever experienced- totally changed my view of birth.
Anyone who does not understand why a mom might be upset about not getting to try a VBAC is a fool. (Not that every mom SHOULD want that- but many moms get flack for wanting a vaginal birth- or for wanting no epidural- and I think it's shameful they get pressured for medical interventions.)

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28 Maz March 16, 2010 at 2:46 pm

Thank you for sharing this experience. I to loved your story and can well understand the desire to experience a natural birth. My first son was breech too (or feet first whatever that is called in English?) and delivered with c-section. It was a very smooth and painless experience for me, there were no complications, I had a very fast recovery and I am grateful that this option is available, since a breech baby not to long ago equalled a lifethreat for both mother and baby. Still, I grieved not being able to give birth vaginally. The main issue for me was I would have liked to "be part" of my sons delivery and to me it felt very strange to hand it all over to anonymous surgeons. It made me feel more like a thing than a person during delivery. Am expecting my second son now and hoping he will perform a headstand when the time comes :) The doctors should not pose a problem since I have never heard of a doctor here (in Sweden) that opposes vaginal birth after c-section (as long as there are no other medical reasons for a c-section of course)Doctors here seems to be of the opposite opinion, opting for vaginal births for as much as possible.

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29 Maz March 16, 2010 at 3:46 pm

Thank you for sharing this experience. I to loved your story and can well understand the desire to experience a natural birth. My first son was breech too (or feet first whatever that is called in English?) and delivered with c-section. It was a very smooth and painless experience for me, there were no complications, I had a very fast recovery and I am grateful that this option is available, since a breech baby not to long ago equalled a lifethreat for both mother and baby. Still, I grieved not being able to give birth vaginally. The main issue for me was I would have liked to "be part" of my sons delivery and to me it felt very strange to hand it all over to anonymous surgeons. It made me feel more like a thing than a person during delivery. Am expecting my second son now and hoping he will perform a headstand when the time comes :) The doctors should not pose a problem since I have never heard of a doctor here (in Sweden) that opposes vaginal birth after c-section (as long as there are no other medical reasons for a c-section of course)Doctors here seems to be of the opposite opinion, opting for vaginal births for as much as possible.

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30 Allyson March 23, 2010 at 2:17 am

Thank you, gretchen! I had the same reaction to that passage in the story! My first son was breech, and delivered by C-section. It was not the natural, doula-assisted, birthing center birth I had planned, but his health and safety were far more important to me then my birth plan. I had such a positive experience with it, I opted to have his younger brothers the same way – and at no point did I ever consider my C-sections to be “abnormal” On the contrary, my sons’ birthdays are the three most wonderful powerful and awe-inspiring memories I have…

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31 Macy March 24, 2010 at 6:41 pm

I had to have a c-section due to positioning as well, but I wouldn’t take away from the experience by calling it ‘unnatural’. That sounds awful. I feel that my body naturally created a human life, carried it to full term and delivered a healthy baby. Some mothers feel terrible they couldn’t deliver ‘naturally’ via vagina, but some are just thankful to become mothers. Don’t take away from the experience of how we brought our child into the world by calling it unnatural. I’m happy you were able to live up to the expectations you set for yourself!

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32 Emily March 25, 2010 at 3:51 am

This story is so beautiful and inspiring, thank you for sharing! I am sure you really had to fight hard to get the birth you wanted, I know I did and mine wasn’t a VBAC, but just a midwife assisted homebirth. I’m so glad that you got the natural birth you always wanted.

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33 Sarah March 26, 2010 at 2:41 am

I just discovered this site. Your story gave me chills. What a wonderful experience. I am so impressed! Not only a VBAC, but a HBAC after 2 cesareans. Incredible! I will say my homebirth was unlike anything I could ever describe. It was the most intense and amazing thing I could every experience. So happy to read such a beautiful story.

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34 kelly May 20, 2011 at 1:55 pm

Your story so touched me! I had a C Section when I could not deliver my first child – the cord was too short. I picked up a nasty infection at the hospital that took nearly a month to recover from. I vowed to die before having another C-section (which I really would not have done, but I wanted everyone to understand how serious I was!). My second child came breech. I took 3 doctors to find one that would allow a Vback Breech delivery. He’s a mellow hippie kinda guy and said sure! When my water broke, his little foot and part of his calf came right out. The lovely doctor pulled his other foot out and waited for me to have an urge to push, which I’ve never had. He was delivered in under the 10minutes it takes to avoid problems. My third delivery was my first head down delivery. Caleb was over due and a whopping 10.5 lbs. I was taping my husband holding him an hour after delivery. Natural delivery is awesome and we have experienced all three delivery styles. Now, if we had only had a girl! lol.

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35 Jessica August 22, 2011 at 8:47 pm

This is beautiful! I was told to read this from my friend Dana, who told me she is friends with your friend…anyways, maybe you can read my birth story as it was definitely NOT WHAT I HAD PLANNED after taking 15 weeks of Bradley classes with my doula and husband. Needless to say, your an inspiration to me. I REALLY want to deliver vaginally next time. and your story gives me hope! xoxo

From thestephenhowardfamily.blogspot.com

-Jessica

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36 Marisa (Andresen) Wagner August 28, 2011 at 8:53 am

Jodi, thank you for your story. As I am typing this, I have tears rolling down my cheeks. I feel the same way, planning my births since child hood. Maybe it has something to do with the way we were raised. :-) I too planned a home birth. My little one was posterior. Elle turned her 3 times, every time she turned back around. I pushed for over an hour, every position possible. I just couldn’t get her down the birth canal. She became stressed and we had to head to the hospital, in a middle of a huge snow storm, in the middle of the night (something I had dreamed about a few months prior to this). I much to my disappointment I had a c-section. When Lauren came out, she had a huge bruise on her forehead, she had been stuck on my pelvic bone. I was thankful that she was okay, but struggle with the fact I couldn’t give birth to her vaginally. When we have another, I am planning on staying with relatives out of town to be able to avoid another c-section, since our local hospital will not allow v-backs. Thank you for proving to me I can do this! It can be done.

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