Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Plans for Funding IVF

As I have mentioned, my mom suggested trying to do some online funding from IVF. Honestly, I feel pretty uncomfortable asking people for money, but I am trying to swallow my pride and find the least tacky way to go about asking or we will never be able to do this. Although my parents have offered to help, it's a lot of freaking money we are asking for, so I'd like to try some other avenues before I just allow them to take the full brunt of the financial responsibility. We are also looking at financing options and the compassionate care meds program.

So, my plan is this: create a new blog about our journey and within that blog, as for money. I'll "come out" on facebook and post the link to the blog. I feel like this is way less tacky than just posting a link to our funding site. Below is what I have for the blog so far and I would appreciate it if anyone has any insight, if they could leave a comment. I am trying to not give too many specifics, and am also trying to address a lot of the things I know my very religious Aunts will bring up. Also, I have mentioned on here that DH does not want to adopt but I really don't want to have to explain his family situation to everyone, so we just opted with our answer below in anticipation of the question. I also I plan to link a page with our actual treatment history for those who are interested.

Here it is:

S and I have been blessed in many ways. We have 23 amazing animals (dogs, cats, horses, goats and chickens) and live in the beautiful foothills of the Sierra Nevada’s in Northern California. We have our health, we are happy and life is good. There is, however, something missing. There has been for quite some time, and I am sure many of you have noticed: we have no children. There are no little voices, echoing in our hallways, no toddlers trying to ride any of the dogs and when we watch Disney movies and I dance around the kitchen, singing along, it is very much alone (have you seen S dance?).

So, why don’t we have kids?
Well, we want children, very much. Unfortunately, due to my endometriosis and Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome, we haven’t been able to realize that dream.  We have been working with a Reproductive Endocrinologist and have been undergoing fertility treatments, but nothing we have tried so far has worked. We have now come to the point in our journey of trying to create a tiny human that IVF is our only option. (For those of you who like details, click here, to read about our journey so far)

What is IVF?
The very short, non-scientific version: IVF or in vitro fertilization is a process in which eggs are retrieved from the mother and fertilized by the father’s sperm in one of two ways, using traditional IVF: putting the sperm and egg together and letting the sperm do their thing, or ICSI: the doctors choose the best sperm and inject it into the egg. The egg is then left to incubate and become an embryo. After a few days the embryo grows and is placed back into the woman’s uterus to grow and be nourished and come back out, nine months later as an adorable tiny human.

So, why don’t you do IVF?
Sadly, IVF is very expensive and is not covered by our insurance. Until recently, we have been fortunate enough to have some insurance coverage for my infertility treatments, however, due to recent changes in the health care system, we will no longer even have the coverage that we once did.  While our policy says that it covers “50% of the diagnosis and treatment of infertility” there is a large list of exclusions including: medications for the treatment of infertility, artificial insemination and IVF. So basically, it doesn’t cover anything at all. While the little coverage it does offer is somewhat helpful for testing, it does not help people like me with blocked tubes and scar tissue build up from endometriosis.

What about the risk of multiples with IVF? What do you want, a litter?
Yes, there is an elevated risk of multiples with the use of fertility medications and IVF but there are ways to prevent multiples by only transferring one or two embryos (depending on the embryo quality).  There are a lot of dangers associated with carrying multiples and doctors do everything they can to prevent HOM (high order multiples). Most often, people who get pregnant with a “litter” do so because they go against doctor’s orders. For example, there is a very well known television family who went through fertility treatments (IUI or Intrauterine Insemination or Artificial Insemination) who responded too well to the medications. She had far too many mature follicles (eggs) and her doctor cancelled that treatment cycle. She and her husband were told to abstain or use protection to avoid HOM. They chose to ignore doctors orders and voila: a litter of children.  In the case of Octomom, she went to a very irresponsible doctor that choose to implant far too many embryos. Thankfully, we go to a reputable clinic that works in conjunction with UC Davis. Our doctors are ethical, well educated and well practiced.

What happens if you have lots of embryos? Would you just throw the ones you don’t use away, or leave them in deep freeze forever?
Absolutely not. We believe that life is created the second sperm meets egg. Just throwing away or freezing our embryos forever would be like throwing away a tiny human or freezing one forever! There are a few options for us: Any extra eggs retrieved, that we wouldn’t use during this cycle to achieve pregnancy, can be frozen for us to use to be able to give our potential child a sibling, later. The cost of a frozen embryo transfer is much less that the full cost of another cycle of IVF. Also, if we were to have more embryos than we wanted to use for ourselves, we could donate the embryos to another couple struggling with having a child that has egg quality issues. 

Isn’t there something else you can do?
There is a surgery, called a laporoscopy, that helps with the removal of that scar tissue. I have had this surgery twice and while it has helped alleviate a lot of discomfort, the doctors cannot remove the tissue surrounding my ovaries or blocking my tubs without the risk of damaging them and creating further problems with my fertility. Hence my doctor’s recommendation that we do IVF.

Why don’t you just adopt?
That’s a good question and some day we might, but for now, we would like to try and have our own biological child. Plus, adoption is very expensive (more so than IVF) and the wait time to adopt a baby in the US is four to five years.

I think you two will be excellent parents. What can I do to help?
Well, we are asking people to help fund our IVF procedure by donating here (HERE will be linked to our funding campaign).  Any amount will help.  At our clinic, we have been offered a discount and one cycle of retrieval and embryo transfer costs $9,500 (an additional cost for ICSI is $1,500) plus the cost of medications, which is an additional $6,000-8,000. We are trying to fundraise the full amount of $17,500. While we have the means to care for a child, we don’t have such a large amount of money at our disposal and financing options for treatment have high interest rates. We are applying for grants and discount medication programs, but there is no guarantee we will receive them. 

I would like to help, but don’t feel comfortable donating through a website.
Please feel free to email us at (I'll insert my email address) and I would be happy to send you our address and you can mail us a check or money.

I’m sorry you’re going through this. I don’t know what to say.

Battling infertility is hard and people often don’t know how to comfort their friends and loved ones who are going through this difficult journey. Here is a great resource to help you know what to say, and what not to say, to people struggling with infertility:

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I need a vacation day from my vacation day!

Well, we are cancelled. I had my monitoring appointment yesterday morning and the only thing my RE saw (besides a "fluffy" 11.9mm lining) was a 20x3 follie on my left (blocked) side that he said looked like it was deflating. I was using opks and hadn't gotten a positive so he doesn't think I O'd, although I had a ton of pain on the drive down to the RE's office yesterday morning. He kept checking my uterus and when I asked why, he said that he was looking for a yolk sac because it was so strange that my follies just disappeared that there was a chance I was already pregnant with a late implanter from my last cycle, but there was nothing there. He suggested that I test when I got home just to be sure, which I did and of course it was negative. Damn him for even suggesting it. Or damn me for even asking!

While we are working on getting funding for IVF, he suggested that we retry for IUI#4 next cycle before my insurance changes, so we will probably do that. Just something to do in the mean time!

We worked in our gardens all weekend, so I got a pretty bad sunburn (even with sunscreen on) and when I got home yesterday, I decided I just wanted to sit and watch TV. Our businesses were closed for the holidays anyway so it seemed like the right thing to do! As DH and I were just hanging out, we heard a plane. We live on the edge of the Tahoe National Forrest with no airports near us, so when a plane flies overhead in the spring and summer there is only one reason: Fire.

I checked for fire updates on my phone and DH went out to look for smoke. There was a fire near a campground close to our house on Friday so we were already a little stressed from that. As soon as I read the fire updates I ran outside. There was a fire near the creek a few acres from our property! When I got outside I couldn't see our neighbor's house (roughly six acres away) because there was so much smoke blowing over it. DH jumped on his quad to go wake his mom up (she's a day sleeper because she works nights) and I went in the house to get everything ready to go.

We live on a very small, winding, one lane road. It winds up and down the canyons and over a one lane bridge over the creek where the fire was, so we decided we would be evacuating out the back way: a small dirt road that runs through the mountains into the back side of town, 11 miles away. When they issue evacuations here, they give you five minutes to get your stuff and go, so I had to find all the cats, pack a suitcase, get all the pictures together and ready the horse trailer in case they told us we had to go.

DH took off on his quad to go find the fire. There was a spotter plan flying above but no firefighters on scene so he and one of our neighbors wanted to see what they could do to stop the fire from spreading. Mind you, we live in very dense forest and it was a windy day, so while we could see the smoke coming out of the canyon, it was hard to see exactly where the fire was. DH went down the 4-wheeler trails, past our neighbors house and when he came around a corner, he almost drove straight into the fire! He said that it was a wall of flames in dense manzinita and brush. Thankfully, no trees had caught yet but it was pretty bad. Just as he was turning around to try another way around the fire, firefighters showed up and a plane dropped retardant, practically on top of all of their heads!

The firefighters got the fire completely out after about an hour. We, along with all of our neighbors, unpacked our most important belongings and breathed a sigh of relief. Due to the fact that our house is on the crest of the hill leading down to the canyon, most of our neighbors, with their packed up cars, had pulled up in front of our house to watch the firefighters do their work, hoping and praying that they would get it out.

It. was. terrifying. I have decided that if this is what our summer is going to be like, our birth certificates and marriage license as well as the deeds to our property and insurance policies are staying in the glove compartment of our car. I plan to spend the afternoon getting everything that isn't replaceable in one place, so we can grab everything quickly if we get evacuated.

Oh and the cause of the fire? A new neighbor had a burn pile (on a non burn day) that he hadn't completely extinguished before leaving his home. When he returned, he found that it had spread and called 911. Dumbass. Oh, and did I mention that he doesn't have his well in yet, so he had no water?

I didn't get a chance to take a picture until after it was mostly extinguished:

Thursday, May 22, 2014

IVF Fundraising

After "coming out" to my mom, she made the suggestion that I create a blog and account on a fundraising site so I can ask close friends and family to help us out with the costs (she is certain people will want to help). Yesterday, I spent most of the day (when I should have been working) writing up an "about us" and researching fundraising sites. At first, I was sure that Give Forward would be the way to go, but their rates are very high. So instead I found, Donate a Gift, which looked like it had lower rates, until I went through the entire process of setting up the account. At the very end, I realized they have extra fees that they tack on to each donation with makes their fees just as much as Give Forward! Grrrrr.

Have any of you used any fundraising sites that have decent rates?

I know I should probably do all this after we complete IUI#4 but I don't have a lot of confidence it will work and I need to get this show on the road. Either my Aunts and Uncles will come out in force and we will have the money for IVF in no time, or no one will and we'll be fundraising for a looooonnnnng time. If it's the latter, I want to get started ASAP.

Off Topic

I am a huge fan of T.Heresa C.aputo (added the periods on purpose so my blog doesn't come up in a search about her) and watch her show all the time. On Sunday, they were doing a free reading giveaway during the season finale and I was tweeting up a storm to try and win. I forgot that when I tweet, it auto posts on FB so my Aunt happened to see that I was trying to be able to go see T.heresa and she offered to pay for tickets for DH and I to go see her when she is here in Sac in a few weeks! I was shocked and am super excited because we now have tickets to see her and are sitting in the second row! It'll be right in the middle of my TWW so anticipating going to the show will help take my mind off POASing :)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Coming Out... A little bit

Today was my baseline ultrasound. I had a plan all worked out in my mind to be a good advocate for myself and ask for a protocol change, request for approval from my insurance for IUI#5 to go in today and a plan for timed intercourse cycles after my insurance stops covering IUIs in July. I was also going to inform my RE that I would be applying for an IVF trial at USF. Things didn't go exactly as planned as my RE had some ideas of his own and I knew it the second he came into the room with the nurse practitioner rather than my regular nurse. He started off by telling me that all the RE's reviewed my chart this morning and that they are in agreement that my left tube is blocked and that the scar tissue build up around my right ovary is probably making it impossible for sperm and egg to meet.

When I had my saline sonogram at the beginning of all this treatment, they filled my uterus with fluid and then passed bubbles through the fluid, through my tubes. The right one was clear but the bubbles held up for a bit at my ovary. On the left side, it was inconclusive as to whether or not the bubbles actually made it through my left tube. He said they had seen both things happen in other women that still managed to get pregnant with IUI which is why they had recommended I proceed with them, but after three failed IUIs with perfect responses to meds, beautiful lining and excellent sperm count, they are now convinced things are blocked up. 

He said his recommendation, with the backing of the other two RE's at the practice is that our only option is IVF. However, he was ok with trying one more IUI with boosted meds as a Hail Mary on the off chance that with multiple follies, one might get through. Also, this would give us a chance to see how I respond to boosted meds that could be used as a cost saving measure for IVF. Low and behold, during my ultrasound, we discovered that my lining is already at 8.9 and I have two follies at 11, one on each side. So tonight I took all ten of my pills instead of taking two a day for five days and I will go back next Monday to see how those 11s look and see whether or not any of the smallers follies picked up the pace.

I told him about the trial at USF and said that we really couldn't afford IVF. He said that he had discussed that with the other RE's and because they think I am a perfect candidate for IVF, they would offer me a lower rate, which is about $4,000 less than the normal rate and he told me about the Compassionate Care program for meds, which could save us another $6,000. They also offer financing plans for IVF. I was devastated and grateful at the same time and when I got to my car, I was crying but already working out numbers in my head, until I realized: we are self employed. Do you know how hard it is to qualify for any kind of financing when you are self employed? It's damn near impossible. 

I updated my IDOB ladies on our Hail Mary IUI and then I texted DH the short version of the news (yup, the ladies got the news first! Lol) and when my cell rang, I figured it was DH and told Siri to answer before I looked at my caller ID screen. It wasn't DH. It was my mom. And she could tell by the way I answered that I was upset. And I couldn't lie. I just couldn't. 

Everything came pouring out. All the testing. The treatments. The insurance issues. The doctor saying IVF is our only option. The devastation and pain and sorrow and agony I have been going through, while feeling so alone. The fear of telling her because of her beliefs and the fact that I didn't believe she would be suppotive because ART goes against the church. All of it. It just poured out of me. And ya know what my mom said? She said, Thank you. Thank you for sharing this with me. And what can we do to help? 

She had some concerns about what would happen to extra embryos if we did IVF, but beyond that she did not stress any other church ideology. My dad must have been listening in because he asked her to ask me how much IVF would cost and when I told them, he whistled and they both said they would do what they could to help. Then, in typical mom fashion she started putting a plan together on how to get the rest. Cousin Peter does crowd funding for all his humanitarian trips! You could do that! You can write a blog and tell your story and I'll pass all the info on to your Aunts and Unlces and they will help, she said.  And so will her friends Linda and Donna and my sisters and their friends. My mom said, "Everyone who knows you knows you'll be a great mom and they'll want to help. You don't have to ask strangers. Just tell your story, the same way you told me and everyone will want to help."

I was pretty shocked. DH says I don't give my parents enough credit. Through all the worrying about whether or not they would side with their church and religious beliefs over me, I forgot that I am their child and they want me to be happy and if that means that science needs to help me achieve my biggest dream then apparently they are all for it. After our conversation, I felt bad for not telling them sooner but as DH pointed out, she had some questions that I wouldn't have been prepared to answer if we hadn't gone through all the other treatment first. At the beginning of this battle, I didn't know enough about it and I hadn't educated myself enough to answer questions about what I would do with extra embryos or whether or not IVF truly gives you a litter of babies! So, in a lot of ways, it's a good thing that I waited this long to come out to my parents. I had to go through a lot and learn a lot before I could share my fight.

So, who knows? This Hail Mary cycle could work. But if it doesn't, IVF is looking like a pretty real option. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Hits Always Keep on Coming

Well, we received out insurance renewal package in the mail today and it was like a punch in the gut. At first, when looking at our coverage, I was so excited because we no longer have to pay for the Infertility Rider! Our insurance company is now covering 50% of the diagnosis and treatment of infertility as part of our plan. BUT. There's a big BUT. It no longer covers IUIs. Cue the tears. It looks like, at this point, my only option is to move forward with IUI#4 and try to squeeze in IUI#5 before my coverage period ends with my current insurance. After that, when our plan changes, the only things they will cover are the appointments for medicated TI cycles. I know many people don't have any coverage at all, so I should be grateful for the small amount of coverage I have had so far, but it's a big disappointment. I was hoping to be able to do three more IUIs before having to call it quits (unless we win the lottery). But, what can you do?

On the plus side, AF has arrived and my baseline u/s is scheduled for Monday morning so we can get the IUI#4 show on the road. It's amazing how much my mood has changed since we are moving forward with another IUI. I know the chances of it working are slim but I am back to feeling better about at least doing SOMETHING. Rather than just drinking lots of spearmint tea with Pregnitude sprinkled in there and praying for the best.

Oddly, my cycles are getting longer. Meaning I have been "ovulating" later. I put this in quotes because my elevated androgen levels mean that I do not O mature eggs. I wonder if Oing later means the pregnitude and spearmint tea are working and my natural O date has been getting later because my eggs are more mature? I have gone from 21 day cycles for my first two years TTC to 24 day cycles for my 3rd and 4th year of TTC to 27 and 28 day cycles for the last few months (these are during natural, not medicated cycles). Ovulation has changed from cd 10 or 11 to cd 13 or 14. This month I think it was actually cd 15. Just food for thought, I suppose.

On a completely different topic, I just want to express how grateful I am to have such amazing, supportive and honest women in my support group (IDOB). I consider myself to be a bit of a self proclaimed professional lurker on The Bump; Parenting and TTGP Boards. TTC is my home board so I comment there the most but occasionally, over the past year, I have commented on TTGP but mostly I lurk because by the time I get to threads, everything has already been said and I don't want to add things just to get a word in. The women on TTGP are funny, witty and knowledgeable and I enjoy reading what they have to say. The havoc that has been reeked on those two boards over the last few days and weeks by two horrible women has both shocked me and made me even more grateful for the support I have through IDOB and for the honesty and lack of drama we have in our group. Having experienced someone like those women, IRL, I know the pain they can cause and I feel terrible for those who were betrayed and hurt by those women.

Monday, May 12, 2014

It's Probably the PMS

My favorite blogger, The Bloggess, suffers from depression and one thing she always says is: Depression Lies. I think this saying also applies to PMS related depression. As I wait not so patiently for AF's arrival, I can't help but feel like I just don't want to go through another treatment cycle. I feel hopeless and can't help but think, what's the point? Why make all the long drives, poke myself with needles and get my hopes up only to have everything come crashing down again?

I have tried to be hopeful, tried to be optimistic, tried to point out to myself that maybe IUI#4 could do the trick, to remind myself that it only takes one swimmer and one egg, only to find myself back in the same circular thought pattern of defeat and the need to just give up.

The only thing that is getting me through, at this point, is to keep reminding myself that depression lies. It fools you into thinking that things are hopeless. It lies and tells you that giving up would be easier and it clouds your vision and keeps you from seeing the truth.

Every cycle is a renewal and with each new cycle, there is a chance that I could get pregnant.

That's the most positive thing I can come up with right now, but it's a start. It is the start of a path through the lies depression weaves, that can lead me back to the light that represents a positive attitude and an optimistic outlook that I will need to go through another cycle.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

I Feel Like a Terrible Person

I'm awful. I really am. On Saturday, my brother-in-law (DH's youngest brother) got engaged. It was really quite sweet. His finace and he met doing Ren Faires, so this weekend while at the Ren Faire, he proposed in front of everyone. My future SIL is very nice and takes great care of my BIL and they have a great relationship. I am truly excited to have her as a SIL, especially considering that my husband's sister is a drug addict psychopath. It will be nice to have a healthy, normal person in the family.

BUT, they immediately started talking kids. She is 37 and they want to get started right away. As in, she threw the BCPs out the day after he proposed. I am absolutely TERRIFIED that they are going to get pregnant right away and I feel terrible that I feel that way. I want to be happy for them and give them lots of encouragement and support, but inside I am seething about something that hasn't even happened yet!

Huge confession: I caught myself thinking that they'll probably have problems getting KU because she is AMA and very overweight. I immediately stopped myself, because I would not wish IF or any difficulty conceiving on my worst enemy. What is wrong with me? This is not who I am!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Here I Go Again

What is it with my IF brain that makes me a crazy women? Even on a natural cycle, the second I saw FF mark my O day, I started symptom spotting. It is out of control ridonkulous.

My logical brain says, "Uh dummy? There is no way you could possibly have any symptoms of anything (besides being crazy)."

My IF brain says, "Ooooooooo! Was that a pinch? Was that a tug? Could be your uterus stretching!"

Maybe I should go back to school and become a scientist who researches what causes the brain to act this way and make a pill to stop the crazy obsessive thoughts. I bet I could make MILLIONS!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Happy 45th Birthday to My Sister

*Normally, I use this blog for thoughts about IF and occasionally fur babies. However, since my life isn't all about IF and fur babies, I will be going off topic today to let out my emotions regarding my sister's death and what would have been her 45th birthday. Feel free to skip this post, it's sad and it's kind of disorganized, like my head today, so I won't be offended if you'd rather come back another day.*

Ya know when you are having a crappy couple of days and then you realize that there is a logical explanation for why you feel so bad? I had that light bulb revelation last night when I realized that today would have been my sister's 45th birthday. I thought to myself, "Ah ha! That's why my heart feels like it has been run over by a truck." It's not like I forgot that May 1st is her birthday, it's definitely been looming, but I often try to push from my mind the fact that she is gone. It makes it easier to go through my days without actually thinking about it because when I think about it, it is real and the hole that her absence has left in my heart seems to widen.

In some ways it is easier for me to push aside the fact that she is gone because I don't have any memories of her in my home or town. It makes me sad that she was never able to see the house we built or all the beautiful property we have. Unlike my other sister's and parents, I have no memories of her walking in my front door or sitting in my kitchen because my home didn't exist until after she was taken from us. It makes me sad and angry that I didn't get to share this part of my life with her but it does make it easier on me. It's a blessing and a curse.

This day is hard for a different reason than the anniversary of her death because this day is the day my mom gave birth to my sister. My mom doesn't talk about it and I don't push but every year, I feel like I should say something to her, something that might make it a little easier for my mom but I can never find the right words. I stay silent on this day. I cannot even begin to imagine the pain that my mom must feel, the overwhelming sadness that must overwhelm her when she thinks back to my sister's birth, her childhood, her youth. My parent's dreams for her future and the realization of those dreams and then the reality that it was all taken away. Stripped from them in a matter of seconds when they were told of her death. My own pain is hard enough to bare, I cannot imagine theirs.

As I continue through my journey of IF the fact that my mother lost her child is at the forefront of my mind. My mourning used to revolve around MY pain. The pain of losing my sister and best friend. Now, it revolves more around the loss my mom feels, the loss of my sister as my mother's child.

I've been trying to push through my work day when all I really want to do is go get back in bed. I texted one of my sisters and asked her, "Are we supposed to be happy or sad on this day?" I never know. Are we supposed to celebrate because she was born or mourn because she isn't here to be pissed off that she would be 45 today? My sister freaked on her 30th birthday, I cannot imagine how freaked out she would be by being 45! I'd give anything to know.

On this day, I would like to share the story of the dragonfly, which inspired me to get this tattoo in my sister's honor:

The Story of the Dragonfly is a children's story about death. I read it two days after my sister died and it just felt right and true.

Once upon a time, there was little pond filled with beautiful lily pads. In the pond lived a little beetle. The beetle lived with a large community of water beetles; his mother and father, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, neighbors and friends.
Most of the time, the water beetles lived a happy, idyllic life. But occasionally, one of the beetles would climb the stem of the lily pad and never be seen again. The water beetles grieved their fellow water beetle, knowing their friend was dead and gone forever.
One day, the little beetle decided to climb the lily pad stem himself. He wanted to discover what was on the other side and come back to tell the rest what he had found. He was determined he would return after his exploration above.
And so he climbed and climbed and climbed. When he finally reached the top of the lily pad, he fell fast asleep, exhausted from his journey.
The little beetle slept a long time and when he woke up, his body changed. He had beautiful blue wings and a long blue tail. He wasn’t a beetle anymore. He was a magnificent dragonfly.
The dragonfly stretched out his broad wings and rose above the water. He discovered a whole new world with beauty beyond his imagining. The sun was so bright and the sky was so blue. He could hardly believe this new world on the other side of the lily pad, so close to him and yet he never knew it existed.
Then he remembered his promise to return to tell his fellow beetles what was on the other side of the lily pad. They would be so happy to hear the good news. He wanted desperately to go back to tell them this incredible news, but his new body wasn’t designed to swim in the water any more. He wondered if they would even recognize him if he returned.
He realized someday each one of his friends would have the courage to take this same journey, making the long climb up the stem of the lily pad. Then they would understand too.
The little dragonfly missed his old friends, but he knew they would join him someday. And he flew off in great joy.