I am sitting on a bench with a book. The sun is warming my cheeks. I am smiling. On the lawn in the park my husband is playing with our two children. I am watching them. I am happy, really happy … some three years ago it was hard even to imagine this feeling.

At that time we were infertile and completely resigned. But let’s start at the beginning…

I met my future husband relatively late. I was 31 then, and he was 40. Actually we decided at once that we wanted to set up a family together. Despite our attempts and efforts our dream about a child did not want to come true. After some time I started worrying, I was stressed. I was visiting a doctor after doctor, searching for information on the Internet, asking my friends for advice. Now I think that I could have spared most of those visits, money, and my time in the first place.

After 4 years of failed attempts and experimenting with various methods I had enough of that. I only wanted to cry, I didn’t want to leave my bed, take care of myself. However, my husband didn’t give up. He persuaded me to change my mind and make one more attempt. This time at in vitro. This time abroad, in Poland. The idea was so absurd that I agreed. That was in 2010, I was then 34 and my husband 43. The late summer was very pleasant at the Baltic Sea. It was comforting.

We chose the INVICTA Clinic in Gdańsk. It inspired our trust and my close friend got pregnant just there. The first impression was very positive. I was surprised that the staff spoke fluent Russian. I was also enchanted with their sympathy and care they showed to us from the beginning. Despite my concerns I felt calm. First we underwent several tests. I had to be in the proper time of the cycle and give a blood sample for hormone and genetic tests. My husband provided his semen in a special room – we decided that with regard to his age, in addition to the general examination we would also check the sperm DNA fragmentation.

After the test we went for a short walk in the Old Town in Gdańsk. We admired the historic streets, we had coffee in one of the restaurants, and did some small shopping in the mall. After a few hours we had the appointment with the doctor so we returned to the Clinic. I am still surprised that I remembered every single detail of our treatment, smells, emotions, even light…

The first visit in the clinic was at the same time the qualification for in vitro treatment. I hadn’t expected that everything would go so fast. We were convinced by the disastrous test results. It appeared that my ovarian reserve, i.e. AMH level, was already only 1.1. My husband coped no better – the sperm DNA fragmentation of 28%! The doctor made it clear that the methods other than in vitro wouldn’t help us. The worst thing was that if we reported to the clinic earlier, our chances for success would have been much better. All of them, the doctor and the ladies who explained to us what would happen later, were very supportive. Altogether, frustration eased off very fast… Before we left for home, the nurse took our blood samples for infection tests.

We returned to Poland in the mid-September. This time mainly to talk about further treatment and to sign all consents and documents. There was something to read, ask about… As we wanted to organise the well-deserved holiday in the meantime, we agreed with the doctor that we would come to the next visit in October.

The autumn was marked by the next tests (this time of my hormones), taking medicines which stimulated my ovaries’ activity, and meetings with the doctors – including the anaesthetist. In the first days of November our doctor extended the stimulation because the follicles didn’t grow satisfactorily. Although my spirits dropped a bit, I tried to follow strictly all instructions and smile at people.

On the 8th of November I was subjected to the oocyte retrieval. What a stress it was… the ladies from the patient care did everything to make me relax but I could only think if they succeeded in obtaining the ova. The stress subsided only after I had talked to the doctor. Then I fell asleep. When I awoke from anaesthesia, the extremely sympathetic midwife came to me and said: ‘Daria, they collected 12 cumuluses’. Tears of joy ran down my face. However, the euphoria didn’t last for long. After a while, my husband joined me. The test results of his semen were very bad – fragmentation at the level of 23%. The doctors suggested the sperm separation. I thought it was the end… and again the lovely ladies helped us. It appeared that after subjecting the sperm to special actions the fragmentation result was already only 3%. That gave hope.

I remembered exactly the day on which I had the transfer of embryos. Only two, very weak embryos… it was the 13th of November, grey and sad weather. We joked with my husband that we had to rely on our inner sun. After our arrival to the clinic we talked to the embryologist. She didn’t have very good news but she was very gentle, telling us about the results of the culture. It may seem irrational, but I really felt that every embryo is important for her.

After the ICSI procedure (a single sperm cell is injected directly into an egg) only 6 oocytes were fertilised. After 5 days four embryos stopped dividing, and only two reached the appropriate stage of development.

Although these two tinies didn’t have good prognosis, we were told that there was still a chance that they would stay with us. We clung to this thought like a drowning man to a lifebelt. We believed, or rather wanted to believe, that everything would be all right. I was determined not to have a single bad thought through the following weeks.

Time goes by so slowly for those who wait. The first verification – beta HCG test. The level rises but not significantly. 1.19, after three days – 40.95… already on the 23rd of November the HCG level was 473, and on the 30th of November – over 4300… then I had the first pregnancy ultrasound examination. This feeling cannot be described. Joy and fear mix together in a single weird condition when you want but can’t believe in what is happening to you.

When in the beginning of December I repeated the HCG test for the fifth and last time, my anxiety prevailed. The level of this hormone should not rise so quickly? Is something wrong with my baby? Luckily I had the appointment on the same day. The doctor explained the mystery to me – not one, but two babies grew in my belly this was the most beautiful winter in my life…

I visited the Clinic in the first days of January for the last time. I came alone because my husband was on a business trip. This was the date of prenatal tests. Actually I could have carry them out at home, but after our therapy I trusted the INVICTA doctors most. Besides, I wanted to say goodbye, to thank them.

Our wonderful couple of rascals arrived on the 1st of August by caesarean section. Two strong and healthy babies. Our son and our daughter. I am watching them as they are running with their father on the lawn. How they grow, learn, laugh … and I wonder how difficult the way to happiness sometimes is and how the life comes full circle.