We are publishing – to uplift hearts and rekindle hopes – a letter from Marta. The description of her long and difficult way to happiness…

“I struggled with the problem of infertility for nearly 10 years. While visiting gynaecologist’s offices, one by one, I always heard that there were no reasons why I shouldn’t get pregnant; however, I failed to succeed. In the first years after our wedding, as I tried to get pregnant and awaited good news, my hope rekindled again and again and for half of the month I was in good mood, expecting that this cycle would end with success. However, when it turned out otherwise, I was disappointed only to pull myself together and again, from scratch, build up the hope that the next cycle would give us the next chance.

Then the second stage began. After the treatment, feeling assured that there were no obstacles: two healthy ovaries, clear fallopian tubes and good hormone test results, I began trying to get pregnant again. I calmed down for a while, but after numerous failed attempts I was almost on the brink of madness. I couldn’t understand how there could be no children if all conditions were met. It all seemed to me very simple and obvious, like a math equation. However, a human nature is not a sum of several numbers; it can’t be predicted, outwitted, cheated or calculated. Apparently it equipped us with everything necessary for having a child, but the desire itself and the fact that we have all necessary organs proves insufficient.

I began wondering how to improve my physical and mental condition in order to boost these chances. I decided that I would eat healthily, I limited my coffee and tea intake, I tried to avoid alcohol and I didn’t smoke. Unfortunately, this also didn’t bring the expected results. At that time many people advised us to change the scenery, go together for a holiday, romantic weekend, etc. So we did, we forced ourselves into good mood, went for romantic weekends and holidays for two. These practices, however, also failed.

Time went by, I was growing older, and the comments of people who were not entirely aware of my situation were killing me totally. When we exhausted all options (at that time I thought so), I ran out of steam and hope. Then I started to feel deep grief as I couldn’t understand why I can’t have a baby. I felt worse than other women, envious, and I had this growing feeling that somebody (although nondescript) did me harm. I started avoiding friends who had small children. Although I always smiled broadly at babies, now I was so pressed by the thought that I am smiling at someone else’s child and I cannot have my own, that I preferred not to see my friends. Shortly this feeling of grief and injustice began to mix with anger. I felt such inner desire to rebel against the reality that I couldn’t force back my tears among my family.

When, after 6 years, I achieved everything I wanted – apart from motherhood – this goal became the only one and – as it appeared – the most difficult to accomplish. I always succeeded in everything; I had to plan it well, put many efforts into it, but the end was always the victory – the achieved goal. Unfortunately, it was not that easy with fulfilling my dream about a child. Every time making through my cycle was harder and harder; I was listening to my body, frightened, hoping that I would hear something I hadn’t known before and that would be the first sign of pregnancy. I had various feelings, from being certain that I was not pregnant, to being certain that I had finally got pregnant. The end was, however, always the same; what I didn’t want, was coming. I was frantic to get pregnant, and I couldn’t. I prayed, cursed, blamed myself.

I tried to heal myself, I thought “maybe I am too preoccupied with my work, and this is why there is no place for a baby in my body? Maybe when I make a place for the baby in my mind, my body will respond”. I thought that maybe I am ill; maybe some disease was unnoticed, so I took further tests, believing that I would find something. I tried to be for myself a strict teacher, a doctor and a policeman guarding the proper lifestyle. All this to find my way to my goal. But nothing helped. They were telling me to “ease up”, because it helps, so I started convincing myself that I didn’t care anymore, fate wants it this way, so I had to accept it. That wasn’t sincere; it was only another trick which was intended to change something. As a matter of fact, I didn’t believe the words I was saying. I deluded myself that the so-called “easing up” would come of its own when I repeat it as a mantra. Our mind, however, cannot be cheated; this trick didn’t help me either; although I said to myself that I didn’t care anymore, I was still thinking about the same.

As all these “tricks” I used failed to pass the exam, we decided with my husband to undergo the insemination. However, this also failed to make us happy parents. I felt devastated by this unsuccessful attempt, blaming myself with the unexplained inability to get pregnant. There was no end to blaming, and my grief and the feeling of disappointment and of losing another chance we decided to give ourselves, were so overwhelming, that I couldn’t cope with them. When we went for previously planned holiday to Bieszczady mountains, I avoided my family because I didn’t want them see my tears. I couldn’t come to terms with it, and all attempts of my husband to ease my pain were ineffective; this made him frustrated and as a result, the tension between us grew. What was meant to bring us closer and give us the chance for happiness, made as nurse a grudge against each other. Another year was passing by, and I decided to calm myself down. I stopped visiting my doctor, he couldn’t help me anyway as I was totally healthy; I focused on my work and my marriage and stopped putting a pregnancy first. I thought that maybe if I didn’t force it, it would pass, maybe I forgot for a moment and then, out of surprise, I would succeed and get pregnant!

Although I wanted very much to stop thinking this way, this one thought didn’t leave me. I felt tired with that, like with running around my own shadow, but I couldn’t stop thinking or doing something, because my conscience blamed me that doing nothing I was wasting my valuable time: “If not now, then when; I will grow old and then I will never forgive myself.” This didn’t let me stop fretting. Deep in sorrow, like mourning, I was mooning through life looking for consolation in material values, professional success, meetings with my family. I even started to compensate myself for the lack of children saying “At least I can go for a trip, be alone with my husband, and sleep as long as I want on Sunday”. On one hand I felt a free and independent man, what I always valued, while on the other hand I felt worse than other people, because I couldn’t have and I didn’t have something. “Other women got it so easily, and I didn’t.” – This thought made me feel guilty and worse than the others. At that stage this bothered me most, so to save my self-esteem I started next studies. In that I was good. I can learn day and night, I am conscientious beyond belief. Now I am not sure if that was the desperate attempt at saving my inner self, or a punishment I administered to myself? My studies cost me a great deal of effort; I had many duties in my workplace, busy weekends, and I spent my free moments learning. Was it really what I wanted? Maybe that was a punishment for my inability to have children?

I was so overloaded with new tasks, and in addition by changing job, that I lost 15 kilograms; I felt exhausted and I looked very tired. 6 months later I and my husband decided to have another attempt at insemination; it failed again. At this time, however, I wasn’t so eager, so the disappointment wasn’t as deep as at the first time. But again it was a slight to my femininity. I felt worse than other women, and at that stage this was the problem I couldn’t cope with. There came another summer. I decided to go to the doctor for the sake of peace. I wanted to take tests to be sure that nothing changed. Saving my conscience, guilty because of the break I granted myself. I wanted to be sure that I was still healthy and still can have a baby. I didn’t want to blame myself in the future, that I neglected something, or was late for something, so despite the break I forced on myself I wanted to have everything under control and clear conscience that I didn’t omit or neglect anything. In such circumstances there could be no honest “easing up”. Even when I was saying that it is the end of trying, I am starting a new life, I controlled everything anyway, just in case. It was just one big pretence before myself.

When I took the ovarian reserve test and went to the doctor’s office on the day of my cousin’s weeding, I left totally broken. The results indicated, and the doctor confirmed it, that my ovarian reserve diminished significantly, what meant that my chances for a baby dropped drastically. I experienced such emotions that even now, when I am writing about it, I blush. I cried over the entire wedding party of my cousin, because I believed that I really couldn’t have children. I hadn’t succeeded so far, and now I got old and my chances decreased even more. I sank into despair close to madness – I didn’t leave home, I wailed loudly like a dog out of pain and despair. Nobody could change my state of spirit and mind. My husband felt helpless and broken when he saw me on holiday in the nightgown for a week, always crying, unhappy and resigned, unwilling to get out of bed, do makeup, water flowers, play with the cat. The pain I felt can’t be described. This is the inner tear, doubting everything one once believed, crisis of faith and loss of the sense of existence. I felt that I had nobody and nothing to live for. I always dreamt that would be mum, and I didn’t feel like be able to cope with the thought that I would Never be a mum. This wasn’t already frustration or mourning, this was the absolute feeling of the senselessness of existence.

After the holiday, I and my husband decided that we would try the therapy for people affected by the problem of infertility. We both knew already that I couldn’t cope alone, this was beyond me and I even wasn’t willing to wrestle with it, as I had done before. This time this was much more serious. From my friend with the same infertility problem I learnt about a psychologist who conducted the therapy for people like we. Without much thinking I agreed to attend the individual therapy, to bring meaning back into my life. After my whole world came crashing down on me, I really needed help. And only then it wasn’t another trick I invented myself. My condition was serious and I was really worried about myself.

I attended the therapy with my husband. First we exposed our problems together. Later the therapy quickly focused on me, because the psychologist found out that the problem went back to my past. Digging into my past wasn’t easy, but it appeared to be the right thing as many important problems I carried through my life had their roots in my childhood, and they burdened me heavily in my adult life. With every meeting I felt better, cleaner, dropping my burden like undesired kilograms. My condition improved with every meeting, I felt that the smile was coming back to my face. The thought about the baby was put aside, and I gathered from the meetings the strength I needed to get up in the morning and live on. I didn’t even realise that the childhood experiences can cast such a shadow on the life of an adult man. I am an educationalist and I know it theoretically, but I hadn’t experienced it personally and as a matter of fact I hadn’t really believed it. Only when I went through such rehabilitation myself, I understood that it is really important, maybe even essential. You have to clean your mind to find the place for the goal that is important in your life. When the therapy concentrated on me, for the first time in my life I really started thinking about myself, not about others who have to be satisfied, consoled, helped, pleased. I was thinking about myself, and I needed this so much that even thinking about the baby for the first time wasn’t harming, didn’t cause the feeling of guilt, fear of panic. I felt that now I was important, fighting for myself, for my life. This allowed me to put the thoughts about motherhood aside, without emotions and sincerely. Now I know it.

After a year of therapy and upon setting new goals, my husband took the decision and convinced me to have the last chance treatment – in vitro fertilisation. Strengthened, purified, without illusory hopes, I said ok. We went for a medical consultation and to our surprise we were qualified. The doctor set the date of the next visit for the next week, and this was the beginning of the huge machinery of the IVF procedure. As regards the appointments with the doctor, there were literally few of them. During the first one we learnt that one of my ovaries is totally inactive, therefore our chances, most probably for quite a long time, were only 50%. Everything was happening very quickly, in one month from our first appointment visit which was at the same time a qualification visit I got pregnant!!! I was so surprised that I can’t describe it. Enormous joy mixed with huge incredulity; I still couldn’t get it that I was pregnant at last; I still had the feeling that I was dreaming. When I went to the clinic for examinations, I was stressed that the doctor would say that unfortunately there was no pregnancy. Only my growing belly made me believe that it was true. The thought that I would be a mum made me probably the happiest person in the world. Every day I thanked that the chance of motherhood was given to me.

Now I am the mum of a 14-day old baby girl. Sometimes I still have the feeling that I am dreaming. After so many years, treatments, efforts and tricks it happened at last, it is really a miracle of some kind!!! Why not earlier? Tremendous happiness and euphoria combined with astonishment, disbelief and incomprehension – this is what I feel. Irrespective of the results or moods, I wish all couples who struggle with this problem perseverance and faith. I was a difficult case, because no one could help me. There was nothing to treat, and all my unsuccessful efforts and the passage of time set their stamp on me. Al my family accepted the fact that there would be no children in our house, and now look here: surprise! So, cheer up, there is light at the end of this tunnel. My “light” is sleeping peacefully in her bed and gives my life meaning. Every day I thank God and all people whom I met on my way that I can look at my baby and hug her. I often listen to the beating of her little heart and kiss every millimetre of her delicious, chubby little body. It was worth waiting for these moments.”