Slovenian freelance photography journalist Dejan Mijović, born on 18 September 1976 and based in Ljubljana, is assistant photo editor of the Delo.si web portal.
Mijović has been involved in photography for the past 20 years, ever since undertaking studies of graphic technology at the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Engineering.
In 2010, Mijović sustained an injury and was left completely paralysed from the neck down. Through amazing luck, strong willpower and lengthy rehabilitation, and driven by his as yet unfulfilled desire to pursue photography, the tetraplegic was back in the saddle, and has since held several one-man shows and participated in a number of group exhibitions in Slovenia and abroad. Recently, he has been polishing his photography skills with Klavdij Sluban
, a French photographer of Slovenian descent based in Paris.
Developing his photographic idiom, Mijović first focused on the wide landscapes of the Caribbean and South America, the poetic Tuscany, the magical Lake Cerknica, and explored hidden gems in his immediate vicinity and further afield.
Mijović's great flair for composition and light contrasts renders his portraits of random individuals far more than simply frozen moments in time but, rather, perceptive accounts of his life stories.
His black-and-white photographs, a preoccupation of recent years, aim to capture diverse moods of his closest family and long-standing friends also in their most intimate moments.
All photos in this project were taken after the injury.
About 9 years 9 months
"The greatest desire of most couples around the world is to start a family. Unfortunately, this is a big problem in developed countries today, as every sixth couple suffers from infertility. These data also apply to Slovenia.
Our story began ten years ago when I became quadriplegic after falling on a slippery ramp which led to the sea and was overgrown with algae. After spinal surgery and a six-month recovery in the Rehabilitation Center Soča, I returned home on crutches. A good year after the accident, my wife and I began to think intensely about starting a family. Due to my medical condition (spastic quadriplegia, also known as spastic tetraplegia), we had to seek medical help. We decided for the infertility clinic in Postojna.
This is where our nine-year odyssey began, full of ups and downs, joy, tears, mental distress, depression but most of all, getting to know each other and learning about life. Our relationship was put to the test for the entire period, but we realised time and time again that each painful experience created an even stronger bond between us and we were even more determined to succeed sooner or later.
In Postojna, the first three attempts with IVF, better known as in vitro fertilization, were unsuccessful. This was a very painful experience for both of us. Naturally for women this is much more traumatic as all the processes take place in their body. Men can only support them, but in reality we do not experience the whole process as intensely as women do. In one phase, the procedure is also physically extremely painful for women (puncture of follicles or removal of eggs from the ovaries).
After the doctor performs the artificial insemination (he usually inserts a five-day-old embryo into the uterus which developed in the laboratory under the watchful eye of an embryologist), a long fourteen-day wait begins before a pregnancy test can be done. When the moment of truth comes and you see a minus instead of a much desired plus, your heart breaks. It seems like a piece of you dies with every negative pregnancy test.
The bad news was followed by a depressing break of several months, during which we decided to try our luck at an infertility clinic in Maribor. Each clinic has its own methods. They are basically the same, with minor differences. Despite eight embryo transfers, all attempts were unsuccessful here as well.
We were especially crushed after the first pregnancy which unfortunately ended in miscarriage in the initial phase. When, after years of unsuccessful attempts, you finally see the desired plus on a pregnancy test, you instantly forget about all previous painful experiences. All of a sudden you are overwhelmed by positive energy and you come to life again, both emotionally and physically. But as the saying goes, life is not a box of chocolates. Suddenly, the joy was over and a time of great sorrow and crocodile tears came instead.
Such events cut into your heart forever. Despite the pain, we did not give up and we tried to move on. In order to forget the past events, full of distress and failures, but also because a symbolic wedding had already been quietly planned all along, we decided to get married unofficially in Thailand. After a few more relaxed months, it was time for action again.
But what could we do after having used all the six free procedures (multiple transfers are possible in each procedure, depending on the amount of embryos) provided by our healthcare system? We had no choice but to find an infertility clinic abroad on our own which is, among other things, also a big financial burden. However, which clinic to choose and where? A shorter period of research followed. In the Czech Republic alone, which is a very interesting and quite affordable destination for Slovenian couples, there are about 40 such clinics. We decided for an infertility clinic in Brno. After two more unsuccessful attempts and eight extremely exhausting years, my wife gave up. She simply could no longer see the light at the end of the tunnel.
We started thinking about adoption more and more intensely. However, this procedure also required a lot of energy and research. Above all, the social work center first had to obtain a certificate proving that we were a suitable candidates for adoption. At the same time we had to obtain a psychological assessment from a psychologist.
It took more than ten hearings at the social work center and a visit from a social worker at our home to obtain the certificate. We also found out during the procedure that in most countries where adoptions take place, applicants are required to be officially together for at least ten years before they apply for adoption. In addition, they must be officially married. We therefore had to get married officially, this time in Slovenia.
With all the papers we obtained and with the help of our acquaintances, a possibility arose to adopt a child in one of the African countries. We were the tenth on the waiting list. It would have taken at least a year before we could adopt a child. However, since we still had some frozen embryos in Brno, we decided to try our luck in Brno for the last time while waiting for the adopted child. We thought that we would only be able to get the desired child through adoption and that we would soon become parents in any case.
Finally, the wheel of fortune was on our side. After nine long years our biggest wish came true. My dear wife got pregnant and despite a risky pregnancy and a long nine-month wait, our son was born and we named him Lev (Lion in English). He was born healthy in mid-March, during the coronavirus pandemic. We can proudly say that we are the happiest parents in the world.
We wish to share the story with others to encourage all the couples who are facing a similar situation as we did last 9 years."
-- Dejan Mijović