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Read Tia's story here:
I battled ovarian cysts in high school. Despite doctors assuring me I would be “fine,” I just always had a feeling that it wouldn't be easy. I had a hunch that it may be a little difficult when it came to starting a family. But honestly? I had no idea just how hard it would be or what was to come.
My husband Mike and I were married in 2009. After 5 years, 3 fertility centers and a few OBs later we had our first baby in our arms!
I was diagnosed with PCOS & it proved to be very difficult for us to do all of the "intro to fertility steps" (progesterone, clomid, femara, trigger shots). So after more tests and consulting with our Dr, IVF was our "fix all." With my ability to produce a ton of eggs due to my PCOS, and Mike's "excellent sperm quality," we were able to get 18 fertilized eggs which resulted in 6 mature embryos.
THE IVF PROCESS
In January 2015 we had a successful egg retrieval and froze all of our embryos. We transferred Steele in March of 2015. It was a breeze! Positive pregnancy test, carried to full term, ZERO complications. I was in heaven. I LOVED being pregnant. After Steele was a little over a year, we decided to add another child to our family, so we transferred another embryo again in March of 2017 and conceived our Baby Girl. We unfortunately we lost her in June of 2017. I went in for a routine ultrasound at week 16 and there was just no heartbeat. I can still remember the devastation surrounding me. I was sobbing as I thrust my phone at a nurse to call Mike to come. We never ever thought that miscarriage would be another part of our story.
We scheduled a D&C the following day. I will never forget the “empty” feeling I had when waking up from anesthesia. I woke up bawling and clutching my uterus that no longer had the tight ball of my baby girl inside.
In October 2017, after months of testing my HCG levels (waiting until they were back down), I gathered my courage and we prepped to transfer again. I woke up the morning of the transfer and had contracted the horrible flu that had just hit Steele and Mike. Our doctor apologized and informed me we just couldn’t risk it. We had to cancel the transfer. 2 weeks of meds down the drain. We were devastated.
We waited a few months, saved up some more money, took all of the medicine and administered the shots all over again, and prepared for another embryo transfer. This took place in January of 2018.
We found out 10 days later that it didn't work. Complete shock & disbelief filled us both.
Our doctor was also shocked and started researching more on what could have happened. Fluid was retaining in my uterus and she had come to the conclusion that my c-section scar from delivering Steele was the cause of the fluid.
We scheduled surgery to fix my c-section scar as soon as possible. Fast forward to April 2018 as the surgeon was revising the scar, she noticed my tubes were horribly scarred. This was also contributing to fluid build up. She called my husband while I was under anesthesia to advise him and give her recommendation to remove them. He was frozen with panic with such a big decision to make while I was under anesthesia. He had to agree to “sterilize” me. STERILIZE his wife! It was so heavy. (Side note: They didn’t even tell me at the hospital when I was in recovery. It wasn’t until our drive home that my husband finally found the right words to tell me. It was absolutely horrible. I remember looking at him in disbelief and saying, “That’s a messed up joke babe.” Seeing the look in his eyes told me everything. He was not joking.)
As IVF patients, we always have that hope that “maybe we’ll have that spontaneous pregnancy!" “Maybe after our first IVF, my body will figure it out like it has for so many other couples!”
Nope...for the health of my uterus, I was sterilized.
BUT...it was ok, right? We still had IVF!!! So I moved past my grief and focused on the next transfer.
We transferred our baby boy in August 2018. Pretty soon after the great news of a successful pregnancy, I found out I had a subchorionic hemorrhage. During week 7 of gestation, I was bleeding off and on. We went in weekly for ultrasounds. On week 17, I felt a gush of fluid coming from my vagina. I reached down to catch a little bit of the watery pink fluid, checking to see if it was blood. Luckily, I was right down the road from my OB. Since I had already had such a high risk and normal pregnancy, they rushed me right in. Somehow, it wasn’t my amniotic fluid...somehow even with clots filling my palms that whole evening, he was okay! "My fighter" I proudly called him. We made it another 3 weeks before I landed myself in Labor and Delivery where I got to watch his heart rate go from “too slow” to nothing at all...
I was able to deliver him vaginally just 8 hours after learning he has passed. Our stillborn Baby Boy. Once I delivered, my body went into septic shock. I was monitored for a few hours locally before being transported at 3 am to IMC hospital in Salt Lake City. It just so happened that the exact surgeon who I needed to save my life was on call (Christmas Eve) and he did just that. He opened me up, found my uterus blackened with infection, and ensured it was no where else. I had an "emergency hysterectomy” where I was sliced from belly button to pubic bone.
We lost or baby boy during Christmas of 2018 and buried him in February of 2019.
When your body goes into septic shock, your organs start to shut down. Kidneys are typically the first to stop working. In most cases, the kidneys perk right back up in a day or two. Mine did not. I was placed on emergency dialysis after 40 lbs of fluid had been pumped into my body and 0 output from my kidneys.
The day before discharge, I had a more permanent port placed in my chest. I was then sent home, traveled to my local dialysis clinic 3x/week, 15 hours each week, hooked up to a machine that did the work that my “sleeping kidneys” weren’t able to do. It was March of 2019 when I was told my kidneys would in fact, not be "waking up."
My siblings wasted no time getting tested to be my match. I also believe there were 40 other people that applied to donate as well. It was truly shocking and humbling to have so many people apply!
3 of my brothers matched.
In July of 2019, my 23-year-old baby brother donated his left kidney to me. My Angel on EARTH!
In September of 2019, we started our surrogacy journey.
In February of 2020, my incredible friends threw a party and held an auction to help us pay for the surrogacy journey. Shortly after the party, our efforts that had been ongoing since September came to a halt. Clinic appointments, lawyer fees, many many dollars, difficult situations and heavy hearts...we were directed back to square one.
One thing I have learned in our process is that it never goes “as expected” for my husband and I. Never.
Our son Steele is the miraculous exception.
WHERE WE ARE NOW
That leaves us here, back to the beginning, picking up the pieces that have been shattered over, and over, and over.... again.
I can't believe what we have been through. Truly, writing it out has taken me days because of all the grief and pain I am reliving as I type these memories.
But all it takes is one glance at Steele and I remember the 5 years of pain it took to get him here. And I KNOW...we just aren’t done. Our family is not complete. We are still going, still standing (with the support of SO MANY PEOPLE), and we are still fighting like hell for these babies.
xx - Tia Montgomery
Instagram - @tiacelise
To read Ali Punderson's IUI and IVF story, click HERE