Tia and her husband Mark spent six years trying to become parents, but ultimately walked away childless.
She was initially diagnosed with Unexplained Infertility after initial testing came back normal for both her and Mark. When three Clomid cycles failed, she met with an RE in Illinois who recommended IUI and genetic testing. Turns out, they were both carriers of medium-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase (MCAD) and the IUI was cancelled.
As if genetic abnormalities weren’t tough enough, Tia quickly learned that her egg quality was extremely poor and her hormone levels were out of whack when they moved onto IVF. Out of three back-to-back egg retrievals, only two embryos were considered genetically normal. Her first transfer was negative, but the second transfer was a success! Tia carried her baby boy for 11 weeks until her abrupt miscarriage the day after Christmas.
The next six months were spent healing her mind and body. She knew she needed to try again. Tia completed one final retrieval, which yielded one embryo to transfer. Her beta was positive, but low, and she knew in her heart the embryo wasn’t going to make it. Within a week, Tia miscarried again. It was never in their hearts to try alternatives such as donors or adoption so her and her husband moved forward as a family of two.
Tia’s reason for speaking out and embracing her new non-mom life is to help break down the stigmas surrounding alternative endings with infertility. For a long time, Tia believed having a baby would automatically make all the sacrifice to herself, her marriage and her career all worth it, but she learned through all the failure that a baby would never be a cure-all for any sort of lingering anxiety or lack of purpose she held onto.
Stopping treatment was an easy choice, but following through was difficult and took almost a year of mental energy to embrace her new lifestyle. Her heart and brain were always in two separate places. Tia could see the chaos surrounding infertility treatments taking a toll on her quality of life but kept pushing everything to the side to try and find success with IVF. What’s the point of having a child if you lose your own identity and the strong foundation you built with your spouse?
A little over a year after stopping treatment, she paired up with another infertility warrior and co-founded a Chicago-based Infertility Summit, InfertileAF. The planning went from a dozen women around a dinner table to a complete 8-hour venue with 125 guests that will be witness to seven speakers from all facets of the Infertility world. The common goal this year is to validate our successes beyond the plus sign, however our lives have unfolded. Women that have chosen to walk away should feel just as validated as those that found quick success with treatment. The goal of the summit is for each guest to walk out of the venue wearing their Infertility as a badge of honor, rather than feeling minimized by a label.