7 March 2023 

When Tia and Lee got married in 2018, they knew they wanted to start trying for a family straightaway. Yet they had no idea that before them lay a tough and emotional IVF battle, which cost them around £40,000.

The result was their miracle twins, Maliyah and Kawhi, who have recently turned one. Tia has shared her story with the aim of bringing hope to other families who desperately want children. She was diagnosed with premature menopause when she was just 29.

She said: “Lee and I met in 2015 and married in 2018. We started trying for children straightaway. We always knew that was the plan as soon as we married. I was absolutely oblivious that anything would be wrong. Lee thought it would happen in the first month and I said I didn’t think it would be that easy.”

After 18 months, the couple hadn’t fallen pregnant. Tia was doing at home ovulation kits which were showing no signs of ovulation. Her doctor wouldn’t refer her for further tests until the couple had been attempting to conceive for a minimum of two years.

She added: “They did do a sperm analysis on Lee – I was determined it must have been him. As far as I knew I had nothing wrong with me but he had rheumatoid arthritis, previously had glandular fever and asthma. His tests came back absolutely fine. They did some blood tests on me. The tests came back saying no chance of conceiving.”

Tia and Lee paid to have a private consultation at a fertility clinic. Tia was diagnosed with premature ovarian insufficiency in November 2019. This meant her body was going through premature menopause. She was just 29 and suddenly having to deal with this earth-shattering news just over a year after her wedding.

She said: “We were told if we wanted a chance to have a child with my genetics we would have to start IVF straightaway before anything deteriorated. I didn’t have a clue what IVF was and my husband definitely didn’t. I didn’t know anyone close to me who had been through IVF. We started IVF within a couple of weeks but really we didn’t know what we were letting ourselves in for.

“We had our first egg collection in January 2020. We did manage to get a couple of eggs but they stopped developing at day three of embryo development, so we had no embryos to transfer. That was probably one of the hardest things. Nobody ever told either of us that there was a chance we would have nothing to transfer. I really started to struggle with my mental health then.”

The twins

Following this after the first round and waits due to the sudden coronavirus pandemic, clinics closed and IVF treatment started again in June 2020. Once again, sadly the eggs didn’t develop and the couple was told to instead look at egg donation options or consider adopting a child.

“We weren’t ready to let go of my genetics yet,” said Tia. “We transferred to a London clinic, where there were specialists for my condition. But this third round didn’t get to egg collection as my ovaries had shut down and weren’t responding to treatment. So we were then told we would either need to consider egg donor treatment, adoption, or live a child-free life.”

After carefully researching their options for egg donations, looking at clinics in England and abroad, they chose a clinic in Greece. Tia said: “I just had such a bad experience in England and I needed a fresh start. Money was a factor – at that point we had spent £30,000 and it’s a lot more expensive in England. We chose Greece and we found out it was one of the leading countries in the world for fertility treatment.”

The couple travelled to Greece during the pandemic, flights kept getting cancelled and dates got delayed. Transporting Lee’s sperm to Greece proved costly too as it’s classed as medical transport. But the Brown family never once gave up their hopes for a family, even when a global pandemic tried to scupper their dreams.

Tia added: “I had to wait for them to match me with a donor and when I was finally matched to a donor and received the details, it was the strangest feeling in the world. Lee was in the shower and I ran upstairs all excited saying we had a donor. I opened the information about the donor and I was reading about someone who is meant to be me.

A family photo
© Jess Bright Photography

“It’s the weirdest thing ever of course because they aren’t me.You don’t get a photo, at the time I didn’t want to actually see what she looked like. I was still trying to process everything and still grieving the loss of my genetics. But at the same time I wanted to see what she looked like. I asked the clinic lots of questions for me to make a picture in my head.”

In February 2021, the couple accepted the donor and during donor treatment two months later, they were thrilled to hear they had 10 top quality embryos. The embryos were frozen and the couple prepared for treatment for the transfer, which took place in May 2021 in Greece.

“We talked about transferring one or two embryos and we never thought about two implanting. We always thought in our head if one stuck around for us out of the two, we would be blessed that it had worked. We didn’t really consider anything about the twin element. We knew we would be absolutely ecstatic if the embryos both stayed. We never thought in a million years that they would,” Tia said.

Tests revealed that Tia was pregnant and more tests followed to check the pregnancy was progressing ok, later revealing they were expecting twins.

“We were so happy, we just wanted the chance of bringing a baby home and now we were having two. When I found out I was pregnant my feelings changed from worrying about how I would feel to worrying about how the babies would feel about being donor conceived and if I was going to bond with them,” she added.

Being a mum to twins is the best thing ever; it’s a miracle

Although Tia was adamant she wanted a vaginal birth, her delivery didn’t turn out as planned. She had a low-lying placenta and as twin one (Maliyah) was breech, a C-section was booked for 37 weeks. During the birth, Tia had a major haemorrhage and lost five litres of blood and was suffering from placenta accreta, a condition that had not been diagnosed during pregnancy. The rare life-threatening complication in pregnancy means that the placenta grows through the wall of the uterus, affecting the surrounding organs. The twins were born but doctors quickly moved to treat Tia, knowing her life was at risk. She added: “I didn’t realise there was anything wrong with me. My pregnancy had been so smooth considering the way we conceived and it being a twin pregnancy.”

Soon after the twins were born, Tia was still unwell and haemorrhaged again. She faced more emergency surgery and was in hospital every single week. It was later revealed she had acute kidney failure after losing such a large volume of blood. This this eventually led to a full hysterectomy for Tia in July 2022.

She added: “At the time I didn’t really realise how unwell I had been after the twins were born. In the depths of everything, I just got on with it. I hadn’t been able to look after the twins for nine months. Something had to be done to treat it. The twins are amazing – they are very content babies. Being a mum to twins is the best thing ever; it’s a miracle. A lot of people will walk by and say ‘double trouble’, but we don’t know any different. It’s all we ever wanted.”

To follow the Brown family journey, find them here.