Founders of MIA

We are women in the St. Louis area that have set a goal to raise awareness about infertility in our community. Our goal is to provide knowledge, support and encouragement to you during your journey through infertility.

Megan Chapman
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

These are words I have chosen to live by. I cannot change that infertility is happening to me, but I can change how I handle it. For two and a half years, I fought this. I do not know why I have been “chosen” to suffer from infertility. It is the worst thing that has ever happened to me.

Our journey began in April 2009. We had just bought our first house—four bedrooms—plenty of space for babies. After four months, I was driving myself crazy with ovulation predictor kits and basel body temperature charting. I began to get angry—at my husband, my family, myself, and God.

Around February 2010, I was ready to call the doctor. I wanted answers. Of course, I knew it would take months to get in. And it did. Our first appointment wasn’t until May 2010. When we met our doctor, we did all the tests and everything was fine. We were diagnosed as unexplained infertility. During June, July and August 2010, we tried Clomid with IUI. When each attempt failed, we decided we needed a break. In February 2011, we tried IUI with injectible drugs. I was so certain this would be it for us. It wasn’t.

We switched doctors after that, finding one closer to home. He was a blessing. I found in him the emotional support I needed from a doctor to help me get through the most difficult experience in my life. In May 2011, we tried IVF for the first time. I was absolutely certain that this was definitely the month. I was filled with more hope than ever before. I took it one shot at a time to help calm myself. I got regular massages and even started acupuncture. As the cycle went on, my uterus filled with fluid and I lost a lot of hope. I was afraid my cycle would be cancelled and we’d have to try again in a few months. Every other day I went to the doctor’s for blood work and ultrasound. I was creating some nice looking eggs, but the fluid continued to be there. On the day of my egg retrieval, I woke up after the procedure to my husband saying “the fluid is gone!” I was so excited! On the way home, I called my mom to tell her the good news—she was planning to come out to St. Louis for the embryo transfer. My hope was restored. A few days later was the transfer and everything went well. I was ordered to bed rest and painful progesterone shots in the butt—performed by my husband—an inexperienced shot giver, unlike me, now an expert. Actually, he did pretty well! Now came the hardest part—the two week wait. Dreadful! I got through it by keeping myself busy, but by the second week, I was nervous. And scared and mad and every other adjective you can think of! The day of my pregnancy test, I walked into the doctor’s office crying because I just knew it was going to be negative. It was. I fell to the floor crying hysterically because my absolute worst fear was coming true—the inability to have my own children. The rest of the day I was in a fog. At dinner that night, there was a baby sitting behind us and it started to cry. I bowed my head and tears streamed down my face and my body began to shake. Was I ever going to hear my own baby cry? I wanted to leave the restaurant immediately. My husband, nor I, had ever seen me that way before. When our doctor called us a couple of days later, he told us he thought he knew why we were unexplained. There may be something genetically wrong, which caused all of our remaining embryos to die. We had nothing left to freeze to try again with. I became depressed and anxious wanting nothing to do with anyone or anything. But somehow I knew I had to get out of bed and go on with my life. I wasn’t sure I could try IVF again because of the emotional stress. It was time for a really long, big break. And that’s where we are today.

Back in April of 2011, I attended a conference in Kansas City about infertility awareness. As soon as I walked into the room at the event, I knew immediately that St. Louis needed the same thing. And I was going to do just that! With the help of Mistie and Alyssa, Midwest Infertility Awareness formed. I hope that this organization will help many, but really, if it helps just one, I will be happy. I don’t want another person to have to feel the way I felt during my treatments. I hope to meet new friends and provide support to those who need it the most. I’ll end this with a quote from a song I love so much.

“I will learn to let go what I cannot change. I will learn to forgive what I cannot change. I will learn to love what I cannot change. But I will change, I will change. Whatever I, whenever I can.” LeAnn Rimes

Alyssa Groeteke 

"Did you ever want something so bad you think that hoping is going to jinx it?"~Liddy "Sing You Home" by Jodi Picoult
My name is Alyssa. I'm completely Type A. I plan. I have back-up plans of my plans and I have back-up plans of THOSE plans. So when my husband and I got married in October 2008, we had everything figured out. We would enjoy life as newlyweds for a year, start TTC at our one year anniversary then have a baby, wait 4-5 years and have our second and that was how life was going to be at our house. In October 2009, I had done all the research, knew my ovulation days and we were ready to do the baby dance. How hard could it be? EVERYONE around me was getting pregnant. Well,  "The best laid plans..."

When I was 5 years old, I was diagnosed with
precocious puberty (think Robin Williams in the movie JACK but not quite as extreme). I  was given lupron shots until I was 13. After a couple failed cycles, I called my OB who wanted to talk to me in person. By February, we had started testing, and found out that despite the lupron shots, I looked good but my husband's semen analysis came back with low in less than 1 million. We had a feeling his count would be low due to past medical history but not THAT low. We were still encouraged and made an appointment to see a specialist.

We continued to try every month, with little hope that we would get pregnant naturally. In April 2010, we finally had a consultation with the specialist where we found out IVF was the only option. 
I sobbed during the meeting, I sobbed during dinner, I sobbed for probably the next week.
There was no way that we could afford to do IVF, our insurance covered nothing and it wasn't even a guarantee.

When I finally calmed down, my husband and I decided we could work this out. We could at least try for a child even if it took everything we had financially, emotionally, physically but it was going to have to wait until we could get some things in order. I turned to running as my outlet to focus on something other than infertility. In October 2010,
I ran my first (and last or so I say...) marathon.

A couple weeks after I finished my marathon, we started our first fresh IVF cycle. The shots weren't as scary as they made them out to be, I just took one shot at a time so I didn't get overwhelmed. However, my lupron bleed wasn't appearing when it should of been. I was on the verge of a cancelled cycle. Prayers were answered and we were able to move forward but not without a few other glitches along the way which included running out of meds (I blame the drugs!), a too full bladder (yes this can happen) and a slip down the stairs during my 2WW. Two days before Christmas 2010, we got a BFN and once again, my whole entire world was rocked.

I was at a loss. Why? Why us? Why didn't it work? Why? Why? Why? I knew I had to pick up the pieces and move forward but for once in my life, I had no idea HOW. I went home for the holidays and had a nice long meeting with a good pastor friend, Brother Mark. We discussed many things and I left feeling like I had some answers, not all but I felt like I had found a starting place on how to function again.

In my almost 30 years, this has definitely been the hardest thing I've ever dealt with. My husband and I had to make decisions and we didn't always see eye to eye. We pushed each other away only to pull each other back because we knew there was no way we could get through this without the support of each other. I always tell him that we're lucky. We're lucky that we knew enough about our medical history to realize there was a problem. We're lucky that we were able to get a diagnosis, even if we didn't like it. We're lucky we were able to get into a specialist, have a diagnosis and try IVF all within almost one year of TTC. We're lucky that we could afford IVF, even if we only try once. We're lucky  that in August 2011 we transferred our three totsicles and were blessed with a BFP! On May 18, 2012, my husband and I welcomed our little girl into our family.

When I met with Brother Mark, he shared a Bible verse with me. Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." This made me realize, maybe I was picked to be on this journey because I was supposed to share about infertility with others. When Megan asked me to help with this organization, I said yes without hesitation because I felt like this is what I was supposed to do.

My hope is that by showing you my story, answering questions and sharing knowledge that you will know you're not alone on this crazy roller coaster called infertility. That you understand there are resources in your area and women in your community that will support you until you've completed your journey. As Cinderella's Fairy Godmother said, "Even miracles take a little time."

Mistie Thompson

I am so blessed in that I’ve never had problems getting pregnant, but I’ve had to battle to stay pregnant. With two pregnancies, we’ve lost the battle, so we have two babies I’m looking forward to snuggling in Heaven. But, we are extraordinarily blessed to have three beautiful children here with us – 8-year-old Faith, five-year-old Gabrielle and Zac, born in December 2010 – thanks to the skill and efforts of Fertility Partnership’s Dr. Elan Simckes.
Our first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage at six weeks, and our second very nearly ended at the same time. Fortunately, Dr. Simckes’ instincts told him to ignore a hospital’s ER diagnosis that our second pregnancy was already lost and to do a D&C – instead, Dr. Simckes said to wait, rest and check four days later, when we hit the seven-week mark. After four days of praying and waiting, a strong, steady heartbeat popped up on the ultrasound screen, and eight months (and 20 weeks of bedrest) later, Faith Elise was born perfectly healthy!
Three years later, our third pregnancy was equally precarious, but Dr. Simckes knew what to expect and what to prescribe. Requiring only five weeks of bedrest with this pregnancy, Gabrielle was born healthy at 38 weeks.
We did not have the same outcome with our next pregnancy, losing baby Jake to Trisomy 18 at 10 weeks just five days before Christmas 2009. At this point, nearing age 40, we knew we wanted to try one more time but also knew the risks and potential difficulties we faced if we even got pregnant again. With frequent monitoring and timed intercourse, we were able to conceive again, and Dr. Simckes patiently guided us through one more harrowing pregnancy. Along the way, we faced contractions beginning at 14 weeks and continuing throughout the pregnancy, a diagnosis of Single Umbilical Artery (SUA) and frequent ultrasounds to check fetal growth and organ development, and eight weeks of bedrest. Finally, Zac was born – again, by the grace of God and Dr. Simckes’ God-given skill – at 39 weeks, completely healthy.
Having been so extraordinarily blessed, I have a passion for helping others on their journey through infertility, especially recurrent miscarriage. For quite a while, I’ve claimed Philippians 4:13 as my life verse, and have seen time and again proof that I can do all things only through Christ who gives me strength. I want to pass that strength and faith on to every person I can, and I am honored and humbled to work with Megan and Alyssa – two brave and beautiful women – in creating and nurturing Midwest Infertility Awareness to do just that.