NOV. 2, 2011 -- Megan Chapman has spent the past three years trying to become pregnant. The Wentzville resident has seen two specialists, tried ovulation predictors, fertility medications, intrauterine insemination, and one round of in vitro fertilization. So far nothing has lead to pregnancy.
"We're just keeping our fingers crossed," Chapman said.
The journey has been difficult, she admits. In the Midwest Infertility Awareness blog, she writes about her emotional struggle to start a family.
"I cannot change that infertility is happening to me, but I can change how I handle it," she wrote in the blog. "I do not know why I have been 'chosen' to suffer from infertility. It is the worst thing that has ever happened to me."
In an effort to support other women struggling with infertility, Chapman has joined together with two other local women, Mistie Thompson and Alyssa Groeteke, to coordinate the first annual Midwest Infertility Awareness Conference.
The free conference is 2-6 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 12, at The Lodge, 1050 Des Peres Road, Des Peres, Mo., 63131. St. Peters, Mo.-based infertility clinic Fertility Partnership will give away a free IVF cycle to one conference attendee.
The conference is structured to provide the latest information both for people just beginning their fertility journey and also for those who are or have gone through fertility treatments. Topics will include: latest advances in infertility treatments; when it's time to seek a fertility doctor; making it through the holidays while battling infertility; finding physical and emotional strength to continue treatments; support groups and alternative family-building options.
Chapman said she hopes those in attendance realize there are resources for them in St. Louis.
"I felt like I didn't have anybody," she said, mentioning she didn't know about support groups or counselors in the area. "I want them to know they are not alone and there are women in the area that want to reach out and help them."
The conference features a panel of experts including Elan Simckes, founder and medical director of Fertility Partnership; Becky Kubala, registered nurse and executive director of PARINTS, Inc.; Diane Sanford, psychologist, author and president of the Women's Healthcare Partnership; Sarah Keller, assistant professor, department of obstetrics and gynecology, division of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Washington University; Margo Lucido, infertility and grief counselor; and Danielle Pennel, adoption expert and board member at Infertility and Adoption Support, Inc.
"Going through infertility you definitely lose a lot of confidence, in the world, in yourself and possibly, in your marriage," Pennel said. "It is possible for anyone to become a parent, you just need to stick with it."
Pennel facilitates adoption support meetings at Infertility and Adoption Support, which provides support groups and information for St. Louisans experiencing infertility -- including infertility following successful pregnancies -- and adoption.
She's looking forward to speaking at the conference, and encourages friends and family members of couples struggling with infertility to attend the event as well. It can sometimes be hard to admit to yourself that you're struggling with infertility, Pennel said; "It's a big label to put upon yourself."
"Sometimes coming and attending and gathering information for a loved one is a great way to show support for them," Pennel said.