The path to parenthood can be challenging. Anyone with dreams of starting a family who has tried unsuccessfully to get pregnant understands the heartbreak of infertility — the disappointment and the dashed hopes. A report just published by the World Health Organization shows that around 17.5%, or one in six people, across the globe experience infertility. In the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 19%, or one in five women, have difficulty getting pregnant after trying for at least a year — or staying pregnant.
A variety of conditions can lead to infertility, ranging from ovulation disorders to abnormalities in the reproductive organs, hormone imbalance, and low sperm count. Smoking, poor nutrition, and stress can also be contributory factors.
National Infertility Awareness Week takes place from April 23 to 29. The aim is to ensure that those dealing with reproductive issues have better access to medical treatment, as well as psychological support, so they don’t feel isolated.
We’re sharing the moving and courageous stories of three Thrive Challenge winners who are dealing with infertility — and one who’s now the proud, happy parent of a healthy baby boy.
1. Kathryn Carpitcher, Walmart Supercenter #103, Shawnee, OK
Kathryn and Jeffery Carpitcher have been trying to start a family since they got married five years ago. “I’ve always wanted to be a mom, but I didn’t get pregnant, and after a while, I felt like I was broken, like something was wrong with me,” says Kathryn. “All our friends were having kids, and my sister, Ashley, has a baby. I’m so excited for them, but it still hurts because we want a baby so much.
Kathryn, a Thrive Grand Champ, has polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which can make it hard to get pregnant. And she was pre-diabetic. Her doctor told her in order to improve her chances, and to be approved for fertility treatment, she needed to lose weight. “Jeff and I would go out for almost every meal,” she says.
Kathryn, who’s 27, and Jeffery, 35, downloaded the Thrive app and made gradual changes to their lifestyle. They began cooking instead of eating fast food. “We make soups, eat lots of veggies, and I love, love, love grilled chicken and roasted asparagus! I’d never had asparagus before I started the Challenge.”
The couple turned their garage into a mini gym. “We bought a punching bag and battle ropes. I work out listening to music. ‘I Am Woman’ by Emmy Meli is my go-to song when I need self-confidence.”
Last May, Kathryn discovered she was pregnant. But just five days later, she had a miscarriage. “I had a gut feeling that something was wrong and rushed to the ER. I ended up losing our baby and I felt like my life had come crashing down,” she says. “But what’s great is that we know now it’s possible to get pregnant.”
Continuing to prioritize her well-being, Kathryn’s lost 52 pounds and is no longer pre-diabetic. She’s currently taking the fertility medication Letrozole. If that doesn’t work, with their doctor’s blessing, the couple will embark on a course of IVF. “The great news is that our treatment will be covered by Walmart. They also pay for adoption or surrogacy,” says Kathryn. “That means that if we don’t get pregnant, we have options!”
Kathryn and Jeff, who’s also a Thrive Challenge winner, say Microsteps help them stay positive.“I love the breathing exercises and podcasts, and I watch Resets when I feel stressed,” says Kathryn. Giving back helps too. “I volunteer at my church, teaching Bible study, and I work in the nursery, taking care of babies and children.”
And Kathryn is hopeful that before long she’ll be taking care of her own baby. “Oh my goodness, when we finally get to hold our baby it’s going to be indescribable,” she says, close to tears. “That baby is going to be so loved — and I’ll be the best mom in the world.”
2. Christopher Diaz, Walmart Supercenter #3851, Lafayette, IN
Chris Diaz and his partner, Amanda Miller, have been trying to have a baby for over two years. Like Kathryn, Amanda, who’s 33, has PCOS. She got pregnant twice, but both pregnancies resulted in miscarriages. “The first time, we were so excited and started talking about names,” says Amanda. “When I lost the baby, it was devastating — and then it happened again,” says Amanda, a Walmart coach. She’s taken different medications, including Letrozole. “None of them worked.”
The couple were also advised by their doctor to eat better and get moving. They started the Thrive Challenge and began cooking together. “We’re bonding in the kitchen,” says Chris. “Amanda’s a vegetarian, so we’re eating more plant-based meals. We make roasted cauliflower and a fantastic lasagna with ricotta cheese and a lot of spinach. And soda pop is out of the picture!” They’re moving more too. Amanda enjoys YouTube exercise videos, while Chris works out on the elliptical and lifts weights.
Chris, who’s 36, has a seven-year-old son, Isaac, from a previous relationship. “Being a dad is the best thing in the world,” he says. “And on the days we have Isaac, Amanda and I co-parent very well — we play games together and go to the trampoline park. I know Amanda’s going to be an amazing mom.” They spend time with Amanda’s brother, Luke, his wife, Clair, and their three children. “The kids make me so happy, but there’s also sadness because I want to hold my own little one in my arms,” says Amanda.
Thrive helps Chris and Amanda focus on gratitude, so their fertility journey isn’t all-consuming. “My favorite Microstep is making time for meaningful connections,” says Chris. “I text Amanda throughout the day. I always say, ‘You da best, I can’t wait to be home with you.’ And I add a bunch of hearts.”
For extra support and encouragement, Amanda turns to her grandma. “She’s the strongest person I know. She tells us to pray and stay positive; she says miracles take time.”
Chris and Amanda are looking into fertility treatments, including IVF. “Every day I visualize what our life is going to be like,” says Amanda. “My dream is to have a noisy house full of kiddos, and our cat and two dogs. We’ll have family dinners with everyone hanging out, playing basketball and splashing in our pool.”
“We want a big family with all the craziness and all the chaos,” adds Chris. “A home filled with love.”
3. Georgia Teel, Walmart Supercenter #52, Hot Springs, AR
Georgia Teel and her husband Hesston are also dealing with infertility, stemming from a brain tumor Hesston had several years ago. Thankfully, the tumor was benign and Hesston made a full recovery. “But there were reproductive problems, and our doctors told us our chances of conceiving naturally are very low,” Georgia says. There have been years of disappointment. “It’s been distressing,” says Georgia, who’s 28. “My younger brother has three children and my older brother and his wife are expecting their second child. I’m happy for them, but I’ve been so sad.”
Fertility treatment is an option, but like the other couples, Georgia was encouraged to focus on her well-being. “That was a huge motivator for me to make changes,” says Georgia. “We weren’t eating well and l was actually in a lot of pain at work. My feet hurt so much I’d come home and cry.”
She downloaded the Thrive app and began going to the gym. “It was hard to start with, but I learned that, hey, even if I just showed up and walked on the treadmill for 30 minutes, it was an accomplishment.” She also rides her horse, Flash. “We love to go trail riding in the Ouachita National Forest. It’s peaceful and relaxing.”
To help with emotional ups and downs, Georgia is seeing a therapist. “I’m learning to be positive and forgive myself, because I can’t be perfect. I’ll say, ‘It’s okay, tomorrow’s a new day, you did what you could today.’”
Georgia and Hesston are taking the Thrive Challenge together. “We’re a team and we support each other,” she says. “Hesston does most of the cooking — he makes great grilled chicken with broccoli.”
In the past year, Georgia has lost 120 pounds. “My doctor is over the moon, and now we can consider fertility treatment,” she says. “And the fact that Walmart is covering the cost is amazing. It’s hard to just buy groceries and pay the bills, and this is a great thing they’re doing for associates.”
Both Georgia and Hesston feel confident that they will have the family of their dreams. “I know when I hold my baby I’m going to cry. And we’ll be perfectly fine adopting, if we can’t have a child naturally,” says Georgia. “I’m going to be a fit, active mom. I didn’t have parents who wanted to do things with me. So I want to hike with my kids and go to the jungle gym with them. I know I’ll be the best parent that I can be,” she says. “I’m excited for the future.”
4. Laura Schultz, Supercenter #2502, Latrobe, PA
Laura Schultz and her husband Zachary spent years trying for a baby. “I had multiple miscarriages, then I couldn’t get pregnant. My gynecologist labeled it ‘unexplained infertility,’” says Laura. “I’d always wanted children and it was devastating — disappointment after disappointment. The fertility journey was hard and lonely, and I was depressed.”
The couple, who’ve been together since their teens, decided not to pursue medical treatment. “I wanted to just appreciate my life in the present, and I needed a change in attitude.” For support, she downloaded the Thrive app. “I began choosing happiness and looking for the good in each day, seeing life as an adventure, telling myself, ‘Somehow, things will work out.’ I’d say out loud three things I’m grateful for, like my job, my family, and walks with my husband.”
Laura also began taking care of her one-year-old niece and goddaughter, Scarlett. “It was an opportunity to be the best auntie I could be and get great practice with a baby,” she says. “Scarlett’s mom, my sister, Nicole, is my best friend and we work together in the bakery.”
When Laura was 38, she finally got pregnant again; understandably there were concerns. “I was considered high risk, and my biggest fear was that I’d have another miscarriage. I took care of myself and would go for walks after work or put my feet up — whatever my body was telling me I needed.” Their “miracle baby,” Warren, was born on June 23, 2021. “He’s everything to us,” she says, in tears. “We love taking him to the park. He loves taking our hands and leading us around the house. Warren thinks that’s the best thing. He’s usually trying to find our cat, Monkers! It’s the little things that make me realize I’m living the life I’ve always wanted.”
Recently there was a scare when Laura had an ectopic pregnancy. She had emergency surgery and lost a fallopian tube. But now, Laura and Zachary are trying for a second baby. Laura’s taking Clomid, an infertility medication, and says they are “not ruling out IVF.”“I feel the universe will gift us with Baby Number Two, when the timing is perfect,” says Laura. “But I’m so thankful for our sweet baby boy. He’s the center of our world, and I know that no matter what the future holds, it’s going to be great.”