By Lauren Dowdle | Photos by Blair Ramsey
Few things are more exciting than the birth of a baby. From parties and gifts to dropping off casseroles and well wishes, everyone wants to welcome the new addition. Yet for those struggling with infertility and loss, it often seems like they’re on that journey alone—something Carrywell is working to change.
Mallory Wear, who helped start Carrywell, knows that journey all too well. Mallory and her husband, Ben, both wanted to start a family, but their paths to bring life into the world seemed to diverge. Those differences soon began to drive a wedge between them, she says.
“This was by far one of the hardest things Ben and I have walked through as a married couple,” Mallory explains. “I was prepared to do anything the doctors told me, and Ben seemed to question everything to the point of no action. At the same time, we struggled to communicate in a healthy way about how we felt, which yet again left us unfulfilled and at odds. It wasn’t until we stopped blaming one another for the disappointments and started prioritizing our marriage and focusing on who God is and His promises that we started to understand and respect each other.”
Mallory believes it wasn’t until they surrendered their plans to God that He opened their eyes, changed their perspectives and renewed their faith. During that journey of obedience, she also became connected to a community of women with similar experiences.
This group began meeting once a week in 2017 to support one another through their seasons of infertility and loss. But, they soon realized there were many more women and couples who were experiencing that same pain but going at it alone. The group wanted to find a way recreate the sense of community they’d found for others who needed it, and Carrywell was launched.
This Mountain Brook-based nonprofit is a community that helps carry families through seasons of infertility and loss by cultivating connections and granting financial assistance for medical treatments.
“Through divine connections, God began to create a ministry that was more than we could have ever imagined,” Mallory says. “Carrywell started with support groups for women and has grown to offer many resources, including financial assistance for fertility treatments through our grant program, one-on-one connections, a network of health and wellness professionals and much more. Our community is led by those passionate about helping men and women facing difficult seasons.”
One way that Carrywell builds that sense of community is by offering women’s and marriage groups during the year. They meet weekly for about eight to 12 weeks, and the fellowship times last an hour and a half. The groups provide a way for women and couples to connect and develop supportive friendships with others who have experienced common struggles.
“It’s a safe place to share what is on your heart without judgement,” Mallory says.
Mallory’s favorite part is getting to know the women and couples who are a part of Carrywell and being able to encourage and comfort them through their times of need. She says she also wants them to know they don’t need to struggle alone.
“It is a very isolating time, and it is paramount to surround yourself with a community that understands and can speak life into your circumstances,” she says. “While we cannot change each other’s circumstances, we believe that connection with those on a similar journey can help change our perspective.”
Even for those who haven’t experienced these struggles personally, they most likely know someone who has—given that one in eight people experience infertility, and one in four experience loss.
To help raise awareness and celebrate those who participate in the organization, Carrywell hosts several community events during the National Infertility Awareness Week each year. Carrywell will also host speaking events on June 13 at Avenue D with authors Tony and Alisa DiLorenzo, who will share what it takes to have an extraordinary marriage.
“It has been great to see the growth of this organization but even more exciting about what we have on the horizon,” Mallory adds.
This summer, Carrywell will also be launching curated gift baskets and individual items for sale on their website. These gifts will be a great way for friends and families to comfort those who are facing hard times and need to be uplifted and encouraged, she says.
“We often get asked what is a good gift for someone walking through infertility or loss, so we have decided to curate the perfect items that will encourage and comfort those in their time of grief and heartache,” Mallory explains. “We will also have items for those who are celebrating their miracle babies.”
Mallory and Ben now have two miracles themselves: their son Jack, 5, and daughter Mazie, 2. Having experienced all of the twists and turns this journey threw at them, Mallory now hopes to uplift others who follow similar paths.
“The scripture that guides me while leading Carrywell is Colossians 2:2,” she says. “‘My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ.’”
One of the couples that has felt that support is Andrew and Lindsey Mills. They met at Saw’s Juke Joint in Crestline Park a decade ago and say it was love at first sight. The couple married in 2015 and began having issues conceiving a year later. Through fertility treatments, they had their first child, Annie, but lost her in a tragic accident. Countless of other unsuccessful treatments followed their loss, which only added to their immense pain, the couple says.
“Child loss combined with the hardship of not being able to conceive again immediately after was the lowest point of our journey,” Anthony says.
A family friend who worked with Carrywell encouraged them to become part of the organization. Through Carrywell, they found support from a community of couples who understood their hardships.
“Traversing our difficult path would not be possible without our belief in Jesus, and we liked that Carrywell promotes faith as a pillar to healing and renewal,” Anthony says.
Though they weren’t actively pursuing adoption, a friend connected them with a family that led them to adopt their second daughter, Mallie, in October 2021.
“The lows fortunately do not last forever, and Mallie renewed our hope and positive outlook going forward,” Anthony says.
Four months later, they had a successful in vitro fertilization (IVF) round that resulted in the birth of their son, Harris, in November 2022.
“We firmly believe that God knew we needed Mallie first,” Lindsey says.
They stay busy with two children younger than 2 and are hopeful for more additions to come. While it’s easier for them to look back now that they have two children at home, they say they encourage couples who are struggling with infertility to not give into despair, try to incorporate a positive mindset and don’t give up faith.
“There have been numerous medical advancements in infertility treatments and at reduced financial burdens for families,” Anthony says. “We support Carrywell because they are focused on both the healing of grief and the informative guidance centered on cost-effective infertility treatments.”
For more information on Carrywell or to find ways to support or get involved with the organization, visit carrywell.org.