Kara and family

Photo by Sheri Bean with Captured Photography

MANSFIELD — Stay-at-home mom Kara Franco has been overweight for most of her life, but she doesn’t let it keep her from doing what she can to be a good mother, wife and having confidence in herself. 

“I’m still pretty much physically fit and am able to do many things, but it (her weight) does still hold me back in a lot of ways,” Franco said.

In 2010, Franco decided to get in shape for her wedding. She used a personal trainer, worked out with a friend and ran marathons. She ended up losing between 60-80 pounds. 

“Even with my wedding gown, I remember the lady was like, ‘We probably should just buy you a new one,” Franco recalled after losing so much weight. 

Kara after marathon

Franco participated in many marathons, which aided her in losing over 60 pounds in 2010. 

After their wedding, Franco and her husband decided they wanted to immediately try for kids, but they hit a roadblock when Franco discovered she was infertile. 

They decided to go to Women’s Care Inc. after trying to conceive for five years and received Intrauterine insemination treatment (IUI), a procedure in which sperm cells are directly placed into the uterus around the time ovulation occurs. 

Julie Fogel, a licensed practice nurse at Women’s Care Inc., loves making a difference in parents' lives. 

“What they’re doing here is great,” Fogel said. “There’s not a lot of facilities around here that do anything with infertility. We have one of the cheapest ones here because it is self-pay, we have the onsite lab here, so we’re able to run every lab that needs done and every ultrasound that needs done. It’s all able to be done in one place that’s here locally.” 

Women’s Care Inc. has helped 50-100 women in the last 10 years with IUI and IVF treatments. 

Franco and her husband went six times total for IUI treatments, but they unfortunately saw no results.

“Every month you’re like, ‘Is this the month that I’m pregnant?’ and then you take the test and it’s like, ‘Nope! Didn’t happen this month,’” Franco said. “And then (I) would try to comfort (myself) with food, and so I did continue to gain weight.” 

Their next step was to try in vitro fertilization treatments (IVF), and although Women’s Care Inc. doesn’t do IVF treatments in Mansfield, they put Franco and her husband in touch with a fertility doctor at Ohio Reproductive Medicine.

Franco heard many stories about other women needing to lose weight in order to get pregnant, but her fertility doctor told her it wasn’t an issue in her case.

“It was not a factor to him, which was a blessing and a curse kind of because I didn’t feel like I had to lose a bunch of weight in order to get pregnant,” Franco said. 

The first round of IVF for Franco and her husband was a success, but upon their six-week check up, they found out the fetus had no heartbeat. 

“It was extremely hard, especially because we tried so hard going through it, and then at the time I had a job where I was a manager to 20 something employees,” Franco said.  

The expense of the IVF treatments took a toll on the couple as well because they couldn’t rely on insurance after the first round. 

“Each time you put a substantial amount of money down before you can even start the procedure, and then on top of that to pay for the drugs,” Franco said. 

After another unsuccessful attempt with IVF and making some choices, Franco and her husband decided to try one last time, and fortunately it worked.

Franco and her husband were in for an even bigger surprise, however. They discovered they were having twins. 

After five years of unsuccessful attempts, Franco carried the twins to full-term in 2015 with no complications and delivered healthy a boy and girl: Zef and Zoey Franco. 

Today, Franco still loves being a stay-at-home mom, but the combination of stress, medications she took while in treatment and giving birth led to her gaining back all of the weight she lost. 

Kara Franco

Kara Franco, 41, has grown up in Mansfield since she was 5 years old. She is a stay-at-home mom with twins and enjoys interior decorating. Most of the furniture at her home she’s built herself.

Now that her kids are in school, Franco has a lot more time for herself and wants to use it responsibly by getting fit with challenges like Strive to Thrive. She hopes that with this weight loss journey she can also encourage her children to have a healthy relationship with food and fitness. 

“With my husband and I around, they’re predisposed to probably having those overweight traits, but I also don’t want to stick that in their minds that they have to diet or workout,” Franco said.

“I’m trying to let them see the healthy habits.” 

As her weight loss journey continues, Franco is determined to stay on track and continue to find herself outside of being a mom. 

“I’ve typically always been a confident person, but even just getting my workouts in again and just the feeling I get from that has just been really nice,” Franco said. 

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Thrive Reporter

Tierra Thomas is the Thrive Reporter. She was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio and graduated from Kent State University with a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications. When she's not writing news, she's writing fiction or taking photos.