In vitro fertilization is at the heart of this inspirational story that captivated many back in 2009. A couple, Carolyn and Sean Savage, who opted for IFV were thrown into a medical nightmare when their embryos were mistaken for another couple's embryos and the result was a pregnancy that they desperately wanted for themselves. How can this happen? Is it not of the utmost importance that those in charge of such life affecting decisions do their job correctly? What would you do if faced with this predicament? This book was a journey through very tough questions brought about in the most unusual circumstances.
Told by both Carolyn and Sean simultaneously throughout the book, it flowed quite well between the two of their thoughts showing both sides in this marriage that was being tested beyond any vowes. Sean was quite meticulous in the record keeping so all of the medical, law and meetings with the biological parents were precise giving an impeccable timeline to this amazing story. It is hard to imagine the emotions that this couple endured, but their account of what they went through is so heartfelt and honest that you can't help but sympathize with their unbelievable situation.
They are the parents to three older children whom they struggled to keep the pregnancy from in the first few months. When the time comes to tell their families of the mistake that happened and how they decided to birth the child that was not theirs, well to say that it was hard to read is an understatement. But, with their strong faith and incredible sense of what needed to be done, they are able to comfort those around them even though their souls were still trying to make sense of the immense loss that they would soon feel. Surrounded by support and love from friends and family is something that shines through in this book and reminds one of the need to have those individuals around to help with roadblocks in life.
The meetings between the two parents involved are good to learn from. Carolyn describes many different feelings that she has for the other mother, deep and personal thoughts that are sometimes difficult to take in. However, it is in these thoughts that the reader begins to understand the heartbreak that she has to go through ... a heartbreak that no one should have to navigate in their lifetime. In the same respect, you also see just how this affects Sean and his need to make sense of all that is happening around him and more importantly, what is happening to the woman that he loves. Reading both of their thoughts is what makes this book so unique. There is no guessing what their true feelings are about anything that takes place during the pregnancy.
Eventually, the press gets wind of the dramatic situation and again, the Savage's grace in allowing strangers to probe into their lives, their thoughts and their heartbreak makes the reader appreciate what a great marriage can produce. The birth of Little Man, as the couple has come to call the baby boy, leaves them with broken hearts but also pride that they were able to hold true to their promises and give the ultimate gift to a couple that they would have never known without the medical mistake that changed all their lives. There are other twist and turns in the book, but I will leave you to discover those on your own as you read this remarkable writing.
My take? I was completely engrossed with this story. As a birth mother for over 20 years, I saw and heard Carolyn travel a road that I was quite familiar with. Although this situation is not an adoption, the emotions that she goes through are parallel to what many birth mothers have gone through. Completely different, yet so the same. Carolyn address' this exact topic in one paragraph in the book:
"People sometimes compare our situation to putting a baby up for adoption, yet that was so off the mark from what we felt. Women who give their babies up for adoption have very specific reasons for doing so. Of course their feeling of loss is great, and many of those women grieve over the fact that they couldn't afford or accommodate the new life they created. But we had the means and the space in our heats and in our home to keep this child."
This is true Carolyn, so very true. However, reading the thoughts that you had about how you could not imagine letting go, that you could not imagine life without this baby, that you could not begin to think about how life could move on once the baby was gone from you life was all to familiar to me. I often found myself nodding in agreement to your feelings of loss, your feelings of confusion and even your questions that you had for your Father and why he would put you in a situation where you would have to make such a difficult choice for the life that you were carrying. Yes, a birth mother's predicament is quite different from your dilemma. Yes, this is not the same as placing a child for adoption. And yes, our choices as birth mothers do not reflect the same difficulties that you and Sean faced as you watched that baby grow and capture your heart. But I cannot help thinking that I know just how you feel, how you felt and how you will continue to feel about the child that you let go.
My hope is that this story and this book will help many more people out there understand just how brave this decision was for Carolyn and Sean, and to see that the support that they gave each other was the backbone to their incredible strength. I hope that people who read this book will learn how one's heart can open up beyond what can be imagined, to teach others how to handle difficulty with grace, and most of all ... to see just how much love and faith can get anyone through those unexpected life turns that so often leave us with renewed faith in what we are capable of.
I thank you Carolyn and Sean for sharing your story with the world. What an amazing story it is.
I read this book after being asked to participate in a blog tour specifically for this book. I am grateful for being asked and I thank TLC books for not only sponsoring this tour, but for bringing this story to so many people. For more information about Carolyn and Sean Savage, please visit these links:
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