Subtitle: A Medical Mistake, the Baby We Couldn't Keep, and Our CHoice to Deliver the Ultimate Gift
Author: Carolyn & Sean Savage
Publisher: Harper One (Harper Collins)
Pub. Date: February 14, 2011
Inconceivable is Carolyn & Sean's true story of being mistakenly inseminated with another couple's embryos during an IVF procedure. In so doing, Carolyn unwittingly becomes a surrogate mother for this other couple's child while giving away her last opportunity, due to her age, for a healthy pregnancy that could have borne another child.
I had read about this story in PEOPLE magazine a while ago and was interested to learn more. Despite being a full memoir length, I still was as interested as I was in the original article I read. In terms of readability, this book was engaging and flowed well through the nine month experience and then some. It was broken up into four parts (first, second, third, and yes, a fourth, trimester) that had several chapters each. Each chapter has a part told from Carolyn's point of view and a part from Sean's. I had a couple adverse reactions that I realize were completely personal. For whatever reason, I naturally related more to the other couple in the situation and that led me to feel that the authors were unfairly harsh about them. There was a lot of anger expressed towards them for not being more grateful to the Savages for maintaining the pregnancy, for automatically assuming the child was completely theirs. There was talk about how the Savages were doing, it seems, a favor by not fighting for custody. (!!!) It might be that, dealing with infertility myself, I may have felt judgmental because this couple already has three children which made it difficult for me to relate since I have yet to have one. Of course, then I realized the other couple also already has two as well. But it still seemed like there was a lack of empathy for what the other couple must have felt, their embryos being essentially given away, the life of their child solely dependent on this couple. That aspect frustrated me.
But, ultimately, I do agree that this family did do something great for the other couple by essentially risking Carolyn's health by bringing their child to term. And just because the child wasn't genetically theirs, they treated the child as though he was and continue to feel they will always love this child as their own. And while I feel judgmental about their reactions about the other family and the way they were painted, I don't know the other couple and it's possible their judgments about them were more accurate than I realize. The situation was extremely unfair to both couples and neither one was really in a worse situation than the other in my opinion.
Those more religious readers may appreciate that aspect of this book, as the Savages are Catholic and talk, not too significantly but somewhat, about how this affected their decisions. They also talked about the things they didn't like people to say to them like "it's all God's plan". Despite their religious background, they felt offended by the fact that God would have planned such difficulties for them. So that aspect of the Savage's experience was definitely insightful as an outsider to better understand the totality of the emotional toll this took on them. I mean, I cannot imagine the horror of, after desperately hoping to become pregnant, becoming so with another person's child that you have to give away after enduring an entire pregnancy. But then, the religious aspect was also frustrating, as the Catholic stance is that these fertility treatments are immoral. No one dealing with infertility wants to hear that. (And trust me, I had a friend tell me that once...)
Overall this was a well-done book for anyone interested in more details about the situation. I will say as a note for those dealing with infertility to just be aware of whether you really want to spend that much time reading about pregnancy and babies etc. I think I overestimated my "okay-ness" with it and by the end I was definitely looking forward to a complete escape from the topic!