by Kathy on February 10, 2011 · 11 comments

in Abby, ALI Community, Books, Decisions, Family, FET #1, Frozen Embryos, IVF, IVF #1, Loss, Love, Molly

Not long before I started this blog four years ago, I joined a “cycle buddy” group in the IVF Connections (IVFC) discussion forums. We were a group of women most of whom (if not all) were trying IVF for the first time. Some of us were struggling with secondary infertility and already had living children at home with us. But most of the group was dealing with primary infertility. Our bond grew quickly due the intensity of the of the experience we were all having and sharing so openly about. It meant so much to me back then, and I think to all of us, to have each other to debrief the roller coaster ride that we were on as newbies to IVF.

As it turned out, that first IVF cycle was very lucky for most of the women in our group and many of them went on to have relatively normal pregnancies and to deliver healthy babies in the year to follow. Unfortunately, as I chronicled at the time here on my blog, Bob and my first IVF cycle was not successful and sadly another of my cycle buddies Carolyn and her husband Sean also did not get positive pregnancy test results that time around. Our cycle buddy group kept in touch off and on in the months and even years to come.

It was heartwarming to eventually see almost everyone in our group have success conceiving and sustaining pregnancies through IVF and/or frozen embryo transfers (FET) and later go on to give birth to healthy babies. I do recall one woman in our group who conceived that first cycle going on to miscarry and my heart broke for her and her husband. I was also so happy for Carolyn and Sean when, around the same time Bob and I conceived Molly, I found out that they finally had success with IVF, ultimately bringing their beautiful daughter Mary Kate safely into this world and home to be a part their family.

Carolyn and I have been in and out of touch ever since. Though we have never met in person, she is a kindred spirit that I feel blessed and lucky to have in my life. During our pregnancy with Molly I knew that the women from our IVFC cycle buddy group, including Carolyn, were sending lots of positive and healing thoughts and prayers our way. From time to time Carolyn would comment here on my blog letting me know that she was thinking of and praying for us and that meant a lot to me, especially because Carolyn understood first hand what Bob and I had gone through in effort to try to bring Molly into our life and family.

After Molly’s birth and death I lived in somewhat of a fog for awhile. I know this is common for a parent grieving the loss of their child. Then almost 9 months after Molly’s death, we miraculously found out we were pregnant with Abigail. During those early months after we lost Molly, followed by our pregnancy with Abby, from what I recall Carolyn and I had very little contact. I did think about her and the other women who were a part of IVFC cycle buddy group (and I still do) now and then, but I was too overwhelmed working my grief and then adding the excitement and fear associated with our “rainbow” pregnancy to seek them out or try to connect during that time.

Little did I know, around the same time that we conceived Abby, Carolyn and Sean had decided to try FET to expand their family with embryos they had left from previous unsuccessful IVF cycles. As many of us who choose to freeze any potentially viable leftover embryos from IVF cycles have the intention to do, my impression is that Carolyn and Sean wanted to finish what they started and give those frozen embryos (FE) a chance at life and the opportunity to hopefully be a part of their family.

In a truly inconceivable twist of fate, Carolyn and Sean found out simultaneously one day that winter of 2009 that their FET had been both successful and was the result of unbelievable mistake. Somehow there was a mix up in the embryology lab at their fertility clinic and the embryo that had been transferred into Carolyn’s uterus, that had miraculously implanted and started growing and developing there, was in fact not their biological child. The embryo belonged to another couple who had struggled with infertility in the past, had previous success with IVF and were hoping to someday expand their family with their remaining FE.

This all may sound familiar to many of you, as Carolyn and Sean’s story and their choice to carry the pregnancy to term and then selflessly give the child back to his biological parents made the national news (including the Today show and People magazine at the time) when Logan was born in September 2009 (not long after our daughter Abby).

I actually first found out about what had happened early one morning when Abby was still a newborn and I was nursing her while watching the Today show on TV. Carolyn and Sean were being interviewed about their experience and as some of their back story was shared, including some discussion about their two older sons, their daughter Mary Kate and their 10 year struggle with secondary infertility, I quickly realized that Carolyn was “my Carolyn from IVFC!” I was stunned.

After her story made national headlines, once again Carolyn and I, along with others from our IVFC cycle buddy group reconnected, though this time only briefly, and she confirmed what many of us wondered, that she was the Carolyn we knew and loved and that this inconceivable experience had really happened to her. We all shared our support and admiration for Sean and her bittersweet choice to carry Logan and then return him to his biological parents after his birth. I don’t recall why or exactly how Carolyn and I lost touch again, but time marches on and we both had our lives to tend to, our blessed children to care for and our own grieving and healing to do.

Then about a month ago, I was on Twitter (which I am still new to, getting the hang of and overwhelmed by) and noticed a link that someone I “follow” there had tweeted. It led me to an article in some online newspaper about Carolyn and Sean. The story talked about how they had written a book about their experience and that it was going to be released very soon. I was so impressed that Carolyn and her husband had chosen to process what they had been through and share what they have learned with others in this way.

That same day I decided to try to find Carolyn again, as we had actually never exchanged email addresses or any other contact info. Though she had commented on my blog now and then, I didn’t remember which posts and wasn’t quite sure where to begin looking. Then it occurred to me that there was a good chance she might be on Facebook, as so many people are now. So I searched for her there and though I wasn’t able to easily find a personal page for her right away, I did find a “public figure” page for Carolyn & Sean Savage.

I posted a message on the “wall” of their Facebook page and sent Carolyn a private message. I heard from Carolyn later that day and it wasn’t long before we “friended” each other through our personal pages, were “chatting” via instant messaging and exchanging emails. We were both so glad to be back in touch again after all we had been through over the past few years. It was surreal in many ways to reflect together on how our lives have played out and our families have grown since we first met almost four years ago.

Carolyn told me that Bob and my journey with Molly and what I shared here on my blog about it (especially the video I made with pictures from the day she was born and died) had really helped her to get through her experience carrying and ultimately having to give Logan up. Though Logan didn’t die as our Molly did, she explained and I understood what a deep loss is was for her, for Sean and their family to care for this child throughout their pregnancy and then to have to say goodbye to him so soon after his birth. Carolyn said that how we chose to honor and celebrate the time we had with Molly before we had to say goodbye to her had inspired them to try to make the most of the time they had with Logan and to always cherish those memories. I was blown away.

We truly never know how the trials we are faced with in life may become opportunities to in turn help others to weather the storms that come their way. My mom has often referred to this practice and the people who minister in this way as “wounded healers.” I think it is the perfect term of endearment to describe people willing and able to perform this type of service.

Which brings me to the reason I am sharing all of this with you. This coming Monday, February 14, Valentine’s Day this year, my friend Carolyn and her husband Sean’s book called Inconceivable: A Medical Mistake, the Baby We Couldn’t Keep and Our Choice to Deliver the Ultimate Gift will be released both in print and electronically. I am very excited to get my copy and read Carolyn and Sean’s story of their journey with Logan. I am leaning towards buying the Kindle version, as I have really been enjoying the convenience of reading books on my Kindle for iPhone app lately and am even considering getting a real Kindle for my upcoming birthday next month.

In anticipation of their book release on Monday, Carolyn and Sean have shared their “book trailer” (see below) with their family and friends and in turn asked that we share it with others to help the spread the word. It is with much pride and admiration that I invite you to watch this very moving video, check out their website and consider reading Carolyn and Sean’s incredible and truly inconceivable story. They are also going to be on Dateline NBC tomorrow night (Friday, February 11) at 9pm (EST), as well as many other media programs in the days and weeks to come, and I look forward to watching their interviews as well.

I am so proud of my friend Carolyn and her husband Sean for taking this leap of faith. I hope that through sharing their story these two wounded healers will be able to help and to inspire others who have dealt with or will someday face inconceivable choices in their lives.

And with out further ado, I invite you to meet the Savage family…

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Amber February 11, 2011 at 9:58 am

Oh my goodness!! I saw this on the news as well. Glad you were able to reconnect with her. I'll definitely be checking out the book.


2 Knock knock - it's cancer! February 11, 2011 at 11:11 am

Oh wow! What an incredible story of love and courage!!

Thank you for sharing it with us 🙂



3 Amy February 11, 2011 at 11:20 am

Great Blog, and what an incredible story! I have a group of "baby board" friends that I started off with when I was 1st TTC back in 2000 and we are all still in touch!


4 Jess February 11, 2011 at 8:41 pm

What a touching story…I remember that happening and thinking how terrible it would be! Small world, but then again, everyone who has crazy stuff happen to them has people who know them, right?

The video actually brought tears to my eyes…not because of their story but because it made me think of what it must have been like for our daughter's mother to welcome us into the delivery room when she was born, to let us bond with her in the NICU and change the first diapers, give the first feeds.

Strength comes to those who need it, I guess…because when they need it, usually they have no real choice in the matter. But still…what a beautiful thing to do for those babies.


5 Kathy February 11, 2011 at 10:30 pm

Amber – I know, it is really hard to comprehend, isn't it?! I am so glad that Carolyn and I were able to reconnect. That great you are going to check out the book. I can't wait to read it myself. I am considering hosting a "book tour" here to discuss it. Please let me know if you are interested in participating.

Michelle – You are welcome. Wow is right! I keep saying wow myself, no matter how many different time and ways I hear about this story… Hope you are having a good day and hanging in there. I need to click over and check in with you and your blog to see how things are going. Thinking of you.

Amy – Thank you for your kind words and for crossing over! 🙂 It is such an amazing story. That is great that you are still in touch with friends you made while TTC back then. I did they same thing when we were 1st TTC in 2002 and am also still in contact with many of those women. Thanks again for reading and for commeting. I look forward to checking out your blogs too.

Jess – Thank you for sharing your perspective on this story. I appreciate your insight and especially how you were able to relate it to your personal experience. So moving and inspiring… I think it can be therapeautic for us to be able to connect with others stories in ways that also help us to process and appreciate our own experiences more.


6 loribeth February 12, 2011 at 8:48 pm

I watched a story about this family on NBC Dateline last night. How interesting that you know them, & how nice that you were able to reconnect!


7 Kathy February 13, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Loribeth – Glad you got to see their story on Dateline last night. I thought is was very well done. It is still surreal to me that this happened to someone that I know. I am glad that Carolyn and I were able to get back in touch with each other.


8 Erika February 14, 2011 at 9:03 am

What a wonderful post – thank you so much for sharing it! May I link to it from IVFConnections? I'm sure other IVFCers would love to read this story. 🙂


9 Kathy February 14, 2011 at 9:12 am

Thank you Erika! You are more than welcome to link to it. I will be forever grateful for the connections I made and the support I received from IVFCers when we were doing ART cycles in 2007, especially my friendship with Carolyn.


10 Lori Lavender Luz January 6, 2013 at 11:53 pm

I’m so glad that you and Carolyn reconnected and shared your journeys together. And that you’ve shared Carolyn with me!

I am still struck by the term “wounded healer” and how well it suits you, especially in this space.
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