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Book Review: Inconceivable

I remember hearing rumblings in the news a while ago about a couple accidentally impregnated with the wrong embryos through in vitro fertilization, but I didn’t know the details of this family’s story until I was sent a book copy to review. Just looking at the front cover of the book let me know that I should have plenty of tissues available while reading; the cover photo is of the parents holding the newborn baby.

This is where it gets confusing. When I say “parents,” I mean the couple who accidentally received the wrong embryos via IVF, and not the couple who the embryos actually came from. So to be clear, the photo on the front cover is of the husband and wife who endured the pregnancy and then had to hand over the baby to another couple since the baby did not genetically or legally belong to them. Now do you see why I suggest tissues while reading this book?

Sean and Carolyn Savage’s Story

Sean and Carolyn Savage went through the IVF after having successfully conceived a baby using the same technique. They also had two teenage boys during this time. From what I gathered from the book, they were set in their ways regarding having a fourth child even though they had three kids already and had gone through some tough deliveries that were life-threatening for Carolyn.

Honestly, I had a difficult time understanding their motives. When my body made it obvious that two pregnancies was my limit, my doctor and I both agreed that I was finished with my baby-making days. The thought never occurred to me that I should forge on and have more babies, but then again, I never wanted a huge family. The Savages did want a large family, and so that’s why they were willing to risk Carolyn’s health and thousands of dollars in an attempt to have one more baby.

It turns out that fate had a different plan for them. The IVF procedure was successful, but in some freaky turn of events they got the wrong embryos. So here is a woman who is making her final attempt at pregnancy -and hence, fulfilling her dream of having a fourth baby- and she winds up pregnant with a baby who does not belong to her and who she must hand over to the “real” parents upon delivery. This isn’t just her last pregnancy; it’s her last pregnancy and she doesn’t get to keep the baby.

Summary of the Book

In a nutshell, the book Inconceivable tells the tale of how the mistake happened, how they dealt with it, and how they continue to mourn the loss of the baby they couldn’t keep. It’s an odd mourning they had to go through, as they didn’t technically “lose” the baby because he was never really theirs to begin with. It also details the relationship between Sean and Carolyn and the other couple who gets to head home with the baby after the delivery. From what I can tell, their relationship was akin to walking on eggshells. The genetic mother is characterized as self-centered and never seems to say the right things and the genetic father is hardly mentioned. I kept hoping that these four people would eventually form some sort of beautiful bond, but since this book is based in reality, I guess a happy ending isn’t guaranteed.

Reviewer Thoughts

I know some people like to read books that move them emotionally, but I’m not a big fan of sitting in the school parking lot waiting to pick up my kids, sobbing like a madwoman because of this couple’s story. Then again, as I wiped up my tears and walked toward the school, I was moved by what a blessing my kids are and how lucky I was to not have to jump through hoops to get them.

Whether you agree with this couple’s decision to pursue a risky pregnancy or not, there is no denying the sheer courage it took them to go through with the pregnancy after they found out the baby wasn’t theirs. Just be sure to have tissues on hand when you crack open this heart-wrenching story.

You can purchase Inconceivable from the website or

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