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09/21/2009

To say hello and goodbye

Carolyn and Sean Savage, parents of three, were trying to have a fourth child through IVF.

Their first child was conceived and delivered without difficulty.  Their second child was born at 30 weeks after Carolyn developed HELLP syndrome.

It took ten more years, two early miscarriages, and IVF to conceive their third child.  Carolyn developed HELLP again and delivered at 32 weeks.

The couple got good news in February, when they learned that Carolyn was pregnant again after an FET — and bad news in the next breath, when they were notified by their clinic that the wrong embryos had been transferred.  Carolyn was carrying someone else's child.

The couple could either terminate the pregnancy, or they could complete it and turn over the baby to his biological parents.  Citing their religious beliefs, they decided to continue; in the next two weeks, Carolyn will deliver the baby, take "a moment to say hello and goodbye," and go home without a child.

Because of Carolyn's medical situation, her doctor has advised her not to attempt a future pregnancy.  The Savages plan to use their remaining embryos with a gestational carrier.

My friend T. called me this morning and told me about the story.  She'd caught it on the Today Show, giving it only half her attention during her morning routine.  So what I heard from her was incomplete, just that a couple with three children had been given the wrong embryos and had decided to continue the pregnancy.  I thought, I think I could probably do that for another infertile couple.  But I thought it only in the most theoretical of ways, as in, If I were she..., not Being who I am.  Not knowing that Carolyn and I had a little bit in common.

And then I read about her history of HELLP and preterm delivery and knew I could not, in fact, do what she's done.  Forget theory.  I could not risk my health and my last shot at pregnancy to give someone else a child, much less someone who hadn't even been trying at the time.

Do you think you could?

I know I couldn't.  I'm awed and humbled and I wish the Savages comfort at what must be an impossible moment in their lives.

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