Parents

'Inconceivable' mom: After infertility, IVF mistake and surrogacy, I'm pregnant... naturally!

June 25, 2014 at 10:04 AM ET

Carolyn Savage thought she'd seen it all. After struggling with infertility, she turned to IVF, and the results made headlines. Six years ago, she gave birth to another couple's child after an IVF clinic mixup. She gave that child up to his parents, even as doctors told her it was her last chance of pregnancy. Later, she and her husband had twins via a surrogate. Then, this spring, she got perhaps the most surprising news of all.

Carolyn and Sean Savage with their five children... soon to be six. After years of struggling with infertlity -- and giving birth to another couple's child after an IVF clinic mistake -- this is one (happy) surprise she never expected.
Courtesy of the Savage Family
Carolyn and Sean Savage with their five children... soon to be six. After years of struggling with infertlity -- and giving birth to another couple's child after an IVF clinic mistake -- this is one (happy) surprise she never expected.

When the first little line popped up on the home pregnancy test I scolded myself. Of course it was only one line. It was always only one line. I’m infertile. I’ve gone through countless fertility treatments over the past two decades and with the exception of a couple of IVFs, I’ve only seen two positive home pregnancy tests. What on Earth was my 45-year-old self thinking? I couldn’t be pregnant now. Could I?

Then I realized I was holding the test upside down. When I turned it right side up I was startled: turns out that one little line was the results line. It was on the left — not the right. It was the “you're pregnant line,” not the control line I’d seen so many times before. 

Watch: Pregnant with another couple's baby

As my befuddled brain studied the test, I thought I must be wrong. I immediately ran for better light, questioning my sanity. I held my breath, closed my eyes and waited a few more seconds. When I opened them I was astounded. There were two lines. Two of the darkest pink lines I’d ever seen on a pregnancy test.  

The test was positive. I was pregnant.

At the age of 45, after two decades without a spontaneous conception; after countless ovarian stimulation cycles, multiple intrauterine inseminations and more than five IVF attempts; after six reproductive endocrinologists threw up their arms, unable to explain why we couldn’t conceive; and after one of those doctors accidentally transferred the embryos of another couple into me resulting in a pregnancy that pushed me to the limits of my sanity; I was pregnant — the old fashioned way.

How on Earth could this happen?

Of course, I knew how it happened, but the idea that a couple can simply have sex and conceive? For me and many other women who suffer from infertility, that is the stuff of fairy tales. I didn’t get pregnant that way. I needed drugs, ultrasounds, needles, blood work, petri dishes, doctors, surgery and truck-loads of money to conceive. Sean and I have had unprotected sex for our entire 21-year marriage and conceived spontaneously exactly once — and that little bundle of joy was about to turn 20. 

And, now? Now it happens?

I immediately rushed to my computer to Google “pregnant at 45." What were the odds this would even last? Turns out, not so good. Some of the sites reported miscarriage rates as high as 90 percent for a woman my age. I told Sean later that night and followed the news up with the sobering statistics and the warning, “This probably won’t last.”

Watch: 'Dreams come true' for family in embryo mix-up

So, we waited. We waited to lose this baby. Lo and behold, our first appointment passed with an ultrasound of a healthy seven-week-old fetus. Then our 11-week appointment passed with hopeful results from our nuchal translucency, a test that gives a risk ratio for chromosomal abnormalities. Finally, at 15 weeks we received the results of our cell free DNA study: Our baby was chromosomally typical, and he is a boy.

A son.

The expansion of our family has made headlines ever since I became pregnant after our fertility clinic accidentally transferred the embryos of another couple into me. I carried that child to term and reunited him with his rightful parents upon delivery. He was also a son. A little boy, Logan, who I loved as my own and still think of and pray for every single day.

We went on to have twin daughters with the help of a gestational carrier. Reagan and Isabella were born in August 2011 after our hero, Jennifer Onash, carried them to term. They completed our family. We thought they were our happy ending. I guess God — or fate — had additional plans for us.

So here we are. I slam-dunked my first trimester, our new son appears to be healthy, and so far, this pregnancy has been free of complications. I’ve left the morbid state of waiting to miscarry and moved onto a happier, more confident — but not cocky — place. It’s time to share our surprising news.

Our family of seven is preparing to become a family of eight. 

Carolyn Savage is the author of Inconceivable: A Medical Mistake, The Baby We Couldn’t Keep, and Our Choice to Deliver the Ultimate Gift. She lives in Sylvania, Ohio, with her husband and five kids. You can read more about her family’s journey and parenting antics at mamaonthefly.com.  

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