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Misconception: One Couple's Journey from Embryo Mix-Up to Miracle Baby
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Misconception: One Couple's Journey from Embryo Mix-Up to Miracle Baby

3.8 41
by Paul Morell, Angela Hunt (With), Shannon Morell

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In February of 2009, Shannon and Paul Morell were especially eager to bring a new life into the world. After years of infertility and miscarriages they had, in 2006, finally scrimped and saved enough to have in vitro fertilization. The result? Two dear daughters had been born, and six precious embryos had been frozen.

They counted the days until they could


In February of 2009, Shannon and Paul Morell were especially eager to bring a new life into the world. After years of infertility and miscarriages they had, in 2006, finally scrimped and saved enough to have in vitro fertilization. The result? Two dear daughters had been born, and six precious embryos had been frozen.

They counted the days until they could transfer the six remaining embryos. Until the fateful day of February 17, 2009, when the clinic called. “The doctor would like to you to come in today…”

Shannon writes, “Face to face with the doctor, I noticed that his face was gravely serious. 'There's been a terrible incident in our lab,' he said. 'Your embryos have been thawed.'

A pause, as we both exchanged disbelieving looks, and he went on....

'Your embryos have been transferred into another woman.'"

The Morells have a story to tell. A cautionary tale of medical errors, unexpected miracles, sincere mourning, and grateful bonding with their son. Amazingly, theirs is also a story of joy-filled thanksgiving . . . a story of life—life that is precious, sacred, and treasured.

Product Details

Howard Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.70(h) x 0.70(d)

Read an Excerpt

Like Any Other Day

The seventeenth of February 2009 began like any other day. The alarm went off at the usual hour, but I hit the snooze button three times, delaying wakefulness for as long as possible. I opened my eyes to see Paul still sleeping soundly and tiptoed out of the room. I’d been up with our daughter Megan during the night, and sunrise had come much too soon.

I had condensed my morning regimen to a bare-bones routine, but no matter how I planned ahead, nothing ever went smoothly. When I caught a few extra minutes of sleep, I could jump out of bed, slide into the shower, and dress—tossing my makeup bag into my purse, kissing the girls, and grabbing a cup of coffee as I went out the door.

That morning I took the same route I always drove to work, but traffic seemed more sluggish than usual. As always, I found myself frustrated with slower drivers who dawdled and stoplights that turned red when I approached. After turning on my favorite local talk radio, I put on my lipstick and sipped coffee as I sat at red lights, glancing around to see several other drivers wrapping their hands around their coffee cups. We were all trying to stay warm and awake.

Once I got to the middle school where I taught eighth grade, I went to my room and dropped my bulging purse on my desk. Almost immediately, I noticed that the message light on my classroom telephone was blinking. Who might be calling so early? Usually people only call the teacher when there’s a problem, so I assumed it was one of my students’ parents calling with a concern.

Postponing the inevitable, I walked around my L-shaped desk and hung up my coat. I pulled out my chair and slid into it, then sighed and picked up the phone. The automated voice told me I had two messages, so I pressed the button to play the first.

My heart skipped a beat when I heard the voice of a nurse from my fertility clinic. The doctor would like to talk to me, she said, so could I please call the office as soon as possible?

I rested the phone against my shoulder, thinking. I hadn’t been to the fertility clinic in years, though I had an appointment scheduled for the next week. But why would the doctor want to speak to me now?

But there was another message. I pressed the button, expecting to hear from a parent, but I heard the nurse yet again, repeating the same message.

So … the doctor really wanted to talk to me. The nurse spoke in a calm voice, yet a note of urgency underlined her words. I didn’t have much time to ponder the reason for the call because just then the morning bell sounded. I stepped into the hallway to supervise the oncoming rush of kids, but I couldn’t get the odd message out of my mind. Maybe the doctor wanted to ask a few questions in light of my upcoming appointment. Maybe he wanted to tell me about a new development in procedure. This had to be good news … didn’t it?

Fortunately, first period was my planning hour. After the tardy bell rang, I dialed the clinic. The nurse thanked me for calling and said my doctor would really like to speak to me, but he would be in surgery all day. Could he call me later in the afternoon, around four?

“Absolutely,” I told her. “He can reach me during my lunch hour or after three thirty p.m.”

She said she’d relay the information. Overcome with curiosity, I asked, “Do you know why he wants to speak with me?”

“No,” she answered, and at that point a nagging doubt entered my mind. During my first in vitro process, which resulted in the birth of healthy twin girls, I had never spoken with the doctor over the phone. He always relayed instructions through his nurses, and they called me. The fact that he wanted to speak to me directly was … odd.

When second period began, I tried to keep my mind on my lessons as I taught American history to my energetic eighth graders. During my lunch hour I received another message from the clinic nurse—the doctor’s surgeries were running late, and, by the way, he would like to speak with me in person, not over the phone. Could I come to his office later in the evening?

More curious than ever, I called the nurse again. “I’d be happy to come to the office. What time?” I asked, thinking that the arrangement would work out well. I’d been planning to take my girls with me next week so they could meet the doctor, but if we saw him tonight, I wouldn’t have to take the girls next week. Before hanging up, I blurted out a question: “Should I bring my husband with me?”

“That would be a good idea.”

I hung up the phone and wondered why the doctor was in such a hurry to speak with us.

After school, I called Paul to tell him about our appointment. As usual, he remained unflappable, not at all alarmed. We discussed what we could have for dinner that would be quick and easy, and decided on spaghetti.

Once I arrived at home, we received another phone call from the fertility clinic—the doctor was stuck in traffic and running late. Could we postpone the meeting by about thirty minutes?

“Sure, no problem,” I told the nurse, relieved that I’d have an extra half hour to feed the girls. “We’ll be there.”

I was actually looking forward to bundling up the girls and taking them to the doctor’s office—he had been my physician during our first in vitro cycle. This proud mama wanted him to see Megan and Ellie and know how happy he’d made us nearly three years before.

We ate quickly, though I didn’t have much of an appetite. Then, because the girls’ clothes were covered in spaghetti, I changed their outfits and we loaded them into the car.

Megan wanted to know where we were going.

“We’re going to see my doctor.”

“Your doctor? Don’t you feel good?”

“I’m fine. It’s just for a brief appointment.”

On the way, the girls chattered away with Paul, leaving me with plenty of time to think. My thoughts kept drifting toward the clinic. I was dying to know what the doctor wanted to discuss, but I told myself to be patient—we’d be there soon enough, and then we’d hear whatever he had to say. In only a matter of minutes, the big mystery would be solved.

The sun had already set, and the facility’s parking lot was nearly empty when we pulled in. Only a few lights burned inside the windows.

Mixed feelings surged within me as I studied the clinic building. I hadn’t visited the practice since my last appointment when I was eight weeks pregnant with the girls.

Paul and I each unbuckled one of the girls from their car seats and hoisted them onto our hips. We walked forward and found the front door ajar, undoubtedly propped open for us. The waiting room stood empty, the magazines neatly stacked on the end tables. A single lamp burned at the check-in window, but no one emerged to greet us. I walked up to the counter and waited a minute or two, then decided to sit down. After five phone calls, someone had to be expecting us.

How nice, I thought, for the doctor to meet with us at night. We sat for about ten minutes, spending most of that time trying to get the girls to sit down and stop climbing on the furniture and shuffling the magazines.

Finally the nurse came out to talk to us. We chatted about the girls for a minute or two, then she motioned us forward, ready to lead us to the doctor’s private office. Though she smiled the entire time, faint lines of strain puckered the skin of her forehead. Those faint lines sent a shiver of unease through me—why, exactly, had we been invited to this unconventional meeting?

Paul and I greeted my doctor from his office doorway, introducing him to our toddlers. He stood up and shook our hands, then greeted the girls. “These are the twins,” he said. “Oh, they are beautiful.”

I smiled. “That’s right. You’ve never seen them before.”

“No, we usually only see photos, so this is nice. Now, if you’ll please step into my office so we can talk …”

The doctor was gracious and kind, but I couldn’t help thinking that he looked exhausted.

“I’ve had a long day and I’ve just finished a complicated surgery.” He gestured to a pair of chairs. “Why don’t you have a seat?”

Still wearing my coat, I dropped into the nearer chair. Paul sat on the other, gathering the girls around him. The doctor moved behind his desk. “Thank you for coming in,” he said, sinking into his seat. He paused, shuffled a few papers, then looked directly at the two of us. “I thought it would be best to speak to you in person rather than over the phone.”

Alarm bells began to clang in my brain, nearly blocking out my awareness of the girls clambering behind me. What was this about? I didn’t have to wait long for the answer.

He hesitated for a moment and dropped his head, then took a deep breath and looked me in the eye. “I’m so sorry, Shannon, but there’s been a terrible incident in our lab.” The doctor’s voice became darker and grimmer. He took a deep breath. “Your embryos have been thawed.”

I blinked as I absorbed the news. I could see stress on the doctor’s face, so I knew this matter was serious. Thawed embryos … meant our babies were dead. All six of the tiny embryos that had been stored so we could soon expand our family. Some kind of massive power outage must have struck the storage lab, and probably thousands of frozen embryos had died. … All those poor families!

I gasped. No wonder the doctor looked worried.

Little did I know that within the space of a few moments, I would wear that same expression myself … and I would continue to wear it for months. For reasons I could not understand, God took responsibility for our embryos out of our hands and placed it instead into the hands of strangers.

Sitting in that office, I looked at my trembling hands pressed against my knees, then looked up at Paul. In that moment we both realized that our lives were about to spiral out of our control.

© 2010 Paul

Meet the Author

Paul and Shannon Morell have been married for eight years. Paul is an electrical engineer and small business owner. Shannon holds a Masters degree in education and currently teaches eighth grade. They make their home in the Midwest, with their twin preschool daughters and their new son.

With more than four million copies of her books sold worldwide, Angela Hunt is the bestselling author of more than one hundred titles, including The Tale of Three Trees, The Note, and The Nativity Story. Her nonfiction book Don’t Bet Against Me, written with Deanna Favre, spent several weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Angela frequently teaches writing workshops at schools and writers’ conferences, and she served as the keynote speaker at an American Christian Fiction Writers’ national conference. She and her husband make their home in Florida.

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Misconception 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 39 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Misconception is a must read for any couple experiencing the pain, frustration, disappointment and stress of infertility. I'm so glad the Morells shared their difficult journey to have children. After having experienced miscarriages and infertility issues I can truly relate to the many ups and downs of the infertility journey. I can't imagine what a disappointment it must have been to not be able to carry your own child after having gone through the long, difficult I.V.F. process. After having read the story I now understand the misconceptions of I.V.F. I truly appreciate the Morells courageously sharing their story and alerting couples about the questions to discuss with their doctor prior to beginning I.V.F. How refreshing it is to read a story that celebrates faith in God, the precious gift of life and the belief that God has a plan for each person's life.
JaneMorgan10 More than 1 year ago
Wow! What a story! I was interested in this book since I've had several miscarriages and I'm now looking at IVF as an option. I'm really glad I read this book. She brings up questions to consider that I never thought about. I can't imagine what it would feel like to have a stranger carrying your baby. That had to be terrible. As someone who has struggled to conceive and have a successful pregnancy, I could really relate. When I first picked up this book, I thought I knew the story from interviews on T.V, but there's so much more detail in the book. I'm glad I purchased it. I plan on recommending this book for my book club. There's really a lot to think about: medical, ethics, legal, and infertility issues. Lot's of great discussions! At first I thought Shannon would be anti-IVF, but I found that she is still pro-IVF. Her story was frightening, but these kind of mistakes are rare. I was really glad to gain insight on questions about embryo grading and I now feel confident about embarking on IVF. This was a quick read. Once I started, I couldn't put it down. I'm so glad that there was a happy ending. What a tough time both women had to experience. This story restores my faith that there are still good people in this world. I plan on recommending this book to all my friends, even those who aren't experiencing infertility.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There was a lot of press for the birth parents (the Savages) last year. I thought we all pretty much knew the story inside out. Then along came the biological parents (the Morells) and MISCONCEPTION. So VERY interesting to hear the story from the biological parents pov as well. It reads like a detective story! Now I feel like we've gotten the entire story, inside out, from BOTH sides. A fascinating and IMPORTANT read, sensitively told. Absolutely opens up the world of IVF to the ordinary layman. Great book for anyone who is considering the process or who knows someone who is considering the process. What an inspiring story of hope, love and God working in mysterious and wonderful ways!!! HIGHLY RECCOMENDED
JacksonJS More than 1 year ago
I thought I knew the story from the news and online reports, but I'm glad I read the book. It's a much more intense story than what I realized. I didn't realize for almost three months they didn't know who was carrying their baby. I found this story to be highly inspirational. There's a lot to consider: medical, ethical, and legal questions. I can't imagine how stressful the past year was for the family. I'd highly recommend reading this book. It's a must for moms.
twinsmom4 More than 1 year ago
This is the story of a couple's journey through infertility and the miracle of life through IVF. As someone who went through IVF, I can't imagine what either of these couples went through. The selfless act of Carolyn and Sean and the trust and strength of Paul and Shannon are amazing. I wish I would have read this book before I went through my invitro process. Like the author, I thought I was well prepared and had researched everything possible about IVF. I now know that I should have asked more questions. I found the book to be not only a touching and well told story, but a wealth of information as well. If you are a person considering IVF, this is a must read. Issues brought up in the book, such as embryo grading and the policies and ethics of the clinic or doctor, may lead a person considering IVF to ask questions they maybe did not think of asking their doctor initially. Even if you are not a person struggling with infertility, I would recommend this inspirational story about two couples who are brought together through an unfathomable mistake that creates a beautiful life.
Jennifer_Mackewich More than 1 year ago
Misconception is a heartwarming experience about two families thrown together by someone else's mistake. This book will restore your faith in humanity. An enormous mistake that could have torn two families a part, actually brings them together for the good of a child. As a mother, I cannot imagine what Shannon and Carolyn went through. One had to entrust the life of her unborn child to a total stranger and the other had to carry a child that was not hers, one that she would eventually have to say good-bye too. This is a story of two strong women and the families that supported them and stood by them through some of the darkest days of their lives. For Shannon, the darkness was overcome when she held her newborn son and introduced him to his loving extended family. If you are looking for an uplifting, inspirational book I definitely recommend reading Misconception. This will be a book that you'll want to pass on!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i first read the story "inconceivable" and then had to see what the other side of the story was. the whole situation is mind bending and leaves you wondering how you would deal, if put into it yourself. as a mom, my heart goes out more to the mother who carried the baby, since she bonded with an infant she couldn't keep after longing for one of her own for so long. but i was interested in seeing how the biological mother felt, so i found this book interesting. although i did feel that shannon came across as whiney and self-pitying. she does express her thankfulness for carolyn's sacrifice, but too many times she complains about how she didn't get to carry him or feel him kick or experience one last pregnancy. perhaps she should take her own advice and stop feeling sorry for herself and focus on the gift she was given. yes, she missed out on carrying him those first 8 months, but she got to take him home and love him. although i feel the right thing was done by carolyn keeping the pregnancy and handing over the baby after birth, i feel more sorry for the carolyn who carried him those 8 months and then had to leave the hospital empty handed. no matter who you "side with", it's a good human-interest story. and i highly recommend reading both this book and it's "sister" book written by the woman who carried their son.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story of Shannon and Paul's journey, in "Misconcetion", from the their twin girls to their adorable son Logan is heartwarming and truly miraculous . Being a mother I can not imagine what the Morells and Savages had to go through. Shannon does an amazing job of bringing the story of her inner most thoughts, heartbreak, and gratitude to life. As a mother I was interested to read more about the IVF process which is something that I was not familiar with. Any mother considering IVF would benefit from this book, it gives a personal perspective rather than just the medical view on the subject. The story tells of a medical mistake, and the courage and selflessness that brought two families together. This book is definitley one that will bring a tear to your eye and make you appreciate the goodness in the world.
EMTWIFE09 More than 1 year ago
if u want to read the other story from the other familys point of view. look up the book written by sean and carolyn savage. it was a great read and actually tells what this mistake happened.
williamsmom12 More than 1 year ago
I do not normally write book reviews, but I cannot understand how anyone can write a negative comment about the Morell's. After seeing the Dateline episode on Friday, it seemed like the other couple involved did not have a chance to explain what they were going through. After reading the Morell's book Misconception, it really pulls at the strings attached to a mother's heart. The parents did not even know where their baby was! I was hoping to see more about the Morell's unveiled in the episode. If I had not read their book, I would have thought from the Dateline show the Morell's had no heart ache. It seems they are leading a private life, because I do not see any online presence. The parents of Logan must have been so terrified, and now they have to be concerned about how their child is portrayed in the media. They were faced with the horror of not being able to ensure their own child's safety and health! The mother had to experience her pregnancy though another woman! The Dateline episode made it seem as though the "surrogate" was a victim, but what about the parents who had to trust a stranger to bring their baby into the world? Imagine what it must have been like to find out a stranger was carrying your child. The Morell's book is a must read inspirational story for any mother, or if you are interested in IVF. The Dateline episode was only one side of the story, you must read the book to get the other side.
Lin4 More than 1 year ago
Not as good as the Savages book. I truly believe the Morells are wrong in not telling their loved ones about the IVF. The comments that Shannon made to Carolyn Savage were hurtful. The love that the Savages show for Logan is unbelievable. The thought of having to give him up hurts me when I read both books. However, I truly think the Savages haev a much better perspective on life, God's blessings, and true love.
Tambot More than 1 year ago
This book was not meant to be an informational text about IVF. You have missed the whole point to the situation and story. This book expressed the feelings of a mother whose child was misplaced into a stranger.The courage of these two women who came together to bring a child into the world should be commended. How dare you judge someone who is tying to share her story and explain the situation.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
KateinVa More than 1 year ago
This is the point of view of the genetic parents whose baby/embryo was implanted in another woman. The birth mother delivered the morrell's a healthy son. This book is much shorter than the Savage's book and told pretty much exclusively from Shannon's point of view. She honestly came off as a bit selfish in the way this was written - granted it's a gut wrenching sitation to be in so who know how each would react. She is grateful and thankful for the gift of their son though. She goes on to give tips and research info on IVF and other infertility treatments, seemingly in an effort to differentiate her book from the Savage's book.
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