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

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Length: 268 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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About 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.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

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

Product Details

  • File Size: 1979 KB
  • Print Length: 268 pages
  • Publisher: Howard Books (April 15, 2010)
  • Publication Date: May 4, 2010
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003HB6WX8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #274,919 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 61 people found the following review helpful By madison o'neill on May 17, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book really was a disappointment. I tried the sample first and thought it would be a good read. The first half (or so) is alright. It has a lot of back story to their life and why they chose IVF. However, as the pregnancy progresses, it just sounds like this couple is complaining - first she REALLY wanted a connection with her gestational carrier, then when they try to connect she feels all awkward about it. Also, it lacks any new interesting information (besides the back story) about the ordeal. It seems fairly hypocritical that they wanted to be "so private" and were appalled that the other couple was going public on the Today Show, but yet they 1) wrote this book and 2) went on the Today Show as well.

While yes, their story is tragic and impossible to fathom what it was like unless you're in their position, I think perhaps their story "ended" when the Savages decided they would not terminate the pregnancy and had no interest in raising the baby. Perhaps the Savages would have a more interesting tale since they had to "grow" a little baby who was not theirs and never would be.

Lastly, I can't believe someone let this go to print the way it is written. There are large chunks of paragraphs that are almost word for word duplicates. I wish I hadn't purchased this book and would not recommend it to others. I had a LOT of trouble in the second half.
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful By C.H.H on March 27, 2011
Format: Paperback
As someone who is in the process of my first IVF cycle, I read both this book and Carolyn and Sean Savage's "Inconceivable" with interest and trepidation. This is the worst nightmare of someone going through IVF, and both of these books will cause me to check and double-check my clinic's protocols to make sure that they are doing everything possible to prevent mistakes like this one. There is no question that what happened to Shannon and Paul Morell was terrible, but Shannon does not seem to understand that what happened to Carolyn and Sean Savage was far, far worse. Carolyn risked her health, endured months of caring for and bonding with a baby that she could not keep, and sacrificed her last chance at carrying her own pregnancy in order to give the Morell's this incredible gift. Shannon whines about the fact that now her family and friends will know that her babies were conceived through IVF and complains that the Savages did not want to meet them until they were safely in the second trimester.

In this book, Shannon mourns the loss of her chance to be pregnant with her son - to bond with him, to feel him kick, to share the joy of her pregnancy with family and friends. While this is certainly understandable, she becomes far less sympathetic when she compares her situation to that of adoptive parents and concludes that she has it worse, because after all, adoptive parents "signed on for this". While adopting is a wonderful way to build a family, people who adopt after giving up on fertility treatments mourn the loss of their chance to EVER experience pregnancy, as well as their chance to to have a biological child.
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful By J. Smith on March 9, 2011
Format: Paperback
Poorly written... many paragraphs that are duplicated. All Shannon does is complain, go on tangents and is self centered. She needs to grow up. A good role model for her is Carolyn Savage. Shannon needs to start counting her blessings for what she has and what has been given to her and her family. Get over not being pregnant. The main thing is having a healthy happy baby. That's the goal! I sure hope Shannon and Paul are truly grateful and appreciative for all that the Savage's done for them and gave to them. I read Carolyn and Sean Savage's book Inconceivable and I had a very hard time putting it down. Reading Shannon's book I have to keep going back and re-reading what I just read shocked that I'm reading the same paragraph over again as it's duplicated and her self centeredness and tangents are a turn off. I have gone through infertility and have had 1 stillborn. My son was stillborn at 35 1/2 weeks. I know the heartache of going through fertility treatments and I also know everyday - every second of the rest of my life the loss I have endured losing my son. I have 2 healthy children and am so blessed to have them. Count your blessings not your heartaches and move positively and confidently into the future.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By S. Scantlin on May 16, 2011
Format: Paperback
I'd be concerned about having this woman teach my 8th grader, because she apparently didn't notice the redundancy in some of her paragraphs. Some were an almost word-for-word duplication!

But beyond the lack of writing savvy, my bigger problem is that she appears to be completely immersed in her own egotistical complaints about the situation. She doesn't appear to have any realization that she was granted one of the most generous, incredible gifts a person could ask. Carolyn gave up her own ability to have future children in order to foster Logan's life and help him be healthy, and come through the pregnancy. And then gave him over to the Morells without expectation.

How this woman managed to pull negatives from this incredible gift in her life, I have no idea. I'm glad I got it at the library and didn't help support a royalty check to her. Hopefully, some of Carolyn's self-sacrificing went through the placenta and overrode the DNA of Shannon's narcissism.
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Topic From this Discussion
Hmmmmm. I read the AP article and
Actually you're more than welcome to make comments on here, in fact more than welcomes it. I suspect the reason why Angie got her feathers ruffled is because this book is #3000 or 4000.
May 5, 2010 by JGC |  See all 7 posts
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