IVF Babble

A 40-year-old Oklahoma woman gives birth 14 months after husband’s death

An Oklahoma woman is counting her blessings, even after the tragic death of her husband 18 months ago

That’s because the 40-year-old teacher, Sarah Shellenberger, recently gave birth to a darling baby boy, even though it was more than 14 months after her husband’s death from a heart attack.

Scott Shellenberger, aged 41, passed away in February 2020, but little baby Hayles was born on 3 May 2021. The new mum calls her baby a form of ‘medicine’ that is helping heal her heart after Scott’s sudden and untimely death.

Six months after Scott died while giving a university lecture, Sarah returned to the Barbados fertility clinic where the couple had begun fertility treatments years earlier. They created and froze embryos there just months before Scott’s death, but Sarah knew that Scott would have approved. She says she is sure that he would have supported her choice to have their baby, even though he will never meet his son. She even hopes to have another next year.

Her embryo transfer was successful, and in August, 2021 she finally fell pregnant after many years of trying with no success. She couldn’t be happier. “In our eyes, we have these two embryos that are already created, and they are our children. To me, there was no other option. They are our kids. I had to try to get pregnant and bring our children into this world.”

She and Scott hoped for at least three kids, and they even shortlisted potential names for their future offspring

It was his biggest dream to be a father, and they were determined to make it happen. While completing the initial IVF retrieval paperwork in Barbados, they discussed what they would do with any embryos should one of them die before implantation. They both decided that the living partner should make the right choice for their circumstances, and they both felt comfortable with this decision. Sarah is confident that Scott would approve.

Sarah gave birth on 3 May with her mother by her side

She cites her family’s support as a significant factor in her decision to embark on solo motherhood. Even though Scott is gone, she finds meaning that she can help make their shared dreams come true.

While motherhood looks a lot different than she always dreamed, she is over the moon with her son, baby Hayles. Though she describes a ‘bittersweet’ feeling when she thinks about how Scott will never meet him, she is excited about the future. She plans to return to Barbados to transfer the second (and final) viable embryo sometime in 2022 to grow her family and give Hayles a sibling.

What do you think about Sarah Shellenberger’s decision to use her frozen embryos even after her husband’s death? Is this something you and your partner have discussed, and would you consider doing the same should tragedy strike? Share this incredible story on social media, and share your thoughts in the comment section.

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