FAIRFAX, Va.—Though their confidence was shaken, Chad and David decided to stick with Muasher through another round. It didn't hurt that he offered a 20% discount.
Their lawyer, Diane Hinson, got in touch with Jessica, who instantly agreed to a second egg retrieval. This time she yielded 32 eggs, even more than before. Chad and David rewarded her with earrings to match her bracelet.
"Is it wrong to hope?" she teased.
Twenty-seven of the eggs fertilized, 14 by one of the men and 13 by the other. Their friend Lisa Alexander observed that they seemed to be "over-egged and under-uterized."
At Muasher's recommendation, they froze 12 of the day-old embryos and let the rest grow to the blastocyst stage. Seven made it.
On Feb. 1, 2005, Muasher picked the two best blastocysts — they were from the same batch — and placed them in the center of Whitney's uterus. The others were frozen.
Again they all gathered in the Craigs' kitchen to receive the news. And again it was negative.
When Muasher finished his apologies, David looked at his partner. "We just can't get it right, can we?" he said.
"Is it possible he's doing something wrong?" Chad asked dejectedly. "Everything looked so perfect."
To try to isolate the problem, Muasher suggested new tests on Whitney, including a biopsy of her uterine lining. The tests would be invasive and costly. And if they detected trouble, such as a blockage, it might require surgery. Whitney, who had already been subjected to 64 injections and 164 estrogen patches, hadn't signed on for that.
Ten days after the third negative pregnancy test, Chad got a call from his 33-year-old sister, Tonya Rosenberger, who lived in Arlington, Texas. Sissy, as the family called her, had just delivered a second child after a wonderfully easy pregnancy, and had been tracking her brother's efforts closely.
She sensed that Chad and David were running out of money and resolve, and she thought she might have a solution.
"What would you think about me being the surrogate?" she asked Chad. "You wouldn't have to pay me."
"Are you kidding me?" Chad asked. "My God, I'm thrilled, but I don't know what to think."
What he really thought was that it was too much to ask. Did she fully understand what she was volunteering to do?
He knew Sissy was terrified of needles. And because Texas statutes were neither surrogacy-friendly nor gay-friendly, she and her two kids might have to spend the last eight weeks of the pregnancy with them in D.C. to be sure she delivered in Maryland.
How would her husband, Jay, feel about her carrying her brother's child? Only a year earlier, they had balked at her being the egg donor.
Sissy told Chad they had discussed the idea, and that Jay, an engineering professor, was fully on board. Surrogacy, he had remarked, was "like loaning someone your car, only a little more."