They held another memorial service in a beautiful stone church. Both of their fathers drove in. Diane Hinson, their surrogacy lawyer, flew down from Virginia. Their friends Barry Golivesky and Dan Bloom, whose twins had been born five days earlier, greeted Chad and David with a bittersweet embrace, then took seats toward the back.
David, who had been the anchor at the hospital, returned to work quickly. He felt flat all the time, but kept it together. He even managed to attend a bris and baby-naming for the Golivesky-Bloom twins only two days after the Atlanta memorial service. Chad couldn't bring himself to go.
The ordeal only strengthened David's faith that everything happens for a reason. "There's still so much good that came out of it, the lives they changed," he said. "It's certainly not like they lived in vain. They did a lot for a lot of people in a short period of time."
Chad took more than three months off, some of it thanks to co-workers who contributed vacation days as a bereavement gift. He was angry at first, and frustrated that so much effort had led to such an outcome. In their week as parents, they had borne more responsibility and made tougher decisions than most would in a lifetime.
"To love someone that much and have them such a short time and then to lose them, it leaves you with an emptiness you didn't have before," he said. "You've opened up a part of who you are and then it's gone, and it's very hard to understand what you're supposed to do with that."
He lighted candles, planned a memory garden, and occasionally spoke to the ashes they kept in a bronze box on a chest at the top of the stairs. He and Sissy talked several times a day. Some days were better than others.
The hospital bills arrived, totaling $125,000. All but $1,100 was covered by Jay's family insurance policy. Because no legal steps had been taken to establish Chad or David as parents, Sissy was listed as "mother" on the birth certificate and Jay as "father." (In Texas, the husband of the mother is presumed to have paternity unless proven otherwise.)
The hospital tab almost equaled the amount Chad and David had spent to create the pregnancy. When they tallied that number, it came to $119,000. While Jay's insurance covered prenatal care and the delivery, Chad and David had paid all fertility-related costs out of pocket.
A new chance
Almost immediately after the twins died, Chad and David began talking about trying again. Despite the intensity of the loss, their taste of fatherhood had only reinforced their desire to be parents.
"I think the only loss I am not prepared to deal with is the loss of the hope that we will one day raise children," Chad said. "Our hope did not die with our twins. Instead, the twins, by their existence in our lives, amplified our hope and strength to continue."
They briefly considered adoption, but decided to pursue another surrogacy so they could participate more fully in the creation of their children. "The journey itself has value," Chad said, "and if we eventually have another baby we will add that to the list of blessings that have come about because we stepped out on this path."
Their grief counselor recommended they wait at least until November to attempt an embryo transfer, so that a birth would not precede the first anniversary of the twins' deaths. Knowing how long it could take to produce a pregnancy, they threw themselves back into the process.
Friends and relatives worried it might be too fast. But Chad and David reassured them they weren't trying to replace Asher and Holland, only to create a sibling for them. As for financing another round, which would cost at least another $75,000, Chad said the strategy this time would be to win the lottery. Absent that, they would borrow again.
They signed on with a new doctor and made arrangements through Hinson's agency for a third egg retrieval from Jessica, the donor who had helped them produce Asher and Holland. It was important to Chad and David that there be a genetic link between their first children and any future ones.
In late July, they posted an ad seeking a new surrogate on http://www.surromomsonline.com . "We will forever be parents to our sweet babies who lived so briefly with us," they wrote. "They taught us that the capacity to love is without bounds. They also cemented our desire to have more children. We know our continued journey to build our family will be incredible because it will be guided by our special guardian angels."
They were flooded with responses. In September, they negotiated a surrogacy agreement with a 41-year-old school crossing guard, a divorced mother from Massachusetts. Two of her three children are twins, and she carried them for nearly 38 weeks.
Later this year, a doctor is scheduled to transfer two embryos into her uterus, in the hope that Chad and David Craig might again become fathers.