Launching a journey they'd never imagined
Sissy was bereft. She stood for long stretches at the babies' sides, often alone. It was evident to Kay Douglas, one of the NICU nurses, that she was replaying events, wondering what she could have done differently. "She wanted so much to do this for them," Douglas said.

Just after midnight on Sunday morning, Chad and David were grabbing showers at a nearby hotel when they were summoned back to the hospital. Dr. Carrizales informed them that Holland had suffered a pulmonary hemorrhage. Blood was flooding her lungs. If they couldn't oxygenate her soon, she would die of asphyxia.

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They went to Sissy's room, trying to sleep while the doctors worked, but Carrizales interrupted them at 3 a.m. Now the news was worse: Holland had suffered a brain hemorrhage. The radiologist on duty was certain that blood had seeped into the brain tissue, causing irreversible damage. Carrizales wasn't as sure, and thought there might be hope.

"Are you religious?" she asked.

They told her they were Christian.

"Just pray and turn it over to God," she said.

When they woke up the next morning and visited the NICU, the staff had taped Father's Day cards to each of the babies' bassinets. Asher seemed to have stabilized, but Chad and David spent their first Father's Day wondering if they would have to take their daughter off life support.

They bought a video camera and brought it to the NICU. "Here's little Holland on Father's Day," David narrated calmly. "Isn't she cute? Look at her little fingers. Her little face is covered up. It's very sweet. Hey, little angel."

They summoned the curate from Sissy's Episcopalian church to baptize Holland, and she thought it best to bless the twins together. As the nurses gathered around in prayer, the curate made the sign of the cross on the babies' foreheads with a single drop of sterile water. Then they shared communion and sang hymns in the NICU lobby.

Chad and David had braced themselves for bad news about Holland on Monday morning, when both children were scheduled for brain scans. They were not prepared for the news they got.

"I need to talk to you about Asher," Dr. Tisdell began.

"Oh, my God," Chad thought.

Only an hour earlier, at about 8 a.m., Asher too had suffered a brain hemorrhage, the doctor said. The ultrasound showed it was more severe than his sister's. Half his brain was devastated. If he lived, Tisdell explained, it would almost certainly be in a permanent vegetative state. It would be unfair to Asher and to their family to keep him alive, he said.

Stunned into silence, they went to visit their son. He had opened his eyes and was wiggling his bottom. But the doctor had been unequivocal. They looked at each other and knew they had no choice.

Sissy's obstetrician came to visit and they asked his opinion, knowing he felt strongly about choosing life. He said that under the circumstances he would disconnect.

That afternoon, the nurses removed the wires and tubes, wrapped Asher in a fluffy white afghan, and brought him to his fathers in a conference room. He lasted only a minute or two. Chad, David and their family members held him for the first and last time, kissing his face and sniffling through their goodbyes.

"I'm a daddy," Chad said, looking to his mother.

"Yes, you are, hon," she said. "You will always be a dad, you and David both. You will always have children."

"Beautiful baby boy Asher," Chad said, cradling his son.

"Little angel," said David.