Our identical twin daughters, Selah and Shylah, celebrate their second birthday today.
And while this is an exciting milestone for any parent, it feels particularly victorious for us because our girls were born conjoined by the lower third of their chests to the navel, and shared a liver. In addition, Selah was born with a heart defect.
When I think about how far they’ve come – from their birth on October 27, 2014 to this day two years later – I am in awe of their progress.
When our conjoined twins were diagnosed in utero, we were told they had a 5-25% chance of survival. And even though we had a huge team of specialists with a very carefully laid out plan for their arrival, there were a lot of unknowns and I was fully aware of the potential for my babies to survive only a few hours after birth.
October 27, 2016 is a victory celebration for us. A victory of how far they’ve come and a celebration of the bright future ahead of them. What I’m most excited about is celebrating the day just like any other family would – with our relatives and closest friends outside of the hospital. It feels so very “normal.” A sentiment that I cherish.
In fact, it’s the little things – the normal things – that I cherished most these past couple of years.
The first time I held them.
The first time I gave them a bath.
When I first heard Selah’s cry and voice after her breathing tube was removed following her heart operation.
The independent way Shylah learned to walk – she refused to hold our hands, but instead balanced herself with her feeding pump and pushed it around.
So here we are, two years later, with two thriving toddlers. It’s like having two little miracles living in our house. I’m so thankful for the second chance they have been given and for the opportunity to love and appreciate the independent little people that they’re becoming.
Shylah is a talkative, outgoing diva, doing typical toddler things. She’s throwing temper tantrums. She’s started talking. And a couple of weeks ago she got rid of her feeding tube. She is so determined to do new things and reach new milestones.
Selah has had more challenges – she was born with complete AV canal defect and had subsequent heart surgeries to repair it. At nine months of age when she was discharged from the hospital, she could barely hold her head up and had a feeding tube. Today she is really close to walking and eats so much table food I can hardly keep up with her. Her determination and drive shine through with each new milestone accomplished.
When I think about it, in a way, today feels like their first birthday. After all, it is a birthday of firsts.
Their first birthday at home with friends and family. The first birthday in which they’ll be able to eat cake. The first birthday where they’re mobile and able to get around (and open presents!).
It’s been a year of incredible milestones reached and we have so much to celebrate.