We followed the incredible story of conjoined twin girls who had a very small chance of survival. However, these little ones were not ready to give up without a fight.
The Oglesby family
This is the story of Shylah and Selah Oglesby, twin girls who developed as conjoined twins in their mothers womb. Shylah and Selah were conjoined at the stomach and had a very high risk of death very early on. Doctors believed there was a 75 to 95 percent chance that the girls would not make it past their birth.
In addition to being conjoined at the chest, the girls shared a liver. Luckily, the sweet little ones had their own hearts (otherwise this would be a whole different story). Shylah and Selah’s parents, Misty and Curtis, were very emotional when they learned of their daughters’ condition while they were pregnant. “When we found out we were having twins and that they were conjoined, all on the same day, all at the same appointment, I was 20 weeks along.”
Not knowing the outcome
“The scariest part of it was the unknown” was what Misty said after she and Curtis learned of their babies condition. They had no idea how to react and what to do, especially when doctors were giving them such a small chance of survival. The best way the couple could describe their emotions was the feeling of being overwhelmed. It was shortly after that, though, that they decided to act.
Here we see an x-ray of the girls’ conjoined chest. Again, while they did not share the same heart, which was very lucky indeed, they did share a liver and the surgery would be very invasive and extreme. A team of specialists came to the dazed parent’s aid with information, options and an attitude of help and determination to get their girls separated and alive. It was thanks to these doctors that Misty and Curtis moved forward.
Cincinnati Children’t Hospital
It was a team of specialists at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center that came to the parents rescue. The doctors spent three months working up a plan to separate Shylah and Selah. Misty said, “I felt like I was giving my world to them, we were not sure that we would get them back. I knew it was necessary but it was very very difficult.” Anyone would relate to this mother’s struggle to let go of her daughters.
Misty’s take on her girls
“They were perfect, to me they were perfect, they were my sweet precious little girls”, Misty was stating in an interview about the whole ordeal, naturally getting very emotional about the thought of putting her daughters through something so invasive and dangerous. However, Misty and Curtis knew that without the surgery, their daughters would surely not survive. It is an impossible decision for any parent to make. At the end of the day it’s all about saving them.
Another bump in the road
The girls were very medically complex in terms of their condition as a whole and in particular. Being conjoined was the whole of it, but there was also a problem with Selah’s heart. Her heart defect made doctors more cautious with their planning of the surgery as any wrong move on behalf of anyone in the operating room would surely cost one or maybe both of the babies lives. As if being conjoined wasn’t terrifying enough for the new parents.
Dr. Foong-Yen Lim said that Shylah and Selah “were conjoined from the lower third of the chest all the way down to the umbilicus. In fact, they shared a single umbilical chord. We chose to watch them very very carefully to make sure that the babies continued to develop and grow while they were inside of Misty.” Monitoring the growth was a vital part of the plan for these girls as making sure they were developing as they should affected their planning.
The surgery took place at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center and took a total of six hours to complete. The separation surgery was a success. The scary part of it was also for Misty who, at 31 weeks pregnant, developed high blood pressure. It was at that time that the doctors decided that for the safety of the girls and the mom, they would deliver them by way of C-Section.
The process of separation
Once the girls were born they were not immediately sent to the operating room. Doctors used several techniques to expand the girls’ skin to accommodate the separation, as well as used the time to plan the exact procedure and way of surgically removing them. This is the kind of surgery that has to be done millimeter by millimeter. The whole point was to get the girl separated and functioning on their own.
Doctor’s point of view
“Once we hit the operating room, things just happened, you know, like clockwork” is what Dr. Lim said. Indeed that is exactly what happened thanks to the meticulous planning and expertise of the specialists at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Once the girls were no longer conjoined, the issues of each child came into better light. Selah’s heart defect would be the very first thing doctors would pay attention to once she was no longer connected to her sister.
Selah needed several more surgeries, heart surgeries, to fix the defect that had developed. It was though this entire process that the Ogelby family started seeing the hospital as a sort of second home after spending so much time there, as well as knowing full well that without the hospital and the expert staff of doctors, Shylah and Selah would not be with them today. It was hard enough for Misty and Curtis with the conjoined issue, adding the heart issue on top of that made it harder.
Faith and hope
Through all of these ups and downs, though, Misty and Curtis remained hopeful and grateful for their girls and the staff that was walking with them hand in hand to make sure that Shylah and Selah would not only be their own physical entity but would be healthy and thriving and would look forward to the very long life ahead of them. The mortality rate of the girls went down thanks to the team.
Fast forward to two years later and Shylah and Selah are bouncy little girls who are growing and thriving as if they had no surgery done to them at all. The family went home to Indiana after their prolonged stay in Cincinnati. Dr. Lim said, “I’m still very hopeful that they will continue to thrive. Curtis and Misty are doing an awesome job in caring for the babies.” It sure seems that way!
Misty, Curtis and the hospital
Misty and Curtis credit the girls’ well being and survival to the staff at the hospital. Now that they are two years old and doing very well, they know how lucky they were to end up there. Shylah and Selah are now crawling and walking around their home, as well as beginning to talk here and there. They are hard to catch when they start getting their move on, just like any other two year old.
The future in Curtis’ words
Dad, Curtis, said, “You know, we always prayed and ask that they and we would get out of the hospital and get to be two years old and drive us nuts and that’s coming true so we are running around like chickens with their heads cut off and now I just hope they grow up like any other kid and hope they can chase their dreams too and do what they want to do.”
The future in Misty’s words
And mom, Misty said, “I just want them to grow up and explore this world that’s around them and live life to its fullest because they have been given the opportunity that we weren’t sure that they would have. It’s overwhelming when you find out that there is something wrong with your child. I think there is always hope and no matter what the circumstances are in front of you, you can’t give up hope.”
Shylah and Selah’s second birthday marks the first birthday of theirs where they are home and can have a proper celebration. The celebration in question is indeed the one of their life. There was a time when they may not have made it at all, let alone to their second birthday. Doctors say that these young ones are going to lead a long and healthy life. A true celebration of life in the Oglesby residence!
Misty said, “Today feels like their first birthday, their 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.” Shylah and Selah got to stuff their faces, and be just like any other two year old going bananas on her birthday. That is all Misty and Curtis wanted for their little girls.
Curtis is happy to have these little girls go through the ‘terrible twos’ because it means that they are alive and thriving and going through the same developmental step as any other two year old would. Curtis loves to be around the girls and have them climb all over him and talk his ear off. Every bit of the action that they bring into his day means that they are there and alive, and that’s the most important thing for him.
Now home in Indiana, Shylah and Selah are getting into a sort of routine at home with their parents. After a rough introduction to life like they had, and as close as Shylah and Selah were physically, life now is almost normal. Selah is still working hard to get through her heart issues and is doing remarkably. The doctors have been a sensational support system for the family, even though they are in a different state.
A look back
Looking back at it now, Dr. Lim said, “At that moment of separating the twins, you are just concentrating on giving the twins what each of them needs to do well as individuals following their separation, when we made that final cut to completely separate the twins, there was a sense of success and happiness not just for the entire team but more importantly for the parents who had worked with us so closely as a team for months to get to that point.”
As for the personality of each little one, it seems that they go about things differently. They may be twins but Shylah and Selah are not twins in their personalities. Misty said, “It’s great to be home, the twins are running around, doing well and thriving. Shylah is the talkative, funny one. Selah is more timid and loving but strong and determined. They are my miracles.”
The family had a little photoshoot to commemorate the twins’ second birthday. Here we see the little lovely girls trying out a chair. Selah to got her tube out before her birthday and so she finishes the last outward medical milestone along with her second birthday. The girls are full of life and are good at making lots of noise, according to their loving family.
On her blog, Misty wrote, “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.” We can only imagine what they are going to be like as adult, super extroverted we assume.
Misty and Curtis know how lucky they are to have both girls alive and growing at an impressive rate. Misty wrote, “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.”
Nearing the end of the road of a very hard time, Misty looked back at the beginning – “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.”
On Misty’s blog, she is described as: “Misty Oglesby is settling into her new role as wife and stay-at-home mom to two no-longer-conjoined twin girls. She loves spending time with her family, as well as hiking and running. God has been her foundation throughout it all.” We have to say that we are incredibly impressed and enlightened by the Oglesby’s determination and hope for their beautiful daughters.
About Shylah, Misty writes: “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.” About Selah, who as we know had a rougher time of things, she had a lot more to say on the matter…
“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.”