The chance of giving birth to conjoined twins is extraordinary: one in 200,000. But last October, 21-year-old single mother Felicia Simms delivered identical twin baby girls by Caesarean section at Vancouver’s BC Women’s Hospital & Health Centre. Her doctors had prepared for the surgery by practising with a pair of dolls – heads taped together, mimicking the bond Felicia’s babies share: They have two skulls and two separate brains, but their heads are fused together by tissue and skin.
“Their brains are like a big zipper,” says Felicia, who discovered in her 21-week ultrasound that her daughters were conjoined and had a 40 per cent chance of being stillborn. Yet 13 weeks later, Tatiana and Krista entered this world weighing a healthy 12.7 pounds in total. In January, Chatelaine met the resilient twins at their grandmother Louise McKay’s home in Vernon, B.C. (pop. 36,000), blocks away from Felicia’s basement apartment. “They hold each other’s hands sometimes,” says Felicia, over the din of a house full of children, including her four-year-old, Rosa, and two-year-old, Christopher, and their cousins.