They were wheeled into surgery on a gray, stormy Saturday, two babies merged into one body, no one really sure of the surgery's outcome.
Each baby had a 15 percent chance of never coming home, doctors said.
They emerged Monday welcomed by the sun, 22 days after surgery, fully individual and healing better than the family had dared to hope.
Kathleen Faith and Charity Mae Lincoln, 8-month-old formerly conjoined twins, returned to their Lacey-area home Monday from Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle.
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They will eat through feeding tubes for a few weeks, will need ileostomy bags until they grow stronger, have wounds that still need care and future surgeries and therapies to face - each baby has one leg. But nothing that awaits them is like what they have just come through.
The rare twins underwent a grueling, 30-hour surgery that stretched from Sept. 30 to Oct. 1, to separate their bodies, conjoined through the abdomens and pelvises.
Walking into a wall of television and newspaper cameras Monday afternoon as they left the hospital, father Greg Lincoln looked down at his daughters in their twin stroller and introduced them simply and slowly, "Charity and Kathleen."
He smiled freely, the way he had earlier in the morning while getting his daughters ready to go home and the way he would later after arriving home to be with his other three children and more family members.
Greg Lincoln had not smiled a lot or joked a lot in the weeks before the surgery, a concession to how stressed and worried he was.
Doctors weren't entirely sure the girls could be safely separated.
But Monday morning, Greg Lincoln grinned as he and his wife, Vaneice, practiced working the automatic feeding machine that will regulate formula for the babies awhile longer.
"Do you want to do this or me? We can have an argument on national television, " Greg said, smiling at his wife.
"This is the first time we've done this, so if it looks like we don't know what we're doing ?" Greg continued, in good humor.
"We don't, " Vaneice finished for him, also smiling.
Both parents say they have been feeling more at ease in the past four or five days, after Kathleen and Charity moved out of intensive care and passed the two-week mark after surgery.
The babies never developed infections - a serious possibility because of their large wounds and the time they were opened for surgery - or any major complications.
"We're all impressed with how they've done. They've been able to follow our plan, " said nurse practitioner Lani Wishnie. "These babies read the right textbook."
But they ran fevers and struggled in minor ways. Charity needed another small surgery when her large wound opened a bit last week because the skin had grown tight.
"For me, the two weeks were very stressful, " Greg said. "You were constantly worried about them. You're worried about infection. Then there was the wound on Charity."
It was also stressful being away for so long from the couple's other children - Mikayla, 9, Troy, 6, and Annelise, 3. "It was hardest on Annelise. She had a hard time processing why mom and dad can't be home, " Greg said.
Annelise would say prayers at night for the babies to recover, "So mommy can come home, '" Vaneice said, smiling.
But that time was almost past Monday morning as Charity and Kathleen played with rattles and baby toys and grinned at their father when he stopped packing long enough to make faces at them.
"We're excited, " he said, smiling at Charity as he lifted her up. "How are we going to fit all this stuff in the van?"
Charity had worried her family, growing thinner in the weeks before the surgery, though she ate more formula than Kathleen. Now her cheeks and arms have begun to fill out.
Later, Kathleen twisted herself around in her car seat, which she was being fitted into, to look at her father.
"You talking to daddy?" Greg said. "You ready to go home? You know you're going somewhere when you sit in that seat."
The parents received long lists of care instructions from nurses, who waved goodbye to the easy-going babies. Sitting side-by-side in their stroller, Charity reached over and grabbed Kathleen's arm as both babies looked befuddled by all the attention.
After visiting with Seattle media, parents and babies arrived to a welcome-home party thrown by their family.
Mikayla, Troy and Annelise were excited to see their baby sisters and their parents, and they argued a little over who got to hold which baby.
"Dad, what can they have to eat?" Troy asked Greg.
"Oh, hamburgers, hot dogs, chili, " Greg answered while his son laughed.
Yellow and purple balloons and flowers adorned the house - during the surgery, Kathleen wore a yellow cap and her surgical team wore yellow, while Charity and her team wore purple. Wires, tubes and tags were been colored purple and yellow also, to avoid confusion.
The party included cake and ice cream, a welcome-home song and a prayer of thanks.
Family members remarked again at the amazing outcome of the surgery.
"We didn't even know if they would survive birth, " said Jennifer Hanson, Greg's sister. "Then we didn't know if they would live after birth. Then we didn't know if they could be separated. It was just miracle after miracle."
Greg's mother, Lorinda Lincoln, nodded her head.
The family had prayed before the birth that the conjoinment would not be severe, and it had been, but now their prayers had been answered.
"It wasn't the miracle we would have designed, " Lorinda said, "but we got the miracle we prayed for."