The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Celebrity babies: Abby & Belle

Carlsen twins connect a congregation and community with the country

On the living room floor of a Fargo, N.D., home, two baby girls are playing.

Tired and teething, they quickly grow fussy and reach for their parents. Mom cuddles one daughter while sitting in a black leather recliner. Dad sits with the other on a tan sofa, letting her grab the bill of his baseball cap.

It’s a normal moment for a family of four, but still new for the parents of these identical twins.

While Abby Carlsen snuggles in her
While Abby Carlsen snuggles in her mother Amy’s arms, Jesse Carlsen entertains daughter Belle on their first day back home in Fargo, N.D. Abby and Belle, who left Fargo more than three months earlier as conjoined twins, returned home as healthy, separate babies.

For the first five and a half months, Jesse and Amy Carlsen couldn’t hold their daughters separately. Abbigail and Isabelle were conjoined—connected at the lower chest and abdomen.

They spent most of those months in a hospital, preparing for surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and then recovering from the successful separation. They returned home in early June.

“It was quite a journey we went through,” Amy said, holding Abby on her lap. “I just can’t believe it’s done. It’s done.”

During the journey, they found love and support from their family, friends, faith and from thousands who were touched by their story. They still marvel at the outpouring of concern and compassion, from Fargo and beyond.

Throughout the wonder and worry, they remained optimistic, never asking, “Why us?” That would indicate something bad had happened, Jesse said. “These girls have been nothing but good,” he added. “They’re the best thing that has happened to us in our lives. I thank God every day we have them.”

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