After their second child was born, Lindsay Lyon and her husband, Nathan, felt like God was leading them to stay in sleep-deprived “baby mode” and have a third child.
So when she went in for an ultrasound, she was stunned to hear that she was pregnant with conjoined twins, and even more stunned to be told they wouldn’t survive.
“We found out later that they were joined at the chest,” Lyon said.
Her two sons were facing each other and had all their own organs and limbs except for a shared liver and one shared heart chamber.
“That cell was so close to dividing enough for them to live,” Lyon said.
But it wasn’t enough. And after she and her husband turned away the suggestion of abortion, Lyon settled into the long road of carrying babies that had almost no chance of surviving.
“We prayed for a miracle but knew the fact. The doctors were telling us that they would not survive,” she recalled.
But Lyon saw many of what she says were “God smiles” along the way, starting with a new friend she met after the first ultrasound.
“The nurse said, ‘This is so wild, but there’s a woman here whose twins are also conjoined, and she’s one week behind you. We’ve never seen this here; it’s so rare and mind-boggling,’” Lyon recounted. “So I told the nurse she had my permission to give her my name and number.”
But as it turns out, that wasn’t necessary.
“A few days later my mom said, ‘You won’t believe who is my Bible study leader,’” Lyon recalled. “It was the mother of the other woman who was expecting conjoined twins. Our mothers had shared the same prayer request.”
The two grandmothers exchanged their daughters’ numbers, and the women got in touch and set up a play date for their children.
“We found out we are very similar,” Lyon said.
Her new friend, Stephanie Castle, had young children already, and her husband was a minister too — Dwight Castle is pastor of missions for Redeemer Community Church, and Lyon’s husband is youth and family pastor at First Baptist Church, both in Birmingham.
“That was really cool how God brought us together and we were able to pray for each other,” Lyon recalled. “It was a gift from the Lord to have someone else walking a very similar path.”
But there was one big difference — the Castle twins only shared a liver and were expected to live.
“Even so, everything was unknown, and we could pray for each other. We were scared to death,” Lyon admitted.
She began receiving care at UAB Hospital, which she said was another “God smile.”
“They were supportive of our decision to keep the babies and worked hard to make sure our wishes were met,” Lyon explained.
Meanwhile, the Castles were sent to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the leading hospital in separation surgeries.
On the same day — April 22, 2021 — the Castle twins, Elizabeth and Susannah, were born, and so were the Lyon twins, Joshua and Caleb.
“When we found out they were boys, I had thought of the names Joshua and Caleb immediately,” Lyon recalled. “[Joshua and Caleb of the Bible] were the only ones allowed to enter the promised land because they had trusted God. I knew that was God telling us to trust Him, that He was going to get us through this.”
As expected, the Castle twins survived, and were successfully separated in December 2021.
And the Lyon twins outlived what the doctors had predicted — Joshua and Caleb weren’t expected to make it to 16 weeks, but they were born at 36 weeks and lived six hours after their birth.
“God gave us six beautiful hours with them,” Lyon remembered.
She then began a season of recovery that was more difficult than she’d thought it would be, physically, spiritually and emotionally. Having a C-section with conjoined twins was grueling, and the emotions that came with it were as well.
“I trusted the Lord and knew they were in His hands, but I was in a dark place, and it was very difficult in many ways afterward,” Lyon related.
She said the “hardest wrestle” for her has been trying to make sense of why it all had to happen this way.
“But I’m coming to a realization that His ways are not my ways and He sees the bigger picture,” Lyon acknowledged. “I will say the few months following their birth were very difficult for me, but He got us through that. And we can see now how He’s using our story to touch other people’s hearts.”
Part of that is a new empathy for people walking through grief.
“The moment the boys died, Nathan and I were instantly able to empathize with anyone who has lost someone,” Lyon said. “It has been in a way a gift from the Lord in ministry to be able to understand now a little bit of the grief that people go through when they lose a loved one, particularly infant loss. A lot of women have opened up to me now knowing our story that I had no idea had lost a child or had a miscarriage.”
Walking through the loss of her sons didn’t feel like a gift at the time, Lyon admitted, but she’s come to the point where now it does.
“God is using it, and I know He will for our whole lives,” she said. “It doesn’t make it easier, but it does help to know He is working and using their lives to touch other people’s lives.”
And she said God has continued to give her gifts, like her friendship with Stephanie Castle and getting to see the twin girls.
“Watching them grow has been the sweetest gift from the Lord — to see the exact rate of growth our sons would have had,” Lyon said.
The Lyons also stay busy with their two oldest children, John Mark and Ella Glenn, whose name means “light in the valley.”
Lyon said God gave her another gift.
“I don’t know if I should call it a vision, but I had this little glimpse of my boys in heaven, them standing before Jesus on His throne, separate and whole,” Lyon said. “That image in my mind, God just let me have that as a gift to hold on to until I do see them in heaven.”
How generational faith provides a strong foundation
Lindsay Lyon said it’s her faith that got her through losing conjoined twin sons last year. She shared the story Sept. 20 at First Baptist Church Montgomery during a Woman’s Missionary Union dinner.
“Nathan and I and our families have learned a different kind of patience in tribulation,” Lyon told the group, “trusting that our faith is real even when He doesn’t answer our specific prayers to perform a miracle and save our babies. Trusting that even when grief floods over me and paralyzes me, He is somehow still in control and still loves me. Believing that we will see our sons again in heaven. What a treasure to look forward to.”
Lyon said it’s a faith that was passed down to them by their parents and grandparents. Her husband’s father, Lamar Lyon, was a pastor in the Marbury area, and her father, Ed Cleveland, has been a minister of music for years.
But the women of the family also have passed down a robust faith — Lyon’s mother, Sharon Cleveland, and her grandmother, Bobbie Sue Pate, also spoke during the dinner about God’s faithfulness.
Jane Burdeshaw, who organized the event, said she has seen how Lyon “has walked in God’s will and exemplified such strength not of her own but of God.”
During the dinner, Lyon met a group of women who sew gowns for stillborn babies, and another group called Alabama Brushes who paint personalized boxes for the gowns.
“They had made gowns for Lindsay and Nathan, and she was able to keep them,” Burdeshaw said. “That was the first time she had gotten to see them.”