"She took care of me once, and we never let her go," Faith Roberts tells PEOPLE
Louisiana nurse Janin Pierce held Faith Roberts's hand the night she and her twin sister, who were born conjoined, came into the world. And 22 years later, Pierce was there holding her hand when she officiated Faith's wedding.
“It felt even more special because my wedding was never a milestone I was supposed to make it to,” the 24-year-old tells PEOPLE. "I don't think anyone would have imagined it."
Faith says it's "a miracle" that she lived long enough to find her "true love" — and she couldn't imagine looking at a stranger on her wedding day.
"I have never met anybody that's been through what I've been through — what we've been through," she says. "Hospitals are the place where you can find your family."
Faith and her conjoined twin, Rose Aimee, were born Feb. 1, 1999.
"We were face-to-face hugging,” she says. A valve connected their hearts and Faith explains that Rose was a “parasitic” twin.
“She couldn’t survive on her own,” she says. “She was using my blood and my heart to pump through her body, kind of like I was her backup generator. And it was working for a little bit — like 24 hours. And then they realized it was killing me because I couldn't keep both of us alive. So they decided to try to save one.”
The conjoined twins were surgically separated at Children's Hospital New Orleans when they were three days old. After her sister's death, their family changed Faith's middle name to Rose to honor her.
Over the years, Faith and Pierce stayed connected, with their families spending birthdays and holidays together. “She took care of me once, and we never let her go," Faith says.
Because the conjoined twins were born face-to-face hugging, as Faith grew, her back was crooked, and her face was shaped like “a banana," she says.
She had more than a dozen surgeries, from breaking her jaw in two places, to adding devices to her heart, and metal rods in her back and jaw. She has no abdominal muscles, instead she has a surgically inserted mesh screen.
“People at work call me Wolverine,” she says. “My body is like a Tetris puzzle that nobody can know how to fit together. So we're still learning things about it.”
Growing up, the best part about going to her many doctor's appointments at CHNOLA was that she always got to see her "Aunt Janin."
“The doctors and the nurses — especially Aunt Janin — they would make me feel like I wasn’t alone,” she says. “A lot of kids get scared when they got to the hospital. But for me, seeing Aunt Janin, that was going home. That was the place where people got me. That was the place where I was understood and I felt safe.”
And when she was just 12 years old, she met future husband Tyler Roberts at 4-H Camp. “We messaged for years,” she says. “We stayed extremely close friends.”
When she was 18, he called her after he enlisted in the Marine Corps, saying he was going to be in New Orleans for a night and asked her out. “We’ve never been apart since,” she says.
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Growing up, she wore one-piece bathing suits to hide her surgical scars “because kids are mean,” she says. But Tyler was different.
“He was the first person to really look at me and really love my scars. He was like, "You're so strong and that's so incredible,” she says. “It just made me feel normal. And I loved it.”
When it came time to plan their wedding in Oct. 2021, Faith asked Pierce, who's also a youth minister, to officiate.
"She is the person who literally carried me my entire life," says Roberts. "I couldn't imagine anyone else marrying me to my husband."
Pierce initially declined. She was going through a divorce at the time and was afraid she would ugly cry or fumble her words and ruin the ceremony. But Faith wouldn’t take no for an answer.
During the ceremony, Pierce reflected on their enduring bond.
“22 years ago I had the privilege of holding Faith Rose's hand just hours after her birth," she said. "And today I have the pleasure of uniting her hand in marriage to this fine young man.”
As for the future, well, there might be a full circle moment in the pair's future.
On her 50th birthday in September, Pierce got engaged to Ray Meline, a disabled Army veteran and IT specialist — and they’re planning to get married on Oct. 25, 2024.
When she called Faith's mom with the news, she remembers saying, "Maybe Faith could be my flower girl again."
“But Faith wants to marry me," she adds.
“I love her,” Roberts shares, as Pierce replies, "I love you, too."
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Read the original article on People.