ADEL, Iowa — Two and a half years ago, Local 5 first met Casey Wheeler when was at inpatient care at MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center.
26 weeks pregnant, her twins shared a placenta and an amniotic sac: Mono-mono or "MoMo" as they are called. Extremely rare and high risk.
For months, Casey received care at MercyOne while her husband, John, and their son lived hours away in the town of Manilla (Crawford County).
All of them, constantly praying for a healthy set of twin girls.
Delivery day came at 32 weeks, and with answered prayers, two beautiful girls were born: Everleigh and Emerson.
Everleigh especially was going to have a tough road ahead.
Local 5's last check-in with the Wheelers was when the girls were a year old.
"Ev was still not very stable," Casey said. "She was healthy enough to be home, but it was still very fragile.
A feeding tube, a ventilator at home., in and out of the hospital.
"They at one time said they didn't think she would even crawl," said Nurse Geri, who cares for Everleigh full-time.
And walking was certainly not in the plans at the time.
But Summer 2021 brought an unexpected update.
"Since then, she has made absolute leaps and bounds," Casey said. "She no longer needs ventilator support to breathe, she can breathe all on her own. She still is on a feeding tube, but we've kind of managed to make that work for us."
She's smart, "sassy" as her mother says, and with tons of personality.
"She knows all her colors, her letters," Casey added.
"The first thing I learned about Everleigh was you don't underestimate her," Nurse Geri said. "You don't tell her what to do."
And now? Everleigh is walking.
"Not only did she start rolling over and crawling, but she started walking, which is something that we'd never knew if she would have the physical ability to do that," Casey said. "So to see her running around with her siblings is a miracle every day."
She's up and dancing, laughing, even potty training.
"She did it. I didn't do anything, Ev did it all," Casey told Local 5. "Emerson? Diapers, no interest in potty training. But Everleigh yeah, Everleigh has been potty trained for a long time now since spring break."
It certainly hasn't been easy to get here, recently having surgery to detach her spinal cord from her spine.
"This was her sixth surgery, she is not even two and a half, and she's had six surgeries. That's scary and it's sad, and of course I don't want that for my baby. But kids are so resilient."
Today, you'd never know Everleigh was sedated for 72 hours just a few weeks ago.
And while there's still a closet at home filled with medical supplies and many more surgeries in her future, the Wheeler family doesn't have to do it alone.
"We have such an incredible village," Casey said. "As a person I've grown a lot. In our marriage, my husband and I have grown a lot just to be able to read what Everleigh needs. We've grown a lot and we've learned how to advocate for our daughter."
The family goes to baseball games where dad is the coach. They go to the park.
"I feel very fortunate that this is the only life that my kids have known," Casey said. "This is our normal and they never had to adjust from a different normal."
Watch: Nov. 29, 2019 update on the Wheeler twins