Dwight and Stephanie Castle say having conjoined twins is the hardest thing they’ve ever done. Yet for them, abortion was never an option, and they continue to have faith that God will pull them through.
The Castles were already parents to three children when they learned they were expecting again; weeks later, they discovered they were having twins. But at their 12-week appointment, they learned they were expecting conjoined twins. “We didn’t say anything for the longest time,” Dwight, a pastor, told WORLD. “We just wept.”
Abortion was “not even a thought in their head,” but that didn’t mean they weren’t scared. “I was trying to believe the goodness of God in this,” Dwight continued. “I believe in His power, His ability to save, His sovereignty over everything. But how was this good?”
For Stephanie, the support they had from friends was what helped them get through it. “And that’s how it’s been,” Stephanie said. “When we’re weak, others around us are strong.”
Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, the Castles were referred to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), a facility that receives referrals for conjoined twins from all around the world. At 34 weeks, the twins — Elizabeth and Susannah — were born. After the birth, AL.com reported that the girls had two separate hearts, making the chances for separation easier.
“We’re going to have a lot of help. [God] gives us new mercies each day and He’s faithful to do that. We just try to take it a day at a time and remember His faithfulness every step of the way and it really does fuel us to trust Him,’’ Dwight told AL.com after the girls were born. “That doesn’t guarantee they’ll live. It doesn’t guarantee the separation will happen or that it will go really well. There’s a lot of hopeful indications for all of those things, but our hope has to ultimately be in Him.”
By seven months, the Castles were preparing for separation. They hadn’t left CHOP since the girls were born on April 22.
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“We’re just starting to kind of see their personalities come out,” Stephanie told Fox 8. “Susannah is the feisty one, she kind of does everything first. She talked first, smiled first, she was the bigger one for a while. And then Elizabeth was the one who had trouble gaining weight and so she’s kind of been the more reserved baby. But in the last couple of weeks, she has found her voice.”
Knowing the separation surgery was just weeks away gave the Castles a lot of mixed emotions. “We’ve been looking forward to this, it’s a huge, kind of central piece of this puzzle we’ve been waiting for,” Dwight said. “But it’s very risky, life-threatening risk level.”
After 14 long hours, the doctor came to greet them. “He spent the next 45 minutes trying to describe and draw what he had just done in separating our girls, really saving their lives,” Dwight said. “He told us it went well overall, but what he had to do to save them would have lasting effects.” Stephanie added, “I just wasn’t prepared. They were so swollen and lifeless. They looked like corpses.”
Eventually, though, the twins began to heal. Susannah was cleared to come home first. “You should have seen her reaction to cars,” Stephanie joked about her first day outside of the hospital. And just last week, Elizabeth was able to join the rest of her family at home, too — something they credit to God.
“After 323 days in the hospital, and a whopping 338 days after we left home to start this crazy journey, all seven of us are FINALLY under one roof (and that roof is our home)!!” the Castles wrote on their Facebook page.
All praise and thanks be to Jesus, who has sustained us every single step of the way, even when it has looked like we were too low. Which has been more often than we would like to admit or think about. This journey is far from over, and to be honest, we are ALMOST too tired to really appreciate this day like we should. Almost. But not quite. Today, as tired as we are and as overwhelmed as we feel, we are rejoicing. God has been SO good to our family and we are absolutely overjoyed to finally have Susannah AND Elizabeth home with us!! The prayers and the love of God‘s people, the comfort of the Holy Spirit, the incredible medical care from the best, and great mercy from the Lord’s hands have brought us to this point.
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