The couple will leave for Philadelphia again in two weeks, with a C-section scheduled for two weeks after their arrival. “They hope and anticipate that will be a relatively problem-free birth, though we obviously have no idea,’′ he said. “We’ll recover there in the NICU for as long as that takes and then, Lord willing, will come back to Birmingham and be here for three-to-six months for them to grow and get healthy and ready for all that’s to come.”
When the girls are deemed healthy and stable enough, the entire Castle family will temporarily move to Philadelphia for the separation surgery. There is a three-to-six-month tissue expansion process that is the stretching the skin so that when the twins are separated, they can just cover the open sections with their own skin instead of grafts.
“Then they’ll have the separation surgery and recovery and then we’ll come home,’′ Dwight said. “That will take at least six or eight months, bare minimum, if not double that, so we’ve got a long year ahead of us.”
“The doctors at CHOP told us, ‘You really don’t understand how favorable the conditions are for your daughters to be able to be separated and that, as best as we can predict at this point, live normal and healthy lives,’’’ Dwight said “Now, we don’t know. It’s in the Lord’s hands. There are harder things in life that I think people go through. We know people walking in grief and suffering but this might be the strangest thing.”
According to CHOP, 123 pairs of conjoined twins have been referred to the hospital’s Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment since 1995, and 40 pairs have undergone prenatal evaluation. The hospital has successfully separated 25 pairs of conjoined twins. You can read more about conjoined twins here.
Dwight said their family, friends and community have been incredibly supportive. A GoFundMe to help with the overwhelming medical and living expenses over the next year, and beyond, has already raised nearly $60,000 for the family. Donations can be made here.
Dwight, originally from North Carolina, has been with Redeemer Community Church since it started almost 13 years ago, and was previously doing overseas mission work. He met Stephanie, who is an Alabama native, through the church.
“We see everything in life through the lens of our faith. Everything Scripture teaches us things are from Him and through Him and to Him. Even, and especially when we walk through extremely challenging times, that’s how we’re going to view everything,’′ Dwight said. “This certainly brought up unbelievably really hard questions for us. The things I’ve said I believe, and I know I believe, now I’ve got to grapple with that on a different level. How do I reconcile these things – God’s goodness with the age-old question, ‘How can a good God allow that?’”
He said they’ve tried to be open and honest with friends and family about the process of their faith throughout this, “but also holding on to the fact that our only hope in life and death is Jesus and that we believe that his death on the cross not only purchased our forgiveness of ours sins but gives us hope in this life in the middle of our struggles.”
“So, grappling with that in our head versus our heart is what a lot of this journey has been, but it’s been the only thing that has sustained us,’’ Dwight said “The community – our blood family and our faith family – has just been unbelievable with constant support and encouragement. It really has been the blessing besides just growing to try to trust the Lord through this more. Our faith family really has surrounded us in a way that has never left us alone or to wrestle with things on our own.”
“One thing I would say, too, at the beginning, we walked different journeys,’′ he said of he and his wife. Both were shocked to learn they were having twins, even before they knew the girls were conjoined.
“Then the Lord kind of flipped a switch with Stephanie and just gave her a peace that has sustained her still,” he said. “She has had this kind of undeniable hope and peacefulness in her heart that really has been grounding for both of us. My experience has not been that. God didn’t create babies in the beginning to be conjoined. It’s a part of the fall and the broken world we’re in and that’s not how it’s supposed to be.”
“But we believe there’s purpose in this. It’s not aimless. It’s not hopeless. God created the world and His sovereignty rules over it still,’′ he said. “He’s always promised us that He’ll be with us – that’s the biggest spiritual lesson we’ve been learning. He’s not a God that puts us through hardship and then leaves us. He has met us every single step of the way with very particular answers to prayers.”
“We’re going to have a lot of help. He 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 said. “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.”
This article originally appeared here.