Friday, November 30, 2007
As you pray,

please remember us. . .

15 cases of whooping cough have been reported at the university that Troy attends. (One of his students is in quarantine right now.) This is serious enough that the campus is closing a week earlier than planned. (Nothing like changing the schedule of thousands of people!) I am asking God to keep Troy from unwittingly bringing the "germ" home to three little munchkins - the youngest of whom it could be "very serious and even fatal." Due to the schedule change, Troy's load has just multiplied, and he needs extra prayer to keep well, get sleep and finish what is needed to end the semester.

Thank you for praying!

  posted at 11:54 AM  

Wednesday, November 28, 2007
The tales continue. . .
I do believe I left all of you at the delivery room, but I forgot to mention something. . . Am I the only one that wonders why you have to sign 2,400 papers (slight exaggeration) and answer 2,399 questions before a birth or surgery?! I am getting all sorts of things strapped on me, needles shoved in my hands, clothes being changed, blood taken, and some lady is saying, "Can you please sign right by the X?" Meanwhile another nurse is at a computer asking everything from my blood type to my mother's high school grades! I was getting rather tired of answering the same questions over and over. . .
What a wonderful relief to have Troy join me, and then to see my doctor peek in the room! We quickly discussed the fact the baby's lungs were not developed, but as she stated, "Your body is a ticking time bomb, and we need to take care of it."
The peace was still there concerning the baby; I had my ketchup bottle! :-)
When I finally landed in the OR, received a spinal, and was flat on my back, I was asked the question, "Would you mind if a BJU student is in here to observe the birth?" I almost gasped, "A BJU student?!" Inwardly I thought, "Okaaaaay. My doctor has no clue Troy also is BJU student!" I lamely ask, "Do you think I will ever see this person on the campus?" I received some reply to which I quickly answered, "Well, I guess it is fine. This person must be in medicine, and my husband is in music, so chances are our paths will not cross." I can assure you that if I am ever waltzing across campus and some guy comes up and says, "Mrs. Castle, I am the one that attended the birth of your baby. How are the two of you doing?" I do believe I will faint!!!!!
Silas' guard dog
Back to the OR, the moment finally happens when Silas meets the world, and the doctors were so concerned about my uterus, neither surgeon was checking to see what the baby was! Troy finally got a glimpse and told me. Another boy - just what I wanted!!!! I never stated that for obvious reasons, but deep down, I really wanted another son! When they brought him around the sheet so I could see him, he looked dead. It was very scary since he had not yet taken a breath. In fact, it was 45 seconds before he did! Talk about a loooong time to wonder, and when I first heard that little cry, I joined right in there with him. It was one of the most precious sounds I have ever heard!
It was so special when he was wrapped in a blanket, and Troy was able to bring him to me! With all the trauma involved, I was cherishing each moment that I had always considered routine with my other two children. I wanted to cry my eyes out, but that is rather hard when you are being cut on!
As for Silas' name, I had my usual time trying to convince Troy they were "nice." :-) I wanted an uncommon Bible name with a good meaning. (Those are rather hard to come by, you know.) Some names are really neat but have terrible meanings! The middle is after Ronald Reagan - a man I dearly loved. After his death, I had always hoped to name a boy in honor of him. One of the NICU nurses was so thrilled to find out he was a namesake, for she had worked at the Reagan Presidential Library in CA and personally knew the family.
And the NICU is for another day. . . :-) Enjoy the picture.

  posted at 4:49 PM  

Sunday, November 25, 2007
The tales begin. . .
Here I am - after 40+ days of help with meals, laundry, cleaning, homeschooling, grocery shopping and life in general, I am back on my own. Guess I have to be a "big girl" now. :-) So, what is one of the first things I do - - - blog, of course!
We are getting into a routine of sorts. Mine is called "lack of sleep, and see how much housework you can do between each feeding session." Now. . .if I could just get back up to speed! Thankfully my body is doing better, and the infection is leaving. Lack of pain certainly helps one's outlook on life. :-) If the posts are a bit non-sensical, blame it on my nights! And it all began when. . .
Hmmm - Funny looking pacifiers!
I started feeling absolutely miserable on Halloween, and I prayed (Believe me - I prayed.) that everything would stay put until morning for two reasons:
1. I never wanted a Halloween baby.
2. I would rather have something happen during normal business hours.
Well, my body waited until 6:55 A.M. on November 1st, and everything whirled from that point! My heart almost stopped as my body was going into labor because it was not to happen that way. I was very worried because I knew of the complications that could happen. After calling my doctor, she suggested that I go to the hospital in an ambulance which I did. When you are waiting on one, they NEVER seem to come fast enough, and when you are riding in one - the story is the same. They seem to poke along the route - that is until you tell them you think you are about to deliver your baby, and you are supposed to have a C-section! You then become code something, and your poor husband and sister are left in the dust! I felt so sorry for Troy when we zoomed away from him at a stop light!!!! I figured he thought I was in big trouble and felt so helpless at that point. My heart hurt for him!
Chillin' by the tree.
It was during this ride that the funny story took place, and those of you that know it, feel free to pause and laugh! :-) Those of you that do not, sorry - it is not bloggable! On the serious side, I was scared during this time because I was at the "dangerous" point of which I had been warned, and there was nothing I could do - except pray. The ketchup bottle came to mind, and God used it to calm my heart. At that point, I thoughtabout the huge amount of prayer said in behalf of me and the baby, and whatever happened I could accept as God's will - even if it was brain damage to the baby. I had done all I knew to do, and the situation was in God's hands. That is where true peace is attainable!
Before entering the H, the EMS guy did a very sweet gesture and gave me a stuffed animal for the baby, but being that I am not a stuffed animal person, I was feeling rather sheepish getting the bear wheeled in with me! I quickly explained to the nurse about it, and she admitted that she had "wondered" about me. Here I was coming in for an emergency surgery, and I was grabbing stuffed animals on the way out the door! :-) Nope. Not me. I was too busy having funnier things happen!

Not sure about the first bath!

Upon arrival, I was so happy to get a monitor strapped on and find out the baby was fine!!!!! HUGE sigh of relief! Now we were waiting on my doctor who was also stuck in morning traffic. . . The good thing is that everything was happening so quickly, I really did not have time to get nervous, and I was so happy I had never found out what the baby was! With all the trauma (Or as Lauren Lambeth says, "Drama, sheer drama!" :-), I was very excited to see the baby!!!!

Snoozing on Daddy & Mommy's bed.

  posted at 6:08 PM  

Thursday, November 22, 2007
the Ketchup Bottle
Big yawwwwwwn. . .I am turning into one of those "once a week" bloggers. :-) Sorry. There is so much to tell and post, but I cannot seem to find the time. Most of that is due to the fact that I still have family here, so I feel a bit guilty to be at the keyboard as they work. Besides, if I have spare time, we turn it into a gab session or a game of Scrabble. While we are on the topic of family. . .thankfully they are still here! After a night of severe pain and discomfort, I finally went back to the doctor and discovered I have an infection in my uterus. I am now on some meds and hope to be feeling completely well soon! I am very grateful that my Mom and youngest sister have been available during this rough recovery time.
Before I start diving into my side of the entrance of Silas, I wanted to preface it with something that taught me a lesson before all the action started. . .
After discovering I had placenta previa, I was cautioned about all the side effects of such condition. The two biggest being that if the placenta broke loose, there would be only a bit of time before brain damage would happen to the baby, and I could hemorrhage. We also had the lung issue with which to deal. So, imagine me on bed rest trying not to think of ALL that COULD happen.
One day as my sister, Joanna, and I were returning from the doctor, I mentioned we needed to pick up some ketchup along with the other groceries. Well, we forgot it at the first store. We forgot it at the second store. Bummer, I am so miserable, I am not in the mood to go out and just get ketchup.
Later my friends, Judy and Laura B, arrive with a meal and groceries. The groceries were things like cereal, fruit, crackers, soup, peanut butter, and - - - - - a bottle of ketchup! Now the interesting thing is that the ketchup had nothing to do with any of the groceries, but God used that bottle to remind He was in control! If He cared enough to send a little bottle of ketchup my way, He had the birth of this baby in His Hands, too! At that point, it was easy to leave the whole situation in His hands and stop my fretting. (Which I wasn't supposed to be doing in the first place, right?!) What an awesome God we have! Noah had his rainbow, but I have my ketchup bottle! :-)

  posted at 8:07 AM  

Thursday, November 15, 2007
2 weeks old today!
The little guy is two weeks old today. He is already filling out and has gained over an ounce a day since coming home from the H. Silas has been trying to hold up his head and has been carefully inspecting his surroundings. I love his inquisitive eyes. Oh, yes - no surprise - he responds to piano music. Can't imagine why. Ha. We are so thrilled to have him with us, and I am very thankful for all that God has done in Silas' short life. I do not even mind all the nighttime feedings. :-) I am extremely happy to be able to take care of him myself! Yes, I am still tired, but it is a very good tired.
Here is another picture that warms my heart -
Silas' first night in his own bed.
I am learning to take nothing for granted!
As much as Silas is thriving, I have had an extremely hard time recovering from this C-section. In fact, I still couldn't walk for more than fifty feet when I was discharged from the H. I have experienced a great deal of pain, and I am so thankful my mom and sister are here to help! This has been quite annoying since after my surgery with Seth, I was up and walking in two days and scrubbing my floors in a week! We still cannot figure out what has happened, but I did receive some internal bruising which may have something to do with it. I will be glad when I am totally mended.
Thanks for all the emails, cards and phone calls I am still receiving. With all the pain, slowness of moving, pain meds that make you loopy, feeding a baby every 2-3 hours and some long nights, I have not been very faithful in the blog or responding! I have been browsing your blogs, though. It just seems like it is too much effort to comment. :-)
Have a great weekend.
I will try to post some new pictures soon.

  posted at 7:27 PM  

Sunday, November 11, 2007
Did I mention I am tired?!
Believe it or not, I did not go AWOL! After the wordy and entertaining posts by my guest writer, I am wondering if readers would prefer his style to mine. :-) I am glad Troy stepped in to keep all of you informed. He was even kind enough to print the posts/comments and bring them to my room. They certainly brightened my days, and when I couldn't be with Silas, at least I had some pictures to view.
"Thank you" seems terribly inadequate for all of the prayers, kind words, emails, calls, and cards that have been sent our way. There were some pretty rough spots, but as I kept mulling over the number of people praying, I was able to leave the situations in God's hands. After spending days in the NICU, I can only be thankful that I am home, and the little prince is with me, too! I cannot explain the feeling of knowing I would go home and leave Silas. I was able to hold together until my sister was out of the room for a spell, and I had a good cry. It is not enjoyable to be separated from your heart! Thankfully, things turned out differently, and the little guy and I came home the same day. Pulling into our driveway with him next to me was one of the best feelings in the world! It is amazing what things you take for granted that a test of life will make very sweet!
I will try to share some of the stories from my perspective, but I will not overload you in one post. :-) For now, enjoy a few more pictures. . .

  posted at 3:04 PM  

Thursday, November 08, 2007
A week's difference

My heart is full, and I have so much to share. . .Thank you for all of your support; it helped carry me through the rough times.

  posted at 11:14 PM  

Tuesday, November 06, 2007
A storybook ending to the tale as told by the King...

Yup, it's official -- Castle, party of 5.

"And they all lived happily ever after."

The End

  posted at 10:50 PM  

Monday, November 05, 2007
Homeward bound...or so it seems
The epiphany mentioned in the previous post has occurred! Silas seems to have seen the importance of "promptly waking up to ingest his 'liquid nourishment' with great vigour." Today, he has been heartily and regularly "eating copious measures of his 'liquid nourishment'." The pediatrician said today that if all continues to go as it has been, he should be able to go home tomorrow.

Martha's in the room with him now, having been "discharged" today. She was so happy to be able to spend the night in the same room with him for the first time. I think he'll probably be happy too, especially come feeding time... :-)

IF all goes as planned and UNLESS we have any unforeseen setbacks, you should be "hearing" from her next rather than from me. Thanks again for your tolerance.


(Sorry no new pics -- I left the camera sitting on the desk at home when I left this morning, and you've already seen the best of what I've taken.)

  posted at 11:45 PM  

Sunday, November 04, 2007
Me again
Sorry, faithful readers -- yours truly is once again filling in for mine truly who is still in the hospital with ours truly (Troy, Martha, and Silas, respectively, in case you were wondering).

The doctor was going to discharge Martha today, but since she is still (understandably) having quite a difficult time walking for any distance at all, she convinced him to let her stay one more day. The fringe benefit of this, of course, is that she remains much closer to Silas in her hospital room than she would be in her bedroom at home!

Silas has been moved to a "family" room just off (but still technically within) the NICU -- a special room for situations like this (where baby is likely to be released just shortly after Mom) and the two can be in the same room once Mom is discharged but still be under the care of the NICU personnel. It looks like it will work out well: Martha will be "discharged" to this motel-style room (double-bed and all) sometime tomorrow, and her nurse will dutifully wheel her all of about a one-minute's trek down the hallway to where her baby is already waiting for her. (How's that for service?) Needless to say, Martha is quite thrilled with the arrangement, and I think Silas probably will be also.

Speaking of whom, he's become quite alert (when he's not sleeping), is keeping his food down well (when he's not sleeping) and "doing" lots of other "things" quite well (often even when he is sleeping). So -- we're thankful! The biggest item (prayer request) now is that he'll see the importance of promptly waking up to ingest his "liquid nourishment" with great vigour. The nurse and Martha had to resort to all manners of cruel trickery to try to wake the young man enough to convince him that yes, he was indeed supposed to be doing what they were trying to get him to do. He'd much rather sleep, of course. This is fine in once sense, as he definitely needs to catch his Zzzz's in order to grow healthily and stay alive in general. A bit problematic is the fact that he also needs to "eat" copious measures of his "liquid nourishment" in order to grow healthily and stay alive in general. Once this epiphany occurs, it's homeward bound. We're praying that this takes place by Tuesday...

Enjoy the pics!

  posted at 11:29 PM  

Day 3
Due to the fact that I completely exhausted my underdeveloped creative energies on the last two posts (not to mention that I think I utterly depleted my relatively small creativity cache as well), I've no catchy titles or themes this time -- just a quick update:

Martha is doing incredibly well and will be coming home tomorrow (Sunday). Silas is getting close; he's had every tube removed, including the IV that was helping to supplement his nutritional intake since he's been holding down his "real food" quite well. He's even gained a little weight. Martha's hoping to drag her dischargement out until afternoon or early evening sometime so that she can comfortably stay at the hospital with him as long as possible. Of course, we don't want to bring the dear lad home until he's 100% ready; however, neither do we want him to have to stay any longer than will be absolutely necessary. There is, of course, a fine line between the two that we are endeavoring to walk ever-so-carefully -- but we are certainly anxious to bring him home as soon as it is safe to do so!

It was great to see some friends from church (Paul and Kathy Churchill) today. How thoughtful of them to make the effort to come see us -- bearing gifts, no less! (And how incredibly "unthoughtful" of me to forget to take their picture with Martha before they left.)

Silas has been well cared for from day one, but he was in especially good hands today. Joy James (a friend from church) works in the NICU where Silas is being "held," and she was his primary care nurse today. As good as all of his nurses have been, Joy certainly has a vested interest, and we are glad that she is taking care of him!

I'm dreading trying to catch up with everything that I had to postpone during this parenthetical week -- unfortunately, nothing else stops just because I had to take a week off from life. I've major catch-up to do on assignments, test prep for a "biggie" on Tuesday morning (that I'm hoping I'll be able to postpone taking due to my extenuating circumstances), a big rehearsal on Monday and a long recording session on Thursday, practice time to catch up on, memory work, make-up lessons to give due to missed ones, etc. Back to the grind it will be for me...and your cyberspace "queen" will be back on the throne of the blogosphere. (Okay, that's just sounding way too cheesy.) But -- the entrance of one's offspring into the world and the ensuing welcoming act that's so necessary have a way of trumping everything else in one's schedule, so of course I don't regret a minute of it! Thanks to all of you faithful readers for putting up with this pinch-hitter in the absence of the blog queen. Hopefully the thread isn't too much the worse for wear...

Thanks again for all of your prayers and kind words. They are sincerely appreciated.
Au revoir!

  posted at 1:00 AM  

Saturday, November 03, 2007
Boy meets girl...

"Girl" makes her move (in this relationship, SHE'S the initiator) :-)

Nurse Cheryl introduces "boy" to "girl" (what a great matchmaker that Cheryl is. Eat your heart out, eHarmony!)

It's DEFINITELY "love at first sight!"

And there you have it. Mommy and baby finally got to "bond" today. Little Silas has been off the ventilator for a full 24 hours now, and all his levels are fine. In fact, I think the only reason he's still in the NICU is because he hasn't quite been successful at keeping down "real" food yet. But since the only "real" food he's actually tried is formula, I can't say that I blame him. He'll be ditching the IV "nutrition" and downing the "really real" food in no time, I'm sure.

We found out something else today -- his plumbing works quite well. No RotoRooter for this little guy...he's "all systems clear" from stem to stern! Just one more item in a long list of positives for which we are extremely grateful.

Martha appears all set to come home on Sunday. It seems a bit doubtful that Silas will be released at that point too, but we can always pray and hope. At this rate, though, he won't be too far behind Momma. I'll keep you posted. Until then, enjoy a few more random pictures from Thursday and Friday. Oh, and thanks to all of you for your prayers and your kind, congratulatory words. Both mean more to us than we can adequately express.

About 10:30 on Thursday morning, before the young man was moved to the NICU

"Hey, how does this thing work?"
["Furthermore, how does the breathing apparatus function?"]

There's a real, live human being somewhere underneath all that stuff.

There, that's better! [Nose tube notwithstanding, upon being moved to his other bed this morning, Silas was quite thankful to be dressed. His sense of modesty is already vividly apparent.]

Boy meets other girl [Aunt Sarah]; this relationship is quite "platonic," however

"When I was your age..."

Worth a thousand words

...happily ever after."

  posted at 1:10 AM  

Thursday, November 01, 2007
The Prince Has Arrived!

The newest member of the Castle

Prince Charming, to be exact. [This is Martha's husband -- "King" of this Castle and proud papa of 3 fine, young princes now, thank you very much!] And for all of you out there in Martha's cyberspace "kingdom" wondering what in the world is going on, I'll give you the abridged, abbreviated, discreet, and quite sanitized version:
After a roller-coaster ride of a week, Martha's body decided it was time for her to have the baby today (Thursday). It just said, "Enough is enough!" in its own inimitable mommy-needs-to-have-this-baby sort of way. So, after an ambulance ride to the hospital (a story I'll let her tell you about later), Martha was "rushed" into a relatively emergency-like C-section at about 9:30 (EDT) this morning. And, you guessed it, Silas Reagan (7 lb. 4 oz. -- at 4 weeks early!) arrived at 9:41 -- with no complications, praise the Lord!

DURING the C-section (yes, I did say "during"; pardon the puke pan -- it was never used)

Now, I know you're wondering about the lung development after the disheartening test results from earlier in the week. Yes, Silas is indeed suffering from a shortage of surfactant, the material that helps the lungs "do their work" properly. He can breathe on his own (the lungs themselves are fully developed anatomically), but he just needs a little extra help along the way for these first few days. So he is in the NICU, where he received a dose of surfactant to help "jump-start" those weak little lungs; he is also currently on a ventilator that is helping him not have to work so hard to breathe on his own. (When I left the hospital this evening, his breaths-per-minute dosage had been cut from 25 to 22, so that's a good sign.) And thankfully, he has as of yet had to receive no oxygen. His blood is absorbing the oxygen he gets just fine -- he's just having to work a bit too hard on his own to actually get that oxygen at this point -- hence the ventilator. Other than these rather expected developments (due to his premature arrival of about 4 weeks), the little guy seems to be doing great. (I must admit, it will be great to hear him "holla" with one of those blood-curdling, "yes-my-lungs-are-doing-just-fine-and-thank-you-very-much-for-asking" screams.) The toughest part for me was watching him cry but not being able to hear him at all due to the ventilator tubes being between his vocal folds, hence prohibiting his glottis from being able to completely close in a full phonatory cycle. (Yup, I've had the class...)

Aunt Joanna with the "Fine, Young Prince"

Mommy (a.k.a. "Superwoman") is doing SPECTACULARLY. The placenta was posterior, so it posed much less of a problem than it would have had it been in the front of the uterus. So Martha was able to keep all of the, um, "plumbing" intact. (Hey, I told you I was going to be discreet...) She is recovering so well that they were talking about starting to give her solid foods before the night is even over. She hasn't been able to hold Prince #3 yet, so that's been a bit rough. (She has seen him and touched him, though.) She is coping absolutely wonderfully. My hope is that baby improves enough to be able to leave the NICU sometime tomorrow so Martha can hold (and feed) him. This is probably wishful thinking on my part...but sooner would be much better than later.

Special thanks to Martha's parents [Rev. James and Chris Sampson] and sisters [Joanna and Sarah] who are here from Pennsylvania and have been such a huge help and blessing. Not sure how we'd have made it without them...

Thanks to everyone for your prayers -- past and present. Keep them up if you don't mind as you think of us, and I'll try to keep you posted over the next few days.

Isn't he"Charming" indeed? He's all of about 10 minutes "old" here.

"Castle, party of 5, please." (Y-chromosomes and all)

  posted at 10:07 PM  

queen of the castle

Martha C

To all my family and friends, this blog was commenced as a way to keep you informed during my frequent communication lapses. Enjoy reading of our life in this far, far away land called "the South."

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