Father’s Day: Double The Blessings

RANGELY — Father’s Day is twice as nice for Brad and Michelle Casto. Like any parents-to-be, Brad and Michelle Casto could hardly wait for the new arrival. Or, in the Castos’ case, new arrivals.

phrgcastotwins5And the wait wasn’t as long as they thought it would be.

Courtney and Randy — the Castos’ twin daughter and son — arrived early. Nearly three months early. With Courtney appearing on the scene a minute before her slightly younger brother.

“She was the little instigator, I claim,” Michelle said.

The due date the Castos had been given was May 12, two days after Mother’s Day. Instead, the babies had their own schedule. They were born Feb. 16.

“Everything had been perfectly fine, but they just decided they wanted to be here,” Michelle said.

randy-in-dad-handThe babies were delivered by C-section at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction. But they didn’t come home to Rangely until 70 days later.

While it was hard emotionally for Brad and Michelle not to be able to bring their newborn twins home, they knew it was for their own good.

“I didn’t want them to be home,” said Michelle, who stayed in Grand Junction to be close to the babies. “I wanted them to be ready to be home.”

Michelle stayed with her brother, who lives in Grand Junction, so she could visit the hospital daily. Meanwhile, Brad returned to Rangely to run his business — Rangely Auto Parts — and to look after things on the home front. He also serves on the Rangely Town Council.

Brad also made the 90-mile trip from Rangely to Grand Junction two or three times a week to see Michelle and visit his new daughter and son.

“It was a stressful time,” Brad said. “The travel was tough, and running a business, and just the emotional stress. I’m glad that’s over with.”

Michelle wasn’t able to spend Mother’s Day at home in Rangely with Courtney and Randy, but she did visit them in the hospital. Brad will have all of his family with him for Father’s Day this weekend. Not that he’s had much time to reflect.

“I haven’t really thought about it,” he said. “We’ve been pretty busy.”

As any new parent can attest, having a baby is a major lifestyle change. Two babies, well, like Brad said, the Castos are busy.

“He’s amazing … he’s done very well,” Michelle said of Brad. “It was rough, while we were gone. He hated the house being quiet. But he came down about twice a week, every week. So he learned (Highway) 139 quite well.”

When Courtney was born she weighed 2 pounds, 6 ounces. Randy weighed 2 pounds, 14 ounces.

“They were really small,” Brad said. “They could fit in the palm of my hand.”

The twins are doing well, but they’re still small for their age. Randy weighs about 10 pounds, and Courtney weighs about 8 1/2 pounds

“They look like little ones,” Michelle said. “They don’t look like 4-month-old babies. They were on IV food for three or four weeks. They have had to learn how to breathe (on their own), they have had to learn how to do everything. Nothing’s made to work quite yet (when the babies were born premature).”

Courtney was released from the hospital a few days before Randy.

“We started to get into the routine of taking care of one baby, and then we’d go to the hospital to see the other baby,” Brad said.

Even after both babies had been released from the hospital, the Castos stayed with her brother for several days, before coming home to Rangely on April 30.

“We hung out in Junction for about four or five days, to let them adjust, and make sure they’re not going to have any problems,” Michelle said.

Finally, when the Castos did bring Courtney and Randy home to Rangely, it was a big deal.

“It was so exciting … it was just like having them again, basically,” Michelle said. “His parents had painted the inside of the house for us, people had meals for us. We’ve had a lot of help.”

Brad and Michelle’s parents — Wayne and Penny Casto and Burt and Joyce Key — live in Rangely.

But because the twins’ immune systems were still developing, they couldn’t be around a lot of people.

“Everybody knew they couldn’t be waiting at the door for us,” Michelle said. “They’re not supposed to be around people a lot yet.”

Brad and Michelle were school sweethearts. Brad graduated from Rangely High School in 2001; Michelle in 2002. Someone Brad and Michelle went to school with, Darcy Dunn, was working the night Michelle went into labor and accompanied her in the ambulance for the trip from Rangely District Hospital to Grand Junction.

“That was reassuring,” Michelle said. “The nurses in the ambulance were amazing. But I never really realized how bumpy that road was. It seemed like every time I had a contraction we would hit a bump.”

The Castos were at RDH for about an hour and half, before being transferred to Grand Junction. Brad rode in the front of the ambulance.

“I had no idea (she would go into labor that early),” Michelle said. “My water broke during the night. I woke Brad up and said either I peed my pants or we have a problem. He was the one freaking out, but I knew from talking to other moms it really doesn’t go fast the first time.”

But it did go fast.

“I was having contractions every 45 seconds by the time I got there (to St. Mary’s),” Michelle said. “When the nurses and docs got worried, then I got worried. They decided to do an emergency C-section right away. By the time they got Brad scrubbed and he got in (the delivery room), they were taking Courtney out. It was probably 10 minutes … by the time they said we’ve got to take the babies out and Courtney was born.”

The Castos were told they were having twins early on in Michelle’s pregnancy.

“I was probably four weeks, it was right away,” Michelle said. “We had had a miscarriage before that was twins, so we knew there was a chance of it. It wasn’t a shock, but it was surprise.”

Twins run in the family, on both sides.

“We were doomed. We didn’t know about that until afterward … I believe it was on his mom’s side, and my mom’s side, too,” Michelle said. “Of course, they said this after we found there was two.”

Randy is a little behind his sister as far as development.

“Preemie boys are wimpy,” Brad joked. “The boys have a harder time learning to suck, swallow and breathe. He was on oxygen a month or two when we brought him home. We still put him on oxygen every night, just so it makes the breathing a little easier. But he should be getting off that.”

The Castos couldn’t be happier with two — even if it has meant less sleep — and the twins are progressing nicely.

“We’ll get up together, but she usually does the night shifts,” Brad said.

“They started out eating every 3 1/2 hours from day one,” Michelle said. “They usually only get up once a night. One will wake up, and the other one will wait to be fed. Having a schedule has definitely saved us a lot of headaches.

“We are extremely lucky.”