Tuesday, February 25

roo >> 1st bath

we did sponge baths until her belly button raisin fell off, & then we finally braved her first real bath. we are borrowing the wash pod from rachel & jeffrey that they used for paige. it fits great in our new kitchen sink! elaina wasn't quite sure about being sat in the water, but she didn't fuss about it. she hasn't loved sponge baths, so we're glad she seemed to be okay with the bath. my favorite part was wrapping her in the sweet baby towel & how crazy her hair looks afterwards [not pictured].

[her thinking face]

[getting hungry so sucking on fingers]

[snug as a bug]


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Saturday, February 22

roo >> 3 weeks

we've been having a great visit from the massey side of the family this week, so i've included some pics from our time together. elaina is the first grandkid for my parents, so it's been momentous. elaina's been spoiled rotten & loving it! the only discord is deciding whose turn it is to hold her next!

[february 20, 2014 -- 3 weeks]

[the massey family who first called her roo]

[aunt nessa]

[grammy & poppy]

[namesakes -- vanessa elaine, elaine carol, & elaina ruenell]

[3 generations of massey girls]

[the casteel 3]

[whole lotta love]

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Friday, February 14

roo >> 2 weeks

happy valentine's day from the casteel 3! we're getting into a rhythm here at the casa & loving it!

[february 13, 2014 -- 2 weeks]

[february 14, 2014]
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Wednesday, February 12

elaina roo >> newborn shoot

just a few styled shots of this sweet girl! [all photos are taken by yours truly.]










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Friday, February 7

roo >> 1 week

i'm totally back-dating all these posts, but i'll start keeping up with them better from here on out! you can look forward to a weekly picture [usually posted on fridays] of elaina roo & see how she's growing. each week, she'll be photographed in a white onesie laying on her diaper pad. hopefully over time, the change in her features & length can be seen by comparison.

this week, she's pictured wearing a newborn onesie.

[february 6, 2014 -- 1 week]
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the birth of elaina ruenell

i've recorded my recollection of elaina's birth-day for those who are interested in reading it. scroll down to see pictures!

january 29, 2014
11:59 p.m.
we were at home finishing up the nursery. i've known that our kiddo was going to come early -- no reason, just a feeling -- & i've wondered if she might not even wait till february but be a january baby. i'd had contractions throughout the month of january, so it was no big deal to have one while working on hanging art & curtains, styling shelves, & sweeping the floor. but then i realized it wasn't just one. they kept coming. i couldn't feel them unless i touched my stomach to feel my muscles harden, but i had lower back pain that tipped me off. i told shaun i wasn't sure, but i could be in early labor.


january 30, 2014
1:30 a.m.
we finally finished the nursery, & by this point i was convinced i was in early labor, & we had started timing them. shaun suggested we go to bed & try to get as much rest as possible, knowing thursday might be a very long day. he got me a snack just in case i didn't make it till breakfast, & we were in bed by 1:45. i stayed up a little while clearing my 2do list & checking off done projects in my baby journal.

2:15 a.m.
i felt a contraction come on & then a *pop*! i ran to the bathroom & sure enough, my water broke. we knew we weren't getting any sleep at that point, so we both got up. shaun called the midwives [& it took him over half an hour to get through to them due to problems on the switchboard]. meanwhile, i straightened the den, cleared the kitchen table, did a load of laundry, & moved furniture back into the living room. [shaun had just refinished the floors, & all the furniture was in the entryway.]

3:00 a.m.
shaun got ahold of the midwife on-call, & she said since my water broke, i needed to go ahead & come into the hospital. [i am a carrier of group b strep, meaning i needed to be on antibiotics before baby was born.] we started getting ready to leave. i headed upstairs to get a shower [& shave -- what was i thinkin?!] while shaun warmed up leftover pizza for himself. he came up & asked if we had time for him to get a shower, & i said he'd better hurry! my contractions were getting easier to feel & closer together.

4:00 a.m.
we load up the car, & i get buckled in while shaun lets zorra out one last time. i feel a contraction & know i need to get out of the car immediately! i jump out & take off my shoes just in time before the floodgates released. i had to go back inside & change before we could leave.

4:15 a.m.
we arrive at the hospital & while checking in, my contractions started getting intense enough that i had to stop talking, brace myself, & concentrate on breathing. we consider this the beginning of my active labor. i get upstairs & dressed in my robe. they strap me to the heart monitor to get a pattern on baby, stick me with an i.v. for the antibiotics, & checked my progress -- i was at 4.5 cm. after half an hour or so, i was able to get up & move around, & my midwife suggested a warm shower, which sounded perfect. instead of disrobing & sitting on the stool in the shower, i walked straight into it robe, slippers, & socks still on, & i laid down on the floor. poor shaun, still in jeans & tennis shoes, followed me in to use the hand sprayer to keep warm water on me & to rub my back. bless! i stayed there for 30-40 minutes until they needed to check baby's heartbeat again. they had to stand me up to get a good reading & moved me back to the bed to check my progress while i was up -- i was at 7 cm.

5:30 a.m.
i was getting tired, & the contractions were now painful, so i didn't get back out of bed. i just switched positions as needed to be as comfortable as possible. in my head i was debating about whether i was going to be able to do this without drugs & seriously considered asking for them multiple times.

6:00 a.m.
i made it to 10 cm! it was such a good feeling to hear that! and then, i had the biggest "oh crap" moment of my life -- i realized i still had to push a baby out... it was then i wanted so badly for them to tell me they would have to do an emergency c-section just so i could be done. but i started pushing. and pushing. and pushing. i lost count of how many contractions i had & pushed through trying to get her head out. it took long enough that her heart rate started to decrease, & i had to be put on oxygen. i remember the feeling of relief when i finally got her head out, & then they told me i needed to push again to get the shoulders out, & i wanted to yell, "are you kidding me?!" i was determined to get her out in the next contraction. they usually want you to push three times per contraction, but after three pushes she still wasn't out so i kept going!

7:17 a.m.
it took six pushes, but she was finally out. they laid her on my stomach, but i was so exhausted i had my eyes closed. shaun was amazing. he was stroking my hair & telling me what a great job i did & how beautiful i was. he told me she had a head full of dark hair. after a couple minutes, they took her to the incubator station in the room to check her vitals. i heard her crying so i didn't think much of it. next thing i know, they're telling me they have to take her to the nicu. her heart rate was erratic, & her oxygen levels were low. plus, i wasn't on the antibiotics long enough to be considered "adequately treated" so they wanted to get her on antibiotics, too. i realized i hadn't even seen my baby. i asked shaun about her, & he asked if i could see her before they took her. they even let me hold her for a couple minutes. she had a ton of dark hair & a round face. she stuck her tongue out & grasped my finger with her hand. and then she was gone. i didn't see her again for a couple hours.

9:30 a.m.
we got to visit roo in the nicu on our way to the mother-baby unit. she opened her eyes & saw me for the first time. love.

[a couple hours old]

[looking at mommy]

elaina ruenell casteel
born january 30, 2014
@ 7:17 a.m.
7 pounds 4 ounces
19 inches 


10:30 p.m.
it was a long day with lots of happenings that i won't record here & lots of progress. by late evening they took her off the feeding tube, & she was down to 1 liter of oxygen, so they let us hold her & feed her.


[daddy's first time holding his little girl]


january 31, 2014
she was doing so well the next morning, & she kept pulling her oxygen tubes out of her nose to use as a pacifier, that they took her off the oxygen completely.

[tapeless cheeks & tubeless face!]

[after her first bath -- her hair is darker & straighter than we thought]

[the first picture we posted on facebook]

[holding mommy's finger]


february 1, 2014
i was released saturday afternoon, but elaina had to stay longer. she made constant progress, but they wanted to be on the cautious side. we went home to get cleaned up & introduce her scent to zorra via one of her caps. zorra was less than interested in the cap but she was glad to see her daddy!


we went to cracker barrel to eat because i missed eating eggs during my pregnancy. it was weird that we were out just the two of us with a two-day-old baby in the hospital. surreal.

[eggs over easy!!!]

[snuggles before heading home for the night]

she was eating well, but they wanted her to consistently take in 30 mL each feeding [every 3 hours] before sending her home, so they decided to keep her another night. we went home to get a good sleep [the last in a while!].


february 2, 2014
the nurses found an extra onesie to dress her in. i think they were a little taken with her -- it's not often they get to work with a full-term baby who interacts more with you. it took the day, but she finally had 3 feedings in a row that were 30+ mL each! she was approved to be released to go home!


[over 30 mL feeding!!!]

[all dressed up to go home in the freezing february weather]

[her going-home outfit, picture taken in her bassinet at home!]

[happy birth-day, sweet roo!]


birth never goes like you think it will, & our experience was no exception. but if your child had to go to the nicu, we had the most ideal experience possible. it was a wild ride, but she's here & we're thrilled!

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Thursday, February 6

january daily photos

one of my goals this year is to take a photograph every day. it's part of my effort to "flow" in 2014 -- go with the flow, focus on one thing at a time, be interruptible, look for God in the mundane. here is a digest of all my photos from the month of january. i'm not a photographer, & i didn't do any touching up or editing of any kind, so forgive the amateur quality!

[january 1]

my goals notebook. i make 12 goals every year. i write them down, plan "next step" actions, & review this book at the end of every week. i started doing the 12 goals per year in 2006, but i only started keeping a goals notebook last year, & it's made all the difference.


[january 2]

i've lost count of how many inches of snow we've seen so far this winter, & it doesn't look like it's gonna end any time soon. and even though i'm ready for spring, i have to admit, this is beautiful. this is the crabapple tree in our backyard. it's my favorite tree in all of lafayette. unfortunately, we lost a limb due to the snow. hoping it doesn't hurt the tree too badly & it still looks nice come spring...


[january 3]

his & hers house shoes. i buy myself a new pair of knit boots every winter. i had recently told shaun that when i was a teenager, i used to leaf through land's end & l.l. bean catalogues dreaming of a husband & kids in matching pajamas & robes & house shoes... seriously. i said obviously that wasn't going to come true since shaun only ever wears his ancient, squeaky adidas sandals. he said that's all he wears because that's all he has. so for Xmas i bought him house shoes! he is wearing them here to humor me. :) he says they're too hot. like i said, not going to come true.


[january 4]

our church threw us a baby shower, & here's a glimpse of all the "loot"! we are so incredibly blessed by our elmwood family. this kiddo is being born into a huge, loving, & fun extended family.


[january 5]

shaun & zorra love going sledding down the hill on the side of our property. well, shaun sleds, & zorra runs along beside him. he tries to pull her up on the saucer with him, & sometimes he succeeds. she hates sledding, but she loves snow & she loooooves her daddy!


[january 6]

shaun was stretching, & zorra dropped her tire toy on his chest. i think she wants to play.


[january 7]

one month until baby roo's due date, & the hospital bags are packed! o.c. much?


[january 8]

i'm knitting leg warmers & mittens for baby roo with this red yard. it's sitting on top of my turquoise all-things-baby journal & next to the kraft box with baby's thank you notes stored inside. i realized these are the colors of the nursery -- tan, red, & turquoise. 


[january 9]

i love a nicely made bed. this is our "winter look" -- includes down duvet & fur throw [actually my gramma's mink stole]. and year-round, our bed comes accessorized with two sweet kittens!


[january 10]

we went out with my co-workers & their spouses to indianapolis for a group date rather than having a traditional office Xmas party. we ate at p.f. chang's then had ice cream at maggie moo's. we had reservations but still ended up waiting over half an hour for our table, so they gave us free appetizers & dessert. this end of the table isn't holding back from digging in!


[january 11]

we put together the crib for the nursery. there's a crib in my house... we're having a baby... 
time to panic...

[january 12]

the baby's closet with all her clothes hung in a row. i love the cute orange & turquoise closet dividers i bought on etsy. and that coral onesie in front is the one outfit i couldn't resist buying.

[january 13]

i got my new necklace in the mail. it has a piece of dictionary captured in it, displaying the word "flow" & its definition. flow is my 2014 one word. it reminds me to take it one day at a time.


[january 14]

my new office door! i sometimes meet with people in here, & our policy at church is that we only meet with the opposite sex in rooms that have glass doors. i've been waiting for this to get installed for at least a year! so thankful it is done now.


[january 15]

zorra's favorite place in the world -- laying on top of her daddy.


[january 16]

the iphone collection.


[january 17]

my ssmt [siesta scripture memory team] girls went to houston without me... i suppose the baby is worth it. :)  this is my scripture spiral with all my memory verses. wish i could have been there for the celebration, but it was a worthwhile effort regardless.


[january 18]

i have lots of art projects planned for the nursery, & this is the one i'm most excited about. i finally got around to spending some time at my easel, & it was wonderful. this will eventually be an owl.


[january 19]

zorra's second favorite place to be -- on shaun's couch when he's not there.


[january 20]

my inspiration chalkboard at my prayer desk. this is a quote from beth moore's book believing God. it's a much-needed reminder for me this year. 


[january 21]

we set up the play pen in the den. it's getting real, people!


[january 22]

so that whole nesting thing is for real. i had the uncontrollable urge to unpack my entire hospital bag, wash everything in it, & repack it. granted, my peppermint oil had spilled, so everything smelled like peppermint. i kept trying to ignore it, but i finally accepted that this would drive me crazy, & i don't need any outside help to drive me crazy at the time of labor & delivery!


[january 23]

the variety of fabric i picked out to make a simple scrappy quilt for baby roo to use as a floor blanket.


[january 24]

almond oil & eucalyptus oil. these combined are powerful for massage -- help decongest sinuses & calm you when stressed. these are part of my labor arsenal.


[january 25]

these are twigs from our backyard that shaun found for me, & i turned them into arrows with some felt i had in the basement. i l.o.v.e. them! they will go in a mason jar in the nursery. 


[january 26]

my journal -- i'm trying to be more consistent in writing this year.


[january 27]

i found this box of paper beads my mom made a couple summers back with vanessa & i were making/selling fish bracelets for "give a goat" in the philippines. i used them in the ceiling mobile for roo's nursery & to make curtain tie-backs for the windows.


[january 28]

a doily dreamcatcher -- my mom crocheted the doily, & i used it to make a dreamcatcher for roo's room. i love how it's neutral but far from boring. it's one of my favorite nursery projects!


[january 29]

we spent the evening finishing up the nursery -- hanging curtains & art, cleaning. zorra spent the evening tearing apart her larry & leaving his "guts" all over the floor, giving us more to clean!


[january 30]

love at first sight. this is elaina ruenell, our sweet girl, & this is the first time she opened her eyes to see me. it's one of my most favorite moments.


[january 31]

here's roo without oxygen tubes! what a perfect way to end the month -- a new addition to our family & progress towards her getting to go home with us soon!


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