When All Seemed Lost,
New Lives Began
Three tiny miracles and Abington staff help Horsham family after sudden loss
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. . .” The opening lines of the Charles Dickens novel, “A Tale of Two Cities,” summarize how Vanessa Rodgers Magee felt during her bittersweet, eight-week stay at Abington Hospital – Jefferson Health in winter 2015.
Admitted to MOMU
In January 2015, Vanessa was just 24 weeks pregnant with triplets when her water broke while she was sleeping. She was hospitalized on complete bedrest for eight weeks in Abington’s MOMU (Maternal Observation and Monitoring Unit). Just days later, her mother, Angela, was also admitted to Abington.
A Precarious Path Through Pregnancy
While Vanessa and husband Kevin had been blessed with daughter Brooke three years earlier, they had been trying unsuccessfully to conceive another child for more than a year. After fertility treatments and several miscarriages, the Magees decided to pursue in vitro fertilization and Vanessa, 41, became pregnant with triplets. Both thrilled and scared, the couple began planning for the day they’d go from a family of three to a crew of six. “My mom was by my side through it all,” said Vanessa. “She loved being Brooke’s grandmother and was so excited about the triplets.”
As Vanessa’s pregnancy progressed, her mother Angela had begun feeling unwell. Her doctor ordered some tests and Angela was waiting for results the night Vanessa’s water broke. The next day, Angela received word that the breast cancer she had survived three years earlier had metastasized to her liver. Just one week later, she was admitted to Abington, where she would stay, until the end, with her daughter by her side.
Vanessa was devastated by her mother’s death. “I was doing my best to be calm and stay pregnant,” she said, “and I had just lost my mother, who was my best friend. I couldn’t go home to my husband and daughter, I couldn’t help my dad.” During the moments when her grief seemed insurmountable, Vanessa was comforted to know she was tethered securely to her hospital team of supporters.
“The nurses, doctors, clergy and hospital staff became my family,” said Vanessa. “They were my lifeline.” They brought her meals, sympathy cards and flowers. They cried and prayed with Vanessa. They made special arrangements so she could attend her mother’s funeral.
The Magee triplets showed the world they were made of stronger stuff than anyone could have predicted. At pregnancy week 32, Vanessa began having contractions. On March 15, a team, including OB/GYN Alice Roberts, MD, experts in maternal/fetal medicine and neonatology were on hand for the birth.
Dr. Roberts delivered three healthy newborns: Angela (named for her grandmother) and sisters Victoria and Alexandra, by Cesarean section. The babies remained on Abington’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for five weeks, receiving the highly specialized care they needed to thrive.
Reality Hits Home
Since the babies arrived home in April 2015, an army of volunteers – 100 strong – has served the Magee family. Vanessa had placed a request for help in her church bulletin. That posting opened the flood gates and a steady stream of volunteers has flowed through the Magee household ever since. They change diapers; feed, burp and snuggle babies; wash dishes and do laundry; bake; and care for big (yet little) sister Brooke.
“We are so blessed to be happy, healthy and thriving,” said Vanessa. “I miss my mom everyday and while I’m heartbroken she isn’t here, I can feel her presence.”
For more information about maternity and all women’s health services at Abington – Jefferson Health, please visit our website, Jefferson.edu/AbingtonMaternity.