Celebrating Miracles at Christmas

first_imgBy Muriel J. SmithVic and Courtney Rossomanno and their three children will be celebrating their own little miracle this Christmas. And they know that miracle came about because of the skill of specialists, technology, and a series of incidents they can only describe as happening because of their faith. The Rossomannos have a daughter, Elizabeth, who is 2, Vic’s son, Joey, who is 15, and Victoria, who will be a year old January 13.Victoria is the miracle they are celebrating.The youngest Rossomanno was born 25 weeks prematurely two weeks into 2014, and the medical reason for that surprise birth has never been identified. Courtney had had a wonderful, healthy and happy pregnancy up until the time she suddenly went into labor and was rushed to the hospital. Victoria weighed in at a critical 1 pound, 10 ounces, stretched over a 12-inch frame. She literally could fit inside a shoebox. And she was absolutely perfect, her proud mother beams.One of the highlights for the Rossomannos will be Christmas Eve, when their relatives will be gathering at their house rather than Vic’s mother’s, Mimi Mayes, to celebrate in the Italian tradition with music, song, love and friendship…and no fewer than seven fish entrees on the Christmas Eve dinner table. Courtney is overwhelmed with the excitement of it all. “I can’t put it into words; we are always experiencing miracles.”Victoria’s miracles began at her birth when, because of her tiny size, she was admitted to the neo-natal intensive care unit at Monmouth Medical Center, her home for the next 134 days. It was a time the family and close friends rallied together to ensure both parents could visit their newest daughter every day, juggling the care for Elizabeth at the same time. It wasn’t until nine days after the birth that they could hold the infant for the first time, and then for only an hour a day. Gradually the time was increased; in the meantime, they spent their time, sometimes up to eight hours for Courtney, talking to Victoria, singing to her, going on rounds with the nurses and learning the intricacy of caring for a determined little fighter after they could take her home. Big sister Elizabeth was able to come to the hospital and visit Victoria on Easter and Mother’s Day.There was a serious setback when Victoria was 2 1/2 months old and contracted a staph infection. It was a frightening time for the young couple who were first told Victoria had meningitis; an ultra sound showed she had two brain bleeds, apparently the result of the staph infection.Treatment of that problem is highly specialized and normally would mean the infant would have to be rushed to CHOP, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. But the next of many miracles the family has experienced had already occurred. Garrett Zoeller a Morristown physician specializing in both adult and pediatric neurosurgery, had just become affiliated with Monmouth Medical Center the day before Victoria’s situation developed. And while he could see, treat, and diagnose Victoria at Monmouth, he preferred to complete the necessary surgery at St. Barnabas in Livingston, one of the other hospitals with which he is affiliated.  At under three months of age, Victoria had her first surgery.  Back once again at Monmouth, it was determined she had hydrocephalus, and two more surgeries were necessary to drain the fluids. In July, Dr. Zoeller inserted a shunt which will be permanent for Victoria, but will continue to drain fluids before they build to a crucial level.The Rossomannos, grateful and appreciative of all the help and prayers they received, reacted spontaneously when they saw a sign about the March of Dimes and its work with premature infants. They immediately launched their own fundraising campaign for the March of Dimes, raising more than $6,000 through events both at one of Vic’s restaurants… he runs several Quaker Steak & Lube restaurants in New Jersey…as well as other fundraisers. And the Rossomannos have been named the March of Dimes Family of the Year for the Jersey Shore for 2015.“We are so blessed, we have been so fortunate,” the attractive and capable mom smiles, “we believe Victoria was given to us for a reason. We feel we have to give back and help others.” They are active with Pediatric Hydrocephalus Foundation, Courtney took both girls to Washington, D.C. to visit with Sen. Chris Smith and other Congressional leaders to keep them better informed of the special problems premature infants face and the need for government support for foundations that help families and further education. They want to continue to inform the public of special situations, and great milestones, for children like Victoria who only have 50 percent of their total brain.They’re on Facebook at Victory for Victoria Community with dozens of photos of their happy, impish little daughter and progress notes on her growth and development, sharing information with other parents with premature children.There are the numerous visits to all kinds of therapists and specialists, Courtney admits, generally five a week. There are MRIs every two to three months to keep track of the infant’s progress. “But we were told not to expect her to have any gross motor skill development,” Courtney says, then giggles as she watches Victoria roll over, laugh, hold her bottle with great dexterity, and do everything else an average full-term 6 month old would do.The couple’s faith in God and their belief God has some special reason for giving Victoria to the Rossomannos cannot be denied. Courtney describes herself as a traditional, rather than orthodox, practicing Jew, so the children have been baptized Catholic, Vic’s religion, and the family, Courtney included, worships at St. Anselm’s Catholic Church in Tinton Falls. The family also lights the eight candles on their menorah set up in the dining room.  For both parents, whichever formal religion in which they worship isn’t the important thing, because “it really doesn’t matter….so long as God is there.”last_img

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