GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – A homeless and unemployed woman living in a women's shelter is doing what she can to care for her newborn triplets.
Monica Roberts, 33, gave birth Oct. 12 at Saint Mary's Health Care to a girl and two boys. Complications required her to be hospitalized during the last six weeks of her pregnancy, which lasted nearly 36 weeks.
All three babies were delivered by Caesarean section and spent two weeks in intensive care before being discharged from the hospital on Oct. 27. Medicaid covered most of the bills.
"This is probably the worst-case scenario I've ever had," said Roberts' obstetrician, Dr. Thomas Balaskas, who specializes in high-risk pregnancies.
"We deal with many patients who are indigent and have to rely on ... social services," Balaskas told The Grand Rapids Press for a story published Friday. "But this is the first time where we haven't had a home for a woman and her newborn children, to have their own roof over their heads."
Before her hospitalization, Roberts lived with a friend in a dwelling with no working furnace. Balaskas said he was appalled after learning that the foursome, along with Roberts' mother, was staying in the Barry County shelter.
The women and the triplets are living at Green Gables Haven, a facility whose address is kept secret because it sometimes houses abused women who require protection.
The residence is licensed for 14 beds, five of which are being occupied by Roberts, her three newborns, and their grandmother, Angela Cole, 50.
They have about two weeks left under a policy that technically allows them to stay there for 30 days. At that time, their case would be reviewed to determine how well they are helping themselves, said Nyla Rounds, the shelter's operations manager.
Rounds and others have been trying to secure a more permanent residence for the five family members but "affordable housing is a big problem in Barry County."
Roberts dropped out of Middleville High School but later received her diploma in 1995. She attended Davenport University for two years and then secured work as a medical transcriptionist.
Her life began to unravel just over a year ago, when she lost her job, was evicted from her Middleville apartment and became overwhelmed by several thousand dollars of debt.
"I wish I could have made some different decisions," she said. "But I felt these babies were meant to be. I have a strong faith in God that he will see me through."