Having it all Anchor and Hoboken resident Natalie Morales reflects on motherhood, juggling family and career, and the birth of her son

Any working mother can tell you that balancing a job, a family, and a personal life isn’t exactly easy. Late nights, early mornings, bosses, husbands, deadlines, and minor catastrophes are all a part of daily life.

So how does a busy mom manage to save the day, excel at work, get the house clean and still maintain her sanity?

She learns to juggle.

And juggle is something that Hoboken resident Natalie Morales-Rhodes has learned to do very well. As an anchor for MSNBC and substitute news anchor for “Today” and “Weekend Today,” Morales-Rhodes (she uses Morales professionally) has found that the key to finding balance in her life is to not ask too much of yourself and understand that you need to set priorities.

And her top priority is her family, which includes her husband, Joe, and 17-month-old Josh. “Motherhood is the most incredible endeavor I have ever embarked on,” Morales said. And that says a lot. A self-proclaimed Air Force “brat,” Morales was born in Taiwan and spent her first 18 years living overseas in Panama, Brazil and Spain.

She has anchored numerous major breaking news stories including Sept. 11, the Battle for the White House, Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Columbia Shuttle explosion and the D.C. sniper shooting.

And while she looks perfectly poised and in control, Morales says, “Trying to give 100 percent to both family and work is hard and I often get frazzled.” “But, she said with a smile, “you get used to it.”

She added, “There is no greater love in life than having a child. If I have a terrible day at work, I come home and see Josh, and it just brightens my whole day.”

Morales simply can’t imagine life without her son. And thanks to the skilled physicians and staff at St. Mary Hospital in Hoboken, she never has to.

According to Morales, who says her pregnancy was fantastic, her labor couldn’t have been more routine. That is, until the baby’s heart rate began to drop.

Split-second surgery

“It all happened so fast,” said Dr. Thomas Migliaccio, a gynecologist/obstetrician at St. Mary Hospital. “Josh’s heart rate kept dropping and it wasn’t coming back up. In instances like this every second counts.”

Morales was rushed to the Operating Room, where she had an emergency C-section. “Situations as dire as this only happen about once or twice a year,” said Dr. Migliaccio.

Fortunately, St. Mary Hospital is staffed to undertake these kinds of emergency at all times. With 24-hour anesthesiologists, intensivists and obstetricians, patients can be treated in seconds. “If we had to call an anesthesiologist from home, we would have lost valuable time – time we didn’t have to spare,” said Migliaccio.

“I received phenomenal care at St. Mary. The nurses were wonderful. They were alert, engaging and humorous – something every woman in labor needs,” said Morales. “In fact, my husband always says ‘Thank God for those nurses.’ “

” ‘Dr. Mig’ is the main reason I chose St. Mary, but the care I received from everyone here is why I continue to come back,” Morales said. “In fact, we’ve taken Josh back here when he was sick.” “I was proud to be Natalie’s obstetrician,” said Migliaccio. “She could have chosen any doctor or hospital, but she chose here, and that says a lot about the quality of care available at St. Mary’s.” Although nothing could have prepared Morales and her husband for such an emotional and gripping delivery, they were well prepared for parenthood after having both taken childbirth classes at St. Mary’s.

“The classes taught us about everything from Lamaze to child care to what to expect when we took the baby home,” said Morales. “We’ll be very prepared when we have our next child.” Morales and her family plan to spend Mother’s Day quietly with each other – something she doesn’t get to do all that often.

“I’m so fortunate to do what I love professionally,” she said, “but to be a good mother and wife to my family is what I love the most.”


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