The Countdown Begins ...
“Anyone who could make it would make it,” remembered Frances O’Keefe, the eighth of Nick and Mary Mangione’s 10 children, whom she affectionately calls M10. “I would wear pink and blue just so we were covered. My sister Joanne would make sure everyone had snacks. We were always well stocked with food.”
“I vividly remember getting in the car quickly and sitting in the lobby,” Nicole Motsay, Grandchild #8, said. “It’s an impromptu event. All the sudden you get the text or the call and the whole family knows within 30 minutes, and everyone asks who is getting what and bringing what. And then, we wait for the dad to come out and share the gender and the name.”
Delivering a baby at GBMC is an unspoken rule in the Mangione family. Once M10 started delivering their children at their community hospital, it became a given, a subconscious act no one questioned or desired to break.
Frances, who had five children at GBMC, remembers her father, Nick, arriving right before or after the births, but her mother, Mary, was a mainstay, sitting right alongside the rest of her family, anxiously awaiting adding another to the fold.
First-generation Baltimoreans, Nick Mangione and then Mary Cuba were both born to Italian immigrants. They were married 58 years before Nick’s death in 2008. Nick was a hard-working real estate developer who owned multiple properties, including Turf Valley Resort and Hayfields Country Club while Mary managed the house and the busy lives of their family. All 10 of their children currently work for the family business, which is one simple way to define the intimacy this family shares, even as they grow larger with each passing year.
“It’s considered dysfunctional in today’s society, meaning there’s a lot of us and we’re really close,” Nicole, who has two children and a third due in November, said. “There is an inexplicable bond between us and this innate trust that everyone has with one another. I don’t know who started the GBMC trend, but somebody did. Once it started, I don’t think there was any question. Once you find something that works, you don’t leave it.”
Starting in 1983, the M10 had 37 children, all born at GBMC. The next generation is working on beating that number. By December, there will be 22 great-grandchildren to wrap up 2022. All but three great-grandchildren were born at GBMC, but don’t worry, they get a pass. They live on the West Coast, and it’s just a hassle to get on a plane after your water breaks.
“It becomes subconscious. Delivering at GBMC is not even a thought,” Victoria Smith, Grandchild #10, said. “I live in Sykesville. I’m not close to GBMC anymore, and when my doctor switched to a practice at GBMC, I was thrilled because there is a comfort level there. It made me feel better she was at that practice. I knew I would deliver here no matter what, even though I had to drive 40 minutes in the middle of January.”
Victoria had her first child in January 2022, during the height of the Omicron surge. There was no waiting room party, though her dad did manage to sneak over to the window of her postpartum room as the nurse held up her son for a first look at his grandfather.
“It was a little bit different going into it and knowing no one would be there,” Victoria said.
Despite the COVID-19 hiccup, Victoria’s description of her experience echoes that of the rest of the family—hands-on, kind and compassionate nurses, convenience of doctors’ offices and pharmacy on-site, and a general sense of comfort knowing they and their new baby would be taken care of.
Frances hopes the family can get back to “tailgating” new births in the Yaggy Atrium soon, but if not, this family will not let a pandemic get in the way of their familial joy. Just like delivering at GBMC, the tight-knit dynamic of this family began with her parents, and no one has questioned it since.
“For my father, the two biggest things are family and God,” Frances said. “I wish I could say how they did it, but in raising us, that was ingrained. We are all happy to be around each other and when the spouses started coming along, they always fit in.”
So, the next time the Yaggy Atrium is bustling with energy and noise, it is likely this clan, welcoming another piece to their ever-growing puzzle. Don’t be shy. Walk over and say congratulations. Knowing them, you will probably leave with a juice box, a snack and a desire to call your own family.