27 Oct The Pantanella Family
Tony and Amanda Pantanella were taking in the bliss of their second year of marriage, their love for one another, and a baby girl on the way. With meticulous planning and every precaution in place the two were ready to venture into parenthood for the first time with one another. They had a birth plan, a wonderful Duala, and determined spirits.
When the two were preparing for Amanda’s 29 week check up, they expected it to go just like any other; the two would seamlessly attend together and Tony could head to his job where he works third shift. However, Amanda’s intuition told her something wasn’t right. “I told him a few days before, even a few weeks before, which is weird,” said Amanda. “I was like, I think we really need to work on the house because I don’t think we’re going to—I’m going to be full term.”
Amanda knew her fears were true when the doctors took longer to enter the room than usual. Once the doctors arrived to let her know the situation, Amanda found out she had preeclampsia, meaning her pregnancy was now high risk, and she then was admitted to Erlanger Hospital, an hour drive away from her and her husband’s home, indefinitely.
“We were just told we’re going to keep you here every single day. We don’t know when you’re going to get discharged, ” Amanda says. Her blood pressure was checked every 15 minutes and only continued to rise. Every morning at 7am Amanda would need blood work and an ultrasound to check on baby “We [Amanda and her doctors] were talking about keeping me admitted until the baby came,” Amanda continued. “Which they were hoping they could keep her [in] until 35 weeks at least…little did we know 72 hours later.”
Just three days after being admitted to Erlanger Amanda felt the worst pain she’d experienced yet. “I thought I was in labor, that’s how bad it was,” Amanda tells us. “I’m trying all the different techniques that my Doula taught me on labor pains, and I still can’t breathe. Eventually I lost consciousness. My liver was releasing a toxin that was knocking me out. I was breathing more of a toxin than I was oxygen, my goodness.” Shortly after 4am the following morning doctors let Amanda and Tony know it was time, their baby needed to be delivered.
“They [Erlanger doctors] presented us with options,” Tony recalls. “ They’re amazing and patient with us trying to honor Amanda and I on our wishes; but, if it gets bad enough it’s an emergency C section [and they said] Dad, you can’t be in the room for that.” At this point the couple called down their doula who had been coaching the couple to prepare for a natural birth. After Amanda’s bloodwork came back, all options were taken off the table. An emergency c-section was the only option.
“We had this whole expectation of what it was like to have a child and within a short amount of time that’s off the table.” Tony continues. “I asked ‘Well, can I pray with my wife?’ They all left the room, our doula and I prayed with and over Amanda.” Tony prayed over Amanda at 7:10 that morning and their baby girl Melody was born at 7:24 am at one pound, 13 ounces.
The first few days following Melody’s arrival the couple stayed in the hospital until the time came and Amanda was discharged on April 21st, but baby Melody still needed time in the NICU. After the hustle of it all, the couple remembered their social worker had informed them about Ronald McDonald House Charities. When looking back on their first night at the house Amanda says, “It was relief. I walk into this house not like anything… it does feel like our temporary home…it’s amazing.”
As a result of checking into the Ronald McDonald House, Tony and Amanda did not have to take on all of the stress that comes with commuting to be with their daughter. “First day here our friend brought us food and we ate out on that patio. [It was] the first time I’d seen the sun in over a week… best meal of my life.” Amanda recalls happily. “It’s kind of normal now.” Tony says while the couple was nearing their 6 week mark at the house. “We call this home. Let’s go home…if we didn’t have this place here our lives would look completely different.”
“This has been an absolute game changer for us and really allowed us to be present with our daughter and be there for her…” Tony continues, “We have felt extremely helpless in this situation. But being here at the house has helped us not feel hopeless. So many things are out of our control, having some stability of just being able to walk across the street, have a place to eat a meal, rest and lay our head down on a nice comfortable bed, do our laundry- it’s just all the things that we take for granted. It’s just so easily accessible here… this place has made us feel so welcomed.
Flash forward to October 2023, Melody Elise just turned 6 months old, and Amanda and Tony are enjoying their beautiful new life as Mom and Dad. The sweet trio came down to our Golf Classic this month to spend some time with their RMHC family. We enjoyed beautiful weather, a yummy lunch, and caught up with one another. Amanda fondly told us how the experience jogged her memory of volunteering at RMHC with her mother in her youth and how she would explain, “These people are going through a hard time…we are here to serve them.”