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Enfingers’ baby born in winter, pandemic


Retired soldier Amanda Carpenter Enfinger says being pregnant during a pandemic, and a winter snow storm, isn’t for faint of heart.  

But like a good soldier, she and her baby survived it all. Baby Enfinger, Kayleigh, was born Feb. 16.  

Most likely recall that February 2021 was a time when not only were local residents dealing with the big winter ice storm, but many were also quarantined due to the continuance of the coronavirus pandemic. All is well now.  

But Amanda isn’t shy when noting it was all pretty terrifying for her first pregnancy.  

Amanda and husband, Keith, found out in June 2020 they were pregnant―right in middle of the pandemic.  

Amanda was a good soldier from then of another caliber; she went through all the nuances of the pandemic, i.e., masks, etc., alone.  

Most everyone remembers quarantine and all that went with social distancing. Add pregnancy into the mix and a little drama is created—some really Amanda and Keith might like to forget in time.  

“I would sometime voice record what the doctor was saying, so he [Keith] could hear what she was saying. I couldn’t remember it. I would go in there and be in tears, sometimes. It would just be me in there.”  

Still, she notes how Keith was there with her during each trimester. She had back pain issues from the military, so the created some pregnancy issues.  

Simply put, she says in hindsight, “It was rough.”  

She couldn’t see her mom or other members of her family, due to the on-going pandemic. Some family members have had COVID-19. But they were still positive about their baby’s forthcoming birth. They enjoyed the special time, though perhaps it wasn’t as traditional as some have experienced. Amanda had just gotten out of the military in February. They moved back here.  

Last summer, she learned she and Keith were indeed going to become parents.  

“It didn’t hit me until I first started going to the prenatal appointments. Right then, they didn’t have the shot. I’m a nurse . . . know to take precautions.”  

But that didn’t prepare Amanda for historic events to occur in the coming months.  

“But what really hit me the hardest . . . it affected my mental health. When you go to your appointments, the father of the child should get to go with you. He didn’t get to go to any of my appointments. He didn’t get to partake in hearing his baby’s heart beat and ultrasounds. He had to sit in the car and I had to bring the stuff out to him.”  

All this stress, she admits, unfortunately took some of the blessed out of this “blessed event.”  

There were no big Thanksgiving or Christmas get-togethers. She remembers being potentially exposed by the “friend of a family member” which was a stressful time; her doctors tested her and she was negative from the coronavirus.  

Amanda believes her prenatal checkups may have helped her avoid the virus. She recalls how she was taking prenatal vitamins and a lot of D and Zinc.  

She said everything was fine until about Feb. 14; her ankles began to swell. Propping them up and reducing sodium really didn’t help.  

“Something just told me to check my blood pressure,” recalls Amanda. “It was high.”  

Her doctors advised her to go to Vanderbilt Tullahoma Hospital, despite the snow storm.  

Now, this soldier was truly scared.  

“The only way to get the blood pressure down was to have her,” explains Amanda. She was 37 weeks into her pregnancy. More, Amanda has a history of blood clots, so this moved the baby’s birth even clos- er.  

When Keith and Amanda arrived at the hospital at 2 a.m. on Feb. 15, Keith stayed there with her in her room, until about 11 a.m. Knowing he was exhausted and needing to tend to their dogs, she told him to go take care of everything at home. Keith then left.  

She recalls how she was there from 11 a.m. Feb. 15 until about 7:30 a.m. Feb. 16―alone—about to have their first baby.  

Then, the labor started, without Keith.  

Amanda watched the snow fall. She realized a lot was going on at the hospital.  

“You could only have one visitor. My mom couldn’t come at all. My husband was at home, so I did it all by myself, with the nurses’ help.”  

Despite the baby having a little jaundice, she notes she and Keith left the hospital the following day with their little bundle of joy.  

She weighed just over 6 pounds―a good still for her being a bit early.  

“It was on, from there,” Amanda notes with a giggle. This new mom admits she’s now overly protective of her newborn, with good reason.  

“I’m more terrified right now of her getting RSV.”  

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is common, but all the while, contagious and is the result of an infection in the respiratory tract―something a new mom like herself, and nurse, would want to avoid if at all possible.  

Amanda was 29 when she delivered Kayleigh. Her military career preempted having a baby around 24 or so, but in hindsight, it was worth the wait, she says. She’s enjoying every minute of being with her little baby―now around 15 pounds.  

Going from soldier/nurse, she says, to homemaker was the right choice for her family.  

When Amanda retired from the U.S. Air Force on Feb. 16, 2020, she served as a medical technician. She earned her nursing license during her 10 and half years in the military.  

How it all began  

She met her husband while working at Quiznos (now closed here.) They started dating in 2008 and married July 3, 2010. They first met when Amanda was in high school. It was soon after leaving high school that she decided to join the military.  

“He followed me,” she said of Keith.  

Amanda’s first duty station was Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, N.C. She was later deployed to Afghanistan, where U.S. troops have recently been withdrawn due to threats and attacks from the Taliban there.  

This Shelbyville soldier who spent time tending to the injured and wounded, explains Afghanistan is tough on all soldiers.  

“After I got back from Afghanistan, I started having a bunch of medical problems.”  

For 5 years following her time in the Middle East, she underwent testing at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. Due to not being able to complete physical fitness requirements for the Air Force, Amanda notes that “Uncle Sam” presented her with a medical retirement.  

While pregnant, her stay in what is known as “Graveyard of Empires” i.e., Afghanistan, did cross her mind. The retired USAF soldier says she wondered if anything she came into contact with there could have long-term effects on her newborn.  

“I worried a lot . . . had any vaccination you can think of. I’ve been vaccinated . . . Anthrax, all that. And in Afghanistan, breathing all the fumes from vehicles and burn pits, you just never know what you’re exposed to.”  

What Amanda says she knows is that she’s blessed.  

Having had the opportunity to serve her country, she’s now equally privileged to work as a stay-at-home mom.  

“It was never the time when I was in the military to have a baby . . . working all the time. Now, I’m retired and can stay home with my child.”  

And Amanda plans to protect her little one to the nth degree from potential illnesses.  

This sadly even means she won’t see a lot of her extended family for a good while, due to COVID19.  

When her little one starts school, Amanda notes that she may advance her career to registered nurse status.  

There are some schools, Amanda says, which will accept her military medical training, others do not.  

“I have my nursing license in Missouri and I can transfer it to Tennessee.”  

She was classified with combat medical while in Afghanistan. She explains that military medical status is a bit different from civilian medical status.  

“I’m an EMT . . . military paid for me to get my medical license, because they want all their medical technicians to be EMTs.”  

She says Missouri offered the medical technician training, mainly, to challenge their nursing board.  

“I challenged it. I passed it. Got my nursing license, and then I got out of the military.” 

The two Bedford County natives and their little one live in the home given to Keith by his grandparents― one which sat empty for 10 years as she served her country.  

The words “welcome home” ring deep with Keith and Amanda. She’s certainly writing down all her experiences from Afghanistan to childbirth in Kayleigh’s baby book.  

“I wrote everything down, from the ice storm . . . lights cut off in hospital, everything.”  

Keith and Amanda have high hopes of bringing another child into the world soon. So now she has another reason to be very careful to whom she’s exposed.  

She says for now, she says a lot of social distancing is just the norm for her little family.  

“I stay away from everyone. Normally, it’s me, my husband and baby, together. When we go somewhere, sanitize, get right back in the car.” 


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