Maranda Lynn Bennett’s Birth

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Maranda Lynn Bennett

September 4, 2004

By Tamara Lush

Monday, September 6, 2004

Original Article at St. Petersburg Times

At 7 p.m. Saturday, as the sky reached an ominous, inky black and the wind rattled the windows, Amanda Jones made an announcement to her family, all hunkered down in Room 210 of the Suburban Lodge.

“My water just broke,” she said.

An ambulance couldn’t come to take her to the hospital. Too dangerous. A trip in the family car down slick roads was out of the question.

But Jones knew where to get help.

Room 208.

Earlier in the day, she had been walking around on the balcony, just stretching her legs, when a woman stopped her.

“Boy, you look like you’re pretty far along,” the woman said.

Her name was Lori Nelson. Like Jones, she lives in a flood-prone part of Stuart and had come to the hotel to ride out the storm. She happened to be occupying the room two doors down from Jones’ at the Suburban Lodge.

She also happens to deliver babies for a living – almost 1,000 so far.

Nelson, a midwife, had nearly left her tools at home. But at the last minute, she decided to take them with her.

So, as she and Jones stood on the hotel balcony, Nelson offered to examine mother and baby. Nelson took out her stethoscope and a device called a Doppler – not the weather kind, but the kind that lets you listen to a baby’s heartbeat.

All seemed fine, and the two parted, joking that if anything happened later on, Nelson would be prepared.

At 7 p.m., it was no joke.

The baby’s father, David Bennett, told his brother to run to Room 208 and get Nelson.

The baby’s grandmother, Vera Pittman, went downstairs to get a videocamera from the car.

The baby’s brothers, 2-year-old Austin and 5-year-old Joshua, wondered what all the fuss was about.

Nelson swept in with her black leather bag and set out her tools. The hotel manager, Jeorge Filamor, arrived with sheets, towels and washcloths. Word began to spread through the hotel that the woman in 210 was having a baby – by candlelight.

A group of people barbecuing in the rain cheered. An elderly woman brought a cake. People started to bring water jugs to Room 210.

“Someone even boiled water for us on a Coleman stove,” said Nelson.

Jones wasn’t scared. She trusted Nelson.

“Nobody was worried about the storm,” said David Bennett, 22. “Everybody was worried about the baby. Everybody.”

At 7:11 p.m., Maranda Lynn Bennett was born. She was healthy and happy. The baby’s father cut the umbilical cord.

The baby’s grandmother, having gone to look for the videocamera, missed the birth.

The baby’s brothers met their little sister.

“It’s really kind of amazing, how we got brought together,” Nelson said. “It was just one of those destiny things.”

Tamara Lush can be reached at (727) 893-8612 or at

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