Sarah Bledsoe and her husband, Justin, were looking forward to the birth of their third child. "Like many expectant parents, I believed my pregnancy was going to be a healthy one," says Sarah. At 23 and a half weeks' gestation, Sarah's water broke.
At 24 weeks, Levi Bledsoe was born at Palmetto Health Richland, weighing just 1 lb., 9.2 ozs. and about 12 and a half inches in length. His first diaper was about the size of a cell phone.
"The hours we spent in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) prepared us so that we would be competent to care for this tiny, fragile baby," says Sarah. "One of the most memorable moments for us was seeing another NICU mother bringing her now healthy baby back to visit the NICU team who cared for him at birth. It gave us such hope."
"Not one person who works in the NICU is less than one hundred percent devoted to caring for babies," says Sarah. Levi spent 97 days in the NICU and weighed 6 lbs., 7 ozs. when he came home in February 2008.
Levi now is doing very well developmentally and has perfect vision. He has chronic lung disease, which is expected to resolve by the age of six or seven.
Although Sarah Bledsoe was unfamiliar the NICU prior to her pregnancy with Levi, she now encourages mothers who ask her about prenatal care to choose a hospital that has a Level III NICU. "Throughout our experience, we were surrounded by love and the best possible care," she says. "Why would anyone choose a hospital that doesn't have a high level NICU?"