For John and Sarah Sangmeister, Miller Children's Hospital Long Beach will forever hold a special place in their hearts.
"Our three boys wouldn't be here without the hospital," says John Sangmeister, simply.
Owners of the popular Long Beach seafood restaurant Gladstone's, the Sangmeisters' odyssey with Miller Children's began in 2001 when Sarah, now 40, became pregnant with twin boys. "I knew Miller Children's had a world-class neonatal intensive care unit, and that was important to me, especially since I was having twins," Sarah, an attorney, recalls. "It never entered my mind to go anywhere else."
Being pregnant with "multiples" meant Sarah's pregnancy was automatically considered high risk. Fortunately, the MemorialCare Center for Women at Miller Children's features a pregnancy program designed for women who are experiencing, or are at risk of developing, complications during their pregnancies. A highly trained health care team closely monitors the condition of both mother and baby, and is ready with advanced medical interventions at a moment's notice.
That expertise came in handy for Sarah when she showed signs of early labor just 18 weeks into the pregnancy. She was promptly admitted to the high-risk unit where doctors were able to halt the contractions. A week later, she was sent home and remained on strict bed rest for the duration of her pregnancy.
This expert high-risk care helped Sarah carry the twins for almost 31 weeks. The boys, Peter and Jack, were born at Miller Children's weighing 3 pounds, 3 ounces each. "My hand was longer than their backs," recalls John, 47. Both boys had complications, including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which can cause serious problems, such as respiratory and heart issues, in newborns. "It was a very scary time, but the clinical care team and quality of care were just incredible," says Sarah.
When the twins were finally able to go home—Peter, after 60 days in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), and Jack, after 64 days—the Sangmeisters were overjoyed. Five years later, Sarah was again pregnant. All seemed to be going well—until the 18th week when she went into premature labor. "We thought, oh no, not again," says John. Sarah spent two days in the perinatal special care unit for high-risk pregnancies before being discharged on bed rest, as with her first pregnancy. This time, however, Sarah made it to 36 weeks—almost full-term.
However, baby Will, like his brothers, was born with complications and admitted to the hospital's NICU. Weighing 8 pounds, 6 ounces, he had pulmonary hypertension and breathing problems. He spent 30 days in the NICU before John and Sarah could take him home. "He looked so huge next to the other NICU babies," says John. "Like Gulliver among the Lilliputians."
The twins are currently 8 years old, and Will is 3½. All are healthy, active boys. The Sangmeisters still keep in touch with the NICU care team and are appreciative of the leadingedge, high-risk pregnancy care that kept their sons from being born extremely premature. Today, Will, Peter and Jack are able to go on family sailing outings, thanks to the neonatal and high-risk pregnancy care they received all under one roof. "Miller Children's is the epicenter of my family's gratitude," says John. "We're living with three miracles of modern medicine thanks to the hospital's NICU and high-risk pregnancy doctors and nurses."
The Sangmeisters helped ensure the health of their sons by choosing Miller Children's—a hospital that exclusively cares for kids, expectant moms and their newborns. Help us ensure that other families like the Sangmeisters receive the same leading care. Join the MemorialCare Center for Women and the Miller Children's NICU expansion effort. For more information, visit millerchildrenshospitallb.org/build.