Stephanie Knudsen can touch her newborn son, Daniel, but it could be months before she is allowed to hold him. Daniel was born fifteen weeks early and weighed just one pound, eight ounces.
"I can remember talking to my pediatrician. He didn't think he was going to make it through the night. That's what scared me the most," she said.
Daniel is being treated in WakeMed's neo-natal unit. For the next couple of months, his parents will make the two-hour drive from Martin County to check on his progress.
"They won't let me hold him or nothing. I want to snatch him up and run with him, but I can't," she said.
Daniel's care costs about $2,000 a day, much of it subsidized by tax dollars. During a visit to WakeMed Monday, Governor Easley said medical services for babies like Daniel could be reduced if the state does not raise new revenue.
"All of this hard work could slip away if we don't take care of business in the General Assembly," he said.
Some lawmakers are suggesting a three percent across-the-board budget cut. Easley said those cuts would eliminate care for 3,600 North Carolina babies.
"There's no question that deeper cuts in health care would hurt our efforts to continue to reduce infant mortality," Easley said. "We're making progress. Now is not the time to cut. Now is the time to put the pedal to the metal and get the job completed."
State officials say two things has helped the infant mortality rate go down -- fewer babies dying from birth defects and fewer cases of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.