Parents of sextuplets still stunned

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

CREVE COEUR, Mo. -- The parents of newborn sextuplets said Tuesday they haven't yet had time or energy to prepare emotionally and financially for their expanded family. But in the blur of events that has turned their lives upside down, Tina and Ron Otten have been clear in accepting what's been handed them.

The Granite City, Ill., couple had two daughters before the birth of sextuplets -- three boys, three girls -- Friday at St. John's Mercy Medical Center here greatly expanded their family.

The couple underwent fertility treatments to conceive their two older daughters, and used the identical method when they wanted to conceive for a third time. The Ottens said they never dreamed the same injected fertility drug would result in a pregnancy of six babies.

"They told us we could have multiple births," Tina Otten said. "We never imagined six."

The babies, Jacob, Isabella, Madison, Joshua, Tyler and Rileigh, are at high risk for circulatory and respiratory problems because they are premature, said Mike Maurer, a neonatologist. But he said their long-term outlook is good and that they'd be in the neonatal intensive care unit for six weeks. Some are doing better than others, he said.

Their weights range from 2 to 3 pounds. "They're vigorous kids," Maurer said. "None of them required a full-blown resuscitation," upon delivery.

A team of 37 nurses and other professionals assisted in the delivery Friday at about 2:40 p.m. The hospital's birthing center has experience in multiple births. Two sets of quintuplets were born there in the last year.

The Ottens said their main hope is to provide for their children and have as normal a life as possible, "considering the circumstances."

People from the community have offered their help with the children, while other volunteers are fixing up a five-bedroom house for them that's near paternal grandparents, Linda and Don Otten of Granite City. Donna and John Reckert of St. Louis, the maternal grandparents, said they have a recreational vehicle, and plan frequent visits to help out as well.

Tina Otten will remain a stay-at-home mom. Ron Otten, an assembler at the Ford plant in Hazelwood, is taking his job stability one day at a time.

In 2002, Ford announced it would close the plant by the middle of the decade. The company reversed its decision last September.

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