Cape great-grandparents' big addition

Friday, April 16, 2004

A week ago, Cape Girardeau's Dean and Dorothy Campbell became the proud great-grandparents of not one, but six great-grandchildren when the Campbells' granddaughter, Tina Otten of Granite City, Ill., gave birth to sextuplets.

"Everyone is excited," Dorothy Campbell said. "I think my daughter (the sextuplets' grandmother Donna Reckert) is just on cloud nine, she's always loved babies and Tina's always loved babies."

Tina is one of Dorothy Campbell's six grandchildren. With the birth of the sextuplets, she now has 14 great-grandchildren and one more on the way. All this from just two of her own children.

"I've really multiplied, haven't I?" she said.

While Dorothy Campbell said she is thrilled about the arrival of the sextuplets, she is also worried about how Tina and her husband, Ron Otten, will take care of six newborns, in addition to the two children they already have.

The Ottens are parents to 4-year-old Hannah and 2-year-old Abigail.

"It's really mind boggling," she said of having to raise six children at once.

Dorothy Campbell said her granddaughter was worried about telling her about the pregnancy because "she knew I was going to tell her that she already had two children and two is enough."

Tina Otten was taking fertility drugs when she conceived her two older children and was also taking them when she became pregnant with the sextuplets.

On Saturday, Dorothy Campbell and step great-grandfather Dean Campbell visited their new great-grandchildren at the neonatal intensive care unit of St. John's Mercy Medical Center in Creve Coeur, Mo.

Dean Campbell said being able to see the sextuplets was a thrill.

"It was amazing how small they are," he said.

The babies, three girls and three boys, ranged in weight from 1 pound, 13 ounces to 2 pounds, 15 ounces.

Despite their small size, Dorothy Campbell said a nurse told her that "they are strong little guys."

The sextuplets are still in critical condition, which is not unusual for premature babies, said Katie Burckhalter, a spokeswoman for St. John's. The sextuplets were born six weeks premature.

It is expected they will remain in the neonatal intensive care unit for another six to eight weeks.

According to Burckhalter, the doctors at St. John's said the sextuplets' prognoses is wonderful. "We're anticipating a good outcome," she said.

Tina Otten was released from the hospital Wednesday.

It is what happens after everyone leaves the hospital that worries Dorothy Campbell, especially because she and her husband do not live close by the Ottens.

Ron Otten's family, however, also lives in Granite City.

"I just know his family we'll be there for her because they live nearby," Dorothy Campbell said.

While they may get help with the sextuplets while they are babies, Dorothy Campbell said she wonders about what will happen as the six grow older.

"It's scary. How is she going to take care of them later on?" she said. "Even if they go out to buy each of them a birthday present that's just $10 it's $60," she said.

As for gifts from the great-grandparents, Dorothy Campbell said the children will have to settle for cards.

"It's gotten too much for people in retirement," she said.

335-6611, extension 182

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