Sextuplets showing personalities

Saturday, May 22, 2004

The Associated Press

CREVE COEUR, Mo. -- The sextuplets born here April 9 are gaining weight, filling out, even learning to "suck, swallow and breathe," although they derive most of their nutrition from tiny feeding tubes inserted into little nostrils.

But beyond the steady physical development, the premature Otten sextuplets are exhibiting personality, their parents, Ron and Tina Otten, and the babies' hospital caregivers said during a news conference Friday.

Isabella smiles all the time. Jacob is fussy. Rileigh still needs oxygen assistance. Joshua and Tyler are quiet.

Madison and Isabella always want to be held. And they also have an attitude.

When Madison and Isabella are hungry, each raises one hand. If the bottled formula doesn't come quickly enough, they raise two hands. If it still hasn't arrived, they start making noise, said Lenetta Leuking, one of 10 registered nurses and other staffers who care for the sextuplets round the clock at St. John's Mercy Medical Center in suburban St. Louis.

The Granite City, Ill., couple already had two daughters before the birth of their three boys and three girls on Good Friday. Tina Otten is the granddaughter of Dean and Dorothy Campbell of Cape Girardeau.

Neonatologist Mike Maurer said the babies' major job is to grow, and that is underway. Their weights range from 3 pounds, 6 ounces to 4 pounds 11 ounces. Maurer said the babies could be released in two to three weeks, in batches to help the Ottens grow accustomed to the new drill.

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