Jan. 29, 2009 -- The California woman who gave birth to eight babies in five minutes Monday may have already been a mother of six, ABC News has learned.
The octuplets, who were born by Caesarean section and delivered by a 46-member team of doctors at Kaiser Permanente Bellflower Medical Center in Bellflower, Calif., arrived nine weeks premature.
The eighth baby shocked the hospital delivery team, which had been planning for a seven-baby delivery for weeks. The two girls and six boys ranged in weight from 1 pound, 8 ounces to 3 pounds, 4 ounces and totaled over 24 pounds.
The woman, whose name has not been released by the hospital, is only the second ever to give birth to octuplets. The hospital staff would not comment on whether she had received fertility drugs, which have been linked with instances of multiple births.
At a press conference, doctors from Kaiser Permanente Medical Center described the octuplets as "feisty." They reported that seven were breathing completely on their own and that the eighth was still receiving supplemental oxygen.
The woman's mother, Angela Suleman, told the Los Angeles Times that her daughter had indeed undergone fertility treatments and that the embryos were implanted last year. According to Suleman, when the woman learned that she was carrying multiple babies, she opted not to reduce the number of embryos.
ABC News' Mike Von Fremd visited the home of the woman, who lives with her parents on a quiet cul-de-sac in the Los Angeles suburbs. With none of the typical joyful markings of a new arrival -- balloons, storks, flowers -- visible, the family and most immediate neighbors wanted nothing to do with the media.
"Do us a favor, give us our privacy and get out, shame on you, shame on you," a man from inside the house screamed at Von Fremd.
Outside the family's home, bikes and toddler toys were scattered across the front yard. Neighbors told ABC News that the woman is a single mother in her thirties who already has six other children. It appears the family will live in a three-bedroom house bursting with babies when the octuplets are released from the hospital in an estimated two months.
An 87-year-old woman who lives next door was not at all pleased.
"With our economy they way it is, with California going to hell in a handbasket, why should I be excited about this?" she asked von Fremd. "What is their future?"
Fertility experts have been extremely critical of such high-risk births, which can threaten the life of the mother. The six prior children raise an additional alarm, and the question of what accredited fertility expert would administer fertility drugs to a single mother of six.
"We dodged a bullet here," said Dr. Anne Drapkin Lyerly, assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Duke University.
Raising 14 Kids Costs Over $2 Million
Dr. Charles Sophy, medical director of Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, cautioned that giving birth to octuplets would put eight times as much stress on a single mother and pose a daunting task in terms of rearing.
"It costs money to raise children -- to raise these kids is probably going to cost about 2-and-a-half million dollars, just to give them basics," he said. "That is not baseball lessons or piano lessons. That is food, clothing or getting to school every day -- that is a lot of money."
A mother of six on welfare would receive approximately $1,645 a month from the government, according to estimates by the Los Angeles County Department of Social Services. A mother of 14 would receive about $2,678 a month in support.
The Department of Children and Family Services would worry that, in a house of 14, there would be a lack of attention or that the children would be at risk of abuse or neglect.
While the hospital has not revealed if the woman received fertility treatments, Sophy said that it is possible to obtain fertility drugs without a traditional doctor's prescription.
"It should be a doctor who prescribes any kind of medication, but as we know, these days through the Internet, through the mail, through other countries, anything is accessible."