Octuplets' Mom Has Six Other Kids and Absent Husband

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It is terrifying enough to most of us to imagine bringing home one new baby, never mind eight. But how's this for overwhelming: The California octuplets born this week have six older siblings at home. The oldest is seven, and the youngest is two.

That's fourteen kids, in case you're too stunned to count. Including a set of twins. And reportedly, all six were conceived using some form of reproductive technology.

While the mother's identity is still a mystery, the babies' grandmother, Angela Suleman, said that her daughter never expected to have eight more children, although she acknowledges that the young woman underwent fertility treatment to get pregnant with "just one more girl." According to MomLogic, she used donor sperm provided by a friend; the same man is rumoured to be the father of all six of her children, although he has no involvement with the family.

The mother and the six older kids have been living with Suleman in Whittier, California. And just over eighteen months ago, the woman's parents filed for bankruptcy after buying a home for their daughter and her children. The babies' grandfather, Suleman's husband, is planning to return to his native Iraq to work, in order to help support his daughter's brood.

With six older children and no father on the scene, it's hard to imagine what motivated this mom to take the risk of eight babies. "What do you suggest she should have done?" Anita Suleman asked the Los Angeles Times. "She refused to have them killed. That is a very painful thing." Suleman said the new babies are "so tiny and so beautiful." As of today, seven of the eight are breathing on their own.

There's a lot going on here -- the babies face serious health risks, of course, and expensive medical treatments, which makes the family's precarious financial situation an issue. The mother will need a lot of help with fourteen kids, eight of whom are infants, but where's dad in all this? Taken all together, it's hard not to wonder how on earth she ever convinced a fertility specialist to transfer so many eggs in the first place, and what will become of these wee babies when they go home.

What do you think -- are these babies a medical miracle, or a social disaster?

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