Miracle septuplets take a public bow

Normally petite Bobbi McCaughey's stomach measured 55in when she gave birth to septuplets - twice the norm for a full-term pregnancy and nearly as big around as she is tall. "It was scary ... watching the stretch marks go ever so higher and wider and just thinking, how much longer can this body keep going?" Mrs McCaughey told America's Dateline NBC yesterday.

She and her husband, Kenny, were shocked to discover she was carrying seven foetuses. "I said `How many?' " Mr McCaughey said. "She goes `Seven' and I go `Arrrgghhh!' Then I go `No, no, no, no. Are you serious?' " The Iowa couple experienced "sheer terror" but "it didn't take very long ... for the shock to wear off and get used to the idea that we're going to have a very big family."

They have spoken of the faith that got them through the pregnancy, but Mrs McCaughey said there were moments of doubt. "First, it was just like `God, why have you done this to us?' Like it was something that was wrong." The morning of the delivery, when she felt "like death warmed over," faith did not come easily. But she had told Paula Mahone, who delivered the septuplets, that aborting some foetuses to reduce the risk was out of the question.

The four boys and three girls, the only living septuplets in the world, continued to show improvement yesterday. Natalie Sue, the second-smallest, was removed from her ventilator and upgraded to fair condition. Kenneth Robert, the oldest and heaviest, has been breathing without a ventilator since Friday, two days after the children were born by Caesarean section. Their siblings remained in a serious condition, which doctors say is normal.

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