Raising McCaughey

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DES MOINES: Seldom have emotions been more mixed. On the one hand, there were the babies, seven tiny bundles that were truly a miracle of life and science. On the other hand, here were seven babies, undersized, one critical, the rest in serious condition in an Iowa hospital, with a difficult future ahead. At the heart of it was Bobbi McCaughey, who gave birth to septuplets Wednesday after more than 40 specialists spent six minutes to deliver the babies by C-section. Only the second known time that a woman has born seven live babies raised new questions about the advisability of unpredictable fertility treatments that can often result in multiple births. The septuplets were conceived when the McCaugheys turned to the hormone Pergonal after experiencing difficulties with the birth of their first child. While doctors attribute the babies' survival to the fact that the mother was able to carry them into the 30th week of pregnancy, the babies, ranging in weight from 2 pounds, 5 ounces to 3 pounds, 4 ounces, are in serious condition and will likely suffer health problems throughout their lives. And, for the insurance companies, there's the bill to consider: Caring for the seven infants is estimated to cost at least $1.2 million. Not to mention the costs of sending seven kids to Iowa State at the same time.