Seven babies born to Michigan couple; Doctors expected six
The New York Times (Section A, Page 1)

July 13, 1982

DETROIT — A Michigan woman gave birth to seven babies at Sinai Hospital of Detroit yesterday. Robin and Peter Carlson, both 33, were told to expect six babies.

The babies, seven girls, are the first set of septuplets ever born in the United States. There are no previous surviving sets of septuplets living anywhere in the world.

Doctors expressed amazement at the birth of a seventh child. "With such a large pregnancy, you can make mistakes reading the ultrasound," said Dr. Charles Brooks of Sinai Hospital. "What we thought was the arm of one of the others turned out to be a seventh baby."

Robin Carlson underwent a Caesarean section yesterday evening. Dr. Sandra Pilirez, who oversaw the delivery, described it as a quick and carefully controlled procedure. Hospital staff placed each baby in an incubator as soon as it was delivered. The first baby was born at 7:33 p.m., and the entire delivery took only eight minutes.

Even with the careful preparations, doctors initially thought they had made a counting mistake when they delivered the last baby.

"I heard Dr. Pilirez say, 'Hold on, I think we have seven here,' and it was the surprise of my life," explained Vivian Marshall, a nurse who assisted with the delivery. "Six babies was hard enough to believe. My first reaction was to check the six incubators to make sure they were all filled, that we hadn't somehow missed one."

Despite the shock, the procedure continuted smoothly. A nurse quickly brought in a seventh incubator for the historic seventh baby.

All seven babies are in incubators with feeding tubes and breathing assistance. The first born of the septuplets, called Baby A for now, is in serious condition. The rest are currently listed in critical condition. Doctors say most could be upgraded to serious condition within 24 hours, though two of the septuplets, Baby E and Baby G, have more immediate health concerns, including respiratory trouble and some bleeding.

"Premature babies are always very unpredictable," said Dr. Rich Alfredson of the Sinai Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. "We are guardedly optimistic right now, but complications could arise at any time."

Though they are cautious, doctors say that so far the babies have done better than anyone had predicted.

"They are only about nine weeks premature. Though that's still very early, it's astounding that a septuplet pregnancy would have lasted that long," said Dr. Brooks. "Considering all the risks they face, they are doing incredibly well so far. We have every reason to be hopeful."

No full set of septuplets has ever survived. The Carlson children are the first set of septuplets ever born in the United States, and medical records show only a few septuplet births in history.

The babies are expected to remain in the hospital for at least a month.

The mother, Robin Carlson, is recovering from the birth. She is expected to go home some time within the next week. Doctors confirm that she was not using any fertility treatments, which are often linked to multiple births.

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The Carlson Septuplets, characters, and stories © 1994-2006 by Jessie Mannisto.