- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 18, 2009

LA HABRA, CALIF. (AP) - Two of the world’s longest-surviving octuplets came home from the hospital Tuesday night, greeted by a crush of photographers, neighbors and curious onlookers gathered on a cul-de-sac where the mother will raise her 14 children.

Nadya Suleman was sitting with her babies in the back seat of a sport utility vehicle that waded through the crowd and went straight into the garage of her new four-bedroom, three-bath home in La Habra, about 25 miles southeast of Los Angeles.

Many photographers shoved and pushed as their cameras flashed, clinging to the vehicle until the garage door closed. The door appeared to have been damaged, with dents visible on the outside.

Suleman, an unemployed divorced mother, gave birth to the octuplets nine weeks premature on Jan. 26 in Bellflower. She already had six children, ages 2 to 7.

The octuplets _ who at birth weighed from 1 pound, 8 ounces to 3 pounds, 4 ounces _ spent their first seven weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit at Kaiser Permanente Bellflower Medical Center. The first two babies to be discharged _ Noah and Isaiah _ are each about 5 pounds and are able to bottle feed, the hospital said.

The other two girls and four boys continue gaining weight and will be released another day, the hospital said.

“This is a happy moment for everyone _ the family, physicians, nurses and entire NICU staff,” said Dr. Mandhir Gupta, a neonatologist at the medical center. “It is always rewarding whenever a premature infant goes home as a healthy baby.”

Dozens of media and others waited for hours outside the home for Suleman and the babies to arrive. Various vehicles trickled in early in the evening, some of them carrying the octuplets’ older siblings, Suleman’s mother and caregivers.

“We wanted to see the octomom,” said neighbor Johnny Euentes, 46, who waited with his wife and son on the cul-de-sac. “I’ve got nothing else to do tonight; I’m just missing ‘American Idol.’”

The octuplets will require around-the-clock care from at least two caregivers. Angels in Waiting, a nonprofit group of nurses that specializes in caring for fragile infants and children, estimates the babies will need a combined 64 feedings a day.

The babies’ historic births were initially met with curiosity and celebration, but a backlash against Suleman grew as the public learned that the 33-year-old mother had few means to support her brood.

All 14 of her children were conceived through in vitro fertilization at the West Coast IVF Clinic run by Dr. Michael Kamrava, with sperm from an unidentified friend, Suleman has said.

Before the babies were released from the hospital, Kaiser social workers toured Suleman’s new home, made recommendations for fixes and deemed it fit for the infants to live there. Before moving to La Habra, Suleman lived with her mother and children in a Whittier home.

Suleman told RadarOnline.com that she spent seven hours at the hospital on Monday because hospital officials wanted to make sure she could properly feed the babies.

In recent weeks, Suleman has published a diary online at RadarOnline.com, squabbled with her mother on Internet videos, and led tours of her new home for paparazzi.

Last week, as Suleman made last-minute fixes to make the home safer for the delicate infants, she had a televised baby shower on “Dr. Phil” show.

Suleman said she’s grateful for the help, which is to include a new nursery, new flooring and other construction upgrades to the home.

Suleman said she is paying for the house _ listed for $564,900 _ with money from “opportunities” she has selected, but did not elaborate on what they were.

Property records show her mother’s Whittier home is in mortgage default and scheduled to be sold soon.

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