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Seven at a shot, not one to cuddle

Hyderabad, April 5: Twenty-two-year-old Shirisha gave birth to seven children in a night, but none of them will call her mother.

Barely five months pregnant, Shirisha was admitted to a hospital in Hyderabad on Sunday after she felt labour pains. She delivered her first baby around 6 the following evening. The child was stillborn, as were his six siblings.

'A dead child was born every two hours since Monday evening. It was all normal except for the lifeless infants. It was the longest delivery I had handled,' said Dr Uma Rani, the gynaecologist at the privately-owned Vasavi hospital.

Shirisha, who was married to factory worker Harikrishna two years ago, had been coming to the hospital earlier for check-ups. 'We had noticed more than five foetuses when Shirisha was two months pregnant and advised precaution,' said Dr Sridhar Reddy, the hospital's administrator.

But the medicines and diet that Shirisha needed would have cost over Rs 2,000 a month, more than half of what her husband earns as a fitter at a transformer factory. If she were to stay in hospital, the bill would have been more than Rs 10,000 a month.

Harikrishna, whose salary of Rs 3,700 supports a family of six, said today: 'In this mehngai, how could I have brought up seven children'

Maybe he could have taken a leaf out of the McCaugheys' book. After Bobbi McCaughey gave birth to the world's first surviving septuplets in the US in November 1997, husband Kenny said they were deluged with offers to sell their story to the media and would consider some of them to offset the cost of raising the children.

Shirisha, however, was not thinking of the future. She was distraught over the loss of her four girls and three boys, who weighed less than 600 grams each. 'When I was two months pregnant, it felt like four. I could feel a lot of movement,' she said. 'It was only after the fourth month that I was told there were more than five foetuses.'

As Shirisha mourned, another young mother in the same city was busy thinking up names for her four babies born on All Fools' Day. Doctors have handed over the two boys and two girls 'weighing over 1.6 kg each ' to Seema and Siraj Baig, along with a book of names.

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