July 5, 2001. Sante Fe: James and Susan Schmidt welcomed twelve new children into their family yesterday after a seventeen hour labor. James Schmidt, who along with his wife had gained international attention in the past several months, announced the birth to reporters early this morning, proclaiming the event "...a glorious miracle". Susan, who was confined to bed rest just five weeks into her pregnancy, found out she was carrying at least ten babies in April, and doctors finally determined the exact number to be twelve just three weeks ago.
Dr. Henry Kessel of Sante Fe’s Mercy Mission Hospital told reporters that the birth "...was extremely difficult on both mother and children." "As with any multiple birth of more than three babies, it will take time before we know how the children will fare," he added. Declining to comment specifically on the condition of the children, Dr. Kessel did confirm that a number of them were born with substantial developmental problems and would remain in intensive care for some time. "That is to be expected in a case like this," he added. The children range in size from 8 ounces to 1 pound 4 ounces.
According to a neonatal specialist, Dr. Franz Bermer of Sacramento Medical Center, the children–-if they survive–-face a future of frequent hospital stays and serious health problems. "Some of these children may spend the first year or more of their lives in intensive care," he said during an interview on this morning’s Today Show on NBC.
The Schmidts, however, are enthusiastic and optimistic. Interviewed after Dr. Bermer on the same Today Show segment, James told Katie Courick that he and his wife are "...just so thankful for this miracle the Lord has given us." Consulting a small scrap of paper where he’d written them down, the proud father told Katie the children's names: "Michael, Luke, Paul, Samuel, Peter, Mary, Rebeccah, Hannah, Sarah, Faith, Charity, and Hope". Once again, James refused to answer questions about fertility treatments and artificial insemination, saying only "all glory goes to our Heavenly Father," a mantra the couple has professed throughout their much-publicized pregnancy.
However, as Dr. Bermer pointed out earlier in the show, "it is a clinical impossibility that these children were conceived naturally. It’s just not possible." The doctor also pointed out that, because the Schmidts have a son just eleven months older than his twelve new siblings that "...the couple apparently didn’t give nature much of a chance before they turned to science". Dr. Bermer seemed to question the ethics of such a conception with his final statement of the interview, saying "Frankly, I’m surprised that a health-care professional would have done such a procedure on a woman so quickly."
Mr. Schmidt was undaunted by the doctor’s comments, and beamed with joy as he showed a picture of one of his new children. The infant, about the size of a D-cell battery, was laying in an incubator and nearly completely covered by wires and monitors. "This is little Sarah," the proud father told Courick, "and she is not some bit of scientific mumbo-jumbo; she is a beautiful product of God’s love."
Cards and gifts have already begun flooding the hospital where the new mother and her dozen babies are recouperating, and stuffed animals and balloons fill the waiting rooms. Corporate America is also rushing to congratulate the extra-fecund all-american family. Nestle Corporation has donated a year-supply of formula, Ford has donated a specially-designed, schoolbus-sized SUV, and Huggies has promised the family free, unlimited diapers. The Mayor of Sante Fe recently announced that the Schmidt family would be alotted their own square-mile of landfill space, which they're expected to fill with used diapers within a month.
Asked by Courick if he was overwhelmed at the idea of twelve children, Mr. Schmidt answered, "No ma'am. I always said I wanted a whole basketball team of kids. Now I've got enough for two teams and a couple subs!"