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Octuplets get names; dad gets unwanted publicity

hospital In this story:

December 24, 1998
Web posted at: 5:16 p.m. EDT (2116 GMT)

HOUSTON (CNN) -- The father of the world's only surviving octuplets faces a domestic assault charge in a September domestic dispute involving his pregnant wife and her mother.

Assistant District Attorney Danny Dexter said Wednesday that Iyke Louis Udobi, 41, faces up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine if convicted. He allegedly scuffled on September 21 with Janet Chukwu, his 63-year-old mother-in-law, after threatening his pregnant wife, Nkem.

The trial date is set for February 8.

Udobi's lawyer, Rick Castleberry, denied the charge.

"He's completely innocent," Castleberry said. "These are bogus charges."

About the time the family's legal problems were made public, the parents announced the names of their six girls and two boys. Previously, the infants had been referred to by letters of the alphabet.

Their new names were chosen in the Ibo tribal tradition, a major ethnic group in Nigeria. Both parents are U.S. citizens, but were born in Nigeria and are members of the Ibo people.

"We want to honor God and celebrate His gifts to us in the names we give our eight children," Udobi said in a written statement.

The children all share the surname Louis. Their given names are listed, followed by the English translation and the child's nickname.

  • Baby girl A: Chukwuebuka Nkemjika ("God is Great"); nickname Ebuka
  • Baby girl B: Chidinma Anulika ("God is Beautiful"); Chidi
  • Baby girl C: Chinecherem Nwabugwu ("God Thinks of Me"); Echerem
  • Baby girl D: Chimaijem Otito ("God Knows My Way"); Chima
  • Baby girl E: Chijindu Chidera ("God Has My Life"); Odera
  • Baby boy F: Chukwubuikem Maduabuchi ("God is My Strength"); Ikem
  • Baby boy G: Chijioke Chinedum ("God is My Leader"); Jioke
  • Baby girl H: Chinagorom Chidiebere ("God is Merciful"); Gorom

Smallest baby improves slightly

The smallest baby, Odera, made a slight improvement Wednesday, enabling doctors to reduce the amount of oxygen she was getting by ventilator from 100 percent to 80 percent.

"This is the type of small, steady progress we hope for in the NICU," said Dr. Leonard Weisman, chief of Texas Children's Hospital's Newborn Center.

"However, with babies this premature and this small, the pendulum can swing the other way and back again in a matter of hours," Weisman warned.

Doctors like to see no dramatic changes in babies as premature as the Chukwu octuplets because, they say, the infants need time for their lungs and hearts to develop and their bodies to strengthen.

Specialists say slow, steady improvement helps prevent internal bleeding in the babies' brains.

"We think by minimizing wide swings in their vital signs, minimizing a lot of their stress, we can minimize that event which we have very little to control," Weisman explained.

Odera is also suffering from a heart problem common to premature infants. Doctors say she will have to fight the hardest to survive.

Ebuka, the oldest, is the only baby now breathing on her own and eating formula.

Her five sisters and two brothers born Sunday by Caesarean section are moving around and being fed intravenously, but are still on ventilators.

Parents hire agent

As the babies continue to struggle to survive, their parents reportedly have hired agent Wes Yoder, the same agent who represents Iowa's McCaughey septuplets.

Yodel's job is apparently to market the octuplets' story and sell the first pictures of the infants to the highest media bidder.

Correspondent Charles Zewe and Reuters contributed to this report.

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