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Octuplets' Mom 'Alert and Happy'

The mother of the world's first surviving set of octuplets is described today as "alert, happy and excited". Doctors are guarding the fragile health of the infants who remain in critical but stable condition at Texas Children's hospital in Houston.

Nkem Chukwa gave birth Sunday to five girls and two boys, after giving birth the first girl two weeks ago.

All of the babies weighed less than two pounds at birth, and one came in at just eleven ounces, about the size of a Beanie Baby. CBS News Correspondent Cynthia Bowers reports that the first baby, Baby A, is breathing on her own.

The other babies are still getting help with their breathing. They are being kept on warming pads covered with a plastic blanket. This proximates the feeling of being next to their mother since they can't be held.

On Monday the mother had to undergo emergency surgery because of internal bleeding. Doctors say this is not uncommon following such a delivery and she is improving.

CBS News Medical Correspondent Dr. Emily Senay reports that doctors are especially watching the lung development of the babies. Their lungs and hearts are immature, and have to be supported on ventilators. Doctors will also give them drugs to help mature the heart and lungs.

The babies are at risk for metabolic problems and infections. Dr. Senay says one positive sign is that even with their extremely low birth weight the babies have already survived 30 weeks. For now, they will receive around the clock care in a neonatal intensive unit care. They will remain on ventilators, their heart rates and breathing closely monitored.

Dr. Senay says that the turning point to watch out for is the time they would have been due, around March. By March, they need to be able to maintain their own body temperature, they need to be able to eat on their own and they need to weigh about approximately four pounds. If they can do those three things, they should make it out of the ICU.

Chukwu, a native of Nigeria who lives in Houston with her husband, Iyke, could be out of the hospital by week's end. Iyke Chukwu is a respiratory therapist at a Houston hospital.

Mrs. Chukwu had been taking fertility drugs. She conceived triplets last year but lost them midway through her pregnancy. The couple has no other children.

Until the first child was born naturally on Dec. 8, doctors were unsure how many fetuses Mrs. Chukwu was carrying because her uterus was so crowded.

Giving birth to the first baby probably bought the other seven valuable time to mature. Dr. Brian Kirshon, who delivered the octuplets, said the littlest of the seven born Sunday might not have survived much longer in the womb.

Mrs. Chukwu entered the hospital in early October and was confined to bed for six weeks. For the past 17 days, her bed was inclined with her head toward the floor in order to keep pressure off her lower body.

Doctors had discussed with her the possibility of aborting one o more fetuses to help the others' chances for survival, but Mrs. Chukwu declined.

The octuplets are covered by the family's insurance. Dr. Leonard Weisman, chief neonatologist at Texas Children's Hospital, estimates $2 million will have been spent on their care by the time the children are well enough to be taken home.

Individuals and corporations have promised to donate baby formula, developmental learning toys and a lifetime supply of diapers and a year supply of groceries. The biggest concern is who is going to help the family care for the infants once they go home.