It took 52 medical professionals doing a "well-choreographed baby dance" to deliver the eight babies

By Howard Breuer
Updated January 28, 2009 01:00 PM
Credit: AP

It takes a village to deliver octuplets – 52 medical professionals, to be exact, who prepared for every possible complication, and who still got a last-minute surprise.

“It was a well choreographed baby dance in there, as one infant after another was lifted up and handed on in one long, smooth pattern,” Socorro Serrano, a spokeswoman for Kaiser Permanente, tells PEOPLE after Monday’s delivery of octuplets from a Los Angeles-area mom who thought she was carrying seven babies.

During the seven weeks that the mystery mom was in the hospital in Bellflower, Calif., the medical staff did two drills, with separate teams of doctors and nurses practicing delivering and handling each baby as it was born.

Despite the preparation, doctors didn’t realize until the first seven babies were delivered that an eighth was hiding behind mom’s ribs.

Two of the eight babies, some as light as 1 1/2 pounds, were placed on ventilators, and doctors cautioned that the first week is critical. A Texas family also had octuplets a decade ago, but one of the babies – a girl weighing only 10.3 ounces at birth – died a week later of heart and lung failure.

But by Tuesday, the breathing tubes were taken off, and the Bellflower babies began feeding and kicking.

“Even though they’re premature, they are all amazingly energetic,” Serrano tells PEOPLE. “They’re quite a lively bunch of beautiful babies.”