Having twins, triplets and even quadruplets is an incredible and very rare event. Such news can bring joy and excitement, but also its share of uncertainty and stress. So imagine when you learn that you are expecting seven children? It seems impossible, yet it happened to Kenny et Bobbi McCaughey. They were hoping to bring a second child to the world and had the surprise of their life in the doctor’s office! Here is the incredible story of the very first surviving septuplets, the McCaughey.
38. Big Surprise
Kenny and Bobbi McCaughey, a young couple from Iowa, were hoping to grow their family and have a second child. During a routine doctor’s appointment following fertility treatment, the physicians found something extraordinary in Bobby’s belly.
The echography did not only show one embryon, but SEVEN! Twins are common in cases of fertility treatments, but septuplets are extremely rare. The couple was confronted with a very difficult decision to make concerning Bobbi and the children’s lives.
37. The Choc of Seven
In the middle of all the emotion, Kenny McCaughey had difficulty taking in the news. At first, the couple admitted feeling pure terror. But, it didn’t take long for reality to settle.
36. Wait And See
The couple already had had difficulty conceiving their first daughter, Mikayla, so they were preoccupied with this strange situation presenting itself. Bobbi could feel her belly growing a lot faster than during her first pregnancy. She reported being terrified and wondering how long her body could keep functioning.
35. The Parents’ Prayer
An only one child pregnancy can be very painful and bring a lot of changes in a woman’s body. Bobbi McCaughey was carrying seven! In the midst of the joy brought by the perspective of being parents again, the pregnancy’s physical challenge presented itself.
Among the pain and worries about Bobbi’s health, the financial responsabilities of bringing seven children to the world was also a source of stress. So the McCaughey started praying.
34. High Risk Pregnancy
Due to Bobbi McCaughey’s unusual pregnancy, she was closely followed by doctors throughout the process. Given the high risk of the pregnancy, the couple was informed early on about the option of «selective reduction».
At this stage, the media already was covering the extraordinary pregnancy, and the couple surprised the world with their decision.
33. In The Hands of God
Although Kenny and Bobbi McCaughey were bombarded with opinions on how to go about the pregnancy, the couple made their decision concerning the selective reduction a private affair and kept it between the two of them.
As devoted baptists, the McCaughey did not think the decision would have been this difficult. In the end, they found the selective reduction too difficult to do. Bobbi’s maternal instinct told her it would all be fine and they decided to leave it in the hands of God.
32. Prenatal Debate
Their decision of refusing to resort to medicine in order to give the healthiest embryons a better chance to survive was not well received by everyone following the pregnancy in the media. Most letters that were sent to them were encouragements, but a good number were accusing them of being egotistical.
31. An Incredible Support
After overcoming the initial choc, the McCaughey were blessed by the pregnancy. But they were also very worried about the logistic of bringing seven children in the world all at once. They were extremely surprised and touched by the flow of complete strangers offering their help and donations in all forms, from food to nanny service, a large van and even a house!
30. Rushed to The Hospital
As the delivery date approched Kenny and Bobbi McCaughey spoke with doctors as to what would be the better way to go about the procedure. AT the beginning of the 28th week, Bobbi felt something changing. On November 19th 1997, after an extraordinary 30 weeks pregnancy, with a waste of 55 inches, Bobbi was rushed to the hospital.
29. Beginning of The Labour
Nine weeks before her due date, Bobbi McCaughey started labour. A team of 40 specialised doctors were present in the room to make sure everything goes as planned, although no one was expecting it. To everyone’s surprise, the deliveries went arguably well and the seven babies were born within a six minutes interval of each other. The C-section went well and everyone in the room was crying.
28. Seven Sources of Happiness
Miraculously, the seven babies all survived the delivery. Four boys and three girls named by order of birth: Kenny Jr., Alexis, Natalie, Kelsey, Nathan, Brandon et Joel. Understandably, they were all tiny, weighing between 3 lb 4 oz and 2 lb 5 oz. It took months before they could go home with their parents, as they needed special medical attention.
27. Going Home
Three long months and three days after their birth, the septuplets McCaughey finally could go home. All seven of them had survived their first days into the world and their parents were ecstatic at the idea of finally being able to take them home and begin their life together.
Although they were all healthy, Alexis and Nathan were born with cerebral palsy. Their muscular problems prevented them from walking without help.
26. Making History
Despite doctors predictions, the McCaughey made history by being the first even surviving septuplets. The media was all over them. Among others, they were on the cover of Time and Newsweek. Even the president at the time, Bill Clinton, personally called them to congratulate and they would later meet George W. Bush. One their first birthday, the septuplets were invited on The Oprah Winfrey Show.
25. Infinite Diapers
Caring for this many babies at one was a big challenge for the McCaughey. Although Bobbi and Kenny were extremely happy with their new big family, the couple was using 52 diapers a day, an enormous amount. The babies were also drinking 42 bottles a day. Not only was it a lot of work, but it was also economically challenging.
24. Feeding The Family
With a family of 10, the McCaughey knew they had to be financially once the initial donations started to fade away. They started buying in bulk and surprisingly, they managed to only spend around 300$ a month for groceries.
23. Ingenious Remedies
Raising the McCaughey septuplets along with their older sister Mikayla, turned out to be a full-time job. Of course, Kenny and Bobbi needed a little more help when the kids were very young and accepted the help of 35 volunteers.
Running errands, cleaning and even sleeping and to be scheduled. The family found out that in addition to serving meals in a buffet-style, gardening allowed them to have a full stomach while keeping the grocery bill low.
22. Rejecting Reality Shows
When the septuplets turned 10, the family decided to reject most interviews requests. S other big families opened their homes to reality television, such as Jon and Kate Gosselin, the McCaughey chose not to share their private life with the world.
21. Keeping up with the McCaughey
From the start, the media exposed the McCaughey. Although the world was fascinated with them and the family greatly beneficiated from the publicity, the family did not want to constantly worry about being in front of the camera (Kardashians anyone?).
However, the McCaughey made a few exceptions. Each year, they organised a special anniversary show for Dateline that gave an insight into their extraordinary life.
20. A Memorable Film
We can say without a doubt that there was never a dull moment in the McCaughey home. And when the children turned 13, in 2010, they were confronted with a new adventure: filming a documentary.
Ann Curry hosted the TLC production documenting their life. the documentary called America’s Septuplets Turn 13 was broadcasted a month after the kids had blown their 91 collective candles.
19. Going Through
Two of the septuplets, Alexis and Nathan, had to face cerebral palsy challenges all their life. During most of their childhood, they had to use walkers, but remained strong and never let themselves be affected by it.
18. Becoming Complete Individuals
The McCaughey were though kindergarten at home by Bobbi. But as the seven children pursued elementary school, they did something they never did before: they separated.
After kindergarten, the septuplets went to public school and were even put in different classes. They all formed different friendships and started to become whole individuals. They defined their interest and personalities.
17. High School
Like every other teenager, the septuplets went to high school. In 2012, they attended Carlisle High School in Carlisle, Iowa. Going through high school is never easy, but fortunately, the McCaughey had each other. Let’s all spare a thought for their parents who had to deal with eight teenagers!
16. Independant Aspirations
Since the beginning, it was clear that each child had their own personality. Although they were very close and used to be in a group, they all expressed their individuality.
While Alexis was studious, Kenny Jr. was known for being the class clown. Kelsey and Brandon were funny and very good in sports. Brandon was stubborn and the most intrepid of them all.
15. 112 Candles
When they became the first septuplets to turn 16, all eyes were on them again. And just like every other teenager this age, they all wanted one thing: to drive.
For the McCaughey, buying seven different cars was out of the question. So their father, Kenny, told them they could start working to pay their driving lessons and maybe even purchase a car.
14. Life at Home
While the septuplets were coming of age, Kenny et Bobbi McCaughey never seemed to crack under the stress. They all overcame difficulties together and kept a close family bond. In fact, the parents were very proud of what their children had become.
13. The Septuplets’ Older Sister
While the septuplets were constantly on the news everytime they reached a new stage in their life, the public started wondering about the McCaughey couple’s first child. Mikayla studied at a Community College in the Des Moines area as well as Arizona State University before getting married and having her first child. She also remained close to her seven brothers and sisters.
12. Group Graduating
On November 19th 2015, the septuplets turned 18. Not only were they becoming adults, but Bobbi and Kenny must have been extremely proud as all seven of them graduated from high school.
When the McCaughey septuplets were born, the family received a generous offer: free college education for the seven brothers and sisters in multiple universities. Hannibal-LaGrange college in Missouri offered free studies while the state of Iowa offered scholarships in the university of their choice.
Natalie, Nathan, Kelsey and Joel were happy to accept fully paid education at the university of Hannibal-LaGrange. Meanwhile, Kenny Jr. and Alexis decided to stay close to home and study at Des Moines Area Community College. One of them, Brandon, chose a completely different life.
10. The Military
Brandon is the only one who decided not to attend university. Instead, he enrolled in the army right after highschool. Since he was a child, Brandon had a passion for everything military related.
After years of hard work and training, Brandon made his family proud by becoming a Ranger for the Americain Army.
9. Goals and Dreams
Today, the McCaughey make history not only as the first septuplets to survive birth, but also as the first one to get to the age of 20.
Kenny Jr. now owns a carpentry company. Brandon got married and Alexis is working in early childhood education. Kelsey et Natalie are finishing their college degrees like Joel and Nathan who share a passion for computer science.
8. Still connected
After spending so much time together, people wondered if the McCaughey sisters and brothers would feel about living separately. While they mentioned that they would miss each other, they are not too worried about living their own individual lives.
The sisters also make a point of meeting often and staying in touch.
7. Grateful For Their Education
The McCaughey septuplet birth was a stunning exploit which surprised more than one. Now aged 20, the sisters and brothers look back and can say that they are grateful for the family life and the education their parents gave them.
6. Families of Tomorrow
With this many sisters and brothers, we wonder if the septuplets will have children, and if so, how many. Scientifically speaking, however, the McCaughey have no greater chances of having twins, triplets… Or septuplets.
5. No Regrets
For Bobbi et Kenny McCaughey, the apprehension of having septuplets is long gone and all is left is gratitude. the couple is now fervent activists against selective reduction and even publically spoke about it.
4. Their Own Paths
As young adults, the septuplets McCaughey each explore their own life paths and individual freedom. But they are not the only ones, now that the house is now empty, their parents have more time for themselves.
Kenny now dreams of buying a motorcycle and travelling around the country. Yet, it was not easy to see them all leave the house.
3. An Empty House
Now that the septuplets and their older sister have moved out, Bobbi and Kenny face a radical change in lifestyle. The couple admits that life is more simple now as they don’t have to support a family of 10.
2. Going Smaller
Twenty years ago, the McCaughey was offered a 5 000 square feet house with seven bedrooms and five bathrooms from Clark Company. In February 2018, since Bobbi and Kenny were now left on their own, they found they should go smaller.
1. Giving Back
Extremely grateful for all the help they had received, the couple decided to give back. They sold the house to a non-profit organisation in Iowa which provides shelter to young women with unplanned pregnancies.
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