Can You Believe What Became Of World’s First Surviving Septuplets
Imagine finding out that you’re going to have a baby! You start painting the nursery, buying a supply of diapers to maybe last a few months, possibly even pick out a cute little baby outfit for Jimmy, Shanaynay, Cornelius or whatever other name you might choose. Now imagine you find out that you’re actually going to have seven babies. That nursery you’re painting turns into a complete remodel of the living room because it’ll be the only room big enough for all of them. That diaper stash might last a day now and you might as well name all the kids after yourself because how are you going to come up with seven names you like? That’s exactly what happened to Kenny and Bobbi McCaughey in 1997 and the rest of the story is just as remarkable.
Kenny and Bobbi were looking to expand they’re young family which consisted of them and there one year old daughter Mikayla. Hailing from Iowa, the couple had entrusted the assistance of a specific fertility treatment to help them with this goal, but during one of their routine check ups, doctors discovered something that would change their lives forever.
What the doctors uncovered was in tune with Lebron James’s ill fated quote about how many championships he’d win in Miami. They found not one embryo, not two embryos, not three embryos… you get the picture. In total seven embryos were found!
Lucky Number Seven
As you can imagine, the couple was in complete shock upon being told. Initially not even being able to comprehend the news, they had to be retold the number seven multiple times until they actually understood.
Like almost any well minded human being, Kenny and Bobbi were outright terrified upon hearing the news, however it didn’t take long for the information to sink in. Just like a Kardashian being sent to work as a garbageman, the couple had no idea what to expect, and considering almost no one had ever had a pregnancy like this before, that made perfect sense.
Watching and Waiting
I personally have never been pregnant, but from what I’ve gathered from women, who happen to not be the same gender as me, carrying a baby can be quite the difficult process . Having said that, we can only imagine just how difficult it would be to have seven babies growing inside you.
Looking at Bobbi’s belly, one can understand the many difficulties that come with carrying seven babies. Simply sitting down would become difficult, not to mention watching your body grow and change in ways you’ve never seen before. Needless to say, Bobbi and everyone around her were concerned.
Big G-O-D Lends A Helping Hand
Although it seems the family was only burdened with concern, they did understand the blessing it was to be given the opportunity of having such a large family. That blessing was normally overshadowed by a multitude of other issues unfortunately .
As the pain and physical toll slowly increased, the McCaugheys began to realize that their finances might soon become an issue as well, raising children is expensive after all. Health and money on their minds, Bobbi and Kenny turned to the big guy in the sky for help, asking for assistance through prayer.
As far as crazy pregnancies go, Bobbi’s is right there at the top. A special incentive that came with topping that prestigious list was extra care and attention from doctors. With the doctors guidance, the McCaugheys were presented with several options on moving forward, one of which was the controversial “selective reduction” option suggested by doctors.
This procedure protects the most healthy embryos while getting rid of the least likely to survive. Obviously this option only comes into play when the mother’s life is potentially at risk. With the media already reporting the unusual pregnancy to every news outlet, any decision made was sure to be disputed by many.
As any pregnant parents would be, Bobbi and Kenny were not in favor of eliminating potential new members to their family, but they understood the risk involved with allowing the pregnancy to take its course naturally.
Ultimately, the McCaughrey decided against selective reduction and allowed the pregnancy to be put into “God’s Hands”. Being religious Baptists, Bobbi and Kenny had no issue trusting in God and allowing the pregnancy to unfold in a natural process.
One In Every Ten Wasn’t Happy
As previously mentioned, any arrangement made was sure to cause a stir on the media front, and the decision to forgo “selective reduction” was met with a lot of scrutiny. This only led to more media attention.
With all the media came an outpour of public support and criticism. Bobbi was quoted as saying “In the beginning, for every ten letters we would get that were happy for us, we’d get one letter accusing us of exploiting the kids…”. This media attention eventually led to something the family will never forget.
Mac And Cheese To The Rescue
Having dealt with the initial shock of eventually adding seven babies to their family, Bobbi and Kenny started to focus on being able to withstand the huge financial burden that was about to hit them. To the couples dismay, strangers had begun donating things to help assist the family due to the immense media attention surrounding the family.
Diapers, Kraft mac and cheese,a van, a large house, etc.. All of these were items donated by kind hearted strangers. Once person even donated his own seven babies to help the family prepare for what life would be like in a few months! While that last one may not be true, the couple was still overjoyed and appreciative of all the gifts, especially considering they were about to chart new ground in parenthood.
30 Weeks Going On 40
With such an extreme pregnancy and the due date rapidly approaching, the couple consulted with doctors on the best way to move forward and ultimately what to expect in the coming weeks.
30 weeks into her pregnancy, Bobbi was already twice the size of a regular 40 week term pregnancy. Suddenly she was rushed to the hospital.
Going into Labor
With a pregnancy this high risk, you can only assume everything is going to go wrong. For that reason, 40 medical specialists were on hand when Bobbi was rushed into labor nine weeks early.
Being described as “not chaotic”, the delivery went according to plan. All seven babies were born via C-section to no major issues. However, being born prematurely, all the babies needed special care to ensure their survival.
Seven Different Unique Names
Bobbi and Kenny had somehow predicted I’d write a joke about not being able to think of seven names and just to spite me named all of their kids something different. The four boys and three girls were named in order from oldest to youngest (by six minutes) Kenny Jr., Alexis, Natalie, Kelsey, Nathan, Brandon and Joel.
All the children were placed in a neonatal intensive care and received special treatment having been born premature. The babies would need to stay in the hospital for months before finally being allowed to crawl home themselves.
It was over three agonizing months before Bobbi and Kenny were allowed to bring their septuplets home. However, once all the babies were deemed healthy enough to leave the hospital, Bobbi and Kenny swept them away and brought them home where they belonged.
Maybe the most miraculous thing about this whole story, all the babies were born relatively healthy. Although Alexis and Nathan were born with cerebral palsy which obviously makes life more difficult, their lives weren’t endangered and ultimately, they didn’t let the condition stop them from growing up with their brothers and sisters.
YOU GET A BABY AND YOU GET A BABY!
This made the McCaughey the first set of septuplets to survive infancy, which in turn, peaked the media’s interest in the family even more. As we all know, media leads to some very lucrative opportunities. The main opportunity presented to the McCaughey family was the chance to meet a bevy of celebrities.
For their first birthday, the septuplets received arguably the best birthday present possible and got to meet Oprah Winfrey! The children also went on to meet presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush in addition to appearing in countless magazines. Life is good when your a baby septuplet, however someone has to take care of them and the same can’t always be said for the parents.
Although Bobbi and Kenny we’re over the moon with their beautiful new family, the McCaughey’s were soon going through 52 diapers daily which is approximately 52 more diapers per day then they were used to using. Needless to say this “diapergeddon” was hard to sustain.
Diapers weren’t the only thing the babies needed though. There was milk, clothing and attention required to keep the septuplets happy. With time and money soon to be in short supply the McCaugheys had to come up with a plan. Thankfully, Bobbi and Kenny were quite adept at keeping finances low and manageable.
10 people is a lot to feed three times a day both in practice and money. Instead of shopping at “Whole Foods” the McCaughey’s realized that shopping in bulk would save both time and money.
Employing some kind of money management voodoo magic, the McCaugheys managed to spend a meager $300 on every month. If Bobbi and Kenny had any extra time, advising the American public on money management would have been an easy source of income for the family.
Obviously, raising eight young children is a difficult task that requires full time attention. Luckily for the family, the donations didn’t end with the copious amounts of mac and cheese sent their way. The couple accepted the help of around 35 volunteer helpers to assist with their babies many needs.
The family eventually got into a routine and with that, the day to day became manageable. They started gardening which dramatically cut the cost of veggies and along with bulk shopping, they were able to keep prices down. The real issues arose when it came to the nations ever present interest in the septuplets.
The Dionne Sisters Warning
We’ve all seen TLC show about unique families. We also know that constant cameras and attention isn’t always the healthiest thing for growing children and adults alike. The McCaugheys wisely decided against an all day, every day television show surrounding the family despite the public demand.
Las Vegas Review-Journal
As with everything in the media, everyone had an opinion. Even other famous multi-birth children chimed in. Famed Canadian quintuplets, The Dionne sisters, wrote an open letter to the McCaugheys urging them to keep the children out of the spotlight as it had ruined their own lives decades prior. While ultimately heeding this advice, the McCaugheys weren’t completely out of the spotlight.
Bobbi and Kenny’s Good Decision
Bobbi and Kenny were very aware of the positives and negatives that came with fame. They wanted to keep their children away from the immense negative attention the media provides while also allowing the larger than life family to take advantage of the opportunities provided for them.
The decision made by the parents was that once a year, a birthday special would be filmed to allow the public a yearly update as to how the family was dong. This allowed for both the privacy the family wanted while also allowing themselves the opportunity to not waste the positives of fame.
In a household of ten people there is sure to never be a dull moment. That is exactly what had the public’s interest in the family peaked. Finally, to the excitement of everyone, the McCaugheys allowed for a full length documentary to be filmed for the septuplets 13th birthday.
Airing on TLC and titled “America’s Septuplets Turn 13”, the special came out a full month after the septuplets celebrated they’re collective birthdays. Entering into teenagerhood however, just like for every other kid, was set up to be a challenge.
Although handicapped by cerebral palsy and having to deal with more difficulties than any of the other setfuplets, Alexis and Nathan made sure that they’re condition was never an excuse to be down. They remained just as happy and upbeat as the rest of their brother’s and sisters.
Both the siblings looked at their condition as a mere obstacle to their goals rather than an impassable brick wall. This was evident when Nathan taught himself how to walk without the help of a walker. As impressive as that accomplishment is, Alexis had her own victories which were just as amazing.
Excelling In Every Situation
Alexis grabbed cerebral palsy and slapped it in the face by entering into beauty pageants. Obviously it’s easy to be confident in yourself when you have a family of that size cheering you on.
Daily Times Herald
Alexis went on to win a 2013 pageant and place in the top 15% of her high school graduation class. Serving as role models to people everywhere, not only did Alexis and Nathan not allow cerebral palsy to dictate their lives, they excelled despite it.
Separating For the First Time
The seven children had been home schooled through pre-school, essentially being an entire class all by themselves. However, as they got older, they weren’t always side by side. As life has it, the children were forced to separate slightly as they grew up.
Once in grade school, they kids got placed in separate classes. They made their own friends and for the first time weren’t constantly around each other. Obviously, being seven separate people, the septuplets were to show different personalities and preferences.
High School Life
Attending Carlisle High School together, the septuplets began their mission to take over high school in 2012. As we’ve all seen in every high school movie ever released, the four last years of grade school are never easy. Luckily they all had each other.
Many people would prefer the task of dealing with seven crying babies over seven teenagers going through puberty at the same time. Nevertheless, the McCaughey family had been thrown plenty of adversity and wasn’t going to let growing up set them back.
Growing Up Their Own Way
While it may not have been evident to the public who always grouped the septuplets together from birth, each member of the McCaughey family had a very distinct and definable personality.
Alexis was studios, Kenny jr. was the class clown, Kelsey and Brandon excelled in athletics and Brandon was stubborn and fearless. While each member of the family continued on his or her separate journey, there was still one thing all the kids still had in common.
The McCaughey Seven
There have been many great sibling bands throughout history. From the “Jackson 5” to “The Jonas Brothers” there will always be a place in music for siblings. However, nothing compares to the McCaughey collective high school band.
Throughout their high school careers, you could always spot the seven Mcaugheys playing in the school band. Whether it be a sporting event or a school ceremonies, they septuplets were there to perform. This wouldn’t be the last thing the siblings did together as there is one milestone in every high schoolers life that everyone remembers.
Time To Drive
One of the biggest milestones for a teenager, the Mcaugheys turned 16 together, which meant they were now legally allowed to drive.
Des Moines Register
Obviously, seven separate cars was never an option. This opened new avenues for the children though. Allowing them to mature themselves, Kenny said they were now allowed to get jobs, pay their way through drivers ed and purchase their own cars if they feel the need to do so.
Finally Paying Off
Among the most amazing feats of the family is the fact that Bobbi and Kenny managed to keep everything under control with so much going on. They helped their children deal with the blows as they came, being the consummate parents the entire time.
Having risked her life to birth the septuplets and gone through extreme pressure while raising them, we can only imagine how proud Bobbi would be along with Kenny. Watching the effort put into raising their kids develop into seven healthy, smart adults is about as satisfying as it gets. Included in the satisfaction of raising children properly was the septuplets older sister, Mikayla.
The “Forgotten” Older Sister
Throughout her siblings childhood, it probably seemed to most like older sister Mikayla was ignored but that couldn’t be further from the truth . The public was just as interested in what happened to the septuplets older sister as they were in her famous little siblings.
Mikayla married and became a mother soon after! She also studied at Des Moines Area Community College and Arizona State University prior to her marriage.
Getting Ready For Real Life
In what must have seemed like a crazy moment for Bobbi and Kenny, the septuplets turned 18 on November 19th 2015, officially becoming adults and graduating from high school a few months later.
Once graduated, the septuplets would truly split up and go their own ways for the first time in their lives. This of course, garnered media attention once more as America’s favorite septuplets were embarking on their own adventures.
Off On Their Separate Ways
Of all the thing offered to the McCaugheys upon their collective birth, the most lucrative was free college educations to a multitude of colleges. Of the colleges that offered a free ride, Hannibal-LaGrange University stood out to four of the seven.
Des Moines Register
Natalie, Nathan, Kelsey and Joel accepted full scholarships at Hannibal-LaGrange University. Kenny Jr. and Alexis decided it would be best to stay closer to home and went to study at Des Moines Area Community College. Brandon however, decided not to immediately go to college and chose an entirely separate path from the rest of his siblings.
Straight out of high school, Brandon decided to enlist into the United States Army. What some would say was a childhood dream, Brandon always had a fondness for anything having to do with the military growing up.
After months of determination and will-power, Brandon graduated from Ranger School becoming a US Army Ranger in the process. While veering further from the general path taken then any of his other siblings, Brandon still kept in touch with his other seven brothers and sisters.
Even though they may never escape the stigma of being the “McCaughey Septuplets”, each of the McCaugheys has chosen their own path in life.
Kenny Jr. has a carpentry business, Brandon is engaged, Alexis is attempting to get into the field of early childhood education, Kelsey and Natalie are finishing their college degrees, and Joel and Nathan, who are jointly interested in computer science, are also wrapping up college. With each sibling going they’re distinct separate way, we have to wonder how the seven might feel finally splitting up for good.
Keeping In Touch
As everyone can imagine, it must be quite an adjustment going out on your own after growing up in such a large household. Luckily for the McCaugheys, although they miss each other, they’ve been able to deal with separating handedly.
Even though everyone is in a different place in life, all the siblings make sure they stay in touch, specifically the sisters who make sure they meet up as often as possible.
Now having made it into their 20’s, the McCaugheys can now look back at they’re childhood and upbringing as the astonishing phenomenon that it was. Even more astonishing may be the fact that they are the first surviving septuplets to make it this far in life.
The Quad-City Times
A few of the septuplets have come out as stating that there was really nothing bad about growing up within such a large family. They’ve stated the obvious fact that they were never alone and just always had someone to talk to.
How Many Babies Can You Have?
The major question most people have in regards to the septuplets is if there’s a chance they have septuplets themselves. If each child were to have seven kids themselves, that would leave Bobbi and Kenny with 49 grandchildren!
The Des Moines Register
The septuplets were born with the help of a fertility treatment that increases the likelihood of more than one baby. Unfortunately, this has no correlation to the septuplets own children and therefore, they have no higher chance than anyone else of having a multi baby pregnancy.
Having tread dangerous waters and coming out not only unscathed but better for it, Bobbi and Kenny have absolutely no regrets when it comes to their decision. They are now advocates against selective reduction and frequently speak out against the treatment.
Now that all the kids have grown up, it’s easy to speak out against the treatment, how can you choose which child you shouldn’t have had now? With a quiet house for the first time in a very long while, the parents have finally taken up some hobbies of their own.
Their Own Callings
With all the kids finally out of the house and on their own individual paths, Bobbi and Kenny have been able to spread their legs out and relax a little bit while also attaching themselves to paths they’ve dreamed of pursuing but never had the time for.
Kenny was finally able to buy a motorcycle and now the two are travelling the country with all their free time. However, as any parent knows, although having no kids in the house is easier, it’s always difficult to see them go.
Costs Are Down But So Is The House
After adjusting to their crazy lifestyle of raising 8 young children over 20 years ago, Bobbi and Kenny had to adjust to the opposite. A completely empty house with no one home.
Not having to feed ten people daily has definitely lowered the cost of living for the two parents but obviously Bobbi and Kenny still worry about their kids. The real question we all have is what did they do with they’re gigantic house that was gifted to them over 20 years ago?
As one of the early donations to the McCaugheys, they’re massive 7 bedroom, five bathroom house was used to its fullest capacity. Bobbi and Kenny decided it was time to downsize however, after all their kids had gone off on their own.
Bobbi was quoted as saying “As our kids are leaving the nest, it seems to be the right time to start a new chapter”. Both parents believed that they’re house should go on to help other people as it helped themselves.
“We have been blessed to receive such a wonderful gift, and nothing would please us more than the idea of our home being used as a place of refuge to others in need.” This was a quote from Bobbi McCaughey after announcing that they’d sold the house to a non-profit organization by the name of Ruth Harbor which helps house mothers who’ve had unplanned pregnancies.
“It’s a pretty good sized house that met our needs pretty well. We thought we would pass that down to someone else who could use it” Kenny said. Although new inhabitants will grace the halls of their old house, no one will ever forget that the McCaugheys lived there.
Sources: Washington Post, The Today Show, TIME