The Fascinating Life-Story of The World’s First Surviving Septuplets
This article was originally published on 24/7Mirror
Becoming a parent is inarguably one of the most life-changing experiences. It is a ride filled with ups and downs, happiness, and sorrows. But most importantly, it is a ride of a lifetime. Being a parent of multiple births can be challenging, but what about septuplets? That’s an entirely different deal. Here is an exciting and inspirational story of world’s first surviving septuplets.
1. Meet The Incredible Parents
Bobbi and Kenny McCaughey felt super blessed at the arrival of a healthy baby girl in 1996. Given that Bobbi had to battle with complications with her pituitary gland, which can cause problems with fertility, the couple believed their newborn daughter to be a miracle baby.
They decided to name her Mikayla Marie. They weren’t planning on having just one child, so they started to consider having their next.
2. Pursuing Fertility Treatment
Bobbi and Kenny McCaughey knew about the difficulties in conceiving Mikayla, and that’s why they decided to seek fertility treatment for their next child.
Upon seeking medical advice, the doctor prescribed Metrodin, a medication that helps with ovulation and is required to be taken by a woman to conceive a child. With making plans for their second baby, Bobbi started taking the medication.
3. Planned For One, Got Seven
When Bobbi and her husband went for a scan to their doctor, they were hoping that everything would turn out fine, and they wouldn’t be getting any surprises. However, the scan turned out to be life-changing as it revealed that Bobbi was pregnant with not one but seven babies.
It was big news for them as they were not only looking at a big family of 10 but also because the pregnancy posed a great danger to the health of Bobbi and the babies.
4. A Tough Decision
As multiple births can pose a danger to the health of both the mother and the babies, Bobbi’s body was under immense strain from carrying not one but seven fetuses. Due to the risk to Bobbi and her unborn babies, the doctor recommended the couple to consider a process called “selected reduction.”
In this process, those fetuses are protected, which are most likely to make it to full term. Hence, it is like aborting babies who have fewer survival chances.
5. Taking The Risk
Bobbi and Kenny fully understood the risks involved in the pregnancy that poses a lot of dangers to mother and babies’ health, but they didn’t want to choose one of their babies above another. So, they gave it a long thought and decided to proceed with the pregnancy.
It was a tough decision because only about 40-50 births in the world have resulted from a pregnancy involving seven babies. There is a possibility that they drew some confidence from the fact that although many septuplets have not survived birth or infancy, at least one more set of septuplets had survived beyond infancy.
6. Getting Lots of Attention from Everyone
As Bobbi and Kenny made the big decision to keep all seven babies and not opt for selective reduction, the news spread like wildfire, and everyone across the country wanted to know more about them.
While some found the story of septuplets fascinating, some people weren’t supportive of keeping all seven babies. However, Bobbi and Kenny had made up their minds, and they were confident that everything would work out for the best.
For instance, Kraft stepped forward to give the family a year’s supply of “mac n cheese.” They were also given boxes of diapers, and some offered help as babysitters or nannies. Amazingly, a 5,000 square foot house was also donated to the family.
8. More Gifts
As if getting a 5,000 square foot house wasn’t showing the people’s generosity, someone stepped forward to donate a brand new van to the family.
The van was big enough to fit all of the babies comfortably. Moreover, someone donated a year’s supply of groceries to the family.
9. Exciting and Scary Times
As weeks and months were leading up to the birth of seven babies, it was scary, thrilling, and stressful times for the family. The doctors were concerned that the stress of the deliveries could lead her to early labor.
Bobbi tried her best to keep calm, and though the couple was worried that things might not work as planned, they knew that staying positive was their best bet at that time. They tried their best to remain as positive as possible.
10. Delivering The Babies
The couple received the news that they would need to be at the hospital at just 31 weeks. They were told that the babies would be delivered by caesarian section.
Although Bobbi and Kenny were a bit surprised, they trusted the doctors. On November 19th, 1997, Bobby gave birth to seven babies in the space of just SIX minutes.
11. A Family of TEN
The couple was happy to welcome four boys and three girls. Everyone was relieved to find out that the septuplets were healthy. All now the parents needed was to name their babies.
The heaviest of the babies was named Robert, while the other boys were named Kenny Robert, Brandon James, Nathan Roy, and Joel Steven. The beautiful girls were named Alexis Mary, Natalie Sue, and Kelsey Ann. It must be a lot to remember the names of seven babies. Here is a challenge for you: try remembering all the names by the end of this article.
12. A Team Effort
It wasn’t only Bobbi and Kenny’s effort in bringing seven babies into the world; there were the dedicated efforts of the hardworking hospital staff as well.
The doctors, nurses and maternity staff were happy that they were part of making American history. A few days after the birth of septuplets, all the team gathered to take a memorable group photo.
13. Waiting To Get the First Pictures of Babies
As Bobbi and Kenny were asked by the doctors to come to the hospital nine weeks before Bobbi’s due date, the news channels didn’t know about it.
When the news channels finally became aware that the births were taking place at the Lowa Methodist Hospital Center in Des Moines, they started camping out to get the first pictures of the newborns.
14. Spending Extra Time Under Observation
The doctors at the hospital wanted to ensure that the babies and the mother were healthy before discharging them. Therefore, Bobbie and her seven babies had to spend three months and ten days in the hospital after the delivery.
When the news broke out that the couple and babies were leaving the hospital, the cameramen and journalists gathered around to get a snap of the septuplets. As the McCaugheys headed for their home, there were a lot of smiles, cheers, and even a few tears.
15. Getting Police Security
The police had to set up a security post outside the home of the McCaugheys as they wanted to ensure that the couple reached their home without facing any trouble whatsoever.
The babies were first brought back to the couple’s old home, but they would be moving into their new home pretty soon.
16. Exciting Times
While the couple took care of their seven babies in their old home, their new home was getting ready. Once their new home was organized, a ceremony took place in which they were handed over the keys to their new home.
The ceremony involved the chairman of Clarke Companies, Lloyd Clarke. He gave the keys to the couple in the garage of the house. There was excitement in the air as the couple entered their new home.
17. Getting Countrywide Media Attention
Initially, the couple thought that only local reporters were interested in covering their story, but they didn’t know that their incredible septuplets had caught the attention of some big magazines as well.
In December of 1997 (just a month after the septuplets were born), Bobbi and Kenny featured on the front cover of Time Magazine.
18. A Complete Interview
After the news magazine, ABC News PrimeTime was able to get full access to the family for a complete interview and news feature.
Given that most of the coverage involved reporters retelling what others had already written, the interview with ABC covered other aspects as well.
19. There Was Also Criticism
While most of the news coverage was positive, there were some negative reports, as well. Some people called the family irresponsible for having too many children.
Some even criticized the couple because they thought that the amount of waste generated by having so many babies could play a role in damaging the environment. But it didn’t matter to the couple as they were happy with their babies. They felt blessed to have seven babies.
20. Trying to Keep Things Private
As the excitement around the septuplets started to subside with time, it gave an excellent opportunity to the McCaugheys to get on with raising their eight children. They received a useful piece of advice from the Dionne family who had quintuplets that it is best to keep their family life as private as possible.
They acted upon the advice of the Dionne family with one exception; they would make a public appearance once a year on the birthday of their septuplets.
21. The Advice from Quintuplets
The Dionne quintuplets were born in Ontario, Canada, in 1934 to Elzire Dionne. She came under a lot of criticism for the way her babies were raised. There was a lot of press focus on the children, and the press sometimes even described them as a circus.
The quintuplets, who were grown adults, advised Kenny and Bobbi about keeping their children’s lives as private as possible.
22. Managing a Lot of Work
Even a single child can make a lot of mess and increase your workload; the couple had to deal with the chaos and dirty clothes of 8 children. It was surely a lot of work. It was reported that the McCaugheys did an average of 17 loads of laundry a week.
Given that they tried their best to keep their lives private, it means that they had to do a lot of house chores themselves. Luckily for them, they had two washing machines and two dryers to help them with loads of laundry.
23. The Need of A Strategy
With seven growing babies, it was apparent that there would be a lot of laundries. But there were other expenses as well. They were using, on average, 52 diapers a day between them and 42 bottles of milk.
As expected, the couple was spending a lot of money daily. So, Bobbi and Kenny decided that they need to come up with a strategy to manage their large family and control their expenses.
24. Not Opting for Formula Milk
It would’ve been understandable if Bobbi had decided only to give formula milk to her children, but she decided that she would feed her babies with pumped breast milk for the first three months.
For seven babies, the pumped four to five gallons of milk would get through a week.
With the septuplets, it was expected that everything from feeding them to changing diapers would take a lot of time. For instance, potty training was quite time-consuming and challenging.
25. Everything Took Time
They were able to potty-train their first daughter Mikayla within four days, but it wasn’t that easy with the septuplets. It took a lot of time to potty train them fully.
It takes a lot of effort and time to raise a child, and in the case of McCaughey’s eight children needed to be raised. So, volunteers stepped in to help the family.
26. Volunteers Were Like a Blessing
The family would have needed around seventy volunteers to help with daily tasks around the house. Still, eight or nine people were helping with changing diapers, feeding the babies, and taking proper care.
27. Everyone Was Trying to Help
It was great to see so many helping hands. Anyone who came in contact with the family wanted to help them in some way.
Even the construction workers that were involved in building their new house spent time taking care of the babies. Here you can see the construction workers holding the babies.
28. Family Stepped In As Well
It wasn’t just the volunteers who stepped forward to help the McCaugheys; there was also a lot of help from within the family as well.
Here is a photo of Bobbi’s sister holding one of the septuplets. The help Bobbi and Kenny received meant a lot to them as they couldn’t have done it without them.
29. The Big Sister Being A Big Sister
Although everyone in the family was eager to help the McCaughey’s, there was one particular family member who wanted to help in whatever possible way there was.
Big sister Mikayla helped in feeding times and taking care of her siblings. She knew that it was her responsibility to take care of her siblings to take some load off her parents.
30. Implementing Their Strategy
As we’ve mentioned earlier, the McCaugheys came up with a strategy to maintain their expenses, and they applied it quite impressively.
For instance, they bought everything in bulk to save some money on everything. They also started purchasing products that came with some special offers. They manage to bring their monthly expenses to $300 a month.
31. Futuristic Strollers
Seeing twin strollers is not uncommon, but what the McCaugheys required was two sets of four-seater strollers to carry their babies around the town – something no one had ever seen before.
So, whenever they used to go for a walk around their neighborhood, their strollers would get a lot of attention.
32. Going Green
The McCaugheys were doing an excellent job at reducing their monthly expenses, but they knew that they had to do more. So, they started growing their fruits and vegetables as it was not only an organic option but a free one as well.
They were able to reduce the cost of grocery shopping by using fresh fruits and vegetables from their backyard. The only thing that they were missing was a cow.
33. Regular Check-ups
Taking care of just one baby requires a lot of attention, and when it comes to taking care of seven babies, the amount of attention needed increases by seven times.
That’s why the couple ensured all seven babies were regularly getting checked by the doctor.
34. Eating Healthy Breakfast Each Day
All the babies loved their breakfast, and it is a good thing because all of them needed healthy food for their proper growth.
The babies required massive quantities of whatever they were eating for breakfast on any given day.
As the babies grew into toddlers, they developed a unique bond between them and created their own language.
This phenomenon is called cryptophasia and it is no different as it usually happens between twins and triplets and siblings.
36. Celebrating The Milestones Together
With each passing year, the septuplets grew older and the family celebrated each birthday together and created more memories.
They considered the birthdays an excellent opportunity to thank the Lord for helping their babies and also for helping the couple make the right decision of keeping all of their babies.
37. The Pinnacle of Correct Shoe Sizes
As each kid grew at a different rate, some grew stronger while some were fragile. But it didn’t matter to the parents.
However, Bobbi and Kenny did decide to dress up their four boys alike and had the same outfit for three girls. They faced issues with finding the correct shoe sizes.
38. Clothing for Septuplets
Buying clothes for seven growing kids was costing the McCaugheys huge sums of money. However, something amazing happened.
A famous children’s clothing brand, Carter’s, announced that they would be supplying clothes for all of the babies until the age of five. It was one of many examples of how people showed their generosity towards Bobbi, Kenny, and their cute family.
39. Getting Attention of Two Presidents
When the septuplets were born, the president of the United States at the time, Bill Clinton, also called the couple and congratulated them.
Years later, the next President, George W. Bush, also had the chance to meet the children. Lucky him!
Years later, the next President, George W. Bush, also had the chance to meet the children. Lucky him!
40. Clinton’s Call
When the septuplets were born, the McCaugheys got a call from Bill Clinton. The President congratulated Bobbi and Kenny and also said to Bobbi that when the seven children finally go off to school, she will be able to get a job running a major corporation in America.
“You will be one of the best-organized managers in the United States,” said President Clinton to Bobbi.
41. Everyone Wanted to Meet Them
It is no surprise that the septuplets were famous babies even before they were born. Everyone was fascinated by them, and they were a favorite topic of most people.
Take this photo as an example. This is baby Kenny getting a kiss on the cheek from the Governor of Iowa, Terry Branstad.
42. Learning How to Share
Here in the photo, you can see there are just four candles for seven children. It is because the parents wanted to teach them the lesson of learning how to share.
The McCaugheys not only tried to be economical, but they were able to teach their children a lesson about sharing as well. It seems the children weren’t too worried about it.
43. Different Personalities
As the septuplets started to grow up, they began to develop different personalities as well. For instance, Brandon is brave and a little stubborn.
Kenny junior is considered the joker among the group, whereas Natalie and Joel like to read books.
44. Kenny Junior
Although Kenny was always a well-mannered guy, his son, Kenny Junior, is known for causing mischief from time to time. That explains why Bobbi calls her son, “pint-sized explorer.”
It is beautiful that children of the same parents grow up to have different personalities. This is something that cannot be explained, and that’s the beauty of it.
45. Dedicated Date Night
If you have a house that is full of eight growing children, taking out time for yourself can be difficult.
That’s why Kenny and Bobbi decided to set aside Friday as their date night so that they could get much needed alone time together.
46. Different Personality Traits
Each of the eight children has unique characteristics. As Kenny and Bobbie spent a lot of time with their kids, they were able to pick up on the different personality traits of their children.
For instance, Kelsey is a “sporty fashionista,” Nathan is “determined,” and Alexis is “sweet and perceptive.”
47. Taking Time Out for Family
Taking care of kids and running a family is hectic, and yet you have to take out some time to spend quality time together.
With eight children, the McCaugheys were finding it difficult. However, they still used to take some time out. Here is when the whole family went to Disney World in Orlando.
48. Getting Back On The Cover
As the children celebrated their eighth birthday, they did it in style this time as they appeared on the cover of Ladies’ Home Journal.
There was also an article in the magazine which included Bobbi and Kenny answering different questions.
49. Meeting George W. Bush
The McCaugheys were invited in 2001 to meet with President George W. Bush. As it was a big deal for the family, the parents made sure that all the kids were properly dressed.
It was a great meet up, and the kids were dressed in such a way that it attracted everyone’s attention within seconds of their arrival.
50. Getting Way Too Much Attention
As there was already a lot of media attention before and after the birth of the children, the parents could have decided to allow a reality TV show about their lives, and it would not have been something different.
However, they made sure that it doesn’t happen. Although, There were occasional times when the children did a feature on TV or in the press.
51. One Exception
As mentioned earlier, the McCaugheys didn’t want a reality TV based on their lives, so they didn’t allow cameras in the house…except on the children’s birthday.
Here, the couple allowed Ann Curry from the Today Show to meet the children on their 13th birthday. This time, all the kids had their cakes with 13 candles.
52. Starting High School
The septuplets started high school in 2012 by enrolling in the Carlisle High School in Carlisle, Iowa.
As expected, they received a lot of attention from everyone. But they handled it quite well (probably because they have been doing it their entire lives).
53. Joining The School Band
As if the septuplets weren’t already receiving a lot of attention, they decided to raise the bar.
They got into the school band and started playing together at the school’s sports matches.
54. Siblings with Different Interests and Talents
The septuplets didn’t just captivate everyone by featuring in a school band, but they also had their talents and interests.
Some of the septuplets joined the cross-country team, and some joined the wrestling team, and while the less sporty ones joined the choir and speech society.
55. Buffet Everyday
When it comes to feeding eight growing mouths, it takes a lot to prepare just one meal. That’s why Bobbi and Kenny decided to serve meals in the house as buffets.
It turned out to be the best time in the house, and the kids started to help in preparing the meals as well.
56. It Wasn’t All Sunshine and Rainbows
As we know, the premature birth of a child can affect his or her development. In the case of septuplets, there were some premature births, and it resulted in two children being born with cerebral palsy.
Nathan and Alexis both suffer from cerebral palsy, which affects their movement and coordination.
57. Strong Nathan
As both Alexis and Nathan have difficulty walking and require walking aids, Nathan was keen to walk without support. He taught himself how to walk without the help of his walker.
“I taught myself how to walk because I really wanted to learn. It’s just been getting better and better,” he said.
58. Alexis Making Waves As Well
Just like her brother, Alexis didn’t want to get confined by her condition. Although she still needs aid to walk, she has shown her immense talent in many other areas, proving she is an exceptional person.
She won the “Teens Miss Dreams Come True” award in 2013. Also, she is excellent in academics as well; she finished in the top 15% of her class.
59. Turning Sixteen
As the septuplets turned sixteen, they gained the attraction of the press and the world again. Everyone wanted to know what was going on in their lives and what kind of personalities they have.
As sixteen is the age when teenagers start their driving lessons, the McCaugheys knew that it could be costly. So, they came up with a different, affordable solution.
60. Work to Make Your Wishes Comes True
Kenny Sr. is a firm believer in working hard, and he has made sure he instills this belief in all of his children as well. In an interview with NBC, he said, “We were taught if you want something, you have to work for it.”
The parents made sure to teach their children a lesson that if they want something that is out of the ordinary, they should work for it.
61. Capturing The Milestone
As the septuplets turned eighteen, the press was ready to capture the milestone. It was a special year for the teenagers as they also graduated from high school.
Although they are septuplets, they were still doing regular teenager things.
62. Entering A New Phase of Life
As the septuplets turned 18, there was a sense of relief in everyone’s eyes, not just for the children but the parents as well.
Of course, their parents are always there to guide and support them. But we can imagine how difficult it would be to give advice to each of the eight children while considering their personalities and needs.