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.
Bobbi and Kenny McCaughley felt super blessed at the arrival of a healthy baby girl in 1996. Given that Bobbi had to battle with the 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 child.
Bobbi and Kenny McCaughley 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.
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 totally life-changing as it revealed that Bobbi was pregnant with not one but seven babies.
It was a big new for them as they were not only looking at a big family of 10 but also because the pregnancy posed great danger to the health of Bobbi and the babies.
As multiple births can pose 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.
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 3 sets of septuplets had survived beyond infancy.
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, there were people who weren't supportive of keeping all seven babies. However, Bobbi and Kenny had made up their mind and they were confident that everything would work out for the best.
From the people who knew the McCaughleys to those who didn't know them at all, everyone was eager to offer help to them. It was understandable because the birth of seven children at once was undoubtedly an extraordinary event.
For instance, Kraft stepped forward to give the family a year’s supply of “man n cheese,” They were also given boxes of diapers and some offered help as babysitter or nanny. Amazingly, a 5,000 square foot house was also donated to the family.
As if getting a 5,000 square feet 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 easily fit all of the babies. Moreover, someone donated a year’s supply of groceries to the family of ten people!
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 births 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.
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 19th November 1997, Bobby gave birth to seven babies in a space of just SIX minutes.
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 (Kenneth), 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.
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.
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 just to get the first pictures of the newborns.
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 McCaughley's headed for their home, there were a lot of smiles, cheers, and even a few tears.
The police had to set up a security post outside the home of the McCaughley's as they wanted to ensure that the couple reaches 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.
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 house.
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.
After the News magazine, the 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 the ABC covered other aspects as well.
Although most of the coverage of the couple and the septuplets was positive, there were some negative reports as well. There were some people who 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. In fact, they felt blessed to have seven babies.
As the excitement around the septuplets started to subside with time, it gave an excellent opportunity to the McCaughley's 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 Dionne family with one exception; they would make a public appearance once a year on the birthday of their septuplets.
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 by the time advised Kenny and Bobbi about keeping their children's lives as private as possible.
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 McCaughley's 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.
With seven growing babies, it was obvious 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.
It would've been understandable if Bobbi had decided to only 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.
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 fully potty train them.
It takes a lot of effort and time to raise a child and in the case of McCaughley's there were eight children that needed to be raised. So, volunteers stepped in to help the family.
The family would have needed around seventy volunteers to help with daily tasks around the house. Still, there were eight or nine people helping with changing diapers, feeding the babies, and taking proper care.
It was great to see so many helping hands. Anyone who came in the 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 babies. Here you can see the construction workers holding the babies.
It wasn't just the volunteers who stepped forward to help the McCaughley's, 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.
Although everyone in the family was eager to help the McCoughley'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.
As we've mentioned earlier how the McCaughley's came up with a strategy to maintain their expenses, they applied it quite impressively.
For instance, they bought everything in bulk to save some money on everything. They also started buying products that came with some special offers. They manage to bring their monthly expenses to $300 a month.
Seeing twin strollers is not uncommon, but what the McCaughley's required was two sets of four-seater strollers to carry their babies around the town - something anyone had ever seen before.
So, whenever they used to go for a walk around their neighborhood, their strollers would get a lot of attention.
The McCaughley's 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.
Taking care of just one baby requires a lot of attention and when it comes to taking care of seven babies, the amount of required attention increases by seven times.
That's why the couple ensured all seven babies were getting regularly checked by the doctor.
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.
With each passing year, the septuplets grew older and the family celebrated each birthday together and created more memories.
They considered the birthdays a great 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.
As each kid grew at a different rate, there were some who 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.
Buying clothes for seven growing kids was costing the McCaughley's huge sums of money. However, something amazing happened.
A famous children's clothing brand, Carters, 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.
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!
When the septuplets were born, the McCaughley's 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.
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.
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.
McCaugley's not only tried to be economical, but they were able to teach their children lesson about sharing as well. It seems as the children weren't too worried about it.
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.
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.
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 Bobbie decided to set aside Friday as their date night so that they could get much needed alone time together.
Each of the eight children has their own unique characteristics. As Kenny and Bobbie spent a lot of time with their kids, they were able to pick up on each of the personality traits of their children.
For instance, Kelsey is a “sporty fashionista,” Nathan is "determined" and Alexis is "sweet and perceptive."
Taking care of kids and running a family is hectic and yet you have to take out some time to spend some quality time together.
With eight children, the McCaughley's 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.
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.
The McCaughley's 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 really attracted everyone's attention within seconds of their arrival.
As there was already a lot of media attention before and after the birth of the children, the parents could have decided to have allowed a reality TV show about their lives and it would not have been something different.
However, they made sure that it doesn't happen. There were times when the children did feature on TV or in the press.
As mentioned earlier, the McCaughley's 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.
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).
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.
The septuplets didn't just captivate everyone by featuring in a school band, but they also had their individual talents and interests.
Some of the septuplets joined the cross-country team and some joined the wrestling team, and while less sporty ones joined the choir and speech society.
When it comes to feeding eight growing mouths, it takes a lot than just one meal. That's why Bobbi and Kenny decided to serve meals in the house as buffets.
It turned out to be one of the best times in the house and the kids started to help in preparing the meals as well.
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.
As both Alexis and Nathan have difficulty walking and require walking aids, Nathan was keen to walk without an aid. 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.
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 completed in the top 15% of her class.
As the septuplets turned sixteen, they were again able to gain the attraction of the press and the world. Everyone wanted to know what's going on in their lives and what kind of personalities do they have.
As sixteen is the age when all the kids start their driving lessons, the McCaughley's knew that they could be really expensive. So, they came up with a different, affordable solution.
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.
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 in it.
Although they are septuplets, they were just regular teenagers doing stuff that teenagers mostly do.
As the septuplets turned 18, there was a sense of relief in everyone's eyes, not just the children but the parents as well.
Of course, the 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 individual personalities and needs.
Graduation...yayy! The septuplets made their parents and themselves proud by graduating in May 2016.
It was a fantastic achievement and a message for anyone who doubted they would achieve this much in their lives. It was the result of the endless efforts of Bobbi and Kenny.
It was an emotional moment for Bobbi as she saw her beautiful children grow up and graduate from high school.
The best thing for her is the bond that all her children share between them. “It’s sad to see things end, but there will be lots of firsts coming,” she said.
Alexis and Kenny decided to enroll in their local college. It was nice news for Kenny and Bobbi as it meant they were close to them.
Alexis hopes to become a teacher and we are sure one day she would become one (we can say it because she is known as an academic student and she graduated at the top of her class).
It was a proud moment for Bobbi and Kenny when they learned that their son Brandon has enrolled in the U.S. Army. He always dreamt of becoming a soldier and his wish finally came true.
After training, he has become an expert in pistol and carbon shooting and we hope he serves his country and make his parents proud.
Brandon has made his parents proud and fulfilled his dream of joining the army. He is now a part of the 75th Ranger Regiment.
He followed his heart and made sure that he never deviates from it. We hope that he goes on to fulfill all his desires and serves his country better.
All of the septuplets have their own identities and personalities. That's why they all find their happiness in things that they love to do.
For Kenny Jr., the dream was clear; to become a carpenter. So far, he has been doing a great job at it.
When big sister Mikayla was blessed with her first child, Kenny Jr. decided to create a memorable and long-lasting gift for her sister.
He created a classic kitchen table with benches for his sister, and she felt super blessed and happy to have it. Can’t all sisters have a brother like Kenny Jr.?
When the septuplets were born, the state of Iowa promised to sponsor each child's college education at any state university of their choice.
Natalie, Nathan, Joel, and Kelsey took up the offer and enrolled at the Hannibal-LaGrange University in Missouri and they are studying there right now. Although they are far from home, they get comfort from the fact that they are together.
Alexis has always dreamt of becoming a teacher, and she is currently pursuing her dream of becoming one.
Her social media presence shows us how she is trying her best to achieve her dream and we are quite confident that she'll have a great impact on the students.
Nathan started to show from very early in his childhood that he has a liking for science.
Although he is still deciding which area of science he would pursue as a career, we are sure he will achieve success in whatever field he chooses.
Kelsey enrolled at Hannibal-LaGrange University and chose music as her major. She is inarguably a bright talent and we are really excited to see her achieve success in this field.
She has been passionate about music for as long as she can remember and it won't be long before we'll be able to see her performances.
Just like Nathan, Joel chose something technical as well. However, his field is different as he is passionate about computer science.
We are looking at the next computer scientist and we hope to see him achieve a lot of success in the upcoming years.
Natalie is pursuing her career in education just like her sister Alexis, but she is taking a different route.
Natalie is focusing on early-childhood education and is interested in elementary school education.
The septuplets gave an interview on TV after their graduation. As they have experienced being in front of the media their whole lives, they didn't feel nervous at all.
On one particular question about their closeness, they answered that they have an unbreakable bond. We hope they always stick together through thick and thin.
As all of Bobbi and Kenny's children have gone to pursue their careers, the couple looks at their empty house and misses them.
However, they are trying to get used to it as they know that their children are always with them no matter the distance.
How can we forget big sister Mikayla? She also started to pursue her dream and got constant encouragement and love from her younger siblings.
She studied at Des Moines College and then went on to Arizona State University. She is happily married and has a beautiful child. Bobbi and Kenny are happy grandparents.
One of the most special days for the McCaughley's was when Mikayla got married. Her sisters were her bridesmaids and her younger brothers were part of the wedding party.
They all look so lovely together in this photo. By the way, they hardly managed to squeeze into one photo.
When all your children go to different cities, you can find it depressing in your home.
However, Kenny McCaughley found an excellent opportunity in this spare time to take up his new hoppy in motorcycles. He scraps motorcycles and then carefully rebuilds them. He also takes a ride on one of his bikes around the country.
However, Kenny McCaughley found an excellent opportunity in this spare time to take up his new hoppy in motorcycles. He scraps motorcycles and then carefully rebuilds them. He also takes a ride on one of his bikes around the country.
So, it was a good decision to sell the house and downsize to something smaller.
The McCaughley's found a buyer of the house in February of this year.
The new owners of the house are quite lucky as they own a house that was filled with happiness and love. So, Bobbi and Kenny are settling into their new home. Oh wait, there's a twist.
Bobbi and Kenny could've sold their house for a huge sum of money, but they decided to give it to an organization called Ruth Harbor. The organization is a non-profit and it helps young women with unplanned pregnancies.
When the couple was asked about their generous decision, they said, “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 for those in need.”
Whenever Bobbi and Kenny look back to the time when they had to make the decision about selective reduction, they feel lucky and so blessed that they made the right decision.
After all, opting for selective reduction would've meant no big family for the McCaughley's.
Having a baby comes with a lot of challenges and Bobbi and Kenny were able to raise not one or two, but seven children.
They are hoping to create more awareness about it and their seven kids show how successfully they were able to do it.
It wasn't long after the birth of septuplets that McCaughley's decided to write and release their book, which would include their experiences.
The book's major theme is the couple's faith and belief in God. You'll find that it was the religion that played a significant role in giving them the power to raise their children.
The McCaughley's made a decision that they would try their best to keep their children away from the press and the public eye.
To chronicle the progress of their children, they struck a deal with a Gamma Press in 2001 so that they could take a photograph of the children once a year on their birthdays. It was a smart deal as the family can look back on the images and cherish those amazing days.
There were a few lucky photographers who had the privilege of taking photos of children each year. They were Rodney White, Holly McQueen, and Andrea Mendez.
These photographers were keen on taking photos of the septuplets, and they were able to record the lives of septuplets as how they became part of American history.
As there were group photos of the septuplets, each child also received an annual portrait. The portrait helped document the important milestone of each child.
If you can’t identify who is who in this photo, let us help you. On the top row, going from left to right is Kelsey, Kenny Jr, Natalie and big sister Mikayla. On the bottom row are Alexis, Brandon, Nathan, and Joel.
This photo shows the calmness of the mother. But it is not an easy task to take photos with energetic children.
Bobbi was able to take a relaxing photo with seven children. How cool is that, right?
As septuplet is not a normal occurrence, many people wondered if each child got to play with his or her toys and if they had a typical childhood or not.
The truth is that they started to share at a very young age and they were also able to play alone whenever they felt like doing it.
As it is the case with most young kids, some of the septuplets (especially boys) really enjoyed playing video games. They could sit for hours playing their favorite games.
Although Bobbi and Kenny hoped that one day kids would grow of their craze, it didn't happen (it usually doesn't happen).
The kids have grown up and they still like to spend hours enjoying their favorite games. As we mentioned earlier that Ann Curry covered the story of septuplets on the Today Show.
The world was always curious to see how the kids have progressed and Ann showed glimpses of their progress from time to time.
If you're wondering if multiple births will run in the family, then the simple answer is probably No.
It is because Kenny and Bobbi were fortunate enough to have septuplets because of undergoing fertility treatment. So, it seems like it won't happen in the family again.
One thing we have learned from the story of Bobbi and Kenny is that they feel blessed to have septuplets and they wouldn't change anything about it.
If asked, they would give you one important lesson; if you want anything in your life, just go for it.
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