The Incredible Story Of The World’s First Living Septuplets
Becoming a parent is hard. It’s a life-changing experience filled with joy and life lessons. But just imagine being a parent to septuplets—that’s seven kids all at once! Having that many children under one roof—it’s a whole different ball game. Though that kind of experience may be unimaginable for some, it became a reality for these parents.
Instead of being overcome by the sheer number of new mouths to feed, they embraced them with all of their hearts. They serve as an inspiration for the world and their local community. Their dedication to their septuplets similarly encouraged others to care more about their kids as well.
Read on to find out more about this heartwarming family and the world’s first surviving septuplets!
Meet The Parents
Bobbi and Kenny McCaughey never imagined they’d have such a big family. They were simple folks who were happy with what life would give them. So when they were blessed with a baby girl in 1996, they were thrilled. However, it was not an easy pregnancy.
Bobbi had been experiencing problems with her pituitary gland, and as a result, she had fertility issues. Conceiving and giving birth to a healthy baby was a miracle. The couple was over the moon. They named their child Mikayla Marie. Since having a baby was something the couple did not expect, they considered having another. If everything went right the first time, nothing could possibly go wrong the second time, right?
Fertility Treatment Was The Key
Early on, Bobbi and Kenny McCaughey were aware of their problems conceiving. Having Mikayla was challenging enough, so they knew the next one could be too. The couple then decided to pursue fertility treatments.
The couple made sure to seek proper medical advice. They were prescribed Metrodin, an ovulation medication that aids women in conceiving children more easily. Intent on having another baby, Bobbi began taking the prescribed medication, hoping that they would be blessed with another child.
From One To Seven
The couple went to regular checkups to make sure everything was in order. But when they went for a medical scan, the results revealed something they could never have expected—probably not something anyone could have expected. The results were truly life-changing.
There was both good and jaw-dropping news. The good news was the couple was indeed going to have another baby. The unexpected news was that they were not just going to have one baby; they would have seven—from three members in the household to a whopping ten. However, they knew the journey wouldn’t be easy. The pregnancy was dangerous.
A Difficult Decision
Multiple births could pose numerous health hazards to both the mother and the children. As it was, Bobbi’s body was already under intense strain from carrying not just one or two—but seven fetuses. Doctors were concerned. The medical community was aware of the risks involved in such a rare pregnancy.
Though the doctors were considering Bobbi’s health in mind when they made the suggestion, the couple was shocked when they were advised to consider a medical process known as “selected reduction.” In short, those with fewer chances of surviving will be aborted in order to improve the odds of the others.
Taking The Risk
The husband and wife thought long and hard. The couple knew that the pregnancy could pose an imminent danger to the mother’s health as well as the babies, but they didn’t have it in their hearts to decide who needed to go and who would stay. In the end, they decided to go through with the pregnancy with all seven babies.
It was not an easy decision to make. There are only about 40 to 50 successful septuplet births worldwide. They knew that it was very rare for babies in a septuplet to survive childbirth and, subsequently, infancy, but they just didn’t have it in them to abort any of the seven.
Getting Unwanted Attention
News about the young couple quickly spread everywhere. After all, it’s not easy to hide a pregnancy involving seven babies. But what made Bobbi and Kenny’s story controversial was their difficult decision not to opt for selective reduction and to keep all of their seven. The entire country wanted to know more about the young family.
Some found their story fascinating, but a few were not at all supportive. The public was largely against them keeping all seven babies. But Bobbi and Kenny had made up their minds. They were satisfied and confident that everything would work out for the best.
Getting A Lot Of Help
The McCaughey’s situation prompted a lot of people to offer them help. Whether the family knew them or not, it didn’t matter. All of them wanted to give the couple a bit of a helping hand. It was completely understandable, though, since giving birth to all seven babies is not an easy feat.
One company stepped up to the plate. Kraft communicated with the family to provide them with a year’s worth of “mac n cheese.” Besides food items, Bobbi and Kenny also received boxes of diapers. A few people even offered to babysit their would-be babies. Apparently, seven babies were not enough of a blessing because a 5,000-square-foot house was similarly donated to the family—perfect for a large family indeed.
The Gifts Kept Coming
Bobbi and Kenny probably never thought their seven babies were a burden. They were receiving blessings that similarly reflected their feelings towards their septuplets. The family didn’t only receive a 5,000-square-foot house—a generous donor also gave them a brand-new van.
The size of the van was more than enough to fit the husband and wife, Mikayla, and all seven babies. It was clearly a cozy vehicle that would be comfortable for the whole family to use. In addition, the couple also received another hefty donation: a year’s supply of groceries.
Stressful But Exciting Times
As the weeks turned into months and the birth of the seven babies was fast approaching, excitement and stress were in the air. Bobbi’s doctors were very much concerned about the physical strain she could experience. They were afraid she could go into early labor.
But Bobbi would not let her worries get the best of her. She did her very best to remain calm despite the intense pressure. All eyes were on her delivery. Everybody was concerned about her health as well as the babies. Even the couple was skeptical that things would not work out as planned.
The Babies Are Delivered
When Bobbi and Kenny were informed that the babies were on their way, they were ready. The couple was advised to be at the hospital only 31 weeks into the pregnancy. The doctors told them that the seven babies would be delivered via a caesarian section.
Bobbi and Kenny were nervous and surprised at the advice given by their doctors. However, the couple trusted their expertise. On the 19th of November, 1997, Bobbi delivered seven babies in as little as six minutes.
A Happy Family of Ten
The procedure went well. They were overjoyed to welcome four baby boys and three baby girls into the family. The best news of all was that all seven infants were 100% healthy. The next problem they needed to solve was how to name them all.
The heaviest of the brood was Robert. Meanwhile, the rest of the boys were christened Kenny Robert, Brandon James, Nathan Roy, and Joel Steven. Meanwhile, the girls were given names such as Alexis Mary, Natalie Sue, and Kelsey Ann. We wonder how Bobbi and Kenny were able to remember all those names!
Everyone Made An Effort
The success of the delivery was made possible by a concerted collective effort. Though Bobbi literally did most of the hard labor, many people supported the family in the best way they could. Clearly, bringing seven human beings into the world isn’t easy.
All the nurses, doctors, and maternity health staff involved became part of American history. The entire team gathered to capture a group photo they will remember for life to commemorate the day the septuplets were successfully delivered.
First Baby Pictures
The hospital where the babies were delivered made sure that everything was kept hush-hush until the day the babies came. The medical team quietly asked the couple to go to the hospital nine weeks before Bobbi’s scheduled due date. Fortunately, none of the television news channels were aware of it.
However, when they did find out about the births taking place at Des Moines’ Lowa Methodist Hospital Center, news reporters began to camp out in order to get the first snapshots of the newborn septuplets. This was a huge story with great national interest.
Observing The Babies
There is a reason why these babies are known as the world’s first surviving septuplets. The doctors made sure that all seven infants were adequately checked and observed before being discharged. The medical team had to make sure they were all healthy. Consequently, Bobbi and her babies had to stay in the hospital for three months after the delivery.
But when news reporters and television news networks became aware that the couple and their septuplets were going to be released from the hospital, a slew of journalists, photographers, and camerapeople swarmed around the septuplets. On television, everyone cheered as the McCaughey family went home happily, with cheers and tears of joy.
Police Security Was A Necessity
The police had to step in to provide the family with security. A security post was placed outside the McCaughey family home so the police could make sure the septuplets would arrive trouble-free at their abode.
Initially, the babies were brought to Bobbi and Kenny’s original home. However, they were later moved into the new house—the one that had been donated so that the family could live with enough space despite there being a large number of occupants.
New Home Sweet Home
While Bobbi and Kenny were working hard taking care of their septuplets in their old house, their brand new home was already being prepared. Once their new house was organized, a formal ceremony took place, after which the family was officially handed the keys to their new home.
The memorable ceremony was presided over by Lloyd Clarke, the chairman of Clarke Companies. The couple was given the keys in the garage. There was clearly excitement wafting in the air as Bobbi and Kenny entered their new home.
Countrywide Attention In The Media
Bobbi and Kenny initially thought that only local media were interested in their story. However, little did they know that their septuplets caught the attention of prominent magazines and networks. Who knew that a simple couple from Iowa would see themselves being hounded by large news organizations?
But that was what happened in December of 1997. A mere month after the birth of their septuplets, the couple was on the front cover of Time Magazine. They were also featured in Newsweek.
A Complete Television Interview
After news magazines covered the couple extensively, ABC News PrimeTime made sure also to feature the story of Bobbi and Kenny. Seeing the adorable septuplets on live news was something nobody could take their eyes off.
Though features on the family involved re-telling what other news reports already reported on, the journalists in the ABC interview made sure to cover different aspects of their story—articles that had yet to have been revealed to the public.
Though much of the news coverage was positive about the family, some could not help but give negative comments. A few people had to express their views that Bobbi and Kenny were irresponsible parents for allowing themselves to have that many children.
Some even believed that the couple had been selfish. Their entire family, including the septuplets, would be generating a large quantity of waste, thereby damaging the environment. The couple focused on their babies instead of what other people thought.
Keeping Things Private
When excitement about the septuplets began to dwindle, the McCaugheys thought it was the perfect time to slip away from the public eye. The family could then do what they normally did without prying eyes. Raising their eight kids was their top priority. Fortunately, they were given advice by the Dionnes, who had given birth to quintuplets.
The Dionnes advised the McCaugheys to live a private family life as much as they possibly could. The McCaugheys did as they were advised. However, they made a special exception on the septuplets’ birthday when they made an annual public appearance.
Sage Advice From Quintuplets
The McCaughey septuplets received wise advice from the Dionne quintuplets who were born in 1934 in Ontario, Canada. Their mother, Elzire Dionne, similarly received a ton of criticism when she was raising her children. A lot of focus was placed on her babies. Sadly, the press during her time treated her children as a circus act.
Eventually, when the quintuplets grew up, they gave generous advice to Bobbi and Kenny. The quintuplets emphasized the value of keeping the lives of the couple’s children as private as possible so that they would be able to enjoy a normal childhood.
Doing A Lot Of Laundry
The mess a single child can produce is enough to keep a family busy the entire day. Imagine the mess seven babies can make. Laundry-wise, expect a drastic increase in your workload. According to reports, Bobbi and Kenny did at least 17 loads of laundry every week.
Caring for babies requires not just feeding or clothing them. It also demands that their clothes be washed, pressed, and stored regularly. Bobbi and Kenny did their best to do the chores on their own. Fortunately, their job was made a tad easier thanks to their two washing machines and dryers.
When you have seven growing babies in a house, expect to do tons of laundry. But more than clothes, they will need to use other items regularly such as diapers. They also burn through tons of milk. These are regular expenses Bobbi and Kenny had to deal with. On average, the family went through 52 diaper changes a day. The babies also consumed 42 bottles of milk.
The couple was obviously spending money every day. They had to think of an effective strategy to manage their expenses. They needed to control how the money went in and out of the household before they hit bankruptcy.
Formula Milk Is A No-no
You might have thought it easier for Bobbi to give her babies formula milk instead of breast milk. But she would not hear any of it. Bobbi decided that she would give her babies pumped breast milk during the first three months. Evidently, she believed that breast milk was best for her babies.
Since the McCaugheys had seven babies, Bobbi had to pump four to five gallons of breast milk per week. Frankly, we’re astounded that this was even physically possible. Essentially, this is maternal devotion at its very best.
Taking Time For Everything
Having septuplets means that even simple tasks will take an extraordinary amount of time. For example, the process of feeding all seven babies would last more than an hour. The same thing goes with changing diapers. Even potty training is not easy.
While the couple was able to effectively potty-train their firstborn Mikayla in as little as four days, it was not the same for the rest of their children. It took nowhere near four days to toilet-train all of them.
It Takes A Village
Raising a child takes a lot of effort and time. Imagine raising eight kids all at once! It was a feat the McCaughey's clearly could not do on their own. Fortunately, they didn’t have to. Kind-hearted volunteers willingly stepped in to help the couple raise their brood.
The family accepted the help of around seventy volunteers. They did everyday tasks around the house. Diaper-changing alone required eight to nine people. Add in feeding the babies, and you would need a lot more. It takes a village to raise a child, and it seems a large village to raise seven!
Everyone Was Helping The Family
Bobbi and Kenny were more than happy to receive a ton of help from everyone who would offer it. Anyone who met the family wanted to offer their support in one way or another. If you knew these parents, wouldn’t you want to try and help them?
The construction workers who were tasked to build their house could not help but chip in and babysit the septuplets for a little while. The least you can do to help the McCaugheys is take care of their youngsters while their parents catch their breath.
Family Members Also Stepped In
Evidently, Kenny and Bobby couldn’t raise all those kids without the support of their own families. Family members and relatives willingly stepped in to assist the couple—they needed all the help they could get.
Bobbi’s sister also took part in raising the septuplets. Here is a picture depicting a fun moment she had with one of the children. The couple greatly appreciated everyone’s help. They could not have done it without everyone’s generous support.
Big Sister Mikayla Being A Big Sister
Even big sister Mikayla pitched in. Despite her age and small size, she made sure she did what big sisters are supposed to do. Since everyone from both sides of the family was willing to help, Mikayla felt she should also do her fair share.
Mikayla lent her mom a hand and helped to feed and take care of her baby brothers and sisters. As a big sister, she felt it was her responsibility to step up. Here she is giving her mom a hand by feeding one of her siblings.
Applying A Necessary Strategy
As previously mentioned, the McCaugheys needed to wise up and start implementing a strategy to limit their expenses. Not only that, but they had to have logistics figured out for each and every day. The end result was actually quite impressive.
The couple decided to purchase everything in bulk in order to save money. They also bought items that included special offers. Their smart budgeting skills brought their monthly expenses down to only $300 per month.
Taking the babies out for a stroll was not easy. Though it is common to see babies in twin strollers, the McCaugheys needed two sets of strollers that could seat four babies. They needed such a contraption to carry the septuplets around town.
Imagine seeing something like this! It looks more like a ride than a stroller. The babies look like they’re having a good time. Anytime the McCaughey's were out for a walk, everyone’s eyes would be on them.
The McCaugheys were successful in limiting the amount they spent monthly, but they felt they had to do more, not just for themselves but for the environment. Bobbi and Kenny then decided to grow their own fruits and vegetables.
Consequently, they didn’t need to do much grocery shopping. They could simply pick fresh produce from their backyard. The family was not only saving money, but they were also consuming fresh and organic food items.
Regular Medical Check-ups
Having to take a baby to the doctor is not an easy task. Having to take all seven babies is even more difficult. All seven must be given proper medical attention and regularly checked. Just because there are a lot of kids, it doesn’t mean you don’t care for them deeply.
And part of caring for a child is making sure they’re healthy and hearty. The couple made sure all their children received adequate medical care. After all, prevention is worth more than a cure—especially when you’re talking about prices that are seven times as high.
Healthy Daily Breakfast
The couple went to great lengths to grow their own produce. As such, they ensured their babies were consuming healthy food items for breakfast. Bobbi and Kenny did their best for the babies’ proper growth. They knew what was going into their meals.
Fortunately, the babies similarly loved to eat healthily. Every day was a day they received the best from their mom and dad. It’s so fortunate that they were given the land required to grow and harvest vegetables!
The Science Of Cryptophasia
As the septuplets grew into toddlers, they developed a distinct bond that allowed them to understand each other. They used a language that was uniquely their own. Nobody taught them to do this, but it occurred naturally.
The phenomenon is referred to as cryptophasia and is similar to what happens between triplets, twins, and sometimes regular siblings. It must be quite a strange experience for outsiders to witness this odd communication styling, but it’s fascinating nonetheless.
Milestone After Milestone
As the septuplets grew, the entire family celebrated their birthday all together with love and joy. They made sure each milestone was remembered and treasured. It must have been difficult growing up sharing the spotlight with six other siblings, but it must have also felt quite wonderful being a part of that.
Birthdays were a great opportunity to be grateful for all the family's blessings. The couple felt they made the right decision to keep all their babies. They had been extremely lucky, to say the least.
The Shoe Size Problem
For all you parents out there, you might know the pain of having to find clothes for your children as they continuously grow. As Bobbi and Kenny’s kids grew fast, they also did so at a different rate. Some were longer than others, and some were shorter.
To make it easy for the couple to dress their kids, they decided to make all four boys wear similar outfits. The girls also wore the same clothes. The difference lay in their shoe sizes. The couple had a great deal of difficulty in finding the correct shoe size for each child.
It’s not easy to buy clothes for seven growing children. Financially, it can be quite a burden. Fortunately, the McCaughey's did not have to go broke to put clothes on their children’s backs. Once again, the community stepped in to help.
Carter’s, a popular clothing brand for children, generously provided the septuplets with clothes until the kids reached the age of five. It was a form of generosity the family greatly appreciated. And, of course, it was probably great PR for Carter’s!
The moment the septuplets were born, the McCaughey family was surprised to receive a call from US President Bill Clinton. They were not only congratulated by Clinton, but Bobbi was also given wise and accurate advice for the future.
According to the President, once the entire septuplets go off to school, Bobbi should be given the honor of being one of America’s “best-organized managers.” We can imagine running a family of ten people is probably on par with running the freest country in the world in terms of difficulty!
Bush And The Septuplets
The septuplets became so popular that, over the years, they had the honor of being in the presence of two presidents. At the time of their birth, United States president Bill Clinton personally called Bobbi and Kenny to congratulate them.
After a few years, it was President George W. Bush’s turn to meet the children. In this picture, the president was introducing the kids to the reporters and media present. We wonder what he had to say to them!