The Story Starts Below
Facing trouble in getting pregnant is a common scenario these days as everyone is aware of the fertility treatments and other advanced options like surrogacy. Still, visiting the doctor and the following process could be a bit stressing. This story will take you on an extraordinary journey of a young couple who became the first of their own kind in the U.S. but for what reasons? Neither they were aliens nor they did anything unusual.
Certainly, they were blessed with unique results and you are definitely going to believe when you’ll see it in the heartwarming pictures and amazing videos.
This story is of Kenny and Bobbi McCaughey who were living in Des Moines, Iowa after their marriage. Unfortunately, when they planned to expand their family, they faced quite a hard time as they were undergoing the fertility treatment. It started one fine day when the couple had to go to the doctor for the routine checkup regarding the same.
This young couple already faced trouble while having their first baby. There were complications, yet, Bobbi gave birth to a beautiful baby girl whom the couple named Mikayla. This time it was more than just complications as their routine check-up ended up in something way more incredible. It seemed like an ordinary ultrasound until the doctor stopped to look back at Bobbi. Doctors were equally stunned as Bobbi and Kenny. The reports were unbelievable and once the doctor shared the actual situation with Bobbi, she was confused.
Roller Coaster Life
With the birth of a baby, its parents’ whole world changes. From the daily routine to plans of the future, from random outings to grocery shopping, from just chilling around to being responsible, and from learning to being a good example. So far, the McCaugheys looked like every other ordinary family but not for too long. After the conversation they had with the doctor, this family wasn’t ordinary anymore.
Shock Of Seven
Based on the studies, it has been said the chances of multiple kids increases for the couples who conceive with the help of fertility treatments. When the doctor informed Bobbi and Kenny about the ultrasound, he said Bobbi had more than 1 embryo growing in her womb. The next question was obvious. Bobbi couldn’t handle what she just heard from the doctor and when she told Kenny they both were in “sheer terror”. He recalled, “I said, ‘how many?” he recalled of that moment. “She goes, ‘Seven,’ and I go, ‘Arrrggghhh!’ Then I go, ‘No, no, no, no. Are you Serious?’”
Matter Of Life And Death
Seven babies were growing in Bobbi’s womb and the couple didn’t know what should be done about this situation. They knew about this was a matter of life and death. There were no recorded successful cases in the past of septuplets and their mother surviving. When Bobbi had already faced complications while giving birth to Mikayla. The couple was clueless about this situation and how this should be handled. If miraculously the babies are born without any complications then also they had another big thing on mind.
Two To Look After Seven
Just of think of this situation as yours and you’ll realize that delivering the babies is not all. You can afford just one babies expenses and there are six more coming on the way. Diapers, baby food, milk, doctors appointment. When one cries, the other six will start crying for no reason. What if all seven are hungry at the same time? It was just two of them and Mikayla who was around 5 years old. What do you think? Will they be able to get through this together? But how? Practically speaking it seemed to be impossible, but as it is said, the word impossible is made of I’m possible.
Bobbi was suffering intense pain, strain, and soreness which was almost unbearable. On the other hand, the doctors were getting doubtful about a successful delivery. Unaware of their future, Bobbi and Kenny were finding peace in prayers. The doctors left them in a more complicated situation.
As soon as the news was aired about their unusual pregnancy, people became interested in knowing about further updates. Due to Bobbi’s rare conditions, doctors have to be observant. After looking at the huge risk involved in the pregnancy, doctors came up with a suggestion which was criticized by a few people and supported by many. But at the end of the day, it was Bobbi and Kenny’s final decision.
Alternative Of Being Selective?
Doctors highly recommended the couple with the option of “selective reduction.” This meant aborting the embryos that have fewer chances to survive and keeping the embryos which have more survival chances. This was a controversial suggestion and everyone came up with their piece of advice for Bobbi and Kenny. However, being the parents, the couple was to make an official statement.
In His Hands
The expectant parents discussed it with their family and friends. The couple took their time together and that’s when both of them discussed the whole thing. At last, they came up with the words,“ in God’s hands.” Bobbi couldn’t give up on any infant life growing inside her. The couple’s strong faith in God gave them a bit of relief but just for a while.
No Turning Back
Since the day, Bobbi and Kenny got the news about septuplets, there was no turning back in their lives from that moment. They knew they have to manage their future financially as well as emotionally. They were supposed to be more cautious and more aware of everything. But how to be aware of something which no one around them had known about? No one in their knowledge had ever seen anyone having septuplets ever before Bobbi.
Appreciated And Accused
Bobbi and Kenny’s decision to keep faith in God brought them into the instant limelight. After their refusal to doctors’ suggestion, the couple was receiving letters from across the country. Everyone wasn’t happy with them. The couple recalled, “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 and being selfish to waste the world’s resources on a family this big.” They decided not to pay attention to any negativity and focus on what was more important.
Once out of their shock stage of seven infants, the couple was now in the state of excitement by the idea of having seven bundles of joy. They knew all the possible risks but after becoming a national sensation, something so incredible took place that the couple couldn’t help getting emotional and grateful.
“It was scary, you know, watching the stretch marks go ever so higher and wider and just thinking, how much longer can this body keep going?” Bobby recalled. During the months of pregnancy, Bobbi was already given information about the instant changes her body was about to go through. Unlike her first pregnancy, Bobbi’s weight was increasing quickly and she could feel the rapid change taking place.
Bobbi and Kenny’s story and their faith in God was being appreciated everywhere and people wanted to help them as much as they can. The couple never asked for it but they started receiving donations from people they’ve never known or met. Their well-wishers sent them diapers. They even received a large van as another helpful gift. And this wasn’t all.
Home New Home
They received free macaroni and cheese from Kraft that could last for a year. Before their kids even entered the world, they were offered nannying services. Not only this, they got a 5,000-square house. The risk was too much and the hospital was all set to deliver the babies any day.
As the due date was getting close, Bobbi and Kenny were keeping themselves updated with all that she needed and to lessen her pain. None of us can really relate to the feelings that Bobbi was going through. Doctors were nervous and so were the McCaugheys. And the big day came early.
Somehow the months passed and the most crucial time was here, Bobbi was in labor pain. Although the right time is 9 months, in the case of multiple babies premature delivery chances increases. For Bobby, the pain started in the 30th week, that’s just 7 months.
Rushed Before Time
On November 19, 1997, Bobbi and Kenny hurried to the hospital, 9 weeks before the due date. Her waist was 55 inches which almost twice of a full 40-week size. She could barely move and Mikayla was in the hospital room with Bobbi. Even the doctors were prepared with a huge team.
By the time Bobbi and Kenny reached the hospital, a team of 40 specialists was waiting for the couple to arrive. In a delivery room, filled with 40 experts, Bobbi and Kenny, everyone expected 7 healthy infants in the room. But this was the most crucial moment. All kids were supposed to be born safely, even after so many people around, no one was certain that all the seven kids will be delivered and live and the mother will be healthy.
In The Position
When Bobbi sat in the position, her belly was almost touching her knees. Mikayala, her daughter was in the room too for some time. It was a historic moment as the country wanted to know if the mother and her little ones are safe or not. What was next for them was another shock.
Chaotic Or Not?
It was a historic moment for all the doctors, and the process miraculously “was not chaotic”. All the seven kids were born in less than 6 minutes. The kids were brought to life by a C-section operation and everyone was emotional. The delivery was not at all complicated compared to what everyone was thinking. Although the kids were breathing, the next couple of days were unpredictable.
Bundles Of Joy
Out of the seven kids, four were boys and three were girls. Bobbi and Kenny already had a list of names they liked and in the order of their birth, they were named as Kenny Jr., Alexis, Natalie, Kelsey, Nathan, Brandon, and Joel. All the babies were kept under observation of the doctors. Even Bobbi was kept in the hospital for a few days.
After knowing their story, the three of the surviving Dionne quintuplets sisters, who lived mysterious lives, wrote an open letter to the McCaugheys, “We hope your children receive more respect than we did. Their fate should be no different from that of other children. Multiple births should not be confused with entertainment, nor should they be an opportunity to sell products.” The Dionne sisters were the first recorded surviving quintuplets just like the McCaugheys were first recorded surviving septuplets.
Months In Hospital
The infants were premature and were kept in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit for months to make their health stable and help them with the right nutrition. Kids weighing less than usual is normal in multiple births. A premature baby may weight from 3 lbs 4 oz to 2 lbs 5 oz. Were they all healthy? Were they ready to go home?
The infants were now safe and healthy but two of them had cerebral palsy. This is a muscular disorder which will possibly make it hard for them to walk without aid. This was a disappointment for everyone, yet this case was a success as doctors were expecting even worse results.
The babies stayed in the hospital for 3 months and 10 days from their date of birth. On the 11th day, they were welcomed in their home. The babies and their mother finally made it from the three crucial stages of pregnancy, delivery and later risks. This was the beginning of a new life for them. When they took their babies home in their large van.
Typical Toddlers’ Days
However, doctors said that there were high chances for the septuplets to survive, it was nothing less than a miracle for the world. They were noticed by many celebrities and were given a chance to present their story on TV in front of the world. So, did they ignore the warning of the Dionne quintuplets?
Endless Food And Diapers
The most challenging part was to look after all of them all together. Their home was more lively than ever but they were running the whole day and night, just think that the couple was changing 52 diapers and preparing 42 bottles of milk a day. With seven growing kids at home, it wasn’t just asking for more and more efforts but more and more money too.
The kids were famous before they even step into the world. Their parents already appeared on the magazine covers before and now it was their turn to know all the fame. Well, at first they were too small to understand any of this but with time the kids grew and were featured in many leading magazines such as Time, Newsweek and more. This wasn’t all for them.
Meeting Mr. Prez
Then-President Bill Clinton called the McCaugheys to congratulate them on their bold decision of keeping all the kids even when the doctors suggested for selective reduction was a big achievement. Later on, the family met George W. Bush on their first birthday. They appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, the TV ratings touched the highest when the septuplets were aired.
Feeding The Family
At first, they had donations, which made life a bit easier for them but Bobbi and Kenny were aware that they soon have to take things in their own hands. They started buying products in bulk as that will save their time and suit their budget too. The family was spending $300 on groceries monthly, which was four times an average American family at that time. With the time passing, they came up with new plans.
With 8 kids at home, the couple’s work wasn’t enough and they needed more help. With more than 35 volunteer helpers. Their jobs, cleaning, and sleeping had to be added to other tasks. The couple did it buffet style eating, and gardening more which helped them in lowering their grocery bills. With years passing by, the world wanted to know how the septuplets are doing and the family ended up making one big decision.
Rejecting Reality TV
Maybe the McCaugheys were now thinking of the warning given by the Dionne sisters as they decided to turn down almost all reality shows and T.V. interviews requests. The family didn’t wish to share their life with strangers anymore. They made it strict but at times there were exceptions too.
Keeping Up With The McCaugheys
The world wanted to keep up with the McCaugheys when the kids were living a life away from the media attention. They knew that this publicity had brought them a huge help, anyway, they didn’t want their kids to be worried about how’ll they look on the camera most of the time. However, once a year, they allowed one interview before the kids birthdays that gave a world a glimpse into their unique living. The surprise wasn’t over yet.
McCaugheys’ lives were filled with challenges and beautiful moments all at the same time. The kids were always up to something or the other. When the kids were 13 they got another great experience when a documentary was made on the family. The TLC production, hosted by Ann Curry was titled as America’s Septuplets Turn 13. The documentary was aired a month after the kids turned 13. Their teenage was another time to get thing sorted.
Two of the septuplets, Alexis and Nathan, were using walkers throughout their lives. The family’s support was always with them which never let the kids feel low. Nathan was determined to get rid of the disease and learned motor abilities, he said, “I taught myself how to walk because I really wanted to learn. It’s just been getting better and better.” Alexis did something which inspired many young girls.
When Alexis McCaughey started participating in beauty pageants for children with special needs. Her family was there to support her as she walked on the ramp brightly. In 2013, she won the Teen Miss Dream Made True contest in Carroll, Iowa. She scored as the top 15% of the high school class. Alexis made it as a motivational leader and there was much more to happen in the septuplets lives.
The septuplets were homeschooled in kindergarten. Bobbi guided her children who were close to the half classroom. After completing kindergarten, they were separated and were given different classes. They were now separated and this gave them a chance to become separate individuals. They were about to share another big moment in their lives.
In 2012, started attending the Carlisle High School in Carlisle, Iowa. Bobbi used to pack seven lunches and kids used to backpacks packed. It was hard for McCaugheys at first and the teachers had a difficult time in remembering their names. Just give it a thought what it would have been like looking after 7 kids dealing with hormonal teens. Well, their teenage made one thing pretty clear.
The McCaughey septuplets were completely different from each other. Alexis was studious, Kenny Jr was funny, Kelsey and Brandon were good at athletics. Brandon was the fearless and stubby kid. While each and every one had their own interests and hobbies, they were always together for adorable things.
Womb Mates To Bandmates
They were always together in the school band. Music was their thing and this made them spend quality time together. Rest of the times they were indulged in school sports events and other annual meets. While the media couldn’t get over the septuplets’ lives, they grabbed their opportunity of living a normal life.
They were turning 16 and with this, they became world’s first septuplets to cross the age of 16. By this time they all were interested in driving, well, Bobbi and Kenny definitely couldn’t buy 7 cars for each one of them individually. And hence, Kenny came up with an idea.
Work And Buy
The McCaugheys turned 16 and Kenny, their father, granted them with their freedom to work. He allowed them to get jobs and earn for themselves. This was how they can make ways to their own cars and that’s when the septuplets started working. How Bobbi and Kenny were taking care of everything with so much perfection?
Over the years, Bobbi and Kenny worked hard and are proud to see there kids growing and driving. Bobbi adds, “It’s fun to see the work pay off.” In mid of all the limelight, their elder sister Mikayla took a great step towards her big day.
The Septuplets’ Older Sister
Mikayla studied at both Des Moines Area Community College and Arizona State University before she decided to get married and had her first child. She stood close to her siblings even in another achievement of their life. Indeed a wonderful day for the family.
On November 19, 2015, the McCaugheys septuplets were 18 and their high school was about to be completed. Their kids were now legal adults and were about to make big decisions related to their futures and careers. When asked Bobbi shared her feelings, “it’s sad to see things end, but there will be lots of firsts coming.” Their paths were divided and they were ready to go for more adventures in life.
At the time the septuplets were born, they received one of the most reasonable gifts, ie, free college education from several universities. The offers were from Hannibal-LaGrange University in Missouri for free secondary educations and the State of Iowa’s scholarships to any state university of their choice. They had completely different choices though.
Accepting the scholarships, Natalie, Nathan, Kelsey, and Joel started studying at Hannibal-LaGrange University. While Kenny Jr. and Alexis preferred to pursue their studies from Des Moines Area Community College staying close to their parents. Brandon, the fearless and sports enthusiast chose a different route completely opposite to his siblings.
Brandon, who felt connected with military from a young age, joined the U.S. Army after completing his high school. He went on becoming a sharpshooting United States, Army Ranger. Well, Brandon wasn’t the only one whose career came as a surprise to the world.
Goals And Dreams
Kenny Jr. started his own carpentry business. Brandon is engaged and is going to wed the woman of his life this month. Alexis is continuing her career in early childhood education. Kelsey and Natalie are pursuing their college degrees so are Joel and Nathan who seemed to be interested in computer science. They are the first and only septuplets turning 20 years.
Their childhood has been unique and now when they are staying away. they still miss their togetherness. Though the siblings still see each other often and share a strong bond. They don’t have the old days anymore but they’ve accepted the change open heartedly and love their new lives.
Enjoyed Their Upbringing
“You’re never alone. There’s always someone to talk to and hang out with. That’s what I think is the best.” said Kenney Jr. Kelsey added, “I don’t think there’s a worst part, I’ve enjoyed it all.” The next question was: were the septuplets are further looking forward to having multiple children for themselves?
The septuplets were born from fertility treatment, not a genetic predisposition. Bobbi and Kenny were hoping for one fertile egg when seven fertilized. So the septuplets have equal chances just as anyone else of having multiple children. When the couple was asked about all the criticism they have faced over the years they came up with the most adequate answer.
“Well, come to our house, and tell me which four I shouldn’t have had!” Bobbi has this as the answer for all those who are always doubting their parenting skills and their decision to keep them all. After the kids departed from the home, the couple got their own time to think about what’s next for them.
Two decades ago the McCaughey family received their 5,000-square-meter, seven-bedroom, five-bathroom house as a donation from the Clark Company. In February 2018, Bobbi and Kenny decided to move to a smaller place and get their memorable home to a better cause. “As our kids are leaving the nest, it seems to be the right time to start a new chapter,” 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 to others in need,” Bobbi told. “It’s a pretty good size house that met our needs pretty well. We thought we would pass that down to someone else who could use it,” added, Kenny.