Kenny and Bobbi McCaughey could not believe what the doctor was telling them. There had to be a mistake as they kept shaking their heads in disbelief. Bobbi began to rock back and forth and whisper, “no, no, no….” It was impossible! There was no way it could be true.
Bobbi was the first woman who had septuplets. With her loving husband Kenny, she took care of her seven children. Eighteen years after three girls and four boys were totally different people. Would you recognize them? Did they grow up the same way other kids do? Well, we might disappoint you. They have totally changed. Read on to find out
Kenny and Bobbi McCaughey lived in the beautiful mid-western state of Iowa. It was a state known for corn and is the second-largest producer in the world besides China! The couple lived in the town of Des Moines with their daughter and were anxious to give her a sibling.
This small town was full of people who had known Kenny and Bobbi their entire lives. All of their neighbors knew they were trying to grow their family and were excited about their future. The news the couple got from the doctors put everything at risk. As they drove home they wondered what their neighbors would say now.
The couple’s doctor had recommended trying a fertility treatment to help them with this pregnancy. The couple was nervous but put all their faith in Science. They knew their doctor was doing the best they could for their family dreams.
Fertility treatment has only been approved since 1978. This meant it had only been in the medical field for twenty years. It felt like a massive risk and their town was divided on this new treatment. Would the couple survive the next nine months with this risky new procedure?
Before the McCaughey’s took their leap of faith, Patricia Frustaci and her family took a similar risk. In 1985, Patricia also tried a new fertility treatment. Her family was not as successful but was it her bravery that inspired the young couple?
Jacqueline & Lindon Thompson were another local couple from Des Moines. Their fertility treatment was successful and they delivered healthy babies. The couple hoped for a similar result but maybe just twins or triplets. They had no idea for the surprise their doctor would tell them.
At a routine checkup, the doctor delivered startling news. The couple was not carrying one or two babies, they were carrying seven! It was shocking. It was beyond both of their wildest dreams and even though it was exciting, the couple was nervous.
Would Bobbi be safe? This was a risky procedure with an even riskier delivery. Plus how would she manage to carry seven babies to full term? Would everyone be healthy and safe for the next nine months? Only time will tell and the couple needed to make a plan.
With seven additional children, it meant that Bobbi was about the become a full-time stay-at-home mom. The cost of seven children to child care was way out of the budget for the couple. Plus they still had to figure out where they would make room in their house.
As they sat together after the doctor’s appointment, they wondered briefly if they had made a mistake? Was this going to be something they could afford? They wanted to provide a good life for all their children but with eight it was going to be difficult. They decided to sleep on it and see how they felt in the morning.
After sleeping on the doctor’s news, the couple woke up and knew their only option was excitement! They felt incredibly blessed for the opportunity to grow their family and quickly got work planning out the rest of Bobbi’s pregnancy.
Every day her body was growing to accommodate the growing babies. Soon it got to be so big Bobbi could barely stand! She began to spend most of her day resting. Kenny was doing everything possible to keep his wife and babies safe, but would it be enough?
When Bobbi was pregnant with their first daughter, it had been challenging. Bobbi and her daughter had both made it through, but the difference in carrying one baby over seven was massive. She didn’t even recognize her own body anymore.
Traditionally, women are encouraged to relax as much as possible during pregnancy. Different methods they can do this is meditation, reading, yoga, and other light forms of exercise. Bobbi still had one child to look after and a house to prepare for seven more! Were there enough hours in a day for her to feel rested and relaxed?
The young couple was devout Baptists, and this gift went against their community beliefs. Every day they were thinking long and hard about all the potential risks of the pregnancy. They chose to ignore the community pleadings and kept their pregnancy.
The young couple knew the future held a lot of changes. Bobbi was already experiencing a lot of pains and aches, and she knew things were going to get worse before they got better. The only thing that gave her any relief was praying. Unsure of what the future may bring, Bobbi began praying for her family, hoping it would help them deal with this difficult situation. Would her prayers be answered or would they fall on deaf ears?
While they were already struggling with their neighbors to accept their pregnancy, a new danger was outside their front doors. The news on Bobbi’s pregnancy had reached local news channels. The family was not used to this spotlight tabloid harassment.
They couldn’t control what reporters were saying about them, but kept telling news outlets they felt blessed to have their babies. No matter what questions were thrown their way they knew God would protect their family and deliver seven healthy babies. Would the general public support this new family or would the media cause more problems?
Bobbi and Kenny figured after the first couple of reporters people would forget about their growing family. After the first local stations ran their story, it reached international levels. The young couple was in shock, and their small town was unprepared for the media that landed.
With media attention came support from brands and strangers across the world. A lot of people were rooting for these seven babies to have the best life possible. As gifts and donations poured in, so did corporate sponsorship! The young family received a lifetime supply of macaroni and cheese from Kraft! The next donation was bigger than anyone could have imagined.
One of the biggest fears for the couple was where would everyone sleep? They knew, in the beginning, the babies could share cribs but how could they plan to afford a house everyone would be comfortable in. They started to give in to the anxiety as more donations poured in, including one that nearly knocked them over!
Anonymous donors had felt compassion for this young family and realized the struggle their house would be in the future. Bobbi and Kenny received a large van, full-time nanny services, and a 5,000-square foot house! Everyone was about to have a safe place to sleep but the closer Bobbi’s due date got, the more concerned she got about the delivery.
The pregnancy was going relatively smooth besides the constant pain as Bobbi’s body stretched to accommodate the babies. Every day, Bobbi was anxious but she tried to remain as calm as possible. Unfortunately, the next series of events were out of her hands.
A healthy pregnancy is expected to last forty weeks. On week thirty, Bobbi felt something change and knew her babies were in danger. She quickly told Kenny and was raced to the hospital. At thirty weeks the babies were coming whether their parents were ready or not. Would everyone survive the delivery?
The local hospital performing the delivery had never experienced anything like this. While Bobbi had been at home, they had been planning how to deliver the babies safely. In all of their discussions, they had expected the babies to arrive early. As Bobbi was rushed to the hospital, the team began to assemble.
Unlike other pregnancy’s where there might be three people in the delivery room, this delivery team was made up of forty doctors. As each baby was delivered they would require medical attention, plus someone had to monitor Bobbi’s health too. The labor had started and all Bobbi could do was begin to pray.
The babies were safely delivered via C-section and everything went smoothly. Each baby was born six minutes apart. Each time one was delivered they immediately got medical attention. After all seven babies were safely delivered, Bobbi and Kenny found out their next steps.
While Bobbi healed from her surgery, the babies would need to be closely monitored. Due to the fertility treatment and arriving ten weeks early the next few days were critical. They had to stay in the hospital and be closely monitored before Bobbi and Kenny could even hold them. The couple held each other while they cried. After waiting so long they just wanted to bring their family home.
While the babies stayed in the hospital, Bobbi and Kenny had a big task! They still needed to name all seven of their new children. The babies were so tiny, the young couple hoped they were healthy enough to survive. Newborns are typically small but these babies were only 2-3lbs.
As they watched behind a glass window, praying for their babies, they decided on the names. The couple had four boys and three girls. They chose Kenny Jr., Alexis, Natalie, Kelsey, Nathan, Brandon, and Joel. The couple could not wait to bring them home but how long would they have to stay in the hospital.
Finally, after three months, the couple got the green light to bring home their babies. The doctors felt confident that they had survived the most dangerous time and now the babies would grow into healthy children.
Using their brand new van for the first time, the young couple loaded up seven car seats and made their drive back home. As they drove towards their house the reality hit the young couple and life would never be the same again.
Every day the young couple relied on their full-time help to make sure each baby was fed, cleaned, and happy. The world was astonished as the septuplets continued to survive and thrive. They were the first set to live past delivery and garnered even more media attention than when Bobbi was pregnant.
Every day they would go through fifty-two diapers, which was seven diapers per baby! They began to accept talk show offers and reporter’s requests for interviews. Their family made appearances on Oprah Winfrey and received phone calls from President Clinton and George W.Bush. Was all publicity good publicity for this growing family? What happened to their community that was so against the pregnancy?
Besides fifty-two diapers the young couple was also going through forty-two bottles a day! It was a full-time job to keep up and make sure that they were also taking care of their first daughter Mikayla, and themselves. They had many donations and generous helpers but they needed to do more.
The young couple was extremely resourceful. They had to stretch every dollar and also wanted to save. They revealed in an interview that by buying in bulk they only spent 300$/month on groceries. Families across America were shocked! This was a typical budget for a family of four. Everywhere around the world, no one could figure out how the McCaughey family was pulling it off.
Before the McCaughey septuplets, The Dionne quintuplets beat the odds and expectations. The identical siblings were born in 1934 without the use of any fertility treatment. They were two months early and their family had very little medical support at the beginning of their lives.
As they grew older their parents took advantage of media attention and the girls were constantly in the spotlight. The quintuplets reached out to Bobbi and Kenny and urged them to keep their lives private. They spoke of the challenges growing up in the public and the couple listened patiently. Even though they appreciated the advice, would the young parents cave to fame and fortune or put their children’s lives first by keeping them private?
The parents listened carefully and knew it was in the family’s best interest for them to keep their children’s lives private. They slowly stopped accepting media attention and eventually, the public started to forget about the miraculous McCaughey family.
They allowed one major exception. Every year on the septuplets birthday they did a Dateline special. This was a fun day for everyone in the family and the world loved seeing how the children were growing up every year. The family received a strange request and Bobbi and Kenny needed to decide just how much they wanted the world to know.
With a family of ten, there was never a wasted second. Each day brought forward new challenges and surprises, but the family just rolled with the punches. They still couldn’t believe the babies had survived and each day was another blessing.
The television channel TLC approached them to do an exclusive documentary on their seven kids turning 13! At one point, this massive milestone had seemed impossible to reach. Bobbi & Kenny agreed to the documentary and the documentary was viewed by thousands a month after the kids became teens!
Bobbi and Kenny were learning valuable advice and decided to write a book to help other families. Their book, ‘Seven From Heaven’ was published in 1998 and lots of families enjoyed the anecdotes and helpful advice.
Now that the kids were growing up, they still had daily challenges to face. Two of the septuplets Alexis and Nathan had been born with cerebral palsy and needed walkers. The two children were constantly optimistic and had a fighting spirit that this physical disability wouldn’t define them. What major events were coming up that would force the siblings to go against each other?
While each one of the McCaughey septuplets was unique in their own way only one of them got crowned a pageant winner. Their sister Alexis overcame her cerebral palsy to compete in a beauty pageant specifically designed for kids with special needs.
Not only did Alexis compete, but in 2013 she won the crown and title in Teen Miss Dream Made True. As she walked the stage to accept her award it was truly a moment she could not have achieved without her family’s support! They were all in the audience to cheer her on as she received her crown. What other accomplishments would the McCaughey septuplets achieve?
In the beginning, the McCaughey septuplets were home-schooled. Bobbi took on the challenge of teaching every day until they turned seven. After that, they began attending school and were even in different classes. Everyone in the school knew who they were but it gave them a chance to become known independently too.
In 2012, all seven began attending high school at Carlisle High School in Iowa. One teenager starting high school would terrify parents everywhere but with seven, there was a whole world of new challenges! As they began to grow into their own personalities a few things became really clear to their family and friends.
While they were constantly referred to as a group over the years they worked on becoming independent. Each sibling had separate passions and spent time focusing on their activities and hobbies. We can’t imagine what would happen when all seven had friends over from school but Bobbi and Kenny at this point could handle any challenge.
As the years passed the siblings expressed a diverse range of interests. The oldest sibling Kenny Jr. had turned into a class clown and kept everyone laughing. Alexis was a recognized beauty pageant winner, but did her other siblings have what it takes to be famous too?
With seven siblings it was important to be recognized for what you felt passionate about as an individual. Natalie was extremely focused on her studies, and Kelsey and Brandon were the most driven by athletic goals. Their brother Joel was known for being stubborn and the biggest daredevil!
The one thing they all had in common was music! From a young age, all the siblings enjoyed being musical and eventually played in their high school band. The whole town loved seeing them at halftime shows in football games or the church choir. After being out of the public eye for so long, what big event would bring the news teams back into their home?
Every teenager looks forward to their sixteenth birthday for one main reason: driving! All seven of the siblings were eagerly waiting for this milestone birthday and the freedom to get behind the family van. It turns out they weren’t the only ones excited for this birthday!
The local newspaper, the ‘Des Moines Register’ came over to interview the family and ask one big question! Would each sibling get their own car? The whole family laughed, but Kenny did share that all the siblings knew they would be paying for their own driver’s lessons, and would only be sharing one family vehicle.
No one was worried about the septuplets thriving anymore. They had already proven on a national stage that they were more than capable to take on the world. It seemed there was nothing this brave group couldn’t accomplish!
While they excelled in academics, athletics and began to get part-time jobs, one lingering question remains. When the septuplets arrived in the world, Bobbi and Kenny already had one child. Everyone began to wonder, what happened to Mikayla? Had her sibling’s fame erased her from the family completely?
The eldest sibling is always her younger sibling’s biggest fan! Only a year older, she may have been slightly overshadowed but had a relatively normal childhood helping out with her sibling. After graduating high school she went on to complete two degrees at post-secondary education institutes.
Since there were seven younger siblings, Mikayla never had to be the big sister that protected them. They were already a team to take on the world. Mikayla graduated from Des Moines Area Community College and Arizona State University. She got married and her family welcomed a beautiful baby girl. How would the family afford to send seven brilliant kids to University? The answer was closer than they expected.
Following in their big sister’s footsteps all the kids wanted to attend university. Even though Bobbi and Kenny lived frugally there was no way they could afford to pay for seven university tuitions. All the septuplets were so different, what would they choose to study?
One more amazing donation shocked the entire family! Not one, but two universities came forward to offer the intelligent seven kids scholarships. The two schools were Hannibal-LaGrange University in Missouri and the state of Iowa guaranteed to pay for any state school the siblings applied to! This was so exciting, but did the seven siblings want to be separated or pursue their education further?
Six of the siblings were eager to get a degree and graduate from University. Natalie, Nathan, Kelsey, and Joel chose to move out to Missouri and attend Hannibal-LaGrange University while Kenny Jr. and Alexis studied locally at the Des Moines Area Community College.
The last septuplet Brandon took his own path and enlisted in the military. Through his dedication and hard work, he became a United States Army Ranger. Bobbi and Kenny were thrilled with all of their children’s achievements. From tiny newborns, they had beaten all the odds to come out on top and succeed. One big birthday was around the corner, and the parents were bracing for a new pastime.
In the United States, the legal drinking age is 21 and it’s a massive party for all young people. Surrounded by friends and family the septuplet’s poured a legal drink and gave a toast to their amazing story and journey.
With all the kids in different parts of the world, there wasn’t a huge party. Instead, they all quietly celebrated privately until they could have a proper party when they were all together. Their parents still miss having a full house but when everyone comes home at the same time, they pick up right where they left. What other exciting news is happening in the McCaughey clan?
Two of the seven siblings got engaged before their 21rst birthday bash! Siblings Natalie and Brandon both found their significant others. Natalie married her husband in 2019 while the wedding plans for Brandon were on hold until he came home from deployment.
Bobbi and Kenny are enjoying having the house back to themselves. The beautiful five-bedroom house that an anonymous donor gave them will continue to make dreams come true. The couple has decided to donate it to Ruth Harbor, a Christian-based foundation that supports young mothers in troubled times. What else does the future have in store for these miracle babies?
While each septuplet remains close with their siblings, their paths are becoming more unique. Kenny Jr has started his own carpentry business and the other siblings are graduating in their chosen fields. Kelsy in public relations, Alexis in early childhood development and education, Natalie in exercise science, and both Joel and Nathan in Information Technology.
The siblings have stayed humble and never let fame or being in the public eye influence their decisions. These seven amazing siblings continue to prove that anything is possible with the support of your family. We can’t wait to see what else they accomplish in this lifetime!