Carrying a baby for 9 months can be one of the biggest struggles in a woman’s life. Twins is double the fuss. But what about conceiving 7 children at once? Sounds crazy, we know, but that’s exactly what Kenny and Bobbi McCaughey discovered they were going through in the mid-1990s.
The McCaughey couple had been trying to have another baby to accompany their daughter, Mikayla Marie, but instead they got life-altering news of septuplets on the way. Very rarely do multiple births yield a 100% survival rate, but Bobbi had beaten the odds more than once. Don’t miss the amazing story of Bobbi’s set of seven and how she managed to make it through on her own.
1. Unexpected to say the least
Kenny and Bobbi McCaughey of Iowa had been hoping to add a fourth member to their family when they met with their doctor for a routine checkup. During the ultrasound, their doctor discovered something that nobody expects to hear. The doctor didn’t find one embryo but seven! Of every 4.7 billion pregnancies, only one is has a chance of carrying septuplets, and Bobbi was that lucky person.
2. Initial shock
After receiving news this big, their natural response was of sheer horror. Kenny asked the doctor to repeat herself, and she reassured him that no calculation errors were made. In the beginning, Bobbi was beside herself, not knowing what kind of things carrying 7 children at once could do to her body. Even after being given a moment to process the news, Kenny and Bobbi weren’t sure what to do.
3. The waiting game
The McCaugheys had difficulty conceiving their first daughter, Mikayla Marie, so they were more than concerned about how her second pregnancy would turn out. After the first few months, Bobbi could already feel the differences between her first and current pregnancies. Sitting up became a struggle as her belly would touch her knees. Bobbi became anxious about how she would deliver in the not-so-distant future.
4. Praying for the best
Carrying a single child is a challenge for most mothers, but carrying 7 at once is a recipe for pain and stress. Although Bobbi was excited about the prospect of a large 10-member family, the reality of it all would pull her into borderline depression. Unsure of what fate had in store for them, the only thing the McCaugheys could do was pray. After meeting with their doctor, they had a very difficult decision to make.
5. “Selective reduction”
Because of the nature of her unusual pregnancy, Bobbi needed constant monitoring to ensure nothing happened to her and her babies. But their doctor had given them one very serious option: selective reduction. By this time, the McCaugheys had already become a media sensation, and everybody wanted to know what Bobbi would do. She had to choose to continue carrying the embryos with the highest chances of surviving or soldiering on and praying for a miracle.
6. In God we trust
At this point, Kenny and Bobbi had already become a media sensation. Everybody was giving their two cents on how they would approach their situation, but Bobbi decided to leave fate in the hands of God. The McCaugheys are firm Baptists, so they disregarded selective reduction completely. This decision went hand-in-hand with her maternal instinct to have faith and let God handle the rest.
Their decision to go forward with their pregnancy took the public by surprise. They were confident in their decision and nothing anybody said would sway them of it. However, even though they received tons of support from the public, not everybody was happy with what they were doing. For every 10 letters, at least 1 would contain hurtful words, accusing them of exploiting their unborn children for fame and money.
8. Donations for the septuplets
Even though the McCaughleys were thrust into the media limelight by their unusual predicament, they never expressed the tiniest inclination of asking for donations. They were just excited about the prospect of baby McCaughleys filling their home with laughter and joy. That didn’t stop their well-wishers from sending them very generous gifts of diapers and a year’s supply of Kraft macaroni and cheese. But what surprised them the most was a free family-sized van and a 5,000-square-foot home from Clark Company for their growing family.
9. Rushing to the hospital
Before long, it was only a few weeks before the septuplets’ due date. The McCaugheys were excited about welcoming their seven newborn babies into the world. As the days went by, the couple became increasingly more apprehensive about how they would deliver. But things took a worrying turn as on the 30-week mark, Bobbi needed to go to the hospital.
10. Going into labor
9 weeks before her planned due date, Bobbi was going into labor. An impressive medical team of 40 doctors was by her side throughout the birthing process – each their breath, not knowing what would unfold before them. However, to Bobbi and the team’s surprise, delivering the septuplets wasn’t that different from delivering a single child. Via C-section, the doctors pulled out baby after baby, sighing a breath of relief as each child wailed healthily in their arms.
11. 7 times the joy
Against all odds, Bobbi had given birth to 7 healthy babies – 3 daughters and 4 sons. Kenny and Bobbi picked the names of their newborn children beforehand. In order of birth, they named them Kenny Jr., Alexis, Natalie, Kelsey, Nathan, Brandon, and Joel. Being born prematurely, they weighed between 2 and 6 pounds each. The babies were placed in neonatal ICU, and it would be months before Kenny and Bobbi could show them their new home.
12. Taking the babies home
3 months and 10 days after giving birth, Bobbi got the OK from her doctors to take the septuplets home. The babies had survived past the first critical months, and the McCaugheys were nothing but overjoyed to move forward. Although the babies had beaten all odds and survived, Alexis and Nathan were born with cerebral palsy which would affect their ability to walk in the future. Despite this health condition, the family just was relieved to get some much-needed rest at home.
13. Rewriting history
Never in recorded history has a mother delivered septuplets with a 100% survival rate in infancy. This brought the family even more attention from the media. The entire country was in awe after seeing the family walk out of the hospital doors with their seven newborn babies in tow. Even President Bill Clinton called to offer his congratulations on their remarkable feat. On their first birthday, the McCaughey family received an invitation to appear on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Mom and dad were all smiles in front of the camera, but raising seven babies and a toddler was taking its toll.
14. Never-ending diaper changes
The McCaughey family was in seventh heaven raising their seven newborn babies, but behind closed doors, things were a bit more hectic than you might have thought. Each baby needed to be rocked to sleep while another one was wailing in the corner. On top of that, the parents had to prepare 42 bottles a day plus keep an infinite supply of diapers on hand. It goes without saying that raising 7 children not only takes up your entire day but also requires having a healthy wallet. Thankfully, the McCaugheys had a secret plan to take care of their money woes.
15. Living on a tight budget
Making a budget isn’t exactly a “secret,” but the plan the McCaugheys devised was nothing short of ingenious. With 10 people in the family and the initial supply of donations running thin, Kenny and Bobbi calculated that they could get by with only $300 of groceries monthly by buying in bulk. At the time, this was enough to supply a 4-person family, but by shopping smart, they managed to pull through. They also had other tricks up their sleeves to make ends meet.
16. Being resourceful
Not only did the McCaugheys receive money and food donations, but they also got offers for free nanny services. People were happy to be a part of raising the world-famous septuplets, and the offers to babysit were rolling in. The family also discovered that eating buffet style and growing their own vegetables would help them save more while keeping their bellies full. Years had passed and the media frenzy surrounding the family didn’t diminish, but now they had another hard decision to make.
17. Reality TV offers
When the septuplets reached the age of 10, Kenny and Bobbi decided to turn down most requests for media interviews. There was a demand to know about how the McCaughey clan was doing, but preserving their privacy was much more important to the parents. Kenny and Bobbi received helpful advice from the infamous Dionne quintuplets, warning them of the pitfalls of fame. Although they were wary about what publicity would do to them, they did grant media appearance requests from time to time.
18. Annual update
From the moment they stepped foot out of the hospital doors, the McCaughey septuplets were in the middle of the media spotlight. The world was fascinated about how the family would raise 7 babies and a toddler, but Bobbi ultimately decided that spending time in front of the camera would do more harm than good. There were exceptions to this rule as Kenny and Bobbi allowed Dateline to check in on them on the septuplets’ birthday. However, it wasn’t long before the people received another jaw-dropping update from the family.
19. The McCaughey documentary
The people’s demand to know about the McCaugheys was fulfilled as the parents accepted the offer to star in a documentary. In 2010, Ann Curry hosted the America’s Septuplets Turn 13 that spoke of the amazing lives of the septuplets and the hardships of raising seven screaming newborns. The documentary aired a month after the 7 became teenagers and blew out all 91 of their birthday candles. As the children grew older, they’d accomplish much more than just starring in a documentary.
20. Overcoming the impossible
Alexis and Nathan were born with cerebral palsy, a condition that affects motor skills. For most of their childhood, the two had to use walkers to get around. But with self-determination, Nathan taught himself how to walk without the use of walkers and crutches. Seeing the success of her brother, Alexis followed suit, and the two of them supported each other through this difficult time. With the help of their loving family, Alexis and Nathan mostly no longer needed equipment to move.
21. Beauty pageant
Alexis would never let anything bring her down, even her health condition that limited her motor skills. Not only did she overcome her motor limitations, but she also joined in beauty pageants for special needs children. In 2013, the then-16-year-old Alexis was crowned Teen Miss Dream Made True in Carroll, Iowa, and graduated in the top 15% of her class. Her dream of becoming an inspiration to those around her was gradually becoming a reality.
22. Growing as individuals
The McCaugheys decided to homeschool the children for kindergarten, gathering the bunch up in the kitchen for early learning. The kids made up half a classroom on their own so developing social skills wasn’t too difficult. After completing kindergarten, the septuplets were sent to a public school where they were placed in different classes. The media had known them as septuplets for all their lives, but the kids were growing to become individuals with different personalities and interests.
23. Entering high school
After completing junior high, the septuplets were enrolled in Carlisle High School in Iowa. With their 7 backpacks filled with 7 lunch bags and 7 sets of textbooks, the teens were ushered out the door and boarded onto the school bus. The fear and anxiety of entering a new school can be traumatizing to anybody, but the septuplets had each other for relief. The entire school knew them, though they had difficulty remembering all of their names. But it was during this period in their life that something became clear about the teens.
24. Independent dreams
From a young age, they were collectively referred to as the “McCaughey septuplets,” a title that they happily accepted. However, what many failed to realize is that they were growing up and developing their own personalities. Alexis, the teen pageant winner, was known to be serious and studious, whereas her Kenny Jr. was viewed as the clown in their bunch and their class. Kelsey and Brandon had a thing for athletics, and Brandon known to be the fearless hero. Although they indeed valued their individualism, there was one adorable thing they were known to do together.
25. Family band
If they wanted, the McCaughey septuplets had more than enough manpower to form their own band. And even though they had very different interests and aspirations, they all shared one thing in common – their love for music. All 7 children joined their school band and performed at half time sporting events.
26. Sixteenth birthday
Everybody watched as Dateline had another special annual meeting with the McCaughey clan on their 16th birthday. Although reaching the early ages of adulthood is a milestone, this was the age where they were legally allowed behind the wheel of a car. Buying 7 cars for the septuplets was out of the question, but Kenny allowed the kids to work and make their own money to pay for driver’s ed and eventually their own set of wheels. The kids were growing up and would soon be ready to leave the nest. Do you want to know how Kenny and Bobby were handling it?
27. Life at home
The children were growing into adults, and Kenny and Bobbi couldn’t be happier. The kids had experienced the highlights of teen life – both the ups and downs – and would soon be leaving for college. The most important thing was to stay as tightly knit as possible, being a part of each other’s lives, and loving one another unconditionally. Although the media’s focus was on the septuplets, people were curious to learn the whereabouts of their oldest sister Mikayla.
28. Mikayla Marie McCaughey
Kenny and Bobbi’s first-born daughter, Mikayla Marie, had blossomed to become the ideal loving older sister that everybody wants. She was there to help raise her siblings during their terrible twos, and she gave them all the love in the world as they grew older. She went on to study at Arizona State University and Des Moines Area Community College before settling down and marrying the love of her life. She and her husband have a child with seven loving aunts and uncles from her side. Mikayla remains a close part of her siblings’ lives.
29. High school graduation
In 2015, the septuplets had turned 18, and graduation was just around the corner. To the parents, it must have felt like yesterday the cameras were on them as they left the hospital for the first time with their 7 bundles of joy. On November 9, 2015, the children were graduating and became legal adults. 5 months later in May 2016, the seven once again found themselves in the media spotlight for their graduation. They would soon venture out into the world not as the McCaughey septuplets but as individuals, ready to take on whatever the world brings to them.
30. Going to college
When the media informed the public of the miraculous pregnancy and birth of the septuplets, one of the most generous donations they received was a free college education for all 7 kids. In Missouri, Hannibal-LaGrange University offered the family secondary educations, free of charge. The government of Iowa also offered them scholarships to whatever school of their choosing in the state. Natalie, Nathan, Kelsey, and Joel happily accepted the offer to go to Missouri, while Kenny Jr. and Alexis stayed close to mom and dad by enrolling in Mikayla’s alma mater. Brandon chose a different path.
31. The military
Brandon was the only septuplet who didn’t immediately enroll in college. Instead, he decided that his future in the US Army would be a better fit after graduating high school. Brandon, being the fearless and heroic of the bunch, had a passion for the army but no one expected him to enlist. Brandon became a renowned sharpshooter in the US Army Rangers, doing his parents and family proud.
32. Different career paths
In 2017, the McCaughey 7 made history by becoming the first every septuplet to reach the age of 20. And although the children never drifted apart as a group, they chose very different career paths. Brandon was a successful Ranger in the US Army and married in July 2018, Kenny Jr. started his own carpentry shop, Alexis is pursuing a job as an early childhood educator, Joel and Nathan share a fascination in computers, and Kelsey and Natalie had just recently completed their college studies.
33. Staying connected
If Bobbi’s second pregnancy proves anything, it’s that coming out of the womb 6 minutes apart creates an unbreakable connection. Although they have their own separate paths and are saddened to bid farewell to their brothers and sisters, they have their own separate paths ahead of them. As adults, they stay connected via social media and also family gatherings. They’re also in the unique position to reflect on their unique but hectic upbringing.
34. Enjoyed the craziness
Although the septuplets were too young to understand the craziness of their pregnancy, they always have mom and dad to retell their stories. Looking back, each of the now-22-year-old septuplets is grateful for what wonderful parents they have. Living in a 10-member family, you’re never truly alone, and as Kenny Jr. stated in a 2017 interview, “That’s what I think is best.”
35. Do multiple births run in the family?
The astounding pregnancy of Bobbi McCaughey has the people wondering whether this is genetic. Although it would be awesome to see each septuplet have their own set of twins or triplets, the answer is nobody has a greater likelihood of carrying multiple children at one. Because Bobbi was struggling to conceive a second child, she and Kenny decided to get medical intervention. Their miraculous birth was not a genetic predisposition but rather a fertility treatment.
36. Nothing to regret
Kenny and Bobbi spent time in front of the camera reflecting on their initial response to hearing the wonderful/terrifying news of septuplets. Today, if you asked them whether they have any regrets bringing 7 screaming babies into the world at once, their answer would be an unequivocal “no.” The couple is happy they did not opt for selective reduction, seeing their children grow up to be wonderful adults. Now that all 8 kids are out of the house, they can finally focus on their own interests.
37. Their own things
As 23-year-olds out in the wild, nobody knows for sure which choices each of the septuplets will make. So far, they seem to be heading down different paths, and their parents couldn’t be prouder. Now that they have time on their hands, Kenny has found a calling for motorcycle and traveling across the country with Bobbi. Even though Kenny enjoys the sunny outdoors and long road trips, saying goodbye to his children the first time was far from easy.
38. Leaving the nest
For two decades, Kenny and Bobbi were used to the screams and cries of their eight children. Now that Mikayla and her seven siblings have left the nest, the emptiness of the house is a reminder of what once was. Kenny and Bobbi admitted that life has become easier since their children left for college. With 8 fewer mouths to feed, they don’t have to keep the fridge stocked with an assortment of junk food and fizzy drinks. Perhaps you’re wondering about the family’s plans for their expansive, 5,000-square-foot home?
39. Selling their home
In 1997, the McCaugheys received a generous donation from the Clark Company of a 5,000-square-foot, 7-bedroom home with 5 bathrooms. With all 8 of the kids out the door, Kenny and Bobbi decided that their home is far too large for the two, especially since they enjoy spending their free time hitting the open road.
40. Helping others
The wonderful donation from Clark Company served as a wonderful home to a lovely 10-person family, but after their 8 children left for college and work, Kenny and Bobbi decided to downsize and put their house on the market. In 2018, the home was purchased by a Ruth Harbor NGO to help young mothers with unplanned pregnancies. Although it now serves an amazing purpose, the world will forever know it as the place where the McCaughey septuplets called home.