As any parent can tell you, having a baby is no walk in the park. However, that doesn’t stop the average family from doing it about two-and-a-half times. There’s no doubt that it’s an incomparably rewarding experience, albeit a lot of hard work.
But can you imagine having seven babies at once? For one Iowa couple, this question became a reality. Over the past twenty-plus years, their love and care produced one of the most heartwarming stories in recent memory. These folks put the BIG in ‘one big happy family.’
Do you feel overwhelmed looking at this picture? Believe it or not, this was just another day in the life of Bobbi McCaughey of Des Moines, Iowa. You might remember her from when she made history by giving birth to seven children at once!
She and her husband Kenny already had one daughter, Mikayla. By 1997, they felt ready for another child, and Bobbi, who struggled with fertility, started a steady regimen of the fertility drug Metrodin.
The couple was overjoyed when they found out they were expecting. However, the ultrasound revealed a huge surprise: Bobbi was pregnant with seven children! No woman had ever delivered so many at once before.
Bobbi’s abdomen swelled to an unbelievable size, and that wasn’t the only difficult position she found herself in. A doctor recommended the selective reduction method which would reduce the number of embryos in her womb.
However, the McCaughey’s Christian faith led them to the conclusion that selective reduction wasn’t for them. They chose to leave the remainder of Bobbi’s pregnancy ‘in God’s hands.’
Then the big day came. On November 19, Kenny Jr., Alexis, Natalie, Kelsey, Nathan, Brandon, and Joel were born, all within six minutes of one another. They made history as the first surviving septuplets.
Bobbi and Kenny were unsure how to deal with seven newborns at first, but luckily they weren’t alone. Thanks to local news coverage, generous donations of baby supplies came flooding in.
Devon Preparatory School
The most generous of the donors even gave the McCaugheys a 5,000 square foot house! That was key because a family that big takes up quite a bit of space.
An army of caregivers also volunteered to lend a hand with the eight children. This was particularly important as two of them, Alexis and Nathan, had cerebral palsy.
The McCaugheys were such a media sensation that Time featured them in an issue and Oprah Winfrey invited them to appear on her show. But was the notoriety starting to become too much?
Sometimes strangers wrote letters to the parents, accusing them of exploiting their children. Others knocked on their door at any hour of the day and asked to hold and take photos with the septuplets.
A major wake-up call arrived in the form of a phone call from the Dionne quintuplets, five sisters who became a tourist attraction in the 1930s. They advised the McCaugheys to keep their kids out of the spotlight and raise them as normally as possible.
Bobbi and Kenny took that to heart. The family still made a bit of a spectacle wherever they went, but they politely requested that the cameras and reporters give them some privacy.
Corbis / Ambassador / Sygma
The decision paid off in spades. The septuplets had a wonderful childhood, one filled with family gatherings and shared birthday parties. Smart choice by the parents to only put seven candles on that cake!
The parents granted the occasional media check-in, but were otherwise happy to be fenced-off from the American public. It allowed them to savor each milestone the siblings hit.
At age 16, all of them learned to drive at the same time! By that we mean they would take turns behind the wheel, not that they all steered at once. The situation was already chaotic enough for mom and dad!
Alexis competed in beauty pageants for special needs children. In 2013, she overcame a large field to win the Miss Teen Dream Made True contest!
Daily Press Herald
In high school, all seven kids played in the marching band before graduating in 2015. For the first time in their lives, the siblings were splitting off in separate directions.
Natalie, Nathan, Kelsey, and Joel received full rides to Hannibal-LaGrange University. Meanwhile, Kenny Jr. and Alexis attended Des Moines Area Community College, just a short distance from their home.
Des Moines Register
Brandon, on the other hand, took a different path and joined the United States Army. He later became the first sibling to marry, as he wed his sweetheart Alana in the summer of 2018.
Now that they’re empty nesters, Kenny and Bobbi say they wouldn’t have raised their family any other way. That being said, they are glad to have some more time to themselves, while still having their kids very close by!