It sounds far-fetched, and the chances of the babies even making it through the pregnancy are extremely low, but on occasion women with the help of medical professionals and close care are able to bring these babies to term and into the world. Often times, fertility treatments play a role in helping women conceive their babies so let’s take a closer look at this story.
Meet The Parents
In 1996 Bobbi and Kenny McCaughey were blessed with the arrival of a healthy baby girl.
They believed their new daughter to be a miracle as Bobbi suffered from issues with her pituitary gland which can cause problems with fertility. They gave their beautiful daughter the name of Mikayla Marie and thought ahead to their next child.
Having had difficulties conceiving Mikayla they decided for their next child they would pursue some fertility treatment.
Their doctor prescribed a medication called Metrodin which is known to help with ovulation, which is required for a woman to conceive a child. Bobbi started to take the medication, and they made plans for their second baby.
One Isn't Enough
Bobbi went in for a scan at her doctors practice but the day turned out to be totally life-changing. The scan revealed that she was, in fact, pregnant with seven babies.
This was not only massive news that they would be growing from a family of 3 to a family of 10, but this pregnancy also posed a level of danger to Bobbi.
Taking The Risk
Despite fully understanding the risks involved in such a complicated pregnancy, and having a healthy daughter in Mikayla, Bobby and Kenny decided they didn't want to choose one of their babies above another and wanted to proceed with the pregnancy as naturally as possible.
There have been only around 40-50 births in the world that have resulted from a pregnancy involving 7 babies. Although many septuplets have not survived birth or infancy, at least 3 sets of septuplets, and survived beyond infancy.
Lots Of Attention
Once their decision had been made, to keep all seven babies, news started to spread of this unusual pregnancy. People in the media and across the country found the story of this small family and their septuplets fascinating.
Not all people who heard the news were supportive of keeping all seven babies, but Bobby and Kenny were confident in their decision that everything would work out for the best.
People who knew the family, and those who didn't decided to offer help to the McCaugheys. After all, the birth of seven children at once is an extraordinary event in any family.
Kraft gave the family a years supply of "man n cheese," they were given boxes and boxes of diapers, some offered themselves to help around the house as a nanny or a babysitter, and amazingly enough, a 5,000 square foot house was donated to the family. The family was amazed at the kindness and generosity of people they knew and even more so from those that were complete strangers.
Running On Nerves
The months and weeks that led up to the birth were not only thrilling but scary and unsurprisingly stressful!
Bobbi had to do her best to keep calm and relaxed as the doctors were concerned that the stress of the upcoming births might lead her to early labor. In the back of their mind, Bobbi and Kenny knew things might not work out, but they tried to stay positive and believe everything would work out.
Meet The Babies
The McCaughey's welcomed three girls and four boys, making up the septuplets. With seven healthy babies, their parents now needed to name their brood.
The heaviest baby was named Robert, the other boys were named Kenny (Kenneth), Nathan Roy, Brandon James, and Joel Steven. The girls were named Alexis May, Natalie Sue and Kelsey Ann who was the lightest baby. That's a lot of names to remember!
The Birthing Staff
Of course, the babies were delivered with the help of the hospital staff. All of the doctors, nurses and maternity staff knew that they were part of making American history by helping deliver the first healthy set of septuplets.
A few days after the births, all the team involved in their delivery gathered together for a group photo.
Since Bobbi and Kenny were asked to come to the hospital nine weeks before Bobbi's due date to deliver the babies, the news channels were unaware that the births were taking place a the Iowa Methodist Hospital Center in Des Moines.
Every channel wanted to get the first picture of the newborns. However, as they would find out, they would have to wait for some time for them to get a glimpse at the septuplets.
Leaving The Hospital
The babies needed a lot of care in their early days, and eventually, after three months and ten days, all seven babies were healthy enough to be allowed home.
Finally, the news crews would get that picture they had been waiting for. As Bobbi and Kenny loaded all seven babies into their new family van, the cameramen and journalists got a snap of the septuplets with their parents. There were lots of smiles, and a few tears as the McCaughey's headed for home.
To ensure that the family would be able to return home safely the police set up a security post outside their house so that the McCaughey's would be able to arrive and enter their home without disturbance.
The babies were brought back to Bobbi and Kenny's old home at first, but soon enough they would be moving into their brand-new house.
There was much interest in the McCaughey family, and at first, Bobbi and Kenny thought it was just local reporters who were reporting on their story.
As news spread, more and more people became interested in the news of the septuplets, and in December of 1997, just a month after the babies were born, Bobbi and Kenny were featured on the front cover of Time Magazine.
It was ABC News Prime Time who was the first to gain full access to the family in a thorough interview and news feature.
There had been a lot of coverage of the septuplets births, but much of this had been reporters retelling what others had already written on the McCaughey family. ABC was the first to get an interview with the family.
Roses Come With Thorns
While the majority of the coverage of the septuplets was positive and supportive of the family, there were inevitable some negative reports.
Some called the family irresponsible for having too many children and that the amount of waste generated by so many babies could be damaging to the environment. It didn't matter to the McCaughey's though. Nothing could detract from the happiness of having seven new babies.
In 1934 the Dionne quintuplets were born in Ontario, Canada. They were born to Elzire Dionne who came under much criticism for the way her babies were raised.
The children were the subject of much press attention which was sometimes described to be like a circus. The quintuplets who were grown adults by the time the septuplets were born warned the McCaughey's about having the press too involved in the children's lives and urged Kenny and Bobbi to try and be as private as possible.
Load After Load
As you can imagine, one newborn generates a lot of dirty clothes. Now think about how much mess seven babies can make.
The McCaughey's were reported to do an average of 17 loads of laundry a week, and since they had tried to keep their lives as private as possible, it meant many of the house chores, had been done by themselves. Luckily they had two washing machines and two dryers to help with the mountains of laundry.
Babies In Bulk
Seven babies don't just generate a lot of laundry but were using on average 52 diapers a day between them, and guzzling through around 42 bottles as well.
This was costing the McCaughey's a lot of money, and eventually Bobbi and Kenny decided they needed to come up with a strategy for managing their large family.
Potty training was also going to be a lengthy challenge. With their first daughter Mikayla, they managed to potty train her within four days successfully.
With the septuplets, they knew it would take them a lot longer, perhaps even a few months to get them all properly potty trained.
They say it takes a village to raise a child and this was certainly the case with the septuplets. The McCaughey's would have around seventy volunteers helping with tasks around the house as well as caring for the little ones.
There would be approximately eight or nine people changing diapers, feeding, and generally making sure the babies were happy and cared for.
Everyone Wants To Help
Everyone who came into contact with the McCaughey's wanted to help and care for the babies. Even the construction workers involved in building their new house wanted a piece of the action.
In this photo, we can see the workers holding the babies for a cute snapshot. wonder how long they stayed at this position with the babies after the photo was taken?
It wasn't just help from volunteers and those in the community. The McCaughey's also relied on a lot of help from their families.
Here we can see a picture Bobbi's sister, Michelle having a special moment with one of the babies. The help Bobbi and Kenny received from their loved ones was of great value to them, and they couldn't have done it without them.
The Big Sister
There was one family member in particular who wanted to help out wherever possible.
Big sister Mikayla always tried to be on hand to play with the babies, help at feeding times and generally assist her parents whenever and wherever she could with her seven younger siblings.
We mentioned earlier that the McCaughey's decided they needed a good strategy to keep their expenses to a minimum. They started with a couple of simple tricks. The first was that they bought in bulk, as with so many babies they knew they would need it eventually.
They also started researching what products were on special offer at their local supermarkets. On one occasion, Bobbi went and bought 60lb's of hamburgers. They manage to bring their monthly spend down to around $300 a month, which was a good reduction from their previous bills.
It's not uncommon to see twin strollers around town, but the McCaughey's required two sets of four-seater strollers, which was not something anyone had ever seen before.
Not surprisingly, this turned heads whenever they would go for a walk around their neighborhood. This is despite most of their neighbors knowing about the septuplets. These babies couldn't help but grab the attention of everyone around them.
The McCaughey's had another idea for helping reduce their monthly expenditure. The family started to grow their own fruits and vegetables which were not only organic but free! Much cheaper than the supermarket equivalent.
These fresh fruits and vegetables were also available in their backyard it was so natural for them to pick and tend to. It helped reduce the cost of grocery shopping and was great for the environment. It's just a shame they could have a cow too.
Having just one baby takes a lot of care and attention, making sure they that all seven babies are getting enough food and sleep as well as cleaning and changing the babies is a lot of work.
The babies also needed to go for regular check-ups to the doctor. Having seven babies checked at once takes a good chunk of time.
Most Important Meal
The babies all loved their breakfast, which is good to hear because as we know, it is the most important meal of the day.
They must have required massive quantities of whatever it was that they ate.
There was an unmistakable bond between all of the babies, and as they grew into toddlers, they started to create their own language.
This phenomenon is not unique to the McCaughey's and often happens between twins and triplets, or even siblings who are close in age. It is called cryptophasia, but the children also spoke English.
With each year as they reached another birthday, the family used it as an opportunity to celebrate the milestones of the septuplets.
It was also an opportunity to thank god for helping their babies and helped instill in the McCaughey's that they had made the right decision with keeping all of their babies. After all, looked at their amazing family.
As the children grew older, they grew at differing rates. Some were stronger, some shorter, but we should always remember- never compare one child to another.
Despite this Bobbi and Kenny decided to dress the dour boys alike and the three girls in the same outfit. However, the children did not all have the same size feet, so they all needed the correct shoe sizes.
Clothing For Septuplets
Seven babies require a lot of clothes, and paying for all of the clothes was costing the McCaughey's huge sums of money. Then something amazing happened.
Carters, the children's clothing brand said that they would supply clothes for all of the babies until the age of five. This was just another example of the amazing generosity showed to Bobbi, Kenny and their family.
News of the babies reached the highest heights. When the septuplets were born, the President of the United States at the time, Bill Clinton called to congratulate the family.
Years later, the children would meet the next President, George W. Bush.
Upon the birth of the septuplets, when Bill Clinton called to congratulate Bobbi and Kenny, he said to her that when the seven children finally go off to school, she will be able to get a job running a major corporation in America.
"You will be one of the best-organized managers in the United States," said President Clinton to Bobbi.
As the septuplets began to grow up, they developed their own unique personalities that differentiated one from the next. Brandon is considered brave, and even a little bit stubborn.
Kenny Junior is the joker among the group, whereas Joel and Natalie prefer to sit quietly and read.
The Naughty One
Kenny Junior isn't just the funny one but also likes to cause mischief. So much so, that Bobbi calls him the "pint-sized explorer."
It's wonderful to see that each child is allowed to grow and develop into whatever person they want to be.
With a house full of eight children it can be easy to take care of yourselves and your relationship.
Bobbi and Kenny thought it was imperative to keep one night free for them to spend some much needed alone time together. Friday night was set aside as their date night.
Each of the children had their own characteristics, and their parents picked up on each of their personality traits.
Nathan is "determined" whereas Kelsey is a "sporty fashionista." Joel is "quiet and reflective" which is similar to Alexis who is "sweet and perceptive." Brandon is "outgoing and athletic," Natalie is a "high achieving perfectionist," and Kenny Jr, who was mentioned as a mischief maker is described by his parents as a "go-getter."
A Special Trip
Families are hectic, and perhaps the McCaugheys were more hectic than most. Despite that, it's still important to take time out as a family and have a break.
The whole family, including Mikayla, were taken to Disney World in Orlando.
On The Cover
For their eighth birthday, the children appeared on the cover of Ladies' Home Journal.
The magazine also featured an article on the family where Bobbi and Kenny answered questions which they hoped would help new parents like they once were.
George W. Bush
In 2001 the McCaughey's were invited to meet with President George W. Bush. This was a big deal for Bobbi and Kenny, so they ensured that they and all the children were appropriately dressed.
Such is the way with young children that some were more interested than others, though we doubt they really grasped who they were meeting with at the time.
Too Much Attention
There was a lot of media attention when the children were born, and Bobbi and Kenny could have decided to have allowed a reality TV show to be made about their lives, as is the case in other families with lots of children, or unusual sets of children.
But the McCaughey's decided against that. There were, however, times when the children were featured in the press and on TV.
It's Your Birthday!
To every rule there are exceptions, and while in general the McCaughey's did not want camera's in their home, the exception was on the children's birthday.
For their 13th birthday, Bobbi and Kenny allowed Ann Curry from the Today show to come a meet the children for a special birthday feature. This time they all got their own cakes with 13 candles on each. Watching them all blow out their candles was a fantastic sight.
High School Days
In 2012 the septuplets started high school and were enrolled into the Carlisle High School in Carlisle Iowa.
As with most things that they do, they received a lot of attention on their first day, but as time went on and each one of them settled in, they started to be successful in their studies.
Each To Their Own
The septuplets didn't just play in a band, but each had their own talents and individual interests. Within the group of seven, some joined the wrestling team, the ones who enjoyed running joined the cross-country team.
The less sporty ones joined the choir and the speech society, entering competitions where they would have to write and deliver their own speeches. The septuplets were clearly talented children.
Feeding seven mouths takes a lot of work, especially when it's no longer just milk. Bobbi and Kenny started to serve the meals as buffets.
The spread was pretty impressive. Even more so, was that as the children got older, they too helped prepare the meals. So perhaps you can't have too many cooks in the kitchen!
Nathan, however, was determined to walk without an aid, which until this point he was forced to do. He felt that he didn't want to be restricted by his condition and taught himself how to walk without the help of his walker.
Each day he got a little bit further, and with this level of determination, he was destined to succeed. Speaking on the matter, he said, "I taught myself how to walk because I really wanted to learn. It's just been getting better and better."
Alexis was also not confined by her condition. She may still suffer from her walking, but she is not defined by it and is a child with many talents.
In 2013, Alexis won the "Teens Miss Dreams Come True" award proving just how gifted she was. In addition, Alexis showed her gift was also academic as she completed the year in the top 15% of her class.
18 At Last
On their eighteenth birthday, there was a sense of relief, not just from the children, who were no longer children but from their parents too.
Of course, Bobbi and Kenny would still be on hand to offer advice and support them however they could, but giving advice to a teenager is a tricky business. Imagine giving advice to seven teenagers at the same time, and each with their own individual needs.
Coming Full Circle
Seeing seven of her children graduate from high school simultaneously must have been highly emotional for Bobbi.
She can remember seeing them all dressed in their graduation regalia, with cap and gown and saying, "It's sad to see things end, but there will be lots of firsts coming." So what was next for the septuplets?
Keeping It Local
Two of the septuplets, Alexis and Kenny, enrolled into their local college, Des Moines which was nice for Bobbi and Kenny as it meant they were close by.
Alexis dreams of being a teacher so worked exceptionally hard during her college degree and graduated at the top of her class. The sky is the limit!
For Brandon, his path led him to enroll in the U.S. Army. This was something he had been dreaming about since he was a small boy, even as young as three years old.
Brandon will succeed in whatever he chooses as he is clearly gifted, having been offered a scholarship to study at his local college. Brandon decided instead to pursue a career in the army and is now an expert in pistol and carbon shooting.
Serving His Country
Brandon continues to serve his country as part of the 75th Rangers Regiment.
Following his heart has also led him to find love and we hope he continues to chase his dreams and fulfill his hearts desires.
Work For Family
For Kenny Jr, there was a different path. As with all of the septuplets they all have their own personalities and identities.
For Kenny he wanted to pursue a career as a carpenter and so far, has been pretty successful at it. However, his passion for carpentry went alongside his generosity.
When big sister Mikayla had her first child, Kenny Jr. took it upon himself to create a gift for her family which she would be able to keep forever.
This wasn't some little memento but was, in fact, a bespoke designed kitchen table with benches to go alongside it. Quite the gift from a little brother.
When the septuplets first arrived one of the acts of generosity was from the State of Iowa promising each child a college education at any state university of their choice.
Four of the seven decided to take the state up on the offer and Natalie, Nathan, Kelsey, and Joel all enrolled at the Hannibal-LaGrange University in Missouri where they are studying right now. Even though they were far from home, Bobbi and Kenny could be comforted that they were at least together at the same school.
Kelsey, who we said is enrolled at Hannibal-LaGrange University chose to focus on music as her major. She is a bright young talent, and we can't wait to see what she achieves.
Music felt like her calling, and if she's passionate about it, we believe that everyone will be able to see that in her performances.
Too Close To Separate
After graduation, the septuplets were interviewed for television. Quite used to the media and the questions, they were asked if they were worried about losing their closeness now they will no longer be under the same roof.
They responded by saying that as septuplets they have an unbreakable bond and will always be close, no matter the distance.
Empty Nest Syndrome
Once all the children had left the house to pursue whatever it is they had decided they wanted to do, Bobbi and Kenny looked around their empty house and felt how different things would be from now on.
They wouldn't have dreamt of holding any of their children back from pursuing their dreams, but the quiet was a new feeling they would need to get used to.
The Older Sister
Let's not forget about big sister Mikayla, who was also loved and encouraged like her seven younger siblings to pursue her dreams.
Mikayla studied at Des Moines college and then continued on to Arizona State University. Mikayla is also married and has a child of her own. We're hoping septuplets don't run in the family.
The day Mikayla got married was a very special day for the McCaughey's. She was surrounded by her younger sisters who were all her bridesmaids, and her younger brothers were also included in the wedding party.
Mikayla never felt excluded by her siblings and was always just one of them. They all managed to squeeze into one photo of all the siblings.
What About Dad?
With an empty house and lots of spare time, some parents find this transition depressing. Kenny McCaughey refused to and decided this was an excellent opportunity to take up a new hobby in motorcycles.
Kenny would scrap them and then meticulously rebuild them. He also took the chance to ride around the country and looks forward to exploring more in the future.
The house which was donated to them when the septuplets were born is now far too big for just Kenny and Bobbi so it looks like they may decide to sell and downsize to something smaller.
We do wonder what will happen if they all want to come and stay for a reunion, but we are sure they will figure out a solution.
Finding A Buyer
It took until February of this year for the McCaughey's to find a buyer for their huge seven bedroom, five bathroom family home. The new lucky owners will be receiving a house that was filled with love and happiness.
Now Bobbi and Kenny can settle into their new home too. But there is a twist.
Having been given such a fantastic gift when their pregnancy turned out with such unexpected results, Bobbi and Kenny decided they would sell their home to an organization called Ruth Harbor, which as a non-profit, helps young women with unplanned pregnancies.
When asked about the sale of the house the McCaughey's 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 for those in need." What an amazing thing the McCaughey's have done.
Dodging A Bullet
When Bobbi and Kenny look back at that difficult decision, they had to make regarding selective reduction they can't help but feel so blessed at having seven beautiful children who have all grown up to be amazing young adults.
After all, the sought fertility treatment for a reason and look what they have been given as a result.
It would be a hard decision for any parent to make and it was a minor miracle that they were all born at all, but you can't deny it was brave of Bobbi and Kenny to proceed with all seven babies.
That being said, if you ask Kenny what he thinks about it, and he'll say, "Well, come to our house and tell us which four I shouldn't have had."
Their Own Book
Shortly after the septuplets were born, the McCaughey's decided they wanted to write and release a book chronicling their experiences.
The book was entitled, "Seven from Heaven" and a major theme that is evident throughout is Bobbi and Kenny's faith and belief in God. You get the feeling that religion has played a significant role in bringing them hope and happiness when the odds were stacked against them.
It was decided early on that the children should not be in the public eye too much. That being said, they struck a deal with Gamma Press in 2001 that they could photograph the children once a year on their birthdays as a way to chronicle their progress.
This was a smart agreement as the family can look back on each year's birthday image. The honor was then given to Polaris Images.
As well as the group shots, each child received an annual portrait which served as a way of documenting each milestone. Do you know who is who?
Ok, we'll tell you. On the top row, going from left to right is Kelsey, Kenny Jr, Natalie and big sister Mikayla. On the bottom row are Alexis, Brandon, Nathan, and Joel.
Being a septuplet is not a normal occurrence, so many people often asked if they had a typical childhood. Well, they played and were able to be creative, had a loving family home and played together.
Sometimes they'd just want to play in the garden or take their toys outside, but that's normal for any child.
Through The Years
We bet you're wondering if multiple births will run in the family. The answer is that it is probably unlikely as Bobbi and Kenny received their miracle septuplets as a result of undergoing fertility treatment.
This, therefore, won't have an influence on the genetic makeup of each child, and they will most likely go on to have straightforward pregnancies without twins, triplets or dare we say it, septuplets.
Will They Have Twins?
There is a valuable lesson to learn in all of this. If you were to ask the McCaughey's if they would change anything about having septuplets the simple answer would be, no. They feel like they were blessed and even though at times things may have been hard they never shied away from their duties or responsibilities.
They would tell you, if you want something then you should just go for it, and you never know, you may end up getting more than you bargained for.