World’s first surviving septuplets – look at them 20 years later

By  | 


Having a baby is one of life’s joy, but seven kids at once is a sporadic and unusual occurrence. What is even more uncommon is for all seven children to survive birth and the journey of childhood into adulthood. In 1997, the first set of septuplets to survive in the world was born to the McCaughey family and instantly became a worldwide phenomenon.

Born to Kenny and Bobbi McCaughey, Kenny Jr., Kelsey, Natalie, Alexis, Joel, Brandon and Nathan have now turned 20, making their proud parents wonder where all the years went. Today, the septuplets are young adults who have separate dreams, goals and identities.


A Special Couple That Beat the Odds

Bobbi and Kenny McCaughey, a couple that enjoyed a simple life in Iowa, welcomed their first child, a girl named Mikayla Marie on January 3, 1996. Kayla was something of a miracle baby since Bobbi suffered from health issues from her birth. Her pituitary gland was malformed, resulting in her hormones being extremely weak. Still, due to the couple’s dream of adding more children to their brood, and thanks to a lot of planning, Bobbi got pregnant again. This pregnancy was meant to all they had ever wanted.


The Treatment That Made It Possible

Kenny and Bobbi McCaughey decided that their best chance of having another child would be through the use of hormone therapy, specifically the fertility drug Metrodin. The treatment works by stimulating ovulation, helping women with fertility problems become pregnant. Since they were desperate to add another pair of little feet to their new family, they were willing to try anything. A few months after receiving the Metrodin injection, Bobbi fell pregnant. However, little did the McCaugheys know what was in store for them.


Big News and a Big Decision to Make

Although Bobbi and her husband were prepared for the pregnancy, they were more than a little panicked when they were told just how many embryos she was carrying – she was pregnant with seven children! This information was overwhelming to Bobbi, so doctors offered her an alternative; she could opt for selective reduction. The procedure would reduce the number of fetuses in her womb, taking away the lives of some of them. After a lot of soul-searching, she decided to let nature take its course, choosing not to undertake the procedure.



The news of the impending birth of the septuplets quickly spread, quickly thrusting the McCaughey family into the spotlight, with the parents receiving plenty of attention from the media. While the majority of people who heard the news offered messages of support, there were those who thought that the parents were selfish by rejecting the selective reduction option that promised to offer the remaining babies a greater chance of a normal life. However, Kenny and Bobby stuck to their decision, saying the children’s fate would decided in God’s hands.


Seven New Miracles

On Nov 19, 1997, Bobbi gave birth to four boys and three girls who were delivered by medic Paula Mahone and Karen Drake. The new parents named their seven bundles of joy Kenny Robert, Alexis May, Brandon James, Natalie Sue, Kelsey Ann, Nathan Roy, and Joel Steven. The children were born within six minutes of each other with the birth taking place through cesarean. They each weighed between 2lb 5oz and 3lb 4oz. Because the babies were nine weeks premature at birth, some of them were born with health issues. Two of the babies had cerebral palsy, a problem that had a drastic effect on their physical well being. Regardless, the McCaughey babies were the first septuplets in history to survive childbirth and everyone was talking about them.


Celebrity Babies

The septuplets’ birth stirred up emotion around the world and resulted in a media frenzy. At the time, Bill Clinton was the U.S. president, and he gave the parents a call to congratulate them. Kenny and Bobbi also got the opportunity to meet with President George W. Bush, as well as appear with their children several times on Time magazine and The Oprah Winfrey Show. The extensive media exposure divided the nation; some people saw it as the McCaugheys exploiting the children, while others could not get enough of the cute miracle babies. The family received lots of donations as a result, including a house and scholarships for all their kids. However, they soon tired of all the attention.


Flying under the Radar

When the initial chaos that surrounded the septuplets had cooled off, the family made the decision to stay out of the public glare. It was only on their birthdays that Bobbi would offer a brief update on her kids’ progress in a bid to ensure that their lives remained as normal as possible under their exceptional circumstances. One of the factors that may have contributed to this is a letter that Bobbi and Kenny received after the septuplets’ birth from the Dionne quintuplets, warning them of the negative effects that their fame had on their own parents. Apparently, Bobbi and Kenny got the message loud and clear and took their cue.


Dealing with Cerebral Palsy

Weakened by cerebral palsy, both Nathan and Alexis have had to use walkers to move around for most of their lives. However, Nathan’s determination and dedication saw him teach himself how to walk and he can now get around with only minimal assistance. He says, “I wanted to learn. It’s just been getting better and better!” In spite of the fact that she still uses a walker, Alexis has also not let it slow her down either. She has taken part in – and won – several beauty pageants for special-needs children. Her high school academic performance was also notable, as she finished as one of the top 15% of her class.


What Are the McCaughey Septuplets’ Plans Now That They’re 20?

Although they had an uncertain start to their lives, the septuplets have grown into remarkable young adults with great plans for their respective futures. Upon their graduation, each of them knew exactly what he or she planned to do with their lives. In June 2016, Brandon joined the Army while Kelsey joined a music school. Kenny Jr. is currently enrolled at Des Moines Area Community College studying construction and Alexis has plans to be a teacher. After school, Nathan is eyeing a career in science, while Joel hopes to go to college to study computer science.