In the rarest of the rare cases, 7 premature babies were born in November 1997, setting the world record in all septuplets surviving birth. They weighed between two to four pounds, and they owe their mutual existence to their parents’ decision of not opting for selective reduction.
Now it is time for the McCaughey septuplets, Kenny, Kelsey, Natalie, Brandon, Alexis, Nathan and Joel, the first set in the world to survive infancy, to go their separate ways, as they have all graduated from high school.
They all received their diplomas at the Carliste High School in Iowa. Some are headed for the military and some are choosing to go straight into the work force.
All seven walked the stage in their black and red gowns!
The couple, Bobbi and Kenny McCaughey first had a daughter named Mikayla. But later, since Bobbi was born with a malfunctioning pituitary gland that could not produce enough hormones to stimulate ovulation, she was injected with a fertility drug, Metrodin.
The treatment turned out to be more than successful, as she learned that she was pregnant with seven children. When the doctors advised selective reduction, the couple declined, saying it was “in god’s hands.”
The birth of the septuplets caused quite a media frenzy. The couple received both positive and negative responses. Some were appalled at the parents for bringing so many children into the world, while others were extremely supportive.
They received generous donations including a 5,500-square-foot home, a van, a year’s worth of Kraft’s macaroni and cheese, and two year’s supply of free diapers.
Among the offers was a full ride to Hannibal-LaGrange University in Missouri, which some of the McCaughey children are cashing in 18 years later, according to the Des Moines Register.
They also received free trips to Disneyland and Majorca and 18 years later, they continue to live in the same home that was donated to them at birth.
President Bill Clinton personally called the family to congratulate them and Oprah welcomed them on her show.
The children sharing some warm moments with President George W. Bush
“The [years] have flown by. There’s been so many things that have happened,” Bobbi told TODAY, when the septuplets celebrated their eighteenth birthdays six months ago.
Brandon hopes to live up to his dream since he was three, of joining the army.
While Kelsey, who was the smallest baby at 2lb 5oz, is a part of the high school choir and hopes to study music in college.
“I feel like I am starting my life,” Kelsey told TODAY. “But they are my best friends. When you need someone to talk to, they are there to help you.”
Kenny is going to miss his siblings, and says, “What I’m not going to like is we won’t be around each other.” “I couldn’t be where I am today without them.”
Kenny Jr. wants to pursue construction and will study at the Des Moines Area Community College.
Alexis, who suffers from cerebral palsy, still needs the walker, but was co-captain of the cheer squad. She is also a member of the National Honor Society, and has graduated top of her class and would like to pursue teaching.
Nathan says, “I taught myself how to walk because I really wanted to learn. It’s just been getting better and better.” He hopes to secure a career in science after school.
Joel, who was the last to be born, plans to pursue computer science in college.
Left alone with his thoughts, Kenny, their proud father, who works for a metal coating company, said he made sure he has given the right values to his children and taught them the importance of hard work and the reality that some of their lifestyle perks came from their personal story.
“My fear has always been that they see our jobs and think that’s all they need for nice stuff,” he told the newspaper.
“I’ve given them the cold, hard truth slowly. No way could I afford this home on my salary. If you want something, you have to work for it.”
Although closely connected emotionally, they were always identified as “the septuplets.” But now each one is ready and enthusiastic about going their own new paths and establishing separate identities.
“It’s sort of going to be a new, fresh start,” says Natalie.
One more happy occasion together, for the siblings, when Mikayla (center), the older sister enlisted her sisters as bridesmaids at her wedding
The septuplets were however extremely grateful to have each other around always and the parents credited their success to their faith in god and to the help and support from friends and family.
The siblings are now all ready for the commencement of a new beginning in their own respective lives, carving out their own niches but holding on to the love and camaraderie they learnt to value as a family.