On November 19, 1997, Bobbi McCaughey and her husband, Kenny, made headlines when she safely delivered the world’s first surviving set of septuplets in Des Moines, Iowa. The arrival of Kenny Jr., Alexis, Natalie, Kelsey, Nathan, Brandon, and Joel — born at 2.5 pounds to 3.4 pounds — was heralded as a medical miracle.
Now, the McCaughey septuplets have turned 18 and preparing to head out on their own for the first time. The seven seniors at Carlisle High School are all busy making plans for life after graduation. Brandon has enlisted in the Army, starting June 1, while the other six have college plans. (They also have an older sister, 19-year-old Mikayla, who got married last summer and lives nearby.)
“It will be pretty drastic,” their mom, Bobbi, told the Des Moines Register. “Everyone gone all at once.”
Bobbi and Kenny had pursued in vitro fertilization after the birth of their daughter Mikayla. But when they learned that she was carrying seven embryos, the religious couple chose to keep them all — which thrust them into a controversial spotlight.
After giving birth to the seven babies, several universities offered them free college education. At least three of the kids — Natalie, Nathan, and Joel — plan to attend Hannibal-LaGrange University in Missouri, one of the schools to offer tuition. Natalie intends to study elementary education, while Joel and Nathan will both pursue computer science.
Nathan and Alexis were born with cerebral palsy and each underwent childhood surgeries to help them walk. Nathan battled day after day to finally learn to walk on his own. Alexis still uses a walker, but this year, she was the school cheerleading squad’s co-captain.
“Me and Lexi are completely done with surgeries and checkups and unless we need something, we’re completely done with it,” Nathan told local news station KCCI, adding with a laugh. “I just feel like I’m the king of the school like I’m a senior now. I can rule over anybody.”
Alexis intends to pursue preschool education at Des Moines Area Community College, where Kenny Jr. will be pursuing construction studies. Kelsey is in all state choir and wants to pursue a career in music, though she’s not sure which school she will attend.
“We consider us as best friends, not as brothers and sisters,” Alexis told WICC. “And I’m really blessed that we’ve gotten to that point.”
For Bobbi and Kenny, facing an empty nest feels surreal after years packed with the activities and the joy of eight children at home. “Everything is the last,” Bobbi told the Des Moines Register. “The last marching band performance. The last cross country meet. The last choir concert. It’s sad to see things end, but there will be a lot of firsts coming. You have to get to the lasts to get to the firsts.
Please share this story of 7 from birth to young adults! Thank you.