|Born||November 19, 1997|
Des Moines, Iowa, U.S.
|Known for||First known set of surviving septuplets|
Background, conception and birth
Kenny McCaughey (b. 1969) and Bobbi McCaughey (b. 1968), were residents of the town of Carlisle, Iowa. The McCaugheys had one daughter, Mikayla Marie, born January 3, 1996. While under treatment with ovulation-stimulating Metrodin for infertility, Bobbi became pregnant with seven babies. The McCaugheys declined selective reduction to reduce the number of infants, saying that they would "put it in God's hands". The obstetricians primarily responsible for the medical care of Bobbi and the babies were Karen Drake and Paula Mahone.
The septuplets, four boys and three girls, were born prematurely at the Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines on November 19, 1997. They were delivered by a scheduled Caesarean section, attended by a team of 40 specialists, all within six minutes.
The babies' names, birth weight, time of birth, and order of birth is as follows:
|Baby order||Time of birth||Birth weight||Name|
|1||12:48 p.m.||3 lb 4 oz (1.5 kg)||Kenneth (Kenny) Robert|
|2||12:49 p.m.||2 lb 11 oz (1.2 kg)||Alexis May|
|3||12:50 p.m.||2 lb 10 oz (1.2 kg)||Natalie Sue|
|4||12:51 p.m.||2 lb 5 oz (1.0 kg)||Kelsey Ann|
|5||12:52 p.m.||3 lb 3 oz (1.4 kg)||Nathan Roy|
|6||12:53 p.m.||2 lb 14 oz (1.3 kg)||Brandon James|
|7||12:54 p.m.||2 lb 15 oz (1.3 kg)||Joel Steven|
Media and public response
The birth attracted significant media attention, both positive and negative, including a feature in Time magazine in December 1997. "In the beginning, for every ten letters we would get that were happy for us, we'd get one letter accusing us of exploiting the kids and being selfish to waste the world's resources on a family this big," said Bobbi in a 2007 interview. "Our neighbors never gawked. Here in Carlisle they gave us privacy. But we had complete strangers come around to the back door, knock, and ask if they could hold a baby."
The McCaugheys were the recipients of many donations, including a 5500 ft² (511 m²) house, a van and diapers for the first two years, as well as nanny services, clothes, and even the State of Iowa offering full college scholarships to any state university in Iowa upon their maturity and graduation from high school, also by the Hannibal–LaGrange University in Missouri. President Bill Clinton personally telephoned the McCaugheys to wish them his congratulations. The surviving Dionne quintuplets (Yvonne Dionne, Annette Allard, and Cecile Langlois) wrote an open letter warning the parents to keep the septuplets out of the public eye and not allow them to fall into the same pitfalls as their parents did, but wished them the best of luck in raising them and their personal congratulations; the letter read:
Dear Bobbi and Kenny,
If we emerge momentarily from the privacy we have sought all our adult lives, it is only to send a message to the McCaughey family. We three would like you to know we feel a natural affinity and tenderness for your children. We hope your children receive more respect than we did. Their fate should be no different from that of other children. Multiple births should not be confused with entertainment, nor should they be an opportunity to sell products.
Our lives have been ruined by the exploitation we suffered at the hands of the government of Ontario, our place of birth. We were displayed as a curiosity three times a day for millions of tourists. To this day we receive letters from all over the world. To all those who have expressed their support in light of the abuse we have endured, we say thank you. And to those who would seek to exploit the growing fame of these children, we say beware.
We sincerely hope a lesson will be learned from examining how our lives were forever altered by our childhood experience. If this letter changes the course of events for these newborns, then perhaps our lives will have served a higher purpose.
Sincerely, Annette, Cécile and Yvonne Dionne.
By the time of the septuplets' tenth birthday in 2007, the family was declining most requests for interviews, other than annual stories with the Des Moines CBS television affiliate KCCI and Ladies' Home Journal. Bobbi McCaughey has noted that the level of media attention does not necessarily mean they have granted many interviews, saying, "There was all kinds of stuff in the papers early on but they never actually interviewed us. Most of it is one paper quoting another."
Bobbi and Kenny both occasionally speak at anti-abortion events and continue to oppose selective reduction. Bobbi has been quoted as saying, "Well, come to our house, and tell me which four I shouldn't have had!" The family continues to attend a Baptist church in West Des Moines, Iowa where Kenny serves as a deacon. In 2010, for the septuplets' 13th birthday, a documentary was made by TLC chronicling the event.
The septuplets graduated from Carlisle High School in May 2016. Natalie, Kelsey, Nathan and Joel took up scholarships offered by private Hannibal-LaGrange University in Hannibal, Missouri, Kenny and Alexis chose to stay in the Des Moines area and attend Des Moines Area Community College, and Brandon enlisted in the United States Army.
In 2017, the septuplets became aunts and uncles when Mikayla gave birth to a son after getting married in 2015. Natalie was the first of the septuplets to get married, in May 2019. Brandon also got married in August 2019.
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