World’s first surviving set of septuplets just turned 18

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The world got a startling first on Nov. 19, 1997, when Kenny and Bobbi McCaughey gave birth to the first set of septuplets — four boys and three girls — that would go on to survive infancy. “Today” met the seven siblings and their parents just four days after delivery, and now the show catches up with them after their 18th birthdays.

The seven siblings — named Kenny, Kelsey, Natalie, Brandon, Alexis, Nathan and Joel — have spent a significant time in the spotlight. When they turned 16, The Des Moines Register published an article about them, detailing the stress of their famous childhood, writing, “What followed was an intense storm of publicity on every aspect of their lives, displayed on the covers of Time and Newsweek and all the national TV networks. Everything from Bobbi’s new photogenic teeth to the couple’s donated seven-bedroom home and huge van were scrutinized every day they cracked open the free Gerber food and supply of juice until age 16.” When the Register caught up with them, however, much of this publicity had slowed down.

By the time they turned 16 years old, the McCaughey septuplets were living a much more normal life, but their family still faced challenges that many others don’t. Imagine seven children all dying to learn how to drive at once! Kenny and Bobbi have managed to handle the situation with grace, however, having taught their children the value of working hard for that which they want and instilling in them a strong sense of how to budget — mostly through their brilliant examples.

Kenny told the Register that his big lesson to the kids is, “If I want to buy that, how many hours do I want to work to get it?” This is because he and Bobbi have had to work extremely hard to provide for all their children. The Register stated of their situation at the time, “He (Kenny) still works at a metal coating plant. She’s (Bobbi) a para-educator. Those middle-class jobs have to pay for eight kids, including Des Moines Area Community College freshman Mikayla, 18, braces for several and the medical needs of Alexis and Nathan, born with forms of cerebral palsy. They each had surgeries in the last two years but are doing well.”

Looking back on the McCaugheys’ past, it’s easy to see just how difficult it was for Bobbi and Kenny to raise septuplets, but now that their children are approaching independence through adulthood, the parents seem to be much more relaxed and at ease.

Back in 2013, Bobbi fondly told the Register, “I will always remember the day we found out there were so many. … There were so many doubts. To a lot of people this might sound trite, but God determined the outcome. We’ve built a good foundation that wouldn’t have happened had that situation not occurred. So the message is let God use you. It doesn’t have to be something that makes national news.”

Take a look at their follow-up interview with “Today” in the video below to see their beautiful family, all-grown-up.
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