Four boys, three girls, one pregnancy: The world's first surviving septuplets talk life as living miracles

"We have been blessed."
"We have been blessed."

From their conception, birth and nearly every birthday since the McCaughey siblings have been making both history and headlines

Given that only "40-50 births in the world have resulted from a pregnancy involving 7 babies," the McCaughey siblings are considered miraculous just by virtue of their existence. 

Born 19 November 1997, Nathan, Brandon, Natalie, Alexis, Kelsey, Joel and Kenny, Jr McCaughey are the worlds first surviving septuplets

Their 6-minute caesarean birth required a team of 40 doctors and nurses, after which their parents Bobbi and Kenny McCaughey received a personal congratulatory call from then US President, Bill Clinton. 

A month later, Bobbi and Kenny were featured on the December 1997 cover of Time magazine. 

Since then, McCaughey family life has been nothing short of extraordinary, and at 22, the septuplets have achieved more than most would. 

Before they could even walk or talk, they were rubbing shoulders with the likes of Oprah Winfrey, and at 10 the siblings were offered (and turned down) a chance to be a reality TV family. 

So what's it like being a grown-up septuplet? Apart from intense attention from international media, the McCaughey family are just like everyone else. 

They speak their own language

From the time they could talk, the McCaughey siblings shared their own language. The unique development is referred to as cryptophasia, and it's not unusual among multiples. 

Successful adulting 

When they were born, the McCaugheys received an outpouring of support from their local community and government, including free funding for their education. 

The oldest septuplet, Kenny Jr., is now a carpenter, and his brother Brandon a U.S. Army soldier. The other boys, Joel and Nathan, have a shared passion, with both studying computer information systems. 

Siblings Kelsey, Alexis, and Natalie are each pursuing careers in public relations, early childhood education, and exercise science, respectively. 

"Growing up in Iowa for 18 years, we didn't really know any different. It was a difficult transition to be away from our parents... but I think that we all did welcome it and just really created new friendships," Kelsey said of their experience while studying away from home. 

Giving back

Free education was not the only gift given to the McCaughey family. 

After their three month stay in hospital following their birth, the McCaugheys received a newly built home from local business owners. 

Since most of their children had moved away, Bobbi and Kenny decided to donate the home to Ruth Harbor,  a non-profit which aids women with unplanned pregnancies.

Of their decision to give back to their community, Bobbi and Kenny said

"We have been blessed to receive such a wonderful gift, and nothing would please us more than the idea of our home being used as a place of refuge for those in need." 

Raising awareness 

Bobbi and Kenny are still passionate about raising awareness around selective reduction. 

The procedure is commonly prescribed by doctors when an unhealthy amount of fetuses are conceived as a result of fertility treatment (as in Bobbi's case), which would have meant aborting some of her children. 

The couple famously opted out of selective reduction when it was recommended the couple 'reduce' their septuplets to quadruplets. 

"Well, come to our house, and tell me which four I shouldn't have had!" Bobby has since been quoted as saying on the topic.

Adding to the family 

Eldest sibling (and non-septuplet) Mikayla was the first to be married, welcoming a son, Becham, in 2017. 

Since becoming a grandmother, Bobbi said, "It's just been fun to be able to visit and see the milestones and get to do all the fun things with [Becham], but I don't have to raise him."

Natalie was the first of the septuplets to be married, tying the knot in May 2019, followed by brother Brandon, who married in August the same year. 

While each of the septuplets has forged their own paths, the family remains tightly knit and grateful for their special connection. 

Natalie says that at the end of the day, they're "not only siblings, we're also best friends. I know that we're all just really thankful for the relationships and the bonds that we do have."

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Read more:

Top 10 reasons why multiples are great

Woman with 38 children: 'My hormones aren't compatible with contraceptives'

Being taller than average makes you more likely to parent multiples and other facts about twins, triplets, and quadruplets

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