The Septuplets Turn 10!
Catching Up with the Septuplets
Ten years ago headlines around the globe heralded the birth of the McCaughey septuplets in Iowa. After 40 people, including specialists in high-risk pregnancies and respiratory therapists, helped them into the world on November 19, 1997, USA Today trumpeted the miraculous 7. They were the "Magnificent seven!" in the Belfast News Letter and "Seven Bundles of Joy" for the Queensland, Australia, Courier-Mail. In Montreal The Gazette declared a "Miracle in Iowa."
The world's first surviving set of septuplets, the McCaugheys are the largest intact multiple birth on record. Born two and a half months early and weighing just 3 pounds each (give or take a few ounces), Alexis, Brandon, Joel, Kelsey, Kenny Jr., Natalie, and Nathan have grown and thrived as the world has watched.
At first, caring for the seven fragile preemies meant endless diaper changes and feedings by their parents, Bobbi and Kenny McCaughey, and a volunteer team of friends and family from in and around their hometown of Carlisle, near Des Moines. Photographs from the septuplets' first years depict exhausted adults plastered with sleeping -- or crying -- babies. Tender nurturing was the order of the day.
Now parenting the seven -- and their older sister, Mikayla, who will turn 12 in January -- is more like reining in a fun-loving mob. When the gang arrives for this month's Ladies' Home Journal cover photo session, they gallivant down the prop-lined corridor to the studio. "Look! The bathtub!" Natalie cries, and the septuplets rush to surround a white claw-foot tub as Mikayla watches, the bemused big sister. "We've been here four times for Ladies' Home Journal shoots," Bobbi explains.
"A printing press," announces Joel, gripping the wooden handle as the group passes an old-time machine.
"Hold my hand, honey," commands his mother.
When the kids see the crew, some of whom they remember from years past, it's hugs all around. Stylists usher the girls into the dressing room. "These are adorable," Mikayla says about the ballet flats she'll wear.
"Cute boots," Natalie remarks about the footwear that's been chosen for Kelsey, before putting on her own Mary Janes. Then to the makeup artist: "What color is this lip gloss?"
Meanwhile, the boys chow down on breakfast bars and guzzle juice at a snack table while waiting their turn to get ready. "Okay," says photographer Steve Liss, "who gets into trouble at school?" Only Kenny Jr. raises his hand. "Not even a contest?" marvels Liss.
"Kenny asked his teacher to marry him," Brandon offers, as if to explain the extent of his brother's daring. Kenny Jr. glares at him.
Soon all eight are costumed and have posed for a group shot. Then just the septuplets surround a giant white-and-red 10th-birthday cake. Years in the public eye have accustomed them to taking direction. They pose and cavort as Liss requests.