DES MOINES – After the world’s first surviving septuplets graduated from high school 6 years ago, they held their necessary press conference in front of Hannibal-LaGrange University in Missouri, where five of the seven McCaugheys accepted the small Baptist college’s offer for free. tuition, they thought they were doing their part and could live their lives out of the public eye.
But now the McCaughey septuplets will be – check your time-sure-flies-meter – 25 years old.
Four out of seven are married — and it’s five out of eight, including their older sibling, Mikayla. There are four children under eight, and one more on the way.
Alexis, Brandon, Joel, Kelsey, Kenny, Natalie and Nathan are now grown and talking, as it were, telling wistfully about their prodigious years side by side, and how much they miss each other.
With jobs, husbands, growing families and other tasks, they can only flock in one place at a time a few times a year, usually during the holidays.
“When we’re all together, it’s just the best time,” says Kelsey Morrison, who married Kevin Morrison in June 2020 and lives in Hannibal, Missouri. “Those times are even more sacred now. They are so incredibly sweet with all of our significant others and children.”
You can’t wipe the smile from Mama Bobbi’s face during that time. The adjustment period is long over, because “the girls went to college six years ago and never came back, not even for the summer,” she said. It is the continuation of a new phase – wait for them all to come home to visit. Their 4,833-square-foot donated home in Carlisle was sold in 2018 to a nonprofit, Ruth Harbor, that supports young mothers. Parents Kenny and Bobbi now host their children at a mansion outside Runnells, in the southeastern corner of the state.
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“I love it when everyone comes home; it doesn’t happen often,” Bobbi said. “It’s busy and noisy. I love seeing the driveway full of cars and grandkids cycling.”
They continue where they left off.
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Kenny said the boys immediately start romping and everyone goes back into their roles. The girls sing.
“One thing we do, and it sounds ridiculous,” said Natalie, describing them reprising their roles as fifth-graders in the backseat as their parents dragged them from school and band practice, where each played a different instrument.
“We played a song in the band, ‘Crazy Cat’ and all had our roles. On the way home we sang the sounds of our parties. That’s what we do now when we’re together.”
An army sergeant and a hospital worker
The McCaughey children are grown and thinking of simpler times, while their parents are proud of what they have become.
As promised from childhood, Brandon went to the United States Army, where today he is a sergeant. He married Alana and has one child, Ellie. He continues to be an influence on his siblings.
Natalie graduated from Hannibal-LaGrange with a degree in exercise science and met her husband, Shawn, while running on the cross-country and track teams. She started working as a patient care technician in a regional hospital. Then the pandemic hit.
She was suddenly eating, bathing, changing bedding and brushing teeth for double the number of patients, 20 at a time, wearing an N95 mask, often in the COVID unit, in the midst of a crisis.
“People don’t understand it, but it was a very intense and emotional event,” she said.
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Kenny also says he sometimes feels “alone”. After so many siblings, it feels like “nobody has my back and you feel a little vulnerable… But we all go in a group chat to see what everyone is up to,” he said.
He married Synthia two years ago after they met at a church in Ankeny. He was already well into the career he chose long ago – building. He returned to his first love of cabinet making six months ago, taking a job at Waukee Cabinet Works and buying and remodeling what he calls his “dream home” in Dallas Center.
The couple is expecting a son on November 28 and his name will be Kenny V.
“It’s hard to believe I’m turning 25 and my baby is going to be a boy,” he said. “Kenny V, me, my dad, grandpa and great-grandfather, all Kenny’s. When he’s born, grandpa wants to take a picture of the four of us together.”
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Now that he is 25 and a child is on the way, it is difficult for him to believe that his parents were only four years older when they had eight children.
“I tell people I don’t know how they did it. That would be crazy,” he said. “When we were first born they had help, but after that I never thought how they could be able to be healthy.”
But the influence of those years is not lost on the siblings.
“We are all hard workers. My parents gave us that when we were growing up,” Natalie said. “We have worked for everything we have. It is also by the grace of God what we have.”
Two in IT, another works with kids and an Iowa dream
Everyone in the family is proud of the one who calls the brightest of the bunch, Joel. He and Nathan both graduated from Hannibal-LaGrange with degrees in computer information systems. Joel works in IT at Emerson Electric in Marshalltown and lives at home, while Nathan has his own apartment and works in IT at Wellmark.
Nathan and sister Alexis were born with cerebral palsy. Natalie said she is extremely proud of Nathan: “Seeing him be so independent and live in his own house and drive to work and take care of himself was really cool to see.”
Alexis has also followed her dream of working with children at childcare company Altoona Kids World after receiving her liberal arts degree from Hannibal-LaGrange. She lives with her parents and hopes to become a special education teacher.
People don’t know them that well anymore, but every now and then they get a standard question.
“Do you have any brothers or sisters?”
“Quite a lot, actually,” Kelsey says. ‘I am septuplets.
The media experience helped her enter public relations after a professor noticed her skills in front of people in college, where she sidelined her music career — the only one to abandon her childhood dream.
She joined the campus news station as an anchor and reporter and especially liked being behind the camera rather than in front of it. Kelsey said she worked in public relations for a year but is now a receptionist in a medical office as careers in her field in the Hannibal area dwindled during the pandemic.
She dreams of going back to Iowa one day and hopes that other siblings will also return and all live a short drive away.
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Daddy is still Daddy. He always showed a kind of reserved courage, a talk-about-the-crops-and-the-weather Iowan who grew up in these parts, watched his children have the same teachers as him, and now begins to take up hobbies, riding his motorcycle. and disc golf, which he learned from his sons-in-law.
“The girls have chosen pretty decent husbands. I love them too, and we all get along very well,’ he said. “I didn’t have to hold a gun as they suggested. They all did their best and asked me if I could marry my daughters. But I had them all nervous.”
After all the graduations, the weddings and the births of the grandchildren, life has calmed down as Bobbi continues to work in the Des Moines school district as a special education officer, while Kenny stays on an as-needed basis for the metal coating company where he stayed for a while. much of his working life.
The couple now does a lot more together.
“Kenny and I can do things we haven’t done in a long time. Life goes around,” she said. “You start doing things without kids and eventually you start doing things without kids again. Like camping, just the two of us.
“But it’s hard when they don’t need you so much anymore. We can’t tell them what to do unless they ask us, although there are still times when they call and want to talk about things or the boys ask their dad how to fix their car.”
“There are probably as many things to pray for now when they’re older as they were when they were little, just different things when they’re raising their own family. Now we pray for the same things that people prayed for us. It just changes. It doesn’t stop.”
It is likely that most of the group will have their 25 . will not celebratee having a birthday together, so it does change – and it doesn’t stop.
One day they will sing together and they will all sing their seven parts.