The McCaughey septuplets are all grown up! They were the first set of septuplets to all survive infacy and now they are crossing another milestone in their life–graduation!
The world’s first septuplets to survive infancy are ready go their separate ways after graduating from high school on Sunday.
All seven of the McCaugheys – Kenny, Kelsey, Natalie, Brandon, Alexis, Nathan and Joel – accepted their diplomas at the Carlisle High School in Iowa, the Des Moines Register reported.
The septuplets have come a long way since they were born nine weeks premature in November 1997 weighing between two and four pounds, with doctors fearing they wouldn’t survive.
Mother Bobbi McCaughey was born with a malfunctioning pituitary gland and did not produce enough of the hormones to stimulate ovulation.
One injection of the fertility drug Metrodin proved more than successful, and both she and her husband Kenny declined selective reduction after learning they were pregnant with seven children, saying it was ‘in God’s hands’.
They received generous donations including a 5,500-square-foot home, a van, a year’s worth of Kraft’s macaroni and cheese, and two year’s worth of free diapers.
Among the offers was a full ride to Hannibal-LaGrange University in Missouri, which some of the McCaughey children are cashing in 18 years later, according to the Des Moines Register.
Others are headed for the military and some are choosing to go straight into the work force, KCCI reported.
Alexis, who suffers from cerebral palsy, finished high school at the top 15per cent of her class, and both she and sister Natalie earned a place in the National Honor Society.
All seven walked the stage in their black and red gowns, and Bobbi told the Des Moines Register. ‘It will be pretty drastic. Everyone gone all at once.’
When the septuplets celebrated their eighteenth birthdays six months ago, mother Bobbi told TODAY: ‘The [years] have flown by. There’s been so many things that have happened.
‘Everything is a last. The last marching band performance. The last cross country meet. The last choir concert. It’s sad to see things end, but there will be lots of firsts coming.’
‘The memories, the joy, the heartaches…It’s what has guided us to where we are today, and it’s very special.’
The septuplets spurred a media frenzy, while their parents were subject to controversy in 1997. Some bashed the parents for bringing so many children into the world and exploiting them, while others were extremely supportive.
President Bill Clinton personally called the family to congratulate them and Oprah welcomed them on her show.
They also received free trips to Disneyland and Majorca and still live in the home that was donated to them.
The family was also given a year’s worth of Kraft’s macaroni and cheese, two years of donated diapers to hold them through and a van that they still drive today, they told the TODAY show.
But as the press began to fade, Kenny, who works for a metal coating company, said he made sure to teach his children the importance of hard work and the reality that some of their lifestyle perks came from their personal story.
‘My fear has always been that they see our jobs and think that’s all they need for nice stuff,’ he told the newspaper.
‘I’ve given them the cold, hard truth slowly. No way could I afford this home on my salary. If you want something, you have to work for it.’
And the couple have already seen that ambition in their children, including Alexis and Nathan, who were both born with forms of cerebral palsy.
Nathan taught himself how to walk and said he continues to practice every day.
‘I taught myself how to walk because I really wanted to learn,’ he said. ‘It’s just been getting better and better.’
Alexis still uses a walker but went on to become the co-captain of her high school cheerleading squad. She is also a member of the National Honor Society.
Looking back, the septuplets were grateful for their large family, and the parents credited help from friends and family, along with their faith in God, that helped them through.
‘I feel like I am starting my life,’ Kelsey told TODAY. ‘But they are my best friends. When you need someone to talk to, they are there to help you.’
‘What I’m not going to like is we won’t be around each other,’ said Kenny. ‘I couldn’t be where I am today without them.’
But the septuplets are also excited to forge new paths and separate identities. Natalie said she won’t mention her six siblings at first to her new college friends.
‘It’s sort of going to be a new, fresh start.’
What a big celebration for them!