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20 Years After the Septuplet’s Birth

Sarrah M

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On November 17th, 1997, something unique happened in Des Moines Iowa, which had never been recorded in human history. A set of Sextuplets (seven siblings) was successfully delivered to the McCaugheys. Kenni and Bobbi McCaughey’s story was quickly picked up by international media as everyone wanted to know the unique challenges and experiences that sextuplets would bring to a ‘normal’ American household. This slideshow follows this unique story from the time of birth, until adulthood.

The first born – happy couple (Kenni and Bobbi McCaughey)

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Kenni and Bobbi McCaughey had their first born daughter, Mikalya, born in 1996. The birth was a miracle in itself since Bobbi suffered from pituitary gland issues which made it almost impossible to successfully conceive. Looking to expand their family, they underwent fertility treatments to facilitate the birth of another child.

Surprising News

Before their first ultrasound, the McCaugheys were excited to learn that the fertility treatments had worked and that their family would soon be expanding. But by just how much was something they didn’t realize until this moment. The sound of so many heartbeats in the silence of the hospital room—“it was a lot to take in,” remembered the McCaugheys.

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The Pregnancy

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To their surprise, they learnt that not only were the fertility treatments successful, Bobbi now had seven growing embryos in her womb. Despite the fact that no other set of sextuplets had ever been successfully delivered, they refused to undergo selective termination and decided to see the pregnancy to full term. With the story being picked up by multiple news outlets, this led to some criticism of ‘selfishness’ on their part by putting all embryos in danger.

The Birth

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On the 19th of November, the McCaughey’s doctor decided to deliver the children via cesarean section – six months early – to optimize their chances of survival. All seven children were successfully delivered, albeit underweight at the time. The couple now had seven new additions to their family, four boys (Kenny Robert, Nathan Roy, Brandon James, and Joel Stephen) and three girls (Alexis may, Natalie Sue, and Kelsey Ann)

It Takes a Village

As media attention increased around the miraculous birth of the first surviving septuplets in history—seven babies at the same time—even the hospital staff enjoyed a moment of fame. Before a bank of reporters and microphones, they gave a collective cheer to celebrate. Someone reportedly quipped that, while “it takes a village to raise a child,” ushering septuplets into the world takes a small city!

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The Septuplets

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With a media circus surrounding them, Bobbi and Kenni finally took their new children home and started planning on how to raise their unique family.

5. Media Coverage

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The media couldn’t get enough of the McCaughey sextuplets. Their home was constantly surrounded by local, national and international media outlets seeking to get a glimpse of the family. They even made the cover of Time magazine and Newsweek.

Balloons and Bodyguards

Though Bobbi and Kenni report that they gave relatively few interviews, they also remember that it was not uncommon for paparazzi and other visitors to slip into their backyard, hoping to get a glimpse of the septuplets. So great was the media attention that the local police, in order to ensure the family’s peace and quiet, stood guard outside the McCaughey home. With balloons.

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6. Celebrity Status

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Their new found celebrity also got them an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show on the sextuplets’ first birthday. The parents got a call from President Clinton, and later on, a visit from President Bush.

Mommy time

With eight children to attend to, the McCaughey parents were more than outnumbered! In her weekly journal, Mom Bobbi described trying moments when it seemed like there was “always at least one child crying.” She recalled feeling both “terror and joy,” but never regretted the decision to keep all seven babies rather than choosing “selective reduction.” “They’re my children, and I just wanted them,” she told People magazine.

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7. The Kindness of Strangers (and friends)

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While everybody was mesmerized by their story, they also recognized the financial challenges of raising eight young children. The McCaughey’s were showered with gifts which ranged from a 5,000 sq ft home, a lifetime supply of diapers and a new family van.

The Family Car

It was easy to spot the McCaughey family van because it came adorned with a bow and detailed with the names of each child and their parents. But did it come with carseats? The McCaugheys realized it was time to buckle up for a lifetime of adventures. Traveling with eight children was just one of the many new frontiers they would face as a family.

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Unique Challenges

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These acts of charity were well timed as the sextuplets tore through more than 50 diapers and a similar amount of milk bottles daily. The family had to shop in bulk for food, clothing, and toys to minimize costs. Simple tasks such as taking their children for a stroll required the use of customized, heavy-duty strollers.

Fascinated by the everyday

Media attention tended to focus on how the family coped with everyday tasks, like feeding eight toddlers. Challenging (and messy!) as they might have been, these moments were part of ordinary life for the McCaughey family, who met each one with characteristic good humor. Their upbeat attitude became an inspiration for parents everywhere. After all, if they could manage mealtime with eight, surely the rest of the world could make family dinners work, too….

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9. Joint Birthdays

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With seven children sharing a birthday, joint birthdays were a nightmare to organize. Luckily, the family had a good home dynamic which made it work.

Bedtime

For any parent, bedtime is not an easy hour, but for the McCaughey’s it was a nightly challenge, despite this idyllic feature photo from Better Homes and Gardens. Though they shared rooms by necessity, the siblings got along well. Looking back, they remember that “even from a very young age we all had different interests.” Nevertheless, they all wanted the top bunk.

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How’s That for a Lullabye?

What’s bedtime without some good night songs? Various artists, including Geoff More, Cindy Morgan, Ginny Owens, Chris Rice, and Kathie Lee Gifford came together to compose an album of soothing lullabye music in honor of the McCaughey septuplets. Even parents Bobbi and Kenni contributed a duet, “Tis So Sweet.” The song expressed their gratitude for the amazing gift of septuplets. And perhaps also for the peace and quiet as the last one dropped off to sleep….

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10. Hanging out

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Despite the unusual nature of the family, the kids still had a relatively normal upbringing. They had a large yard to play in, and they maintained a very healthy and active lifestyle.

A symbol of hope?

Like his predecessor, President Bush also found an inspiring American symbol in the McCaughey septuplets. After September 11th, the country needed a wholesome image to restore faith in the land of liberty and opportunity. Against all odds, these seven children had survived and grown into a beautiful, promising blond brood. Now, if only the leader of the free world could get them all to look at the camera!

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Not Twins…Septuplets!

Though they were all born within six minutes of each other (that’s right—six, not seven!), the septuplets were not identical, a fact they have had to explain repeatedly. Of course, this didn’t stop their parents from dressing them in the same clothes. “We didn’t really have a choice” recalled the McCaughey’s. Was it difficult for their older sister to be the odd one out? “Not at all,” says Mikayla.

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Fit that on the Fridge!

Despite their extraordinary number, the McCaughey family celebrated the ordinary accomplishments of each child—their first drawings and writings. The septuplets would go on to become good students who enjoyed school. And the good news for the young siblings was there was always an extensive audience at home for their latest works. The only challenge was finding space on the family refrigerator for all of them!

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Opening Presents

Buying, wrapping, and opening presents with eight children? Needless to say, moments like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and of course The Birthday were “big” in the McCaughey household. But how to keep track of which box belongs to whom? That didn’t seem to matter in the heat of the moment. Used to opening presents together, the septuplets continue to celebrate their miraculous birthday as a family.

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Mealtime at the McCaughey’s

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Organizing meals for a family of ten (the sextuplets, their elder sister, and the parents) was another challenge. Meals had to be made ‘buffet style’ where every person serves themselves. This was the norm for all three daily meals. The family also maintained a vegetable garden to reduce the costs of feeding their kids healthy meals on a daily basis.

Further Challenges

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Two of the sextuplets, Nathan and Alexis were diagnosed with cerebral palsy early in their childhood. Luckily, this did not come with any cognitive issues (and Alexis went on to graduate as one of the top students in her high school class). While Nathan later learnt how to walk on his own, Alexis required mobility assistance.

Seven from Heaven

Challenging as it was to raise eight children, the McCaugheys were unflagging in their belief that the birth of the world’s first septuplets was a miraculous gift. With help from Greg and Deborah Lewis, they chronicled their lives, and the importance of their faith, in the book Seven from Heaven, which went on to become a book club bestseller.

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High School – The Teenage Years

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In 2012, the sextuplets joined Carlisle High school in Iowa. They were all notably very active in the various clubs and activities that the high school offered. While all of them joined the school marching band, each of them had their own set of interests that they explored. Some of the activities that the sextuplets enjoyed include soccer, cross country, the cheer squad and the debate team. They also performed very decently academically.

Financial Independence

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One of the challenges of having eight teenagers was that the family was not in a financial position to meet all their individual needs during their teenage years. This required the McCaughey children to become responsible for their financial independence. To buy electronics, comics, and other items that all teenagers take for granted, they had to get jobs within the community. This is something that they undertook with gusto and enthusiasm.

Graduation

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In 2016, the graduating class of Carlisle High School included seven siblings. This was a huge achievement for the McCaugheys and was a testament to the exceptional upbringing that Bobbi and Kenni had given their kids. While all the sextuplets achieved decent grades, Alexis stood out by graduating with honors as one of the top students in her year. This was a bittersweet moment, as it marked the beginning of adulthood where the sextuplets would each find their way independently in the world.

Adulthood

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After high school, each of the sextuplets had to chart their own career path, beginning with college. The Hannibal-LaGrange University in Missouri offered all of them a fully funded scholarship to join the school. Natalia, Nathan, Kelsey, and Joel accepted the generous offer and joined the University.

Kenny and Alexis chose to remain in Iowa and join the nearby Des Moines Area Community College while Brandon chose to fulfill his lifelong dream by enlisting to join the military. With adulthood, the sextuplets have chosen to keep their personal lives much more private.

University Life

The septuplets described college life as “culture shock” despite the fact that five of them chose to attend the same university together. What did each major in? Kelsey chose public relations, Alexis gravitated to early childhood education, Natalie selected exercise science, and Joel and Nathan decided on computer information systems. It seems like no coincidence that all of these majors are arguably areas related to the singular nature of their upbringing.

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Turning 21

Despite their desire for privacy as they go on with their separate lives, the family made headlines again recently as the septuplets turned 21 on the day before Thanksgiving. As they had since day one, the siblings gathered at the family home to give thanks together and share the festivities. No more fighting over cake…or even the champagne. “We’re not only siblings, we’re best friends,” one told a TODAY reporter.

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The Next Generation

And there is more to celebrate: older sister Mikayla gave birth to her first child, Becham, making the McCaugheys grandparents for the first time. Bobbi notes that “the love for them is same but the responsibility is so different.” As grandparents, caring for just one who goes home at the end of the day is strikingly different. And does Mikayla have plans to have more? If so, she’s not saying….

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The Real McCaugheys

As the public checks in again with the septuplets at this milestone, parents Bobbi and Kenni have downsized to a three-bedroom, turning over the family home to a ministry for young mothers. Other siblings are engaged and may soon follow Mikayla in starting families of their own. 21 years later, the McCaughey family remains an inspiring testament to the power and possibility of the American family.

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Other Septuplets?

Since the birth of the McCaughey septuplets—the first surviving septuplets—in 1997, five other sets of seven babies have been born. In 2010, the McGhee gamily welcomed septuplets and posted this photo that, like many of the McCaugheys family poses, went viral. Why the fascination with septuplets and with families like the McGhees and the McCaugheys? Is it modern science? Safety in numbers? Or is it perhaps the promise of a family “built on love.”

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7 Of The Most Restricted Places On Earth

Danielle S

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Life is so open these days that you can barely contemplate the notion of privacy. There was, however, once a time when you could enjoy a day, or even a week, without the neighbors knowing what you had to eat or drink. While most establishments and communities are becoming more transparent by the day, these seven areas are steadily holding to the notion that less information and exposure is more in this world.

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1. Club 33
This secret spot was originally a restaurant in Disneyland. Now, it serves as the ultimate hotspot reserved only for the significant people in the world. One hundred people allegedly applied for membership to the exclusive club but not before showing proof that they had $25,000 in the bank to pay for an association.

2. Vatican Secret Archives
Italy has many beautiful spots and the Vatican Secret Archives is undoubtedly one incredible place to visit. The problem is that few, if any, will ever get to see the extensive collection of publications since the Pope has to give his stamp of approval for every person who wants to stop by for a tour. You can only view books and articles older than 75 years old, but it would still make for a great trip.

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3. Mezhgorye
This town in Bashkortostan only has 17,000 residents and doesn’t invite visitors to tour its region often. Secretive Russian companies have serious business in Mezhgorye, which is why the federal government strictly monitors who comes in and leaves.

4. Snake Island
Brazil is such a beautiful place, but not every part of the quarters is accessible to the general public. Snake Island is off limits to human beings due to the island being inhabited by the world’s deadliest snakes. Defy these orders, and you could die.

5. Area 51
Area 51 is quite possibly one of the most controversial places in the United States. The space is officially regarded as a military installation post, but several theorists have thought the spot to be the breeding ground for UFOs and other out-of-this-world phenomena.

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6. HavenCo
Sealand is not officially recognized as its own nation, but it kind of is a territory to itself. HavenCo is just off the coast of Suffolk, England, and allegedly holds some of the world’s most pertinent data. You kind of need to be invited to the getaway to see all of its wonders. It wouldn’t be wise to hold your breath waiting for an invite, though.

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7. Bahnhof
Bahnhof is also recognized as Wikileaks, Sweden. You know, Wikileaks, which led to a serious uproar from which the world has yet to recover. The good news is that this spot is located in the white mountain of the country, which is beautiful to no end. The scary news is that Wikileaks is surrounded by armor that makes its capable of withstanding a nuclear attack. Would you want to work in an institution as such?

It would be great to visit any one of these places but don’t count on a ticket to view any of these spectacular spots.

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Man’s Not so Friendly Best Friend- Forty of The Feistiest Dog Breeds Around

Sarrah M

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Are you looking for a four-legged friend? Dogs can be one of the best options when considering a pet. They are smart, loyal, and affectionate, especially when you adopt them as pups. One of the best things that you can do before choosing your canine companion is research because not all dogs are created the same. Like people, all dogs have their own individaul and unique personality, but lets take a look at some of our canine companion that are known for being fiesty.

Wolf Hybrid

Wolf Hybrids are the offspring of a domestic dog and a grey wolf. Because of their instinctual nature, Wolf Hybrids are extremely territorial and like to roam. Experts suggest that one should only consider a hybrid if they can invest the time, energy, and money it takes for training and upkeep, as they can be high maintenance.

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Thousands of Years Old Penguin Colony Has Disappeared

Liz L

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Recently, there was a tragic sea-ice collapse in the Antarctic. As a result, thousands of emperor penguins are presumed to be dead. These birds were said to be raising their chicks on a massive chunk of ice. Two years ago, a major storm hit the Wendell Sea. This caused the ice to weaken, and thousands of baby penguins drowned. According to officials with the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), as the Antarctic continues to warm up, experts are worried that there will be more incidents like this in the future.

The Emperor Penguin

The emperor penguin is the tallest and heaviest of all penguins. The ice where they raise their young needs to be incredibly sturdy. Between April and December, the ice has to be strong enough to hold the weight of thousands of birds. Since we don’t have people out in this area, the BAS relies on satellite images to check up on the penguin. They have confirmed that the entire colony is gone. Because this species is near extinction, this was a significant loss.

The Satellite Image

It was Dr. Peter Fretwell, a member of BAS, who first looked at the satellite image and discovered that the colony was no longer there. He says that part of his job is to look at the images from the satellites to check on the condition of the ice and the creatures that live there. Initially, he thought that he was looking at the wrong image when he saw that the penguins were gone. When he double checked and saw that he was looking at the correct image, he was devastated. There were thousands of penguins on the ice the day before. Penguins can breathe underwater, but they can hold their breath underwater for a long time. After falling into the water with no ice to stand on, it was just a matter of time before the thousands of penguins died.

The Danger

Dr. Fretwell believes that the weakening of the ice and the warmer waters will put the existence of the emperor penguin in great danger. Because our oceans are warming up at such a rapid rate, the ice is melting just as quickly. He says that the emperor penguin isn’t the only animal at risk due to the warming of the oceans. Polar bears are also in danger. When a female polar bear gives birth, she hunts on the sea ice. She needs it to travel to different regions looking for food. If there is less sea ice, the females will need to go longer without food. This can hinder their reproductive success and their fat storage. If the summer ice completely disappears, the polar bears will need to live on land, which can put their survival at considerable risk.

The walrus and several species of seals also at risk while the sea ice melts. Seabirds, such as the ivory gull is also at risk. Over the last two decades, the number of ivory gulls in Canada has dropped by 90 percent. This number is only expected to rise.

Dr. Fretwell has tried to get people to listen when it comes to the dangers of Global Warning. Unfortunately, there are still people, some in power, who don’t believe in Global Warming or who refuse to admit that it is a serious issue. Sadly, by the time people finally decide to act, several animal species will no longer roam the Earth. The disappearance of the emperor penguin colony is just the beginning. Dr. Fretwell says that it is just a matter of time before more species are wiped off the planet.

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A Young Man’s Journey to Feed the Needy

Liz L

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If you’ve ever felt a need for inspiration, a young man’s story is sure to warm your heart and soul. Liam Hannon saw homeless people on his way to school every morning, and felt horrible for them. When school let out he asked his dad, Scott Hannon, if he could take them lunches for their afternoon meal. Scott thought it was a wonderful idea filled with love and caring, and wasted no time getting the required materials together to begin the project.

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Background

Liam lives in a small Massachusetts town, where at ten years old he had just finished fifth grade last year when the project started. Lunches for Love, as the small business is aptly titled, began with Liam and Scott making 20 lunches every week to hand out to the impoverished homeless people in town. Unlike most pre-teen young men, Liam decided to forego television and video games in the hopes of accomplishing something far more rewarding and of value to the community.

What He Does

Once started, the project seemed to take on a life of its own. Liam started a Go Fund Me account to help sponsor the growing needs of Lunches for Love. He works in tandem with a local community adult resource, the Hildrebrand Family Help Center, in an attempt to not just feed the homeless but to help provide them with the skills and resources they need to lift their lives to something more fulfilling. To this end, by the end of the summer he was making up to 60 lunches each week to hand out. Although he did have to go back to school when autumn arrived, but continues to hand out as many lunches as possible on weekends. Of course, that is between completing his homework on time, studying for tests, and generally being a great student at the top of his class for grades.

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Why He Feeds the Poor

Liam has his own reasons for feeding the poor, which is the sheer honesty of children. He saw they looked hungry, that hurt his feelings, so he decided to do something about it. As a ten year old child is wont to do, he asked his dad for help and advice to get started, needless to say, he has a great dad who was absolutely supportive of the idea and used the opportunity to make it a father/ son project. When the local community realized what was going on, they asked questions to find out that even though he had some help, the project was the brainstorm of a young man. Everybody was amazed and impressed by the boy’s ambition and willingness to give so selflessly of his time a generous gift to those in need. If you ever find yourself lacking in inspiration, remember what this young man has accomplished and allow the story to lift your spirits at the what can be accomplished when you set your mind to it.

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Loyal Dog Protected Injured Sister Stranded On Railroad Tracks For Days

Danielle S

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It Seemed To Be Very Bad

Denis Malafeyev felt his heart paralyzed when he saw the train approaching. On the railroad was an injured dog that couldn’t move. He prepared for the worst but then something unbelievable happened. A dog appeared like an angel and stole the hearts of many on the Internet.

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