November 26, 1997 in Nation/World

Couple Marvels Over ‘Gifts’ Family Support Helps Alleviate ‘Sheer Terror’ Of Seven Fetuses

Associated Press
 

Bobbi McCaughey says she and her husband wondered if God was punishing them when she learned she was pregnant with seven fetuses.

“First, it was just like, ‘God, why have you done this to us?’ Like it was something that was wrong,” Bobbi McCaughey said on a “Dateline NBC” segment scheduled to air Tuesday night.

Her four boys and three girls - the only living septuplets in the world - continued to show signs of improvement Tuesday.

Natalie Sue was removed from her ventilator at about noon and was upgraded to fair condition. Kenneth Robert - the oldest and heaviest - is the only other sibling in fair condition and has been breathing without a ventilator since Friday, two days after the children were born by Caesarean section.

Their five siblings remained in serious condition Tuesday, which doctors say is normal. Joel was able to breathe on his own for a few hours Sunday before he grew tired and was placed back on a respirator.

Bobbi McCaughey, who spoke only briefly to reporters last week, recalled returning from a doctor’s visit last spring, looking at her husband with a concerned look on her face and saying, “don’t freak out.”

“I said, ‘how many?”’ her husband said. “She goes, ‘Seven,’ and I go, ‘Arrrgghhh!’ Then I go, ‘No, no, no, no. Are you serious?”’

Bobbi McCaughey said they both experienced “sheer terror,” but “it didn’t take very long, a few weeks for the shock to wear off and get used to the idea that we’re going to have a very big family.”

Robert Brown, pastor of Missionary Baptist Church in Carlisle where the couple attend church, told “Dateline” he visited the couple shortly after they learned of the multiple pregnancy and found McCaughey wringing his hands with worry.

“He just said, ‘How can I … support these kids?”’ Brown said. “And we prayed together, just trust in God … that he knew what was best and we would trust him, if this was his plan.”

Bobbi McCaughey said she told Dr. Paula Mahone, a high-risk pregnancy doctor who delivered the septuplets, that aborting fetuses in order to reduce the risk to her and other fetuses was out of the question.

“I just let her know up front that selective reduction was not an option for us,” Bobbi McCaughey said. “And that I didn’t want to be going to a doctor who was going to hound us each week about how dangerous this was and we really shouldn’t be doing it.”

Bobbi McCaughey said she overcame the fear of the pregnancy with the support of family and friends.

“Any child is a gift from God no matter whether it’s one at a time or seven at a time,” she said.

It was only the second televised interview she has given. The first was to KCCI-TV in Des Moines, which helped the family keep the pregnancy a secret for several weeks after a reporter learned she was carrying seven fetuses.

Family spokeswoman Marlys Popma said on Sunday that they gave the interview to “Dateline” because it’s a show they watch. “Dateline” said NBC did not pay for the interview.

The segment included home videos, including pictures of the 52-inch girth of the once-petite Bobbi McCaughey. The video also showed Bobbi McCaughey in her hospital bed as her daughter Mikayla, who’s almost two, played by her side.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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