Ken McCaughey counted his blessings this Thanksgiving and continued well past seven.
“We’re not worthy for this at all,” said the man, whose son is Kenny McCaughey, the father of the world’s only living set of septuplets.
As Ken and his wife, Val, prepared to celebrate Thanksgiving at home, they mused about the past few months and their new grandchildren.
“I’m just confident the Lord’s going to handle this.
He’s brought them this far, and I think he’s going to carry it through,” Ken McCaughey said Wednesday. “That’s just the way we all feel about it. It’s going to be. If for some reason he decides to change it, that’s his will.”
“But we don’t think he will,” Val McCaughey said, finishing his thought.
“Nope, we don’t think so,” Ken said. “There’s a purpose for this. And we can see what’s happening around the country. It’s really pulled Christians together, I think.”
Because of that, he said, he’s thankful this year “not just for seven new reasons, but many reasons.”
The septuplets were born Nov. 19 to Kenny and Bobbi McCaughey, also of Carlisle. She was released from the hospital - where she had been since a month before the birth - on Sunday.
A sixth baby, Alexis, was breathing on her own Thursday and off a ventilator, leaving only Nathan using the breathing device. He was listed in serious condition, while Alexis and the others - Joel, Brandon, Kelsey, Natalie and Kenneth - were in fair condition at Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines.
Ken and Val McCaughey’s house has been busy, with their three youngest children entertaining friends and talking on the telephone.
Mikayla, the septuplets’ 22-month-old big sister, has been here, too.
As she played with a baby doll and stuffed monkey Wednesday night, the grandparents mused about her future - and the effect the septuplets could have on it.
“I don’t think it will hurt her. I think she adapts well,” Ken McCaughey said. “She’s got lots of people around her and I think she’ll always have people around her, paying attention to her, where the babies won’t get it all like some people might think.”
Val said she’s sure her stepson’s and Bobbi’s “natural instinct for parenting” will mean balanced lives for all their children.
She joked that it may be the septuplets who have problems with their older sister.
“Her personality is such that she likes to be in charge,” she said. “The problem that I see happening is that maybe the other children will not like to be bossed around.”
The elder McCaugheys are continually amazed by the outpouring of gifts for Bobbi and Kenny - everything from free diapers to offers for a new house.
“The original plan was just to put an addition on the back of the house there now to accommodate seven,” Ken McCaughey said. “That’s feasible. But it’s going to be better than that.”
Val said Kenny and Bobbi are overwhelmed by the support.
“It’s humbling to them. They never expected anything,” she said. “We were all just thinking about how, as a family, and as a church family, the needs would be met. We had no idea that this kind of reaction would happen.”
To the critics who question the amount of gifts going to the family, Val points out that Bobbi is the kind of woman who shops for bargains at garage sales. And neither she nor Kenny use credit cards.
“They’ve already said that if they have too much of anything, they want to give it away to others that need it. They could have said, ‘Well, we’ll sell it,’ but that isn’t how they feel,” Val said. “Bobbi has said, ‘I don’t deserve all these gifts. I just want my babies.”’
Val, 41, a kindergarten teacher, and Ken, 52, an auto technician at the same Carlisle dealership where his son works, both expect the coming months and years to be filled with baby-sitting.
“When I leave work every day, then it’ll be time to go help with the babies,” Val said. “I have summers off, so that’s perfect.”
The McCaugheys, who attend the Missionary Baptist Church in Carlisle, say they’ve felt their solid faith strengthen.
“I’m beginning to realize how maybe uncommon it is to have this much faith. But I also know that there are a lot of Christians that called us and let us know that they believe the way that we do and have prayed for us,” Val said.
“It has strengthened our faith to watch the Lord work through this whole pregnancy and all the things, the many, many things that came along that should have happened that didn’t.”