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It Takes 60 Volunteers To Raise 7 Babies Family, Septuplets Doing Fine With A Little Help From Friends

Mon., March 16, 1998

The parents of the world’s first set of surviving septuplets need a bin of 120 diapers, are helped by 60 volunteers around the clock and make about 40 feeding bottles a day.

No problem, they say.

“People think it’s chaos in here all the time, but really it isn’t,” mother Bobbi McCaughey, 29, told the Des Moines Sunday Register. “It’s not chaotic. It’s busy.”

The seven infants have been home together since March 1, when the last of them, Alexis and Natalie, were released from the hospital 102 days after their birth Nov. 19.

They joined their mom and father, Kenny McCaughey, and big sister Mikayla, 2, and the rest of the septuplets - Kenneth, Nathan, Joel, Brandon and Kelsey - at home in a tiny house in Carlisle.

Since then, family and church friends work shifts round-the-clock to help care for the babies. A container holds 120 clean diapers, not nearly enough to get through a week. Bobbi McCaughey and volunteers yank them out one after another, like tissues out of a box.

The babies go to bed about 10 p.m. and usually sleep until 2 or 3 a.m.

“They don’t wake each other up,” Bobbi McCaughey said. “There was so much noise in the nursery in the hospital and they’ve always been together, it’s not a problem. Nathan can be whooping it up in the bedroom, and the rest of them sleep right through it.”

On a normal day the overnight shift volunteer slips out at 6 a.m. The McCaugheys and their eight children have their house to themselves for two hours until the morning shift shows up at 8 a.m.

There’s no need for an alarm clock. A hungry baby usually wakes up the McCaugheys.

“We feed whoever wakes up first,” Bobbi McCaughey said. “Usually, they wake up one at a time, and everybody is up and fed in an hour and a half’s time.”

She makes 40 bottles that last between 24 and 36 hours. Each feeding and diaper change is recorded on a chart so volunteers and parents can keep track.

“Bobbi and I thought that maybe we would be able to do it alone,” Dad said. “There just isn’t any way.”

The babies range in size from Alexis, the smallest, weighing 6 pounds, up to Kenneth, the largest who weighs 9 pounds, 5 ounces. Each of the babies, except for Alexis, has doubled his or her weight. Kelsey has tripled her birth weight.

So far the babies have been fairly healthy.

Every baby has had a cold. Three of the babies have had ear infections. Kenneth has been to Iowa City for eye surgery. Alexis spent a few days back in the hospital to receive a treatment on her still-developing lungs.

“Nothing major,” Bobbi McCaughey said. “They’re fine.”

And they’re starting to show that despite being born on the same day, they’re a lot different from each other.

“Nathan gets mad at the drop of a hat,” she said. “Joel is a whiner. He and Kelsey both smile when you talk to them.

“Brandon is probably the most contented. He really doesn’t fuss. When he’s hungry, he cries, but that’s pretty much it. He puts himself to sleep. Natalie is pretty much the same way as Brandon,” she said. “They’re very good babies.”


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