Bobbi McCaughey, a 29-year-old woman from the small town of Carlisle, underwent a C-section performed by more than 40 specialists, and gave birth to seven surviving babies. This was the first time in the country that so many infants had been born alive to a single mother.
In under ten minutes the four boys and three girls were born– the smallest 2.5 pounds, the largest 3.4 pounds. Arriving two months premature, even doctors were surprised at the success of the delivery.
The closest an American woman had come to a similar feat was in 1985, when Patricia Frustaci of California gave birth to seven babies. However, one of the infants was stillborn, and three others died within three weeks. The three surviving babes had serious medical and developmental problems.
Doctors say that the more fetuses a woman carries, the greater health risk it is to each one. Risks include being born premature, cerebral palsy, brain damage, blindness, mental retardation or other developmental problems with speech and motor skills.
Ethicists argued that the McCaughey septuplets raised several of medicine’s hardest questions.
While the septuplets raised ethical concerns for some, they also garnered nation wide support. At birth, Proctor & Gamble donated a lifetime supply of diapers. As kindergartners they got to meet with President Bush, and as High School Seniors they’ve been offered free college education from several universities.
For Bobbi McCaughey and her husband Kenny, facing an empty nest feels bittersweet. The Des Moines Register reports that the septuplets are going on separate paths following high school, including the military and college.
“It’s sad to see things end, but there will be a lot of firsts coming. You have to get to the lasts to get to the firsts, ” Bobbi told the Des Moines Register.
While they’ve tried to stay out of the spotlight for the most part, they make occasional media appearances to let the world know that they’re doing fine.