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First surviving septuplets 16, enjoy ‘normal’ lives

DES MOINES (AP) — The world’s first surviving septuplets have turned 16, and they don’t mind that they’re taking a lower profile these days.

The McCaughey siblings, who live in Carlisle in central Iowa, gained international fame for their births in 1997. They were on the cover of national magazines and featured on network television shows.

The seven children — Kenny, Kelsey, Natalie, Brandon, Alexis, Nathan and Joel — celebrated their 16th birthday Tuesday, and the family told The Des Moines Register it’s nice to live a more normal life.

“It was kinda cool, but in other ways I never liked it, all these cameras following you around everywhere,” said Nathan McCaughey, one of seven high school sophomores in the family.

More important matters in the household — which includes older sister Mikayla, 18 — are driving privileges, track meets and band practice.

“It’s quiet in some ways. The kids are growing up right before your eyes,” said father Kenny McCaughey, who works at a metal coating plant.

Budgeting is important in their seven-bedroom house, which was donated along with a huge van. Kenny McCaughey and his wife, Bobbi, are paying for Mikayla’s college education, as well as braces for several teens. They are also monitoring the medical needs of Alexis and Nathan, born with forms of cerebral palsy, though both are doing well.

“The biggest challenge is making sure they keep up with certain things but not keep up with certain things, trendy things,” Kenny McCaughey said. “Three of them have cellphones and a couple have iPads. But even I’m on a pay-as-you-go phone plan.”

Bobbi McCaughey, the children’s mother and a paraeducator, said she’s enjoyed being able to have conversations with their children now that they’re older.

“One of the big things now is relationships with friends and members of the opposite sex,” she said. “It can be much more of a discussion. It’s less ‘because I said so.’ Now they may not agree with what you say but they have an understanding of why we are not allowing it.”

The couple, who used fertility treatments, said their faith in God has helped shape their lives. Especially after they decided to not use selective reduction.

“To a lot of people this might sound trite, but God determined the outcome,” said Bobbi McCaughey. “We’ve built a good foundation that wouldn’t have happened had that situation not occurred. So the message is let God use you. It doesn’t have to be something that makes national news.”

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