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Day To Be Thankful for McCaugheys

November 28, 1997

CARLISLE, Iowa (AP) _ Mikayla McCaughey looked up at the magazine her grandmother was reading and shrieked joyfully, ``Mommy!″

Momentarily distracted from her baby doll and stuffed monkey, all the 22-month-old Mikayla saw was her parents’ picture on the cover. She does not yet understand that her seven new brothers and sisters have become a medical _ and media _ sensation.

But her grandparents are convinced she’ll handle the changes in her life with ease.

``I don’t think it will hurt her. I think she adapts well,″ grandfather 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.″

As they celebrated Thanksgiving, Ken and his wife, Val, mused about the past few months and their new grandchildren.

Val McCaughey said she’s sure their son, Kenny, and his wife, Bobbi, will manage to give all their children balanced lives through their ``natural instinct for parenting.″

``Every family is a little different and normal life can be one thing to one person and another thing to another person,″ Val said. ``But they will adjust their life to make it the best it can be for all of their children.″

Kenny and Bobbi McCaughey became the parents of septuplets Nov. 19. The babies are the only living set of septuplets in the world.

Six _ Alexis, Joel, Brandon, Kelsey, Natalie and Kenneth _ have been taken off their respirators and were in fair condition at a Des Moines hospital.

Nathan remains in serious condition, which doctors say is normal for babies his age and size.

``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. ``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.

Ken and Val McCaughey’s house is busy, with their three youngest children entertaining friends, talking on the telephone and helping with Mikayla’s baby-sitting.

Val, 41, a kindergarten teacher, and Ken, 52, an auto technician at the same Carlisle dealership where his son works, expect the coming months and years to be filled with even more baby-sitting.

``We’ll take turns,″ Ken said. ``There will be family members and church family and community members that are going to help, too. It’ll work.″

``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 elder McCaugheys are amazed by the outpouring of gifts for Bobbi and Kenny _ 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 said. ``That’s feasible. But it’s going to be better than that.″

To the critics who question the amount of gifts, Val points out that Bobbi is the type of woman who shops for bargains at garage sales. And neither she nor Kenny uses 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.‴

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