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Septuplets in Hospital for Holidays

December 22, 1997

CARLISLE, Iowa (AP) _ This will probably be the quietest Christmas at the McCaughey home for years to come.

On Dec. 25, only 22-month-old Mikayla will be home with her parents unwrapping presents, since her seven brothers and sisters, though thriving in the hospital, aren’t expected to be released until late next month.

The world’s only living set of septuplets _ born a month ago to Bobbi and Kenny McCaughey _ will get visits from the family. But for Kenneth, Alexis, Natalie, Kelsey, Brandon, Nathan and Joel, Christmas Day is ``going to be mainly a fairly quiet day,″ said their proud grandfather, Bob Hepworth.

Mikayla and her mom and dad plan to spend Christmas his parents, Val and Kenneth McCaughey, and the afternoon with hers, Peggy and Bob Hepworth.

Besides presents and dinner, Bob Hepworth, an ordained Baptist minister, will read the Christmas story from the Gospel of St. Luke.

Since the children’s birth, the McCaugheys have been trying to return normalcy to their lives. They’ve hired an agent to handle the countless inquiries from the media, corporations and well-wishers.

They’ve granted few interviews, the latest with ``America’s Family Coaches″ _ a syndicated weekly religious show originating in Des Moines.

``We’re focusing more on our private (life) than the public,″ McCaughey said on Saturday’s show. ``We understand what our status is, but we really didn’t ask for it. It was kind of given.″

At Missionary Baptist Church, friends want to help out with the babies and help the family feel comfortable.

``The key thing is, they’ve been at the center of all this attention,″ said the Rev. Robert Brown, pastor of Missionary Baptist Church. ``They don’t want anything special. They’re just a family with eight children. Our role is to try to make them feel comfortable.″

McCaughey, a billing clerk at a car dealership, has gone back to work.

Mrs. McCaughey’s swollen feet have returned to normal and she can wear her old shoes again. She’s at home taking care of Mikayla, and preparing for the babies’ homecoming. Seven bassinets line one of the couple’s two-bedrooms.

Architects are working on designing a new house that will be built with donated material and labor next year, a stone’s throw away from the McCaugheys’ modest house.

Each day, the couple visits the hospital, where both parents hold and feed the children.

The McCaugheys insist that they want the children treated like normal kids.

``When we bring these kids home ... this isn’t going to be a sideshow and I don’t want a mob of people standing out in front of the house,″ McCaughey said. ``It’s just that we’re a family ... no matter how many kids we have.″

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