Tuesday, January 11, 2011

7 Kids at Once

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

If you're a regular reader, it should come as no surprise that large families amuse me. I'm a regular watcher of 19 Kids and Counting and I continue to follow the Gosselins, regardless of the flack the family receives. Although I'm not a mother, once I decided I wanted children (I spent a good portion of my teen years planning to adopt Asian babies), I knew I wanted several. I'm talking four or five, which is a bit extreme for 2011 America. But, who knows... this may change after I've had two or three, haha.

Multiple births fascinate me even more. From the time I was introduced to Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield (thank you, first grade storytime), I've been enamored with twins. Every year of elementary school I wrote and illustrated a book, and my first that was actually bound was a tale of two sets of twins who were all best friends, and they shared a pair of magical roller skates. I wanted to do a research paper on the experimentation done on twins during the Holocaust in the tenth grade (didn't happen). I wanted to do my psychology term paper on twins and telepathy in college (that one didn't happen, either). I wanted twins from the time I was six or seven, and I attribute part of that to the fact that my parents gave my brother and I anatomically-correct baby dolls (a boy and a girl) that Christmas. And, I won't lie, I still wish for twins someday. But I digress.

I like to follow everything on television that deals with high-order multiples (4+ babies in a single birth), but of course I don't catch it all. It was almost by chance that I saw a commercial for America's Septuplets Turn 13, and I was excited to come back to it on my DVR when I returned from the holidays. So, let's look at it...

America's Septuplets Turn 13: They're the world's first set of surviving septuplets, which is seven kids in a single birth, if you didn't know. Background: the McCaugheys made headlines in November 1997 when they had seven kids on top of the young daughter they already had. Using medication, they had a single daughter the first time (Mikayla), but using the same medication (at age 28), they ended up with seven fetuses in the womb the second time. Selective reduction was offered, but being Missionary Baptists, they declined. 32 weeks was the gestation goal, but 30 weeks and 4 days was the limit. It does seem as if it was her choice tho, not a medical reason to end the pregnancy. "Operation Snow White" was the title of her delivery, via c-section, of course. They live in Iowa, and had a three-bedroom house at the beginning. At 11 months old, they were still using 42 bottles a day. They did have volunteer help, six people a day for 12 hours, except Sundays. Just bathing and dressing alone took an hour. 15 loads of laundry per week. 10 jars to feed seven 11-month-old babies. They took 3 naps each day, and stayed on a military schedule. Mikayla helped feed Natalie and Alexis with their feeding tubes. Mikayla was homeschooled as well, but that ended at some point. They discpline like the Bible says, 'spare the rod and spoil the child." When the kids were five, they spent $300 on groceries each month. They grew their own vegetables. Their car, some clothes, and some groceries were also donated.

There have been some medical complications through the years... Kenny had laser eye surgery at 10 months. Natalie and Alexis had to have a feeding tube. Alexis also had chronic lung disease. Alexis and Nathan have cerebral palsy. Nathan has been able to walk, which is a big step... he hits his head a lot. Alexis works very hard to be self-sufficient, still Alexis is low-tone, Nathan is stiff. Alexis will be rewarded with a free car if she can walk unassisted when she's 16.

When the youngest kids were two years old, they moved from their 860 sq ft house to a 7,000 sq ft house (with 16 rooms). Land, house, and much of the furniture was donated. In that year, the parents were often brought to their knees in prayer out of frustration. The kids all take band together, but otherwise aren't in any of the same classes. Kenny and Brandon are BFFs. Natalie and Alexis are BFFs. Kenny, Joel, and Kelsey are already interested in dating. The parents encourage dating Christians only, and more of a courtship where they spend time with the family as a whole.

Full names in birth order, if you're interested: Kenny (Kenneth Robert), Alexis (Alexis May), Natalie (Natalie Sue), Kelsey (Kelsey Ann), Nathan (Nathan Roy), Brandon (Brandon James), Joel (Joel Steven). And, the parents' quick run-downs of each child: Kelsey is the ham. Natalie is the mothering one. Brandon is into the military. Kenny is the busy, sporty one. Joel likes magic and video games. Alexis is the chatty one. Nathan is sweet.

They draw names to open presents first - that's a cute idea. But my biggest question is... how do you afford all those braces??
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1 comment:

Diana said...

I loved the Wakefield twins too, though I always kind of despised Jessica. I am a twin, and I think I was a bit more like Elizabeth.