None of whom, by the way, likes creamed carrots. With their most serious health problems behind them—Alexis, the smallest, went off oxygen in June—the family, including the couple's oldest daughter, Mikayla, now almost 3, have settled into a routine. In their tiny 800-square-foot Carlisle, Iowa, home, the septuplets nap three times a day, get their last bottle at 7 p.m. and are tucked in for the night by 7:30. At Bobbi's request, the legion of 90 volunteers who once helped at home—the kids go through 210 bottles, 240 diaper changes and 15 loads of laundry a week—has been cut by more than half. "Bobbi's desire is not to have to depend on others," says Brown.
Not counting big sis. According to Bobbi's mother, Peggy Hepworth, Mikayla "is very protective and helpful with the babies. She wants to help feed them, and sometimes she wants to change their diapers." Now and then, of course, she just wants to be left alone. "[Kenny Jr.] loves to go into Mikayla's room to explore," explains Addleman. "But sometimes she closes the door. She wants her privacy."
She is not the only one. For big Kenny, 28, a billing clerk at a local car dealership, the demands of being father to eight children have been a challenge. The lack of privacy, says Brown, "has been a strain on [his and Bobbi's] marriage. But they are closer as a couple than they ever have been." Thanks in part to lots of discussion, regular Friday night dates and an understanding that togetherness isn't always the answer. Says Kenny's mother: "Bobbi is good about letting Kenny have his space. She has hers too."
They'll both have a lot more of it come Nov. 23, when the family move into a seven-bedroom home built for them as a gift by more than 100 companies. Bobbi has learned, she says, to ignore critics who want to know why the family gets so much free stuff. Says her mother: "Bobbi never asked for anything." Still, she adds, the McCaugheys are grateful for all the gifts, including a 15-seat van, a 10-year supply of shoes and a $10,000 check from Julia Roberts. "Bobbi," says Hepworth, "feels blessed at the generosity of others." And for seven healthy babies who sleep through the night.
Karen S. Schneider
Lisa Kay Greissinger in Chicago