Guess what darling... we’re having four babies! Challenges of multiple births

Divina Ogari with her babies

Nominated MP Isaac Mwaura and his wife Nelius Mukami recently hit the headlines when they announced they were blessed with triplets.

While having three kids at one go could be good news for friends and family, the parents are left with the reality of feeding and taking care of them in turns after the guests have ululated and left.

Divina Ogari, who has a history of multiple births in her family, gave birth to quadruplets last year. When she was three months pregnant, Divina went for a routine check-up and was shocked when her doctor informed her the scan showed there were four heartbeats. She admits that her pregnancy was not an easy one.

“The pregnancy was like a death sentence. There is nothing good to recall about it. I have bad memories about it and I only managed by God’s grace. I had severe nausea and was vomiting blood. In short, the pregnancy was such a horrible experience for me,” remembers the mother of five.

The former high school teacher in Nairobi recalls her husband being excited She says that, “I was depressed because of the risks involved,” and reveals that at 16 weeks, she had to undergo cervix stitching to keep her pregnancy intact. Divina was then put on bed rest for the rest of her pregnancy term and had to stop working. “I communicated to the school but I got no response. My salary was also stopped immediately,” she told The Nairobian.

Her gynaecologist, Dr Sikolia Wanyonyi, was ready to deliver the babies from week 30, but suggested the addition of extra days for the babies to mature. Divina delivered through C-section last year, amid a lot of tension.

“It was actually a matter of life and death. The doctor had already warned me about the possibility of over-bleeding. I was made to sign a consent form agreeing to a blood transfusion before I went in for the surgery, just in case.” Divina recalls one doctor saying, “She lost a little blood and she’s very stable. No need for transfusion.”

Delivery was the easy task. The real work began at home, where “I use very many diapers in a day. Feeding is also an expensive affair because I mainly survive on supplements. The babies use two tins of formula a day,” she says, adding that, “I couldn’t tell them apart until they got much older.”

Now that her four babies - Lara, Lyanna, Lisa and Libby - are eight months old, they wake up once at night, unlike in the past when they woke up five to six times a night and “I could not handle them by myself. I had to get help from house helps.”

She has two live-in house helps and also has her younger sister to help with some of the chores. “These kids are so expensive. I don’t want to imagine what will happen when they reach school-going age. The fees will not be cheap. It’s going to be crazy,” she says.

On nutrition, Divina heavily relied on supplements to ensure her babies were well taken care of. “Since I mostly survived on supplements, my doctor let me eat any food I craved,” she says. Her husband Joseph Siro says men who are expecting multiple births should offer their wives all the support as the “pregnancy journey needs physical, financial and emotional support.”

The family of seven entirely depends on Divina’s husband to survive. She is now back on her feet and is looking for another job to supplement her man’s income. “I recently emailed the principal about resuming work in January, but he never responded.”

HR consultant, Judy Simon of SRCA Consulting, says that pregnant mothers “should not be punished for having to be away from work owing to their parental responsibilities. Some companies also adjust work load to ensure these parents are comfortable. It is important for a company to ensure their employee is mentally relaxed for increased productivity.” 

Psychologically, news that you should prepare for multiple births instead of the one baby you expected could be a setback. Dr Gladys Mwiti, psychologist and founder of Oasis Africa, says the situation can throw new parents into shock.

“You probably shopped with one child in mind, then you are told that you are expecting four. At this point, you will need to realign your financial resources to accommodate the new situation,” advises the author of Parenting with Purpose and African Wisdom.

“The feelings are not confined to women alone as men also feel the same. Basically, they are all disoriented and the ability for couples to talk to each other about this is what determines how fast the couple adjusts to accommodate the multiple babies,” explains Dr Mwiti.

She adds that, “The parents’ financial, emotional, intellectual and spiritual resources will be needed to help them adjust. If you look at it as a blessing, and split the pregnancy into manageable portions, like planning for extra house helps or asking for friends and relatives to help, things will be much easier.”

Dr Mwiti, however, cautions parents to be careful about where they seek support.

“Do not hang around people who always say negative things about you and the babies. Not all of them will be helpful,” she warns, adding that parents, whether single or married, “they should give their best to these children because in the African culture, this is viewed as a blessing.”

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Sde.co.ke


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