When you talk about ‘mother of all nations’, one living person that can perfectly fit that description will be 37-year-old Mariam Nabatanzi Babirye. At only 37, Mariam has become quite famous because of the number of children she gave birth to all by herself.
She has 38 children, most of them twins, triplets and quadruplets and she gave birth to all of them at home, naturally, except for the last who was born in a hospital.
The woman, who lives in Kambiri village, Mukono District in Uganda, was married off without her consent or knowledge at the age of 12 to a 40-year-old man. That was in 1993. In 1994, when she was 14, she had her first set of twins then two years later, she gave birth to triplets and a year and seven months after that added a set of quadruplets.
In all, Mariam’s children consist of six sets of twins, four sets of triplets, three sets of quadruplets and a number of single births. 10 of her kids are girls while 28 are boys. The oldest is 23-years-old while the youngest is 4-months-old.
Narrating to Uganda’s Daily Monitor what it was like to be married off so early, Mariam revealed that she escaped death in 1993 and soon after, she was married off to a husband who was polygamous and abusive.
“I did not know I was being married off. People came home and brought things for my father. When time came for them to leave, I thought I was escorting my aunt but when I got there, she gave me away to the man.”
When Mariam began to have multiple births, she did not see anything strange in it because her father had 45 children with different women and these kids all came in quintuplets, quadruples, triplets and twins.
By Mariam’s sixth preganacy, she already had 18 children and wanted to stop, so, she visited a hospital but the doctors said they could not help her since she had a high ovary count which would eventually kill her if she stopped having kids. She tried again when she had 23 children and she was told the same thing; that she would die if she tries to stop having kids.
“I was advised to keep producing since putting this on hold would mean death. I tried using the Inter Uterine Device (IUD) but I got sick and vomited a lot, to the point of near death. I went into a coma for a month,” she explains.
It was only after the birth of her 38th child, who is currently four-month-old, that the doctor cut her uterus. That was her only delivery in a hospital ever since she started giving birth.
“I asked the doctor to stop me from more births and he said he had ‘cut my uterus from inside’. This was my only Cesarean delivery because I was still weak from the sickness I suffered when I tried to use an IUD,” she said.
One of her first born twins has a certificate in nursing and the other in building although they have not found jobs yet. Two of her other children are in Senior Six, three in Senior Five, Four in Primary Seven, and four in Senior One. The rest are between baby class and Primary Six.
On feeding her children she said:
“everything is solely from my pocket; I buy 10kg of maize flour a day, four kilogrammes of sugar a day and three bars of soap. I need to have Shs100, 000 at the least on a daily basis to have the family catered for. God has been good to me for they have never gone a day without a meal.”
Mariam makes her money by administering local herbs for various illnesses – which she says she has done since she was a young girl. She also does casual work such as plaiting hair, decorating at events, and styling brides. She is in the process of gathering money to connect piped water she can sell since water is a big problem in the area, with a jerry can costing Shs800.
“I do not despise any job as long as it brings in some money. Feeling sorry for myself is something I dropped because I know these children are a gift from God that I have to treasure, so I try my level best to fend for them.”