37 year old Mariam Nabatanzi Babirye is blessed with 38 children. Yes you read right. 38 CHILDREN. She lives in Kabimbiri village, Mukono District in Uganda.
In a recent interview with Uganda’s Daily Monitor, Mariam said that she was married off to her then forty year old husband at age 12 after she escaped death in 1993.
“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.”
She said that her husband was polygamous and abusive. She gave birth to her first set of twins in 1994 when at age 14. Two years later, she gave birth to triplets and a year and seven months after that added a set of quadruplets.
She did not see this as a strange development since her father gave birth to 45 children with different women and these all came in quintuplets, quadruples, twins and triplets.
By her sixth delivery, she had had 18 children and wanted to stop, so, she went to see a doctor at Namaliili Hospital. She tried again when she had 23 children.
But the doctors could not help since Nabatanzi had high ovary count which would eventually kill her if she stopped.
“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 child that the doctor cut her uterus.
This 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.
Among her children are six sets of twins, four sets of triplets, three sets of quadruples and single births. Ten of these are girls and the rest are boys. The oldest is 23 years old while the youngest four months.
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.”
Nabatanzi 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.
To meet her expenses, Nabatanzi administers local herbs for various illnesses – which she says she has done since she was a young girl- and doing casual work such as plaiting hair, decorating at events, and styling brides.
“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.”