Although she has given birth just fifteen times, a 39-year-old mother has an alarmingly high number of little ones. She has 38 children, one for almost every year of her life. The number of children includes six sets of twins, four sets of triplets, and five sets of quadruplets, six of which tragically passed away since birth for various reasons – but the reason for so many multiple births is simple although bizarre.
Mariam Nabatanzi has larger-than-average ovaries. The number of eggs that are being produced surpasses any average every seen in the medical community. And while raising thirty-eight children would be hard enough, Mariam’s husband abandoned her three years ago, forcing her to raise all the children by herself.
When she turned twelve, Mariam had been married off. A year later, she gave birth to a set of twins. Since then there have been many other births including five more sets of twins, four sets of triplets and five sets of quadruplets.
But when her husband left her three years ago, life got very hard for the strong Ugandan woman. Despite her emotional health and her love for her children, she needed her husband’s support because there were just so many children to take care of. Thankfully, some of them have reached adulthood and no longer require the same level of attention as the children.
Mariam lives with her massive family in four small houses made of cement blocks. When her husband left her, it was a blow to her life. The village she lives in is surrounded by large fields of coffee, which sell for a large price to nations like the United States, but the profits of which Mariam and other villagers hardly ever see. Her village is about 30 miles north of the city of Kampala.
After she gave birth to her first set of twins, the doctor told her that she had abnormally large ovaries. Although she wanted to get access to birth control, the doctor forbid that intervention because he worried it might cause the mother health problems. With little access to other effective forms of birth control like condoms, the children kept on coming.
The continent of Africa is home to some of the largest family sizes on the globe. And in Uganda, Mariam’s home country, the average woman has a fertility rate of 5.6 children. That’s more than double the world’s average, which is 2.4 children per woman.
Mariam’s last pregnancy occurred two and a half years ago. And it had complications. It ended up being of the sixth set of twins, and one of them died in childbirth. That was her sixth child to die prematurely. After that hardship, her husband, who often left for long periods of time, outright abandoned her.
“I have grown up in tears. My man has passed me through a lot of suffering,” she said. “All my time has been spent looking after my children and working to earn some money.”
Life is extremely difficult for this woman who suffers from a condition called hyper-ovulation.
Every time you share an AWM story, you help build a home for a disabled veteran.