By Godfrey Lugaaju
Lost along the way, a boda boda rider offers to lead me to her home since they know her by her unique name.
Nalongo Muzaala Bana (the twin mother that produces quadruples) is what Mariam Nabatanzi Babirye goes by where she resides in Kabimbiri village, Mukono District.
An overcrowded neighborhood with children running all over welcomes me to Nabatanzi’s home.
At 37, Nabatanzi has 38 children whom she has delivered from home except the last born who is four months old. She was delivered by caesarean section. 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.
Eager to tell her story, she takes a minute before getting into it, tilting her head lost in thoughts. She was married off at 12 years of age after surviving death; allegedly at her stepmother’s hands who apparently pounded glass and mixed it in the food she gave Nabatanzi and her four siblings. Fortunately, she was away unlike her siblings who ate the food and died on the spot.
Nabatanzi breaks down when she recalls what she went through upon getting married. In 1993, she was married off to a 40-year-old man.
“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.”
Being only a young girl, she found marriage a difficult task in the new family. “My husband was polygamous with many children from his past relationships who I had to take care of because their mothers were scattered all over. He was also violent and would beat me at any opportunity he got even when I suggested an idea that he didn’t like,” she recounts.
Starting a family
Her father-in-law gave them a piece of land to start their family, a family for which she planned to have six children.
In 1994, when she was 13, Nabatanzi gave birth to twins. Two years later, she gave birth to triplets and a year and seven months after that added a set of quadruplets. This, she says was nothing strange to her because she had seen it before in her lineage. “My father gave birth to 45 children with different women and these all came in quintuplets, quadruples, twins and triplets,” she says.
Indeed, Dr Charles Kiggundu, a gynecologist at Mulago Hospital and President of gynaecologists and obstetricians, says it is very possible for Nabatanzi to have taken after her father. “Her case is genetic predisposition to hyper-ovulate (releasing multiple eggs in one cycle), which significantly increases the chance of having multiples; it is always genetic,” he explains.