Mariam Nabatanzi is an extraordinary woman, being the head of a family of 44 children. An unwanted record, Mariam having had to face a medically complicated situation.

Suffering from hyperovulation, the classic methods of contraception did not work for Mariam, but, worse, could lead to various medical problems that could have cost her her life… A life that was not always simple or joyful.

The hardness of a life

It is in Uganda, in East Africa, that Mariam lives. Nicknamed “Mama Uganda” in her native country, Mariam quickly realized that she was not a woman like the others. Married by force at the age of 12 after her parents sold her for a dowry, Mariam, at the age of 13, became a mother. Throughout her married life, she will give birth to four sets of twins, three sets of triplets, and five sets of quadruplets. Only one of her pregnancies will be unique. Six of her children will die and Mariam, abandoned by her husband in 2016, having, in the process, fled with all their money, finds herself with 38 children (20 boys and 18 girls) to raise alone.

Serious health problems

Faced with these repeated multiple pregnancies, Mariam goes to a clinic where the doctors tell her that her ovaries are abnormally large, causing hyperovulation. According to Dr Charles Kiggundu, a gynecologist at Mulago Hospital in Kampala, capital of Uganda, the most probable cause of Mariam’s extreme fertility is certainly hereditary “Her case is a genetic predisposition to hyperovulation, releasing several eggs in one cycle, which considerably increases the chances of having several births,” he told the New York Post newspaper. Although treatments for hyperovulation exist, they remain extremely difficult to find in rural Uganda. The doctors therefore advised Mariam to continue having children in order to reduce the fertility levels of her ovaries and told her that no method of contraception would work for her, probably causing her serious health problems. According to Mayo Clinic, a private US healthcare company, “Severe ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome is rare but can be life threatening. Other complications may include fluid buildup in the abdomen or chest, blood clots, kidney failure, torsion of the ovary, or breathing problems.” Now 43, Mariam was able to stop childbirth three years after her last delivery, explaining that “It was the grace of God to want to give me [so many] children” and confident that the doctor had “cut (her ) uterus from the inside”.

A hero mom

Speaking through a translator, one of Mariam’s sons said his mother was his “hero”. Today, Mariam and her 38 children live in four cramped houses made of cement blocks with corrugated iron roofs in a village surrounded by coffee fields 50 km north of Kampala. A “kind woman” donated bunk beds to her for her children after her husband left, but despite this they are still cramped, with twelve people sleeping in the same room, up to two per mattress. Returning to her marriage, Mariam slipped “I grew up in tears, my man made me go through a lot of suffering” and added “I spent all my time taking care of my children and working to earn a living. little money “. To support her family, Mariam turned to hairdressing, collecting scrap metal, brewing home gin and selling herbal medicines. His meager salaries are immediately swallowed up by food, clothing, medical care and school fees. But his pride is displayed on a wall of his house: the portraits of his children who have graduated from their school.



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