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Parents of quintuplets recount experiences, challenges of caring for five babies

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Mr. Ogbonnaya and Mrs. Ifeoma Nwaka, and their quintuplets (five babies)

On Tuesday, January 15 at the 10 Area N, Zone 3, World Bank, Owerri, Imo State residence of Mr. Ogbonnaya and Mrs. Ifeoma Nwaka, there was subdued joy as the couple recounted their experiences and challenges since the birth of their quintuplets (five babies) on August 8, last year, at Life International Hospital in Awka, Anambra State.

It was interesting and exciting to behold the beautiful babies, but after listening to their parents about how challenging it has been sustaining them for the past five months, The Guardian became somehow worried about their survival and adequate upkeep.

This was heightened on discovering that their mother has been sick for a while now, possibly from the tedious task of parenting and caring for such number of babies at a go. 

From their stories, every parent would have better understanding of what Mr. and Mrs. Nwaka have gone through so far since the arrival of the quintuplets. The challenge has been so enormous and has affected their lives adversely, especially economically. 

For instance, the babies since their birth consume two or more tins of NAN or Lactogem baby milk daily, with each tin costing about N2, 000.

So, it costs approximately N4, 000 to feed them on a daily basis. This is in addition of the cost of buying diapers, soaps, creams, drugs and other necessities.

Also, one can only imagine what it is like for the mother to withstand the cries of the babies for attention, sometimes, not just one at a time. 

“I give God all the glory. It is only God that knows the reason it is me that he chose to bring forth these babies to the world at once. 

“He is the one that gave me the strength to carry them for the eight months and two weeks before their delivery. 

“Since I was delivered of them, it has been so stressful for me. Even my body, I have not recovered since that time. Right now, I am not even feeling fine, but I still thank God for everything,” a grateful Ifeoma told The Guardian.  

Her husband and father of the children, Ogbonnaya, has not had it easy since then either, having lost his means of livelihood with the demolition and relocation of some markets by the state government, which affected his provision store. 

And without an alternative source of income, he had to depend on his little savings to see through the needs of the newborn babies and the entire family. 

He said his shop has been closed down for over one year and apart from the support they got from the wife of Anambra State governor, Mr. Eberechukwu Obiano, who helped them to off-set the hospital bills, only a few good spirited individuals have responded to their cry for assistance. 

Ogbonnaya, from Arochukwu in Abia State, recounted: “After my schooling and youth service, I wasn’t able to secure any job, so I went into business and finally ended up selling provisions in Owerri. That was after I ran away from the north because of the Boko Haram problem. 

“The experience was quite challenging, because after the scan that day when we were told the number of babies my wife was carrying, the doctor gave us some recommendations, saying she should not be under any form of stress and that we should provide as much comfort as possible for her and ensure that her nutrition is up-to- date, so that she doesn’t fall sick or get blood shortage. 

“He said the information was not for the public yet at that point and that we should manage the information and the pregnancy very seriously and dedicatedly in order not to create unnecessary stress for her.

“So, I looked at the whole situation and said well, it is a very big project, because I know that having five babies at once is not going to be easy. 

“So, from that moment, I went back to my shop and managed to sell off the goods that we had in the shop, so that they don’t expire and then I decided to look after her in the house. We practically closed up our business and focused on the pregnancy, coupled with the fact that during that period, there were lots of ups and downs in the state, as the governor was demolishing so many places and relocating so many markets and I was affected in the demolition.

“For one year now, I have not really being active in business since the point that the test was done till now, because increasingly, as the size of the babies were getting bigger, the discomfort and need for more attention kept increasing.

“So, I had to just take the second seat, while my wife took the first in the family. I mean, we just swapped our positions and then I became the hand in the house while she became the ‘oga,’ temporarily. 

“We were doing that and managing ourselves until we got to a point where we were asked to come to the hospital for closer monitoring and observation. It has been a long time project from the discovery of the pregnancy till the delivery time. 

“At the admission time in the hospital, we spent over a month before the delivery and a month again after the delivery. It has been a quite challenging period, but an interesting one, because the result, as you can see, is quite interesting.”

On his experience after the babies were delivered and they were discharged from the hospital, Ogbonnaya said: “We came back from the hospital when we were discharged after much delay, because the bill was actually high, about N2.3million.

“We couldn’t pay at that time, so we had to write to the Anambra State Government, because the babies were delivered in a private hospital close to the Government House. 

“So, we wrote to the governor and his wife for them to assist us a bit in the bills. After a number of days of persuasion, they came and the governor’s wife paid N1, 620, 000 on our behalf, which was the last part of the bill.

“By then, we had paid close to N600, 000 and that settled the balance sum of the bill and released us from the hospital. 

“Since then, we have been managing the babies on our own.”

Many would think it was through in-vitro-fertilisation (IVF), but they have a history of multiple births in their families. “Our both maternal and paternal families have twins, but not more than two at once.” 

The couple, who has had a four-year-old daughter before, intend to employ a nanny to assist in looking after the quintuplets, but are yet to complete the arrangement.

Coping with the routine of caring for the children, especially at night, is another kettle of fish. “It is not funny at all. In fact, it has been an all-night vigil arrangement for the past five months. 

“Initially, we were feeding them every two hours, but currently, they eat every three hours all through the night. 

“We follow their numbers- one, two, three, four and five- and then the next time, we reverse the order, that is- five, four, three, two and one.”

On whether they have come across any severe case of worry regarding the health of the babies, for example, Ogbonnaya explained: “Yes, there was a time they were sick, but after due treatment and routine immunisation, they were back to normal. 

“There was also time they had malaria and we took them to the hospital, but after taking the recommended drugs, they were healthy again.

“Also periodically, they will have catarrh and we will give them treatment and they will be okay.” 

The major challenge now is the feeding of the babies. “The thing they eat recurrently is milk, because they cannot depend on breast milk. They take breast from their mother, but the quantity is usually very small. You can imagine what all of them could get from just the breast. So, we simply balance it up with baby formula. 

“All this while, we have been drawing from the little resources that we had from our savings to look after them. There hasn’t been any major external assistance. Individuals have made some donations, ranging from N1, 000 to N2, 000 as a kind of support, but we haven’t had any government assistance, apart from one non-governmental organisation (NGO) that made a donation of N100, 000, but that was soon after we arrived from hospital.”

Asked if he could still cope, given the situation at the moment, Ogbonnaya stated: “I don’t think so, because the savings we have has gone dry and there is no replacement yet. The shop that we were managing before the pregnancy has been closed down. So, no income is coming now. 

“I humbly solicit for assistance. In fact, we have been making efforts to get across to a number of governments and NGOs to see whether they can come and assist us. Our accommodation is a rented apartment and would expire very soon. 

“If we can get assistance, in terms of accommodation, if there is a way something can relieve us of the periodic paying of rent for the moment, that would be wonderful. You know, these babies need a stable accommodation to improve on their hygiene and comfort.

“Also, we know that with this number, even when we start business, the rate at which money would be needed for their upkeep and training may be more than the rate at which the money is coming. So, we are not expecting to have much savings for the next 10 to about 20 years. 

“We appeal to public-spirited individuals, NGOs and governments to come to our aid for the day-to-day upkeep of the babies.”

Mrs. Nwaka, who could not say much due to her condition, added, in tears: “I thank God for some individuals who have come to our help or some who have come around to identify with us in one way or the other. I pray that God will bless them.

“I pray that God will touch many individuals, NGOs and companies to see our plight and come to our aid. We can’t do this alone. We rely on their assistance to go through this. 

“Also we appeal to governments, especially of Abia and Imo states, to come and help us.”

No doubt, the Nwakas need as much assistance as they can get from any quarter and in any form regarding the upkeep of the new babies, in terms of feeding, clothing and provided them with good shelter, among other basic necessities of life, especially giving the fact that their parents have no tangible means of income at the moment and share a three-bedroom apartment with co-tenants. 

The Nwakas can be reached through 07062994586, 07033587395 and 08155982405 or donations to Zenith Bank account number 2086662062.


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