An administrative officer, Mrs. Esther Edet, who gave birth to quintuplets in Cross River State, tells MOTUNRAYO JOEL her story
Tell us about yourself.
I’m a public servant; I work with the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital. I am happily married. My husband is a medical doctor.
When did you get married?
I got married December 2, 2006. I waited for 10 years before giving birth to this wonderful set of quintuplets. They were born on January 9, 2017.
How challenging was it waiting for 10 years to bear a child?
Challenging? That is an understatement; it wasn’t easy. In the first year of our marriage, we wanted to settle down and put things in place. We believed that by the second year, we would begin to have kids. But it didn’t happen, that was when my husband and I began to worry. We did all sorts of tests; but after sometime, my husband and I decided that we should wait on the Lord. Each year that passed, we kept believing and trusting God that something would happen. Life was challenging; I can still recall all the names I was called. People passed all sorts of negative comments about my situation. Whenever that happened, I would go into my room to shed tears. I would pray for hours; it was a tough period.
How did your husband manage the situation?
I thank God for his life. Many times he would encourage and tell me not to lose hope. He kept telling me that he would not leave me – not for anything. He was so supportive. There were times people advised me to do all sorts; on many occasions I had to turn a deaf ear to pieces of advice that I knew would endanger my health. But after some time, I began to take a drug to stimulate my ovulation cycle. I also took supplements.
How did you find out you were pregnant?
Usually whenever I took ill, my husband would advise me to take antimalarial medication. But this particular month – June (the month of his birthday) – he advised me to go for pregnancy test. And surprisingly, when I took the test, the result came out positive. We were so excited; he then decided to take me out to an eatery.
How did you react when you discovered you had taken in?
I was excited that day; I began to shed tears. I kept thinking about all I had passed through and the names people had called me. I began to sing and praise God. I didn’t know what to do, in fact, I was confused. I kept saying to myself, “So, I can actually get pregnant.”
At what month in your pregnancy stage did you discover you were pregnant with quintuplets?
I think I was three months pregnant. My husband and I went to our family hospital to have a look at our growing foetus through a scan. We never expected to hear the news about quintuplets. We were surprised to see five gestational sacs in my womb. He was confused; he said “what is happening?” I said God is out to embarrass us. We planned to have one or two children; having five children at once never crossed our mind. We just decided to believe in God. But as a medical doctor, he was worried about my health. We were also scared about all five of them surviving, but surprisingly they all survived.
Being pregnant with one baby can be taxing. How did you manage with five babies?
It wasn’t easy; it was a big job. When I was three months pregnant, people who saw me assumed I was approaching my delivery date. I was already looking tired and my skin had turned dark. My tummy grew so big; I couldn’t go to work. I was confined to one place; the weight was much on me. At four months, I couldn’t leave my house. My mother was worried. People who saw doubted if I was carrying just one baby, but I kept mute. I chose not to expose my secret.
Did you nurse any fear about how to cater for five children at a time?
Not really, I kept telling myself that God has a reason for giving me five babies at once. I was rest assured that He would provide for them. I was not sad because that would mean I was unhappy with what God did. All I did was to constantly pray to God to preserve my life. Waiting for 10 years to conceive is not a joke. I know what I passed through. But indeed as a mother, it is natural for me to nurture fears. I think about when they will start school; the five of them at once, which is a lot of money. I think about feeding them and giving them the best.
What are the names of your babies?
Their names are Wisdom, Praise, Grace, Gift and Miracle – I have three boys and two girls. They are three months old.
Do you have people assisting you to take care of them?
Yes, my mother and siblings have been supportive. I also plan to get a nanny/maid. It has not been easy caring for them. Sometimes, I feel stressed. Whenever one of my babies begins to cry, the others follow suit. The first few days after I came back home from the hospital was challenging. I still don’t sleep at night. My health began to deteriorate; I’m slowly getting back on my feet.
How do you breastfeed them?
I breastfeed one child per day no matter how much the others cry. I ensure each of them gets breast milk once in a week.
Have you been able to study their personalities?
I’m doing that on a gradual basis. Baby number one usually cries whenever he hears my voice, baby number two cries every second. My third and fourth babies – girls – only cry whenever they are hungry. They sleep off immediately they have been fed. My fifth baby is peaceful. But recently, my third baby always wakes up at night and begins to stare. When you tell her to go back to sleep, she begins to laugh at you.
Would you like to have more children?
I’m satisfied with all I have now. But if God blesses me with more, I have no choice but to accept.
Did you ask God for more than a child, at least twins, to compensate your decade of waiting to give birth?
Yes, I did. I told God that I would be glad if He would give me a boy and a girl to compensate my years of waiting. I love twins. I wanted twins. I have friends who have twins. But God in His mercies gave me five babies. I am so happy.
How would you describe motherhood?
It has been an interesting journey so far. I am also grateful to God that I have children who call me mother.
Do you regret anything?
No I don’t; all I may have passed through has made me stronger.
A young couple in Abuja just had quintuplets. What is your advice to the mother?
I would advise her to take life easy. She should not be stressed out by what is to come because most definitely, caring for five babies will be taxing. She should just continue to thank God for the lives of the babies. She should not try to carry the burden alone if not, she may break down. She should also welcome support with open arms.