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John and Maggie were devastated by the loss of their first born daughter who the mother had carried to term. A year later, they tried for another child and the doctor told them they were carrying three babies, only for Maggie to give birth to four.
John Momanyi and Maggie Obegi, both Kenyan, were excited at the prospect of becoming parents in 2018. That February, when Maggie broke the news that she was pregnant, John could hardly conceal the joy that welled up in his heart. John, who is in his mid-30s, recalls how he often stroked and caressed Maggie’s belly, talking to his child in anticipation.
“Maggie had a smooth pregnancy. She was due to deliver in October 2018,” says John.
That October, their hearts were broken. Their happiness, anticipation, and hope were replaced by an overwhelming void of pain, disappointment, and heartache. Their newborn daughter did not make it.
“We lost her at birth,” says Maggie, her face clouding with sadness at the memory.
John and Maggie had met three years earlier. John, who works as an aeronautical engineer, says it was love at first sight when he first set his eyes on Maggie, who works as a labour officer at the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection.
“We met in church in February 2014. From the moment I saw Maggie. I knew she was the one for me,” says John. “We clicked, we liked the same things. We were passionate about God, too.”
Maggie says she was impressed with John’s zeal to succeed in life, his outlook, his respect for other people, his love for God, and his good morals and social standing.
Loss of their daughter
“He was an upright man. He was handsome too. I was convinced that he would make a good husband,” she says.
The two lovebirds dated for one year. In November 2015, John and Maggie got married through a traditional ceremony that was later solemnised and formalised at the Attorney General’s office.
After losing their daughter in 2018, John and Maggie took time to heal. In 2019, they decided to try for a baby again. It did not take long before Maggie conceived.
“I scheduled for my prenatal clinics shortly after missing my period. My pregnancy was confirmed. In one of my clinic visits, the doctor decided to check and confirm the baby’s heartbeat. Alas, he said that it seemed I was pregnant with more than one baby,” says Maggie.
“The news was overwhelming. It was a pleasant surprise that I had not expected because I had not shown any signs of carrying multiple babies prior to this clinical check.”
But John also recalls how his wife freaked out at first when she was told she was carrying triplets.
“Maggie was afraid that she would not be able to carry the babies to term. And coming from the loss of our first baby, she was scared about how the pregnancy would progress,” he says.
This is echoed by Maggie, who says that she took the pregnancy day by day.
“We had been told that the pregnancy could be high risk and that I should expect to take bed rest at some point. But I am always grateful to God that the pregnancy was smooth and without any complications all through,” she says.
Maggie adds that she seriously took all the precautions her gynaecologist obstetrician recommended, up until week 34 when she checked into the hospital for delivery.
Maggie says that in all her subsequent ultrasound scans, they were convinced that they would be having triplets.
“The scans showed that I was crying triplets. During delivery, on June 8, 2020, we were all surprised to discover that I was carrying quadruplets,” she says.
Maggie delivered quadruplets, Peris Nyarangi, Manuel Onyancha, Giovanni Gichana, and Gianna Nyamusi.
“I delivered at Mediheal Hospital at 34 weeks through a caesarean section,” she says. “Peris weighed 2.0kgs, Manuel was 1.6kgs, and Giovanni was 1.9kgs while Gianna was 900 grams.”
For Maggie and John, having quadruplets was not just a casual baby delivery. It was a restoration and a reaffirmation of their trust in God.
“We welcomed our babies as a message from God that He restores those who are downtrodden,” she says. “We had lost our firstborn daughter, and while no baby is replaceable, the faithfulness of God restored us with the blessing of quadruplets.”
As a new father, John had to adjust to staying awake for long hours, sometimes spending the whole night awake caring for his newborns.
“I had heard how one baby with colic could keep a new parent awake all night. This reality quickly sank in when my wife returned home from the hospital. With four babies, I had to quickly learn how to change diapers, feed them, and soothe them to sleep at night,” he says
This was instrumental in giving his wife and their househelps time to rest at night.
In a society where many men would be scared or get overly anxious about having multiple children at a go, John says he has learnt that running away from responsibility is never the way to go.
“It is better to man up and find a way to shoulder your responsibility. There is always a way for the willing. John, who works and lives more than 300 kilometres away from Maggie, travels home to see his family over the weekends or whenever he gets free time.
He says that being away from a young family is not a walk in the park. It has taken commitment, trust and constant communication to keep their marriage fire burning.
John says after their babies were born, they had to make adjustments and changes to their family budget and living in order to comfortably raise their babies.
“There are a lot of challenges when it comes to raising multiple babies at a go. The budget was and is still huge,” he says.
The couple was forced to put on hold some of their family projects and channel the finances towards catering for their needs. This included hiring househelps and giving the babies special care.
“Our angels weighed two kilogrammes and below. Gianna was below one kilogramme. They all needed special care,” says Maggie.
She says they hired three househelps to assist with chores and raising the children at home. This also meant that their food budget skyrocketed from a family of two to a family of five adults and four babies.