What you need to know:
- The couple was 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 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.
“I was overjoyed. I often found myself smiling at work and in the streets whenever the thought of becoming a father crossed my mind,” he says.
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 that 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 that 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, 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.”
After the birth of their four babies, Maggie stayed at the hospital for one and a half months as the doctors took their babies through neonatal intensive care.
“Going through the neonatal intensive care unit with your wife and newborns at the hospital for nearly fifty days is one of those things whose emotional implications you may never understand until you walk that path,” says John.
“The physical and emotional drain was at times unbearable for my wife and me. We wished to go back home, yet we were overwhelmed with anxiety for our babies to pull through in good health.”
John adds that 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 house helps and giving the babies special care.
“Our angels weighed 2 kilograms and below. Gianna was below 1 kilogramme. They all needed special care,” says Maggie.
She says that they hired three house helps 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.
Interestingly, although the four babies were born at lesser weight than normal babies, they were all in good health.
“We always thank God that our babies have all along been very healthy. They haven’t had any major health-related issues, save for the occasional fever and coughs,” says Maggie.
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.”
This was instrumental in giving his wife and their house helps time to rest at night.
“I didn’t want the house helps to always be at the beck and call. I wanted to be part of my babies’ growth. I was determined to be there emotionally, financially and physically,” he says.
Thirteen months down the line, John says that his little angels have been nothing but a blessing.
“There is nothing that I look forward to more than travelling home to cuddle them and hear their giggles. We asked God for a blessing and he truly blessed us beyond measure,” he says.
In a society where many men would be scared or get overly anxious about having multiple children at a go, John says that he has learnt that running away from responsibility is never the way to go.
“At first, it might seem like raising more than twins at a go will be nearly impossible or economically torturous. This is not far-fetched. Raising one child with the current high cost of living is already a challenge,” he says.
“It is better to man up and find a way to shoulder your responsibility. There is always a way for the willing. Kila mtoto huja na sahani yake (Each child comes bearing his own plate).” John, who works and lives over 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.
“We are still a young family with little babies. Being away from each other for days is not easy. Long-distance marriages are tough. But we have both committed to make this marriage work by entrenching trust, faithfulness, and constant communication,” he says.
He is grateful to his wife for understanding the demands of his career and her willingness to balance and juggle between her own career and taking care of their little ones.
“I will be forever indebted to the love she has given and the sacrifices she has made for the sake of our family and her own career,” he says.
In the same vein, Maggie says she feels lucky to have a loving father for her babies, and a husband who is willing to go the extra mile to bring bacon home for his family.