A woman who had given birth to an incredible 44 children by the age of 36 is raising her family as a single mother.
39-year-old Mariam Nabatanzi from Uganda gave birth to her first children, twins, a year after she married her then 40-year-old husband at the age of 12.
She then gave birth to five more sets of twins, four sets of triplets and five sets of quadruplets, all with the same father.
As reported by Reuters, Mariam’s husband walked out on her three years ago, leaving her solely responsible for their 38 surviving children.
During her last pregnancy, one of Mariam’s sixth set of twins died during labour, her sixth child to die.
It was then Mariam’s husband abandoned her, and now she only refers to him by using a swear word adding:
I have grown up in tears, my man has passed me through a lot of suffering.
All my time has been spent looking after my children and working to earn some money.
After giving birth to her first sets of twins, Mariam visited a doctor who advised her she had unusually large ovaries and that birth control pills may cause health problems.
Even though large families are common in Uganda, the country has one of the highest birth rates in the world with women giving birth to 5.6 children on average, Mariam’s brood is considered big.
Having given birth to 25 children by the age of 23, Mariam went back to the doctor for advice but was told once again her ovarian reserve count was high.
She works hard to provide for her family, collecting and selling scrap metal, brewing local gin and selling herbal medicine.
Mariam has also had jobs as a hairdresser and event decorator.
The majority of her wages is spent on the children as Mariam wants them to have the best start in life possible.
Portraits of some of the children’s graduation from school hang on the walls of Mariam’s four cramped houses.
In one of the rooms 12 of the kids sleep on metal bunk beds, while the other children either share mattresses or sleep on the floor elsewhere in the homes.
Mariam’s eldest child, 23-year-old Ivan Kibuka, had to drop out of school early to help raise the family, saying:
Mum is overwhelmed, the work is crushing her, we help where we can, like in cooking and washing, but she still carries the whole burden for the family. I feel for her.
All of the children help with chores such as cooking, following a rota which spells out the duties for the day.
Mariam wishes her children to be happy concluding ‘I have not had joy, I think, since I was born’.
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Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.