Kenya: Kisii Couple Struggles to Care for Quadruplets Born Preterm

The high-pitched cries of the four babies is disturbing.

When one of them starts crying, the rest follow and their young mother becomes confused, not knowing which of the infants to calm down first.

Sheila Nyanchera, 25, has no mothering experience and her four babies are somewhat a burden for her.

With her husband Douglas Nyaoko, the jobless couple are struggling to raise their children in their two-roomed house, given to them by their aunt, in Bobaracho, Kisii County.

In the children's small crib are bottles of drugs for them and a bag of clothes.

Changing clothes

They change clothes often and their mother says they are not enough.

Every day, she wakes up early to wash their clothes.

"Children in the neighbourhood who used to help me are back in school and now I have to struggle on my own," she says.

On top of that, because the babies cry constantly, she hardly gets enough sleep.

"The babies cry all night. I hardly sleep. Their cry is spontaneous. Once one starts, the rest join in. They want to feed often, yet I do not have enough milk," says Mrs Nyanchera, who delivered by caesarean section.

She does not produce enough milk and uses supplements to boost her milk production. The babies need at least one tin a day, costs Sh1,650.

"(My supplements) cost Sh3,500, and I'm running out of the supply," she said.

Diapers

The babies use 30 to 35 pieces of diapers daily. One diaper costs about Sh30 and her stock is running out.

Mrs Nyanchera gave birth to quintuplets prematurely at Kisii Teaching and Referral Hospital about two months ago.

But one of the babies, a girl, died. Three girls and a boy survived.

Because they were underweight, they were placed in the new-born unit as medics kept a close eye on them.

The first baby weighed 1.5kg, the second 1.2kg, the third and fourth weighed 1.5kg each while the fifth weighed 1.1kg.

The mother and her infants were discharged from the hospital two weeks ago.

"They are on drugs to keep them healthy. They have one that is important for increasing their blood. A bottles goes for Sh800. They are also taking vitamin D to prevent rickets and help strengthen their bones. A bottle goes for Sh500," Mr Nyaoko says.

They also need eye drops and each bottle goes for Sh450.

The babies have a mouth infection, a common ailment in infants, and are on drugs.

No source of income

Mr Nyaoko says that despite all these needs, they have no source of income and have been relying on well-wishers.

"Promises by leaders and politicians to help support our babies ended as soon as they made the announcements," says Mr Nyaoko, who adds that he is desperately looking for a job.

With a stable job, he says, he will be able to take care of his children without seeking help from others.

"For how long will we keep asking for help? People become tired and only a few are supporting us with food."

Build a house

He also says he wishes to have a home of his own.

"Someone has promised to give me iron sheets to help construct our house. But I do not have other materials to put up the building," he says.

Though a blessing, he says, his children need a lot of care and because he is jobless, he cannot do much for them.

The Kisii County government waived hospital bills for the needy family and paid for their health insurance for two years through the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF).

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