Francis Gitau and his wife Jacinta Mwihaki had joked of getting six children. However, they never imagined trying for their third child would bring them closer to their dream family. They got triplets
Milliam Murigi @millymur1
Inside a single room, with curtains separating different functions of the house, Jacinta Mwihaki sits calmly as she breastfeeds one of her triplets. Even before the baby has had her fill, a sharp cry is heard from the ‘bedroom’, followed by another.
Mwihaki looks confused. She calls on her husband, Francis Gitau who’s seated outside having a chat with some visitors. Gitau gets two feeding bottles and carefully mixes some baby formula for the babies. Then he feeds the babies, one at a time.
Mwihaki, now a mother of five, never though that he would formula feed her children at such an early age. It was easy for her firstborn and her second born child. But her third pregnancy ended up in triplets.
“We never imagined for a second the reality of having to raise three babies simultaneously. When the ultrasound at seven months revealed that I was expecting triplets, we were shocked, but thrilled,” says Mwihaki.
On September 21, this year, the fraternal three; Grace Wanjiru, John Gitau and Joseph Ngigi were born weighing 1.8 kilogrammes, 2.1 kilogrammes and 1.5 kilogrammes respectively at 36 weeks. The first two were put in the incubator for six hours, while the last one remained in the incubator for six days.
Mwihaki was determined to exclusively breastfeed them at first. When they were still in the incubator, she was able to keep up with their feeding. After all, they did not breastfeed as much.
However, a time came when she didn’t have enough milk for them all and she was advised to supplement with formula milk after one week. This idea was difficult to buy, but there was no other option—she had to oblige.
“Both of us are casual labourers and I knew for sure that we couldn’t afford baby formula and that is why I was so determined to breastfeed all of them, but this seemed impossible,” she says.
For now, she has well-wishers to thank for the continued supply of baby formula, diapers among other needs. However, the rate at which the triplets consumes the formula is worrying her. A tin goes for three days and Mwihaki hopes the donations last for long.
Also, she was worried about how she would nurse them all and still make time for her other children. “I was worried because we couldn’t afford to hire a helper.
To me, this meant nursing the newborns, taking care of the older children and doing other house chores by myself because my husband has to go out to look for work.
But I thank God because of the caring neighbours who have been there for me since the day I was discharged,” says Mwihaki who resides at Nairegi Enkare, Narok county.
And though the couple had planned to get six children, they never imagined that trying for their third born would bring them close to their dream. In fact, Gitau fainted at Narok Referral Hospital after receiving news his wife had delivered.
The news was too much for him to process. According to Mwihaki, who also fainted for two hours after delivery, the cash-strapped Gitau could not fathom the fact that he has become a father to three more children. However, her husband has so far digested the news and has been so supportive.
And Mwihaki has vowed to dedicate her time to her children, at least for six months. “I discussed this with my husband and the older children, so they know what to expect,” she says.
Currently, her husband is not going to work and the family is relying on well-wishers who have been visiting them every now and then. They have also shifted from their initial small rental house, which they used to pay Sh350 to another big house, which can accommodate them all, which they are paying Sh2,500.
The family wishes to put up a small business and have a permanent house, to complement their little earnings and have a roof over their heads. Her advice to women is to practise family planning to space their children.