“AT 37, she has given birth to 38 children”. This is the headline in the Uganda Monitor reproduced in the Daily Blog, of April 24, p. 7.
It is about this lady Mariam Nabatanzi Babirye, residing in Kabimbiri District, Mukono District. She is also known as Nalongo Muzaala Bana (translated by the writer of the article to mean “the twin mother that produces ‘quadruples’”).
In short, this 37 year old woman has 38 children because of what doctors explain as “her genetic predisposition to hyper-ovulate (i.e. releasing multiple eggs in one cycle) which significantly increases the chance of having multiples, it is always genetic”. Her name, Babirye, suggests that she is from a multiple birth herself, being the first to see the world compared to her ‘birthmate(s)’.
In Kiswahili we would call her Kulwa. She got married when she was 12 years old, and, in 1994, when she was 13, she had her first set of multiples, this time twins. Two years later, she gave birth to triplets, and a year and seven months after, she added a set of quadruplets.
The story of her giving multiple births continued to repeat itself. For Nabatanzi, this was not surprising. She explains: “My father ‘gave birth’ to 45 children with different women, and these came in quintuplets, ‘quadruples’, twins and triplets”.
It is wonderful enough that she has given birth to 38 children but should we accept that her father “gave birth” to 45 children? Do males give birth? According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, “When a woman or female animal gives birth, she produces a baby or young animal from her body”.
So it looks like, it is females who give birth. Sorry guys! Nabatanzi may have given birth to her 38 children but her father did not do the same for his 45 children.
How should we address the role of males in reproduction? They produce sperms which fertilise eggs produced by females. They father children. But to say “My father fathered 45 children” does not sound well. We need to replace either the noun “father”, or the verb “fathered”.
How about replacing father with “Dad” and say “Dad fathered 45 children”? Or replacing “fathered” with a verb such as “sired”? The verb “sire” has an old fashioned meaning: “to be a father of a child”.
It could be appropriate in the case of a man who has many children with many women. We have another issue to address. “Quintuplets”, “Triplets” and “Twins” mean “five, three and two children respectively, born of the same mother at the same time”. In this article the word “quadruples” is used, apparently to mean “four children born of the same mother at the same time”.
But this is incorrect. It does not appear that there is a noun “quadruple”.