If you search the name quint in one of the popular search engines, the full name Quintuplets will be among the first autocomplete suggestions in seconds. But as easy as it is to find its meaning, only one out of hundreds of families wish for one.
Not only because giving birth to five babies in one delivery puts the life of a mother in serious jeopardy, but it has to do with the financial and emotional demands that come with it. That might be in the case of Mr and Mrs Omage who now have five babies in one delivery after seven years of marriage.
As you saunter towards their abode at No.5 Barnabas Ejide close, near Seliat bus stop, Egbeda, Lagos, you feel a sense of peace within the serene environment. It becomes so silent that you could hear a sound of a pin drop as you are led to the living room of their two-bedroom apartment. With pictures of the quintuplets displayed on the faded yellow walls, of course, you expect to see the house upturned by the quintuplets but alas! the house looked neatly kept.
The reason for this Is not far-fetched: the quintuplets which consist of three girls and two boys are having a great time with a Nanny nearby.
” We decided to enrol them at Dan Christabel Daycare where I pay N10,00 each totalling 50,000 monthly, “begins Mr Omage. That is the only way we can guarantee enough rest for their mother. We take them there by 8:am and bring them back home by 6 pm,” said Mr. Omage, an indigene of Owan West Local Government Area in Edo State, south-south Nigeria.
Before The Birth
Life was on the up for Mr Omages Ewanle, when he took his 36 years-old wife, Mrs Foyeke Omage to the altar. A graduate of Agriculture in Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, he was elated to have secured a job at Rubber Research Institute of Nigeria, Benin with a monthly salary of N75, 000 monthly, but his wife wasn’t that lucky.
For Mrs Foyeke Omage, a native of Osun State graduated from the University of Ife with a first class in Microbiology and MSc in Business Administration, but getting a good job can be best compared to a camel going through the eye of a needle.
“My wife graduated with first class in Microbiology from Ife, and later got a Master degree in Business Admin only to end up at Union Diagnostic Centre where she was earning N30,000 monthly when we got married. But we were coping as we kept trusting God for our own child.”
But pressure began to set in for the young couple in their third year of marriage as family members began to question Mrs Foyeke’s ability to conceive. Mother and sister-inlaws raised the dust but Mr Omage stood by his wife. While he won his family members over, Foyeke’s came up with name calling and a campaign of calumny, asking why she could not conceive seven years into the marriage.
” There were pressures from family members who questioned her ability to carry a baby. It was even worse among her friends as they make fun of her but we kept our faith despite pressures to seek diabolical solutions to our childlessness. The seven years were like a hell on earth as friends and family eventually gave up on my wife’s chances of having a baby.”
Their prayers were finally answered in May 2020 when Mrs Foyeke Omage was declared pregnant by LASUTH doctors, but like a clarity without a cloud, Mr. Omage’s joy was cut short in December after an ultrasound session confirmed that his wife was expecting four healthy babies.
” We did a series of tests until God did the miraculous and my wife became pregnant. She went to LASUTH in December 2020 for an ultrasound session and was told she was carrying four babies. I was shocked and I wonder how am I going to take care of them as a civil servant working in Benin but my wife kept on assuring me. She went for another test and was told another baby have been discovered and that they were now five,” said Mr Omage shaking his head in bewilderment.
She was eventually put to bed in LASUTH January 2021 to become the first woman to deliver quintuplets at the hospital in over 40 years. But according to Mr. Omage, he was shocked LASUTH authorities kept the news from public and government view for a reason best known to them at a time external help was needed.
‘ I really don’t know why the hospital kept newsmen away to cover the news because I needed the government to come to my aid, but the CMD just decided to keep it secret. I was told by a security guard to run away because I won’t be able to handle the bill, but I swore never to leave my wife and my five kid,” he said.
The nursing mother and her five babies were eventually discharged after spending over N300,000 on buying drugs and conducting a series of tests.
” I spent over N300,000 on drugs, conducting tests on both mothers and babies. We were allowed to leave LASUTH with an outstanding bill of N100,000,”
Life After Birth
With the family back home after a short naming ceremony was conducted at the hospital, the couple was faced with the fresh challenge of fending for their five babies. Mr Omage could not abandon his wife with five babies and return to Rubber Research Institute of Nigeria, Benin, but was permitted to stay back in Lagos for six months.
While other family members rallied around them both financially and morally, the couple knew such support was not going to be forever. With Mrs Foyeke now out of job after the delivery, they braced up and faced their mountain all by themselves.
“Taking care of five babies all alone has been more than stressful. Should I tell you the pain we go through when they cry at night? We usually use Mofix pampers which cost around N5,000 per pack and I can say we buy like ten cartons every month. I can’t really say where the money was coming from but it has been God who has kept us thus far.”
With little help coming from Union Diagnostic Centre and Rubber Research Institute of Nigeria, the father of 5 as he is fondly called took drastic steps and wrote ministry of women affairs, the Governor’s wife, Mrs Sanwo-Olu as well as other NGOs but no one came to their rescue.
” I wrote Ministry of Women Affairs as well as Mrs Sanwo-Olu but nothing was forthcoming. I and my wife went to her office twice only to be told that the First Lady was not around. It was frustrating to see that the government just chose to abandon us to carry our cross,” he said.
But as the saying goes: No one knows where the shoe pinches, but he who wears it. The Omages accepted their fate and braced up for a long bumpy journey ahead.
” It’s been over a year and a half now and Mary, Moses, Angela, Priscilla and Miracle are still staying strong and it has been God alone who has been helping us through with their feeding,” Mrs Omage begin. We use to buy ten cartons of baby milk every month which cost N158,000 before we improvised by mixing it with pap,” Mr Omage said.
A cry for help
Given the economic situation of Nigeria today, the Omages had the option of sinking or staying afloat, but it is no small achievement that they have managed to stay afloat with five babies without any support from the government or NGO.
The family of seven are soliciting help from Lagos State Government as well as NGOs to come to their aid as their quintuplets get set to commence kindergarten.
” I know Davido will help me if he hears our story, he is one celebrity with a kind heart and his kind gestures towards these speaks volume. We need help from individuals and the government at this stage. We have weathered the storm right from their childbirth but the heavy load is weighing us down, Omage pleaded.
A five minutes walk to Dan Christabel Daycare and the quintuplets emerged looking healthy, swarming on their parents like ants on sugar. Stressed out and exhausted, Mrs Omage could only manage a faint smile as a family of seven posed for photographs.
While barren women cry to high heaven for babies, it becomes a burden on the family when quintuplets are born, it is best compared to a scenario when the heavens opened up and release a deluge on land that is experiencing a drought.
Perhaps it is time for the government to rally behind parents who find it difficult to fend for their babies just like the Omages who does not even know where their next meal is coming from.
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