Being pregnant with just a single child is known to put a strain on a mother’s body. Not only are hormones imbalanced, but the extra weight and stress of giving birth are rather intense. With this in mind, Halima Cissé’s delivery of nine babies is outstanding.
The Malian woman was urgently transported to Ain Borja private clinic in Casablanca where a team of doctors and nurses assisted in delivering nine babies. Each of the premature babies managed to survive, but Halima Cissé nearly lost her life. After the incredible feat, the footage was shared from inside the Moroccon maternity unit, showcasing the unbelievable.
The Cissé Family Was About to Grow Unexpectedly
Halima Cissé was only 26-years-old when she found out that she was pregnant with seven babies. The young woman lived in Mali with her husband, Adjutant Kader Arby, and her two-year-old daughter named Souda. Mr. Arby is a career soldier and serves as an adjutant in the Malian Army.
The couple tied the night in Timbuktu in December 2017 during a three-day-long Muslim ceremony that hosted more than 200 guests. Halima Cissé was training to be a Human Resources administration at the technical college in Timbuktu when an ultrasound revealed that her plans were about to swiftly change.
An Emergency Trip to Morocco for Specialist Care
Can you imagine the pressure of carrying (what you thought to be) seven babies in your belly? Halima spent two weeks in a Point G Hospital in Bamako where doctors tried to care for her but soon realized that they needed specialized help.
Mali’s President of Transition, Bah N’Daw, intervened when Halima's wellbeing was put at serious risk. Heavily pregnant, she was transferred to Morocco in a wheelchair where she was admitted to the Ain Borja private clinic in Casablanca. The babies were still very premature and the doctors did their best to delay delivery for six weeks. When the pregnancy finally reached 30 weeks, they were confident enough to attempt the complicated procedure.
The Intense Delivery Was Captured on Camera
It’s not every day that someone (supposedly) pregnant with septuplets is wheeled into the maternity ward. Cameras were ready to capture the incredible occasion, but the audience got more than they bargained for - and so did the doctors. Inside Halima's stomach were an extra two babies.
The video shows the doctor preparing for surgery in the operating theatre, donning PPE while other healthcare workers rush around him. The surgery is captured as the doctor successfully removes one, then two, then eventually nine babies out of Halima's belly. Ready on standby, the post-natal nurses clean and care for the babies, administering oxygen before carefully placing them in incubators.
A Welcomed Birth for All Nine Babies
It took a team of 10 doctors and 25 paramedics to assist in the delivery of the premature babies, but the operation was a success. Five girls and four boys were safely delivered and are currently “doing well” given the circumstances.
Each baby weighed between 1.1lb and 2.2lb when they were gently pulled out of their mother’s stomach. Most babies born at 30 weeks weigh about 2.8lbs. The medical director at the Ain Borja clinic shared, “They don’t have digestive tracts which can absorb food. A small infection in a premature baby can kill in a few hours.” To prevent this from happening, the newborns are being kept in an incubator.
The Long Road Ahead for Halima Cissé
While each of the babies managed to survive the delivery, they are receiving around-the-clock care to make sure that they continue to live. Halima, on the other hand, had a near-death experience in the process.
After the news of Halima birthing nonuplets captured the attention of African media, Mali’s health minister, Fanta Siby, reported that she was “doing well”. However, there’s a lot more to the story as this comment was made in context to her heavy bleeding and urgent need for a blood transfusion. Halima nearly lost her life in the process of delivering her nine babies.
Halima Had a Near Death Experience
By the time that Halima was wheeled into the maternity ward, her stomach was on the brink of bursting. The medical team had managed to delay the delivery until the babies were 30 weeks old, but not a day longer. Halima's body was put under severe strain, struggling under the weight of her children and amniotic fluid which totaled approximately 84 pounds.
Under this pressure, Halima's uterine artery suffered a hemorrhage during the cesarean and she lost a lot of blood. Around her, Halima's team scrambled to give her the urgent medical attention that she needed. After a blood transfusion, the situation was looking hopeful, but there would be a long road ahead for both Halima and her babies who need another 12 weeks before they can breathe independently.
Nonuplets Are an Extremely Rare Phenomenon
Hearing stories of women successfully carrying septuplets is a rare phenomenon. Carrying nonuplets is extremely rare. In fact, Halima is only the third-ever recorded woman to give birth to nonuplets. Even more astounding is that all nine of her babies survived birth. Previous mothers of nonuplets, living in Australia and Malaysia, sadly lost all nine of their babies shortly after giving birth.
Carrying nine babies at the same time introduces the risk of several medical complications which means that the babies don’t reach full term. The closest story of survival for so many babies is that of the Octomom who gave birth to eight babies at a hospital in California. All babies survived and have recently celebrated their 12 birthdays.
A Possible World Record on the Cards
At the moment, Halima's nine babies are fighting for their lives in hospital. Each of the five girls and four boys is in an incubator, surviving with the help of dedicated hospital staff and machines. These babies are expected to be kept in incubators for two to three months if they are to survive.
At the moment, the current world record for the birth with the highest number of surviving babies is held by Nadya Suleman in 2009, also known as Octomom. If Halima's babies survive, the world record will be passed on to them. According to Dr. Mourad who carried out the operation, their chance of survival increased to around 80 percent as the babies were born at 30 weeks and given proper treatment. So far, so good.
The Necessary Delay to Increase Survival
The fact that all nine babies survived is outstanding. This is largely due to the fact that an effort was made to delay the delivery until the babies were at least 30 weeks old. By slowing the delivery by five to six weeks, the medical team was able to give each of the babies a better chance at survival.
Dr. Mourad shares, “I can't imagine all nine would have survived at 25 weeks given they will naturally be smaller – which will be why they needed to buy some time.”
Words From the Doctor’s Mouth
After the news of the nonuplet’s successful delivery broke, the media lapped up the story. Speaking to the media, Dr. Mourad managed to share some insight into the operation, highlighting the amazing feat.
Speaking about Halima and her babies, he shares, “She was going to have seven babies normally. At 25 weeks, six months, she has been here for five weeks, we tried everything. So we managed to earn an extra five weeks with suitable treatment and care. Fortunately, or unfortunately, we found nine babies which were taken into the NICU. Most of the babies are intubated, some are on oxygen, but at first sight, the babies are well.”
Adjutant Kader Arby Is Waiting With Bated Breath
While many fathers are allowed to be in the operating room as their babies are delivered, this wasn’t possible for Halima's husband. Adjutant Kader Arby remained in Mali to look after the couple’s daughter. However, Mr. Arby is planning a trip to Morocco so that the family can return to Timbuktu together. The paperwork is all ready, and he has been given special authorization to travel during the pandemic.
When he heard the news of nine babies, Mr. Arby was ecstatic and received congratulations from everyone, even the Malian president. Speaking to the media, Mr. Arby says, “They are gifts from God! I can't wait to see my new children. I have been in constant touch with my wife, but I had to stay at our home in Mali to look after our other little daughter, who is just two years and five months.”
How Did Halima Come to Be Pregnant With Nine Babies?
As mentioned, it’s incredibly rare for a woman to be pregnant with nine babies. Even more amazing is that all nine babies survived. But how did Halima Cissé come to be pregnant with nonuplets in the first place?
The details about her pregnancy are unclear, but one can speculate that it’s the result of IVF. Most instances of multiple births are from the IVF process as multiple fertilized eggs are implanted in a woman’s womb. In rare cases, this procedure can lead to multiple births. It’s highly unlikely that this phenomenon would happen naturally.
The Situation Is Looking Hopeful
Halima's successful delivery of nine babies made headlines across Africa and around the world. The birth of nine babies became a medical sensation and people around the world celebrated with the family. Mali’s Health Minister, Fanta Siby, released a statement covering the details of the amazing medical achievement. She has also confirmed that the family is due to return home in several weeks.
Fanta Siby continued to offer her congratulations to the medical teams in Mali and Morocco, commending their professionalism which she says “is at the origin of the happy outcome of this pregnancy”.
Positive Movement for Medical Maternity
One of the reasons that Halima needed to be urgently transported to Morcoo was because of the poverty in Mali. The economic status of the country made it difficult for Halima to receive the necessary medical attention. However, the medical industry in Mali looks to be on the up-and-up.
For example, it was announced that the Orange Mali Foundation would donate five million CFA Francs to the cause. This value, estimated at roughly $9,243, can have a positive impact on the country’s Department for the Promotion of Women, Children, and Family. We can only hope that this goodwill continues on a larger scale.
The McCaughey Septuplets 20 Years Later
When Bobbi and Kenny McCaughey, a normal couple from Iowa, decided to become parents, they were discouraged by fertility problems. However, their dreams came true when the couple became pregnant with their first child, Mikayla. Though they were ecstatic to finally become parents, they longed to further extend their family.
The fact that they were able to conceive a daughter on their own was something of a miracle. So, when the pair decided to try for baby number two, Bobbi decided to undergo hormone therapy. Using a fertility medicine called Metrodin, the treatment stimulated ovulation to increase Bobbi’s chances of becoming pregnant.
When the young mother went in for her regular check-up, doctors were shocked to discover the presence of seven individual embryos. Though fertility treatments increase one’s chances of having multiple births, seven babies at once was something practically unheard of.
Though doctors offered the couple the option of a selective reduction (a way of dramatically decreasing the survival odds of the remaining children), Kenny and Bobbi declined. As devout Christians, the two preferred to leave the outcome of the pregnancy in God’s hands.
The Media's Attention
The news of the incredible pregnancy spread like wildfire. Thrust into the limelight, the McCaughey’s were suddenly being featured in the news nationwide. From newspapers and magazines to television shows, everybody was rushing to know more about the family and their seven to-be-born babies.
However, not all of the attention was positive. If the majority of the nation was happy for the growing family, some people viewed the couple’s decision to reject selective reduction as selfish, as it decreased the babies' odds at leading healthy lives.
On November 19, 1996, all seven babies were miraculously born via C-section. Aside from their small size (the babies' weight ranged between 2lb 5oz to 3lb 4oz), they seemed to be healthy enough, despite the fact that the birth took place nine weeks early.
Bobbi and Kenny ended up with a brood of four boys and three girls when all was said and done (in addition to the baby girl they had before the birth of the septuplets)! Here are their names in the order in which they were born: Kenneth Robert, Alexis May, Natalie Sue, Kelsey Ann, Nathan Roy, Brandon James, and Joel Steven.
The Iowa Miracle in Time's Magazine
As one might expect, the family gained even more attention after the birth of the septuplets. In December of 1997, they were featured in Time magazine. Oprah Winfrey has hosted them on her show several times, and the family met with President George W. Bush. Bill Clinton also took time out of his busy schedule to congratulate Bobbi and Kenny. Making headlines around the world, the family became famous overnight.
Because of their popularity, the McCaughey family became the recipients of a number of incredible donations. After the arrival of their septuplets, well-wishers offered nanny services, diapers, and a van. Kraft donated a year’s supply of macaroni and cheese. One person even offered the family a 5,000 square foot house, completely free of charge.
Feeding Tube and Cerebral Palsy
Unfortunately, things weren’t perfect for the family. When the kids were first born, both Natalie and Lexi were forced to use feeding tubes. Lexi was afflicted with a muscular disorder, while Natalie suffered from severe acid reflux at an early age. Luckily, as they’ve grown, they’ve had less difficulty eating just like the rest of their siblings.
But the feeding tubes weren’t the only hurdle the family had to face. As is often the case with premature babies, both Alexis and Nathan were diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a condition that impacts movement and coordination. Both children have a difficult time walking unaided but have otherwise developed normally alongside their siblings.
Walkers have been a necessity for Nathan and Alexis for the majority of their lives. Without them, they would struggle to move around. As he got older, Nathan became determined to teach himself how to walk. Pushing his limits on a daily basis, he’s far less dependent on his walker today. Though Alexis still must use a walker, she too has refused to allow her disability to get in the way of her life.
She has grown into a role model for young women near and far. Despite her cerebral palsy diagnosis, she decided to begin taking part in beauty pageants. In 2013, she was crowned as the winner of the Teen Miss Dreams Made True award. Besides, she earned excellent grades in high school, placing her in the top 15% of her graduating class.
Out of the Spotlight
Over time, the buzz around the McCaughey clan died down. Adamant about providing their children with as normal a life as possible, Bobbi and Kenny worked hard to keep the family out of the public's eye.
As their notoriety died down, so too did their donations. The freebies ran out, and the McCaughey family had to get creative to get by. They became experts at spotting bargains and soon began buying everything in bulk. Amazingly, they were able to feed the family of ten for just $300 per month – an extraordinary feat, considering that’s how much an average family of four spends to stay fed.
Part of the reason the family pinched pennies when it came to food shopping is that it cost quite a bit just to keep day-to-day life going. Aside from buying in bulk, the McCaughey family also saved additional money by gardening. Growing as much produce they can, the family got their supply of fresh fruits and vegetables from the convenience of the backyard. No doubt the family’s green thumb helped them save a few dollars.
Just to get by, the family had to keep two of every appliance – two sinks, two washers, and two dryers come in handy when there are so many dishes and piles of laundry to take care of! Even with all of the help they received from strangers and the community alike, Bobbi and Kenny found themselves with a huge responsibility on their hands. The work the couple put into raising their children was absolutely astounding. On average, they’d go through 52 diapers a day and 6 bottles per baby. Keeping everyone happy proved to be a full-time job in itself.
Throughout the years, mealtimes at the McCaughey's proved to be a hectic affair. In fact, according to the family, the only way they were able to get everyone fed was to serve all of their food in the form of a buffet.
This way, the kids could help themselves while foregoing the formalities of passing food around the table and arguing about which sibling put too much food on their plate. Once the whole family was settled, they enjoyed sitting together around the table.
From Age 13 to Sweet 16
On the 13th birthday of the McCaughey septuplets, TLC produced a documentary that caught up with the historic set of siblings. Ann Curry of the "Today Show" had followed their story since their birth, so naturally, she played an integral role in putting together the pieces. "America’s Septuplets Turn 13" aired on TLC on December 28th, 2010. Just a month earlier, the McCaughey kids blew out their 91 candles.
When the septuplets reached 16, they found themselves in the public's eye once again. For the majority of their lives, the McCaughey had maintained a low profile – however, news circuits were anxious to see how the siblings were holding up as teenagers. Much to their surprise, the media discovered that the family closely resembled any other family in America.
In 2012, the septuplets hit a huge milestone when they all enrolled at Carlisle High School. During those first few days, there’s no doubt that the brood turned heads in the hallway and perplexed teachers still trying to learn the names of their students. However, it didn’t take long for the kids to prove themselves as individuals.
And Kenny Sr. was keen on teaching his children the value of a dollar once they reached high school. Though mom and dad still provided the essentials – like food and clothing – the septuplets were responsible for earning things like cell phones and tablets. In order to afford such luxuries, most of the kids picked up part-time jobs while still in high school.
As the press reported, all of the septuplets were leading their own individual teenage lives. Some of them were learning how to drive – others were wrapped up in student jobs. A few had fallen in love and were in the throes of relationships.
Although Bobbi and Kenny probably struggled to navigate raising seven hormonal teens, they never let that show in interviews. As a matter of fact, the McCaughey came off as a perfect family, despite their particularly unique struggle.
During their high school days, the septuplets had no issues keeping themselves busy. Notably, all 7 kids joined their school’s marching band. During the halftime performances of local football games, the seven McCaughey's all played together in front of the public.
Outside of the band, the kids also participated in choir, wrestling, cross country, soccer, and even speech contests. Considering the teens had to juggle all of those activities along with frequent press attention, it’s pretty astonishing how much they were able to accomplish!
On the Edge of Adulthood
As the septuplets got older, each one of them voyaged on their own journey into adulthood. As the end of high school approached, the 7 siblings were faced with some big decisions concerning their near and far future.
Some of the kids had clear-cut goals in mind regarding their career and the universities they wished to go to – and some others weren’t quite so sure of the path they wanted to follow after high school.
In May of 2016, all seven of the septuplets graduated from Carlisle High local high school. All donned in red and black gowns, they, one by one, accepted their diplomas in front of their extremely proud parents' eyes.
Though Bobbi and Kenny were filled with immense joy, they also felt a little bit of sadness at that exact moment. In an interview with Today, Bobbi even said, “It’s sad to see things end, but there will be lots of firsts coming.”
Each of the siblings graduated with their own sets of aspirations in mind. For instance, Nathan developed a strong interest in science and hoped to eventually find a career in the field. At the top of her class, Alexis strived to become a teacher (as did her sister, Natalie). Kelsey, having spent years in the marching band, developed a passion for music.
Over the years, Joel developed an interest in pursuing a future in the field of computer science. On the other end of the spectrum, Kenny Jr. wanted to jump-start a future for himself in the construction industry. Of course, it goes without saying that their parents and eldest sister guided the septuplets as they discovered their paths.
University - For Free
Luckily, the septuplets had options that allowed them to pursue their dreams. As babies, the Hannibal-LaGrange University in Missouri offered the famous siblings full scholarships to any state university of their choosing. Surprisingly, when the time came for the siblings to make their next step, only Natalie, Nathan, Kelsey, and Joel took Hannibal-LaGrange's offer.
Kenny Jr. and Alexis, on the other hand, decided that the local college in their hometown of Des Moines was a better fit. Brandon, marching to the beat of his own drum, was always passionate about the military. Upon graduating, he decided to enroll in the United States Army to serve his country.
Not Kids Anymore
Reaching their twenties, the McCaughey siblings were quite apprehensive to discuss their bizarre upbringing – after many years of being grouped, each was anxious to define themselves as individuals.
Indeed, after having spent their childhood crammed together, how did the septuplets deal with separation? All in all, they were not too worried. Though they certainly share a special connection, after spending all day every day together, they were ready to head out into the world on their own.
More so than anyone else, loving parents Bobbi and Kenny have had to adjust to life without eight mouths to feed and an army of children running around the house. Though the bills on toiletries and food shopping have certainly benefited from the kids leaving the nest, it’s been a huge adjustment.
With the kids out of the picture, the elder McCaughey spend some of their time advocating against selective reduction policies. Increasingly so in the US, doctors are advocating the process in pregnancies with more than three fetuses. In response, Bobbi has stated, “Well, come to our house, and tell me which four I shouldn’t have had!” On the other hand, Kenny has taken up a much different hobby since becoming an empty nester. With all the free time now on his hands, he’s turned his attention to buying and riding motorcycles. Traveling across the United States, he’s visited a few of the country’s most iconic landmarks such as Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota
The Older Sister
There’s one McCaughey we haven’t spent much time talking about – the oldest daughter of the clan, Mikayla Marie. According to her social media accounts, she spent some time studying at the Des Moines Area Community College as well as Arizona State University. She got married in 2015 and made Bobbi and Kenny grandparents when she gave birth to her first son, Becham, in 2017.
Though the septuplets always (understandably) stole the spotlight, there are no hard feelings between Mikayla and her siblings – she still maintains close relationships with her brothers and sisters.
The Carpenter and The Soldier
Kenny Jr. started being interested in construction, but recently he’s been heading more towards the carpentry business. A natural with his tools, his finished pieces already look professional and polished despite the fact that he hasn’t been practicing the trade for that long.
On the other hand, Brandon’s journey in the army proved to be a difficult one, but he persevered and put in hours of hard work. In the end, his dreams of making it up the ranks came true. Today, he is a qualified US Army Ranger, which means that he is an expert marksman with a slick-looking uniform.
Meanwhile, Lexi has been continuing to pursue her dream of becoming an early childhood educator. Although she decided not to go away for college, she’s still lucky enough to see her sisters often. It goes to show that distance can’t break such a strong bond!
Natalie attends Hannibal-LaGrange alongside Kelsey and strives to become a teacher just like her sister Lexi. In fact, she’s picked up a great deal of work at a local child care center. When she’s not working with kids, she’s an avid hiker who loves to explore all of the nature the midwest has to offer.
Kelsey, who attended Hannibal-LaGrange University on scholarship, has been enjoying an active social life with plenty of new college friends. As a matter of fact, she seems to have struck up a romance with one of her classmates.
Though she seems to have plenty of support from her peers at LaGrange, we’re sure she misses the home her parents Bobbi and Kenny built for the kids from time to time, as well as the noisy company of her seven brothers and sisters.
Leaving the House
Speaking of the children’s home, now that they’re on their own, Bobbi and Kenny have intentions of selling the house they once received as a gift so many years ago. Though we understand the desire to downsize, we can’t help but wonder – where are all of the future grandchildren going to stay?
And this raises another question: as the McCaughey grow older, will they be more likely to have multiple births? The answer – probably not. Genetics didn’t play a role in Bobbi and Kenny conceiving seven children at once. Rather, through in vitro fertilization, multiple eggs developed in the womb.