- ‘10 of us live in one room apartment’
Goodness and Mercy, the first successfully separated conjoined twins by the National Hospital, are back to the hospital two days after they were discharged due to environment that wasn’t conducive. In this interview with REGINA OTOKPA, mother of the twins, Mariah Martins, tells her story as she cries out for help.
When did you realise you were havingcon-joined twins?
In the theatre during their birth
What was your reaction when you were told the situation?
I didn’t expect it so it was a shock because the three different scans I carried out both at the Federal Medical Centre Keffi and at another laboratory outside the hospital during the pregnancy, never showed that I was carrying con-joined twins. It was during the birth that it was discovered that the babies were con-joined.
But were you aware you were carrying twins?
Yes I was
What was the doctors’ reaction when they discovered the twins were conjoined?
They started checking my scan results and they were surprised it wasn’t detected. They were totally confused in the theatre but God saw us through. My first child was born through surgery and the scar was there. The doctors quickly opened the place with the hope of removing the babies from there but it was difficult for them. They began to pull them out of the womb with additional force and that led to serious injury on one of the babies. Even at that, the babies could not come out until they tore my body wider before the babies could come out. That was when it was realized that the babies were co-joined. The intestine of one of the babies was badly affected as a result of additional force that was applied during the birth. When they were delivered, I was quickly moved to my ward for treatment. My husband was called by the hospital officials for his input on the decision about being taken as regards the children’s survival. I requested that I should see them before being transferred to National Hospital. The nurses helped me to see them, I prayed and laid my hands on them, and told them that they are the handmaids of God, and they left for Abuja.
How has the past 16 months since you gave birth to Goodness and Mercy been for you?
It has not been easy; we have been surviving by God’s Grace and with the help of the National Hospital Abuja which took up the expenses of surgery. But every other thing was not easy if not for the Grace of God and the help of others who decided to assist us in one way or the other up till now
Was there any point in time when you felt like giving up on the children and life in general?
I did not give up hope on the children for their survival because I really trusted in God but I became extremely tired because of the expenses and because I now have two homes. Almost a year and six months in the hospital, I have to take care of the feeding of the people in the hospital, those at home, and their transportation to the hospital every day. Their grandmother stays home while I come to the hospital in the morning and I will go back in the evening every day because of my first daughter and others who are in school. So it has been like two homes to be managed till today.
How supportive was your husband during this period?
I am a house wife; the whole burden was on him and I really appreciate him. Where I find things very difficult he is my strength, he gives me hope, he encourages me and I really appreciate him for not abandoning us, rather till date he is still struggling to see the family through.
What was the reaction of your relatives?
Most of them were sympathetic. Some said all sorts of things: “the wife is under a spell?” “Is she cursed?” And many more!
Did your church come to your aid in any way?
My church was very supportive through prayers and finance. My Priest really tried his best; he stood by us, once in a while he comes to the hospital to bless the children. Also the charismatic society in my church gave me their full support which I still enjoy till date.
How many children do you have before Goodness and Mercy?
Did you experience any complications whatsoever during her birth?
Only that I gave birth to my first child through a caesarean section also due to prolonged labour.
While you were pregnant for Goodness and Mercy, did you experience any changes from your first pregnancy?
I felt like they were not kicking like my first baby and their weight was usually in one place which was not usual compared to my first baby. If I lay down or sat on the floor I found it difficult to get up except I am supported due to the weight in one position. When I complained during my ante natal I was told it was because the babies were in one place using one placenta.
Why are you back to the National Hospital a few days after they were discharged?
They were discharged on Thursday but about 1am on Sunday morning, Mercy started vomiting followed by Goodness after about two to three hours. We rushed back to the hospital and we are still here till now.
Did the hospital tell you what must have gone wrong?
Although the issue has been tackled, they said they came down due to environmental factors. According to them, they are not used to the environment and the environment is also not conducive for them. The hospital said we cannot go back to the one room we are presently living in so they are looking for a way out for us, trying to see whether they can rent a bigger space for us to stay. That is what is still keeping us in the hospital; otherwise Goodness and Mercy are fine. Besides the twins, my husband our first child and myself, we still have five other persons staying with us in the one room. We are a total number of 10; my husband’s parents are late, he is the first child so most of his younger siblings are staying with us. I am appealing to Nigerians if they can help us. A conducive accommodation is very important for them, their nutrition is another thing because during their surgery some things were fixed in their stomach and they need proper feeding for the tissues to grow and cover it. I can’t even afford three square meals on my own; we are managing to survive because painting work does not come all the time. It’s when others especially my husband’s friends have jobs that they will call him for a daily pay work. This daily pay work, the children cannot survive on it; their education is equally something already giving us sleepless nights. By August this year they will be two years old and due for school. I am appealing to the Federal Government, Nigerians, non-governmental organisations and religious bodies to come to our aid.
Based on recommendation, what kind of house would be conducive for Goodness and Mercy’s health?
A three bedroom would have been better but the hospital is trying to see if they can source for a two bedroom for us. I pray they are able to raise the needed funds to do that so we can leave the hospital.
With what has happened so far, how would you rate healthcare delivery in Nigeria?
Do you have confidence in our health system? Of course, I have so much confidence in them especially the National Hospital, God really used them. Anything is possible in Nigeria, our Nigerian doctors are very good if they are given the full empowerment and I think they can do more. Even the equipment alone for the children to be separated, it took a long time before they could get it. Assuming the hospital was equipped with the needed equipment to carry out the surgery they wouldn’t have delayed for this long.
What job does your husband do?
Although he has a National Diploma, he is a painter.
How was he able to manage painting and the stress of coming to the hospital on a daily basis?
It was tedious for him and it still is. He has been able to do the little he could only by God’s Grace.
How long have you been married?
We will be five years in marriage in May.
What’s the update on the job promise offered you by the Minister of Women ffairs during the official ceremony to celebrate the successful separation of your children?
After the promise we went to her office and she said the job is not what I will get immediately, she said she will have to empower me for business but I am yet to hear from her.