- Written by Silvia Mwendia for Kenyakidz
Every new mother delights in the experiences of parenthood, but when the delight comes in multiples of up to three, or more, it can be quite overwhelming. This is a story that Dr. Liz Wala knows all too well after giving birth to triplets five years ago.
“It's been a lovely journey so far, but it has come with its own unique challenges,” she said.
With help from family and friends, Dr. Wala says she has gotten a chance to soak in the joys of motherhood despite the challenges involved.
It was the assistance Dr. Wala received that motivated her to form the Multiples2Multiples, a society that offers support to families with multiple babies.
“Multiples2Multiples actually began as a Facebook group when my girls were six months as a way of sharing our journey as parents to multiples,” Dr Wala said.
The Facebook group, called Multiple Blessings, now has over 500 members and acts as an avenue to provide support of various kinds to families of multiples. One of these is psychosocial support.
“Many families especially mothers use the group to share the problems they are going through and they come to learn that they are not alone or maybe even there are people who have been through worse,” Dr Wala said.
The society has helped numerous families run through the high and low points of raising multiple-birth babies.
“We have seen children born premature but grow up well to go to school, families encouraged at the loss of a baby and even parents share diets that aid in epilepsy,” Dr Wala said.
Through the constant interaction, the online community has found a way of bridging geographical borders in a way that has seen some families even receive financial support. This was the case for a man in Murang'a whose wife died after giving birth to triplets.
“Mwangi was referred to us and we felt that we had to find a way of helping him out,” Dr Wala said.
“Through the society we were able to contribute money and do some shopping for him,” she added. The children were also taken to a Catholic children's home 40 km away but they regularly visit their father. Similarly, the society also did some shopping for a man in Lang'ta, who just like Mwangi, had had his wife pass on after giving birth to triplets.
Dr Wala is pleased with that support the society is able to offer support to struggling families with multiples, but she would like it to reach sustainable heights.
“We want to stop the mentality that whenever a family of multiples is in trouble they have to run to the government and their story is splashed across the media. We want more sustainable means of helping these families rather than doing one time shopping for them,” said Dr Wala.
The society aims to bring about change by partnering with organisations that can become commercial partners, which, for instance, provide discounted prices for baby products.
The support offered at Multiples2Multiples is not only financial or psychosocial but also resource-wise. When raising a family of multiples, everything comes in doubles, triples or even quadruples, and, therefore, finding matching items for the babies can be challenging.
“We also act as a marketplace where parents can sell cots for twins, strollers for triplets or even clothes for premature babies because many multiples pregnancies are not carried to term and finding clothes for the tiny babies is difficult,” Dr Wala said.
It is not all gloom and seriousness at Multiples2Multiples and the society does have a fun, lighter side.
“Quite often you will see parents posting photos of how messy their homes are or funny things that their children get up to,” Dr Wala said.
The society also has an annual family fun day and plans to start one specific for mums.
“Very often, more so with multiples you will see that mothers tend to lose themselves and forget to take care of themselves. We would like to therefore plan a fun spa getaway for these mothers,” Dr Wala said.
To join the Multiples2Multiples Society, one has to be a parent of multiples. The registration fee is Sh100 and Sh500 for annual renewals. The same strict measures apply for joining the Facebook group Multiple Blessings. For the public, they have a Facebook Page-Multiples2Multiples. Non-parents of multiples can also join the society as associate members, but they will not be accorded the rights of a full member such as voting and holding office.