A Lebanese woman gave birth to sextuplets over the weekend in Lebanon's Al Koura Hospital in the northern part of the country.
Born prematurely in the sixth month of pregnancy, one of the sextuplets unfortunately passed away and was survived by his siblings who are currently being monitored in the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit.
The sextuplets' mother, Fatima El Hajj, is praying by her newborns' bedsides, hoping they grow stronger by the day.
"After I gave birth to my first child who's now a five-year-old boy, I suffered a medical problem that prevented me from conceiving naturally. This is why I resorted to an in-vitro fertilization process at Saint George Hospital. We went ahead with it and I got pregnant with six babies. I took care of my health as best as I could and was put on bed rest two months ago hoping I'd get to my third trimester," she said, speaking to Annahar newspaper.
What El Hajj and her husband didn't expect was that a routine visit to her OB-GYN would result in her ending up in the delivery room. El Hajj's doctor transferred her to a hospital after noticing that her cervix was dilated and she was soon having contractions.
Things went pretty fast and within a few hours, El Hajj had given birth to six infants. Because they were born way before their term, the babies were in critical condition. One of them died a few hours after birth and El Hajj now hopes her other children will make it through.
"We didn't expect this [sudden labor] but thank God for everything. My sextuplets were born, their condition is stable but critical. Yesterday, I lost one of my boys and I ask God for one thing, to protect the rest of them," she added.
The woman saw three of her bundles of joy at the hospital she's being treated at as the other two were referred to other local medical centers for specialized care. Though El Hajj and her husband are delighted with the births of their babies, they were hurt by some who questioned why the parents wanted to have more children at a time when Lebanon is going through a financial crisis.
"'Who has this many children in the situation we're in?' one person asked me," El Hajj said. The mother responded saying she and her husband asked no one for help and believe that every child brings blessings to their family with their arrival.
Not the first case of its kind in Lebanon nor the Arab world
In 2018, a mother gave birth to sextuplets in Lebanon's Saint George University Hospital. The complex birth procedure was handled by a large team of doctors who ensured it went smoothly. The babies' mother and father were already parents to four kids when they got the news of the mother's pregnancy.
Multiple births were also reported in the country back in 2014 when a woman in Southern Lebanon gave birth to quintuplets — three girls and two boys. Though rare, similar cases have been recorded across the Arab world including in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Egypt.
Just last month, a 23-year-old Egyptian woman gave birth to quintuplets via a C-section performed at a private medical center located in Asyut governorate's Dayrout city. The infants - four girls and a boy - underwent initial checkups by doctors shortly after their birth and were found to be in good health, each weighing between 1.8 and 2 kilograms.
Another case was reported in Asyut governorate in 2017 when a mother gave birth to five babies who needed to be placed in incubators. Before that, AP reported the story of a 30-year-old woman who had healthy quintuplets in Egypt in 2000.