Heidi, the youngest character in the novel Jane Eyre Gets Real by Annabelle Troy, loves babies. So she was delighted to hear of the rare birth of #nonuplets (rhymes with couplet!) to Malian citizen Halima Cisse. That’s nine babies, all at once. The mother is said to be resting comfortably, perhaps for the last time in her life…
In 2019 Nadya Suleman famously gave birth to eight infants, earning herself the nickname “Octomom.” Fertility treatments have made multiple births much less of a rarity in our day than there were, say, in the 1930’s. With their birth to humble farmers in Ontario, May 28, 1934 the Dion Quintuplets became the fabbest five on record. Yvonne, Annette, Cécile, Émilie and Marie were instant celebrities, their survival a flash of joy during the Great Depression. However, they were denied normal lives, taken from their parents and made wards of the state, kept in a controlled environment surrounded by a seven-foot barbed wire fence. Raised by nannies overseen by Dr. Dafoe, the tiny girls adhered to a rigid routine which included 6:30 am breakfast followed by prayers. They would go on to endorse products such as Quaker oats, Heinz ketchup and Lifesavers and would appear in several Hollywood film–think Shirley Temple times five During their peak years of fame they brought in over $50 million in revenue and were more well-known than Niagara Falls.
Unfortunately, their story was not a happy one. In 1943 their parents regained custody but their family life was fractured and marred by abuse both sexual and verbal. The last two to survive are Annette and Cécile, who each gave part of their multi-million dollar settlement with the Canadian government to foundations combating child abuse. Émilie, who became a nun, died a tragically young death–age twenty, from the result of suffocation during an epileptic seizure.
Though having nine babies at once is still extreme, world-wise more twins are now being born than at any other time in recorded history.