A 25-year-old mother who expected to give birth to a staggering seven babies was shocked to find two more babies in her womb during labor – making her one of the few women in history who gave birth to nonuplets.

Halima Cisse from Timbuktu was told by doctors in Mali’s capital Bamako that she would have seven babies. A second opinion from doctors in Morocco confirmed the shocking news.

Cisse’s pregnancy had made national headlines before she went into labor. Malians were so invested that the president of the nation, Bah N’Daw, ordered Cisse to be sent to North Africa at the end of March to give birth with specialists present.

She was admitted to a Moroccan clinic on March 20 and stayed in bed until the birth on Tuesday.

And she did that – a whopping five boys and four girls – according to Mali’s Ministry of Health by caesarean section.

“The mother and the babies are doing well so far,” Health Minister Fanta Siby told Agence France-Presse, as in Guardian reports. Siby said they confirmed the news with Cisse’s resident doctor who had escorted the mother-to-be to Morocco, adding that the family is currently resting there and plans to return to Mali after careful observation.

The birth is already being celebrated as a miracle, as doctors have estimated that every fetus had more than 50% the chance of being stillborn, according to Mali 24 via the Daily Mail.

Nonuplets are extremely rare. Only three incidents have been recorded since 1971, including Cisse’s pregnancy. If the little ones get through, the Malian mother would break the current world record now held by the so-called “Octomom” Nadya Suleman, whose birth of eight in 2009 was the first and largest newborn in the world to survive after a week – everyone is still here today. This benchmark was set back in 1998 by the Chukwu octuplets, seven of which survived.

It is unclear whether in vitro fertilization (IVF) was involved in Cisse’s pregnancy, as the treatment is more likely to result in multiple births.

Minister Siby also welcomed the health workers in Mali and Morocco, “whose professionalism is the reason for the happy outcome of this pregnancy”.

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