World's Only Nonuplets Celebrate First Birthday: 'It's Not Easy, But It's Great,' Says Dad

Halima Cissé and husband Abdelkader Arby welcomed their nine babies, five girls and four boys, on May 4, 2021

A paediatrician examines one of the nine babies two weeks after their arrival in 2021. Photo: Abdeljalil Bounhar/AP

Four boys and five girls in Mali — the Guinness World Record-breaking nonuplets — celebrated a very important milestone this week: their first birthday.

Halima Cissé and husband Abdelkader Arby welcomed their nine babies in Morocco on May 4, 2021. Now the children — who arrived at 30 weeks and are still under the care of the clinic where they were born — are all "in perfect health," their father told BBC Afrique on Wednesday.

"They're all crawling now. Some are sitting up and can even walk if they hold on to something," added Arby of the infants — daughters Kadidia, Fatouma, Hawa, Adama and Oumou as well as sons Mohammed VI, Oumar, Elhadji and Bah.

Although he admitted that taking care of nine babies can be "tiring at times," he said everything fades away when the parents think about how fortunate they are for their children's health.

The couple are also parents to daughter Souda, 3.

"It's not easy but it's great," he said.

Paediatrician watches one of the nine babies protected in an incubator at the maternity unit of the Ain Borja clinic in Casablanca, Morocco in 2021. Abdeljalil Bounhar/AP

Cissé, now 26, was transferred to a clinic in Morocco shortly before her babies' birth, Dr. Fanta Siby, Mali's minister of health and social development, announced in a statement last year. At the time, doctors believed she was expecting only seven children.

"So you can imagine our surprise when we discovered nine of them during the birth," Casablanca Ain Borja Clinic's Dr. Youssef Alaoui said during an interview with Today last year.

"Luckily this didn't faze us, since we have one of the largest neonatal resuscitation services in Morocco," added Alaoui. "Our teams were ready to welcome these children into the world and able to treat them in the best conditions."

RELATED VIDEO: Formerly Conjoined Twins Enjoying 'Normal' Life at Home After Separation Surgery: 'We're So Happy'

At the time of the nonuplets' arrival, Cissé's husband remained behind in Mali in order to care for their eldest child, according to Guinness World Records.

He was finally able to join his family in Mali later that year in October.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

On their birthday, Guinness World Records announced that the nonuplets have claimed the title of most children delivered at a single birth to survive.

The previous record was held by "Octomom" Nadya Suleman's eight children.

"Nonuplets are extremely rare, and until the arrival of the Cissé children, no cases had been recorded of nine babies from a single birth surviving for more than a few hours," the record-keeping organization wrote, noting that the children continue to be under the care of the clinic
so that their development can be monitored.

A nurse takes care of one of the nine babies shortly after their 2021 birth. Abdeljalil Bounhar/AP

This weekend, the nonuplets' milestone will be celebrated with a small bash, their father told BBC Afrique.

"Nothing is better than the first year," he said. "We will remember this great moment we are going to experience."

Related Articles