Nadya Suleman, the infamous “Octomom,” doesn’t particularly like her name as she considers herself as “a classic victim” of the media.
The New York Times caught up with Suleman , who now goes by Natalie rather than Nadya.
She lives alone in a three-bedroom home with her 14 children in Laguna, Niguel, Calif., a suburban city in Orange County about 50 miles southwest of downtown Los Angeles.
The Times report that the octuplets are small for their age. But they are apparently well-mannered, read two books per month, do their homework without being asked and help out with the cooking. The whole family is vegan.
The octuplets, the only surviving octuplets in history, are now 9 years old. Suleman also has four sons between the ages of 12 and 17 and two daughters who are 12 and 16. Amerah, 16, serves as a second mother to the brood.
Suleman, 43, says he is dealing the realities of raising the children alone. She also says she regrets her brief porn career, which she said was the result of bad advice from her agent. After the money ran out, she also briefly worked as a stripper and a boxer.
“I wanted to quit, but my manager said, ‘If you do, I’m reporting you to welfare for fraud.’ I gave my bank account to her to control because I was so overwhelmed and busy managing my family,” Suleman said. “Checks that were forged — a minimum $60,000 was stolen in six months. And she was selling stories left and right. She was a predator.”
These incidents led to a rehab stint for Suleman for alcohol and prescription drugs, leaving her 14 kids behind for a 30-day stint to get her life back. Family and friends helped her take care of her children while she was away.
The octuplets do not know their father. Suleman told the Times she may let them meet their sperm donor when they turn 18.
Suleman has a B.S. in child development from Cal State-Fullerton and works as a counselor full time. She still relies on public assistance and “international photo shoots” to support her large family.
Some of her children sleep on the couch because of the packed conditions at the home. Because of the large family, the Suleman children eat in shifts.
She also said she was misled be her doctor, Michael Kamrava, who implanted her with 12 embryos — six times the recommended amount. The doctor has since lost his medical license and fled the United States.
Suleman has alleged that she only wanted twins and that Kamrava convinced her to implant the extra embryos when she was high on narcotics and strapped to a gurney. Kamrava previously denied this, claiming that Suleman pressured him into implanting the embryos.
The pregnancy caused Suleman to break her ribs, she said. And despite being relatively fit now, she says her back in broken after the effects of delivering 14 children over the years.
But that pain is nothing like the antipathy she holds for the media, who she blames for creating the frenzy after her pregnancy.
“Octomom was media-created,” she told the Times. “I believe most media is filtered and fake. They created this caricature.”
Suleman says she doesn’t date and hasn’t contacted the men who donated the sperm to fulfill her dreams. She said she had breast augmentation, which she says she now regrets.And while she hates the attention she says that was created by the media, she told the Times she is currently working on a book to describe her life experiences.
“I was pretending to be a fake, a caricature, which is something I’m not, and I was doing it out of desperation and scarcity so I could provide for my family,” she said. “I’ve been hiding from the real world all my life.”