Nadya Doud-Suleman is probably better known as “Octomom.”
That’s the moniker that the media applied to the 41-year-old mother of 14. In 2009, Suleman became internationally famous when she gave birth to octuplets.
This was only the second set of octuplets born in the United States, and for a while, media coverage was overwhelmingly positive. Suleman was seen as a triumph of science, since in vitro fertilization (IVF) had allowed for her unprecedented pregnancy.
But slowly, everything began to change.
Media outlets began reporting that Suleman had six other young children when she gave birth to the octuplets. She was on public assistance. Soon, the public had turned on the so-called Octomom.
Suleman says that she began receiving death threats, and the Medical Board of California revoked the license of the doctor who’d performed her IVF treatments. Disturbing details began to surface; the doctor has transferred 12 embryos, which was extremely unusual and, in the view of the Medical Board, unethical.
Suleman insisted that she was able to independently provide financial support for all of her children, but soon, she admitted that she was receiving disability payments for a back injury suffered in 1999.
Eventually, the negative reactions led to a public breakdown. Suleman became an extremely unpopular figure when she spoke negatively of her children during an interview with In Touch Weekly.
“I hate babies, they disgust me,” she reportedly said. “…Obviously, I love them—but I absolutely wish I had not had them.”
The story gradually became more bizarre.
She appeared on Dr. Phil, where she was heavily criticized by Ann Curry. Suleman also committed to a reality show, which led to a Fox special titled, Octo-Mom: The Incredible Unseen Footage.
The “Octomom” then turned her aspirations towards a career in adult entertainment, creating a film called Octomom Home Alone. In 2012, she filed for bankruptcy and faced accusations of child neglect (the charges were dropped when social workers visited her house and declared that the children were not neglected and should not be removed).
In 2013, Suleman stepped away from the spotlight.
She now goes by Natalie, rather than Nadya, and she received treatment for a Xanax addiction. She moved her family to Orange County, California, and seemed to completely change her life.
Why? According to an interview with People, one of her daughters prompted her to reconsider the way she was living her life.
“There was definitely a catalyst: my girls, particularly my oldest daughter Amerah,” Suleman said. “She was about 10, and she started integrating my traits and behaviors.” “After I had observed my daughter beginning to emulate me, I saw her going down that same potentially destructive path, and I realized at that moment I’d rather be homeless in my van with all 14 kids than continuing down this path. It was not what I wanted for my children.”
Suleman now spends her days exercising, working, and, of course, raising her large family.
She explains that she’s completely devoted to her children, and she’s happy to have left the spotlight.
Of course, her hectic schedule doesn’t leave much time for a social life, but Suleman explains that this isn’t much of an issue.
“With regard to dating, that’s just not realistic,” she told People. “I devote my whole life to my family and that’s the least I could do, because there’s only one me and 14 of them. I have to give all my energy and all of me to my kids.”