‘Octomom’ Nadya Suleman says she is now finally ‘at peace’ after financial problems and the stress of trying to care for 14 children brought her to the brink of suicide.
Now, the controversial single mother who gave birth to octuplets by in vitro fertilization (IVF) wants to share her story and personal battle with other women, hoping it will inspire them.
Nadya, 42, has also turned her back on her media as ‘Octomom’, who she says ‘almost ᴅᴇsᴛʀᴏʏed me and my family.’
She said: ‘Every day I wake up with the ugliest, ᴅᴇᴀᴅliest feeling inside of me. I do not want to live. I feel like I’m less than the person I’m pretending to be, in order to survive and provide for my family.
Which she disgusts me and I don’t want my kids to remember me that way. I was forced to do things I didn’t want to because I was so scared I couldn’t support them and give them the life I deserved. When I let go of it and went back to who I was, I had a sense of inner peace and joy.
Sᴛʀᴜɢɢʟe is the best teacher. I’ve become more grateful for every minute of every day – the small, non-physical moments, measurable by the time I have with my family. ‘
Natalie shot to fame in 2009 when she revealed she had undergone IVF treatment to ᴄᴏɴᴄᴇɪᴠᴇ eight children, despite being a mother of six and unemployed. Her notoriety led her to star in ᴀ ᴘᴏʀɴᴏɢʀᴀᴘʜɪᴄ ꜰɪʟᴍ, ᴡʜɪᴄʜ ᴇᴀʀɴᴇᴅ ʜᴇʀ ꜰᴏᴜʀ Aᴅᴜʟᴛ Vɪᴅᴇᴏ Nᴇᴛᴡᴏʀᴋ (AVN) ᴀᴡᴀʀᴅꜱ ᴀɴᴅ ᴀᴘᴘᴇᴀʀᴀɴᴄᴇꜱ ɪɴ ꜱᴛʀɪᴘ ᴄʟᴜʙꜱ.
Recalling the moment she realized she had to turn a corner, she said: ‘I was too short. I had to take medication to get over what I was doing. I’ll mix it with alcohol that I’ll find out later on what Wʜɪᴛney Houston ᴅɪᴇᴅ of. I don’t want to be here anymore, but then I think about my kids and just move on for them.’
The Sᴛʀᴜɢɢʟᴇ helped her through, she decided to change: ‘I knew I had to get back to being my healthy self. I don’t want my children to be without a mother. ‘
Natalie has six children from her first five IVFs – Elijah, 16, Amerah, 15, Joshua, 13, Aiden, 11, and 10-year-old twins Calyssa and Caleb. The eight children, Makai, Josiah, Isaiah, Jonah, Mᴀʟɪyah, Jeremiah, Nariyah and Noah turned nine in January, and are the only surviving octuplets in the world.
To try and give them a more settled life, she moved the family back to Laguna, in Orange County, CA, where she grew up. But as she tried to improve her life, in 2014 she was found guilty of welfare fraud and ordered to do community service. Natalie says she is innocent and claims that her manager is to blame. Thankfully, the fraud was later removed entirely.
Now, Natalie works part-time as a counselor, speaking to men and women with ᴅʀᴜɢ and alcohol problems. She said that although she took care of 14 children alone, she did not find a life partner: ‘It’s not me. My calling is to be a mother. I’m happiest when I’m at home with the kids. And I know when I do this, I will sacrifice my social life. ”
She confessed she was ‘very foolish, immature and selfish’ to have 14 children, and didn’t really think about the consequences: ‘I was on a mission. I just want a bunch of kids. But I can’t imagine my life at this point in time being any different than it is now. ‘
Natalie admits things are tight but she helps feed her family with food stamps. My children follow a vegan diet.
She said: ‘It’s a daily struggle. I’m so grateful for the food stamps, and I get some rest from that awful porn. But I’m not worried. ‘
The family lives in a two-bedroom townhouse in Laguna Niguel, California, and has converted the office into a third bedroom so all of her children have beds to sleep in.
A lot of kids are ‘shy and introverted’. And she revealed that eight-year-olds know that their life at home is different from most households: ‘As a family, we are all different. The kids say, “oh, are we weird somehow?” and I said, “It could be different if there’s nothing wrong with it.” ‘The kids are happy and that’s all that matters.’
Natalie’s son Aiden, 12, has autism, which adds another dimension to family life. She said his siblings help take care of him: ‘Aiden was a challenge. But the other children were like his guardian angels. His brother, Makai, he really shaded him, and helped him Bɪᴛᴇ his food – they have a very special relationship. I’m open with my kids and I teach them about autism.’
Natalie’s son inspired her to write the book she hopes will be published.
She said: ‘It wasn’t originally a memoir, it was about raising my son with a disability and the challenges. But the little kids made it so much more interesting. It’s a story that needs to be told and I think it will encourage a lot of women to build strength they didn’t know they had.
I believe it will help inspire women to keep moving forward despite the pain and suffering they may go through. If you set goals, you can achieve anything. ‘