I took a risk, admits mother of octuplets

Woman at centre of row breaks silence to defend multiple birth

Giving birth to eight babies was the easy part. Now the mother of record-breaking octuplets born in Los Angeles last week has begun the arduous second leg of her incredible journey: the inevitable trial by media.

Nadya Suleman, the 33-year-old woman who is now bringing up a total of 14 children, despite being both single and unemployed, spoke publicly for the first time yesterday, revealing that she had always wanted a "huge family" to compensate for a lonely childhood.

"I didn't feel as though, when I was a child, I had much control of my environment," she told the broadcaster NBC. "I felt powerless. And that gave me a sense of predictability. Reflecting back on my childhood, I know it wasn't functional. It was pretty... pretty dysfunctional, and whose isn't?"

The babies, who are on course to become the first recorded octuplets to survive into infancy, were produced by in vitro fertilisation, admitted Ms Suleman. She instructed doctors to ignore industry safety guidelines by implanting six previously frozen embryos in her womb.

"I wanted them all transferred," she said. "Those were my children. And that's what was available. I used them. I took a risk. It's a gamble. It always is... Sometimes when you have a dream and a passion, you take risks. And I did, and it turned out perfectly."

Ms Suleman admitted that her actions could be seen as reckless, but said that most public condemnation was prompted by her decision to raise the children single-handedly. The sperm used in the procedure was donated by a friend, she said.

"A lot of couples, usually it's couples, do undergo this procedure, and it's not as controversial because they are couples so it's more acceptable to society. I'm under the microscope because I have chosen this more unconventional kind of life. I didn't intend on it being unconventional. It just turned out like that. All I wanted was children. That's all I ever wanted in my life."

The comments form part of a five-minute clip of Ms Suleman's interview with NBC's Ann Curry which was broadcast on the channel's Today show yesterday. The full interview, together with pictures of the children, is due to be aired on Monday and Tuesday. Asked how she will provide for her large family, Ms Suleman, who was wearing nine hospital wristbands – her own, plus one for each of the eight new arrivals – said that she was counting on family and friends, together with her church in Whittier, California, to muck in while she trains to become a counsellor.

"I know I'll be able to afford them once I'm done with my schooling," she said. "If I were just sitting down, watching TV, and not being as determined as I am to succeed and provide a better future for my children, I believe that would be considered to a certain degree selfish."

Ms Suleman added that she was currently "bonding" with the new arrivals by devoting 45 minutes a day to individually holding each child. "I'm providing myself to my children," she said. "I'm loving them unconditionally, accepting them unconditionally... I'll stop my life for them, and be present for them, and hold them, and be with them. And how many parents can do that?"

Ms Suleman has already promised to refuse welfare payments. However her financial worries may soon feel less pressing: she has already retained a Hollywood PR adviser, and although NBC did not pay for its exclusive interview, magazine rights for the first pictures of her new children have been valued at up to $2m (£1.3m).

That is unlikely to completely silence critics, though. On Thursday, the Medical Board of California began an investigation into the births "to see if we can substantiate a violation of the standard of care". Previous doctors' reports obtained by the Associated Press showed that Ms Suleman has previously suffered depression.

Eight bracelets for eight babies

*Eight hospital identity bracelets – one for each of her babies – were still visible on Nadya Suleman's wrists. It is standard procedure in maternity units to fix matching bracelets on mother and baby. With eight, Ms Suleman would otherwise have been at high risk of confusing her offspring with those of other mothers. Each time a nurse brought a baby to her, she would have checked that the name and number on its bracelet matched one of those on Ms Suleman's wrists.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Administrator

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company are a world leadin...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her in Latakia
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report