This article was originally published on ParentMood
Nadya Suleman, better known as Octomom, used her fifteen minutes of fame to shock the world when she became pregnant through IVF with eight babies, all at once! Though many didn't realize she already had six other kids at the time, making her a mother of fourteen children. Now that some time has passed since her story broke, her kids are all grown. If you're curious to see how they ended up, read on.
Who Was Octomom Before the Fame
Nadya Suleman is an American woman who became a media sensation and shocked the world when she was pregnant with eight babies. She gave birth to all of them despite claims that this was extremely dangerous and potentially life-threatening to her as well as the little ones. But before she had this many kids, she was a child herself. She was born in California, United States, and lived with her mom and dad as an only child.
They say life is full of surprises, and Nadya's life is no different.
A Mother's Love Is Like No Other
Nadya Suleman grew up very close to her mother and credited her for being a good role model in her life. Nadya always knew she wanted to be a mother and influence children like her mom did for her. Thankfully by the time she had her children, her mom was right there, along her side to help. All fourteen children have grown up with their grandma playing a very active role in their lives.
No one could've guessed that the little face in the picture above would be a single mother to fourteen children when she grew up, or what she would do to raise them.
Maybe This Is Why She Wanted a Big Family
Today Nadya has an enormous family and children galore. But that wasn't always the case for her; being in a big family is relatively new. To much surprise, she actually grew up as an only child, which can be incredibly lonely sometimes. Some even believe this might be the reason why she wanted such a large family of her own. This allowed her to experience something she was missing her entire childhood.
In hopes of filling that void, the future Octomom needed to turn to something.
Another Year, Another Kid
It was 2002, and Nadya had just given birth to a baby boy Elijah a year prior while welcoming a baby girl Amerah. Both these kids were, of course, born from in vitro treatments to the single mom, yet she wasn't quite satisfied. She continued the fertility treatments and soon birthed a set of twins followed by another two kids. Although she had six children at that time, which is a hefty load for most, she couldn't stop.
She had already struggled at that time to support her family but decided to keep going. She would soon turn to bizarre measures to keep up with the chaos she created.
This Was Never Supposed to Happen
Nadya wanted to ensure she got pregnant again after undergoing another fertility treatment, so the Beverly Hills doctor Michael Kamrava, implanted way over the advised amount of embryos. Although this was an enormous risk for a woman of her age because the recommended max of embryos to carry was three. However, she apparently asked for six and was injected with twelve! This was ultimately against protocol and turned into an ethical dilemma as well.
The doctor who did the procedure lost his medical license because of how irresponsible and dangerous it could've been. She's lucky to have lived and only time would tell if the babies would survive.
Getting a Taste of Fame
When the world heard about Nadya Suleman and her birth to the first surviving octuplets in America, they were fascinated. Her face was everywhere, every talk show wanted to interview her, and reality show offers were endless. Her drive to give birth to dozens of children left many speechless. She got a taste of fame and ran with it, joining celebrity boxing matches. She was as controversial as it got but admitted, that she was so broke that she felt it was the best thing to do at the time to support her growing family.
She even hired a PR team in hopes of managing her public image and maximizing any other opportunities that came her way. Although it didn't help, it only got scarier from here on out.
She Would've Never Guessed Her Life Turned Out This Way
Nadya became "Octomom" in the media, and it carried a particular persona; one of a lady so desperate for attention and children that she couldn't stop having them. A woman who would do about anything for cash. There was a time when she embraced it, but after the constant criticism and judgment, she became humiliated. People questioned if she was fit to be a mother, and she suddenly wished to erase the entire persona, afraid of how it would affect all of her children in the long run.
Nadya felt her only option for survival was to play into the character that the media built for her so that she could cash in on any opportunity. The question was, how long could she keep up the facade?
Struggling to Make Ends Meet
Naturally, providing for fourteen children and herself became a massive burden on Nadya. Despite her sudden fame, she was still not making nearly enough to cover all of her bills and expenses. She couldn't find a stable job and resorted to a short-lived pornographic film career, boxing, and stripping in a nightclub, which only made her feel guilty about her behavior. Nadya admitted she needed government assistance, but even the welfare was still insufficient.
She had no idea how she could possibly make ends meet or what she would resort to next.
Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures
Nadya has had her fair share of hardships and challenging times. At one point, she failed to pay her rent on time, and her landlord became livid and decided to evict her, along with her fourteen children. Admitting it was a stressful time would be an understatement. She wondered if her kids would be taken away from her or if they would end up on the street. This was when she decided it was time to cash in on her fame and start doing interviews and other gigs offered to her.
Though she has done questionable things, she claims it was all to financially support her family.
Their Endless Search for a Home
Nadya's main priority was finding a way to put a roof over their heads and consistently have enough to provide for her family. She managed to raise and care for fourteen children in just a tiny two-bedroom apartment. She did this with hardly any help from anyone else, with family members stepping in occasionally to offer their support. Despite the hardships, Nadya prefers a humble and quiet life, staying out of the media now.
Finding a home was one step in the process, and keeping her children was the next.
Her Kids Could Be Taken Away
When the public became aware of Nadya's situation, that she was raising fourteen children alone and was struggling financially, naturally, people became worried. People questioned how she could take care of each child without neglecting others. She couldn't work a typical job because she had to care for so many children; therefore, she couldn't have a steady income. That's when Child Protective Services opened an investigation to see if she was unfit to be a mother.
Fearing her kids would be taken away, Nadya tried her best to prove she was a capable mother. Eventually, CPS closed the case, but the public wasn't too sure it was the right move.
Her Public Persona Took Over Her Life
Nadya shared before that she never felt like the "Octomom" persona was true to who she was. But it would be a missed opportunity if she didn't embrace it. So she lived her fifteen minutes of fame, but it came with repercussions she was not expecting. The world now saw her as this crazy, irresponsible woman only having children for attention. People assumed she was completely exploiting herself and her kids.
Nadya knew this lifestyle wasn't sustainable. She did not want to live a life of pain and regret and decided she needed to make a move.
Nadya Knew She Needed to Make a Big Change
During the height of her fame, Nadya was working as a stripper to provide for her family but felt something was off in her life. She knew she needed to make a change but didn't know how or when. She recalls working in a dodgy nightclub when a man passed her and had a piercing look in his eyes. He "walked straight to me and looked straight into my eyes. He took my hand and grabbed my arm, and said in a very gentle but firm way: 'You don't have to do this.' He repeated it five times."
This man sparked something in her, and what she did next would change the course of her life.
Nadya Is Now Natalie
Nadya Suleman may be the name she was born with, but after suddenly becoming infamous, her whole world changed. She was receiving so much media attention and hate that she lost herself in a whirlwind of negative emotions. After years in the public eye, she felt she needed a permanent change. She felt haunted by her past and couldn't catch a break in the media. She knew losing her public persona was exactly what she needed.
Therefore Nadya came up with an idea; if she changed her name, she could create a new version of herself. So that's what she did. Now she strictly goes by Natalie Suleman.
Living With Regrets
Natalie has opened up about the many mistakes she made in the past and how she is trying to grow from them. She even described herself as "foolish, immature and selfish" for implanting as many embryos as she did during her IVF treatments. Especially without being financially stable beforehand, making their lives difficult as she tried to make ends meet. Although she regrets her past behaviors and actions, she doesn't regret having her children.
Suleman is trying to grow as a person, and certain improvements need to be made. Just wait and see if she manages to do so.
Sharing Their Story
There is no doubt that Natalie's life is unique, and her motherhood journey is bizarre nonetheless. So she took to Dr. Oz, an American television show where a doctor shares health tips, to share her story. She thanked him for sharing her life on his platform and said, "I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to share part of our story with you and your viewers! And thank you to supporters who take valuable time out of your lives to follow our journey."
She shared some powerful words regarding the chaos that once was her life. Admitting that she feels shame for being selfish and having so many kids at once and turning to the paths she did to provide for them, so how does she live her life any differently now?
So Many Genes
Natalie used two different donors for the fertility treatments that resulted in fourteen children. The father of the first six kids never wanted his identity known so she promised to keep even his ethnicity disclosed. As for the octuplets, the donor was a half German and half Nicaraguan man. Between all of the kids, their genes manifested differently. Some of the siblings have different complexions, eye colors, hair colors, and of course, personalities.
Some of the octuplets you would hardly believe are siblings, but you'll soon learn if they feel bonded, despite their looks.
Aidan’s Diagnosis Is Eye-Opening
The single mother shared on her Instagram profile that her son Aidan's special needs school was closed during the coronavirus pandemic. He is fourteen but acts two years old, requiring total care. She does her best to educate her other children about autism to better understand and interact with their brother. "My daily mission (aside from distance learning at home) is to find a safe place outdoors for my kids to play 'P.E,' and for Aidan to roam around as we have no backyard."
But are her children supportive of her efforts or do they have resentment towards the life their mother created for them?
Helping Each Other Through Life's Hardships
Natalie had so many children she had no choice but to give up her social life. But she doesn't regret it; she enjoys their time together. She says all the kids play and fight like any other family. She shares how her children are all so different with many personalities. One son, in particular, Aidan, requires a lot of attention and care due to his autism diagnosis. But the family seems to be supportive and helps look after him.
Though Aidan reportedly does share a special connection with his brother Makai, his relationship with the others is unclear.
The Only Way She Escapes the Craziness
You can imagine that carrying fourteen children takes a heavy toll on someone's body. Natalie may have birthed healthy babies, but she didn't escape the aftermath. She faced many injuries from her pregnancies, like ruptured discs in her back. However, she hasn't let this stop her; she enjoys lifting weights to aid her body in getting stronger and recovering. Working out in the gym happens to be her favorite pastime anyway.
She reportedly enjoys staying fit and is dedicated to having an active lifestyle, exercising every day, and even doing so with her children.
Managing 15 Lives
Sometimes managing your own life can be hard, trying to balance sleep, work, a social life, and personal time is a learning process. So how does one do that while simultaneously raising fourteen children? It might sound absolutely impossible or hectic, especially for a single mother. However, Natalie shares that, just like other families, they have normal days full of fun and some full of fights. Though most of her days are spent just shuttling her kids to and from school.
Natalie shared on social media, “Any other parents exceptionally stressed and overwhelmed the first week back to school? I must admit six (yes I said six!) drop offs and pick ups monopolize most of my day, as I am an official bus driver (but wouldn’t have it any other way lol).”
Showing Love Through Words of Affirmation
For mother's day, all the kids wrote a special letter for Natalie; she snapped a picture and gushed about it on social media. Her children clearly show their compassion and gratitude for their mom through words of affirmation. However, she's just missing a letter from her son, Aidan, whose autism affects his ability to communicate. Though he is incapable of showing his affection as her other kids do, they know the love is mutual.
Though she must have some good parenting tips and tricks up her sleeves from raising fourteen children, it's not always sunshine and rainbows.
Finding Ways to Connect to Her Children
Natalie has found several ways to bond with her children, one of them was signing up for a family run called 'Turkey Trot' on Thanksgiving Day. Ten out of fourteen children participated, which is a pretty high turnout; some kids even won! Isaiah, Josiah, Maliyah, and Noah all were in first place for their age group in the race. Of course, Natalie must've been a proud mom at that moment.
They even received prizes of delicious pumpkin pies. This will for sure become a family tradition.
Everyone Must Abide by This Diet
Natalie and almost all of her kids are exclusively raw vegans. This means that they do not consume any animal products or processed food. Their diets are mainly raw fruits and veggies, and grains. Natalie grew up as a vegetarian, so this diet isn't surprising. She is confident that this lifestyle saved her and kept her healthy throughout her pregnancy and aftercare of the octuplets. Although they still like to have cheat days full of junk food, just to live a little.
Her family enjoys being vegan because they are big advocates against animal cruelty.
Challenging Negative Thoughts
Natalie Suleman, aka Octomom, encourages her children to challenge their perspectives and continue learning about the world around them. "It is our responsibility as parents to equip our kids with the cognitive tools necessary to develop healthier patterns of thinking and coping skills they will carry with them throughout their lives" She is teaching them how to communicate effectively and process their emotions. Not many have the opportunity to experience this so young.
This will definitely make them amazing well-adjusted young adults. Healthy communication and a big supportive family, who wouldn't want that?
Feeding a Village
Throughout the height of the covid pandemic, safety and shopping for healthy food were significant concerns for the family of fifteen. Funnily enough, Natalie shared, "My kids and I are ethical vegans, not for diet. We refuse to condone, or contribute to the merciless suffering of sentient beings. In addition, I personally feel obligated to be vegan, considering I singlehandedly helped overpopulate the earth the very LEAST I can do is minimize the damage I do to it!"
They are incredibly disciplined in their plant-based lifestyle, hoping to help animals and the earth, and managed to find a way to adapt and successfully shop and continue their vegan raw diet.
Finding Time to Cook for 15 People Is Hard
Finding the time to cook for a family of fifteen sounds difficult; ensuring everyone wants to eat the same meal and having enough ingredients could be challenging. Luckily, they have a few chefs in the family. Some of the younger siblings enjoy cooking and take pride in feeding everyone! Noah and Nariyah, two of the octuplets, cooked a fantastic spread for Christmas dinner. They made meatloaf, meatballs, mashed potatoes, roasted veggies, and more- all vegan too! What a way to eat healthily and spend family time together.
It is surprising how they manage to feed that many people every day and night.
There's a Reason This Family Loves Animals so Much
The Suleman family loves animals, and not just because they can't resist the cuteness of cats and dogs. But, they are committed to their vegan lifestyle. They have mentioned that they mostly choose to follow a raw vegan diet for ethical reasons, not necessarily diet. Before Natalie had children, one of her hobbies was saving animals from abusive situations and advocating against animal cruelty. "[I'm raising] my children to care about others (especially animals) well-being as much as they do their own."
Any animals in their household must be surrounded by love and treated like royalty!
Finding Their Way
Being a part of a big group of fifteen people at all times sounds like it could be tricky, especially for someone soft-spoken or shy. Although they do most things together, they are growing into individual people with different interests. When the octuplets were still relatively young, they all joined their school play together, which was adorable. It's intriguing to see what they all choose to do with their lives as they grow older.
Moments like this will be cherished significantly as they grow older and their interests change; they probably won't do everything together anymore.
Hanging Out Together
Getting the whole family together and in the mood for the same activities can be challenging with so many kids. Despite most of their days being spent together, they are of course fourteen individual people, not including herself. Natalie has mentioned that she is an introvert, and having such a big family enables her to not hang out with anyone else, definitely helping her introversion. But at least they enjoy each others' company!
It seems impossible to imagine what a quiet night is like in this household; with fifteen people at any given moment, it must be hard to hear your own thoughts.
Bonding Through Games
Family is important and valued to the Sulemans, so they started a family fun night tradition every Saturday. All fourteen children would get together, play games, watch movies, cook, and hang out and talk. Now that the kids are growing up, the older siblings like to go out with friends, but they always find a way back to each other. It's a special way for them to bond and spend quality time together.
Apparently, the family's favorite movie to watch together is The Shining by Stanley Kubrick.
Being Humble Is a Lifestyle
Natalie Suleman has overcome many obstacles. She never stopped searching for a way to move forward and finally feels like she's in a good place. Because of her experiences and hardships, she's been adamant about teaching her children that it's always essential to help others. "I'm focusing on raising the kids to focus on serving other people, to get out of their own head." She thinks this way, they learn to become good and thoughtful people.
One way she implements this into her kids' lives is by giving each child one Christmas gift. She believes this is an opportunity for them to learn that receiving presents should not be taken for granted.
Natalie is a mother to ten boys and four girls. It is very important for her to prioritize having quality time with just her daughters. One of their favorite things to do together is to have spa nights. They watch movies, talk, put on facemasks, and boys are absolutely not allowed. It's a way for her to acknowledge that the girls need their own special time together, and they much prefer staying in and cuddling than going out.
Movies, cats, cuddling, what could be better? We wonder what the boys are up to during those times!
Parenthood Is Not Easy
Parenthood is no easy feat but doing it alone for fourteen children sounds impossible. Naturally, to stay healthy, Natalie needs some alone time to de-stress. Despite raising so many children, she still recognizes she can't correctly be there for them unless she takes care of herself also. "Being physical has significantly helped me cope with many challenges I've struggled with throughout my life." Exercise is proven to improve mental and physical health and Natalie shares that it's her one outlet that instantly makes her feel grounded.
"Most importantly to me, as a mother of 14, weightlifting is my method of constructively channeling stress, strengthening my mind in addition to my body." She clearly knows how to take care of herself and her family.
Staying Healthy and Busy
While most of Natalie's older children are vegans, all of the octuplets are! They mostly spend their weekends together doing various outdoorsy activities like hiking, walking, and playing sports. Some of the children have even taken part in marathons and long-distance runs, including the Russ Miller Memorial 5k race. It's inspiring to learn all these years later, about how this family stuck together against all odds and leads a healthy lifestyle.
This family could make up an entire basketball team, so it's intriguing to know if they've given the sport a try!
Having such a big family means there are always many people to entertain. It's good for them to stay busy, so they're all involved in extracurricular activities, charity work, races, and more. On top of all this, studying for school is a priority, so they make sure to help everyone. And most importantly, they have each other; school is always easier when you have a friend, or two, or thirteen.
It's fun to see all of Natalie's kids express themselves differently and grow together.
Fourteen Students Busy at Home
Natalie became a mother of fourteen decades ago but a teacher of fourteen only throughout the pandemic! She posted about the difficulties and perks of having all kids at home learning. "Don't get discouraged by disruptions and/or changes in your children's learning process (or your schedule parents). Kids, and us parents, are adaptive, as challenges promote growth and resilience." She encouraged her kids to embrace the change and continue focusing on their studies.
Although they are stressed, they are hanging in there. This family has shown how to make the most out of their situation.
Her First Born Is All Grown up
Natalie's first experience with an IVF pregnancy was when she became pregnant with her eldest son, Elijah, and soon gave birth in 2001. However, just her and Elijah clearly didn't feel like enough, so she continued with her fertility treatments. Could Elijah ever have guessed he would have thirteen siblings in the coming years? Well, now he is in his twenties and embracing his role as a big brother.
First-borns are supposed to be more independent, which could explain Elijah's absence in most family photos that Natalie shares on her social media pages.
A Proud Mama
Despite all of the controversies and obstacles that Natalie has faced in her life, she seems to be doing really well. Her family is healthy and thriving, and she constantly boasts her pride in her children. She has recognized that her choices in the past were not intelligent moves and that she has learned from her mistakes. She honestly seems to have grown as a person and is a very active mother.
She ultimately doesn't regret what she did and loves her family immensely, making them her number one priority.
Maybe the Influencer Life Is Next
Since Natalie decided against doing any reality TV shows because they would feel too invasive and weird for the children, YouTube felt like a good idea. The family can vlog on their schedules and only talk about and show what they are comfortable with. It also serves as a creative outlet for the kids, which is always lovely and entertaining. The first video they shared was Amerah reading a letter she wrote for Mother's Day!
As the kids age, they will most likely take over the channel or branch off and start their own accounts.