(Nadya Suleman’s mother sounded exhausted and exasperated when I reached her on the phone only days after the octuplets were born, but she shared a few emotional details before hanging up abruptly. This story went unmatched and kept my byline throughout the weekend.)
By Raquel Maria Dillon | ASSOCIATED PRESS
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The woman who gave birth to octuplets this week conceived all 14 of her children through in vitro fertilization, is not married and has been obsessed with having children since she was a teenager, her mother said.
Angela Suleman told The Associated Press she was not supportive when her daughter, Nadya Suleman, decided to have more embryos implanted last year.
“It can’t go on any longer,” she said in a phone interview Friday. “She’s got six children and no husband. I was brought up the traditional way. I firmly believe in marriage. But she didn’t want to get married.”
Nadya Suleman, 33, gave birth Monday in nearby Bellflower. She was expected to remain in the hospital for at least a few more days, and her newborns for at least a month.
A spokeswoman at Kaiser Permanente Bellflower Medical Center said the babies were were progressing daily, with all eight breathing unassisted and being tube-fed.
While her daughter recovers, Angela Suleman is taking care of the other six children, ages 2 through 7, at the family home in Whittier, about 15 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.
She said she warned her daughter that when she gets home from the hospital, “I’m going to be gone.”
Angela Suleman said her daughter always had trouble conceiving and underwent in vitro fertilization treatments because her fallopian tubes are “plugged up.”
There were frozen embryos left over after her previous pregnancies and her daughter didn’t want them destroyed, so she decided to have more children.
Her mother and doctors have said the woman was told she had the option to abort some of the embryos and, later, the fetuses. She refused.
Her mother said she does not believe her daughter will have any more children.
“She doesn’t have any more (frozen embryos), so it’s over now,” she said. “It has to be.”
Nadya Suleman wanted to have children since she was a teenager, “but luckily she couldn’t,” her mother said.
“Instead of becoming a kindergarten teacher or something, she started having them, but not the normal way,” he mother said.
Her daughter’s obsession with children caused Angela Suleman considerable stress, so she sought help from a psychologist, who told her to order her daughter out of the house.
“Maybe she wouldn’t have had so many kids then, but she is a grown woman,” Angela Suleman said. “I feel responsible, and I didn’t want to throw her out.”
Little psychological research has been conducted on the reasons some mothers seem hooked on repeated pregnancies. David Diamond, a co-director for the Center for Reproductive Psychology in San Diego, said mothers can be drawn to repeat pregnancies for a number of reasons, with some finding the experience so satisfying they choose to become surrogates.
Diane G. Sanford, a psychologist and author specializing in women’s reproductive mental health, said while she doesn’t know much about Nadya Suleman’s background, women that have obsessive-compulsive disorder can become fixated on different obsessions.
“Her obsession centers around children, having children and being a mother,” she said. “To what degree are her esteem and identity based on being a mom, and why has this from a young age been such a preoccupation of hers?”
Yolanda Garcia, 49, of Whittier, said she helped care for Nadya Suleman’s autistic son three years ago.
“From what I could tell back then, she was pretty happy with herself, saying she liked having kids and she wanted 12 kids in all,” Garcia told the Long Beach Press-Telegram.
“She told me that all of her kids were through in vitro, and I said ‘Gosh, how can you afford that and go to school at the same time?'” she added. “And she said it’s because she got paid for it.”
Garcia said she did not ask for details.
Nadya Suleman holds a 2006 degree in child and adolescent development from California State University, Fullerton, and as late as last spring she was studying for a master’s degree in counseling, college spokeswoman Paula Selleck told the Press-Telegram.
Her fertility doctor has not been identified. Her mother told the Los Angeles Times all the children came from the same sperm donor but she declined to identify him.
Birth certificates reviewed by The Associated Press identify a David Solomon as the father for the four oldest children. Certificates for the other children were not immediately available.
Angela Suleman told reporters Friday that doctors implanted far fewer than eight embryos, but they multiplied. Experts said this could be possible since Nadya Suleman’s system has likely been hyperstimulated for years with fertilization treatments and drugs.
The news that the octuplets’ mother already had six children sparked an ethical debate. Some medical experts were disturbed to hear that she was offered fertility treatment, and troubled by the possibility that she was implanted with so many embryos.
“You should always shoot for one,” said Dr. Marcelle Cedars, a professor and director of reproductive health at the University of California, San Francisco, Medical Center, who worried about the increased risk of potential health complications for the babies.
Others worried that she would be overwhelmed trying to raise so many children and would end up relying on public support.
“This woman could not comprehend the ramifications of having eight children of the same age at the same time,” said Judith Horowitz, a Parkland, Fla.-based psychologist and author who works with couples on fertility issues. “After Pampers stops delivering the free diapers, then what?”
The eight babies — six boys and two girls — were delivered by cesarean section weighing between 1 pound, 8 ounces and 3 pounds, 4 ounces. Forty-six physicians and staff assisted in the deliveries.
Associated Press writers Thomas Watkins and Noaki Schwartz contributed to this report.