Image: Getty

Starting in 2008, “octomom” Natalie Suleman was a tabloid fixture when she became the first woman to ever give birth to eight surviving children at once, though, according to her, that was never her intention.

Although Suleman has struggled in the past, all 14 of her children remain in her custody, and a profile by The New York Times paints their home life as chaotic but functional. At 9 years old, the once-famous octuplets are now “model fourth graders:”

“The octuplets are small for their age, but they’re polite, they cook, they’re vegan, they read two books a month and do their homework without being prompted.”

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Suleman’s narrative around the exact number of children she was hoping for has changed many times over the years. She now says that a Beverly Hills fertility specialist convinced her to be implanted with an additional six embryos while she was sedated:

Ms. Suleman said she only wanted twins, but that Dr. Kamrava, a graduate of Case Western Reserve University with 30 years of experience, pushed her to consent to implanting additional embryos while she was strapped to a gurney and under the influence of heavy narcotics.

“He told me we lost six embryos, he said they were expelled out of me, and that’s why he wanted to implant another six,” said Ms. Suleman...

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But the doctor, Michael Kamrava, who lost his U.S. medical license in 2011, maintains that the idea was Suleman’s alone and that she pushed him to implant 12 embryos, though other experts say that most doctors would never consent to implanting so many in the first place.

The last decade has been rough for Suleman, who was sued by Gloria Allred, tried to launch failed careers in porn, stripping, and boxing, and eventually ended up in rehab after struggling with alcohol and prescription drug addiction. She now claims she “never wanted the attention,” and partially blames the media obsession with her pregnancy and octuplets for many of the negative things that have happened in her life:

“I have PTSD from all the reporters coming in over the years. I would take whatever I could back in the days, and I would let them in. I was spiraling down a dark hole. There were no healthy opportunities for Octomom. I was doing what I was told to do and saying what I was told to say. When you’re pretending to be something you’re not, at least for me, you end up falling on your face.”