'Octomom' Nadya Suleman's octuplets celebrate 3rd birthday
After their birth Jan. 26, 2009, their mother, Nadya Suleman, was quickly dubbed "Octomom" and turned into a symbol of the excesses of assisted reproduction.
A single mother, she already had six other children and at times had received public assistance.
Her Beverly Hills fertility specialist, Dr. Michael Kamrava, was stripped of his medical license last year by the state medical board, which ruled that he had violated professional standards by implanting Suleman with 12 embryos she had kept in storage.
Still, the sheer fact of their survival was remarkable. Until then, there had been just one live birth of octuplets in the United States, and the smallest infant died just week after birth. Those babies averaged just over 1 pound, 4 ounces.
Suleman's octuplets, on average, were a full pound heavier. She gave all of them the same middle name: Angel.
Their initial weeks in the hospital cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is still unclear what long-term difficulties they may face. Children of multiple births suffer a variety of problems, from asthma to learning disabilities, at a higher rate than other children.
Under pressure to make ends meet, their mother has capitalized on her most valuable asset: Her celebrity.
She has starred in a reality show, participated in a boxing match against "Long Island Lolita" Amy Fischer and posed bikini-clad for a photo shoot -- all the while feuding with her managers and spokespeople. She has also worked as a fitness trainer and tried to start OctoTV, a Web series to provide tips on mothering.
Still, she hasn't earned enough to keep up with the costs of raising 14 children. Suleman has estimated the costs of feeding, clothing and schooling them at $15,000 a month.
In a television interview in December with Dr. Drew Pinsky, she said that she had fallen behind on her house payments and was planning a short-sale to avoid foreclosure.
"I'm hopeful that it will sell," she said of the 2,583 square-foot house in La Habra. "I won't make any money off it, but the next goal will be to lease a home."
"I don't want any handouts from people, because I feel I don't want to be a burden," she said.
-- Alan Zarembo
Photo: 'Octomom' Nadya Suleman will celebrate her octuplets' 3rd birthday Thursday. Credit: FOX Broadcasting