Octomom, a.k.a., Nadya Suleman, burst onto the scene in January 2009 when she gave birth to not twins, not triplets, but octuplets. Having eight kids was record-breaking and caught the media’s attention, but it also caught the attention of many critics.
Everything from her parenting style to the methods her doctor used to get her pregnant opened her up to criticism. It’s been nearly a decade since we met Octomom and a lot of highs and lows have happened for her since that time. Read on to see what Octomom and her extra-large, extra-scandalous family is up to today. You won’t believe what the kids look like now!
An Innocent Wish
Nadya was born an only child to an immigrant family. Her Iraqi father and Lithuanian mother spoiled her, but she still craved attention from something else: a sibling.
This experience growing up made her hope and dream to one day have a big family. Little did she know as a child that the wish would come true.
Motherhood Was Top Priority
Most women today focus on school and a career before even thinking about motherhood, but that wasn’t the case for Nadya. She had planned to go to college but she realized quickly that her desire to be a mother was much stronger.
Nadya instead chose to experience life in the hopes of finding someone who shared a desire for a family like she did.
First Shot At Love And Family
Nadya met and married a grocery store produce manager named Marcos Gutierrez in her early 20s and thought it was love. The two fell deeply in love and it even seemed like Gutierrez shared a desire for a family just like Nadya.
Everything was working out just as Nadya had dreamt when she was a little girl.
She didn’t know it at the time, but the two would sadly never start that family.
A New, And Dangerous, Job
While planning for the start of her family, Nadya began working as a psychiatric technician at the Metropolitan State Hospital in Norwalk, California. The job was her passion, but working with mentally unstable patients can always be dangerous.
Work was stressful for Nadya, but she never thought it would lead to a life-changing incident.
A Life-Changing Disaster
September 18, 1999, was the day that would change Nadya’s life. On that day, twenty psychiatric patients began a riot and Nadya was right in the middle of it all.
During the riot, a patient flipped over a desk and it landed on Nadya’s back. She ended up with a herniated disk and a $170,000 workers compensation settlement.
Trying And Failing To Have Kids
The injury from her work put Nadya into a lot of stress and pain. Still, she and her husband continued to try to have kids. For more than three years the two tried to conceive with no luck.
They also had to do this all while living off the workers’ compensation settlement and Marcos’ small salary.
With so much failure, Nadya and Marcos decided to take an extra step and visit a doctor.
Nadya and Marco eventually went to a doctor to see if Nadya had any biological issues conceiving, but the doctor found nothing wrong. They tried every trick in the book to conceive, but nothing worked.
The constant failure eventually sent Nadya into a deep depression that made her start to explore more drastic options to become pregnant.
The Truth Comes Out
The more Nadya pressed the issue, the more her husband pressed back. Eventually, the two went back to the doctor and learned the truth: nothing was wrong with Nadya, it was Marcos who was sterile. This news was devastating for the couple who wanted a family so bad.
It also reconfirmed to Nadya that she’d have to try more unconventional methods to achieve her dream.
Coming up, we’ll see what the kids look like today!
Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures
Now that they knew they would never conceive naturally, Nadya began to press Marcos to consider other methods. Marcos continued to push back, but when Nadya suggested doing in vitro fertilization (IVF), it was the last straw.
Marcos said that if she went through with IVF, he would leave her.
A big decision was on the horizon for Nadya that would change her life.
The Hardest Decision Of Her Life
Nadya now had to decide if having kids was worth more than her marriage. It wasn’t an easy decision, but eventually, Nadya decided that starting a family was more important.
She ended her relationship with Marcos in 2000 and set out on her journey to become a mom. Of course, even the best-laid plans don’t always work out.
The Pros And Cons Of IVF
In vitro fertilization was still very controversial in 2000. It involves having the egg and sperm fertilize outside of a body, usually in a test tube, then reintroduced to a body.
IVF doesn’t always have a 100% success rate, which is why they will usually include several eggs in case something goes wrong with one. For Nadya, the more the merrier!
Success! Welcome Baby Elijah
Despite the risks and the extremely high price tag that comes along with IVF, Nadya decided to go through with the procedure. Even though there was the potential for twins or triplets, she ended up having a successful single birth.
Nadya welcomed her first child Elijah in 2001 and her dream had finally become a reality!
One would be enough for many, but for Nadya, Elijah was just the beginning.
One Wasn’t Enough
After the success of her first IVF, Nadya wanted more children. She underwent another IVF procedure that was successful. Her second child, a daughter Amerah, was born in 2002.
Nadya was so ecstatic that she had three more successful IVF pregnancies that resulted in a set of fraternal twins, and two other children. The total was now up to six and she couldn’t be happier.
Is Six The Limit?
For many people, six kids are more than enough kids to keep them happy and busy, but not for Nadya. Nadya was now a single mom raising six children on her own. It’s no doubt that money and time was sparse.
Still, she wanted more kids and would even enlist the help of a controversial doctor to do so.
A Baffling Decision
Nadya realized that from her original IVF treatments, she had six frozen eggs left over. She refused to let those eggs be destroyed, and wanted her doctor to implant all six eggs at once for an INF pregnancy.
Her doctor, Dr. Michael Kamrava, says he was hesitant at first, but that Nadya insisted it happen.
What Kind Of Doctor Would Allow This?
The choice to have six eggs fertilized at once is baffling to many, but her doctor went even further by implanting twelve eggs total. That’s ten more than the recommended maximum of two eggs.
Dr. Kamrava was already controversial within his field and was later expelled from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine for this decision.
A Shocking Success
The crazy IVF procedure was a success and resulted in eight eggs being successfully fertilized. Eight children at once is an overwhelming thought to many of us, but for Nadya, she was over-the-moon.
The only question that remained was whether her body would even be able to handle the pregnancy.
How did fame affect the children? We’ll find out soon.
Here Comes The Media
Being pregnant with eight kids at once while taking care of six children would be hard enough on a person, but now Nadya had to deal with the media. Her story quickly caught the attention of tabloids and news outlets.
They dubbed her ‘Octomom’ and Nadya was officially in the limelight.
Who Is The Father?
Thanks to her new celebrity status, all of America was wondering who the father was. Nadya’s mother claimed all sperm came from a single donor named David Soloman, who Nadya once dated.
Another man, Denis Beaudoin, claimed to be the biological father, but Nadya claimed otherwise. No tests have ever been done to find out who the true father is.
A Record-Breaking Pregnancy
People questioned whether Nadya’s body could birth eight children successfully, but it was a surprising success. In 2009, Makai, Josiah, Isaiah, Jonah, Maliyah, Jeremiah, Nariyah, and Noah were born. All eight children were born safely, which made Nadya the first woman to ever give birth to eight children alive at once.
The happiness didn’t last long though. Now that Nadya was in the public eye, she had some negative attention coming her way.
Today, the children look very different than they did here!
Here Come The Critics
After the birth, people began to learn more about Nadya’s story and began to judge her for it. Why would a single mom think she can handle 14 children? Why did the doctor let her go through with the procedure? Did she want to be in the spotlight all along? Why was she wasting tax-payers money for these kids?
All the criticism was overwhelming for the new Octomom.
Using The Media To Her Advantage
Now that she was in the spotlight, Nadya knew she’d need to use the attention to her advantage or it would engulf her. She hired a public relations team to control the narrative around her.
Unfortunately, it proved harder than she expected. Her public relations team had to give Nadya a persona and it was hard to balance.
Time To Take The Honest Approach
Her attempt to control the narrative failed, and Nadya soon decided her best bet would be opening up completely to the public. She did a very personal interview with People magazine.
She told People how even if it seems like she’s embracing the public life, she’s first and foremost a mom with the same struggles as anyone else.
A New Low Point
The depression from early in her life was nothing in comparison to her low point after her famous pregnancy. Struggling to raise fourteen kids, Nadya had no choice but to accept welfare.
That choice was controversial though, because it supported the rumor that she did all this just to be in the spotlight and couldn’t handle the reality of it.
Law Enforcement Now Involved
Octomom’s dramatic public persona meant that her critics even began to spread rumors. Some worried that raising fourteen kids meant she would inevitably neglect her children. California’s Child Protective Services were even alerted and investigated her home.
Thankfully, they found no issue with Nadya’s parenting or the safety in her household.
A New Living Situation
Even though Child Protective Services were fine with Nadya, her landlord wasn’t. Nadya and her fourteen kids were evicted from their home. They struggled to find another place because few landlords would rent to a woman with so many kids.
It also didn’t help that Nadya didn’t have enough money to rent a place large enough for fifteen people.
To make ends meet, Nadya would have to get business savvy.
Trying New Things
Nadya tried everything from the film industry to a short-lived music career to make money to support her kids, but nothing seemed to work. The further she moved into the public eye, the more criticism and stress she ended up with.
The pressure was too much and would send her on a dangerous spiral.
Stress, Exhaustion, And Rehab
In 2012, Nadya filed for personal bankruptcy. She alleged that she has $50,000 in assets but more than $1 million in debt. This, coupled with raising her kids, led her to a 28-day stint in rehab.
She ended rehab in October 2012 for anxiety, exhaustion, stress, and an addiction to Xanax that her doctor prescribed.
Turning Her Life Around
After leaving rehab, Nadya decided to change her life drastically. She turned away the limelight and went back to school. She finished her college degree and now works as a family therapist.
She also changed her name to Natalie to separate herself even further from her past life as Nadya, the Octomom.
Her Guardian Angel
What caused Natalie to change her entire lifestyle? She says it was a guardian angel. Natalie said that in February 2013, she was working on a film in Florida when a tall man walked up to her and said, “You don’t have to do this.”
Apparently, it was the final push she needed to become her “healthy self again.”
Natalie’s crew is all grown up now!
The Kids Today
As for her kids, all fourteen are happy and healthy. Natalie has always been open and honest with her kids about her journey to be a mother, and she said they don’t judge her.
Her oldest, Elijah, is now 17 and the octuplets are now nine-years-old. All are on strictly vegan diets, and love going to school. It’s interesting to note how different they all look!
Living A Quiet And Modest Life
Her life is much different than those early days. The family lives in a modest house in Laguna Beach where Natalie grew up.
She still gets by living paycheck to paycheck and using food stamps, but that doesn’t stop her family from being happy and getting by with what they have.
How Did Fame Change The Kids?
Natalie insists that the reason her family does so well today is that she’s always been honest with her kids.
She admitted that she was “young and foolish” and that was was “forced into doing things I didn’t want to do because I was so terrified I couldn’t support them.”
A Normal Day In The Household
Natalie says even though they might seem exceptional, their family is just like any other. The kids “fight, play, fight, and play again.” Many of her kids are strong and outgoing.
Her one son, Aiden, is autistic, but that challenge brings the family even closer. Natalie says Aiden is particularly close with brother Makai.
Goodbye Social Life, Hello Social Media
Natalie gave up the fame and media for her kids, but that doesn’t mean she had to give everything up. She runs an Instagram account and YouTube channel that shows the insider life of her everyday adventures with her family.
It’s her way of connecting with other moms and showing her family struggles are just like anyone else’s.
Sharing Her Life With The World
Now that she’s active on social media, we get a glimpse into Natalie’s daily life. She recently shared this pic of her kids on the first day back to school.
Natalie captioned this one, “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).”
Good Clean Fun
Family spa night looks like so much fun! Here’s the family pampering themselves with mud masks.
This photo, which Natalie shared to Instagram, was taken in early May. Maybe the spa night was an early Mother’s Day gift from the kids!
A Healthy Lifestyle Works For Her
On Instagram, Natalie says that the family follows a vegan lifestyle. She also uses exercise to deal with the stresses that come with raising a large family.
The treadmill is a favorite way to blow off steam. With this pic, she shared: “The stress literally drips off of me, as I’m drenched in the end. Being physical has significantly helped me cope with so many challenges I’ve struggled with throughout my life.”
A Family Of Actors
Check out this sweet photo of the Suleman children all acting together in a school play! Now, that’s a great activity to do as a family!
It’s not quite obvious what play they’re performing in, but we see that there’s a doctor character, a cowboy, and a Native American. We’d love to see this performance!
Yummy And Healthy: Vegan Taco Night!
Natalie’s always finding fun dinner options for the kids. Here’s one she shared with her Instagram followers.
“One of our favorite family fun night meals…VeganTacos,” she wrote, adding that they were made of a mixture of organic beans, chopped spinach, peppers, and “of course lots of water.” Of course!