7 Feb 2009

Octuplets' mother speaks out

8:33 pm on 7 February 2009

The woman who gave birth to eight babies last week has spoken about them for the first time.

Nadya Suleman, a 33-year-old single mother who already had six children, says the octuplets were born after she had fertility treatment using sperm donated by a friend. They were the product of six implanted embryos, the same procedure used to conceive her six other children.

The Medical Board of California says it has begun investigating the fertility doctor who helped her have all 14 of her children to "see if we can substantiate a violation of the standard of care".

Under guidelines issued by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, a woman of Ms Suleman's age should have no more than two embryos implanted.

The eight babies are said by hospital officials to be doing well and breathing on their own.

'All I wanted was children'

In the NBC News television interview, Ms Suleman defends her decision to have so many children and suggests she's being singled out for harsh public criticism in part because she is a single mother.

"I feel as though I've been under the microscope because I've chosen this unconventional kind of life," she says. "I didn't intend on it being unconventional. It just turned out to be. All I wanted was children. I wanted to be a mom. That's all I ever wanted in my life."

Divorced and living with her mother in the Los Angeles suburb of Whittier, Ms Suleman already has three or four nannies helping to care for her first six children, who - including one set of twins - range in age from 2 to 7.

According to a partial transcript of the NBC interview released on Thursday, Ms Suleman is an only child who longed for a "huge family" and sought for seven years to get pregnant, trying various types of fertility assistance.

The Los Angeles Times, citing state documents, reported on Friday that she previously suffered three miscarriages. Her marriage collapsed in 2000 and she got pregnant with her first child that year.