The mother-of-six who gave birth to octuplets in California last week broke her silence, saying she wanted a "huge family" to make up for a lonely childhood.
Nadya Suleman, 33, who now has 14 children, told NBC News in an interview to be broadcast on Friday that being an only child had left her yearning for human and family connections she felt had been lacking while growing up.
"That was always a dream of mine, to have a large family, a huge family, and – I just longed for certain connections and attachments with another person that I really lacked, I believe, growing up," Suleman said in excerpts from the interview released by NBC.
The Medical Board of California confirmed Thursday it had begun an investigation into the births "to see if we can substantiate a violation of the standard of care."
Many upset over Suleman's IVF treatment
Suleman’s case has angered fertility experts after it emerged her she had eight of her own previously frozen embryos implanted. Under guidelines issued by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), a woman Suleman’s age should have no more than two embryos implanted.
Harish Sehdev, associate professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Pennsylvania Hospital, has called the decision to implant eight embryos in a woman who already has six children "insensitive and ignorant."
Multiple-birth babies are often born prematurely – Suleman’s octuplets were born nine-and-a-half weeks early – which puts them at significantly greater risk of long-term health problems, Sehdev told AFP.
Suleman told NBC meanwhile her childhood left her feeling a lack of 'self and identity'. She added, "I didn’t feel as though, when I was a child, I had much control of my environment. I felt powerless. And that gave me a sense of predictability."
Suleman 'unmarried and obsessed'
"Reflecting back on my childhood, I know it wasn’t functional. It was pretty dysfunctional, and whose isn’t?"
She said she had tried to get pregnant unsuccessfully for several years before turning to in vitro fertilisation (IVF).
Suleman, who was discharged from the Bellflower Medical Centre, said after the first IVF procedure was successful she "just kept going in".
She is not married, has been living with her mother, who has expressed exasperation at what she called her daughter’s obsession with children. All 14 children are the product of a sperm donor.
Joann Killeen, a publicist hired by Suleman, said his week Suleman is "looking forward to being the best mom that she can possibly be".
"She’s smart, she’s bright, she’s articulate, she’s well-educated, and she has a wonderful sense of humour," Killeen told ABC’s Good Morning America.
Babies healthy and doing well
Hospital officials said Suleman’s eight babies were doing well and were breathing naturally. The babies, delivered on January 26 by Caesarean section, are now the longest surviving octuplets in the world.
"The babies will be going home one at a time as each reaches near-normal newborn weight," said Mandhir Gupta, neonatologist at the hospital.
"At this point in their development, they are not mature enough to coordinate the suckling and swallowing at the same time to be bottle fed, but they are all getting the love and care they need and are doing well." – (Sapa, February 2009)