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Grandmother calls octuplets mother 'obsessed'

Says woman's 14 children all conceived in vitro

By Raquel Maria Dillon
Associated Press / February 1, 2009
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LOS ANGELES - The woman who gave birth to octuplets this week conceived all 14 of her children through in vitro fertilization, is not married, and has been obsessed with having children since she was a teenager, her mother said.

Angela Suleman told the Associated Press she was not supportive when her daughter, Nadya Suleman, decided to have more embryos implanted last year.

"It can't go on any longer," she said in a phone interview Friday. "She's got six children and no husband. I was brought up the traditional way. I firmly believe in marriage. But she didn't want to get married."

Nadya Suleman, 33, gave birth Monday in nearby Bellflower. She was expected to remain in the hospital for at least a few more days, and her newborns for at least a month.

A spokeswoman at Kaiser Permanente Bellflower Medical Center said the babies were doing well and seven were breathing unassisted.

While her daughter recovers, Angela Suleman is taking care of the other six children, ages 2 through 7, at the family home in Whittier, about 15 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.

She said she warned her daughter that when she gets home from the hospital, "I'm going to be gone."

Angela Suleman said her daughter always had trouble conceiving and underwent in vitro fertilization treatments because her fallopian tubes are "plugged up." There were frozen embryos left over after her previous pregnancies and her daughter didn't want them destroyed, so she decided to have more children.

Her mother and doctors have said the woman was told she had the option to abort some of the embryos and, later, the fetuses. She refused.

Her mother said she does not believe her daughter will have any more children.

"She doesn't have any more [frozen embryos], so it's over now," she said. "It has to be."

Nadya Suleman wanted to have children since she was a teenager, "but luckily she couldn't," her mother said.

"Instead of becoming a kindergarten teacher or something, she started having them, but not the normal way," he mother said.

Her daughter's obsession with children caused Angela Suleman considerable stress, so she sought help from a psychologist, who told her to order her daughter out of the house.

"Maybe she wouldn't have had so many kids then, but she is a grown woman," Angela Suleman said. "I feel responsible and I didn't want to throw her out."

Little psychological research has been conducted on the reasons some mothers seem hooked on repeated pregnancies. David Diamond, a co-director for the Center for Reproductive Psychology in San Diego, said mothers can be drawn to repeat pregnancies for a number of reasons, with some finding the experience so satisfying they choose to become surrogates.

Diane G. Sanford, a psychologist and author specializing in women's reproductive mental health, said while she doesn't know much about Nadya Suleman's background, women that have obsessive-compulsive disorder can become fixated on different obsessions. "Her obsession centers around children, having children, and being a mother," she said.

Nadya Suleman has a 2006 degree in child and adolescent development from California State University, Fullerton, and as late as last spring was studying for a master's in counseling, college spokeswoman Paula Selleck told the Press-Telegram.

Her mother told the Los Angeles Times all the children came from the same sperm donor but she declined to identify him.

Birth certificates reviewed by the Associated Press identify a David Solomon as the father for the four oldest children. Certificates for the other children were not immediately available.

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