‘Octomom’ Nadya Suleman — who now goes by Natalie — stepped out of the spotlight in 2013 after releasing a sex tape, posing for a nude photo shoot and becoming a stripper to provide for her 14 children. Now, she’s revealing the moment she decided to turn her life around for the sake of her family.
In an interview with ABC News aired Tuesday on Good Morning America, the 41-year-old said she knew she needed to make a change when she saw her 10-year-old daughter playing dress-up in her stripper costumes.
“She put on these heels and she was strutting around in them and that was it,” Suleman said. “That was the moment when I said, ‘I’d rather be homeless in a van with all my kids than to allow any of my girls to feel that they’re not worthy enough.’ ”
Suleman made headlines after giving birth to octuplets nearly eight years ago in 2009 when she was already the mother of six children. She cashed in on her Octomom fame with the photo shoot and the sex tape and said she earned $8,000 from the tape. She received media backlash for her choices, but Suleman said, “It was just to put food on the table and just to take care of my family.”
“I wasn’t me and I’m sorry. I’m sorry for anyone I hurt out there,” she said. “I look back in retrospect, and I would never say I regret not one of my children. They are why I live.”
She also said she struggled with the sedative Xanax after she began taking it in 2012.
“I ended up numbing that shame,” Suleman revealed. “So in order to be something that I was not, I had to numb myself to do so.”
She said that she relapsed almost immediately after a stint in rehab, and that the incident with her 10-year-old daughter prompted her to make a change that would last.
These days Suleman works part-time as a family therapy counselor. But her full-time job is raising her children — aged 8 to 14 — by herself.
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And sometimes it seems like the entire family is living under the cloud of her past.
“My kids get embarrassed because their friends sometimes will say, ‘My mom said your mom’s a stripper,’ ” Suleman said, adding that her children would reply: ” ‘No, my mom’s a counselor.’ ”
Her oldest child, 14-year-old Amerah, recalled the aftermath of the octuplets’ birth.
“In the beginning, it was very difficult,” she said. “I had so many people asking questions and I was like, ‘She’s my mom. She’s no different than anyone else.’ “