apu1I know I shouldn’t get sucked into this Springeresque freak show. And, probably if I were a good person, I’d just take a live-and-let-live attitude.  But I’m more than a little curious and disturbed by this story about 33-year-old single mom Nadya Suleman, who just gave birth to octuplets and already has 6 kids at home between the ages of 2 and 7.

My first question is, of course: “What the hell?”

Here are some of the facts the media has been reporting:

  • She’s been obsessed with having babies since she was a teenager and always wanted 12;
  • She can’t conceive the regular way, so has had all 14 children through IVF;
  • All the embryos were created with the same sperm donor who is simply a sperm donor, not otherwise involved with the family;
  • She’s been divorced since 1998;
  • Her ex-husband is not the father of any of the kids;
  • She and her 6 kids live with her parents in a 3-bedroom home;
  • Nadya Suleman holds a 2006 degree in child and adolescent development from California State University and was studying for a master’s degree in counseling;
  • When asked by a close friend how she could afford all these IVF treatments with no job, while going to school, Nadya Suleman apparently said she “got paid for it;”
  • She’s hired a PR firm to negotiate her book, movie, talk show, and other media deals;

Good Morning America’s Joann Killeen says of Nadya Suleman:

She’s smart, she’s bright, she’s articulate, she’s well-educated and she has a wonderful sense of humor.

She’s very joyful. Nadya is a very balanced and together woman.

She’s very, very happy and joyful for the miracle of life and the babies.

I question Joann Killeen’s judgment. (And PS: it’s not so much a “miracle of life” as a science experiment gone horribly, horribly wrong)

There have been a lot of ethical questions around this story.

  • What kind of doctor keeps providing fertility treatments to a woman with 6 children? This is apparently unheard of among fertility physicians.
  • Since she claims to be getting paid for having IVF and since this is an unheard of procedure under the circumstances, is there something odd going on with the doctor?
  • What about the serious and often lethal complications that often afflict multiple birth children?
  • The option was there early on to remove some of the embryos, but she refused.  Should someone have stepped in and made that decision for her?
  • What about the inevitable medical costs?
  • What about the cost of raising these children? (Estimated cost of raising 14 kids is $2.5 million – just for the basics like food, clothes and getting them through 12 years of school). There are a lot of donations now, but they’ll dry up soon enough.
  • What about their quality of life of all 14 of these kids, especially now that they’ve become circus sideshow attractions?

Is there anything “feel good” or positive that can be said about this story?


32 responses to “Wombzilla

  1. She’s selfish and addicted to children-Simple as that! People who have tons and tons of babies (particularly those who are well educated and living in a wealthy country) piss me right off! They don’t care about the fact the planet is already overpopulated nor do they care about the long term ramifications and well-being of the children. The media just loves to jump all over this and say “oh look how cute the babies are” but babies grow up and consume far too much. Plus, how the hell does she intend to send them to post-secondary school?

    Oh and the fact that she’s divorced and living with her parents? That’s just great! Way to go for lack of responsibility!
    Its not a miracle, its disgusting!

  2. The big question in my mind is why would the doctors implant EIGHT embryos??? It’s my understanding that here in Canada, if the prospective mother is under 40, the most they’ll implant is 3, and it rises to 4 if the mother is over 40, to try for at least one viable fetus. But EIGHT?

  3. Isn’t there also some psychological testing one has to endure before these procedures? Because, those kids will certainly need it before too long.

  4. Hannah – I can’t believe someone (like the Good Morning America chick) would consider her “very balanced and together”. It’s very nice to want to have a big family as long as you can provide for them – not just someone’s roof over their head and something to fill their bellies. As you say, very irresponsible on everyone’s part – especially the fertility doctor’s I’m thinking. Okay, Nadya may have mental problems and her parents may have a few bricks short as well, but what kind of doctor keeps pumping babies into this family? And if she’s not paying for IVF (which is $10 -$15 K per shot), then what’s the deal here?

    Alison – Apparently, it is remotely possible that he only implanted one embryo, but because this woman has been sucking back fertility treatments for the last 10 years her system is so messed up that the embryo split 8 ways. But since some of them are girls and some are boys I don’t think that’s possible, is it? So there were at least 2, probably 3 or 4 embryos implanted. The association of fertility doctors in the US are completely stumped as to why any reputable doctor would implant ANY embryos in a 33 year old woman who already has 6 kids. They say they’ve never heard of anyone even contemplating doing such a thing. Most would have stopped at 2 babies. It’s not healthy for the mother for one thing. The whole thing is crazy from start to finish.

    Violetsky – I don’t know. I know there are supposed to be a lot of physical tests, but I’m not sure that psychological testing is required. The doctor needs some first of all. Then Nadya and her parents. And yes, the kids, too. But wait! Nadya herself is educated as a child counselor. Arrrckkkkkkk.

  5. The more I read about this woman, the more disturbed I get. There was a story in the news a few years ago about a woman who was in her late 40s who decided she wanted a child, so she went for IVF. It resulted in twins, but she didn’t think she was mentally prepared to deal with two babies, so she arranged to give the boy baby up for adoption, and keep the girl. The pregnancy was very difficult — the woman almost died and was on bed rest for months — so just before the birth she decided to give up both babies, because she wasn’t physically up to it. Then, when the babies were about a year old, she kidnapped them from the adoptive parents and ran up here to Canada to hide.

    I blogged about it at the time and I felt that they should have been asking some moral questions about giving this woman a pregnancy in the first place. Given her age (she was well past menopause) and her obvious lack of awareness of the physical problems that can come with pregnancy and childbirth, it didn’t seem like the doctors did any kind of screening here. I took some flack for that post at the time, though — women who have no options except fertility treatments really resented being told that they might have to have psychological exams or be evaluated just like adoptive parents are evaluated in order to get access to a medical procedure. It does seem like kind of a slippery slope — if we leave it in the hands of doctors to decide who is “worthy” of having a child, all kinds of problems could arise.

    In this case, though, there is more going on and I think some serious questions need to be raised. In particular, as you say, I’d love to know how she afforded these treatments, and what her doctor was thinking. I have read that she says that it was not 8 embryos that were implanted, so perhaps some of them split…but even then, it seems like there should be some sort of sensible limit to these procedures.

    Great subject line, by the way :).

  6. It’s disgusting. You’ve laid it all out there XUP. The clinic who performed the procedure should be investigated and have their medical credentials yanked.

  7. This weekend David Suzuki was on CBC radio talking to some high school kids and was asked if he thought humanity was still evolving. He pointed out that with developments like glasses people like him managed to live long enough to breed as did diabetics etc. He noted that this meant that some stayed in the gene pool who would have dropped out in earlier times and that this would inevitably have some effect on humanity over centuries.
    I’m not sue what he would have made of people pumping out entire rowing crews a one sitting as it were.
    I’ve never understood the mania for having children as anything other than an extreme form of narcissism and I can’t help wondering how she is going to deal with children and then adolescents as opposed to babies.
    Puppies are really cute but without proper training they can become terrible beasts. I sure hope she loves people as much as she apparently loves babies cause she’s going to have a lot longer with them as adults.
    Can you imagine the strain when her octet all want to go on their first real date on the same weekend?

  8. This story *is* crazy. And feeding on itself like more crazy. I don’t know, I seem to only catch glimpses of her dad, trying to get the media circus to go away. Which doesn’t work.

  9. Lynn – Holy crap – I missed that story – the classic separation of twins at birth? We all know how that will turn out. Really, everybody should have to undergo some sort of training/evaluation thing before having children – adopted, in vitro or natural. It would solve a lot of problems down the road. We have to jump through a bunch of loops to get a driver’s license, to get a job, a mortgage, a car, a credit card, get married, get divorced, — sheesh – there’s more stringent screening when you take a day trip across the border– but we’re allowed to just pop out babies without a second thought??

    Olivia – My main issue is with the doctor, too. He should know better. She can be excused for being a nut-job, but he’s supposed to be a professional. From what I’ve been reading, I think his neck IS on the chopping block. We shall see.

    Bandobras – Glasses allowed David Suzuki to live longer? Huh?? Anyway, yes. What will become of these kids? All 14 of them. It’s pretty much a 24-hour a day job raising just one kid on your own. Did you know that one of her 6 kids is autistic, on top of everything else? The woman does NOT love babies or children or she couldn’t do this to them. She loves being pregnant and giving birth – that’s all. She should have been a surrogate or something, but apparently that wasn’t good enough for her.

    Ellie – Totally crazy. Like a big car wreck. You don’t want to look, but you can’t help it, it’s so gruesome.

  10. XUP, I imagine the “glasses make me live longer” has to do with something like being able to see danger before it’s too late (a car coming your way, being able to use a knife safely, etc.).

    Her mother has said that she had 8 embryos implanted, because that was the # left over after her previous rounds of IVF. Even if the mother was mistaken, a fertility expert has gone public to say that, with the ratio of boys-to-girls, and the likelihood of eggs splitting, the LEAST number of embryos she could have had transferred is 5. (Which is 5 too many, in my book.)

    We need to stop fetishizing the act of getting pregnant as the be-all end-all of a woman’s accomplishments in life. Uneducated teenage girls get pregnant all the time–it’s not a huge applause-worthy feat. If an idiot 16-year old can do it? IT’S NOT A MIRACLE. Raising children responsibly, on the other hand…that’s something to be proud of. We need to stop applauding women for getting pregnant, and start applauding mothers and fathers for working hard to be responsible parents. The pat on the back and the recognition should come when you can send a responsible, mature, ethical 18 year-old out into the world, not when you happen to have sperm and egg unite, whether by nature or by petri dish.

  11. She’s a BITCH.
    No seriously – as as far as I know DOGS are the only mammals that can have that many kids.
    (Ok ignoring the obvious fact that CATS can do the same but I ignore cats)
    I feel sorry for all her kids – its IMPOSSIBLE that they get enough attention at meal time – that is unless she has 8 tits.

  12. Does Joann Killeen get a cut of the book sales profits or something? Would anyone even BUY this book?

    Honestly, I feel the same about this story as I do about the freak show that is the TLC program “18 Kids And Counting.” This woman in her mid 40’s has just had her 18th child. And yes, they are all hers (and no IVF) and when she was at the final Dr.’s appt before the baby was born, she made a comment to indicate she may not be done. (It’s a big, huge, cult-ish religion-y freaky ass family AND THIS IS PUTTING IT MILDLY.)

    These kinds of behaviors (whether intentional like Wombzilla or due to “letting God decide” and practicing no birth control ever AND APPARENTLY DOING IT LIKE RABBITS) are irresponsible and unethical. Direct effects on the children aside, the world has limited resources and we’re already threatening to use them up as it is and there are already plenty of children in the world with no food, shelter or families.

    Sigh. I’m with Jazz – nothing positive as far as I can see.

    (I’m fired up! Great post!!)

  13. What a squicky story. It’s all disturbing, on so many levels.

    Lee summed it up pretty well in her last paragraph. It’s pretty freakin’ easy to have a baby… any idiot can do it and most do. Raising a human, as opposed to a feral creature, is by far the harder task and one that I firmly believe many people are simply not up to.

    With 14 in the litter, the odds against her being able to successfully meet all their needs are simply heavily against her… if not downright impossible.

    Pity. That’s what I feel. For her, her beleaguered parents, and of course the children themselves.

  14. …apparently she is willing to appear on Oprah… for 2 Million!!!

    Hell, I’ll do her show for a paltry 100 G and I’ll let her throw darts at my nads!

    I’m sure you know where I stand on this whole freakshow (cause you reads me blog) I think this woman is SICK SICK SICK and I also think the Dr(s) and clinic where she received the fertility treatments needs to be closed until further notice and investigated from top to bottom.

    I can understand the desire to want to have children and I’m sure that for some a ‘large family’ is still desirable but come on! 12-14 kids…

    Greed and mental illness.

  15. Jazz – Very concise. Thank you.

    Lee – Thank you. Very well said and very true. There has actually been concerns that all the publicity surrounding this “miracle” is going to want to make some women go out and try to conceive a whole pile of kids at once. And as crazy as that sounds, you know there are going to be some sad cases out there thinking exactly that.

    Lebowski – Not just at meal time, but any time. How much parental love, care, attention, etc., etc. are any of these 14 kids going to get (and one of the older kids is autistic yet) – especially with only one, largely cuckoo parent? It’ll be like growing up in an orphanage, which, as I understand it, our society abolished some time ago because it was very unhealthy for children.

    Lesley – Yay! I fired up Lesley! Getting you hot or making you snort is easy, but this has been quite a feather in my cap. You know, if someone wants to have a big family and has the financial, emotional and physical resources to provide well for all these children and be able to send them into the world as healthy, happy, productive adults, I have no problem with that – none of my business. If they want to do it on reality TV, then it’s my business and a big problem because these kids are obviously not going to have much of a chance of growing into healthy, happy, productive adults with fuck-worms as parents. And Wombzilla? Worst of all possible worlds.

    Susan – I’m not sure I feel too sorry for the parents. They seem a little whack-a-doodle, too. I do feel sorry for those poor kids. If or when they get removed from the home by children’s services they’re obviously all going to have to be split up which makes the whole thing even sadder. Two or three or even four siblings can be housed together, but not 14 – unless Angelina Jolie decides to adopt them, of course.

    Quack – It would be nice to just relegate this whole story to the rubbish bin, except that there are 14 helpless children involved that really shouldn’t be left to fend for themselves in this mess.

    Bandobras – Clown car – ha ha ha. And…. Ewwwww.

    Kitty – Oh, I haven’t read your rant on this yet. I shall do so immediately. And yes, some serious ass-kicking should have been done here about 8 years ago when this whack-job who has no job and lives with her parents decided to have a baby by IVF.

  16. I also heard rumors that her mother was refusing to offer her any more help. (? I can’t substantiate that, and I don’t have time to look for the the original link on cnn.)

    Personally, I agree with you. When you get medical science involved, it’s a science experiment. They are no longer “gifts from a higher-being.” I don’t understand the people up in arms about “reducing the number of implantations,” when if left on her own accord, there would be ZERO. If you can meddle on one end, why not the other? I just don’t get it. Either you let [insert proper diety here]’s will be done, or you don’t.

    I feel so sorry for the products of this train wreck. My heart goes out to the people who would give everything they have to have ONE child, let alone 14.


  17. Hannah – Bandobras is everyone’s friend

    CP – Well not EVERY case of IVF is a science experiment and just because someone’s bits and pieces aren’t functioning quite right doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be allowed to have children. IVF is something of a miracle for those unable to conceive via the regular route. It’s being seriously abused in this case, however.

    Geewits – I’ve been sitting here way too long trying to make the Michael Jackson connection — do you mean because of the IVF and as an example of someone else who shouldn’t have been allowed to do it??

    Jobthingy – “Crock” might be a bit mild – especially for you. I’m waiting for the rest of this story to come out. I still think there’s something sketchy going on with this doctor in light of the fact that she said she was getting paid for these treatments…

  18. No. I meant maybe he’s the one paying her. That IS how he got his other kids. And he REALLY likes kids. It was a sick joke. I hope I didn’t make your brain bleed.

  19. XUP, I didn’t mean EVERY case of IVF. I was only referring to my feelings on the usage in this PARTICULAR case, which was involving 8 + the 6 kids she has at home. I’m sorry if that was how you (and possibly others?) read my statement.

  20. …and, I’ve had friends go through the lengthy and heart-wrenching process of IVF. Some have had a baby (singular) and others have moved on to adoption when those methods failed.

    I wasn’t saying that if you can’t have kids, you shouldn’t have kids…I was trying to say that I find it odd (and sadly ironic) that people are sometimes willing to meddle with the addition but not the subtraction part of the procedure.

    Considering it didn’t even occur to me that my previous statement would be misunderstood, and since I’m not sure if I’m making sense, I’ll stop here. 🙂

  21. Geewits – Yes, my brain did hurt a little. Nobody’s coming to claim these kids if they DID pay for them. They have the name of the sperm donor – his name is on the birth certificates of some of the kids and she IS saying the same donor produced all the kids. I was thinking the doctor was paying her because he’s conducting some horrible evil scientist experiment thing. The whole thing hurts my head.

    CP – Okay, just wanted to be clear. I couldn’t imagine that that’s what you meant. But even if you did, it’s a valid opinion that many, many people hold. Anyway, relax. We all know exactly what you meant now – more or less – ha ha

    Missy – Ditto

    Laura – Yes. That’s the unfathomable part of this. Why no one ever said anything or stepped in years ago.

  22. Lebowski – It is pretty?

    CP – Thanks, that was interesting. So what they’re trying hard not to say is that this doctor did something really off the wall here which was very unprofessional though not illegal.