LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The California mother of newborn octuplets said on Monday she was counting on God to help provide for her family but acknowledged that she already was “struggling” financially to raise her first six children.
Nadya Suleman, 33, widely criticized for undergoing fertility treatments when she already had six children, expressed confidence in her ability to care for her brood during a nationally televised interview on NBC’s “Today” show.
In addition to the six boys and two girls she gave birth to on January 26, Suleman is the mother of four older boys and two girls, including one set of twins, ranging in age from 2 to 7.
Divorced and living with her mother in suburban Los Angeles, she said all 14 were conceived with in vitro fertilization from a single sperm donor, identified only as a friend.
“I will feed them. I will do the best I possibly can,” Suleman said of her newly expanded family. “And in my own way, in my own faith, I do believe wholeheartedly that God will provide in his own way.”
Suleman said she also was hoping for help from “volunteers, friends and family,” adding that her mother, Angela, deserves much of the credit. “I was struggling, but it was OK ... thanks to my mother,” she said.
But Angela Suleman was far less sanguine in a separate interview she gave to the Web site RadarOnline.com, calling her daughter continued childbearing “unconscionable.”
“How she’s going to cope, I don’t know,” the grandmother said. “Now I’m struggling to look after her six. We had to put in bunk beds, feed them in shifts, and there’s children’s clothing piled all over the house.”
A spokesman for the mother, Michael Furtney, has said she has several nannies already and “has received offers of additional help” once the octuplets come home.
The eight tiny infants made their public debut on “Today” with footage of Suleman going from incubator to incubator at the hospital’s neonatal unit, gently caressing her newborns.
“I wish I could stay a long time,” she said to them. “I have the other kids at the house, and I want to be here, too. And I can’t wait until they’re all together.”
She has said the octuplets, including two sets of identical twins, were the product of six implanted embryos — the same procedure used to conceive her six other children.
Specialists in reproductive medicine say such high-number multiple births are to be avoided because of health risks they pose to mother and offspring. Under established guidelines for in vitro fertilization, in which eggs and sperm are combined in a dish, doctors normally implant no more than two or three of the resulting embryos back in the mother’s uterus at a time.
The California Medical Board said last week that it has launched an investigation into Suleman’s fertility treatments.
Suleman said she underwent embryo implantation for all her children at the West Coast IVF Clinic in Beverly Hills, run by Dr. Michael Kamrava. The clinic declined comment.
But Dr. Jeffrey Steinberg, who helped pioneer in vitro fertilization in the United States and has known Kamrava professionally for about 20 years, said the Beverly Hills practice has “always been a legitimate, credible clinic” and he described Kamrava as “well-qualified.”
“I think he just got himself into something ... that he shouldn’t have gotten himself into,” Steinberg said.
Suleman said she asked her doctor to implant six leftover embryos from previous treatments rather than destroy them, hoping to end up with one more child, that she knew the risks of a multiple pregnancy but considered the chances low.
Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Cynthia Osterman