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Weighing in on the octuplets story

February 6, 2009 - Betsy Bethel
Paul Harvey always used to say at the end of his reports, "And now you know ... the rest of the story."

Ann Curry interviewed the mother of the octuplets, Nadya Suleman, a clip of which aired this morning on "Today" and more of which will be on Monday's show as well as Tuesday's "Dateline." And today, the Associated Press moved a more in-depth story about her background. See links.

But even with these interviews, can we really know the "rest of the story"?

So far, the public has learned Nadya is a recent divorcee and every one of her 14 children began life with in vitro fertilization. We have learned Nadya had three miscarriages and two ectopic pregnancies, then sunk into a deep depression when she felt she wouldn't be able to have children.

She attributes the 2008 breakup of her marriage in part to injuries suffered in 1999 during a riot at the mental hospital where she worked -- she had a desk thrown at her, injuring her spine and causing lower body pain and headaches. She collected $165,000 in disability payments between 2002 and 2008 for those injuries.

Having babies, she said in the interview, is the only thing she ever wanted. An only child growing up, she felt something lacking in her life. She is 33 now, and she certainly has gotten her wish. Her 14 children, all conceived with in vitro fertilization using her eggs and sperm donated by "a friend," are the eight newborns and six more ages 2 to 7.

Would I have made these choices? Would you? Would a reasonably prudent person, as they say?

If I had a back injury that put me out of work, would I risk a pregnancy? I don't know about you, but my lower back hurt a lot while pregnant and I had a drug-free birth with hours of back labor. My back is only getting better now, three years later, because I've been seeing a chiropractor.

How on earth could she think she could carry octuplets?

And how do her fertility specialists expect to escape unscathed after implanting three times the industry standard of two embryos. She had six implanted this last time, which turned into eight live babies.

I really don't know what to think. But I know we'll never really know "the rest of the story."


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Nadya Suleman being interviewed by Ann Curry.


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