CHICAGO — Octuplets mother Nadya Suleman says being known as "Octomom" makes her feel like a "carnival attraction."
Appearing on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" Tuesday, the mother of 14 children told Winfrey that she will never do a reality television show and that "a parent must provide for their kids, not the other way around."
The Southern California woman also told Winfrey via satellite that she feels "tremendous guilt" when she holds one or two of her children and can't be there for the others.
Suleman and her children actually did appear in “My Life as the Octomom,” a one-hour documentary that aired in Britain in the fall. Made by European production company Eyeworks — which brought the world “The Biggest Loser,” “Breaking Bonaduce” and other reality-TV fare — the show did well on the other side of the Atlantic.
In an interview with TODAYshow.com in January, Suleman's lawyer, Jeff Czech, said the plan had been for A&E to air “My Life as the Octomom” in the United States. But A&E backed away from doing so after Fox ran a two-hour special about Suleman in August.
When the Eyeworks deal was signed over the summer of 2009, Eyeworks agreed to pay $250,000 over three years to be divided among Suleman’s 14 children. The amount Suleman herself made was not disclosed.
Suleman gave birth to six boys and two girls — the world’s longest-living set of octuplets — in January 2009. The oldest of her six other children is eight.
The initial fascination and wonder over the octuplets soon turned into scorn and contempt for their mother. Suleman has withstood withering criticism for bringing so many children into the world as a single, unemployed mother.
The criticism turned vitriolic when it came to light that she had been supporting her first six children with the help of food stamps and Social Security disability payments for three of the kids. (Aidan, her 4-year-old boy, is autistic; Caleb and Calyssa, her 3-year-old twins, also have disabilities.)
In recent months, Suleman has been trying to avoid foreclosure on her California home. Last week, her mortgage holder agreed to a six-month extension on a $450,000 balloon payment, allowing her family to remain in the home for the time being, Czech said.
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