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As octuplets turn 1, the real work is just starting

If you throw a birthday party for eight babies on the same day, and those babies have six older brothers and sisters, do you really have to invite any other children?It’s not a question you’d find answered in most parenting books, but it’s the kind of conundrum navigated daily by Nadya Suleman, the woman who astonished the world when she gave birth to eight babies in one go on Jan. 26, 2009.
/ Source: TODAY contributor

If you throw a birthday party for eight babies on the same day, and those babies have six older brothers and sisters, do you really have to invite any other children?

It’s not a question you’d find answered in most parenting books, but it’s the kind of conundrum navigated daily by Nadya Suleman, the woman who astonished the world when she gave birth to eight babies in one go on Jan. 26, 2009. Those babies turn 1 on Tuesday, and — news flash — the mother of 14 rarely sleeps.

“The eight are really just now starting to become work,” said Jeff Czech, Suleman’s attorney. “For all this time, for the most part, they were laying around in a crib. Now they’re starting to be a lot of work ... It’s going to be hard for her, and she’s aware of that.”

Czech said the most significant detail about the children at the one-year milestone is that they’re all healthy and robust.

“There’s nothing wrong with any of them, praise God,” Czech said. “They’re perfect babies. Perfect in the sense that there’s nothing wrong with them healthwise.”

With the help of her three live-in nannies, Suleman threw two birthday parties: one on Sunday, and another smaller affair on Tuesday.

“We had birthday cake and pizza on Sunday,” Suleman told People magazine. “It was quite a mess, quite a mess.”

In a photograph running in Star magazine, Suleman is pictured with the whole brood of eight chubby babies — Maliyah, Makai, Isaiah, Noah, Josiah, Jeremiah, Jonah and Nariyah — propped up in infant seats and wearing onesies and socks. All of the babies — six boys and two girls — look quite different.

Headlines and criticism

The California mom relied on in vitro fertilizations to conceive all of her children. Between 2001 and 2006, she had six babies — four individual children and one set of twins. Then, in 2008, she became pregnant with eight babies. She went on to make history by giving birth to the world’s longest-living set of octuplets.

The initial fascination and wonder over the miracle babies 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 an interview with TODAY’s Matt Lauer for an NBC Thanksgiving television special, Suleman said she no longer receives food stamps.

“So, let me just make sure I’m clear on this,” Lauer said during the interview. “Right now the taxpayers of California are paying zero for the support of any of these 14 children.”