Beth Goodman sparked a national debate in 2003 when she welcomed quadruplets. Not only was Goodman 39 years old and single at the time, but she conceived the babies through in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
Goodman's doctor encouraged her to transfer four embryos due to her age. She pushed back and said she was only comfortable with three, but then one embryo split, resulting in identical twins.
"I guess I was meant to have four!" Goodman told TODAY Parents.
Though Goodman was admittedly "terrified," she was also overjoyed after spending more than a decade struggling with infertility. But many — including political commentator Bill O’Reilly — criticized Goodman’s decision as foolish.
“Here’s a woman who’s 39 years old, obviously wants to have a child, OK — she’s unmarried,” O’Reilly said in 2003. “She doesn’t have the financial means to care for four babies, that’s for sure. So the taxpayers are just going to have to pick it up. Why should I be paying for this woman’s children because she doesn’t want them?”
One woman wrote to the Santa Barbara News-Press asking why single men weren't stepping forward to help Goodman.
"Do they think they are only worth the effect of their sperm? she wrote. "Fathers are so important for all children. I mourn that three boys and one girl will never experience the joy of knowing a dad."
“The negative comments get in your head and you’re like, ‘Can I do this?’ Am I prepared?’ 'Am doing the right thing?'" Goodman said.
But Goodman, now 57, is having the last laugh.
Next month, 18-year-olds Cason, Luke, Barrett, and Laila, will graduate from high school in Santa Barbara, California. Come September, they’ll head to college. Identical twins, Cason and Luke, will play Division 1 soccer at UC Davis, while Barrett is set to play soccer at Western Washington University. Laila accepted an offer at New York University, where she’ll run track.
“I’m proud of what they’ve accomplished,” Goodman said. “I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished as family.”
The Santa Barbara Quadruplets
Goodman, who has a successful career in real estate, will admit things haven’t always been easy. At one point, she was on food stamps and accepted help from friends. There were moments where Goodman wished she had a partner to play 'good cop, bad cop' with, she said, and joked that if she were to write a book about the early years it would be called “Yelling, Screaming and Throwing Things.”
There was a period where Luke yearned for a dad.
“But they also struggled when I had a boyfriend,” Goodman recalled. “I had to sort of sit them down and explain, ‘’No one is ever going to come between us. We are always going to be a unit. It’s always going to be the five of us.”
Goodman confessed she’sworking through her feelings about being an empty nester.
“I have good days and bad days," she said. “I’ll wake up at 7 a.m. and think, ‘OK. I’m fine. Everything is gonna be fine.’ But at 3 a.m., my mind has a tendency to start racing. I think: Will I have enough holding and love when they're out of the house? Will the kids be OK without me there?"
When TODAY asked Laila what she'll miss about her mom next year, she replied, "Everything."
"She gives the best advice and has always pointed me in the right direction," Laila said. "And she taught me that single moms can do anything. The four of us heading to college? That's a victory for all single moms."