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How Being 'Octomom' Nearly Killed Nadya Suleman

Photograph by Rex / Rex USA

Remember Octomom? It’s certainly a name that's hard to forget. Already the mother of six at the time, Nadya Suleman famously gave birth to in-vitro octuplets in 2009, earning the moniker. What followed was a media storm like we had never seen before. (And although the 2012 photo above is what you might remember her looking like, you might not recognize her on the street now.)

The world marveled at Suleman, who reportedly sought out IVF treatment to get pregnant with eight embryos. Now she reveals for the first time that this was not true. She admitted she only wanted one more, but doctors encouraged her to have 12 fertilized eggs implanted in case most didn’t survive.

This surprising revelation is part of her new mission to kill off the image of the Octomom. The notoriety was a “dehumanizing and exploitative” experience, she confesses.

After giving birth to six boys and two girls—Jonah, Nariyah, Josiah, Maliyah, Isaiah, Noah, Jeremiah and Makai—she made one bad decision after another. Struggling to survive, she did bikini photo shoots and made a porn movie to make ends meet.

“Everything I ever did was for money to put food on the table,” she said. "I fully exploited and dehumanized myself with the porn and the stripping. I was so desperate—we were on the verge of homelessness, so rather than put my kids in front of the camera, I decided to put myself out there.”

But it took quite a toll on her, she admitted in an exclusive interview with the Daily Mail. Suleman turned to Xanax to cope with what she calls her “toxic choices.” In March 2013, she quit the adult film business for the sake of herself and her children after coming home to one of her young daughters walking around the house in her spiked heels. She receives welfare, which only covers a small portion of her brood's needs, and works as a counselor helping drug addicts and alcoholics to make ends meet.

Her days now are much like most moms' days in America. Suleman, who changed her first name to Natalie, starts her morning at 5 a.m. as she prepares breakfast and helps the kids get ready for school. After drop-off, she rushes to work. At night, she makes dinner, bathes the youngest ones and does the housework before finally heading to bed at midnight.

“I have stayed strong for them,” she shared. “My kids know what I did as Octomom, I tell them the truth. I've told them I've done some very bad and shameful things and they say, 'It's OK, Mom—we love you anyway and we'll always love you.'"

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