Los Angeles — The mother who gave birth to octuplets acknowledged in an interview aired Monday that she was “fixated” on having children but said she never expected to have more than twins in her latest pregnancy.
Nadya Suleman had four single births and one set of twins through in-vitro fertilization before her history-making pregnancy, but she told NBC’s “Today” show that for each of her six pregnancies, six embryos were implanted.
“I know now that I may or may not have really deep down wanted that many siblings, but at the time I was so focused and fixated on wanting so many that I just kept going,” she said.
“Today” anchor Ann Curry then asked if Suleman “deluded” herself into thinking her six older children wanted a bigger family.
“Not really deluded myself, but I knew that’s what I wanted,” Suleman said in the interview, which was conducted Thursday.
Suleman, who gave birth to the octuplets Jan. 26, also identified the clinic involved, West Coast IVF in Beverly Hills. She said one doctor helped her conceive all 14 of her children.
She did not name the doctor, but KTLA-TV of Los Angeles on Monday aired video it shot in 2006 of Dr. Michael Kamrava from the clinic treating Suleman and discussing the implantation process.
Board conducting probe
Without identifying the doctor, the Medical Board of California said last week it was looking into the matter to see if there was a “violation of the standard of care” for implanting so many embryos.
The medical board’s Web site lists no previous actions taken against Kamrava by the state.
Kamrava did not immediately return a pager message left by The Associated Press and a receptionist at the clinic said he was not giving interviews.
Medical ethicists have expressed shock that a doctor would implant so many embryos. National guidelines put the norm at two to three embryos for a woman of Suleman’s age in order to lessen the health risks to the mother and the chances of multiple births.
Suleman, 33, of Whittier, told Curry that her doctor “did nothing wrong” and had warned her of possible complications to the pregnancy and risks to the babies’ development.
Suleman said she had six embryos implanted for each of her five previous pregnancies. The octuplets were a surprise result of her last set of six embryos, she said, explaining she had expected twins at most.
She told NBC she always wanted a huge family to make up for the isolation she felt as an only child.
Kamrava is a well-known fertility specialist who pioneered a method for implanting embryos directly into the uterine lining.
Dr. Jeffrey Steinberg, a professional acquaintance, said Kamrava worked to develop an embryo transfer device that allows doctors to implant an embryo — or sometimes sperm with an unfertilized egg — directly into the uterine lining using a plastic capsule.
“Usually we inject the embryos into the uterus and they float around and attach themselves,” said Steinberg.
It was not immediately known whether the technique was used on Suleman. Steinberg said there was no evidence the method improved success rates for pregnancy.
On Sunday, Suleman’s mother seemed to contradict her daughter’s statement that one doctor was involved in all 14 births. Angela Suleman told a Web site the fertility specialist who helped her daughter give birth to the octuplets was different from the one who aided in the birth of her first six children.
In an interview with celebrity news Web site RadarOnline.com, Angela Suleman said she and her ex-husband pleaded with Nadya’s first fertility doctor not to treat their daughter again. She said her daughter went to another doctor.
“I’m really angry about that,” Angela Suleman said of the doctor’s decision to perform the procedure.
“She already has six beautiful children, why would she do this?” Angela Suleman said. “I’m struggling to look after her six. We had to put in bunk beds, feed them in shifts and there’s children’s clothing piled all over the house.”
The Web site posted photographs from inside Angela Suleman’s disheveled three-bedroom home, where Nadya and her six older children also live.
Angela Suleman said Nadya’s boyfriend was the biological father of all 14 children, but that she refused to marry him.
Nadya Suleman’s publicist Mike Furtney did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment Monday. He said late Sunday that his client has been away for nearly two months, so she shouldn’t be held responsible for the home’s current condition.
Furtney said his client planned to move into a larger home once the octuplets were healthy enough to leave their doctors’ care.