Nadya Suleman, the mother of octuplets

Photo: AP

On January 26, 2009, Nadya Suleman, already an unemployed single mother of six, gave birth to eight babies in a California hospital...and a media frenzy began almost immediately.

Days after the birth, Nadya agreed to an interview with NBC News correspondent Ann Curry. "I personally do not believe I'm irresponsible. Everything I do revolves around my children. That was always a dream of mine, to have a large family, a huge family," Nadya said. "And I just longed for certain connections and attachments with another person that I really lacked, I believe, growing up. And I personally believe that need to fill something inside that's not there, the void, the feeling of emptiness. I think everyone has that."

Since that interview, people around the world cannot stop talking about this amazing story...but do they really have all the facts?

Nadya's father, Ed Doud, is speaking out for the first time about his daughter and 14 grandchildren.
Ed Doud, grandfather of octuplets

Ed, who is now divorced from Nadya's mother, says he thinks his daughter was not herself for the NBC interview. "They took her out of the hospital by midnight to a secret location. They did not even give her a chance to rest or sleep while she's still under medication and not feeling well," he says. "This is not Nadya who I know. Nadya's a very, very, very, very sophisticated young lady. Very intelligent. Very smart."

Oprah says many news outlets—including The Oprah Winfrey Show—competed to get the first interview with Nadya, and no one forced her to do it. "Somebody on her team, or she, made the final decision that that interview would go to NBC's Ann Curry, who I think did a really terrific job of being sympathetic and open to her," she says. "And so are you saying that she did that now under duress?"

To most people, Ed says, Nadya may have appeared to be in control—but not to him. "I know my daughter," he says. "When she's under tremendous physical pain, it's very hard to tell."
Ed Doud and Oprah

Though she already had six children, Nadya became pregnant with octuplets through in vitro fertilization. Her doctor implanted six embryos—eggs fertilized with a donor's sperm—in her uterus. Right up until she was in labor, doctors thought she was going to have seven babies. "[The eighth baby] was hiding somewhere," Ed jokes. Despite her already large family, Ed says Nadya wanted to have those six embryos implanted in part for religious reasons and also because she trusted her doctor.

Oprah: Do you think the doctor was irresponsible?

Ed: Absolutely irresponsible. Exactly.

Oprah: Do you think your daughter was irresponsible?

Ed: Irresponsible, too. Yes, ma'am.

Oprah: Do you think your daughter is mentally stable?

Ed: That's a very good question.
Nadya Suleman and her mother face foreclosure.

Photo: X-17 Online

The octuplets still aren't home from the hospital, but Nadya is already facing a serious financial problem. Recent reports say she and her mother could lose their home to foreclosure—payments on the house have not been made since May 2008.

And Ed, who lives overseas for work, says he used most of his savings since returning to the United States and now has just $100 left. "I have either one week, maybe two weeks maximum. Then I have to go back," he says. "Do I really want to be 10,000 miles away from my grandchildren who I love so much? But I have to."
Ed Doud, grandfather of octuplets

How did Nadya come to want such a large family? Ed says his daughter always wanted to have kids, but she learned that though her eggs are fertile, it would be difficult for her to conceive without in vitro fertilization treatment.

When Nadya decided she wanted to get pregnant the first time, she was not married, Ed says, so she turned to a friend to be her sperm donor. After that child was born, she decided to have another baby, then a third child and a fourth.
Ed Doud and Oprah

At this point, Ed says he told his daughter she had to stop having more kids. "She loves the children and she wants more," he says. "But this is it. No more."

"It looks like someone sitting at a bar and saying, 'I'm going to have a drink.' And, well, after that, 'Well, one more.' And then, 'One more,'" Ed says. "And that's where I can't stop her, even though I talked to her."

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Ed Doud talked to his daughter's fertility doctor.

One day after his fourth grandchild was born, Ed says he answered his phone—and found himself talking to Nadya's fertility doctor. "He said, 'I'm checking on her status to see how she's doing.' I said, 'She's doing fine. What exactly do you mean by that?' He said, 'Well, didn't she tell you? She's pregnant.' 'Pregnant!'"

Ed says he told the doctor how much stress Nadya's pregnancies were causing. "Don't you understand that enough is enough?" he says he told the doctor. "Don't you see that you are putting so much burden on her mom and on me? Don't you understand that what you're doing is hurting the family?"

The doctor, Ed says, claimed he didn't know anything about Nadya's family situation. "After that, I thought, 'That's it. Over,'" Ed says.
Ed Doud tells Oprah that he'll help take care of his 14 grandchildren.

Now that Ed has 14 grandchildren, he says he plans to do what he can to help his family. "They're my life. There is nothing that will stop me from continuing working to help as much as I can," he says.

For additional help, Nadya has set up a website to accept money donations. Ed says asking for help the way Nadya has was something he was never able to do. "I never in my life—and that was something maybe negative about me—I never asked for help."

Although Ed says he never felt he could ask for a hand, he doesn't want his daughter to suffer for doing so. "Do not punish my daughter for what she had done, and do not punish the babies, because they were given by God," he says.
Dr. Oz weighs in on the octuplet controversy.

Dr. Oz weighs in on the the vitro fertilization controversy, saying it has become the "Dracula of medical technology." "It sucks out all of the good stuff that medicine often provides, all the wonderful conceived children that occur every year," he says. "It also strips money out of the system."

Beyond the several million dollars Dr. Oz says it will take to get the octuplets ready to leave the hospital, he has a message for Ed. "It's going to cost about a quarter million dollars per kid to get them to age 18, so you better start working. I hope you're in good health."

Money aside, Dr. Oz addresses a more important issue. "I'd like to shift gears a tiny bit because we've been judging Nadya a lot and someone has to speak out for the kids. Because, ultimately, this is a form of child cruelty, I think, and we have a very cavalier and careless attitude to conceiving children in this country. Not just Nadya—this happens all over the place."
Robin tells her in vitro fertilization story over Skype.

Robin, a mother of quadruplets in Weston, Connecticut, is Skyping in to share her experience with in vitro fertilization. "I have 21-year-old quadruplets, one of which has autism. I understand Nadya Suleman has one child already who has autism," she says. "Autism alone requires 24/7 intervention. It would take Herculean effort, and although my son has made great strides, I can't tell you—having 14 children on top of that? It's reckless. I'm sorry to use that term, but that's how I viewed Nadya's choices."

Although all eight of Nadya's babies were born healthy, Dr. Oz says the long-term effects on the children are yet to be seen. "There is a relatively small chance that all eight of those kids will grow up to be normal adults," he says. "There's going to be a chance of cerebral palsy, developmental delays, emotionally, mentally, vision problems, hearing problems."

Virviane, another Skyper, says she sympathizes with Nadya's decisions. "My husband and I have been trying to conceive for about two years now and I can understand the pain and the burden that comes along with not being able to conceive naturally. And I can understand her desire to want to have children and not to, I guess, throw away God's blessing," she says. "I just feel that she's being villified. It's unfair and it's way too harsh. We just need to move on and help the kids."
Dr. Oz tells Ed Doud and Oprah how Nadya Suleman's doctor failed her.

Dr. Oz says Nadya's pregnancy is a major failure in professionalism. He compares the situation to a Middle Eastern proverb. "It takes one fool to throw a coin down a well. It takes 99 wise men to pull it up," Dr. Oz says. "There were 46 very wise physicians and other healers getting these babies out that day at an incredible expense. Despite that, it's hard to keep up unless someone preempts the act."
Fertility expert Dr. Jamie Grifo

Many people are asking how it's possible that Nadya gave birth to octuplets—aren't there regulations on in vitro fertilization? Dr. Jamie Grifo, the program director of the NYU Fertility Center, says the American Society for Reproductive Medicine has published the following guidelines for women seeking in vitro fertilization:

  • Women under the age of 35 should have no more than two embryos implanted.
  • Women ages 35 to 37 should have no more than three embryos implanted.
  • Women ages 38 to 40 should have no more than four embryos implanted.
  • Women age 40 and over should have no more than five embryos implanted.
According to the guidelines, Nadya, who is 33, falls under the two-embryo category. However, Dr. Grifo notes that these are guidelines, not laws. "Eight babies born at once is a failure of our treatment," he says. "Our goal as practitioners is to help these patients have a single healthy pregnancy, because those pregnancies have the best outcome."
Dr. Oz explains the likely outcomes of the octuplet controversy.

Dr. Oz says it's a natural gut reaction to question why there are no laws to stop in vitro fertilizations like Nayda's. "There are some countries, like Italy, that actually have rules. You're not allowed to implant more than three embryos, for example, there," Dr. Oz says. "But we don't want the government involved in a very personal relationship that we have to have with our doctors about such a sensitive topic."
Ed Doud tells Oprah his greatest fears and hopes about his 14 grandchildren.

At 67 years old, Ed says he will go back to work to support his grandchildren. He says his greatest fear would be for anything to happen to him that would keep him from providing for his family. "I have to make sure I have to provide and protect my family—my grandkids, my daughter, my ex-wife."

With the future of his grandchildren uncertain, Ed is hoping for the best. "Stay healthy and have my grandchildren, all of them to be healthy and the mother to finish her schooling and start working and we all could support this family," he says.

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