Inside the Octo-Family Circus

A behind-the-scenes look at Nadya Suleman as her TV special films

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 13, 2009 10:05 AM CST

(Newser) – As the paparazzi follow Nadya Suleman around, a film crew shooting OctoMom: Me & My Fourteen Kids films them filming her…and John Bowe records it for the New York Times Magazine. From the British film director to the children’s welfare representative ensuring labor law compliance, people who expect to dislike Suleman end up finding her surprisingly likable: “These kids are very sweet,” says the labor law rep. “And the mom is very sweet.”

Bowe totes up the toys—"trucks (dozens), balls (hundreds), books, monkeys, bears, babies, Ernies, Berts, trolls"—and nannies (one to four, depending on the time of day) that make Suleman’s home seem like a daycare center, realizes the impossibility of getting a picture of mother and babies without most of them in tears, and hears Suleman explain why she agreed to sell exclusive filming rights for $250,000: “It’s a Catch-22,” she says. “I’m damned if I do what I need to do with the media to support my kids, and I’m damned if I don’t. If I don’t, I can’t take care of them. I think 99 percent of people would have made the same decision.”

This image made from a 2006 video provided by KTLA shows Nadya Suleman looking at a ultrasound of her unborn twins at an in-vitro fertilization clinic in Los Angeles.
This image made from a 2006 video provided by KTLA shows Nadya Suleman looking at a ultrasound of her unborn twins at an in-vitro fertilization clinic in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/KTLA)
Nadya Suleman, the mother of octuplets raises her hand to avoid paparazzi outside her home in Whittier, Calif., Wednesday March 11, 2009.
Nadya Suleman, the mother of octuplets raises her hand to avoid paparazzi outside her home in Whittier, Calif., Wednesday March 11, 2009.   (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Nadya Suleman arrives at the City of Orange Court house on Monday July 27, 2009.
Nadya Suleman arrives at the City of Orange Court house on Monday July 27, 2009.   (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Nadya Suleman, the mother of octuplets arrives Tuesday March 17, 2009  with two of the world's longest-surviving octuplets, from the hospital to her home in La Habra, Calif. The octuplets were born Jan. 26 in Southern California to 33-year-old Nadya Suleman, a divorced, unemployed mother who already had six children.
Nadya Suleman, the mother of octuplets arrives Tuesday March 17, 2009 with two of the world's longest-surviving octuplets, from the hospital to her home in La Habra, Calif. The octuplets were born Jan....   (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
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One of the funniest things I’ve ever heard was a Denny’s joke. It said there was a new thing on the menu, that you could get eight eggs, no sausage and the person in the next seat gets to pay the bill. - Nadya Suleman

They decided to get married and continued growing together as an obstetrician and a gynecologist. Nobody lives happily ever after, because that is extremely unrealistic. - Nadya Suleman, changing the end of the Cinderella story for her kids

I made these choices out of the midst of being in survivor mode. I think 99 percent of people would have made the same decision. - Nadya Suleman, on allowing the filming of her family

When we first came here, the kids hated us. They had already learned to hate the paparazzi. And we were the paparazzi. Now that we’ve been here a while longer, they like us. - Cameraman Andy McLeod

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