“Octomom” Natalie Suleman gifted fans with a rare glimpse at her little ones this Thanksgiving.
The busy mom and kids celebrated the holiday as a “fit family,” completing a Turkey Trot 5K together.
“A new year, an old tradition,” the 42-year-old captioned the photo of herself and eight youngest children in matching orange t-shirts.
Suleman posed with the children — Makai, Josiah, Isaiah, Jonah, Maliyah, Jeremiah, Nariyah and Noah — who hold the worldwide survival rate for a complete set of octuplets, which was previously set in 1998 by babies who lived less than a week.
The single mom is raising the octuplets, as well as six older children. In total, Suleman runs a house of 14 kids.
“We’re a strong, solid family unit, unbeknownst to what many people believe,” she told Inside Edition at the kids’ eighth birthday party in February.
Suleman’s octuplets shocked audiences and she gained public support for being a single mom raising the little ones (she conceived them through IVF treatments). But her praise diminished quickly once people learned she already had six previous children — also through IVF — and that she was unemployed, living on public assistance programs.
The single mom was previously married to Marco Gutierrez from 1996 until their divorced was finalized in 2008, but he says none of the children are his. In an interview with Inside Edition, the couple struggled to have children and when he disliked the idea of having “last tube babies,” they split up.
In the years following her record-breaking birth, Suleman dabbled in working as a stripper and appearing in adult films to better support her family, which led her to turn to prescription drugs, she claims.
“Everything I ever did was for money to put food on my table, the mom of 14 told the Daily Mail. “Everyone things I had all these donations and help but I didn’t — I didn’t everything on my own and paid everything out of my own pocket so I was Octomom for four years. The last two years of it were so dark. I descended down a very dark and destructive path.”
Suleman said she hates the “Octomom” persona the media has given her, but she had to embrace it in order to bring in money for her family — without subjecting them to a reality show as many pushed her to do.
"I fully exploited and dehumanized myself with the porn and the stripping," she continued. "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. The consequence of exploiting myself was deep toxic shame and self disgust. To continue I had to numb and that's when I started with the prescription drugs."
Suleman said she is in a better place now and has found a job working with troubled and vulnerable women.
“I admit that I made many mistakes in my life and that I’m imperfect,” she said. “I make mistakes constantly. But my children were not a mistake — they were meant to be here.”
Photo credit: Nadya Suleman