For Natalie Suleman, nicknamed “Octomom” for her contentious pregnancy, the past eight years have been filled with controversy, but the image of her daughter putting on her stripper heels is one she will never be able to forget.
“She put on these heels, and she started strutting in them,” Suleman told Good Morning America.
She recalled her 10-year-old daughter playing dress-up in her stripper costume, and showing off a pair of gold, spiked heels.
“That was it,” Suleman said. “That was the moment when I said I’d rather be homeless in a van with all my kids, than allow any of my girls to feel that they are not worthy enough, and that they have to go down that path.”
After giving birth to her octuplets conceived through IVF in 2008, the mother of 14 quickly dove into bankruptcy.
To provide for her children, she took jobs as a stripper, and starred in an adult film, Octomom Home Alone.
“Some of the things that I have done - of course that I’m ashamed of - in the past, was just to put food on the table and just to take care of my family,” she said.
To numb the pain she turned to Xanax and other prescription pills.
Amerah, her eldest daughter, said, “in the beginning, it was very difficult. I had so many people asking me questions.”
“I was more or less a carnival attraction. I was a freak show,” she said. “My kids get embarrassed because their friends sometimes will say, ‘My mom said your mom’s a stripper.’”
In order to get her life back together, Suleman said she has gone back to her job as a counselor.
Her family has even taken up a strict vegan diet.