Though she has no regrets, Nadya "Octomom" Suleman said she lives with a "tremendous amount of guilt" for giving birth to eight babies last year as an unemployed single mother of six.
Appearing via satellite on Tuesday's Oprah Winfrey Show, Suleman, 34, said she had so many children out of her "own childish desires to compensate."
Raised an only child, she said she may have been "trying to fill some missing piece inside."
Instead of filling the void with a significant other, she filled it with her children: Elijah, 8; Amerah, 7; Joshua, 6, Aiden, 5 (who's autistic); twins Caleb and Calyssa, 3; and the 14-month octuplets, Noah, Maliyah, Isaiah, Nariyah, Makai, Josiah, Jeremiah and Jonah.
"Looking back, I've always coveted that connection, that attachment to another being. And the connection felt safer with children than with a significant other, more predictable," said Suleman. "The security — I was hungering for the security."
She said she and her kids — who are no longer on food stamps — now rely on media appearances for money.
"We're surviving," she said. "We're so busy going, going, going, moving, moving, moving, trying to keep up that you don't have time to think, to reflect, to feel anything. And it is a choice. I own all of the responsibility for my poor choices in the past.
"Do I regret [it]?" she then asked. "You can't regret children. But the choices were childish. They were immature. They were selfish. Are we defined by our choices? Our behavior? Our actions? No. I don't believe that defines our worth. "I feel as though I wasn't thinking at that time," she continued. "If I could go back, would I make different choices? Maybe. At this point, I know and I need to teach my children that we need to learn, we need to grow, we need to keep on growing and transcending, and we need to make the best possible choices. And when we make poor choices, all you can do is really, really learn from that and grow from that. Try not to repeat it."
Contradicting an earlier statement she said on The View, Suleman insisted more kids are out of the question (even if she winds up meeting Mr. Right).
"At this point in my life, that is the furthest thing that I would ever even imagine," she said. "I cannot grow additional eyes or hands. I'm not an octopus. I can barely give them — nobody could, not two people, not four people even could give them — all the emotional, psychological and physical needs. You can't possibly.
"I live every single day every hour of the day with a tremendous amount of guilt," she went on. "And I feel guilty when I hold the one or two and then that I can't be there for the others. And they're crying. And then I feel guilty. Look at the older ones. They all have different unique needs. And I'll live with this forever. But all I can do now is keep on going, keep moving. Keep on trying to be the most devoted mother I can be."
No matter how hard things get, Suleman said she will never give up any of the kids.
"I will do anything in my power to secure what I need to, on my own, without exploiting my children, to secure revenue so I can provide that," she said. "I know that sounds selfish, but I breathe for my children. I wake up for my children. I will do anything to secure the revenue on my own to provide for these kids."
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