LA HABRA, Calif. _ Nadya Suleman, the mother of 14 known as "Octomom," said receiving government aid to help buy food for her children is humiliating and she wants to be off the taxpayer-funded subsidy "as soon as possible."
In her first face-to-face interview with The Orange County Register, Suleman, 36, who garnered worldwide attention after giving birth to octuplets in January 2009, said she applied for the aid three days after the octuplets turned 3. She wants to be free of government help "within a month."
The Southern California resident receives $2,000 per month but the actual cost of feeding her children is about $3,000 monthly, she said.
Suleman, who conceived all of her children through fertility treatments, acknowledged undergoing more treatments after already having six children wasn't a wise choice.
"What was I thinking?" she said. "I could barely afford six. ... I wasn't reflecting enough on the repercussions of my choices."
However, Suleman places some of the blame on her doctor, Michael Kamrava, who acknowledged implanting 12 embryos into her before the eight-baby pregnancy _ six times the norm for a woman her age, according to a report from the California Medical Board.
"(Kamrava) was pretty much certain that none would take for the first six that he transferred in," Suleman said.
Medical board officials later said Kamrava's treatment of Suleman was negligent and ultimately revoked the doctor's medical license.
Suleman is also resentful of critics who have said she planned to have octuplets because she craved media attention: "This is the last thing anyone could have anticipated happening. This is unfathomable. ... Who would be happy about that?"
Vandals smashed the passenger-side window of Suleman's 2002 Toyota Sienna and left behind a death threat note early Saturday, the latest of what she says have been thousands of hate-filled gestures over the past three-plus years.
A similar act occurred in April 2009, when the rear window of the same van was smashed by a car seat that had been on the front porch.
In March 2009, pranksters tossed toilet paper all over the front lawn of the home.
Hate mail detailing "how they are going to kill me" and "how they are going to kill my children" was often left in her mailbox, Suleman said. "It was nonstop ... really, really, really disgusting."
Suleman's financial woes have been well-publicized.
She has fallen behind in payments on the four-bedroom, three-bathroom La Habra home where she and her family have been living for more than three years.
A document from Meridian Foreclosure Service lists an unpaid balance of $477,288 and the house could go on the auction block by the end of April. Suleman is planning to move by then but wouldn't say where.
While Suleman says she is shy and introverted, she has been forced to translate her public persona into money-making opportunities in order to get by, she said.
Suleman recently was paid $10,000 posing topless for a British tabloid and is working for a website called Dial-A-Star.com, in which callers can pay $12 per minute to speak to her.
"I certainly don't want to do photo shoots for that long," she said.
Last November, Suleman traded punches with "Long Island Lolita" Amy Fisher in a celebrity boxing match and has appeared on reality shows.
In 2010, Suleman made $5,000 doing a PETA endorsement, agreeing to hang a banner on her home advocating spaying and neutering pets.
Suleman has turned down at least one million-dollar offer to do pornography.
"Give me $100 billion and I still wouldn't do it," she said. "Everything a parent chooses to do in their life, will forever haunt their kids ... so I have to be very, very cognizant of all my choices and the repercussions of my choices, this goes back full circle to the choice I made to have even one more after six."
She also said she will never exploit her children for money.
"I'm so against it," she said. "It is abusive."
Suleman said she has been stricter with her younger children, employing a tough-love model of parenting. She acknowledges that the older kids are fussier and demanding because she was too permissive
The octuplets share a bedroom, Suleman said, but by morning, she might wake up with up to five of the toddlers in her bed.
With guidance from her manager, Gina Rodriguez, Suleman has more photo shoots lined up and says she is "open-minded" to starring in more reality shows.
"I'm struggling, but there are lots of opportunities starting to come," she said.
She started writing a book, but the demands of raising her children have forced her to shelve the project for now, she said.
"There are so many layers to my life and (the book) will explain so much," she said.
Suleman said her ultimate goal is to put at least seven of her children through medical school.
She still holds on to dreams of perhaps opening up family-friendly gyms or designing a line of children's clothing.
"That is where you give back," she said. "That is when I can stop all these embarrassing photo shoots."
"I never wanted this ... to be in the public eye."
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company