Friday, February 6, 2009

Tip To Mother of Octuplets: If You Hire A Publicist, Don’t Ask For Privacy!

The recent birth of octuplets to an unemployed mother of 6 living with her parents in a 3 bedroom house raises enough eyebrows to fuel thousands of blogs, hours of debates, and several tabloid stories. But even disregarding the ethical, moral, societal and financial issues, what struck me the most was that the mother, Nadya Suleman, begged everyone to leave her alone and to respect her privacy - and she issued this statement through a publicist, as well as on an exclusive interview with Ann Curry on the Today Show.

Excuse me? Honey, I hate to tell you, but going on the Today show violated your own privacy! People don’t hire PR specialists if they only want to be left alone and aren’t looking for corporate sponsorships, free diapers, or book deals. Suleman’s hypocrisy reminds me of all those movie stars who complain, “I didn’t ask for celebrity, I just wanted to tell good stories and do my work.” Great, then go be a children’s librarian or do regional theater. When you accept $15 million to star in a studio blockbuster, or audition for a reality show, or have way too many children and then go on national TV, you’ve made that Faustian bargain to give up your privacy in return for the perks - if you seek attention, deal with the consequences.

Life is full of those bargains. I wanted to be a mom, and that comes with years of sleep deprivation & endless laundry - part of the deal. I prefer being creative and artistic to working in a cubicle or going to law school (sorry mom!), so the consequence is that my income is lousy. Sure, those compromises suck, but that’s part of being an adult - which you’d think would be a pre-requisite before a fertility specialist agreed to in vitro, even if the mom in question didn’t already have too many kids to support.

In her interviews, Ms. Suleman insists people are just negative because she made the unconventional choice to be a single mother. Actually, I’d be just as judgmental if she were married, and spouting the same trite rationalizations that I’ve also heard from other mothers of obscene numbers of multiples. So far, she’s explained that she just loves being a mom (great, I think having six kids already made her a mother). She claims she’ll give every child unconditional love and individual attention ( while she’s also a full-time college student, juggling interviews and photo opps). She also apparently has a deep need to heal the pain of growing up as an only child in a dysfunctional family (with dysfunctional parents who are now her sole means of support). And she didn’t reduce the number of embryos, because she wanted to make sure at least a few of them worked out (because god forbid she only had one this time). At least she didn’t make the claim that selective reduction is wrong because it’s ‘playing God’ - and in vitro fertilization isn’t?

It makes me mad to see someone so irresponsibly hypocritical get the free diapers and the multi-part interview with Ann Curry, and presumably a cover of Good Housekeeping, complete with adorable matching outfits for all 14 kids, while millions of ordinary, hard-working moms slog through totally on their own. Where are OUR free diapers and invitations to the Today Show?

I think I’ll hire a publicist to inform the world that I also love children and want to devote myself to mine, which is why I stopped at the two I knew I could afford, even though I have boys and I’m a girly girl who always longed for daughters (and has to content herself with borrowing the neighbor girls for an occasional shopping trip). I’m available for corporate sponsorships, interviews, and magazine covers, and what’s more, I won’t insist on maintaining my privacy. Heck, with two sons, a husband whom I count as a third child, and a dog, I don’t get any privacy anyhow. Come to think of it, that makes me wonder - how does a mother of 6 get any privacy, anyway, and how does she think she’ll find more privacy with 8 additional babies? Now THAT’s an interview I’d like to read!


Vu said...

As a Board Certified Reproductive Endocrinologist ( Fertility Specialist ) at the Xpert Fertility Care of California, I always followed the guideline set by American Society of Reproductive Medicine: never put back more than 2 embryos fro a "fertile" woman under 35 year of age.
Recently, with the advance of fertility medication, we even restrict ourselves to only one embryo at a time.

I can't speak for the circumstance behind the decision to put back so many embryos in this case.
Among colleagues, the management of this doctor is considered not a standard of care, exposing the patient to unnecessary deadly risks, and possible long term disability suffered by the children.

Minh N. Ho, M.D.
Xpert Fertility Care

Nan said...

While I do support individual choice and don't want to judge her choices, I do have to take issue with her motivation. As you said, if she loves being a mom, why not be the best mom to the 6 she already has! If she loves being pregnant (which I have not heard yet), then become a surrogate parent for an infertile couple and make some money to support the children you already have. Totally with you on the privacy thing too. You can't have your cake and eat it too. Guess I may have done the publicity thing too to earn some income, but I hope then I wouldn't cry "privacy" after I've already gone down that road.

E said...

Ha! That is such a great idea. Can I get a publicist, too? Maybe we can split the cost? Although once the endorsements start coming in we won't need to be so thrifty...