CHICAGO — Nadya Suleman, the California woman who became known as "Octomom" after giving birth to octuplets last year, said the moniker makes her feel like a "carnival attraction" and that she'd never allow her family to be the subject of a reality television show.
In an interview broadcast Tuesday on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," Suleman told Winfrey she never wanted more than six or seven children, "not double that." Suleman already had six children when she gave birth to the octuplets – six boys and two girls – in January 2009.
Suleman, speaking to Winfrey via satellite from Studio City, Calif., said she takes full responsibility for providing for her children, the oldest of which is 8. She called "Octomom" a fictional character that "completely is the antithesis of who I am as a person."
"That's exactly what Octomom is, a carnival attraction," Suleman said.
Camera crews from the show followed Suleman and her children as paparazzi photographers snapped their pictures on a trip to the park. Suleman was shown giving her babies baths, reading to them and feeding them. All eight babies sat at a special table together as they ate. Suleman was shown running down the stairs with a bottle in hand.
Suleman told Winfrey she would never participate in a reality television show.
"That robs them of their childhood and I think it's borderline abusive," Suleman said.
Last June, Suleman's lawyer said she had signed a deal to star in a reality television series to be filmed by the Netherlands-based production company Eyeworks. Attorney Jeff Czech said instead of following the family 24 hours a day the show would document certain milestones.
Court filings in Los Angeles show the company has sought to dismiss its petition for contracts that would pay Suleman's children $250 a day for being in the series. Entertainment contracts involving children in California must receive a judge's approval.
A person who answered the phone at the Eyeworks office in Redondo Beach, Calif., on Tuesday and declined to be identified said the company was not currently working with Suleman.
Suleman said she does not take government assistance and she canceled food stamps because she does not want to be a burden. She said she would do anything to secure enough money to care for her children without exploiting them.
"I have been ashamed of myself for going through certain, let's say, media outlets to provide for my children," Suleman said, adding "it has helped."
She said she has been consistent in paying the mortgage on her California home. The family lives in the Los Angeles suburb of La Habra.
Last week Czech said Suleman's mortgage holder agreed to a six-month extension on a $450,000 balloon payment that let the family remain in the home.
"I have a friend who's offering to loan me some money until I get a little bit more secure," Suleman said.
She said she lives with a tremendous amount of guilt.
"I feel guilty when I hold one or two that I can't be there for the others, and they're crying," she said.
Associated Press Writer John Rogers in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
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