Stand up for women, motherhood
Rita Papazian
Norwalk-Citizen News
 Posted: 03/19/2009

Isn't it time the media and general public took a step back to assess the harassment of Nadya Suleman who the media has pegged "Octomom" and notice that this barrage of attention toward the 33-year-old mother of now 14 children has turned into a vicious attack on women and motherhood?

I admit, I, too, was quite shocked to learn that this woman had misused IVF treatments and had ended up with eight babies. Now all more than a month later are surviving. This is truly a medical miracle.

For weeks now this woman has been hounded by the press, her womanhood insulted and held up to ridicule. It is time that all women take notice and stand up to fight against this disrespect for women and babies and for the difficult role of parenting.

The media took endless delight in repeating and repeating on the air the 911 telephone call Suleman made in the past when she couldn't find one of her children. The media kept playing the tape to show what a crazy woman she is and also the fact that she can't seem to keep track of her children. So, of course, the question becomes, How will she take care of 14?

What mother or grandparent hasn't gone into a panic when in a split second a child disappears? Supposedly, in the Suleman incident, her son had wandered off and followed the grandmother who was taking the twins for a walk and Suleman did not know he had gone after his grandmother.

Think about your own experiences. I was babysitting for my 3-year-old grandson one day. I opened the door and went outside to the yard with him and turned around to bring his baby sister outside. In 30 seconds, I looked around and he was gone. While my rational mind thought not to worry, there are locked fences, I could not find him for a few frantic minutes. However, there he was at the side of the barn in a four-foot space between the barn and a fence lining one side of the property. He looked at me and said, "Nana is it all right that I play here?"

I recall that when my grandson's mother was the same age, a neighbor was taking care of her while I went to my part-time job. I had arranged for my mother to come at a certain time and take her from the neighbor and bring her back to my house. When my mother arrived at the house, no one could find my daughter. My mother called and called her name. It turns out as my mother stood in the driveway calling out her name in front of the garage, my daughter stood silently behind the garage door until she was finally noticed.

Every time I hear Suleman's frantic 911 call, my heart goes out to her and anger seeps inside me over the power that the media has in destroying people's lives. Yes, Suleman sounds quite frantic, but consider the circumstances. Who hasn't been there?

While I admit I was as curious as everyone else to see this woman, hear her voice and try to understand her rationale in having the six embryos implanted when she already had six children, I also felt empathy for her to be faced with a barrage of questions so soon after giving birth. Obviously, the rush to get the first interview became a very competitive "get." But again, where is the respect? It takes months after a birth for a woman to stabilize her emotions and to begin functioning in a rationale fashion. 

Suleman has been criticized for allegedly taking money for interviews and for allowing TV cameras into her home. It's no surprise that she would ask for money. Isn't that how this society functions?

It appears that some kind of order is coming into her life. Reportedly, she is moving to a larger home; some of the babies are coming home; and thus far, all eight are surviving.

An article titled, "Octomom Hypocrisy" in the March 16 issue of Newsweek raises the question: "What our outrage over Suleman say about us." Writer Raina Kelley's analysis is eye-opening. She raises a number of questions including, "How many embryos would you ask to be implanted if you had a history of miscarriages and limited funds? As she points out, " few states 'force' insurance companies to pay for IVF treatment."

Recently, we have seen that six of the babies appear to be growing nicely; two remain on feeding tubes. Focus should be on the joy and miracle of these babies as we wish nothing but the best for these children and her mother.

Many people believe that there is a reason for the birth of these eight babies; maybe it is too soon to see what that may be. In the meantime, we should celebrate not only their birth, but also the way many people and organizations are coming forward to share in the care of these children. Suleman has accepted help from the non-profit Angels in Waiting. She has also set up a Web site: where people can donate money.

Maybe the tide of public opinion is turning in Suleman's favor as evident with her updates and TV interviews as we follow the survival of her babies. Such focus can bring important attention to infant care, medical costs and single motherhood.

Rita Papazian is a freelance writer who has covered Norwalk extensively. She can be reached at


Copyright 2009 Rita Papazian All rights reserved.