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Nadya Suleman: I feel guilty every day of my life

Nadya Suleman invited a camera crew from "The Oprah Winfrey Show" into her home for 24 hours.
Nadya Suleman invited a camera crew from "The Oprah Winfrey Show" into her home for 24 hours.
  • On Tuesday's "Oprah Winfrey Show," Nadya Suleman revealed what her life is like
  • She said the media has both invaded her privacy and been a way to make money
  • She said she never thought she would have 8 more kids, and doing so was a selfish choice
  • Suleman said she's determined to take care of her family on her own

(CNN) -- For Nadya Suleman, being in the spotlight is a double-edged sword. The media have invaded her privacy and turned her into a carnival attraction, she told Oprah Winfrey on Tuesday. But Suleman also acknowledges that the media has also become a source of income for her, a single mother of 14 children.

"That [Star magazine] photo shoot was $100,000," Suleman said on Winfrey's show via satellite from California, referring to the January cover that depicted her "bikini body."

"I was ashamed of that -- that's not my character -- but I felt as though I needed to do something," she said. "I did it because there were 14 hungry mouths. I own full responsibility for providing for my children. We have some of that money left until I figure out another way to make ends meet."

At this point, with eight 14-month old babies and six other children between the ages of 3 and 8, one of whom has autism, Suleman doesn't appear to have the time to take up a full-time job.

She does have three nannies who help her during the day in shifts. But even so, Suleman says she is constantly counting heads, making bottles or keeping a child from hurting another, as was revealed when Winfrey's camera crew spent 24 hours in her home.

"You're so busy trying to keep up, you don't have time to think, reflect or feel anything," she told Winfrey. "You can't regret children, but [my] choices were childish, immature and selfish. I wasn't thinking at that time."

At the start of the interview, Winfrey made it clear that Harpo Productions, her multimedia company, didn't pay Suleman "a dime" and, in fact, Suleman approached Winfrey to tell her side of the story.

"Everything that [the media] have said so far about me, and about me wanting to do this on purpose -- I never wanted to use children for fame," Suleman said, adding that her rationale for implanting eight embryos at one time stemmed from a variety of factors. There was what she calls "a childish desire to have a large family," and "perhaps selfishness, trying to compensate for being an only child, trying to fill some missing piece inside," she said.

"I believe I've always coveted that connection, that attachment to another human being, and it felt safer with children than a significant other," Suleman added.

Suleman emphasized repeatedly to Winfrey that she's determined to take care of her brood on her own, without government assistance and without turning to adoption or foster care. "I will do everything as a mother to avoid that at all costs," she told Winfrey, although she said she would never consider a reality TV show, which she considers exploitative and borderline abusive, or doing porn, despite having received three offers since the birth of her octuplets.

Yet Suleman did appear in a two-hour Fox special that documented the first six months of her octuplets' lives and aired on the network in August 2009. Around that time, there were reports that Suleman had signed on to do a reality show with U.K. production company Eyeworks. However, Suleman said that she "would never do a reality show, that's been a lie from the beginning."

She told Winfrey that she has "been ashamed of myself to go through certain media outlets to provide for my children," before adding, "this was my choice and my responsibility, and I didn't want to depend on anyone."

As a result, Suleman said she lives "every single day, every hour of the day, with a tremendous amount of guilt. I feel guilty when I look at the older ones, they all have different unique needs," she told Winfrey. "I feel guilty when I'm holding one or two and I can't be there for the others when they're crying."

Regardless of the way she markets her "Octomom" identity, Suleman said the biggest misconception people have about her is that she did it all for fame.

"I'm not a celebrity. I'm a pseudo-celebrity catapulted into this media mess," she said. "Was I in denial thinking it wouldn't happen? Yeah. Did I want it? No."