Mexico's main broadcaster Televisa broke the story of the 32-year-old mother's record-breaking multiple pregnancy Thursday, and major news outlets around the world picked it up overnight. Gawker already has a tabloid-ready nickname for her: "Nonomom."
But by end of day Friday, the local newspaper in Perez's Mexican town challenged her claims. According to a reporter from El Diario de Coahuila who spoke with Perez's mother, she is not pregnant at all. A Telemundo reporter also claimed to have evidence that Perez is lying, according to MSNBC. By Friday evening, Reuters, one of the first major U.S. news outlets to pick up the original story, confirmed what we were already beginning to think. We'd been had.
Televisa says she provided them with very convincing evidence of her condition, including an ultrasound. Health officials and local politicians were rallying behind her and she was willing to speak on camera about the whole thing. In the video of a news broadcast, Karla appeared remarkably calm considering what she said lay ahead. That should have been a tip off.Video: teacher fired over IVF procedure
But maybe the world just wanted to believe. The idea of the 'mega-multiple mom' has become a modern day Icarus story. A symbol of how medical advancements can lead to amazing physical feats and unexpected problems. See Kate Gosselin's rise and fall, and Octomom's perpetual tragedy. The less well-known moms of septuplets (an average of one per year in the U.S.) grapple with the very serious health risks of carrying so many children, and later the financial burdens of raising them. For those who know them it's a personal challenge, but for the public at large, it's a curiosity, and one that an entire network once rested its laurels on (yes you, TLC). In popular culture, mothers of 6 or more multiples are considered acrobats, superheros, biological anomalies and reflections of our complicated relationship toward motherhood. The thought that a woman, namely Perez, had taken it all one step further was just curious enough to stifle our cynicism.More on the fate of the doctor who gave Suleman IVF
It's not clear how many people were involved in Karla's hoax, but her story roped a lot of people in. After claiming financial hardship, her town mayor Ernesto Cepeda Valdes, promised to be "like godparents to those babies and give all the support we can." He'll probably be taking that promise back now.New research on risk of multiples pregnancies
Just over the border in Houston, an undisputed mother of mega-multiples is recovering after her emergency delivery. Laura Perkins gave birth at 30 weeks to three boys and three girls ranging in size from 1 pound 10 ounces to 2 pounds 15 ounces. Five of the babies are doing well, though Perkins reports on her blog that one is in more critical state. "One baby is sick, but making progress," reads a blog update on the Perkins' site. "In the NICU, things change hourly so we're constantly getting updates."
In contrast to the great Nonomom fiasco, Perkins is a sobering reminder. Multiple pregnancy is very real, very serious and something nobody can pretend to understand unless they've been there.Related:
The future for the Gosselin kids
Multiple births on the rise
The art of juggling multiples
Octomom supports family on welfare