Oh, and she's also the only Nobel Prize winner to give birth to another Nobel winner, Irene Joliot-Curie, who was honored for her work building upon her parents' research. Curie's other daughter, Eve, also went on to become a famous writer and pianist.

Curie was left to raise her 1-year-old and 8-year-old daughters on her own after the sudden 1906 death of her husband. She responded by refusing a government pension and instead took her husband's place as a professor at the University of Paris.

Before all was said and done, Curie would also become the grandmother of scientists too, as Irene's children became noted physicist and biologist themselves.

Sheer Endurance category: Bobbi McCaughey

In a world populated by Kate Gosselin, Nadya "Octomom" Suleman and "Balloon Boy," it's almost refreshing when you find parents who aren't ready to exploit their children in search of reality TV fame.

Consider Bobbi McCaughey, the Iowan mother who, in November 1997, gave birth to the world's first set of septuplets to survive infancy. Though McCaughey took some flak at the time for using fertility drugs and ignoring doctors' warnings, she can hardly be accused of using her children as props.

After the fanfare died down, the McCaugheys instead sought privacy for their large family, which includes older sister Mikayla. Apart from the occasional news story, the family rarely grants interviews.

As for being the mother of eight, McCaughey told KCCI-TV in Des Moines in 2010 that it's become easier as they've grown more independent, saying "It is so nice just to say, 'Kids, we're going out for a while. Don't kill each other.'"

That's something any mother can relate to.