Happy Go Lucky

In thinking about Michelle Duggar’s most recent birth — baby Josie was born at 25 weeks gestation and is considered a “micro-premie” — I wonder if this has changed or will change their outlook on things. I hope nobody thinks I’m being snide — I’ve certainly seen plenty of people say things like, “It serves them right, having so many kids” or “maybe they’ll stop having kids, finally — I’m certainly not doing that! But I do wonder if their attitude has changed.

It’s easy to think that pregnancy and birth and babies are all easy, all “sunshine and rainbows” when that’s all you’ve experienced. That’s not exactly the case with Michelle Duggar — she’s had now 4 C-sections (if I’m remembering correctly) — the latest one an emergency, with the two previous ones due to the baby being in a sideways position or “transverse lie”, and I’m not sure about the first one but maybe something to do with one of her sets of twins. But aside from this last pregnancy, for the most part her pregnancies seem to be, well, just plain normal.

Among stories I’ve read, shows I’ve seen on TV, friends I know in real life, plus other people that I “know” via the computer, I know that ease of pregnancy is not something many women can take for granted. Some people struggle with infertility. Some women suffer multiple miscarriages. Many women have fetal demises or stillbirths. Many women have severe problems during pregnancy that threaten their health and their baby’s life. Some have had it all.

Recently, I had a miscarriage, but up until that point, I pretty much took it for granted that not only could I easily get pregnant, but that I also would have a problem-free pregnancy and a relatively easy birth. My sister had three miscarriages before she had her first baby; I know that had I miscarried my first pregnancy, that I would have feared that I had the same problem that my sister had. As it was, it has been easy for me to have a basically positive attitude about pregnancy and birth. I still have that attitude, but think it might have been different for me, had I miscarried to start with. Since I had two easy pregnancies, it’s easy for me to say, “That’s what’s ‘normal’ for me, and what is likely to happen.” But others can’t.

Prior to this latest Duggar’s birth, perhaps some time after the Duggars announced the most recent pregnancy, somebody commented on a blog, criticizing the Duggars for having so many children, basically saying they were “asking for trouble” with Michelle having so many pregnancies. This commenter said something about having had severe problems with her two pregnancies, and she opted to be sterilized and enjoy her two children, rather than face a third pregnancy with the potential for something else to go wrong.

The problem is, what happened with Michelle Duggar’s 17th pregnancy (19th baby — she’s had two sets of twins), could have happened with her 1st, or at any other time during her life. Certain problems are more prevalent or more common with older moms, but eclampsia and gall-bladder attacks are not exclusive to “elderly great-grand-multips”. Plus, she had had 16 basically problem-free pregnancies, at the time of that person’s writing, so there was really no basis for her to think that the current pregnancy would be any different. But, of course, this woman was writing from her own perspective — being that of a woman who had had two problematic pregnancies, and could probably scarcely conceive of anyone not having problems.

While I’m not planning on getting pregnant any time in the near future, I do think that I will eventually have another baby or two. And I will probably be a bit more nervous about a miscarriage until I get past the time I miscarried before. Your experiences shape you, for better or for worse. I’m still pretty “happy go lucky” when it comes to pregnancy, but having had a negative experience, I “know” in a different way, I know by experience, that a miscarriage is quite possible, so why shouldn’t it happen to me?

And I wonder if the Duggars, since they have now been “once bitten,” might now be “twice shy”? It’s no skin off my nose, whatever they do, whether that’s get sterilized, intentionally get pregnant as soon as she ovulates again, or anything in between. But I think it would take some very special people not to have some fears and misgivings after this experience.


12 Responses

  1. I think the Duggars (and everyone else) should have as many kids as they want to. And I think the “serves them right” attitude is… well, mean words. You’re so right to point out that complications could have hit whichever pregnancy, whether it was the first or the fourth or whatever. On the other hand, I do have the *impression* that when you get up there to that many pregnancies, your risk for bad complications increases a lot… I wonder if that impression is supported by evidence?

    • I’ve not looked into this in much detail, but I do know that the risk of certain complications does increase either with age or with increase in pregnancies and/or giving birth. I know that the risk of stillbirth or neonatal death is higher with your firstborn, then decreases for the next couple of children, then increases again with #5 or 6. As women age, they may have underlying health issues that come with age (either directly as a result of age, or as a result of a poor diet, lack of exercise, or whatever), which cause further problems with pregnancy and birth. However, much of the focus of pregnancy problems in “advanced maternal age” has been with older first-time moms — the women who put off having children so that they could establish a career first, and end up having their first child in their mid-30s or beyond. I don’t know that this risk necessarily translates to women having their 3rd or 7th child at age 35+. I do think that the risk of PPH increases either with age or with number of births, but I’m not really sure. I might look into this question more. The results could be interesting.

      • Grand multips are more likely to experience complications….some related to age and others related to a more lax uterus and decreased muscle tone. PPH is definitely related to increased parity.

      • They actually discussed this on their tv show with the Duggar’s OB/GYN. She stated the main risk for a woman whom has undergone many pregnancies, like Michelle, is a prolapsed uterus- where the uterus essentially begins to sink through the vagina and outside the body. She stated Michelle did not have any symptoms or issues relating to that complication, and that her body was in fantastic shape, not just for carrying and delivering 19 children, but in general as well.

        One other thing about the main content- The Duggar’s are very grateful for each and every child they have had… They don’t take it for granted at all- especially for those that cannot or cannot easily conceive.

  2. Mrs. Duggars first c/s was because of Pre E. If I remember correctly. Shes also had 1 m/c that I am aware of. The first set of twins was her 3rd pg. Her 2nd was the m/c. Shes also had a pph after her 2nd hb which is was changed her mind and had future children in the hospital.

    I can tell you from experience, having had 8 of my own, just because it looks easy doesn’t mean it is. Just because we keep going on having children does not mean its because we have easy pgs. And just because we don’t talk about it doesn’t mean we haven’t had to deal with complications just like other women.

    • I’d heard somewhat about her various pregnancies, but do not watch the show regularly, and had not heard about any miscarriages, nor the reason given for her first C/s (always assumed it was one of her twin births). I did hear about the PPH, but didn’t think of it when I was writing this post.

      Michelle Duggar makes *everything* look easy! 🙂 She has such a sweet spirit always evident, and always very positive. I know this must be a trying time for her and the whole family.

  3. My grandmother had 12 live births and at least 3 miscarriages. One of the live birth resulted in my uncle dying at 5 months because he was placenta previa. She was not a religious woman, so it was just circumstance that she had all of those kids. And I can bet her pregnancies were not easy as she was a very small woman with fibroids. It is easy to cast judgment on people like the Duggars for having many kids. I, for one, would never want that many, but hey I am not them.

  4. Three kids for me it’s more than enough i can’t imagine a sigle mom with more than three kids, it’s hard with one not talking with more…

  5. I really doubt that Michelle Duggar has gone through 17 pregnancies –and the raising of her many children–with the attitude that it is all easy, sunshine and roses. I agree that the challenges and risks of pregnancy and childbirth–and the challenges of child rearing–vary greatly from woman to woman and family to family. I don’t know a lot about the Duggars, but I do know that what they do they do because of deeply held beliefs; such beliefs are sufficient motivation for doing HARD things in life, and even taking some risks with faith as your anchor.

  6. From what I’ve read of the Duggars, I doubt that what happened with this pregnancy will change their minds. They are of the “quiverfull” mindset that all children are a gift from God, and that they should be open to having whatever God wants them to have. They believe their second pregnancy’s miscarriage was a result of the birth control pills she took after her first pregnancy, and won’t prevent against conception.

    While trying circumstances can certainly change someone’s perspectives, it’s just my guess that with such strongly religiously-motivated opinions about having children, that they will see the outcome of this and any future pregnancies as being all part of “God’s will.”

  7. Right off the bat when I started reading this post I was upset and offended. I know it was written innocently though, and the rest of your post is not a Duggar Family slamming, and was more philosphical and musing, which I do appreciate.

    First off, this was not Michelle Duggar’s 17th pregnancy, it was her 18th. After her first child, she suffered a nasty miscarriage after a surprise pregnancy which occured while she was on the pill. Both Michelle and her husband were VERY emotionally scarred by the experience and somehow were informed (or misinformed) that hormonal birth control can cause a miscarriage. (This is their perception.) They felt they had murdered their child. They were destroyed, heartbroken and distraught. They apparently did a whole lot of research, and prayed about it, and as they constantly say, they “leave it up to God,” in terms of their “family planning” methods.

    This is their religon. They belong to the “Quiverful Movement” which states that you do not practice any form of birth control or prevent pregnancy from happening (condoms, the pill, withdrawal, etc) because each child is a gift from God. They often quote, “Lo, children are a heitage of the Lord,” from the Bible.

    Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar are not going to look at this experience and say, “Hey, we’ve totally had the wrong idea about this. Ler’s change our attitude and get you a diaghram!”

    Just as I would not sit here today, Wednesday, raised as a Christian Lutheran and say that tomorrow, I am going to decide all of that Jesus stuff is phooey and become Jewish in the morning.

    They are not going to change their religious beliefs because of a preterm delivery and micropreemie experience. It is against their core values and beliefs. They aren’t doing this on a whim. Neither do the Amish or any other relgion which does not accept birth control as reasonable.

    Michelle Duggar had an emergency c-section with her first set of twins, the pregnancy immediately following their loss.

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