Michelle Duggar on Improvements and Possibly More Kids
Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar's 19th child is still dealing with digestive issues, but her family is optimistic about her outlook.
When Josie Brooklyn, the newest star of TLC's reality TV show, 19 Kids and Counting, was born on Dec. 10 at a gestational age of 25 weeks, she weighed just 1 lb., 6 oz. Now, she's making strides and weighs in at 5 lbs., 14 oz. Josie's adventures will be featured on the family's Mother's Day special on Sunday, May 9 at 8 p.m.
We talked exclusively with uber-Mom Michelle Duggar about life with the new baby, her plans for Mother's Day and how she teaches her kids to deal with naysayers.
ParentDish: Tell me about Josie. How did you come up with the name?
Michelle Duggar: When I was pregnant, we discussed with the family some name possibilities for a boy or girl. Everybody really liked Josie. Then Jessa mentioned the middle name Brooklyn and that's what it was.
PD: Have you been to Brooklyn, New York?
MD: Yes, we've been there! [Laughs]
PD: When you were pregnant, we held a ParentDish poll asking folks to vote on the next Duggar name and the one that won was Jillian, but I personally love the name Jewel.
MD: Jewel is a beautiful name. That's a great idea!
PD: A great idea for the next Duggar? Are you trying to tell me something? Are you planning another baby Duggar?
MD: I'm 43 right now and I know my time clock is ticking so I may be able to have more, I don't know. We are so grateful for the ones we have and I couldn't imagine life without one of these. They represent a future home one day, and will do whatever God calls for them to do in life. I would be thrilled to have more if God sees fit, but we take it one day at a time. Our focus is on Josie right now.
PD: How is she doing?
MD: She's doing great. We are so thankful. She's growing and gaining and that's what we need to happen for her. She has tummy issues that were working out right now. Our doctor said from the very beginning that having a preemie is a roller coaster ride. Parents in the NICU [neonatal intensive care unit] will tell you, 'never trust a preemie.' One day she'll do great and the next day she'll have a setback.
PD: What are the doctor's concerns right now?
MD: Josie loves to eat but she has some challenges pooing and you gotta do both to make it work right, so we have to figure that out. She's taking her feeds well and that thrills my heart. She's kind of at that place with preemies where she's trying to thrive on eating and growing. We're rejoicing because she's approaching the six-pound mark. Josie wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the Lord and the expertise of this facility [Arkansas Children's Hospital]. We are so grateful for every day we have with Josie.
PD: You are amazing for holding everything together. What are your guilty pleasures to help you decompress?
MD: At this season of life, it probably would be sleep. You go through different seasons of life as a mom and so I relish getting extra sleep here and there when I can. Josie is approaching five months and I have to breastfeed frequently, every three to four hours, so there's a lot of interrupted sleep. It's a supply-and-demand thing. I feed my babies on demand when they're newborns. Thankfully, my milk supply has been great.
PD: Switching roles, how's life as a first-time grandma?
MD: I am elated. I dreamed about the day I get to be a grandma. Mackynzie is a chunk, a rolly polly grandbaby. She's approaching seven months now and it's just so sweet. I had her sitting on my lap the other day and she was smiling and touching my face. So much fun being a grandma.
PD: What are your plans for Mother's Day?
MD: I actually don't know. I'll spend some time at the hospital with Josie. I don't know what the family has planned. I don't want to mess things up so I don't ask any questions because my little guys will say something they shouldn't, so I don't ask. We'll be at church in the morning. We go to the Friendly Chapel in Little Rock and Victory Baptist Church.
PD: Any Mother's Day gifts coming your way?
MD: Usually Jim Bob has something up his sleeve. Handmade cards are my favorite. Those are my keepsakes. Daddy will usually give the kids paper and the older girls will work with the younger ones to make special Mother's Day cards for me.
PD: Sweet. Breakfast in bed, too?
MD: They've attempted to make breakfast. That's been interesting. They know I like eggs over easy and they become scrambled over easy when the little guys try their hand at it. They're kinda crunchy. And the toast, they try to get it just the right color two or three times, then they load it with butter. I enjoy it and I eat it. I'm along for the ride.
PD: You have a ton of fans who wish you and the family all the best, especially on Mother's Day. But how do you deal with your detractors and the negative comments on the web?
MD: We receive a lot of feedback, positive and negative, and we've told our children who help with our correspondence that people have their opinions in life and we have to understand that people don't have the same perspective we do. They are entitled to their opinions and we always go back the same place.
PD: What do you mean?
MD: We know that this is where God has called us and we know everyone has their own calling and place in life. You're always going to have the negative naysayers and you're not going to please everyone. You please God and you seek to do what he's called you to do and you will have peace. When there are criticisms, you listen and you take that through the grid of God's words and ask if there's something you can learn from them.
PD: That's pretty hard to teach kids.
MD: We teach them to never just blow people off and not listen. If there's something that you need to change, that's fine, and if not and if it's off the course, move forward and don't get bogged down. You can't please everyone. There are so many things you come up against in life, but we do what God wants us to do in training and loving our kids. We will be the first to tell you we are not perfect. We are still learning every day, but we are finding our answers in God's words, and there's joy and peace and enjoying the fruit of that. As parents, we're all in this together and we're learning as we go along.
PD: What are your biggest challenges as a mom?
MD: Laundry, dishes. I had this mountain of laundry this week. We had gone a whole week without doing any and you can't do that. Keeping up with laundry is number one, and number two is keeping up with dishes and mealtime. Of course, keeping up with their hearts and just asking the kids how they're doing and what's going on and allow them the freedom of opening up and helping them navigate their years and keeping them grounded. All of those concerns are most important in life. We just have to keep at it and encourage them along the way.
Related: Michelle Duggar Chats About Morning Sickness.
For more on the Duggars, visit Duggarfamily.com.
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.