Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar, stars of the hit show 19 Kids and Counting, may be welcoming a new addition to their family in the near future. In fact, the Duggars are so serious about wanting another little one that they have gone to see a fertility doctor in hopes of adding baby number 20 to their ever-growing brood.
Michelle Duggar is nearly 48-years-old, which leads one to question if it is safe for her to continuing having children this late in life. After all, she had a very difficult time while pregnant with her last child, Josie. Duggar suffered from life-threatening preeclampsia, which forced her to undergo an emergency C-section 25 weeks into the pregnancy.
Baby Josie arrived weighing only one pound and six ounces. Due to her tiny size and being premature, she was moved to the neonatal intensive care unit. Then at eight days old, she suffered a bowel perforation that caused even more health problems for the tiny baby. Josie got off to a rough start in life, but the Duggars were lucky because today, she is a happy, healthy four year old.
However, in 2011 at the age of 45, when Michelle became pregnant again, the outcome was not so good. During the second trimester, at five months pregnant, she suffered a miscarriage. The tragic loss was devastating not only for Michelle and Jim Bob, but for the entire Duggar family.
Last year, after visiting an orphanage in China, the Duggars talked about considering adoption, and while they were excited at the possibility of adding another child to their family, they were unsure if that was God’s plan for them. Michelle said if she were to become pregnant again, she would know, without doubt, that God wanted to bless them with another child. However, it was difficult to know if adoption was the right thing for her and Jim Bob to do and she wanted to be sure that if they did adopt, it was His will.
Apparently, the Duggars have decided that adoption is not right for them, at least not now, because they have gone to see a fertility doctor in hopes of adding baby number 20 to their family. Michelle explained that they were seeing the doctor to make sure she is in good physical condition and able to “catch” a baby if God were to see fit to send them one.
During the doctor visit, Michelle underwent numerous tests in an effort to determine where she is in life “hormonally speaking” as well as her ability to carry another pregnancy to term and give birth. Dr. Paul Wendel explained that while he does occasionally see pregnancies in older women, they are very unusual because as a woman ages, her chance of getting pregnant naturally drop. This means that the chance of Michelle getting pregnant, at nearly 48-years-old, is less than five percent. He went on to talk about the rates of Down syndrome saying the risk depends on the mother’s age. “At age 20, the risk is about one in every 2,000 babies. At 30, it is one in every 1,000. At 35, it is about one in 350. At 40, it is one in 100. At 45, it is about one in every 10 to 15, and by 47, Michelle’s age, Down syndrome affects one in every four or five births.”
Michelle did not seem worried by Dr. Wendel’s comments. In fact, she admits that she is aware of these statistics and has been warned about them, with every pregnancy, from the age of 36 on. She went on to say that if she cannot have any more children, she will be happy with that; however, she wants to be healthy and ready for a baby if God decides to bless her with another one.
While Michelle and Jim Bob have seen a fertility doctor and are hopeful that baby number 20 will soon be on the way, perhaps it is time for the Duggars to stop trying to have more children and simply be happy with the ones God has already given them. Maybe Michelle and Jim Bob need to embrace a new season in their lives. One in which they finish raising their younger children, enjoy relationships with their grown children and welcome more grandbabies into the family instead of trying to have more babies of their own.
Opinion by Donna W. Martin