It was the most long-awaited hospital departure of Michelle Duggar’s experience as a mother of 19.
Josie Brooklyn Duggar, the youngest child born to Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar of TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting, returned to her Arkansas home Thursday after her second hospitalization in her brief life.
“We’re so happy that she’s doing so well,” Michelle tells PEOPLE. “She’s finally home, home, home.”
Josie was born on Dec. 10 at a gestational age of only 25 weeks, weighing 1 lb. 6 oz., after Michelle’s life-threatening preeclampsia (pregnancy-related high blood pressure) forced an emergency C-section.
Since then, Josie has battled for her life, recovering from a bowel perforation at 8 days old. She gained weight and was released from the hospital on April 6, only to return a few days later when her vital signs fell.
Doctors searched for a cause of her problems and have finally identified them.
“Her digestive issues have been linked to lactose intolerance,” says her physician Dr. Robert Arrington, co-director of the neonatal intensive care unit at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. “We are happy that she is doing so well and fully expect her to continue to thrive. Today, as she’s leaving, she looks like a full-term baby.”
Josie has grown to 7 lbs. 6 oz., to the delight of her parents, who are ready to settle her into a schedule at their Little Rock rental home with her 17 of her 18 siblings (oldest brother Josh, 22, lives with his wife and daughter have their own home) before moving her all the way back home, maybe in a few weeks.
“We’re going to wait and see how it all goes,” says Michelle. “We’re going to take it easy and hang out close to the hospital.”
Josie’s emotional homecoming from the hospital will be featured in the premiere of 19 Kids and Counting on Aug. 10 at 9 p.m.