It’s at last one big, happy Duggar family – emphasis on big.
Josie, the 19th child born to Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, returned to their busy house last week after spending most of the first six months of her life in a neonatal intensive care unit where she fought for her life after being born dangerously premature.
Although the baby was released from Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock on June 3, her homecoming was delayed because 12 of her siblings got the chicken pox and had to be separated from her. Josie spent three weeks with her mother in a rental house near the hospital until the other children recovered back home with dad.
Finally, on June 25, mother and child made the over 200-mile road trip from Little Rock to Tontitown, Ark., and were met by streamers, hand-made “Welcome Home” banners, old Christmas decorations – and 17 of Josie’s siblings (oldest son Josh lives on his own with his wife and baby).
“It is good to be home,” says Michelle, laughing. “It is surreal to be here. It was such a long time we were away.”
The last time Michelle was at the Duggar family’s home, they were decorating for the holidays and looking forward to Josie’s expected birth in the spring. “Then, I had to be airlifted to Little Rock in a helicopter,” says Michelle.
Michelle’s preeclampsia caused an emergency C-section and a dangerously early entry into the world for Josie, who was born Dec. 10 at the gestational age of 25 weeks. As the micropremie struggled to survive, Michelle lived in the rental house with her husband and other children.
The family, whose lives are chronicled on the TLC reality show 19 Kids and Counting, is now settling into a routine with Josie, who has now grown to a “chunky” 9 lbs., 1 oz., says Michelle. “She has a double chin now,” she says. “It is so precious.”
19 Kids and Counting returns to TLC on Aug. 3 at 9 p.m. ET.