Doctors are searching for answers to the littlest Duggar's digestive problems

Credit: TLC/Scott Enlow

It’s been a rough couple of months for Josie Brooklyn, the 19th child of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar – but as Mother s Day approaches the family has good news about their micropremie.

Josie, who was born on Dec. 10 at a gestational age of 25 weeks and weighing just 1 lb., 6 oz., is gaining approximately 2 oz. a day and now weighs 5 lbs., 14 oz.

“She loves to eat,” says Michelle, smiling, as she feeds Josie. “When she feels good, she looks at you and smiles and talks. She’s definitely a talker and has the sweetest personality.”

That Josie is gaining weight is positive, but doctors are still searching for answers to several digestive issues she has: She currently needs enemas at 6-hour intervals.

“We are identifying what needs to be done to find a more permanent solution,” says Josie’s physician, Dr. Robert Arrington, co-director of the neonatal intensive care unit.

A Scary Start

At just 8-days-old Josie suffered a perforated bowel. She was rushed to Arkansas Children’s Hospital where Michelle and Jim Bob (who have 17 kids at home ranging in age from 20-years to 4-month-old Josie) set up their lives in the neonatal intensive care unit, praying she’d live. “We placed her in God’s hands and thanked him for every day she was with us,” says Jim Bob.

She survived without surgery and continued to stabilize – so much so that she was released from the hospital on April 6 with the understanding that doctors would follow her closely on an outpatient basis – with surgery likely in her future when she was bigger. “I was excited she was home,” says Michelle, “but I was worried because I’ve never cared for a baby so tiny before.”

Her fears were realized just two days later when Josie had to be rushed back to the NICU after her vital signs dropped.

Happy Homecoming

Josie’s emotional, though brief, homecoming will be featured in a TLC Mother’s Day special, 19 Kids and Counting: Josie Comes Home, on Sunday, May 9 at 8 p.m. Her trip back to the hospital will be shown on the show on Tuesday, May 11 at 9 p.m.

The Duggars are hopeful Josie will continue to gain weight and get to a place where further testing and any possible surgeries can be done, maybe even taking her home again in the next weeks.

“This has been such a difficult time for our family,” says Jim Bob. “But good things have come out of this experience for us. We’ve drawn close together and we thank God for every day Josie is here.”

Meanwhile, the 17 Duggar kids still at home are glad for the time they get to spend with their sister. Kids 18 and over were the only ones able to visit her at the hospital during flu season, but with that ban lifted, some of the younger ones are taking their turns with mom Michelle, getting to hold their newest sibling. “Our parents have done a wonderful job,” says Jana, 20. “They pay attention to our hearts.”