EXCLUSIVE: Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar Reveal Baby Josie
"Years ago, a baby this small wouldn't have lived an hour," Jim Bob says of their micropreemie
It’s 19 kids … and counting their blessings.
Seven weeks after baby Josie’s surprise early arrival, her relieved parents Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar are talking to PEOPLE about the tiny micropreemie, who is taking breast milk through a tube and weighs 2 lbs. 3 oz.
Born at 25 weeks to Jim Bob and Michelle, of the hit TLC reality series changing its name this week to 19 Kids and Counting, little Josie Brooklyn was a mere 1 lb. 6 oz. when she arrived Dec. 10, after Michelle was diagnosed with preeclampsia.
“Years ago, a baby this small wouldn’t have lived an hour,” says Jim Bob, 44. “We are so grateful for the ability to help her.”
He and Michelle, 43, have moved 17 of their other kids (their oldest Josh, 21, and his wife, Anna, 21, have a baby girl and live on their own) to Little Rock, Ark. from their home in Tontitown, Ark., to be closer to Josie, who remains in intensive care at Arkansas Children’s Hospital.
“It’s a miracle she’s doing so well,” says Jim Bob. Agrees Michelle: “It is incredible what the doctors and nurses can do to save the life of this little person.”
It has been an up and down saga of survival for tiny Josie. “Doctors tell us, ‘never trust a preemie,’ because you can’t know what is going to happen,” says Jim Bob. “It is a very day-to-day thing. It is the hardest thing we’ve ever been through.”
Josie’s difficult birth has brought the family closer together, say Jim Bob and Michelle, and they continue to be grateful for every moment they have with their new daughter.
“We don’t know if there is going to be another big hill to go up,” she says. “We are grateful for the wonderful days when she has been good. We know at any moment, things could change.”
Josie’s arrival will be showcased in 19 Kids and Counting: Special Duggar Delivery, airing Jan. 31 on TLC, and a new season of their show will debut in February.
For more on the Duggars and baby Josie, including exclusive photos, pick up PEOPLE, on newsstands now