Following several miscarriages due to a blood-clotting issue, Erin (Bates) Paine and her husband, Chad, are expecting their first child.
The happy news was announced on the Jan. 23 episode of Bringing Up Bates, a reality series that follows Gil and Kelly Jo Bates and their 19 children.
Erin, 23, the second-eldest of Gil and Kelly Jo’s children, married Chad, 27, in November 2013. Ever since, the couple have been intent on starting a family.
In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE following the announcement of the Bates family’s third grandchild, Erin reveals the due date of her first child, how much her husband has been helping her around the house following her struggle with a flu-like morning sickness, why she’s just a little nervous about becoming a first-time mom and whether she plans to raise her child in the same conservative way in which she was raised.
On the Pregnancy, Due Date and the ‘Heartbreak’ of Suffering a Miscarriage
At nearly 22 weeks, Erin has surpassed the halfway mark in her pregnancy.
“I’m so happy. It was such a relief,” Erin tells PEOPLE. “Because I had an at-risk pregnancy, we wanted to be cautious and wait just because, if something happened, it would have been all the more hard.”
Due June 8, Erin is coy about the baby’s sex, though she does reveal that she and Chad have chosen baby names.
“It was one of the most fun things for me and Chad,” she says. “We used to go into the name books and everything, which is kind of fun. It’s a sweet time together.”
On suffering multiple miscarriages, Erin is candid.
“Going through a miscarriage is one of the hardest things,” she says. “You build up all these expectations, and you prepare, and you have the date in your mind, and it’s just it’s heartbreaking when that ends. It’s like your world’s been crushed.”
However, their struggles brought the couple closer together.
“When you go through something difficult, it just makes you all the more strong and it makes you look to each other for comfort,” she says. “It made us look to the other people who had gone through difficult situations and really, hopefully, encouraged them through it, as well.”
Inside Erin and Chad’s Marriage
The Bates family is fairly well known for possessing the same conservative ideals followed by friends Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar of 19 Kids and Counting fame. However, Erin and Chad’s marriage is not conservative in the way you might think – they enjoy an equal partnership.
“For the first four or five months, I was completely incapable of doing anything,” Erin admits to PEOPLE. “I was so sick that I had to stop teaching piano lessons, stop doing pretty much everything. I pretty much stayed in bed the whole time. I told Chad, ‘I felt like I’ve had the flu for months and months!’ ”
Erin goes on to gush about her “amazing husband”: “I really know I’m spoiled rotten but he would come home from work every day, do all the laundry, do the dishes, clean the house, and then comfort me. I know I am so blessed. He never complained once. He was so sweet and comforting during that time.”
After taking care of her so well during the difficult start to her pregnancy, Erin is confident that “Chad’s going to make the best daddy. He loves children and he invests so much in people. I’m scared, you know – being a mommy is such a hard responsibility. It’s something new. It’s something different. The most important thing is that your child knows you love them no matter what, and my mom does a great job with us.”
“We all felt like it wasn’t just a parent-child relationship,” Erin adds. “We were best friends. That’s the way I want it to be with our little baby, so it’s a hard responsibility. There’s a lot that goes into it and a lot of sacrifice. But I think it is so worth it in the long run.”
The couple, who reside in Clinton, Tennessee, live close to the rest of the Bates family, whose sprawling 4,000-square-foot home rests in Lake City. Chad is an office manager for Noble Metals, Inc., and Erin works as a piano teacher and records music. Their wedding was televised on the eighth season of 19 Kids and Counting.
On Being Brought Up Bates
While Erin doesn’t necessarily plan on following exactly in her parents’ footsteps when it comes to raising her first child, she won’t be deviating too far from what Gil and Kelly Jo taught her.
“Looking back on my childhood and the way that my parents raised me, I can’t think of anything that was negative. Everything, looking back, is really positive, and we made the best memories,” Erin tells PEOPLE. “And yes, we may not have had a television or things that most kids might have, but at the same time, we substituted that for playtime with dad. Or, you know, playing games as a family or making memories.
“So, I don’t feel like we missed out on anything and, actually, I think we were smarter because of it. Instead of watching TV and being consumed with video games and stuff like that, we would read books and now all of us kids really have such a love for reading and I think that was very wise of my parents.”
Adds Erin: “So, as far as what we’re going to do as what we’re going to do with our little baby, I definitely want to keep a lot of the things that my parents were strong in. I’m sure we’re not going to be identical or have the exact same standards and stuff like that, but I think that my parents did an amazing job and I hope we can be half as good as parents as they were.”
Finally, do Erin and Chad plan on having a brood as large as Gil and Kelly Jo’s?
“With the at-risk pregnancy and everything, we want me to be able to stay healthy and that also means having a healthy baby,” Erin says. “I think we’re taking it one day at a time at this point and just trying to see what the doctors say and what the best decision is for us.”
Bringing Up Bates airs on Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on UP.