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Video: Duggar mom says 19th birth was ‘scary’

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    >>> back now at 8:11 with one of our favorite families, the duggars. parents jim bob and michelle became the proud parents of their 19th child back in december. this morning we have an exclusive first look at their daughter, josie brooklyn. she was born 3 1/2 months premature, but we are happy to report both mom and baby are doing well. jim bob , michelle , and most of the duggar clan are with us this morning. nice to see you all.

    >> good morning.

    >> good morning. michelle , we have been waiting seven weeks to see baby josie . i know that she's still in the hospital in the nicu unit, so she's not with us this morning or with you, but you have some good news to report as to how she's doing. can you tell us about her?

    >> yes. little josie is 7 weeks old today, and that's a lot to celebrate, and she's doing very good. she has already doubled in weight. so, she now weighs 2 pounds and 4 ounces.

    >> yeah, i understand she was born at, i guess it was 1 pound, 6 ounces, and she was on a ventilator until just recently, but things are definitely seem to be looking up. i want to take you back to that day that she was born, december 10th . you had been in some difficulty prior to that, michelle . you had been brought into the hospital a few days earlier suffering from a gall stone and then you developed preeclampsia, high blood pressure , and the doctors decided they had to take the baby within 30 minutes . can you describe that day to me?

    >> oh, i think that day was one of the most scary moments of my life, realizing that little josie was going to be born early, and we didn't know -- i mean, i was just scared to death thinking here she's only, you know, she's 15 weeks away from her due date , will she survive? and it is amazing how they can sustain life at such a tiny, tiny age. and so, arkansas children's hospital has done a wonderful job, and umas. they just -- it's amazing what they can do with little babies .

    >> jim bob , what are your memories of that day? because here you are with your wife and your unborn child , and i guess there must have been some fear that you could possibly lose both of them.

    >> yes. preeclampsia happens to about 5% to 8% of all pregnancies in all women, but we thought that maybe we would be able to keep the pregnancy going for many more months, maybe 3 1/2 months, so she could be full-term, but it was so scary when she had to deliver early, but that is the cure for preeclampsia is to deliver the baby. so, anyway, we -- i know when they came in and said they needed to deliver in 30 minutes it was one of the scariest moments of our lives, but we really felt like that was what we needed to do, and we're so thankful that michelle 's doing great and the baby's doing great, and we're just so blessed.

    >> you've moved most of the family to little rock to be closer to josie so they have a chance to see her, whether in pictures or physically. i know, jill, you're old enough to visit your little sister . how would you describe her?

    >> yes, ma'am. she is so precious. i think just seeing a baby that small, it's amazing. i just cry like every time i go there. just, she's so little, and her -- like her whole hand can barely wrap around my pinky. so, just seeing that precious little life and that it can be sustained at that age, and it's beautiful.

    >> i know you are used to newborns around your house, but is there something special about josie ?

    >> there is. she's a little doll. i mean, she's so tiny. i was actually out of the country when she was born, so i had heard, oh, she's 1 pound, 6 ounces. i was like, wow, but i couldn't imagine the size. and trying to figure that out in my mind, and then whenever i finally got to see her, she is itty-bitty. she's my little itty-bitty. but she's so precious and beautiful.

    >> yeah. she looks beautiful to me as well. jim bob , is she out of the woods at this point? i know with preemies, it's pretty much a day-by-day experience up until the time when they reach the moment of their true birth date , which i think for her would have been march 18th or close to that.

    >> correct. normally, they keep them in the hospital until when they would have been born, and they take about three steps forward and two steps back. they say never trust a preemie. she'll do good for a few days and then her saturation level or heart level will go down for a few minutes, then it will go back up, and that's just typical for a preemie. but overall, she's done very well and she's gained a pound and probably within the next month she'll probably gain another pound or two, and we look forward to the day that we can bring her home to join the rest of the bunch.

    >> and we look forward to that as well. jim bob , michelle and the rest of the duggar gang, congratulations on baby josie . i get the "j" part, and the middle name is brooklyn. we love that here in new york. thank you guys very much.

    >> thank you, meredith.

    >> thank you.

    >> and by the way, "19 kids and

    counting: special duggar delivery" airs saturday, january 31st , on tlc.

    >>> coming up, what parents need

TODAY contributor
updated 1/28/2010 9:44:15 AM ET 2010-01-28T14:44:15

The tiny bit of human life in the incubator is so small, her entire hand can barely grasp her big sister’s pinky. But at 2 pounds, 4 ounces, the 19th child of Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar is already far bigger than she was when she was born on Dec. 10, 15 weeks premature.

“Little Josie is 7 weeks old today, and that’s a lot to celebrate,” Michelle told TODAY’s Meredith Vieira via satellite Thursday from Little Rock, Ark. “She’s doing very good.”

Surrounded by 16 of her children and her husband, Michelle gave TODAY viewers an exclusive first look at the tiniest member of America’s most famous supersized family. Confined to her incubator in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, Josie has a substantial head of hair that was festooned with a tiny pink ribbon.

Touch and go
Also for the first time, Michelle and Jim Bob talked about the terrifying moment when doctors told them they had to perform an emergency C-section to save Michelle’s life and give Josie a chance at survival.

“I think that day was one of the most scary moments of my life, realizing little Josie was going to be born early,” Michelle told Vieira. “I was just scared to death thinking, here she’s 15 weeks away from her due date. Will she survive?”

After 16 mostly normal pregnancies that resulted in 18 children, the Duggars first realized there might be a problem with Josie in early December, when Michelle was admitted to the hospital with a gallstone attack.

Michelle also had preeclampsia, a condition that affects about 5 percent of pregnant women. Symptoms include dangerously high blood pressure. The condition can in some cases be dangerous to both mother and fetus.

Scary moments
After six days of hospitalization, doctors told the Duggars that they had to deliver Josie by Caesarean section to save both her and Michelle, and that they had to act within 30 minutes. The Duggars said they prayed for Michelle’s blood pressure to come down, but when that didn’t happen, they agreed to the surgery.

Scott Enlow/TLC via TODAY
Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar visit baby Josie in the NICU. She is expected to remain there at least until March 18, her original due date.

Jim Bob told Vieira that he and Michelle had hoped that doctors would be able to treat Michelle’s preeclampsia and continue the pregnancy.

“We thought maybe we’d be able to keep the pregnancy going for three and a half months so she could go full-term,” Jim Bob explained. “It was so scary when she had to deliver early. When they came in and said we need to deliver within 30 minutes, it was one of the scariest moments of our lives. We really felt that’s what we needed to do.

“We’re so thankful that Michelle’s doing great, the baby’s doing great,” Jim Bob added. “We’re just so blessed.”

Scott Enlow/TLC via TODAY
Michelle Duggar had preeclampsia, a condition that imperiled both her and her 19th child, Josie.
But even though she is doing well, Josie is not out of the woods yet, the Duggars said. Premature infants are notorious for seeming to thrive one day and then developing problems the next. Josie is expected to remain in NICU while she gains weight, at least until March 18, which was her original due date.

‘Never trust a preemie’
“They take about three steps forward and two steps back. They say ‘never trust a preemie.’ That’s just typical,” Jim Bob said. “Overall, she’s done very well. She’s gained a pound. Probably within the next month she’ll gain another pound or two. We look forward to the day we can bring her home and join the rest of the bunch.”

Hospital rules that limit NICU visitors to 18 or older prevent most of the Duggars from visiting Josie. But Jill Duggar, who is 18, stops in frequently to see her littlest sister and is amazed that a baby can be so tiny.

The Duggars shared the news about their latest addition live from Little Rock, Ark.
Jill was in El Salvador with other Duggar children working on a Christmas mission when Josie was born. She told Vieira that she was told how small the infant was, but couldn’t imagine it.

“I had heard she’s 1 pound, 6 ounces — I couldn’t imagine the size. When I finally got to see her — she is itty-bitty. She’s so precious and beautiful,” Jill said.

“She is so very precious,” Josie’s 18-year-old sister added. “Just seeing a baby that small is amazing. I just cry every time I see her. She’s just so little. Like her whole hand can barely wrap around my pinky. Just seeing that precious little life, that it can be sustained at that age — it’s beautiful.”

“19 Kids and Counting: Special Duggar Delivery” premieres Sunday, Jan. 31, at 8 p.m. (ET/PT) on TLC. Season 4 of “19 Kids and Counting” premieres Tuesday, Feb. 2, at 9 p.m. on TLC.

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