Tiny little Josie, the youngest and most fragile member of the supersized Duggar family, is getting bigger and stronger every day — yet she must remain hospitalized for the time being.
On a jubilant day in early April, Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar actually brought their 19th child home. Josie had been born 15 weeks premature on Dec. 10 and weighed just 1 pound, 6 ounces at the time. But by April 6, she seemed ready to leave the hospital.
“It was very exciting to have the whole family together for a short time,” Jim Bob Duggar said in a telephone interview. “She only weighed about four and a half pounds or so when we brought her home, so she was still very fragile.”
In fact, just two days later, Josie had to be rushed back to the neonatal intensive care unit of a hospital in Little Rock, Ark. Serious constipation caused the baby girl’s vital signs to flag.
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She’s remained in the hospital ever since. Doctors are continuing to monitor her ongoing digestive issues. In every other area, though — brain tests, heart tests, lung tests, eye tests, ear tests — she’s doing remarkably well. And as she approaches the ripe old age of 5 months, she’s weighing in at 5 pounds, 15 ounces.
“She’s almost made it to the 6-pound mark!” mom Michelle Duggar said happily. “She’s thriving and gaining weight ... She’s already smiling at us and doing all those cute little baby things. We’re just trying to get her little plumbing problems fixed.”
Help from the whole family
The Duggars’ family life is regularly chronicled in the TLC reality series “19 Kids and Counting.” Josie’s emotional April homecoming will be featured on the show on Sunday, May 9 — Mother’s Day.
Her harrowing trip back to the hospital will be shown on Tuesday, May 11.
The Duggars’ oldest adult sons have been mowing the lawn and taking care of the house during the family’s five-month absence. Their oldest daughters have been helping with their younger siblings when mom and dad must spend long hours at the hospital.
Video: Web only: Duggar kids excited to welcome baby “It’s easier now in some ways than when we just had five children,” Jim Bob Duggar said. “Half our children are really adults now. ... It’s an amazing, well-oiled machine.”
“Teamwork!” Michelle Duggar cheered.
Waiting and wondering
For the time being, Josie is being bottle-fed expressed breast milk fortified with a little bit of medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil to help her gain weight. She’s thriving on that diet, but still needs enemas on a regular basis.
The Duggars don’t have a clear idea of when they’ll be able to take their baby girl home again.
“When they find some more answers for sure about her digestion, they’ll probably feel better about releasing her,” Michelle Duggar said. “We just have to wait and see what they say.”
“19 Kids and Counting: Josie Comes Home”will air on TLC on Sunday, May 9 — Mother’s Day — at 8 p.m. ET/PT (7 p.m. CT). Josie’s trip back to the hospital will be featured on Tuesday, May 11 at 9 p.m. ET/PT (8 p.m. CT).
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