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Michelle Duggar, mom of 19, miscarries

Michelle Duggar, the famous reality show mom of 19, has miscarried her child.

“I feel like my heart broke telling my children,” Michelle told People magazine. The Duggars announced their pregnancy publicly last month on TODAY.

Michelle and her husband, Jim Bob, were hoping to find out the gender of their unborn child during a routine ultrasound on Thursday; but their doctor was unable to find a heartbeat. Michelle was 19 weeks along, in her second trimester.

Earlier story: The Duggars announce they're expecting a 20th child

"We discovered during a routine 19-week ultrasound that our 20th child, who was due in April 2012, passed away recently," Jim Bob Duggar wrote in a letter he provided to TODAY.com "We would like to thank everyone for their prayers, emails and outpouring of love... As our whole family is grieving, we also know that God promises to work all things for good in our lives."

Read Jim Bob's letter to friends and fans

“After the appointment, we came back home and told the children," Michelle, 45, told People. "We had just been talking about baby names last night and they were getting excited about naming a boy or a girl. It has been a real sad disappointment."

On her doctor's advice, Michelle said she plans to let the miscarriage happen naturally. Other options would be taking drugs to bring on contractions or having surgery. Michelle told People because of the cut to her uterus during the emergency C-section for her last child, her doctor said letting her body miscarry naturally would be the safest way to go.

"I am resting and I have felt good physically, which is strange," Michelle told People magazine. She said as recently as Nov. 25 her daughter Jill, 20, who is studying to be a midwife, listened to the baby's heartbeat.

On Dec. 3, she said, "I felt a little uncomfortable but I thought it was just something I'd eaten. It could have been the beginning of something going wrong."

"The kids are mothering me now," Michelle told People. "Jill just brought me some food and they are taking good care of me."

The Duggars plan to name the baby, once they find out if it was a boy or a girl, and then they’ll have a funeral service.

“The Lord is the giver of life and he can choose when that life is ready to go on and be with Him," Michelle Duggar told People magazine.

Related: Is it safe to have 20 children?

Between 20 to 30 percent of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. Dr. Rebecca Brightman, an OB-GYN at Mount Sinai hospital in New York, told TODAY's Ann Curry that Michelle Duggar was at increased risk because of her age -- women over 40 are more likely to have babies with chromosomal abnormalities, and that's a leading factor in miscarriage.

"Women, particularly as they get older, are at increased risk of having certain complications in pregnancy," Brightman explained on TODAY. "It’s something to think about – clearly her pregnancies are at increased risk, and she wants to be there for her kids at home."

TODAY Moms: What to say to a woman after a miscarriage

But, Brightman said, the fact that Duggar has had 19 previous children did not put her at higher risk for a miscarriage.

The Duggars star on the TLC reality series "19 Kids and Counting," which chronicled the difficulties of Michelle Duggar’s last pregnancy with Josie, now 2 years old. Michelle suffered from gall-bladder problems as well as preeclampsia. In order to save her life, doctors delivered daughter Josie three and a half months prematurely – she weighed only one pound, six ounces at birth, and endured a series of health emergencies, including a perforated bowel. Josie eventually went home with the rest of the Duggar family, and is now a healthy toddler who celebrated her second birthday in December.

In an interview with TODAY last summer, Michelle Duggar acknowledged the struggles of the 19th pregnancy, but said she would welcome more children. “The precious life that we see here is not a coincidence,” she said, referring to her youngest daughter Josie. “I just know that it is a miracle. I don’t take that for granted. I know that God is the one who gives life, and I’m just so grateful and thankful. We would welcome another if He saw fit, but we’ll wait and see.”

The Duggars also suffered a miscarriage with their second pregnancy. Originally, they planned to have only one to three children, and Michelle took birth control pills. But the miscarriage led them to believe they should eschew birth control.

The couple felt "devastated" by their first miscarriage, they wrote in their recently published book, "A Love That Multiplies":

"At that point we read in Scripture that children are a blessing from the Lord and a gift from Him. We asked God to forgive us for taking matters in to our own hands and to give us a love for children like His love for them. We committed to letting Him decide how many children we would have and when they would be born," the Duggars wrote.

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