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Arkansas family prepares for baby No. 19

Michelle Duggar was surprised to learn that just eight months after she gave birth to her 18th child, another is on the way. "We are thrilled that we're expecting our 19th," she said Tuesday. It will arrive after the Duggars’ first grandchild.
/ Source: TODAY contributor

After 18 children, Michelle Duggar thought she knew what it feels like to be pregnant. But even she was caught by surprise to learn that just eight months after she gave birth to Jordyn-Grace, Duggar baby No. 19 is on the way.

“We are thrilled to announce that we found out we’re expecting our 19th child,” a glowing Michelle Duggar told TODAY’s Meredith Vieira Tuesday from the family’s home in Springdale, Ark.

Michelle and family patriarch Jim Bob Duggar sat on the staircase of their home, surrounded by their 18 other children. Behind them and in the center were eldest son Josh and his wife, Anna, who is expecting the first Duggar grandchild — a girl — on Oct. 18.

The name gameThey, too, had an announcement: They’ve settled on a name for their baby, and it starts with an M.

Vieira had been holding out hope that the girl would be named for her. “Obviously I would love that. It would make me a very happy person,” she said.

But it is not to be: Josh and Anna’s baby will be christened Mackynzie Renee. (Josh has a cousin named Mackynzie, and Anna's middle name is Renee.)

However, Josh told Vieira not to despair, given the Duggar talent for having children. “There is hope for ‘Meredith’ still,” he assured her.

With just six weeks to go before delivery, Anna said, “I’m feeling good. I’m feeling really pregnant. It’s neat. It’s exciting. I definitely have great role models, and it’s neat to watch Mrs. Duggar teach and love her children.”

“Children are a blessing and a gift if you raise them right, and I think my parents have definitely shown that,” added Josh.

Although she was smiling and chipper, Michelle said she’s dealing with the usual first-trimester nausea. “I’m feeling sick and tired, which is a good way to be feeling about right now,” she told Vieira. “I always tell myself that’s a good way to be, because that means good things are happening.”

“We are so excited about this new arrival, and also our grandbaby coming,” added Jim Bob.

Running the numbersThe number 18 is big with the family right now. Not only do they have 18 children, the newest baby is due on March 18. Josh and Anna’s child is due on Oct. 18. And Jim Bob celebrated his birthday on July 18.

The Duggars, who star in the long-running reality show “18 Kids and Counting” on TLC, will have a grandchild who is older than their own child.

Vieira asked if that would be strange.

“My sister and my mother were having babies at the same time, so I have nieces and nephews older than me,” said Michelle, who is the youngest of seven. “It was a great time because we really have close relationships with my nieces and nephews.”

The newest Duggar is coming a bit ahead of schedule. The average gap between the children is 18 months, and Michelle was just eight months away from giving birth to Jordyn when she noticed her body wasn’t quite right: She was following the Weight Watchers program to shed the weight she’d put on in her latest pregnancy, but wasn’t losing any pounds. Also, Jordyn would fuss every time she nursed, which wasn’t normal.

Michelle said those two clues should have registered, but they didn’t. Finally, she took a home pregnancy test and learned that, at the age of 42, she was pregnant again.

Michelle has now been pregnant 147 months of her life, with five more to go. That’s 12-plus years and counting.

For those who are counting, the Duggars report that they have changed an estimated 90,000 diapers and do approximately 200 loads of laundry a month. They feed their entire family on less than $2,000 a month and say that they live debt-free.

Jim Bob Duggar has one sibling and Michelle is the youngest of seven. When they got married, they thought they’d have two or three children. Not wanting to have a child immediately, Michelle went on the birth control pill as they waited three years to have their first child, Josh, who is now married and expecting his first child.

After Josh was born, Michelle went back on the pill. She got pregnant anyway and suffered a miscarriage, which her physician told them was probably caused by the pill. As conservative Christians, they decided after that to let God decide how many children they would have.

They adhere to a Christian movement called Quiverfull, whose members take seriously the biblical exhortation to be fruitful and multiply and believe that every child is a gift from Providence.

All the children are home-schooled and all learn to play the violin and piano. The older children help raise the younger ones under a buddy system. Jim Bob, a former state legislator, is involved in a number of businesses, including commercial real estate.