Michelle Duggar had a preemie.
I have no idea if most of the world followed the story today, but all of my online communities are quite atwitter about it.
Now, I think the Duggars are kinda crazy. I mean, I wanted a baby really badly, but 19? That's a lot. A lot lot. Like, really, a lot. And I can't help but think anyone who wants 19 kids is insane. Of course, lots of people might think anyone who has done some of the things I have would be insane, too. I accept that. (But seriously, I haven't had a full night's sleep in 18 months. Do you think Michelle is getting any sleep? She clearly still has time to screw, so she's obviously doing better than me, but still.... wait.. where was I? Oh yeah.... so the Duggars are crazy.)
So okay, I think they're crazy. They are not my kinda people. They have a lot of kids, don't believe in birth control, homeschool their kids, publicize their lives on TV, have way more money than me and.. well..even I dress better than them, and that's saying something. I've had many a conversation about how selfish, irresponsible & misguided I think they are. Michelle seems nice enough, but really, I think she's a nut.
But all of a sudden? Michelle is part of my fold. And Jim, too, I guess, but really, Michelle. I heard the news late last night (a friend of theirs broke the news on a message board before even the media had gotten it) and was stunned. I was surprised to find tears in my eyes at even the thought of another preemie born so early. At that point, they were still saying it was gallbladder related. Today it turns out it was the dreaded preeclampsia.
Number 19 is Josie, 1 lb 6 oz, born at 25 weeks. Just an ounce smaller and a week earlier than Robbie. Right now, Michelle is probably in a hospital awake. Maybe she's pumping. Maybe she's sent Jim down to the NICU to check on Josie just one more time before she tries to rest. She might still be on mag and unable to even see straight yet. She could be hobbling around from the C section and is probably wondering what in the hell just happened. (Well, maybe not "what in the hell", I doubt she cusses... but if she ever wanted to, it would be now.) Maybe the nurse is in to check her blood pressure one more time.
Jim, if he's like David, is doing his best to help Michelle. Maybe he doesn't even know what preeclampsia is, only that the doctors acted like it was pretty bad and the baby is here now. He sees his wife in pain, fragile. He sees his daughter in a heated plastic box and she's impossibly tiny. Maybe he's afraid to touch her. Her skin looks like it will tear open any moment. She, too, is so fragile. He's still trying to take in that he could have lost both of them yesterday. What just happened?
And Josie? Well, the media says she's "doing fine" and "resting comfortably." The media lies. There is nothing restful or comfortable about the NICU. Doing fine? Perhaps. But the thing with preemies is that everything comes with an asterisk. Doing fine*. *for a 25 weeker. Even Robbie eighteen months later, still gets his asterisk. He's so big*! *compared to where he started.
"Fine" for a 25 weeks means she's intubated, but maybe doesn't require a lot of oxygen. It means they were able to find an IV and it's holding. She's in an isolette with the heat turned up, but maintaining her temperature. Maybe they haven't found her PDA yet. She certainly hasn't had her eyes or hearing checked yet. Her first head ultrasound maybe doesn't show too much bleeding. It means she's setting off the alarms on her machines, but not the really bad ones. Right now "fine" means the dozens of machines and tubes and wires are doing what we hope- they're keeping her alive. Yes, she's fine*.
*fighting to keep it together
Jim and Michelle are probably also fine*. I know I was fine* for 96 days. And sometimes, I'm still fine*. For the parents of a preemie, particularly one as early as Josie, fine means putting one foot in front of the other. Because they have to.
The message boards and comments on news stories were filled today, with comments like "well, maybe NOW they'll stop." "Well, you knew it was bound to happen." "She should have known her body couldn't have another baby!" Yes, that silly Michelle, she birthed 18 children and should have expected 19 to come impossibly early. She should have known that a disease that affects less than 10% of pregnancies, and even fewer non-first pregnancies would get her this time. God has a maximum allowance of healthy children for each family, and they had reached it. They should have known this one was doomed. And I'm certain their top priority right now is decided if they should try for number 20.
The world is full of judgement and blame. Yes, we women with failures for bodies, we are foolish. We are deluded. We should have known better. How dare we! We should be ashamed. How could we not have known we were tempting the fates? Certainly we deserve the horrors we watch our babies endure.
The sad thing is that Michelle is probably thinking very similar things right now. No matter what else she's doing, she's wondering how they got there. If she could have done something differently, if there is anything more she could do now. She's probably praying. If she's like me at all, she's praying for peace for whatever may come. She's praying for healing for her child, for strength for herself and for wisdom for the doctors.
Me? I'm going to join her. Because Michelle Duggar? She's my people.