Saturday, December 12, 2009


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.



Erin said...

I did hear about this but last night I wasn't in a place to do the math. 25 weeks, fine isn't what comes to mind at this point.

I will be thinking of her. Hope Robbie is doing better with his ears! Sounds like me as a child I had ear infections constantly. The found I had a kidney/bladder issue that caused them - systemic infections just traveled to ears on me).

Styxx374 said...

I didn't hear about this until now. Thank you for opening up our eyes and getting us past the media hype to see what this woman and her family are really going through.

Sara B said...

I love and agree with everything in this post <3

The Blatchford Family said...

Very very well written. My little sisters (twins) were born at 26 weeks, and I really had no idea what my parents went through at the time. Now I only have a glimmer of understanding. No one will really get it unless it happens to them and their own child, and so they open their mouths and make their stupid judgemental comments.

I am so sorry for the Duggars and hoping that this little girl pulls through as best as she can.

Tracy said...

Well said. I'm so glad you shared this. People are so quick to judge and start pointing fingers of blame. What is a devastating time for the Duggars is being turned into a gossip bashing.

So maybe we don't agree with the lifestyle and many of the decisions the Duggars make. But that does not mean that they asked for this. I find the attitude that this will teach them to be disgusting.
It doesn't diminish the personal turmoil and pain they and Josie are going through.

Fine* indeed. Prayers for Josie and the entire Duggar family. God bless them all.

Stacie said...

Oh, Trish. This is beautiful--so compasionate and thought provoking. I had heard that she had the baby early last night, too, and I had the same thoughts. It moves from "that crazy family" to "I feel for that family and all they will go through" in my head. I suppose that is because I've been there, and so I know all too well what it it like to be in their position.

Hugs to you and your family.

Stacie said...

I hope you don't mind that I've linked to this post on my blog.

JamieW said...

Your line about the world being so full of judgment and blame is really true. I think we naturally want to "blame" people or attribute things to what people have done just so that we can separate them from us. And then you become one of "them" and you realize that was the most stupid, ignorant, batsht crazy thing ever to do and btw, now everyone is saying it about you.

Two Hands said...

I love you so much for this post.
I didn't know about Michelle's babe and I'm so sorry to hear about this. As wonderful and beautiful as your Robbie is, I know his "fine" still carries an asterisk, and I'm thinking yours does too. You've all been through so much. I'm sorry anyone has to travel such a road.
I will pray for peace for them and healing and hope, for people to see them as the victims of a terrible disease, not people who brought it on themselves.
God bless you, Trish, for your heart and for the voice it speaks through.

S said...

So sad....I heard about his yesterday and felt so sad for her, for them, for the whole family.

Azaera said...

Your post brought me back to the NICU. It was this time last year that I was pumping every two hours and crying my eyes out because they didn't know what was wrong with my baby and he was in a plastic box far from his mother's loving arms. I remember too well the beeping and the constant fear about everything. I remember feeling like I had done something wrong, and it was my fault that he was born so early.

Fine is definitely a relative term. And though we may have been doing better than other people in our situation at the time we were nowhere near fine. I'm glad you pointed this out to people. It's important that others at least try to have an understanding of how hard it is to have a premature baby. At least for the first bit. (I certainly don't take my son for granted, but yes the beginning was rough.)

Becky said...

No one can quite say it like you reason I valued you before you knew it. The Dugger's trials right now obviously hit home for me too. I have a firm belief that everything happens for a reason. Even if we don't know the reason yet, and may's there. One thought that crossed my mind when I heard of this, is that maybe because of all of the publicity and conversation the Dugger family provokes on a regular basis, Maybe this will raise awareness, and start more conversations about prematurity. I pray for Josie and the Dugger family. I would not wish this experience on anyone. Hopefully someday they'll talk about the true experience...we know it's just too much and too raw for now, probably letting a spokes person do the talking.

MoonNStarMommy said...

I heard about it Thursday - when the note was left on a blog, I was hoping it wasn't true. I was hoping it would be some glitch in information. Like you, I had a preemie. 1lb 12oz... not an ounce of fat on him.. and from Pre-eclampsia plus he had his own issues (rare genetic disorder, placenta that decided it had enough) ... emergency c-section later, I was looking at this itty bitty thing in a box and thankful he was alive. No one understands the world of a NICU like another Preemie parent. No one can imagine how truly tiny a baby of that size is, unless you see it with your own eyes. And I got he same reaction they did, 5 years of secondary infertility, after 5 miscarriages, the birth of a "special needs" baby (one of the m/c had been my oldest's twin) ... and then I got "well you won't have anymore" .. why not? why shouldn't I? My hearts not full yet. I ended up divorcing the Dad of my older two, met my current husband, we wanted a child of our own. I got pregnant, more medical problems, another preemie, only this time 3lbs 4oz and 36 weeker - so small for his gestation... so many more problems, and then .. we made a choice, we wanted to try for one more and every one thought we were crazy! But my last baby is healthy. It has nothing to do with how many you have or how many m/c or sick babies or preemies.. it's all giving the babies you have nothing but hope and unconditional love.

Thanks for what you wrote, it brought me back to a place I haven't been in a while.

Laura said...

I couldn't have said it better.

Shana said...

I also had to link this post on my blog - well written!

Hija said...

This is a lovely post. Thanks for taking the time to write it.

Kelly said...

It breaks my heart that any mom (and dad) would ever have to experience having a preemie. Regardless of the choices they have made, they are suffering now. Their hearts are breaking as they watch their daughter fight for her life.
Thank you for this post and the perspective that you bring.

Geohde said...

I was shocked to read this- people in the public eye always LOOK teflon, you just dont' expect bad things to happen. Especially in a low risk mother.

I had pre-e only at the end of a heavily provocative multiple gestation with a strong family history, being a preemie myself.

I am fortunate.

I will keep Michele Duggar in my thoughts.


Elizabeth said...

This is why... though I've never met you in person, that I think you are amazing and I love you for it.

You have the most understanding heart even when your mind just can't wrap itself around "the Dugger's life choices" your heart knows that what they are facing.

I have more blessings than I deserve, and my heart goes out to them and I am filled with prayers.

...and hope, and love, for yet another child who has entered this world far to soon.

El said...

Trish...I think I love you. I know my three NICU babies were nowhere near as early as Robbie or Josie, but I know firsthand even now, when people ask about Seth and I say "Great!" I then almost always elaborate about how he's still delayed, but compared to where he WAS, he's doing great.

And the stuff about putting one foot in front of the other...well, that's the last six months of my life. =)

Avery's Mommy said...

Wow. I'm speechless very very well written!

Duchess said...

Great post!

Christi said...

think what you want about who they are, what their beliefs are, and the choices they make, you are so right, when it all boils down, we fight the same battle..prematurity. Beautifully written, thought and tear provoking!

Anonymous said...

thank you for this! i posted it to my FB status. i wish i had your blog entry 2 years ago when my 26 week twins were fighting for their lives and so so so many clueless people kept telling me "they'll be fine they just need time to grow". for the record, my 1 lb 13 oz miracles are healthy happy 2 year olds. every day we beat the odds and every day i count my blessings.
-april (NJ)

Jeff and Kerry said...

GREAT post, Trish. Ivory shared this post with me (I'm severely behind on my Google Reader), and it speaks volumes for what our* community goes through. Would you mind if I linked this post on our blog?

The Turner Family said...

Trish- I adore most of all of your posts, b/c you always give a great perspective with a wonderful sense of sly/sarcastic humor.

That being said, I think this is one of my FAVORITE posts! It is so compassionate and you have put into words what most of us pre-e/preemie moms think "fine with a *", so true! So wondefully written..

AngelsAmid said...

You wrote this so well. I'm in tears for. (and tears for remembering what you went through) and looking back now that I've had a child and couldn't imagine watching my child just fight to live. I'm praying so much for her baby. You're such a good person.

Heather said...

I've been feeling the same way. Never really liked them. Think they are nuts. But I feel for what they are going through. Our boys were born at 31 weeks and we endured 6 weeks of the NICU. I can't imagine how they are feeling at seeing their tiny new daughter and how much help she needs to stay alive at this point. No judgement here of she should have known better. It just proves this can happen to anyone. My heart goes out to them.

Anonymous said...

Great post.

Tasha said...

Well written. ((HUG))

Alexicographer said...

Here from Kirtsy -- beautiful post. Thank you.

loribeth said...

Here from Kirtsy, & standing & applauding. The Duggars drive me nuts sometimes, but I wouldn't wish this kind of pain on my worst enemy.

Quiet Dreams said...

Here from LFCA/Kirtsy.

I also am very skeptical about the media's purporting that the baby is "fine." I've never had a preemie (or a baby for that matter), but I know enough about it to know that it is a BIG DEAL to be born at 25 weeks. And even if she's doing "fine" now, doesn't mean there are any guarantees. As a NICU doctor in a training I went to for work said, "Never trust a preemie."

Thanks for posting this thoughtful post.

Amanda said...

Thank you for putting this into perspective. Just because someone has so many children doesn't mean that having one born soo early isn't tragic. I'm definitely sharing this post with anyone and everyone that will listen.

Judge not lest ye be judged, right?

Kathy said...

Well said. You're an amazing writer Trish. Thanks for trying to articulate this feelings and reaching out to those who haven't experienced prematurity themselves.

The Writer Chic said...

This is such an amazing post. The Duggar story hit so close to home for me, I wasn't even able to address it, but I'm so glad you did. xoxoxox MSG

Rach said...

Ok I'll be the voice of dissent.

While your post is written lovely, I do tend to the agree with the "judgemental people" who have commented on forums.

It is not normal for one person to have endured 19 pregnancies, and so YES as each subsequent pregnancy happened it DID up her chances of something going wrong as she put her body through yet another pregnancy.

I do not like the Duggars never have, never will, I do not agree with how they parent nor how they bring their children up, however each to their own.

I would not wish a premmie experience on any family.

It must be noted that this comment is being written two days before I am about to start on The Pill, after giving up trying to conceive A child after 10 years and 6 miscarriages.

Bitter moi? Probably.

Trish said...

Rachel, I'm so sorry to hear that you're having to go to childless not by choice. :(

You certainly are entitled to your opinion. I completely agree that their choices are not to my liking. At all. (and have had many heated discussions when pro-very-large-family friends)

In your place, I'm sure I'd have a hard time seeing it much other way. But as someone who has gotten sick through no doing of her own and has watched their child suffer untold torture, I come from a different perspective.

I just read your most recent blog post and just as the things you hear said around you "you deserve this" and they hurt you, hearing the vile spouted at the Duggars about how they caused their own tragedy, it hurts me to think that people would think the same of me- or any of us who have tried so hard to do the right thing and nearly lost (or did lose) our children anyway.

Mya said...

Here via Kirtsy. This is a beautifully written post. Thank you for providing a different prospective.

Rach said...

Trish you misunderstood me completely.

At NO point did I say that the Duggars caused their own tragedy, far from it. What I DID say though is that each pregnancy she put her body through upped her chances of something going wrong.

With every single pregnancy doesn't matter who it is, there is a chance that something will go wrong, we don't like to talk about it, don't like to think about it but it's the truth, there is a risk involved in every single pregnancy that takes place on this earth. The more pregnancies you have the higher the chance that something will go wrong with one of them.

I suppose my point was, perhaps this is her bodies way of telling her that enough is enough - NOT that her being knocked up 19 times has caused this.

No one 'deserves' to suffer the pain of a premmie birth and child and I wouldn't wish it on anyone, nor would I ever lay the blame at someones feet for having a premmie birth, these things happen, blaming someone will not change whats happened.

And so Trish I'm truly sorry that you totally took my comment out of context, you can blame text not conveying emotions correctly and me typing from down the deep dark well I'm currently residing in.

Trish said...

Rachel, I didn't think that you were specifically saying that the Duggars caused their own illness.

I meant, rather, that this post was written in response to those who have said as much.

You are absolutely correct that every pregnancy is a risk. Unfortunately I know all too well. And I think of little else as we're planning on trying for #2 in a few months. My risk of suffering this same disease again is very high.

But, with the guidance of our doctors and a LOT of thought, discussion and prayer, we've decided to go for it.

There are those who would tell me that infertility, miscarriage and preeclampsia are a sign we should stop. Frankly, I'm not sure I believe in signs.

I think that people need to decide what their wishes are, weigh the risks, benefits and challenges and proceed.

We may very well regret the decision to try again. I have no idea what lies ahead of us. Perhaps we won't be able to conceive again. Maybe more miscarriages. Maybe another preterm birth, or worse.

But we made our decision based on hope & science, not fear and subjective signs.

I absolutely believe 19 children is too many. And had her uterus fallen out, I might even agree that she'd pushed her body too far. But that isn't what happened.

What happened to Michelle and to Josie can happen to ANYONE. And I don't think it's fair to presume that something extremely rare and random should be used as a weapon against them or even as an absolute deciding factor in their future child-bearing.

I think there are a LOT of reasons not to go for 20. I really hope they don't. But preeclampsia isn't on the list of reasons I feel that way.

Me said...

I *may* have made some comment about the Duggars stopping squirting out kids now. Maybe. But I get what you're saying here. So much so I hyperlinked to this in a post RE the Duggars on FF. Hope you don't mind too much. :*

Me said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Me said...

Oh. But I do still hold my prior opinion, which is in line with Rachel. Because statistics are what statistics are. The more times you flip that coin, the more likely you are that the undesirable side will eventually come up.

Amy said...

What a beautiful post. This made me cry.

chipz95 said...

Trish, this post was absolutely beautiful. What an amazing writer you are!!!!

battynurse said...

So I'm coming over from Stirrup Queens (I'm behind as usual) and read your post. This is a truly fantastic and beautiful post. As someone who refuses pretty much to follow reality TV and who doesn't watch the news much either I hadn't even heard about this and it's Jan. Having worked NICU for a short time I've seen so many parents go through this. I'm sorry that she or anyone else ever has to endure having a child in the NICU. Thinking of you and Michelle Duggar and all other NICU moms.

gailcanoe said...

I am coming from Sitrrup Queen as well and found your post to be well-written. I'm so glad that both your child and Michelle's child seem to be doing well, despite being preemies and I hope that they both continue to grow and thrive.