What the Hell is Wrong With the Duggars?

Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar Announcing 20th Pregnancy

When I heard that Michelle Duggar is, in fact, pregnant with what will be her 20th child, my initial reaction was, “What the hell?”

I don’t suspect I’m in the minority.

The gist of the shock and concern seems to be based around the dangerously premature birth of the youngest Duggar, Josie, who was born at a shocking 1 pound, 6 ounces.  Michelle Duggar’s pregnancy with Josie was shortened by her diagnosis of preeclampsia, a condition identified when she was initially hospitalized for gallstones.

Josie spent four months in the hospital after her December 2010 birth, and had to return shortly after being released because of vital sign concerns.  She didn’t, for all intents and purposes, get to go home from the hospital until she was six months old.

The idea of a baby having to spend her first six months of life in the hospital is tragic, as is the notion that nineteen kids were almost certainly getting a degree of shafting from parents obviously concerned about ..

… their newest addition.

I get that.  I totally do.

So why, when two of the risk factors for preeclampsia include a history of the condition and maternal age (35 being the so-called magic number), would you choose to potentially put your family in that sort of position again?

From Fox News:

Duggar long ago earned a spot in the category doctors have created for women who have had many children. Women achieve what is called grand multiparity when they give birth at least five times, and, for these women, additional pregnancies bring special risks.

Doctors worry most that these women will hemorrhage after delivery, and doctors won’t be able to get the uterus to contract to stop the bleeding, said Dr. Lois Brustman, an associate professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University.

A woman’s uterus, the organ within which the fetus develops, is a muscle, and each successive pregnancy stretches that muscle. As a result, after a woman has had many pregnancies, the muscle has a hard time contracting after the placenta — the organ that connects the fetus to the mother’s blood supply — separates, Brustman said. This creates a risk of massive bleeding. Because the uterus has been weakened by successive pregnancies, drugs to cause this contraction are typically less successful, she said.

Scar tissue from past pregnancies within the uterus can cause problems with the placenta. This can create additional risks, including premature birth, according to Brustman.

Duggar is 45, and her age also brings increased risk of health problems during pregnancy, including hypertension, diabetes and preeclampsia, a condition unique to pregnancy that involves hypertension and protein in the urine, Brustman said. Duggar suffered from preeclampsia during her most recent pregnancy, according to news reports.

Her age also brings risk of chromosomal anomalies — a type of genetic problem — which can cause Down syndrome, miscarriages and other issues. This risk increases dramatically as a woman ages.

I had a long conversation with my mother about how appalled I am at Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar expanding their brood, and it was actually very interesting.

The highlights?

- As Kate Gosselin could tell us, fame is fickle.  If the Duggars stop popping out babies, 19 and Counting will at some point become passé … and there goes the money.

- If you identify as pro-choice, you can’t have it both ways.  In other words, if I strongly believe that women have the right to choose abortion, then I have to also believe that Michelle Duggar has the right to keep having babies

- Reality shows are really screwing with our culture.

- It’s very sad that Michelle Duggar seems to feel that her sole purpose in life is to be a “Mommy and Wife”

-  Have the Duggars given any thought to the complexities and additional strains of a special needs child?  Like all children, those with special needs are true gifts and offer a great deal to their families, friends, caregivers, and often society as well … but it’s not easy, and making an active choice to go down this road just strikes me as … well, stupid (and what I can’t help referring to as “pulling a Palin”).

So, yeah, I am completely appalled at the idea of a woman putting her health and the family she already has at risk just to keep having children, whether it’s to keep the reality show check rolling in, because she believes it’s in God’s hands (and can somebody explain to me why it’s so hard for people to understand that maybe God created all the medical advancements that make this sort of thing so ill-advised?), or what.

Your thoughts?

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12 thoughts on “What the Hell is Wrong With the Duggars?

  1. I think (almost positive) that even without the show, they pay their own way. Since it’s their dime, they are free to have 50 kids if they want to :)

    • It’s not *completely* true that they pay their own way. The show paid for the furniture in their house and the final details like painting and got people to donate their labor to finish the house in time for the show to film. And they get extra perks like that every time they negotiate a new season, I believe. Also the kids have health care because Jim Bob was a house rep for Arkansas. So if someone on medicare is on welfare because it’s subsidized by taxpayers, so are these kids. I think they have every right to have however many kids they want to, but their claims of total financial independence are a little shaky.
      I think that in the Quiverfull movement these people are a part of, every additional baby is a status symbol of the family’s (especially the mother’s) worth in the eyes of God. That could definitely cause feelings of competition among the mothers in the community, perhaps pushing them to have more babies than is necessarily healthy – i.e. too close together, at a high maternal age, that kind of thing. I don’t know if the Duggars specifically are doing this, but it’s not really a stretch to imagine they are influenced by their peers in their faith community.

    • Not True. The earth isn’t getting any bigger, and with the fact that children tend to want to have families similar to the one they came from, it’s conceivable (pardon the pun) that in 50 years, the two Duggar parents could be responsible for more that 350 offspring. And don’t forget that there are a lot of nuts just like the Duggars, so that 2 or 3 generations from now, this country and planet could be in serious trouble if they don’t put there pants on and find something else to do at night!

      • hi there I am carer for my very ill husband and the duggars does not know that my son is young carer who help me to look after his father and only time my son goes out 2 days a week to do kickboxing training but rest time he is helping me

  2. I think you can be a feminist and support a woman’s decision to have 20 kids while still being horrified by it. At least I hope so.

  3. Of course every woman has the right to choose, including Mrs Duggar. The thing is, people who are slamming pro-choicers as being selfish are missing the point. Pro-choicers believe that a woman should have the option to choose to have kids when it is the right time for her so she can do her best for her child/children. Mrs Duggar is having kids because it’s her dream to have 20 of them, without really realizing what it takes to be a parent. As the oldest of six I am very aware of how impossible it is to have even a relatively big family and give your kids enough one-on-one time. I cannot imagine having 19 siblings and almost never getting to speak to my parents without someone else in the room or interrupting. I barely got time to talk to my parents once a week, but with more than three times as many kids? Oh heck no.

    • First , she’s having that many kids because she has decided that’s what her holy duty is, not because she wanted 20 in particular (although, I do believe I heard them mentioning that they don’t want an odd number of kids for some reason). Second, just because we support someone’s right to something doesn’t mean that we can’t criticize their use of that right. I support a person’s right to free speech, but I also have the right to point out when they’re doing something idiotic. Additionally, while her right to have children is one thing, the family’s ability to emotionally and intellectually care for the children is a separate issue that should be discussed.

  4. I understand the concept of “every sperm is sacred”, that people believe sex as anything other than procreation is a sin but I just *love* how rather than interpreting that as, “we’re only going to have sex when we want to make a baby an therefore will probably not have sex as often” they see it as “we’re just going to keep right on having the same amount of sex the ‘hethens’ have but it’s ok because we’re just going to raise 20 kids”. I’m overly simplifying it but If a doctor came forward and told Mrs. Duggar she would absolutely die if she got pregnant one more time, would the two of them become abstinent? What if one of their children came forward and begged them not to have another child? I also find it very convenient that relying on medical technology to help an infant develop outside of the whom as if it were in the womb is totally fine (NICU) but using a simple piece of rubber or lambskin to prevent pregnancy is atrocious. Ugh.

  5. My mother was 1 of 13 and I have to say that not one of her siblings, including her, felt that her mother had no business having 13 kids. There is no way humanly possible to give each child the love and attention they need. My mother along with her 4 sister were the ones cooking, cleaning and taking care of the rest of them. And if you watched the show it is not so different in the Duggars family either. Each child is essentially given their chores to do around the house. It is essentially the Duggars right to have 50 kids, but they are in serious denial about how their childrens’ needs. Not one of my aunts or uncles felt slighted in some way and not one I can say was not emotionally drained by their childhood. It is, after all, the legacy they leave in the world when they are gone. Hopefully their legacy is a positive one by leaving children who are “whole” and not left emotionally challenged in some way.

  6. I have a niece in Oregon that also indiscriminately procreates. I have known her since birth and she is dumb as bark on a tree. Are the Duggars just plain “stupid”?
    My niece has become the brunt of all the family jokes and even my 83 year old Mother(her Grandmother) makes comments like, “She could have stood on a street corner and tripped a stranger and gotten better results from the gene pool.

  7. WTF? How does anyone consider this “normal” it’s a proven fact (Yale university by Dr. Dale Langston) that parents on a study of over 25,000 families can NOT give the attention “needed” on an individual basis to this many kids. Anyone that thinks other wise is a rainbow, sunshine loving ignorant Hippy!! People anymore disgust me and you all including the Duggar clan can keep their idiotic ignorant asses the hell away from me!!! Get the hell out of Arkansas Duggars and all you other sorry asses that wal-mart, JB hunt and Tyson’s has brought into this area along with all the damn illegal immigrants!!! Get THE hell OUT!!! Cause if I run into you I’d say the same thing to your face!! Believe me I would!!

  8. The fact that they control every aspect of their childrens lives means they are a cult not your average American Christian Family. I do believe some of what they promote has nothing to do with Scripture, developing a closer personal relationship with Jesus Christ. What they promote is mind control and for all kids to be 100% alike, there is no room for individuality in their household. The kids are walking brainwashed fundies. Who out of fear and mind control know no other life style or choice in their lives. They are in fact like the Kidnapped Victims we hear about on TV. They are forced to live and stay so they can live, because there only other choice is death or being shunned by their family/close friends.

    I grew up in a Catholic Christian home and I am now 28 years old. I was expected and still go to Church on Sunday and went to a Non-Denominational Bible Camp as a teenager many times.

    But what separates my family from the Duggars are many things.

    Well 1 I can wear pants whenever I want to and I can wear a Bikini on the beach and my parents and friends do think I am a slut.

    2 I can cut and dye my hair whatever the way I want.

    3 I hold 2 degrees and work now and chose my own education path. My parents believed it was important for all 3 kids(all girls) to get an education and be self-sufficient. We could choose to stay at home if we wnted to after we got married and had kids or we could have kids and work full time the choice is ours. My 2 older sisters are married and both have kids and both work, 1 is an accountant and 1 a psychiatrist.

    4. My parents support using contraception while still being pro-life against abortion, because they believe like most Christian people do in my area that Condoms/the pill prevent abortion in the first place. 5 Both my parents work full time still. You can be Pro-life and be pro-contraception I know I am.

    5. My mom and I in particular believe you can be a member of a Church and not agree or follow 100% of the what your denomination teaches. 98% of all Catholic women have used contraception, so yeah the choice is in our hands not the popes, no matter what he says.

    6. We believe males in the world should be held accountable for rape, child abuse, battery/violence. We believe man who beat and rape their wives, children should have stronger sentences and more time in jail.

    7. My parents do not choose who I date, are who I am friends with. I am an adult and I make these decisions on my own. The Dugger children are in their early 20s and they are still reliant on their parents and ask their parents for permission on these issues.

    8. There is no such thing as courtship- Christians date and date just like athiests do and guess what Christians do have sex before marriage as well, even if we are encouraged to wait and make purity promises at Bible Camp or youth rallies.Because once we hit the 20s we have sexual desires just like all other people have.You can’t just marry the first person you date. I was always shy and I didn’t start dating until university and trust me I am so happy I didn’t marry my first boyfriend. You need to have several relationships and grow up first before are ready for a mature relationship that leads to marriage and children you desire to have. The Duggars are Fundies and don’t represent mainstream Christianity at all. I think they are deluded people, who have viewers thinking they are a regular traditional Christian family and they are FAR FROM IT!!!!!!!!!!

    9. Most Christian women work in the US be it volunteering, part time or full time work- most women in my family work. The only they don’t work is when they are on mat leave or sick leave. And yes it is not a crime for a women to take time off work to recover from her delivery and to spend time to bond with her baby. In fact, it is sexist males who do not want to cover maternity leave not women. In Canada, where I now leave I am fortunate if I ever have a child I can take a year off paid so yeah it is more fair and pro-women then the US is.

    10. I was not brainwashed and sheltered like the Duggars- I knew about other religions and traditions. I went to a regular school k-12, and university. I was friends with people who were not of my faith background or denomination. I have met, hanged out, went to school and worked with athiests, mormoms, Jehovah witnesses, Evangelical Proeststants, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Buhdists.

    Ultimately what keeps the Duggars on TV is viewers like us watching their show, it is like Sister Wives I am against polygamy so I did not watch the show. The more people watch the show the more the ratings and cash for these shows increases. Duggars are paid to be filmed by TLC- they get 75,000 an episode. Take the fame and the money away could they really support 19 kids in this economy. HECK NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I really also feel it is time for The Today Show to stop inviting them, it only brings these lunatics more attention. If we want the Duggars to stop, we gotta stop watching their SHOW IN THE FIRST PLACE!!!!!!!!!! It is TV ratings that draw them and give them attention. If the ratings would be low then their show and fame wouldn’t exist.

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