Perhaps ratings were slumping for their “reality” show? I use the term reality loosely, because a family with 19 children is not reality for anyone. While TLC likes to call themselves the ‘Family, Home, Style, Cooking network,” (you know, crock pots and crafts), TLC is really code for The Desperate for Attention and Whoring Myself and/or My Kids Out channel. TLC just rolls off the tongue a little bit easier.
While being a grand multipara (5 or more deliveries) increases the risks of some specific obstetrical complications, Michelle Duggar is also assuming a special kind of risk. A woman who delivers prematurely due to severe preeclampsia at 25 weeks (as she did in her last pregnancy) has a 60% chance of developing severe preeclampisa before 28 weeks in her next pregnancy. That means Michelle Duggar has a 60% chance of having another extremely premature baby (because the treatment for severe preeclampsia is delivery). Babies born before 28 weeks have a 30% risk of a moderate or severe disability.
There is also a 60% chance that her baby will have a NICU bill of over $500,000, a good portion of which will be covered by Medicaid (never mind all the post-NICU care). And here I thought not lying was one of those Commandments (see #9, “Do not bear false witness”). Michelle and Jim Bob love to say they don’t take government money, but they clearly have (why does no one call them out in this?). Every baby who weighs less than 1,200 g at birth gets Medicaid. So, any portion of the estimated $500,000 NICU bill incurred by Josie that was not covered by her private insurance was paid by great the State of Arkansas.
But Michelle is not only playing Russian roulette with her new baby. Preeclampsia is the third most common cause of maternal death in this country. For every 100,000 babies born alive in the United States, 790 women die from preeclampsia. And Michelle Duggar has a 60% chance of developing this condition before 28 weeks.
Of course, she has a 40% chance that she’ll make it to the 3rd trimester and if she does there will be the implication that it’s a “miracle” and “God’s will.” Which irks me to no end, because 40% isn’t a miracle and the whole “God’s will” thing implies some higher power thinks it’s just fun and games for everyone else who had a bad outcome with their pregnancy.
I know many preemie moms who delivered before 28 weeks due to preeclampsia. Most with their first pregnancy and most have decided that they won’t have another baby because they simply couldn’t go through it again. Not only because of the risks to their own health and the thought they could leave their baby motherless, but because they just couldn’t put another baby though 10 or more weeks of the NICU and then the years of uncertainty that follow.
To me, the Duggar’s decision to have another baby can only be a desperate attempt to improve ratings and by extension income, because who in their right mind would have a 20th child knowing there is a 60% risk of a terrible outcome?