If TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting insists on exploiting Michelle Duggar‘s miscarriage for this season’s ratings, then we’re going to track its dramatic arc from episode to episode.
I was prepared to complain about TLC keeping us on the precipice of Michelle’s miscarriage for weeks, for episode after episode to be frozen in time on the 18-week mark right before she miscarried. But then something strange happened: In last night’s episodes, “Music with the Duggars” and “The Duggar Twist,” Michelle revealed that she was 17 weeks along.
That’s right, we’ve just time-traveled. I’m not sure why we’re seeing the episodes out of order, and there’s a vague chance that she meant to say 18 weeks and flubbed it up while recording the parts in the confessional. But for now we’ll take her at her word, and 17 weeks.
She chirps about how she’s taking prenatal vitamins and exercising plenty. With each time she reiterates it, it sounds more and more defensive, especially because any talk of their 20th child, Michelle has to compare it to her controversial pregnancy with micro preemie Josie.
Are you ready to cringe? Because Michelle gives us another quote in the confessional that’s just way too hopeful:
“When I was pregnant with Josie at 17 weeks, there were no symptoms or signs that anything was going wrong. I felt great. I feel a little bit of apprehension because I’m getting closer to that 25-week mark where Josie was born. And just praying and trusting that this pregnancy will go full-term and I will have a big, healthy baby.”
What consistently surprises me on this show is that Michelle and Jim Bob can have any humor about their situation; in some ways it’s comforting, in other ways disturbing. Nonetheless, there’s a moment of levity at an event, where someone asks about fertility but Michelle misunderstands and thinks it’s a discussion about contraception.
“Personally for me, in my heart, I’m choosing not to use…” she starts, and then trails off when she realizes they’re not talking about the pill or condoms. “Sorry!” she laughs. “You’re talking about fertility… Of course, I haven’t had to think about that.”
But that moment of normal human behavior is short-lived. As I said last week, it’s unsettling to see how accepting Michelle and Jim Bob are about the possibility of miscarriage, without ever naming it. When doing a Q&A where the Josie issue came up, she explained,
“When we gave our life to the Lord, we said, ‘Father, we want to receive any gifts you have for us.’ And he is very able to give, and take away… I didn’t enjoy the circumstances and the things we went through, but I would do it again… We are thankful, and excited to meet this new baby.”
It’s unclear why TLC decided to edit the show the way they did, and jump from 12 weeks to 18 weeks to 17 weeks. But judging from the subject matter in the next two episodes — taking the kids to space camp, and Michelle teaching 14-year-old Joy Anna to drive — we’re probably going to be stuck in this pre-miscarriage limbo for a while.