Michelle Duggar with her children after the birth of baby #18
The news at People.com is that the Duggar family is joyously anticipating the arrival of their newest baby in the spring.
“I love all of this, it is so fun,” says Michelle. “Anna and I will have babies five months apart.”
According to the article, there are “no health concerns” for 42-year-old Michelle. “Some women are made to have babies, and Michelle is to the nth degree,” ob-gyn Amy Sarver told PEOPLE in December. “She is in terrific health without any strain on her uterus.”
So Michelle Duggar is “made to have babies” ~ huh?
Of course, a seemingly logical question for those who are considering the quiverfull lifestyle would be, “What about the women who are not made to have babies?” It’s a question which I asked early on ~ because after 3 c-section deliveries, I was convinced that my body was not cut out for childbearing.
The answer which I found from leading quiverfull proponents such as Mary Pride and Nancy Campbell was “trust the Lord.”
Pride goes so far as to say that many Christians risk their lives as missionaries ~ and if one should be killed in service to the Lord, that true believer will be found faithful ~ they will be rewarded with the Lord’s approval, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant … enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” Considering this eternal perspective, Pride argues, why would any Christian woman shrink back from an opportunity to earn a Martyr’s Crown?
Even after 7 tremendously difficult pregnancies with dangerously low blood pressure throughout, 5 c-sections and finally, a partial-uterine rupture, I was so convinced of my obligation to “trust the Lord” in my reproductive life that I still could not let myself off the hook ~ after all, I was still alive, still fertile. Having once put my hand to the plow, why would I even consider looking back now?
I have to say, as I read that part of the article in which the doctor declares, “She is in terrific health without any strain on her uterus” ~ my eyes were rolling and I’m thinking ~ 19 kids without any strain on her uterus ~ yeah right.
The truth is ~ QF women develop a dangerous tendency to think of themselves as invincible. Having narrowly escaped death on numerous occasions, I honestly believed that “I survived another horrendous delivery ~ the next one isn’t likely to kill me either.”
Amazingly, even after suffering a partial uterine rupture, I was not convinced that pregnancy and childbirth could be a life-threatening condition for me. My uncle once wrote to me, “You have been extraordinarily brave in the face of real threats to your health and that of your newborns. How great was your fear of dying that you would risk it?”
This was my response:
I am actually rather fearless ~ much to the consternation of those who love me. My mother has pleaded with me more than once not to get pregnant again ~ and poor Warren ~ he is so much more afraid for me than I am.
Anyone who has already been to Hell and has found some good there is unlikely to be terrified of unknown or difficult things.
And besides ~ mine is a calculated risk. I know my health could be so much improved if only I didn’t subject myself to continual hardship ~ but I don’t believe that I’m risking my life. During my last delivery, when my uterus split open and I might have died (but didn’t ~ I think that counts as something more than just good luck) ~ the surgeon, who has liability concerns and is financially motivated not to take any risk with my life, spent almost two hours carefully stitching me back together all neat and tidy. Why didn’t he just give me a hysterectomy? He could have done it in ten minutes and made some extra profit. He’s been my doctor for nearly two decades and he knows how I believe about birth control ~ so he knew full well that if he left me my uterus there’s every possibility that I might put it to use again. I say, future pregnancies couldn’t be all that risky ~ or the doctor, a man in the position to know, would not have taken the risk. To me, this is not the same as blindly putting my trust in doctors and medicine ~ all factors considered, I do have confidence in the surgeon’s assessment of the risk to my life.
Sure, I could die ~ but we all could whether we insulate ourselves from the possibility or not.
As a fully-convinced QFer, I often wrote and spoke about my experience of enduring extremely difficult pregnancies and deliveries ~ and my message to other women was always this: If I can trust the Lord with my reproductive life, anyone can. “A tough conviction, yes ~ but well worth the trouble considering the Lord’s promised reward.”
Recently, a friend mentioned that she had watched a marathon of Duggar programs on TLC. Being familiar with my own experience with the quiverfull philosophy and lifestyle, she was fully expecting to find serious extremism ~ but the programs showed a regular family doing run-of-the-mill stuff which all families do ~ only times eighteen.
“They seem pretty normal,” my friend said.
That’s the trouble right there. The Duggar family is portrayed as “normal” (okay, what’s “normal” about having 18 children and another on the way?) ~ a loving, whimsical family. The quiverfull lifestyle can be extremely enticing for any woman who longs to be fulfilled and appreciated in her roles of wife and mother ~ what woman wouldn’t be drawn to such an idyllic picture of abundant and joyous motherhood?