By now, the whole word knows that Michelle Duggar -- mama to 19 kids -- has had a miscarriage of what would have been baby 20. And now you have a choice, folks. You can decide whether you're going to join the group of people bashing the Duggar family, or you're going to care about those 19 kids. Because the reactions to this devastating new have certainly shined a light on a rarely talked about victim in pregnancy loss.
Fact is, I don't agree with the Duggar family's quiverfull plans for procreation -- the thing that earned them a show on TLC. I hear 20 kids, and I grab my stomach. But I can't read Michelle Duggar's comments about the night before she realized she'd miscarried -- when she was hanging out with her other children -- or the planned funeral services and not feel bad for those other kiddos in her household.
Mama Duggar was in her second trimester. Her older kids had a very clear picture of what was supposed to happen in their home come April. They'd even started talking names of baby J.
And then it happened. There was no heartbeat. And the Duggar family encountered what so many moms and dads in America have dealt with over the years: devastation.
The fact that Michelle Duggar has got controversial concepts for parenting don't change that. Jim Bob and Michelle are grieving. And beyond that, so are 19 kids. Because whether we want to remember it or not as we rush to judge this family, siblings are a big part of a pregnancy. To ignore them as we carry on is to fail a whole lot of children.
I clearly remember being 4 years old and knowing my mommy's tummy was bulging with my brother (although I swore it was a sister) inside. I remember in vivid detail the day we went to see a re-release of Snow White in the local theater, when fear sent me scrambling for my mommy's lap, only her tummy was so big there was no room for me. I recall being allowed the great privilege of marking down my favorite names (ultimately discarded) on a list of first and middles. This little baby wasn't just my parents' son. He was my baby brother.
He still is my baby brother. And for all the struggles we've had, I love him like few others in my life. He's part of who I am. Imagining my life without him is . . . well, it's devastating.
And so much as I feel for the Duggar parents today, somehow my pain is doubled for their kids. Because they don't go into pregnancy the way adults do, with full knowledge that "anything" can happen. They don't even get to choose whether or not they want a sibling. But they get invested in the process the minute Mom or Dad say "hey! guess what!" And now they're mourning the loss of . . . well, they don't even know. A new best friend? A potential playmate?
If anything, the fact that the Duggars have so many kids living forces us to face the fact that miscarriage isn't just a quiet matter to be dealt with by two parents. Very often it's something that siblings are faced with . . . but have no real support for. There are miscarriage support groups for parents, but I have yet to find one for siblings. Kids are, in this case at least, very much seen and not heard. And sometimes it's because --right or wrong -- their parents are in enough pain, they can't fathom this other layer, they prefer to gloss over their kids' issues.
But siblings have grief too. Their plans are altered, their dreams are shattered. And having 18 brothers and sisters to soften the blow doesn't change that. They are in pain, and they're probably going to need some help dealing with their own grief. Here's hoping their parents aren't so wrapped up in their own problems and planning that funeral that they forget that.
So go ahead and judge the Duggar parents. Say what you must. But isn't it possible to give these kids a break? They're just kids, after all, and they just suffered a major loss in their life.
Have you suffered through a miscarriage? Were your older kids aware of what was going on?
Image via TLC