I do not usually pay much attention to the Duggar family, not because I don’t agree with their policy on living a “quiverfull” life (I don’t agree with it, but to each their own) but because I don’t harbor any interest in the celebrity lives of the “average” person. I just don’t care. Nor am I fascinated by the parents and their “19 and counting” brood. I’ve never seen the show, I’ve never even seen one of their appearances on other shows. I don’t agree with their lifestyle, so I don’t endorse it.

But, because I’ve developed such an interest in pregnancy loss and baby loss, I’ve read several articles about Michelle Duggar’s 20th pregnancy, which recently ended in a 2nd semester loss. Most of the articles I’ve read have just been factual and straight-forward. This is Michelle’s second miscarriage. They discovered it at the routine 20-week anatomy scan. The family is heartbroken and plans to have a funeral service for the baby. It’s a story that I’ve read in countless other pregnancy loss blogs, and like those stories, it’s a sad one in and of its own.

And then, there are the comments. I admit, I read a lot of articles just to read the comments. Not just in this case, but in general. As much as I like facts, I also like hearing opinions. It helps me to form my own.

But here’s what angers me: I’ve read comments suggesting that this isn’t such a terrible tragedy for a woman who has already given birth to 19 live children.  At least one comment suggested that she deserved to have this miscarriage because she has enough children and only uses them to “milk money from the Discovery Channel.” Another person said that they feel sorry for people who are trying to conceive and suffer miscarriages – but not the Duggars.

Also. Several people have said they believe that the miscarriage happened because Mrs. Duggar is reaching a certain age and the female body can’t support a baby past a certain point. One straight-up suggested that only “old” women have miscarriages or baby problems. Many more argued that this miscarriage and the premature birth of their 19th child are signs that God wants them to stop having babies. At this point, I decided I should stop reading the articles and the comments because I was beginning to foam at the mouth.

Why do these comments make me so angry? I don’t care one way or the other about the Duggars. Let them do as they will do. It’s not my business. But I cannot sit still and keep my mouth shut when someone says that a miscarriage shouldn’t upset anyone who has that many kids already. Or that God took away her baby because He thinks she’s had enough.

It doesn’t matter why the Duggars keep having children: faith in God or attention-grabbing scheme. What matters is that they wanted a child, and they lost that child. Whether it’s the first, second, or twenty-second child, it’s still a loss. The number of living children a woman has should have no relevance on how sad a pregnancy loss should be. It’s still a loss. If the child is mourned, shouldn’t we respect that? Shouldn’t we refrain from belittling a woman in mourning, even if we do disagree with her life choices? What kind of person says to a woman, “Why are you upset about this miscarriage when you have all these other children?” She lost a child. That’s all you need to know.

I imagine these are the same people who say to a woman who has lost her first child, “Don’t worry. You’re young, and you can have more.” Both sentiments are hurtful; they assume that the mother wants just any random child. The truth is that any wanted child that is lost is mourned. Not just because it was a child but because it was THEIR child. Even if I go on to have a dozen more kids, I will still want Lauren. She is still MY child, and she always will be. Another child will not simply replace her.

And. Here’s another thing that angers me: would anybody care if this wasn’t the Duggars? How many miscarriages go unannounced to the public? Pretty much all of them. How many other women miscarried the day Michelle Duggar miscarried? We don’t know, because none of those women got press-releases. How is it that the public only becomes aware of miscarriage when somebody “famous” has one? And what does it say about people when the overwhelming response is, “Well, maybe you should just stop having babies?”

And. One more “and.” What kind of person tells another person – one who obviously has great faith in their God – that God took away their baby because she’s already had enough? I am by no means a religious person, but if I were to be one of the faithful, I would imagine God as a being of love and kindness. Not a God that would take away a woman’s child to punish her or to “send her a message.” I’m not the type to go running to Scripture to prove a point, but I’ve read anything I can find to get whatever solace I can, including Bible verses. Here’s one that struck me in its simplicity and its unintentional comfort: “So it is not the will of my Father who is in Heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” [Matthew 18:14] Of course, Jesus is not specifically talking about miscarriage or stillbirth, but he does suggest that the life of a child is precious in the eyes of God. Do people really believe this is a God who would take a woman’s child from her to hurt her?

I will not accept the argument that because the Duggars have a reality TV show that they open themselves up to insensitivity. It is one thing to criticize them for their life choices; it is another thing entirely to belittle their loss. There’s no excuse for that.

I’m closing with two links to articles about the Duggars’ loss, plus one that’s a bit more helpful in what to say to a woman’s who had a baby loss.

  • Michelle Duggar’s Miscarriage is a Sign from God – While I agree that Michelle Duggar has probably hit her baby-making limit and that she’s crazy to keep trying, I don’t agree with the sentiment that God took the baby away because He didn’t want her to have it.  And that’s not because I don’t believe in a God in the Christian sense. That’s just a terribly cruel thing to say to a faithful woman who just lost a baby.
  • What to Say, and What Not to Say, to a Woman Who’s Just Had a Miscarriage – Pretty light on actual suggestions on what to say to women who’ve suffered miscarriages, but at least they’re pointing out that “God didn’t want you to have this baby” is the wrong thing to say.
  • What Not to Say to Someone Who Has Miscarried – A few suggestions on what not to say, along with some first-hand explanations on why some of those things hurt so much.
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