How many kids is really too many? Is there such a thing?
Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar of TLC's reality series 19 Kids and Counting have announced that they're expecting their 20th child in April of 2012. Hysterically, TLC includes 19 Kids and Counting in their "How Stuff Works" lineup.
As someone who was raised in Mesa, Ariz., alongside the second-largest population of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) in the U.S. behind Salt Lake City, I got used to meeting families with 12 or 13 kids. The reasoning I heard from my high school chemistry lab partner was because "babies are going to be born; best for them to be born into a righteous family."
But 13 was the most I ever heard about in one brood. (That was the Larsons. Their dad was a proctologist, and they had a giant house in the orange groves.) What the Duggars are doing is closer to fielding a football team. Or a cult.
With the population of the Earth having just reached 7 billion, it's comforting to know that this newest Duggar baby will be in good company when mankind is forced to fight and kill for water when the ecosystem collapses and scientists scramble to find a new way to humanely eat people.
But what I'm worried about is: What adorable name starting with the letter 'J' are they going to call this new bundle of joy?
All panicky apocalypse humor aside, I'm getting worried about the House of Duggar.
The family has been called dysfunctional, abusive and even mentally ill in their family planning techniques. As reality stars who are blurring the lines between parents and children, the Duggars are publicly teetering on the brink of family crisis, neglect and even physical danger.
First off, Mama Michelle's body has got to be the strongest suggestion of the human female form. Far be it from me to claim to be an expert on women, but just imagining the constant stretching and pulling and deflating (and repeating) after 19 children would make me want to run, not walk, to my nearest plastic surgeon.
How is Michelle's body even handling the baby-making experience anymore? The, ahem, "activity" of Michelle and Jim Bob conceiving is itself a mystery after that many babies, but then carrying a baby to term without it falling out is beyond my understanding of physics. Every step of this 20th pregnancy process seems like a biological impossibility. Or a torture sentence.
Fraulein Duggar's last pregancy, which resulted in now 23-month-old Josie Duggar, led to Josie's incredibly premature birth and arrival into the world at a whopping 1 pound, 6 ounces. Josie stayed in intensive care after her mom's emergency C-section and has had regular trips to the hospital to deal with repetitive digestive problems.
Still, the Duggars are thrilled to chance another dangerous pregnancy and add to the small village they've already sired. On their Gospel-heavy website, both Jim Bob and Michelle tell their genuinely sad tale of suffering a miscarriage. What's frustrating is that they blame said tragedy on their their use of contraceptives. Afterward, they did away with contraception and "asked God to bless them with as many children as He saw fit."
Clearly God can count to 20. And who knows how many more if they're not planning on stopping? We know Jim Bob has a problem with odd numbers. As long as Michelle's fine being a human incubator and the older kids don't mind being "assigned" to care for the little ones while their mom is on permanent bed rest, there's no reason for them to stop, apparently.
Meanwhile, oldest son Josh Duggar has started his own future football team/family with his wife, Anna. They're on kid No. 2 now, which means they've got two kids who are now older than his youngest sibling. We can only hope the 19 other Duggar children will follow their parents' fertile footsteps and eventually take over the state of Arkansas. Imagine all that could get accomplished!
And we'll keep doing our part by tuning in to watch this Scripturally supported science experiment gone so kindly and awesomely awry.