Michelle Duggar and husband James Robert "Jim Bob" Duggar, stars of TLC's popular reality show "19 Kids and Counting," have responded to the criticism they received after just announcing Tuesday that they are expecting their 20th child on NBC's "Today" program.
In an interview with People Magazine, the couple responded to critics that have slammed them for potentially putting another baby at risk after their last daughter, Josie, was born three months prematurely after it was discovered that Michelle had pre-eclampsia, a pregnancy-induced hypertension.
"Oh Lord! This is horrible!," wrote one commenter after seeing the Duggars's NBC appearance in a YouTube clip. "Didn't they see what happened to the last baby? What if this time the baby actually does die? Or Michelle dies? This is not smart at all!"
Mrs. Duggar, 54, said she experienced the condition previously with the birth of her now 21-year-old twins John David and Jana, and that it was not something that worried her enough to stop having children.
"If we felt that way, we would have stopped back with our second birth," she said. "There are many women who have experienced pre-eclampsia and have gone on to have more children. That whole mind set that you stop after a problem pregnancy isn't realistic. You may encounter struggles along the way. You may not have a perfect pregnancy, but each child is a precious gift."
In addition, many observers have suggested that the Duggars could not possibly be able to give each child the individual attention that one needs from his or her parents and criticized the fact that the older children have too much responsibility. The couple told CNN that they have a buddy system in place whereby an older child is assigned a younger child to mentor and help with schoolwork, music lessons and various other activities.
"We homeschool, so we are around our children day in and day out," said Mr. Duggar. "Because I am in real estate, I am home and can be with the children a lot. When we go to the store or run errands, we take the kids one on one and we get to spend more time individually than a lot of parents do."
His wife agreed and said that "everyone works together as a team and it is about teaching our children responsibility."
The Duggars's next child is due in April 2012.
"We are just so grateful to God, so excited," said Mrs. Duggar on the "Today" show.