It's not that I'm not excited for them; in fact, I think that if that's what they want, great! I'm just waiting for more nasty comments to fly, since it seems that no one has anything nice to say about this family.
Every time they announce a pregnancy, more myths, rumors and stupidity surface. It's things like this that just further ignite controversy over a woman's uterus, I think - the old idea that when you're pregnant, you're not thinking rationally and therefore that gives others - including complete strangers - the right to make decisions for you, make statements about your moral character, mental status, financial situation, family size and physical health.
I really think the biggest cause of vitriol is because fewer people have larger families anymore. That's it. Not that they're "killing the planet" by single-handedly overpopulating it, but because they have all those kids and are well-adjusted and appear to be reasonably sane. Because no one else wants more children, surely these people shouldn't either, and by all rights should be criticized for daring to think outside the box. Quiverfull movement aside, no one can understand why you'd want "more mouths to feed" and will criticize and label you, no matter what religious persuasion you happen to be.
Case in point - there is a large family (I think at last count they were on child #9) floating around town, the mother sort of dressed in Bohemian style, with the most beautiful hair. Her many daughters, all while maintaining their own sort of individual eclectic style, have long hair like hers, and therefore they are quite recognizable even from a distance. I've been seeing this family - in the grocery store, at the library - where mom usually has the youngest in a sling and is happily tooling around with her homeschooled bunch. No one is freaking out, yelling or fighting and everyone looks happy and well-adjusted, despite the fact that the oldest will often be seen holding one of her many baby siblings and looking totally okay with that. I have on many occasions wanted to stop her and just say, "I think you have an awesomely beautiful family!" and photograph them in all their splendor. I thought about this the last time I saw them, as I was out for a morning walk and noticed them up ahead of me on the sidewalk. I was sort of stalking them, I guess, admiring how they plodded through town like the von Trapp family.
I remember at one point hearing rather disparaging comments about them from my neighbor, who said something like "They all sit up front at mass" with an eyeroll, like they are the poster children for stereotypically dutiful Catholicism. Why the religious reference? I thought. Maybe she just wants that many kids, and there's nothing wrong with that.
I get so sick of the "Oh, the perfect family and you're done!" crap; the bullying, both overt and subtle, that goes on when someone decides to have more children than what our culture deems "necessary." And that's exactly what it is: bullying. We as a society are so set against it and want to teach each other how to love, respect, and all that crap - yet the minute we see someone with more than the prerequisite number of kids coming our way, we immediately snap to judgment. There is such negative bias against larger families, even those with far fewer than 20 kids, because we are now living in a "two-kid world." Anything more than that is often considered a burden or an inconvenience.
An editorial recently ran in Shine magazine about a woman who is childless by choice, and wants her friends, family and strangers to stop asking about when she's having kids, especially now that the population toll has reached 7 billion. Great - I can respect your choice and think if you don't want kids, don't have them. Do the responsible thing and go to great lengths to protect yourself from pregnancy; I wish everyone could be as responsible as that. But some of the comments were, as they usually are, disgusting - implying that people who wanted kids were stupid breeders and totally ignorant.
I find some of the comments about Michelle Duggar, though, as ignorant as some of the her harshest critics say she is - worrying about her pre-eclampsia, birth defects, leaving her children motherless, blah blah blah. You stand just as much chance of having a child with birth defects at age 20 as Michelle Duggar; statistically more women have children with Down Syndrome at a younger age, even though the risks of it go up after age 35.
A childless friend commented on the Duggar story and remarked that 'she didn't even carry the last baby to term.' Perhaps, but that almost makes it sound like she had an abortion. And it's not like all of her children were premature; her premature baby was no different than any of the millions of others born in this country every year, for various reasons - it's just that we heard more about it because of the media's focus. Should that be a reason for her to stop having children? I have a friend who has three children and had complicated pregnancies and pre-term births every time. Does that mean she shouldn't have any more?
With the current crisis of forced abortions in China, why are we worrying about this? When a family can stay together, under one roof and raise a family without outside assistance - not to mention they can raise them to be loving, conscientious and productive members of society - who are we to criticize when in other parts of the world there are women who are forced by their own government to undergo abortions when they want to be pregnant and have a family? And even if you aren't financially stable, does that mean you have no right to have a family?
Bottom line: Reproductive rights don't end with abortion. Everyone is so concerned about Michelle Duggar's health, which is great - but something tells me she has it under control. She has support from her OB, which is amazing, especially considering the overwhelming lack of support some OBs seem notorious for. When you start invoking China's horrible one-child policy and saying things like "Remove her fallopian tubes!" you are still attacking her basic human rights.