It seems that when the going gets hard, the Duggars keep going. With the family’s TLC series 19 Kids and Counting having signed off in May 2015 after 10 seasons, the older siblings are back with Jill & Jessa: Counting On. The Tuesday, March 15, season premiere focused heavily on the younger generation of new moms, most notably the titular Jill Dillard and Jessa Duggar, along with Josh Duggar‘s wife, Anna Duggar.
Update on Baby Spurgeon
Since part 3 of last year’s Jill & Jessa special wrapped up with Jessa’s dramatic delivery — which lasted two days and ended with the mom being rushed to the hospital due to blood loss — it made sense that this series opened with an update on baby Spurgeon.
“I was expecting labor to be long and hard, and it was longer and harder than I expected,” Jessa said with a smile.
“The ending was a little bit frightening, yeah, but I’m happy it’s over, and I’m happy we have our little baby boy now,” Ben Seewald added. He went on to explain that their son’s name was inspired by the preacher Charles Spurgeon, since he made a “really profound” impact on their lives. “He’s kind of one of our heroes,” Ben mused.
As for diaper duty, it sounded like that was all Ben. “Pretty much I take care of all the input, and he takes care of all the output,” Jessa laughed, while her husband turned bright red. (Guess he wanted to keep that detail private. Oops.)
The proud parents then took their son for a Christmas-themed photo shoot with Jinger, who Jessa praised as a very talented photographer. Jessa said that she had repeatedly tried to pay Jinger for her services, but the younger sister always refused, so Jessa offered a trade instead.
“I said, ‘You take my pictures, and I’ll match-make you with somebody,'” Jessa revealed before confessing, “I’m a terrible matchmaker, by the way. Nobody likes my ideas. It’s kind of sad. It really is. I’ve asked John, and he always tells me, ‘There are more girls in the world than you know about,’ and I’m like, ‘I’m just trying to help!'”
The photo shoot appeared to be a success, which sounds like more than can be said for Jessa’s wingwoman attempts.
Anna Prepares to Visit Josh
Reeling from the “media storm” that followed Josh’s scandals last year, Anna was busy preparing to pay a visit to her husband, who had temporarily relocated to a Christian recovery center. “He had accounts set up on websites that were set up specifically for having an affair and cheating on your spouse, and it was just feeling like your world instantly shattered,” she recalled. “How? Where? Why? Just all of those questions running through your mind. It was overwhelming.”
Talking about their relationship since the scandal broke, Anna explained, “We felt that something long-term would be helpful and probably the best situation for our family.” She took a breath and continued, “It’s been good for our hearts for this time for each of us to get help separately, but it’s also been hard. Meredith was a month old when Joshua left — now she’s almost 4 months old.”
While Anna was clearly working to move forward, she admitted it wasn’t easy. “At the end of the day, when I think about all of the fun and the special events that happened that day, it’s really sweet, but it’s different because I’m thinking about it by myself. Normally that would be when Josh and I were talking about the events of the day, and so it is hard that we miss it, and we’re not able to enjoy life together.”
Though Anna said she was excited to see Josh, she was nervous, too. “I’m coming face to face with a lot of painful memories,” she sighed. Before getting in the car to make the trip, she revealed her goal was simply to do the next right thing for the next 15 minutes. In other words, she was going to take it one (small) step at a time.
Jill and Derick Are on a Mission
For their part, Jill and husband Derick Dillard seemed to be settling in quite nicely to their new life as missionaries. Derick had taken up preaching twice a week, and their son, Israel, was “growing a lot,” Jill reported. Among other milestones, Israel had started crawling — which meant it was high time the parents baby-proofed their home.
In addition to the struggles that come with moving to any foreign country, Jill highlighted some of the hazards specific to their situation. “We saw a cougar next door,” she said. “So, yeah, we’re just trying to be aware, make sure everyone stays safe.” (To be clear, she meant the animal kind, not the human kind.)
Anna Duggar Debriefs Her Family on Her Visit With Josh
During a fall feast hosted by Jessa — who is apparently a true believer in the power of butter to save any meal — Anna opened up about her (off-camera) visit with her husband.
“I just got back from visiting Joshua, and he loves each one of you guys very much and is just really grateful for a family that’s willing to talk straight and to grieve when you’ve fallen, but also to love and forgive and have hope,” she reported as tears welled in her eyes. “So I look forward to seeing what God has in the future.”
While the family was largely supportive, John-David still had his reservations. “I still love my brother and still talk to him on a regular basis, but things have definitely changed, some within the relationship,” he noted rather ominously. (He didn’t go into detail beyond that.)
“This visit was great because it definitely gives a lot of hope, but I think also the weight of everything is also there, and so definitely it drives me deeper to my faith,” Anna explained. “God’s grace can give me the strength to love Josh when others would say he doesn’t deserve it.”
Tell Us: Do you think Josh deserves Anna’s love?
Jill & Jessa: Counting On airs on TLC on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET.
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