Jessa Duggar and her husband Ben Seewald recently became parents for the second time, after welcoming their son, Henry Wilberforce, into the world on Feb. 6. The young couple have made no secret of their desire to continue to expand their growing family — Henry joins his big bro, 15-month-old Spurgeon Elliot — but you don't have to be one of 19 siblings to know that raising multiple children can be tricky. In addition to documenting her life on the reality show, Counting On, Duggar regularly shares updates about her life on social media, providing updates about her marriage, her two pregnancies, and her life as a mom. And while it's clear that she's loving it, Jessa Duggar's quotes on motherhood show that, while her own mother may make raising a super-sized brood look like a piece of cake, Duggar herself is much more up front about the not-so-perfect aspects of raising young children.
Fans of the Duggar fam certainly seem to love seeing their social media updates — particularly those of the elder Duggar girls who are now married, courting, or raising families of their own. And, given her popularity, it wouldn't exactly be surprising if Jessa felt as though she had to share only the most beautiful moments of her life with her 1.9 million followers. But while she definitely does share plenty of photos on Instagram that make her life as a married mom seem totally blissful, she's also been honest about the other stuff too, like the reality of having a difficult birth experience, or the less-than-perfect moment when her boys met for the first time.
She Doesn't Sugarcoat The Difficulty Of Labor
Sure, there are some women who seem to be blessed with beautiful, blissful deliveries, but for the most part, giving birth is tough. And even though Jessa has shared that her second birth was surprisingly quick, and easier than her first. According to Parents, she's made no secret that her first birth experience was no walk in the park. After Spurgeon's birth in 2015, Jessa told People, that "labor is hard,” and added that “it was very intense, very long. Everything was different than I expected.”
In fact, Jessa's nearly 48-hour labor meant that she had begun seriously questioning her choice of a drug-free home birth. She told People,
I said, ‘That’s it! I’m done! I am going to the hospital and I’m going to get an epidural.' They asked me if I really wanted to do that and I said, ‘No, I don’t, but I do.’ I wanted to try natural if at all possible.
Ultimately, Jessa did get her wish, but post-delivery bleeding following the delivery meant she had to be rushed to the hospital anyway. And that was something that she wasn't prepared for: Jessa told People that she "had dreamed about those first moments" with her son after birth, like breastfeeding and immediate bonding. But the unforeseen complications meant that "it was a shock," when it didn't work out that way.
She's Not Afraid To Forge Her Own Path
Jessa and her sisters have made no secret of their admiration for their mother, and given the fact that she's raised so many children, it makes sense that she'd be their go-to person for parenting advice. But even though she looks to her mom for support, Jessa has also said that she's OK with doing things a little bit differently than the way she was raised.
In April 2016, Jessa told Us Weekly that she expected that she would "do some things differently than [her] mom did," as Spurgeon got older, and added, "that’s the beauty of the individual family. No one is identical."
That's not likely to bother Duggar matriarch Michelle though. Jessa told Us Weekly that her mom was very supportive and encouraging of her daughter as a mother:
Every time I come to my mom for advice, she always reminds me that I’ve got this. There’s no pressure to do things just exactly how she did them, but I’m so grateful for all her advice and help. Even when I feel overwhelmed, she’s always there to encourage me and tell me, 'You’re doing a great job!' That gives me the courage to trust my instincts and do what I feel is best for my baby.
She Admits That Early Pregnancy Is Kind Of Weird
Even though Jessa had been pregnant before — and even though she intends to have more children — she wasn't immune to the strange feelings that accompany the time between peeing on the stick, and actually hearing your baby's heartbeat. For many women, that time is kind of surreal — you know you're pregnant, but you still wonder if maybe the test was wrong — and Jessa admitted that until her sister Jill whipped out her fetal Doppler when she was 18 weeks along, she hadn't entirely let it sink in that she was really pregnant, according to Us Weekly. In an episode of Counting On in January, Jessa was finally able to hear Henry's heartbeat, something she said felt "encouraging," before adding, "It's like, 'OK, there is a kid inside there. I'm not just sick. It's real. There's a baby there.'"
Another aspect of pregnancy that takes some getting used to? The misery that is food aversions — something Jessa said she didn't actually have the first time around:
I’ve had way more food aversions and certain things like coffee, chicken, popcorn, random other things — we couldn’t even have them in the house. I didn’t have that with Spurgeon.
She Got Real About Her Boys' First Meeting
Most parents expecting baby No. 2 can't help but dream about the first moment their children meet, often envisioning a moment so cute they imagine their hearts might explode. And, according to CNN, Jessa had definitely made no secret of her excitement over the prospect of little Henry's arrival. She said,
I think it's really awesome that we have two little boys so close together in age. I know they're going to be best friends and love growing up and doing everything together, so I'm looking forward to seeing that.
And while it's probably true that Henry and Spurgeon will be best friends one day, Jessa didn't pretend that Spurgeon was an instant fan of his little brother when they finally did meet. She told People,
We thought, ‘This is going to be so adorable,’ but [Spurgeon] wasn’t really sure about it. He thought Henry was a toy, so he wanted to touch his eyes and put his finger in the baby’s mouth.
But She Still Knows That Being A Mom Is Beyond Incredible
Despite the ups and downs of motherhood, Jessa also knows that the magical mom moments sprinkled in throughout are enough to make all the sleepless nights and labor pains feel worth it. One particular example that stands out? When she got to hold Henry for the first time after his birth. She told Us Weekly,
When the baby was finally born, and I got to hold him for the first time, I started crying, and I think Ben had tears in his eyes. I want to thank everyone for their love and their prayers and support for us during this labor and delivery.
That's a feeling she's also shared countless times on Instagram, including in her most recent post, where she shared a sweet photo of her view of her two kids, along with the caption, "My ❤ is full."
Motherhood might not be easy, especially when you've just added another family member into the mix, but it seems as though Jessa is doing a great job at taking it all in stride. And even though it's easy to look at other moms on social media and assume that they're having a much better time at parenthood than the rest of us are, Jessa's quotes are a reminder that it's never as picture-perfect as it might appear on the internet.