Does anyone remember Monday night? I hear there was a pretty gorgeous sunset... but really, I have no way of knowing because it was the Counting On season finale. For people who weren't tuning in, trust me; it was a thing. While fans were excited to see the latest Duggar sister as a new wife during her brother Joe's wedding to Kendra Caldwell three months after her own wedding, some people had questions — about her pregnancy, to be specific, and whether Joy-Anna Duggar and Austin Forsyth broke the courtship "rules," specifically the one where you're not supposed to have sex before you get married.
So why the questions? Well, there appear to be a few clues that Counting On sleuths have picked up on. First of all, 19-year-old Joy-Anna and her husband moved up their wedding date from October of this year to May, according to OK! Magazine, which prompted rumors of a shotgun wedding.
In fact, fans who caught their wedding on Counting On's season finale on Monday might have noted that the decorations were still fall-themed, in colors of orange and white. And then, Joy-Anna announced her pregnancy in August. Only months after her wedding. Then there was the bump in question.
As Joe Duggar married a supremely giggly Kendra Caldwell during Monday night's episode, it seems all eyes were on Joy-Anna and her suspiciously fulsome pregnancy bump, as viewers pointed out.
Considering it's 2017, it might not seem like a terribly big deal for a couple to get pregnant before they're married. But Joy-Anna's parents, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, are fundamental Christians who belong to a specific sect of independent Baptists. And they have been open about their specific rules of courtship.
They insist that all of their 19 children (but let's get real here, especially their daughters) adhere to the rule that chaperones be present at all social gatherings. No physical contact is allowed beyond a possible side hug, as People reported, and as many Counting On fans know, Joy-Anna and Austin already broke that particular rule.
When Austin asked Joy-Anna to marry him in March on some nearby Arkansas trails (the two have known each other for 15 years, ever since Austin's family moved to the area and joined the Duggars' church), the two briefly embraced. Austin defended the hug on an episode of Counting On, saying according to People:
We're human and sometimes we don't abide perfectly by our rules. But we try. That was a really hard try.
Now the two are married and expecting their first baby... but when, exactly? According to an Oct. 2 Instagram post on Joy-Anna and Austin's shared account, she has already felt the baby kicking, writing:
Can't wait to meet our baby!! I got to feel it kick for the first time a few days ago!!! Soooooo amazing!!! It's already about the size of a bell pepper and weighs around half a pound!!!
So let's do a little math here. According to The Bump, mothers can generally feel babies kicking somewhere between 16 and 22 weeks gestation, which would mean that she could indeed be around four to five months pregnant.
But fans also noted that her first official bump photo on Instagram looked suspiciously similar, despite being taken a full month earlier. It's worth reminding, though, that each pregnancy is unique and bump sizes (and growth) vary from woman to woman, so this speculation is purely that.
Editor’s Note: The Instagram post has since been deleted.
If Joy-Anna and Austin broke the courtship rules, what would this mean to the ultra-strict Duggars, and equally strict Forsyths? After all, Terry and Roxanne Forsyth run a Christian family camp in Arkansas called Fort Rock Christian Family Camp, and were featured on a 2009 episode of World's Strictest Parents.
If the couple did, indeed, break the rules, let's face it: both sets of parents would probably already know. The deed is done, they're married, and they have a baby on the way. Perhaps they've decided to lighten up a little and accept their kids for who they are.
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