Jill Duggar has said that she didn't want TV cameras in the delivery room when she gave birth to her first child in 2015.
But a compromise was reached: She and husband Derick Dillard agreed to record some video on their own, so that TLC's Counting On could still feature the milestone when the 19 Kids and Counting spin-off debuted later that year.
"They still got the footage," Jill noted ruefully in the recent Amazon Prime docuseries Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets.
Counting On lasted until 2021, but she left the series in 2017, done with living—as she has described it—under her father Jim Bob Duggar's managerial thumb despite having a growing household of her own.
"Our control to choose what jobs we were allowed to accept and even where we were allowed to live was taken away from us," Jill told People in 2020, around the time she and Derick started to speak out about the circumstances that prompted their estrangement from most of Jill's sprawling family.
The couple have relocated from their native Arkansas to Oklahoma, where Derick—who was sworn in as an attorney last year—was hired as a prosecutor. Jill relayed on the family website that they bought a house in Siloam Springs, near the border between the two states.
And their sons Israel, 8, Samuel, 6, and 12-month-old Frederick—while adorable presences on Instagram—are getting to grow up in relative privacy compared to the increasingly glaring spotlight thrust upon Jill and her siblings, most of whom didn't have much say in the matter.
Jill and Derick, however, are having a moment of their choosing: In addition to being the only members of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar's immediate family to participate in Duggar Family Secrets (which the parents slammed when it came out as painting "so much and so many in a derogatory and sensationalized way"), they've written a memoir, Counting the Cost.
"Thanks to time, tears, truth, and therapy, God has begun to heal our wounds into scars," they both wrote on Instagram May 31 in announcing their forthcoming book. "Though we would have never chosen this path, and it has cost us dearly, we want to use our voice to show others that there is hope beyond the pain."
Originally scheduled to be released next January, it's now due out Sept. 12 thanks to popular demand.
So this summer, Jill, 32, and Derick, 34, may have to steel themselves for what we can only guess will be a huge response to what they put out there, if the interest in Jinger Duggar Vuolo's book Becoming Free Indeed is any indication, not to mention the thousands of comments that pile up every time the couple post an update.
But in the meantime...
Frozen yogurt! Gardening! Birthdays! Date nights! In other words, the usual joys of everyday life as busy parents of three.
Anyone who's been keeping up with Jill and Derick since they tied the knot in 2014 (let alone checking in with the Duggars since they made their TLC debut in 2004) knows that they haven't led a life free of public controversy, but nowadays they radiate the vibes of your average couple that sometimes feel like baring their souls to the world and sometimes just feel like going to the strawberry festival.
Jill will occasionally solicit opinions on social media (talk about thick skin), such as when she posted a pic in January of Israel writing (in cursive!) on the window with erasable marker, explaining, "We like to try and make learning fun when we can!...We write on the windows with dry erase markers sometimes to reinforce concepts! Tell me some other ways you make learning fun."
There may have been some suggestions but first you had to scroll through all the laments that she was homeschooling instead of sending the kids to public school (where Israel went for kindergarten and first grade) or even a private religious institution. Followed by the comments that maybe he was in school and this was just some at-home learning time.
Jill and her siblings were homeschooled, as dictated by the church her parents belonged to, and she has rejected the fundamentalist teachings that governed their upbringing (as has Jinger, who detailed cutting ties and finding her own approach to faith in her memoir).
In March, Jill took the older boys to watch their dad in action in court (unclear how long they were able to sit there), followed by a trip to the park for them and shopping for her. And at 8, Israel was deemed old enough to try his hand at making dinner (under close motherly supervision) and an impressively edible chicken tortilla soup was the result.
They've also had a spate of celebrations lately, including all of their birthdays between Derick's on March 9 and Samuel's on July 8 (Freddy turned one just the day before), and the couple's wedding anniversary was June 21.
"Life with you is fun!" Derick captioned a photo of his wife cuddling a rabbit for her 32nd on May 17. "I'm thankful every day for you, and I love you to the moon and back! P.S. One of these years I'll remember to get you 3 bunnies named Nibbles, Fluffy, and Edna for your birthday, like you've always wanted ;)"
Jim Bob played matchmaker for the couple in 2013—two years after they first met when Derick was among a group of carolers who came to the Duggars' door that Christmas—but their actual connection grew over months of Skyping and emailing while Derick was on a two-year mission in Nepal.
When Jill (and her father) went to Nepal to visit, that was it.
In her anniversary post to Derick, Jill called him the man of her dreams and "bestie forever."
"And thanks for making my day this morning by reminding me it was our anniversary (I almost forgot!)," she continued, "and bringing me coffee in bed! You are legit the best man on the planet!!" (He also cooked dinner on Valentine's Day, for the record.)
She also paid tribute to Derick on Father's Day, writing, "I love watching you father our boys! They don't even know how blessed they are yet! Thanks for being my bff, my greatest advocate and support through thick and thin….and for loving me and the boys a little more than you love @wafflehouseofficial haha." (The slide show included a photo of her husband effecting a Superman pose in front of said Waffle House while wearing all sorts of merch.)
And in what could be considered a surprising shout-out considering the drama of the preceding few months (or the past 20 years), Jill added, "Also happy Father's Day to my dad @duggarfam love you so much and hope you had a lovely day!"
For the most part, though, her attention and affections are directed at her own brood, and their summer fun has included pool time (the kids' swim lesson achievements are a theme on Mom's Insta), trips to the local public library and a recent swing through Fayetteville, Ark., where soft-serve vanilla in a waffle cone from Braum's was a major nostalgic highlight.
"Anyone else feeling the crazy summer 'schedule'?" Jill captioned a June 30 pic of her loaded-up stroller. "What are your days looking like & what are your favorite hacks to help keep things flowing?"
Believe it or not, a lot of moms weighed in with helpful commentary. Which should help maintain the calm before the expected storm when Counting the Cost puts Jill and Derick squarely back in the spotlight come September.
And scroll on for more of Jill and Derick's sweetest family moments: