Nearly five months in, Sadie Robertson is still finding the sweetness in even the sourest of parenting moments.
Take daughter Honey's recent battle with Respiratory Syncytial Virus, a common infection that can sometimes lead to serious, life-threatening issues. From the 4-month-old's first little cough in early September, Sadie knew it was the same RSV that some of her family members—and fellow Duck Dynasty alums—had dealt with weeks earlier.
"I just heard it in her voice and I was like, yeah that's not good, so it was really scary," she recalled to E! News in an exclusive interview. "But as soon as we went to the doctor, he was reaffirming. He was like, 'This doesn't mean that she's going to have to go to the hospital.' Then of course six days later she just got worse and couldn't really stay on her breath on her own and so we were in the hospital for four days."
The worry for her and husband Christian Huff, she shared, was that RSV "typically leads to pneumonia, so that is what we were trying to avoid for Honey." And though her baby's lungs remained congested for days, bringing Sadie "to tears like I have never cried," as she shared in an Instagram post, the treatments Honey received at the hospital stopped them from reaching the worst-case scenario.
"It was really sad and a lot to walk through," Sadie admitted of seeing her little girl struggle, "but I'm very grateful we're on the other side."
And even more grateful to have pulled out the silver lining in the terrifying situation.
Though they initially kept their daughter's diagnosis private—"Because of course it is scary, you don't really want millions of people to have commentary as well"—Sadie decided to share it with her 4.5 million Instagram followers once she realized the virus had "kind of been sweeping the nation this summer."
While normally more common in winter, she and Christian knew "a lot" of other babies who'd battled it and wanted to help others "to feel seen," she noted. "Nowadays, especially with COVID, people feel very lonely and isolated. But to feel like somebody understands, it's just always a really warm feeling. So we just wanted people to know you're not alone, we're in this."
Helping others feel seen is more or less her raison d'être at this point, her latest book, Live on Purpose: 100 Devotions for Letting Go of Fear and Following God, written with the purpose of assisting readers in transforming the way they live.
"These days, we have this saying: We call it purpose anxiety, where we're so anxious about what our purpose is that we're not even living it," she noted of her inspiration. "I just want to encourage people that, hey, your purpose is not some mysterious, far out thing that you're one day going to stumble upon. Your purpose is here and now."
For Sadie it's about believing in God and waking up each day asking how she can love others. She said, "I think that changes the world that we live in when you intentionally live your life."
And her book is filled with lessons she's gathered throughout 24 years of trial and error. "There's a lot of ones about fear, there's a lot on the practical level about comparison, not just being liked on social media but being loved for who you are as a person," she said. "These are all stories in this book that I've experienced myself that I've had to learn the hard way."
Since May, Sadie's been more or less enrolled in a crash course on the challenges of parenting, starting with Honey's "very, very terrifying" arrival.
A week past her due date, Sadie was induced, laboring to the sounds of a three-hour playlist of worship music. "We listened to it all day and one of the things my husband had said was, 'How cool would it be whenever we have Honey the song 'Million Little Miracles' is playing, I'm going to put it on,'" she recalled. "And I was like, 'Christian, if you turn away from me in the moment we have Honey to go to Spotify, I'm going to be so annoyed with you. Just let it happen. Whatever happens will happen. It will be sweet.'"
Which it was—despite the fact that Honey's shoulder got trapped for a heart-stopping two minutes and 10 seconds.
"Her umbilical cord was stuck, it was clamped in her neck and she wasn't getting oxygen," Sadie detailed. "And it was just so very, very scary and I felt really afraid and just kind of helpless, like I couldn't really do anything. And then all of sudden it was so crazy, that song 'Million Little Miracles' came on and it was just the most amazing feeling. It was like all of a sudden there was just peace in the room and Honey came out."
The wildest part, Sadie continued, "is that they fully expected to take her straight to the NICU because she was going to need oxygen, but she started crying, like, on her own. She started breathing. They full expected her shoulder to be broken, but it wasn't broken. And so, literally, so many miracles happened in an instant and that song was playing in the background."
Every day since has felt every bit as wondrous.
"For the first few months it was really hard," the Dancing with the Stars alum admitted. "Obviously whenever you go through labor and delivery, it's a hard process and its hard to get back on your feet. And we ended up having such a traumatic birth so there were just different challenges with that."
But raising Honey—named for a proverb "that says, 'kind words are like honey, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones,'" shared Sadie. "We just loved that concept that honey has such a sweet and strong component"—has truly been a treat for the 24-year-old.
"Getting to be her mom encourages me to just be strong through whatever pain or whatever fear I'm feeling," Sadie explained. "It was definitely challenging and very, very hard, all the things that people warn you of, but at the same time, there's a sweetness glazed over all of it."
"Some people think if they're having problems in their marriage, a baby will fix it," Sadie acknowledged. "I do not recommend that because they add so much challenge. But the challenge and the authenticity that we have experienced together and the vulnerability has made us so much closer together. We've just seen each other walk through some hard things and it's made us love each other and appreciate each other more. Christian has been a rock, he has been so great to us and has just loved Honey so well, which makes me love him even more."
So, yes, they have plans to expand their little hive.
"One day we'll say four kids, one day we'll say three," she admitted, adding that adoption is definitely in their future. Her parents Korie and Willie Robertson welcomed three biological children—Sadie, Bella and John Luke—while adopting daughter Rebecca and sons Will and Rowdy, Sadie noted, "And I've just seen the beauty of it, what a blended family can look like from adoption."
For now, though, they're enjoying every ounce of delight their little Honey brings.
"Oh gosh, I'm like, 'Stay this little forever!'" she gushed of her growing girl. "I just love it. Honestly, she just started holding her bottle by herself and I was so proud. It's just the little milestones and the day-to-day things that make me so proud and just so happy to be her mom."
Though one is particularly sweet: "She's been smiling a lot and she just started laughing and it is the best moment," said Sadie. "I look forward to it every time I'm with her, just to see her smile or try to make her laugh. We're in a really fun season right now."