Bates clan now matches family of best friends the Duggars as they welcome baby number NINETEEN
Gil and Kelly Bates now have a nineteenth mouth to feed, cementing their position as figureheads of one of the largest families in America.
Due on Valentine's day, the latest addition to the ever-swelling clan was two weeks early. Jeb Colton Bates was born weighing a healthy 7lbs 8oz and spent several days in ICU.
Writing on the family blog, Kelly, 45, said the name means 'beloved friend of God from Coal Town', explaining that their home-town of Lake City, Tennessee, was once called Coal Creek.
Birthday: Jeb Colton Bates is Kelly and Gil's nineteenth baby. The evangelical Christians said the name means 'beloved friend of God from Coal Town'
'We are very grateful for prayers from friends and family over the past few weeks in anticipation of his arrival!'
The birth puts them in equal position with their good friends, reality TV show stars, the Duggars, who also have a brood of 19.
The Bates roll call now stands at: Zach,
Michaella, Erin, Lawson, Nathan, Alyssa, Tori, Trace, Carlin, Josie, Katie, Jackson, Warden, Isaiah, Addallee, Ellie, Callie, Judson and Jeb. Zach is 22 and the youngest of the clan, Jeb, is just one-week-old.
Last August, when she revealed her pregnancy to ABC News' Nightline, Kelly said: 'It feels more normal to me to be pregnant than not be pregnant. I'm happy holding a baby.'
3 days old: Jeb Colton Bates was born on February 1 in Lake City, Tennessee. He is Kelly and Gil Bates' 19th child
New addition: Jeb's arrival takes the family's size to 21 and joint largest in America, tying with their friends and reality TV show stars, the Duggars
The unusual mother has had no twins, no C-sections and 14 drug-free births and has spent more of her adult life pregnant than not.
Despite making the faith-led decision to avoid contraception, in keeping with their evangelical beliefs, Kelly's birth have not been entirely without intervention.
The pregnancy was not as straightforward as hoped – following three miscarriages, she chose to undergo hormone therapy strengthen her uterus wall.
The couple see no contradiction in wanting medical help to add to their already enormous family, but not to limit its size – and has been in the receiving end of criticism for failing to secure health insurance for their 11 youngest children.
A Christian clinic looks after
pre-natal care, while 'negotiations' with insurance companies has helped
in medical emergencies – such as birth complications with Addallee – in
the past, Gil last year told the network.
Big sister: The Bates' third oldest child, Erin, is a musician and, according to the family blog, 'a devoted organizer [who] helps us maintain order'
It was never the Bates' intention to produce a family that, according to 2010 Census data, is over seven times larger than the average Tennessee household size, they told ABC last year.
'We both came to the conclusion that we just want to trust God with how many children we have. We never really thought we'd have 18. We thought we'd have maybe one or two – maybe three,' said Gil, a 45-year-old tree surgeon.
The Bates family does everything on a grand scale. Their 4,000-square-feet home in Lake City, Tennessee, has five bedrooms.
The family's laundry has five washers
and three driers and rails of clothes that stretch the length of the
loft room, holding hundreds and hundreds of shirts, pants and T-shirts –
not to mention an eye-wateringly large mountain of underwear and socks.
The family gets around in two vans – one 15 passenger and one seven seater, and the kitchen table seats the whole family.
meal's preparation is a finely honed exercise – although the home seems
to function on a perennial level of organised chaos.
Christmas card: The bates' Christmas portrait shows 18 kids…and counting. Kelly has been pregnant for more of her adult life than not
Sofa for 20: The family revealed the news of their expected nineteenth baby to ABC Nightline last August
The Walmart food shop, responsibility of 18-year-old Lawson, is an every-second-day occurrence and each time totals more than $250.
The home is a strict no TV and no internet zone, the children instead whiling away time by practicing their (many) musical instruments. Violins, pianos, guitars, singing – all of the children are talented. So talented, in fact, that they often travel to put on concerts at old peoples' homes, reports ABC News.
Eight of the girls, from 20-years-old to two-years-old, share a bedroom, their bunk beds and close quarters apparently not an obstacle to finding private time and the occasional moment of quiet solace.
But, with all of the children still living at home – even the four attending college – it is only a matter of time until romantic relationships change the careful balance.
Their old-fashioned way of life sees youngsters in the Christian community 'courting' before marriage.
Joint record-holders: Close friends of the Bates, the Duggars, were, until Jeb's birth, the holders of the largest family in America title
No physical contact or affection is allowed until marriage, the courting process an open but strictly conducted affair.
'Courtship… for us, the whole idea is exciting,' explained Kelly to the ABC.
'The idea of seeing your children finally grown up and put into practice what you've been trying to teach them and prepare them for their whole life. And the thought of grand babies and their future and their happiness – it's an excitement.'
The Bates and Duggar families see each other regularly – their combined total of 38 children making for busy holidays together.
The new baby comes at a busy time for both clans who have been supporting Rick Santorum's race for presidency of the Republican Party.
'Faith + Family = Freedom!!! Join the fight!!!' Kelly writes on the family blog.