Michelle Duggar Has Premature Girl in Emergency C Section

Christmas was also a favorite time for Henriette Peters, the 11th child of 14, growing up in Crystal Lake, Ill., outside Chicago.

Big Families Stretch a Dollar

Even though the family had little -- no car, often no running water, spotty plumbing and heat -- Christmas was always a time of plenty.

"There were benefactors," Peters, now 48, told ABCNews.com. "We always thanked God for our benefactors. Our Aunt Dottie would send us pajamas every year in a special package from Marshall Field's."

Unlike the Duggars, who live debt-free in a 7,000-square-foot home on 20 acres, many big families have fewer resources to go around.

"My mother didn't live from month-to-month or year-to-year," Peters said. "She lived day-to-day. She had a faith in the Lord Jesus to care for her children. She calls it miraculous that we survived the conditions we lived in."

Peters said wearing hand-me-down clothing wasn't so bad, but not being able to get to the doctor without a car or money was hard. She said she still deals with "gushy gums" and "charley horses" from the years of eating foods with poor nutritional value.

Carroccio said her mother faced similar financial issues, but knew how to "stretch a dollar." It wasn't until she went to college that she realized not everyone ate potatoes at every meal.

"That was one of my mom's ways to fill us up, inexpensively," she said.

What the Peters lacked in resources, they made up in relationships, especially among siblings.

"The siblings cared for one another," Peters said. "I was cared for by my mother and my older siblings."

The Duggar family has a similar approach, with older siblings helping to take care of the younger ones.

Nineteen Kids Seems a Bit Much

Matt Hersh, an expert on children and adolescent fear and anxiety at Boston University, said that's not necessarily a bad thing, depending on the expectations the parents set up for their children.

"If that's an expectation, as in that's just how we function, it may not be perceived as burdensome," he said.

"In my limited knowledge of the Duggar's philosophy -- that every child is a particular gift for the family -- I imagine that would help ease the role."

To this day, Carroccio said, she remains very close with her second-oldest sister -- "she was like a second mom to me." At 18, Carroccio moved in with her older sister and still turns to her when she has a problem.

Still, thinking about the Duggars' having their 19th, Carroccio said, "I feel like it's too much. I'm sure no one is going to be neglected. But it does seem overwhelming."

Peters said she recalled looking out the kitchen window of her childhood home one day while washing a huge pile of dishes and thinking, "I can't wait till I get out of here."

She said she never wanted a big family. Then, she met her husband, Don Peters, a technology and computer specialist, and they married when she was 18. Five years later, they bought the property where her childhood home stood and built a house. They have since filled it with 10 children, ranging from ages 4 to 28.

"I never wanted to have a big family because I lived in one," said Peters, a stay-at-home mom. "But it came about through the love between my husband and me. Children are a gift from God, and God knew what was going to be right for us."

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