Kelly has been pregnant 23 of the last 25 years and has had 14 home births with the help of a midwife, without epidurals or anesthesia. But as she got older, she had a harder time with pregnancies and suffered three miscarriages, so she started taking progesterone to increase her chances of having successful pregnancies.
While the Bates do not believe in birth control, because they say they don't want to use medical intervention to prevent a pregnancy, they are willing to use modern medicine to sustain a pregnancy. They argue a 2-day-old embryo is as deserving of medical intervention as any of their children because they believe life begins at conception.
“Although we just want to trust God, but at the same time, if there’s already a life living, we don’t want to deny medical help for a baby that’s in trouble,” Kelly said.
After her hormone treatment, Kelly gave birth to Jeb, baby No. 19, almost three years ago, and said they would have more if that’s what God intended.
For most of the kids’ lives, the Bates family members have all lived under one roof in a five-bedroom home. But Alyssa will be the first to move away from the family’s hometown, which gave everyone pre-wedding jitters.
“Right now I am all excited about getting married, but it’s going to affect me after I move,” Alyssa said.
Soon she and her new husband will move 700 miles away to John’s hometown of Orlando, Florida.
“It’s sad, it’s really sad,” said Tori Bates, who is 13 months younger than Alyssa. “Erin stayed here, Zach stayed here. ... Alyssa, she is moving straight to Florida. When she leaves the wedding, that is the last we’ll see of her.”
Although the Bates family doesn't own a TV, they have a massive online following. Lawson has more than 12,000 followers on Instagram. Alyssa, who started using Instagram to share photos with family and friends, now has 23,000 followers. She mostly shares photos of her and her new husband with the hashtag "#LoveMyHusband."
“It will be an adjustment,” Kelly said of Alyssa moving away. “We are going to miss her personality, her talent. She is a big help to the family. She cooks, she organizes. She will be missed, it will be an adjustment. But thank the Lord for texting. I plan on texting every day.”