Born at 25 weeks after mom Michelle was diagnosed with preeclampsia, Josie weighed only 1 lb., 6 oz. Eight days later, her bowel perforated, her parents Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar tell PEOPLE.
The micropreemie was rushed from University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, Ark., the hospital where she was born, to Arkansas Children's Hospital, her parents at her side.
"She developed a spontaneous bowel perforation," explains her physician, Dr. Robert Arrington, co-director of the neonatal intensive care unit. "She responded to placement of an abdominal drain, plus antibiotics, and did not require an open operation." It was wonderful news for her frightened parents that their tiniest baby would not require surgery. "Dr. Arrington knows how to think outside the box and come up with different creative solutions," says a grateful Jim Bob, 44. "Josie is walking a daily tightrope to keep her vitals stable and the nurses and the whole team here has been wonderful."
"Having reached this point in her hospital course, she should continue to gain weight and develop," says Arrington of Josie, who now weighs 2 lbs., 3 oz. He expects her to be discharged several weeks before her original due date of March 18.
The devoutly Christian couple say that their faith and "prayers of people around the world" are giving them strength through the uncertainty and fear. "We trust that God is in control," says Michelle, 43.
Josie's dramatic arrival will be shown on 19 Kids and Counting: Special Duggar Delivery, airing Jan. 31 on TLC, and a new season of their reality show will debut in February.
For more on the Duggars and baby Josie, including exclusive photos, pick up PEOPLE on newsstands now.