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Earlier this week, Joy-Anna Duggar welcomed her first child.

As is always the case with this sort of thing, millions of loyal Duggar fans responded to the news with such giddy glee that one might have thought it was their family that had recently expanded.

Joy-Anna Duggar's Baby Bump
Photo via Instagram

But in several important ways the public reaction to Joy’s birth announcement was different from what we saw when her older sisters became moms.

For starters, Joy’s pregnancy was controversial from the start, due to rumors that she got pregnant before her wedding to Austin Forsyth.

The Duggars are staunchly opposed to premarital sex, and the revelation that Joy got pregnant out of wedlock would be disastrous to the wholesome public image they’ve worked so hard to cultivate.

Many suspected that Joy was misleading the public, and they expected to give birth well ahead of schedule.

Joy-Anna Duggar Due Date Photo
Photo via Instagram

When she delivered little Gideon Martyn Forsyth approximately 39 weeks after getting married, however, those theories were swiftly torpedoed.

But that doesn’t mean the haters were willing to admit defeat and offer reluctant congratulations to Joy and Austin.

Instead, they switched gears to a different line of criticism.

These days, the Duggar-obsessed corners of social are filled with laments for Joy’s lost youth.

Yes, some feel that at 20 years of age, Joy is far too young to be a mother.

Joy-Anna, Austin Forsyth
Photo via Instagram

Others find it ludicrous that Joy and Austin were never permitted to spend time alone together until their honeymoon.

Do they have a point? Of course! 

The latter argument is particularly valid, and the Duggars’ approach to courtship often sounds like something out of dark dystopian fiction.

But what’s done is done, and maybe these days, Joy-Anna needs support more than anything else.

“Too bad y’all couldn’t have gotten to really know each other before you brought a baby into the world. You said yourself you were never alone until your wedding night," wrote one fan on the Forsyths’ shared Instagram page.

"That’s just not a good thing. Marriage and parenting is hard work but your marriages is so important. I think it’s just irresponsible of you.”

Poor joy. Hasn’t even lived her life yet,” another commenter remarked.

“God love her, she looks so so young and absolutely exhausted," wrote a third follower.

It’s certainly true that Joy looks exhausted these days, but it’s important to add – she also looks quite happy.

Watch Counting On online for more on the strange, brief courtship of Joy and Austin.