Joy-Anna Duggar's Video Tribute To Late Daughter Annabell Covers Every Devastating Detail

With the birth of her new son Gunner in May 2023, Joy-Anna Duggar Forsyth is now a busy mom of three. Despite her hectic life, she still finds time to keep fans entertained with her weekly YouTube channel, "Follow the Forsyths." But the former "19 Kids & Counting" reality star took an unexpectedly serious turn in her most recent installment. Joy and her husband, Austin Forsyth, sat down for the first time to discuss in full detail the tragic loss of their second baby four years ago.

The Forsyths were already parents to toddler Gideon when Joy posted a photo to her Instagram account showing her and Austin smiling broadly and holding ultrasound photos. "Some of you have guessed, some of you had no clue...November, 2019 Baby Forsyth #2 is Due!!" she wrote. She followed up days later with a video of the ultrasound, which showed no sign of what was to come.

Joy reveals in the video that at the 19-week mark, she stopped feeling her baby move. "In my heart, I just felt like I knew there was something wrong," she explains in the vlog. Though Joy tried to assure herself everything would be all right, her intuition was, sadly, correct. At the 20-week checkup — when the Forsyths were planning to find out the baby's gender — the ultrasound technician couldn't detect a heartbeat. Joy recalls: "My heart just sunk. I was like, 'This can't be happening.'" The days that followed were a blur of tears, phone calls to family and friends, and more tears.

Joy Duggar Forsyth says Annabell resembled Gideon

The couple consulted with a sympathetic doctor who encouraged them to grieve, and assured Joy Duggar Forsyth she hadn't done anything to bring on the tragedy. "I was, like, blaming myself for a lot of it," she recalls, because she'd been riding on heavy machinery not long earlier. They opted for an inducted stillbirth so they could hold their daughter and give her a formal burial. Going through labor, Joy says, was especially difficult "because at the end of the day, you're going to go home, and your arms are going to be empty." Her mother, Michelle Duggar, sisters Jana and Jill, best friend Carlin Bates, and Austin's mother and sisters were all there to support the heartbroken parents. 

Little Annabell Elise Forsyth arrived on July 1, 2019. Because she was so small, "they kept telling me, 'She's not going to look like a 'baby' baby,'" Joy says. "But when we delivered her, she was beautiful. ...She looked like a Forsyth. She looked like Gideon. She had her little eyes and her nose and her mouth." Jill gently pulled down Annabell's chin so Joy could see her tiny tongue: "It was just perfect. I just remember thinking, 'Why did we have to lose her? What was wrong?' ...I just started bawling again."

The July 4 fireworks in the air only added to the Forsyths' grief when Joy was discharged from the hospital. It seemed unthinkable that anyone could celebrate at a time like this.

Joy Duggar Forsyth still held joy for her sisters

In the months following the stillbirth, Joy Duggar Forsyth grappled with numbness and depression. "I felt bad about moving on and being happy without her," she explains in her vlog. She leaned on husband Austin for support, listened to inspirational worship music, and got advice from people who had been through similar losses. Having little Gideon to care for — "the happiest baby," as they call him — also helped the Forsyths to cope. "We couldn't just live in a state of grief," Austin says. 

Several of Joy's sisters and sisters-in-law were also pregnant at the time, and they worried how Joy would feel about being in their company. She assured them her loss wouldn't affect her relationship with them. "Somehow I was able to be happy for them and hold their babies...All of it was God's grace. We prayed, 'Lord, please give us peace,' because I knew that was going to be a struggle as soon as I lost [Annabell]. And He answered that prayer."

Joy's prayers were answered again when she became pregnant with daughter Evelyn Mae, born in August 2020. Joy admits she worried tragedy might strike twice, but she finally decided to leave it in God's hands and "not let fear keep us from...enjoying the baby." Gunner's arrival was yet another happy moment, and Joy continues to contribute to the Duggars' relatable parenting moments as she watches her children grow. Still, they'll never forget the little one who now rests in a small grave on Austin's parents' property.