Jon & Kate Plus 8: All in the Family
The Gosselin Beginnings
Jon, the middle child of a dentist, was a college dropout who worked odd jobs as he snowboarded and backpacked his way across Europe. "I always thought I'd be, like, 54 years old and marry a 19-year-old or something," he says with a grin.
Kate, a nurse, was filling in at a tanning salon to make extra money. "I was the kind of girl who always had an action plan," she says. When she discovered she couldn't get pregnant because of polycystic ovary syndrome, she saw a fertility specialist. After she underwent intrauterine insemination, she became pregnant with the twins. Kate describes the next three years -- during which she worked day shifts and Jon worked nights at an information technology job so they wouldn't have to put their children in daycare -- as some of their happiest. When they bought a modest home in 2001, "I had everything I had ever hoped and prayed for," Kate says. But she grew restless. After another round of fertility treatments, she discovered she was pregnant with septuplets (the seventh baby didn't fully develop). The couple was encouraged to selectively reduce the number of fetuses to decrease the risk of medical problems, but Kate refused. The rest is TV history.
Does she miss those leaner, blissful, pre-sextuplets times? "I wouldn't return to those days," she says. "We think of the TV show as our family job, one that lets us stay home together." If anything, she continues, life in a fishbowl has allowed them to appreciate one another's strengths. Although Kate often criticizes Jon on air, privately she's quick to praise him for being able to embrace "the little moments that I may breeze over in my quest to conquer the world -- or at least clean it!" His playfulness is one of his strong points as a father, and he's totally supportive. "He lets me chase my dreams and succeed while being willing to keep the kids and house in one piece," she says.
But the marriage is under tabloid scrutiny. Last month a photo of Jon at a bar with his arms around two young women surfaced on the Internet, and rumors spread that he had been playing drinking games with local college students. He says the women were simply fans who wanted their picture taken with him. The stories also alleged that Jon had been living at his mother's house, which further fueled rumors that the couple's marriage was under strain. But Jon says his mom had injured her foot and needed his help. And he is quick to assert that his marriage to Kate is not over. "I am not perfect," he says. "This struggle has definitely put some tension in our marriage. But I never cheated on Kate. Kate and I are together."