Married couple Joanna and Chip Gaines won the hearts of viewers across America with their amusing banter on the HGTV home improvement reality show Fixer Upper. The parent show is over now, but spinoff Fixer Upper: Behind the Design, focusing on Joanna’s interiors work, first aired in April 2018. It’s been a good year for the designer, who celebrated her milestone 40th birthday in a fabulous way.
Chip and Joanna first met in 2001. Their romance was a slightly unusual one. Chip fell in love with Joanna’s photo on the wall of her father’s auto shop. He began frequenting the place in the hope of running into her, and eventually his rom-com-style plan worked out. They started dating.
“At first, I couldn’t believe how kind Chip was. He had kind eyes and made me laugh a lot,” Joanna told the website Popsugar in 2018. “I knew he was the one because I knew I could trust him.” Appropriately, considering the focus of their later reality show, they spent their first date at a former mansion converted into a restaurant.
In 2002, the pair got engaged after Chip sprang a sweet surprise proposal. He told Joanna they were going to a concert. In fact he got down on bended knee at a shopping mall. When Joanna said yes, he whisked her off to a jeweler so she could design her own engagement ring. “The most perfect night ever,” Joanna reminisced in her 2016 book, The Magnolia Story.
The pair got married in May 2003, holding their ceremony at, naturally enough, another historic mansion. Then they started doing what would eventually make them famous – flipping houses together – with Joanna taking on the interior design. That same year they opened their first store, Magnolia Market, in their hometown of Waco, Texas.
The pair also got to work starting a family. In 2005, when Joanna was 27, she gave birth to the couple’s first child. This was a little boy they named Drake. Two years later they had a girl, Ella Rose. But they didn’t stop there. After Ella Rose came Duke; and in 2010, they welcomed their fourth child, Emmie Kay.
After the TV show Fixer Upper – which began in 2013 – became a hit, the Gaines children began to occasionally appear on the show. They were part of what made Chip and Joanna so popular and so relatable. “[The Gaineses] have the kind of marriage and family you’d want,” HGTV general manager Allison Page explained to Texas Monthly magazine in 2016.
And early in January 2018, the Gaineses had a happy New Year surprise for their fans. Joanna, then 39, was pregnant again. “Gaines, party of seven… (If you’re still confused… WE ARE PREGNANT)” Chip wrote on Instagram, underneath a picture of him with a mock pregnancy bump next to Joanna’s real one.
Unfortunately, the announcement was met with a backlash of nastiness. On social media, some people jumped on them for “contributing to the overpopulation of the planet.” Others were cruel about Joanna being about to turn 40 while pregnant, and some even suggested that expecting a baby at that age was “not fair to the child.”
Other people referenced some 2017-era rumors that Chip and Joanna were having relationship issues. “The ‘We’re back together sex kid’ never fixes a marriage,” one person commented. “Just means one more kid, the marriage is still broken.” But the Gaineses denied that anything was wrong with their marriage, and that certainly appeared to be the case.
There has also never been any implication in the media that Chip and Joanna aren’t good parents. In fact, it was the opportunity to spend more time with their children that led them to quit Fixer Upper in 2018, after its fifth season. And the couple have always taken steps to keep the kids away from the glare of the cameras. The four children have appeared on the reality show – but only sparingly.
And although there are risks involved in having a baby past the age of 40, they are no higher than those for with a younger woman who has smoked or drunk heavily in her life. In fact, there has been an increase in women giving birth at an older age. From 2013 to 2014, the number of women getting pregnant between the ages of 40 and 44 increased by 2 percent.
So Joanna decided to celebrate her 40th birthday by… being pregnant and proud. She posted a picture of herself on the day – April 19, 2018 – chilling out in her beautifully decorated house and eating doughnuts. Her baby bump was very visibly on display. “This is 40. And I like it… #pregnantandforty #anddoughnuts,” she captioned the picture.
Luckily, the response to her photo was much more positive than the response to the announcement. Plenty of people told Joanna how good she looked at 40 and congratulated her on the baby. And many women who were themselves older mothers talked about their own experiences in their comments
“I am a mom of five. Three before I was 30 and then two surprise sons at 40 and 43,” one person wrote. “You will love every single moment. My last baby is graduating in a month; I’m 60. Life is amazing and full of surprises every day. Rock on mama.” Another commented, “I had my last at the age of 42! You got this! You look wonderful!”
A few days later, Joanna posted another birthday photo. This one was of a beautiful table decorated with orange balloons. “When your friends surprise you with lots of balloons, cake and yummy food, you step into your 40s filled with gratitude for what has been and hope for what’s to come,” she wrote.
Joanna certainly has lots of things to look forward to. In March 2018 Chip revealed – via a Twitter video – that the fifth Gaines child would be a boy. So far, all the boys born to Chip and Joanna have had names beginning with D, so Chip wondered aloud what name the new baby might get: “All I can think of is Dragon!”
Chip and Joanna appeared on the Today show on April 24, 2018, in order to promote Joanna’s new cookbook, The Magnolia Table. While there, they discussed more potential names for the new baby. The couple were considering making a break with tradition. “I want a C name and he [Chip] wants a D name,” Joanna revealed to the show’s presenters. “I say he got the boy, so I get to pick the name.”
Chip joked that with the fifth baby being a boy, the males would shortly outnumber the females in the Gaines household. “This is really upsetting the balance of power,” he said. “So the boys might be able to outvote [the girls] from here until kingdom come.” Perhaps – it’s not impossible – they would eventually expand their group of children to six?
“I’m going to have a lot of little helpers. I’m so excited,” Joanna told the Today show. Surely one more pair of hands wouldn’t hurt… Whatever family decisions the Gaineses make down the line, it’s clear that the baby boy is going to be born into a loving household. The little Gaines may well live a charmed life… even if he does end up being called Dragon.