On Wednesday, November 11, Bindi Irwin took to Instagram to give her fans an update on her pregnancy. "Halfway there!" she wrote alongside a photo showing her smiling from ear to ear and cradling her growing bump.
"20 weeks pregnant and our baby girl is about the same size as a recently hatched emu chick," added the Crikey! It's the Irwins star, who — in typical Bindi fashion — couldn't resist a quick wildlife comparison. "The love I have for my sweetheart husband and our beautiful daughter is boundless."
But according to an OK! insider, some family members are privately raining on Bindi and husband Chandler Powell's parade as they gear up for what should be the happiest time of their lives. The insider says Bindi's mom, Terri, is "at war" with her late husband Steve's relatives, who they've been estranged from for years. And things aren't faring much better with Powell's U.S.-based parents, who've been banned from Australia until 2022 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
While Bindi states that "this story is completely false," the insider tells OK! the situation has been overwhelming for the wildlife expert, 22, and 23-year-old Powell, who wed in March. "Her pregnancy — and the drama surrounding it — has been exhausting," says the insider. "It's supposed to be a joyous time, but family infighting is overshadowing everything."
When Steve died at age 44 in a tragic 2006 stingray attack, his father, Bob, and sister and brother-in-law, Joy and Frank Muscillo, still worked at the Irwins' family zoo in Queensland, Australia. But bitter feuds soon emerged, and Bob left in 2008 amid reports he and Terri disagreed about how the animal sanctuary should be run. In 2016, Joy and her husband claimed they were forced out.
"They accused Terri of trying to profit from Steve's death," says the insider. "Bindi hasn't spoken to any of them in years."
But now, the insider reveals Bob desperately wants to meet his future great-grandchild. "Bob firmly believes it's within his rights to meet Bindi's baby," explains the insider, "but he and Terri have never seen eye to eye, and she won't allow it."
Bindi is broken-hearted over all the tension. "Her aunt Joy and uncle Frank still have issues with Terri, and Bindi hears they're not happy with Chandler either, whom she's very protective of. She feels like the Irwins want to tear them down," explains the insider, adding that Bindi's trying to stay positive, but it hasn't been easy. "It's hard for Bindi to get excited about baby things when this feud keeps pulling them apart."
Meanwhile, 10,000 miles away in his native Florida, Powell's parents, Shannan and Chris, are coming to terms with the fact that they may not meet their granddaughter until long after her birth, which the insider says is scheduled to take place at the family zoo. Australia recently announced it wouldn't be opening its borders to outsiders until at least the end of 2021, and Australians aren't allowed to travel overseas either unless they live abroad.
"They're a tight-knit family and it's been hard enough to have Chandler spending most of his time on the other side of the world," says the insider. "They're missing out on life's most precious milestones and they can't help but feel jealous that Terri will be there for every Kodak moment."
They've been doing their best to stay in constant contact with video calls. "Of course, Bindi and Chandler are keeping in touch with his parents, but it's not the same," says the insider. "Still, Shannan and Chris try to keep brave faces so as not to distress Bindi in her condition."
She can't help but be emotional, though. "When the baby is born, they'll be limited to FaceTiming at awkward hours due to the time difference between Queensland and Florida," explains the insider, "and that's without throwing a newborn's sleeping patterns into the mix. It's hard for Bindi, and there have been times when she cries herself to sleep."
Those close to her are worried about her well-being. "She raised some alarms after mentioning how fatigued she's been feeling on Instagram," the insider says. Some are even hoping she'll be put on bed rest! "She's being encouraged to take it easy as much as possible, but that's not so easy for Bindi, who can't even sit still for five minutes," the insider adds. "She's always had this 'go and get it' attitude. Plus, she feels responsible for the zoo and doesn't want to shirk all of her duties."
Loved ones fear she's pushing herself too hard. "Everyone, including her 16-year-old brother Robert, Chandler, Terri and staff members, are telling her not to worry about anything and just relax."
Bindi hopes all the behind-the-scenes turmoil dies down sooner versus later. "It's a dark cloud hovering over what's supposed to be her and Chandler's happy time," says the insider, noting that they fear the drama "will only escalate" in the days before her delivery.
Still, they're trying their hardest to concentrate on each other and their little bundle of joy. "Bindi and Chandler know they'll make great parents," says the insider. "They really just want to focus on themselves and what matters most — their child."
Bindi was just 8 years old when her dad died, but she learned a lot from him before his tragic passing. "Steve taught her so much about life, animals and people," says an insider. Now, as she struggles to deal with the feud between his family and her own, she's recalling some of the sage advice he shared with her.
"It's been helping her get through this difficult time," the insider reveals, noting Steve "would be heartbroken" over the fractured relationships. "She thinks about what Steve would tell her to do if he were still around," the insider adds.
"He had so much love in him, and he would likely advise her not to hold grudges and to keep following her heart, so that's exactly what she's going to do."