16 weeks, Announcement, & Toxic Love

It’s been almost three weeks since my last blog post. Sooooo much has happened: good, bad, and ugly (but mostly good as I am still, but not without doubt since I haven’t had an ultrasound since week 11, PREGNANT WITH A BABY GIRL!). In these three wild weeks there’s been a trip to NorCal with my in-laws, a gender reveal party gone wrong, sibling drama, a death in the family, a Facebook announcement, horrendous allergies, self-reflection via Oprah magazine and therapy on toxic relationships, and some much-needed exercise. I’m going to provide you with headers by topic so you can skip what doesn’t interest you and so that I might stay on track and on time. I have an exciting (sarcasm) appointment pending with a university I attended to audit my student loan payouts since I don’t see how I can possibly be $60,000 in debt without a master’s degree to show for it (that does not include undergraduate debt or law school debt, sadly). If you haven’t audited your student loans and compared them to your school’s financial records, I highly suggest it as a great way to waste copious amounts of time and enjoy a fun game of the run-around.

ANYWAY…. here’s my last three weeks in an over sized nutshell:

Facebook Announcement

They DO say dogs look like their people.
They DO say dogs look like their people.

I did it. I managed to get my dogs and husband to hold still long enough to take our pregnancy announcement photo. We were at the family beach house and my mother in-law was the photographer (thank you MIL! I know I was a diva!). It’s not the most creative announcement to ever plaster the pages of Facebook with annoyingness, but it’s step one in the evolution of me as a mother (I so want to be the kind of mom that does cute stuff like this for their kids, but crafty/cutseyness doesn’t come naturally, as you can see by my handwritten signs). Also, this announcement was as much for me and overcoming my pregnancy anxiety, as it was for my future daughter. I want her to have this photo, to know about our journey with subfertility/infertility and loss, and to see how much she was wanted even before she was born.

NorCal Beach house + In-laws = Amazing!

Can I just say I’ve fallen head over heals madly back in love with Northern California, aka The Central Coast. The food, the trees, the lack of track homes and sprawl, the crashing waves, and my family all make it the ideal place for Merp and I to raise our family. We had a lovely time with our in-laws, walking on the beach and exploring. I soooo wish we could move north NOW, but with a cost of living like Los Angeles, but without the jobs, it ain’t happening anytime soon. In the meantime, I’ll have to be thankful that my family is just a 5-hour drive away and that my grandparents kept the beach house as a vacation rental meaning I can use it from time to time. You can’t always get what you want, but you can get others things that are almost just as good!

Check out my ridiculous outfit in this pic. Running shoes and long skirts all the way baaabaaay!

beachhousesteph

Gender reveal gone wrong 

We stopped on our way to said beach house to do a mini-gender reveal party, complete with pink filled cupcakes, at my grandparent’s assisted living home. BUT loose lips sink surprises, and fast. Merp slipped in the car and told his parents we were having a girl. While I slipped days earlier and indirectly told my mom (I’ll spare you the boring details, the bottom line – she knew, even though she pretended she didn’t). So out of seven people only my grandmother and step dad were surprised. My poor gramps was too sick to really know what was going on. None of the pics turned out. Oh and one of my brothers (we’ll call him middle brother), who promised via actual phone call that he’d be there, didn’t show up and disappeared for the entire time I was in his town. That leads me to….

Toxic love

You may or may not remember my mentions of an alcoholic best friend who I was thinking of breaking up with. Well I did. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s probably the healthiest, most sane decision I’ve made in a long time. I’ve vacillated between conviction and doubt, but as my therapist explains, my job right now is to protect myself and my family from toxic influences. I read something in an Oprah magazine (I’ve been gravitating to publications like that and Home Made Simple in my quest to be more mom like) that really resonated with me. It said:

“It’s too late to turn toxic people into healthy ones.”

Wow. Reading that was like a light shining down just for me, a path being cleared, or a fog being lifted. It IS too late. We’re in our thirties (me and most of my friends at least). I’ve spent years trying to save certain people from themselves, while allowing myself to be deeply hurt in the process. No more.

And then this:

“Many people become wiser, calmer, and more emotionally healthy with age and experience. Other people display neither psychological health nor interest in changing. You may already have spent much of your life trying to get the love you deserve and need from someone in that second group. I’m so sorry, dear, but it’s too late. That love will not be forthcoming.”

Bright light. Shining. Down.

“Spend more time with people who don’t leave you crushed and disappointed over and over and over. Go find people who are waiting to love you. Because they do exist.”

Yes. They. Do.

Now what happens when it’s family members who disappoint and crush you? It’s not so easy to walk away from those people, now is it Oprah magazine staff writer?

My middle brother had been pretty awesome until about three years ago when his love affair with the festival scene began. Think Burning Man. I know plenty of responsible “burners” who return text messages, call when they won’t make it, pay their rent (instead of squatting in a family property), and generally can be relied upon. But not my dear middle brother. Why call me and say you’ll be there when you won’t? This is one of many broken promises. Again I’ll spare you the details and leave you with the result: I’m hurt, but slowly getting over it. I expect more of my brother and I fear that his infatuation with electronic music and all that it entails might gobble him up and spit him out, dead, or homeless, or incarcerated. Yes, I’ve said all this to him (I’m not one to shy away from confrontation, can you tell?). We’ve had full on text message battles as a result. I’ve cussed him out at a family event 6-months ago (something I’ll never do again and am quite ashamed of). And surprise surprise I’ve made little progress (shouting f-you flaky mo-fo might have something to do with that). Yet I’m not ready to shut the door. He’s family. The walls might be up, but they’re not impenetrable.

Funeral Fun For Everyone

During our last night at the beach house, I got word that my step dad’s mother in Michigan passed away. This required a last-minute flight for Merp and I two days later upon our return to L.A.  and included a fight with my mom about missing middle brother. I was convinced he wouldn’t be attending the funeral, opting to “festival” out somewhere instead. Somehow though my mom tracked down middle brother’s new address (the fact that she didn’t have his address is quite telling if you ask me), spazzed out on him on his front lawn in front of roommates etc., and made it very clear that he would in fact be helping our step father grieve the loss of his mother in Grand Rapids via Detroit and SFO.

So who did Merp and I see on our connecting flight from Detroit to Grand Rapids? A head scarf and sunglasses wearing middle brother walking down the dark night time flight aisle, gathering suspicious looks as he went. I swear I could faintly hear that song I wear my sunglasses at night playing as he stumbled toward us. Sure enough, the seat next to me just happened to be none other than middle brother’s! He sat down, unwrapped his head scarf (it seriously looked like a Burqa gone wrong), took off his sunglasses, and proceeded to say no more than two words to me before he nodded out mid page turn, dropping his book, The Hunger Games, to the floor. This was no red eye people and yes, he is allowed to be tired, but it was just different than tiredness. And weird. Then, upon arrival, he disappeared in the airport for a good 15-minutes, while Merp, my mom and I waited outside for him. People are strange, when you’re a stranger I guess.

Surprisingly though the rest of our short 48-hour trip was splendid. We all hung out, walked around a magnificent fall color adorned lake, talked family business, and laughed. The funeral was as lovely as funerals can be and I didn’t once curse my step-dad’s gigantic family (70 nieces and nephews from his 11 brothers and sisters) for their ridiculous fertility. There were no further nod outs by middle brother or odd disappearances. He did change his ticket to go back early, but I’ll take what I could get. Everything’s not lost. The brother I know and love is still in there. But I won’t be relying on him anytime soon, or making any special effort to sustain an unrequited close relationship with him. Clearly pregnant/married/no longer partying me just isn’t useful to him right now. We’re in different places. I just hope his place is a safe one. :/

Today & Exercise

And now here I am: Today. Finally,  you’re probably thinking if you’ve actually made it this far into my über long life update (sorry!). I’ve decided to leave out a subheading titled Allergies. My immune systems appears to be freaking out constantly. Is it pregnancy? The season? Who cares! Bahahaha.

Today though, I feel the best I have since week 5.5 of this pregnancy.  Now I don’t want to jinx anything because I thought I was getting better-ish at 14.5 – 15 weeks, but still had two night-time puking episodes. But, today, at least, I feel ME-ish again! This week in general I’ve seen overall improvement. I just did a modified version of my Ballet Physique video (no abs and lots of breaks), while Monday I did The Tracy Anderson Pregnancy Project (since you only get one routine per month, and I get bored, I’ll be doing this twice per week max). I also caved and did something crazy. I bought a doppler (I keep refreshing the UPS tracking page like a psycho) since my next appointment isn’t until next week and then weeks and weeks after that. I’ve also been anxiously taking peeps at my belly in any reflective surface that presents itself. Does it look like I’ve made progress? I’m 16 weeks 2 days and dying to have a noticeable bump. Please forgive both my immodesty and the constipated look on my face. If this pic could talk it would say, “Mraaaah I’m a bloated looking wack job in an orange bathroom!” and “Time to clean the mirror kid” and possibly “Spray tan! Quick!” Ha. So what do you think? Do I look sort-of pregnant?

16 weeks 2 days
16 weeks 2 days

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30 comments

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  1. mylifeasacasestudy

    Awe you most def look preggers! How can you not totally tell when you look at yourself?! And I love your bathroom decor (for those who haven’t had the privilege of using Steph’s bathroom it’s tropical-themed and has lots of yummy guest soaps ‘n lotions, like a hotel). XO

    Like

    • Steph Mignon

      Yeah I guess I am looking more preggers than I thought. I keep looking at my profile and thinking – is this really happening!? Love you my dear and so thankful for our chats and your presence in my life!

      Like

  2. Lauren

    Love the bump! You definitely look adorably pregnant! Funny your mention of exercise…I have the Tracy Anderson project also, but only do it about once a week, because I also get bored. LOL. Congrats, friend, for getting to this point physically and emotionally!

    Like

    • Steph Mignon

      Thanks my dear!!! I’m sooo happy to being working out again. Changes my entire outlook on life! And Tracy’s got another thing coming if she thinks I’m going to do the exact same workout 5 days a week for an entire month. Pft.

      Like

  3. adriana

    Hi Steph!
    Congratulations! I heard you were preggers but didn’t want to say anything just yet. I wish you nothing but happiness and a fantastic pregnancy. Would love to catch up with you when you have time.
    Best regards,
    Adriana

    Like

  4. jesselyn6585

    You look beautifully pregnant Steph! I’m so proud of you for eliminating your toxic friend. And I feel for you with the brother situation. My baby sister was like that for 5 or 6 years until she met her now husband. She’s still a little flaky but at least she’ll text me to check in every once in a while now. I’m sending prayers, and love & light for you and your family. I sincerely hope that something clicks to your brother soon. PS. The FB announcement is cute. I love that you said “It wasn’t easy…” That makes it easier for any of your friends or family who may be secretly dealing with IF to accept.

    Like

    • Steph Mignon

      I am just amazing how many others have also struggled with family members as I have. Makes me feel less alone! So thanks for sharing. Seeing unhealthiness in our relationships is the first step, and doing something about it is the second. They’re both so hard!

      Like

  5. lydiaseeks

    So I’m curious, how was the FB announcement received? I mean beyond the obvious congrats I’m sure you were given. Did anyone ask about the “wasn’t easy” part? Or share their story?

    I’m sorry about your brother, when a family member lets you down it can be so hard.

    Like

    • Steph Mignon

      No one asked because early on I was pretty open about our struggle with infertility so I think people knew what I was talking about. However, I was hoping that it would prompt others to open up. So far it hasn’t, but at some point, when I’m feeling brave, I’ll probably start promoting this blog on facebook again so that others know they have a resource in case they’re also struggling.

      Like

  6. MEL - there is a higher hope

    Hi! I followed you over from “mylifeasacasestudy” and wanted to check out your blog. CONGRATULATIONS on your pregnancy!! You are a super adorable pregnant lady. And I love the style of writing that you have. Very entertaining.

    I can relate on the brother issue. Oh, boy – can I ever?

    Congratulations again, and I look forward to following along.

    Mel

    Like

    • Steph Mignon

      Thanks Mel! Do you have a blog too? If so I’d love to follow it! I am so surprised to see how many of my fellow bloggers have brother issues. Nice to know I’m not alone, but still sucks that we all have to deal with the drama!

      Like

  7. dogsarentkids

    I have the same toxic relationship/brother problems. You get guilted into not giving them up, because you’re supposed to “be there for them.” But when someone doesn’t want your help, all you are doing is feeding the disease. It’s a rough cycle. Way to go on standing up for yourself!

    Like

    • Steph Mignon

      This is the year of the healthy relationship for me. I honestly think I’ve been silent for so long that I’m exploding at anyone who’s ever pissed me off lately! It’s been cathartic, but I’m ready to tone it down. And what is with all these bad boy brothers? I swear there’s a crisis in this country and it has nothing to do with Congress. Good men are seriously on the decline.

      Like

  8. barrenbetty

    Aww I love the FB picture and the handmade signs. Very cute. That’s very hard with your brother, but sounds like you have made the right call and done everything you can. The only person who can really help him is himself. If he doesn’t want to change, nobody will be able to do it for him. Just very hard when it’s a family member.

    Also, you are growing an excellent bump… Nice work! xx

    Like

    • Steph Mignon

      BB – yeah family drama sucks. Letting go and realizing I can’t control it is STILL challenging, but I guess it’s good practice for all the other shitting things in life I can’t bend to my will.

      And I’m glad you see the bump better than I do! It still just looks and feels like bloat to me.

      Like

  9. The infernal infertile

    My older brother and I have a difficult relationship too, after years battling with my inadequacy as a sister, I’ve settled for “I love him because he’s family, but I don’t have to like who he is.”

    Besides… you can’t ever fully cut off a sibling… they’re the best match if you need a kidney for any reason… 😉

    You look absolutely gorgeously pregnant – good job you!

    Like

    • Steph Mignon

      I feel so much better hearing that I’m not the only one who struggles with family relationships. Sometimes, it just feels so lonely to be going through it! And I LOVE your point about the kidney. Def won’t be cutting him off anytime soon!

      Like

  10. Daryl

    Your bump is adorable! I also feel like mine just looks like bloat, but i actually had someone ask me if I was pregnant yesterday!

    I totally get the brother issues, too. Both of mine are hopeless, and they’re in their 40s. That quote about being too late to change them totally spoke to me. I hope what your brother is going through is just a phase and he can work his way out of it soon. But there’s nothing you can do to change him. Just love him anyway.

    Like

  11. lamentingthelentil

    Uggghh, sorry I’m so pokey. First of all, you absolutely have a cute little bump there! She’s making herself visible, for sure. And (by the way) I happen to like you in the long skirt, vest, tennies combo. 🙂

    Let’s see. Your announcement is adorable. I love that you couldn’t quite fit the ‘T and so, instead of erasing the white board and starting over, you just went with it. My style all the way, friend. I’m still too afraid to post about my pregnancy on facebook. It’s weird. I thought I’d be ready at 14 weeks, then this came and went. And every day since then that I think about it, I get this little bit of fear which is then quelled by total avoidance of the thought altogether. I still WANT to do it, I just can’t bring myself to actually pull the trigger.

    Oh, the brother. I know what it’s like to have a sibling who you love and care about who doesn’t seem to take the initiative to care for themselves. I have lots of things to worry about with my younger sister, many of which are related to her own decisions. It’s been a rough several years for her. But things seem to be looking up lately. And my desperate attempts to ‘guide’ her had nothing to do her forward progress. I think she just got sick of where she was. I loved Daryl’s comment above. It’s hard. You just want to shake them. But it’s because you love him. If you didn’t love him so much, you wouldn’t give a shit. I’m trying to take the shaking out of it. 🙂

    Like

    • Steph Mignon

      Again, I am amazed at how many of us have wonky siblings. It’s crazy! And no worries about being poky. You’ve got big girl school to contend with and babies to grow! As for pulling the trigger, you’ll announce when you’re ready. Some people bake cookies for RE, others announce on FB. For me, giving parting gifts to my RE won’t happen until baby is born. We’ve all got our hang-ups haha.

      Like

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