Posted in pregnancy

Tips for Managing Pregnancy Anxiety

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Pregnancy anxiety is something we don’t talk about enough. Postpartum depression and anxiety are, thank goodness, being talked about more publicly now, but there’s not as much attention on the very real anxiety that women can have while they’re pregnant.

Why isn’t pregnancy anxiety talked about more often?

Probably because pregnancy is a temporary condition. There is an end date, even if it doesn’t feel like it sometimes. And because of that, some conditions, like anxiety, might not be taken as seriously as they need to be. We think to ourselves, and often doctors think, “It will get better when the baby is born.”

And let me tell you something – MOST CONDITIONS DO! Hip pain? I can almost guarantee you it’ll go away once that baby is born. And maybe in some cases anxiety will, too.

So do I need to just suffer through it?

Of all the many ailments we suffer for the nine months we’re pregnant, most of them we just can’t do anything about. We have to suffer through them.

But unlike the hip pain you have, for example, which you are suffering because of your rapidly-changing body, there are things you can do about anxiety. You may not get rid of it completely, but you can probably ease it a little bit.

I’m going to start out by saying – I am NOT a doctor. I am not here to provide you with medical advice. But I am here to tell you that you are not alone. It is very common. I was there. And I can share with you my experience, what worked for me and what I wish I would have done different.

My Experience With Pregnancy Anxiety

It’s important for me to share my story because:

a) I didn’t recognize my anxiety symptoms for what they were.

b) When I did recognize that I had anxiety, I didn’t get the help and support I needed from my doctor.

It was really hard for me to tell my doctor that I needed help. Right or wrong, I felt a lot of shame in admitting I had any mental illness. We still don’t live in a world where it’s okay. So when I allowed myself to be vulnerable and tell my doctor what was going on and she didn’t help me

I think back on it now and it just makes me so angry. I wish I would have handled it differently and I don’t want any other mothers to feel the way I did.

My history with anxiety

I am a very anxious person. I’ve been riddled with anxiety probably since birth. So I knew when I became pregnant that pregnancy anxiety was likely something I was going to face.

I had stopped taking all medications, including anxiety medication, before becoming pregnant because I just didn’t want to take any chances contaminating my unborn child. I didn’t do any research – this was just me wanting to go into pregnancy with a clean body.

Pregnancy

I’m not going to say my first trimester was great. Physically it was, for sure. But mentally, I was very stressed, as I think many mothers are. I was glued to the computer trying to research everything I possibly could. Looking back, I can see now that I was trying to get control over a situation that was out of my control. Like, if I had more knowledge, I could somehow make sure that my baby would develop exactly how I wanted him to. I quickly learned that so much of it was out of my control. I was just so paranoid.

And this paranoia and stress continued throughout my entire pregnancy. Granted, I had a lot going on. I had just gotten married, I wasn’t feeling great about work. But we all have things. You’ve got to consider every aspect of your life when you’re bringing a baby into the world! And especially your first pregnancy when you just have no idea what to expect.

I spent so much time trying to find out if the things I was experiencing were normal, or trying to figure out what to expect next – if I’d get stretch marks, if it was normal not to get morning sickness, when I’d start to show, and on and on and on.

I’ve obviously never been pregnant in any previous eras, but I feel like the amount of information we have at our fingertips, while often times helpful, can also be detrimental. All of my research and googling was creating these fears about conditions I didn’t even previously know existed.

I simultaneously looked forward to and dreaded each doctor’s appointment because I was always terrified they were going to find something wrong, but also wanted validation that everything was going right.

I remember feeling such relief when they’d play my baby’s heartbeat at the appointments, just to leave the appointment, do a google search, and then be paranoid that it was the placenta, not the heartbeat they were hearing.

At every, or almost every doctor’s appointment, I was required to fill out this survey to be screened for anxiety and depression. I’ll be the first person to admit that I wasn’t entirely honest when I filled out those surveys. I thought I knew myself well enough to know if I was suffering from anxiety and depression. So I embellished my happiness a little bit because I thought I was fine.

I took my physical wellness and confused it with mental wellness. I honestly didn’t think anything of my high levels of stress. I thought it was normal. Maybe it was.

Then things changed.

When I was 7 months pregnant I made a crazy, but worthwhile decision, and left my company of five and a half years to accept a job at a new company. Taking a new job in the United States in your third trimester is a bold move. It made me legally ineligible for FMLA, meant changing my insurance, all sorts of things. Not to mention learning a new job when your brain is foggy.

Luckily, my new company worked with me as best they could and I was able to take leave after having my baby, but it’s still a little scary knowing that when you’re not covered under FMLA, your job isn’t legally protected.

After I started my new job I went to another routine prenatal appointment and filled out the same depression/anxiety survey I had filled out before. But this time my answers were a lot different. Now I was experiencing physical symptoms of anxiety – feeling very tense in my muscles, unable to shut my mind off to sleep, very short of breath, especially when I started thinking about stressful things. And it had gotten to a point that I felt like I needed to talk to someone about it.

So I did. I told my doctor that I had suffered from anxiety issues before, so I knew what it looked like and I was definitely having some major anxiety issues. She just casually glanced over the notes from my previous visit and said, “You weren’t having any anxiety issues at your last appointment.”

I said, “A lot has changed since then. And I’m telling you about it because my anxiety is bad enough that I need help.”

She seemed really irritated at this. It seemed to me like she was just there to do a quick, routine appointment and move on with her day. Anything beyond that was just not what she wanted to deal with.

So she said, “If you’ve had anxiety issues before, did you have a therapist?”

I said “Yes. But that was a few years ago.”

And she said, “Well then I would recommend you talk to them.” And got up to leave.

I told her, “It’s not that easy. For one, I saw this therapist a handful of times, so it’s not someone I have a trusted relationship with. For two, I just started a new job and I have to be here every other week. It’s just not a possibility for me to schedule an appointment with another doctor. And when I’ve scheduled with them in the past, appointments are booked out several weeks in advance. I need help NOW. I’ve already sat on this long enough.”

And at this point, I was starting to get really upset. I was sitting here telling my doctor that I’m struggling and literally begging her to believe me and to help me.

Begrudgingly she made a comment like, “So what do you want? Medication?”

I said, “Actually, yeah. That would be great.”

So she proceeded to tell me all of the possible horrible side effects, including my baby having trouble latching. Well breastfeeding was really important to me and the last thing a pregnant woman wants to do is anything that will hurt her baby.

So I just broke down in tears. Had a complete meltdown in her office. Told her that I didn’t want the medication now and I didn’t know what to do. And she basically just left me there.

It was awful.

Looking back

Now that I know more and have a clear head, I should have advocated for myself better. I should have asked to speak to a different doctor, who likely would have told me that the benefits of having a mentally healthy mother, in my case, likely would have outweighed the possibility of the very managable side effects from the medication.

But I didn’t. I let her leave me alone in this room having a complete mental breakdown and feeling completely helpless.

I’m now 6 months postpartum and if I could go back to a 7-month-pregnant version of myself and give her advice, I would tell her this:

See your doctor. And if you aren’t feeling supported, see a different doctor. When your doctor isn’t giving you what you need, ask if there is someone else you can talk to. Call or email the office later and tell them you need to speak to someone else. We have to advocate for ourselves.

To give you a little bit of context – the OBGYN office that I go to has multiple doctors. So I had other options. And if yours isn’t like that and you don’t like your doctor – go to a different office. It doesn’t matter if you’re 7 months pregnant.

A few weeks later I was in the office for another appointment and a very pregnant women was at the front desk scheduling her next appointment. She gave the receptionist the day she wanted to come in and said she’d be willing to see any doctor in the practice except….you guessed it…the doctor that I had talked to about my anxiety. I remember thinking, “So it’s not just me. This doctor isn’t vibing well with her patients.”

It seems like we’re seemingly open about mental illness, but in practice, maybe not so much. In my situation, it felt like my doctor asked me depression and anxiety screening questions to check it off the list. And I was too ashamed to answer the questions honestly.

Managing the Anxiety

I want to share what did work for me.

If I had the time, I think I really would have benefitted from seeing a therapist or counselor. But I didn’t.

From that point forward I had to work really hard to focus on my stress and anxiety. Here’s what I did:

  • I started a daily gratitude journal. I always thought those were so corny, but I was desperate. So I did it. Every day I wrote down something that I was thankful for and I made every entry meaningful. I wrote things like, “I’m so thankful to have a supportive husband.” And, “I’m thankful to have a job that allows me to support my family.”
  • I stopped consulting Dr. Google. This one was hard. Like a lot of people, I obsessed over Googling every single symptom. I had to consciously make an effort to stay positive and rational.
  • I called the doctor for anything and everything I wanted to. And you know what? They weren’t bothered by it! I went in for stress tests when I was worried about Baby’s movements and my (new) doctor told me that she’d rather I go in 50 times for no reason than not go in the one time I needed to. Do you know how good that felt?
  • I took more baths. These felt so good to me. I’d throw on my favorite book on tape or podcast and just relax.
  • I stopped talking about my stress to people who didn’t make me feel good. There were several people, even close friends, that I just couldn’t talk to anymore about my pregnancy issues because, for whatever reason, their responses just made me mad.

Those 5 things worked for me and I wish I would have started doing them sooner.

It’s critical, for you and your baby, to find ways that work for you. And it starts by recognizing that you’re suffering. Recognizing that you can feel better. And advocating for yourself.

XO Nicoll

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Posted in pregnancy

False Negative Pregnancy Test

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“I took a pregnancy test and got a negative result. Could I still be pregnant?”

In short, yes.

This usually happens when you took the test too soon. For the best results, you’ll want to take the test no sooner than the first day of your missed period, and take it first thing in the morning.

And although uncommon, it is also possible to take a pregnancy test later than your missed period and still get a negative result…even when you’re pregnant. It happened to me. Here’s my story:

The first month

When my husband and I decided we were ready for kids, I stopped taking birth control and started tracking my cycle

The first month after I stopped taking my pills, I waited the 28 days for my cycle to start again and it didn’t come. 29 days….30 days….And I was thinking to myself, “Holy cow! That was really fast, am I pregnant? There’s no way.”

I took a pregnancy test: Negative.

At 32 days my period finally came. It was my first period post-birth control, so it wasn’t a surprise to me that it was a little wonky. I had always had very regular periods, with or without birth control.

The second month

The second month of my cycle, I was late again. And the app I was using, Clue, takes into account the length of your previous cycles and makes predictions about when you’re ovulating and when your period will start. Based on my previous period, it didn’t have me scheduled to get this next one for a few more days.

I was at work the next day, it was a Friday, and I was in a meeting right before lunch, thinking about this dream I had the night before. It was wild. I was on this cruise ship, but was drowning. Like, Titanic style. I was thinking about the dream because it felt so real. I literally woke up thankful for my life because I thought for sure I had drown and died on this dream cruise ship. And as I was thinking about this dream, I suddenly remembered my best friend telling me about her crazy pregnancy dreams.

She had three kids and that was how she knew she was pregnant with the third, because of a crazy dream she had. As soon as I remembered her telling me that I was thinking, “Could it be? No way. People have crazy dreams all the time, right? It doesn’t mean they’re PREGNANT.”

But I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so as soon as this meeting was over, I ran to the local grocery store and bought a pregnancy test. One of those boxes that come with two tests.

As soon as I pay for the thing, I ran to the bathroom and ripped the box open. I ran into one of the stalls and took the test.

The faulty test

I’m sure you are all familiar with how pregnancy tests work, but in case you’re not:

  • There are two potential lines you’ll see when you take the test. One of them is the test line. This one ALWAYS turns pink, it’s how you know the test works. The other one may or may not show up.
  • If only the test line shows up, you’re not pregnant.
  • If both lines show up, you’re pregnant.

It’s that simple.

So I peed on this stick and waited and waited and waited…..and waited….nothing. Literally nothing. Not even the test line came up.

I had to go to back to work and all the nerves and excitement got in my head so I didn’t have to go again for HOURS after that.

I left work at the end of the day and went home to make some Korean food, which I had been seriously jonesin’ for. And while I was out getting the ingredients I passed by the liquor store and I thought to myself, “I should definitely get some wine.” A little part of me was like, “Should you? You could be pregnant….” But, I figured it was better to be safe than sorry, so I went ahead and bought that bottle of red.

I got home and made my Korean food and again wondered if I should open that bottle of wine. I ultimately decided that I should. So I drank a glass because somehow in my mind I reasoned that I wasn’t OFFICIALLY pregnant until a test confirmed it. So wine first, then test. Plus I still didn’t have to go.

The second test

FINALLY I felt the urge to pee. I quickly found the 2nd pregnancy test that came in the box and went to the bathroom. SUCCESS…this one worked. The test line showed up.

I was sitting there waiting for the verdict….waiting….waiting…and I didn’t see anything

….or did I? I couldn’t tell.

My bathroom was kind of dim, so I took it out to my kitchen. I was holding this test at 20 different angles, holding it up to the light and I still just see the faintest shadow of a line. It was so faint that I honestly wasn’t sure if it was my eyes deceiving me or just the spot where the dye was, but hadn’t turned pink. Still inconclusive. So I took the test outside because at this point it was still daylight. And for the life of me I COULD NOT tell if there was a faint line or not.

I had no idea what to do. Or how to feel. Was I happy? Was I panicking? Overreacting? Hoping to see a line? I had no choice…I had to take another test.

The third test

I went back to the grocery store and bought like 6 more tests. And a card for my husband….just in case. And Sunny Delight because…ya know….Juno.

I was chugging the Sunny D and waiting until I need to go again. Luckily, the grocery store had one last box of the pregnancy test with a digital display that just tells you “pregnant” or “not pregnant.” So I decided to take that one.

I took the test and it just has this hourglass that was flashing. FOR-EV-ERRRRRR. And all I could think was, “Great. Another faulty test.” After ages and ages it finally read…pregnant. I couldn’t believe it. I cried and was so happy. I wanted kids and much like many women, was convinced that I wouldn’t be able to have them.

I’m a very anxious person and thought for sure that if I wasn’t very careful, this baby would just fall out without me knowing or something. Or thought that maybe I had dreamed the whole thing up or that the test gave a false positive (which isn’t a thing, by the way). When I called my doctor, they asked:

“Did you have a positive test?”

“Yes.”

“You’re pregnant.”

“Are you sure?”

“Have you had any bleeding?”

“No.”

“Okay then you’re pregnant.”

But I still took a pregnancy test about every other day, just to make sure. I didn’t feel pregnant. I felt great! No morning sickness, nothing. I didn’t look pregnant (Obviously, it was so early). Eventually the pink line on my tests became very obvious, which I was so thankful for. 

I quickly realized how costly it was becoming for me to be taking multiple pregnancy tests every day and I convinved myself that I was, in fact, pregnant. And that everything was going to be okay and I needed to just calm down.

So I laid off the test for a few weeks.

The final test

A couple of days before my first prenatal appointment, I decided I should take another test, juuuuuuuust in case.

I took the test AND…it was negative. I kid you not. One pink line.

I proceeded to lose it. I was crying, called my doctor freaking out. I just didn’t understand how I could be pregnant one day and then a week or two later not be!

So I called the doctor who again asked me the same set of questions:

“Did you have a positive test?”

“Yes! But that was a few weeks ago!”

“Have you had any bleeding?”

“No!”

“Okay, then you’re still pregnant.”

And I was like, “But the test was negative!!!”

And I’ll never forget this. The doctor told me, “You’re going to spend the next 9 months worrying about your baby, and then another 18 after that. Just relax.”

So obviously I did not relax. But I did feel a little better that the doctor wasn’t concerned.

The doctor’s appointment

My prenatal appointment was 2 days later and at this point I had convinced myself that something had gone terribly wrong, because there was just no other possible explanation for this test being negative. My husband and I went back to the exam room for the ultrasound. The doctor pulled out the ultrasound machine and I was just a wreck at this point. 100% prepared for the doctor to tell me my pregnancy wasn’t viable or I was never pregnant to begin with. And then I saw it…this tiny flickering blob. And I had done enough research to know before she even told me, that was a heartbeat.

That moment was so emotional for me. I cried and felt so much relief…and fear. And love. How was I possibly going to be a good enough mother? How was I going to protect this baby well enough? I already loved him or her soooo much.

The worry

Let me tell you…that doctor I spoke to on the phone was right. The worry never went away, it just changed. I never found a reason to stop worrying. If you’re a parent, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Since my son was born, the worry has just gotten worse because I love him soooo much. He’s 6 months old and I still check on him multiple times a night to make sure he’s breathing. Is that normal? I have no idea. It could be postpartum anxiety. Or it could just be that I care so much about that baby boy that I spend every second of the day and night making sure he’s safe and happy. That’s motherhood.

Why the false negative?

So why was did that test come up negative? I still have no idea. There are a few theories:

  • Maybe I took the test too late in the day and my HcG levels were too low.
  • Maybe I drank too much water and my urine was diluted.
  • Others have told me that if you have TOO MUCH HcG the test won’t work. It’s called the hook effect.

I really have no explanation. But I have met other women who have had similar experiences, and even met one woman who has never had a pregnancy test give her a positive result, even though she’s had multiple healthy babies.

The moral of the story here is…you know your body. Don’t ever hesitate to call your doctor if you suspect anything is going on, regardless of what a test says.

XO Nicoll

Have a question? Submit it HERE

Posted in baby, parenting, postpartum, pregnancy

Mom Groups: The Good, the Bad and the Weird

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“I’m pregnant and I’m thinking about joining a mom group. Should I?”

Congratulations! You’re pregnant and probably looking for support from others who can relate to what you’re experiencing. Sure, you probably have friends who have been pregnant before, and maybe you even have yourself. But there’s just something about being able to talk to women who are in the same stage of motherhood that you are at the same time. Because let’s be honest…we all look back at our pregnancies and probably remember them differently than they actually happened.

There are a few different kinds of mom groups, and each of them brings something different to the table. Personally, I’ve had experience with three.

The facebook mom group

Very early in my first trimester, about 4 or 5 weeks in, I was invited to join a private group on facebook made up of other pregnant women who were all due around the same time I was. At the time that I joined, there were probably 200 of us.

The good: The women in this group were so kind and supportive. It was great to be able to ask them questions that I wouldn’t ask someone I actually knew.

They also made delivery seem much less scary. A good chunk of them delivered before I did and I just remember looking at their photos and thinking, “holy cow, they look so good!” And after delivery, they’d just be gushing about their babies, not saying how awful it was, so that gave me hope.

When it got closer to my due date I was experiencing some contractions and I asked them how you know the difference between Braxton Hicks and real contractions and it was nice to get so many different perspectives based on their own experiences.

Our babies are all around 6 months old now and we still post every day.

The bad: During my first trimester I almost left the group. There were several women who experienced miscarriages and being that we were their support, they would often post, in detail, what was happening. It was horrible for them and in a different time I may have been in a headspace to be more supportive, but being that I was pregnant also, I found myself just getting a lot of anxiety and fear that I would also have a miscarriage. It kept me up at night and constantly had me thinking the worst. I was lucky to have a healthy pregnancy, but the stress that comes with being pregnant was definitely exacerbated by being in that group so early on.

The weird: Every group has a weird mom and in this group, they were the pregnancy elitists, as I called them. They were usually women who had given birth before and knew it alllllll.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved having women in the group who had already had kids because I found their experience to be very helpful. But the pregnancy elitists just had a way of acting like it was their way or the wrong way.

The hospital mom group

The hospital that I delivered at had a new moms networks that met once a week. The first part of it was dedicated to going around in a circle and each mom talking about what went well and what didn’t that week. Then a guest speaker would come in to talk and answer questions. The guest speakers ranged from pediatricians to leaders of fitness groups for new moms, to moms who had experienced postpartum depression.

The good: I found this group to be very informational. I got a lot out of being able to ask questions of the guest speakers and other mothers. It also got me showered and out of the house to a place where I felt comfortable bringing a newborn. Newborns are hard because you never know when they’re going to be hungry or cry or just need to be held.

Being a part of this group, I felt comfortable nursing or changing my baby’s diaper. I also knew that I wouldn’t be judged if he broke out in tears for one reason or another.

The bad: I found it difficult to form solid relationships with the other moms in this group. I didn’t go every week because I had a vacation and other plans, and I was only able to go for the 12 weeks that I was off of work. It wasn’t enough time to make anything more than acquaintances.

The weird: The weird mom in this group was the Regina George of the moms. She had been going for a long time and rarely skipped group, so she knew most everyone, but only seemed to like a small group. She would often use time during group to organize meetups, but only invite some of the moms, and be very vocal about how she didn’t want to invite everyone.

The work mom group

My office has a new moms group that has occasional meetings to do mommy and baby yoga, or have a guest speaker come in to talk about work-life balance.

The good: Of all the mom groups, this is the one made up of mothers who can most easily relate to each other. We all work for the same company, in the same part of the state, and we all work. Let’s face it: working moms have some unique stresses – pumping at work, feeling comfortable with your childcare provider, etc.

It has been great to be able to connect with other mothers who can relate to many of my struggles as a mother, but we can also talk about things outside of motherhood.

They are also women that I see on a regular basis, so forming friendships has come with a little more ease.

The bad: I don’t have anything negative to say about this group. It does force you to mix your professional and personal lives, though, so if that’s not something your comfortable with, this might not be the group for you.

The weird: Every woman I’ve talked to who has joined a new moms group at their work has told me about the mom who has stayed in the group a liiiiiiitttle too long. At least at my office, the group is intended for new moms. Meaning, mothers of babies. But there’s always that one mom whose kid is like 15, yet they’re still a part of the new moms group. Perhaps to impart their wisdom? Who knows.

Should you join?

My answer is yes. It’s so important to have as much support as possible, especially as a new mother. Motherhood is hard and often times lonely. Find a network. Ask them questions. Cry on their collective shoulder.

If it isn’t making you feel good, then quit. But it’s worth a shot.

XO Nicoll

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Posted in pregnancy

What You Should Know About Your First Trimester

I just found out I’m pregnant, but it’s too early to tell anyone and I’m feeling really overwhelmed. What do I need to know about my first trimester?

Congratulations! Whether you planned to become pregnant or you’re surprised to find yourself a few days late, that moment when you see the second pink line show up on a pregnancy test is very emotional. Your whole life is about to change. Here was my experience, and some things I wish I would have known going into my first trimester:

Symptoms may not be what you expect

Pregnancy symptoms can be your typical sore boobs and morning sickness. Or they might be non-existant. Nothing is normal, and everything is normal.

My experience: My best friend, Steph, told me about the intense dreams pregnancy can bring on. After I stopped taking birth control, my cycles were pretty long. So for the second month in a row, my period was late. I didn’t think much of it.

One night I had a crazy intense dream that I was on a cruise ship that was flooding and I was drowning. Weird, right? The next day at work I was in a meeting and BOOM! I remembered Steph’s words and I thought…is it possible? It was. That was the day I found out.

My symptoms after that? Nothing. Some food aversions, a lot of foods just didn’t taste good. MAYYYBBEE my stomach felt a little upset if I ate breakfast too late. I didn’t feel good when the weather got cold. But they were all things that weren’t totally out of the ordinary for me.

I spent so much of my first trimester worried that something was wrong because I couldn’t relate to what other pregnant women were going through. I even longed to feel terrible like they did. At one point I went so far as to take another pregnancy test at 7 weeks just to make sure I didn’t imagine it. And guess what? THE TEST WAS NEGATIVE! I obviously lost my mind and called the doctor immediately. Turns out it’s just some phenomenon that happens sometimes when you’re a few weeks in.

Two first-trimester doctor appointments and my little baby was developing right on track.

Some people just don’t experience a lot of symptoms.

We have so much information at our disposal

You can find out anything you want to about your growing baby. Insomnia got you up at night? I always searched different hashtags on Instagram to see how my bump compares to others that are just as far along.

It is so cool to learn about how quickly your little embryo is developing, especially when you can’t see or feel it yet.

Information also comes with a large dose of reality. You will learn about the alarmingly high rate of first trimester miscarriages, birth defects, and everything else that can go wrong.

You have to know when to put down the laptop and just have faith that everything is going well in your body.

My experience: I’m a researcher. So from the instant I found out I was pregnant I was constantly scouring the internet, or flipping through the pages of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. A lot of what I found was scary, but I couldn’t get enough information.

I also joined a private Facebook group of other women due around the same time. Believe it or not, that group was by far what has caused me the most stress in this pregnancy. It was about 160 women, and all too often they were posting about bleeding, miscarriages, going to the doctor and not finding a heartbeat. These were all things I head read about on the internet, but putting a face to the stories made it very real. I spent far too much time worrying that their terrible stories would happen to me.

Joining the group was really eye-opening for me. I didn’t realize how common miscarriage is and how blessed we have been to have a hassle-free pregnancy. But seeing the posts was so anxiety-inducing that I actually wished I hadn’t joined at all. It wasn’t until I was at about 15 weeks that I started to find the group helpful. There were other first-time moms who would ask questions I wanted to know the answers to, and plenty of experienced mothers who could provide sage advice.

Each person has different needs, but if I had to do it all again, I wouldn’t have joined that group until my second trimester. Pregnancy is stressful enough.

The human body is incredible

Pregnancy really is a miracle. I was and am continually amazed at how quickly a baby grows in utero.

A pregnant body is making so many changes to accommodate that little being and giving it everything it needs in order to thrive.

For as often as we complain about sickness or fatigue, they are minor symptoms compared to the miracle that is happening inside.

My favorite first trimester moments: My first two doctor’s appointments were unforgettable. The first appointment was at just seven weeks and the instant that I saw that little heart beating on the screen I started crying. It was so surreal seeing a living being inside of me.

Just four weeks later, at 11 weeks, the ultrasound clearly showed my baby’s arms and legs. The difference in just a month was amazing.

Those two appointments made the pregnancy so much more real for me.

I wish you a smooth and stress-free pregnancy and so much patience as you wait until you’re comfortable telling the rest of the world about your little one!

XO Nicoll

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