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Posted in pregnancy

False Negative Pregnancy Test

“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

“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

Have a question? Submit it HERE

Posted in baby, parenting

How to Treat Baby Acne

My baby is one month old and has broken out with terrible acne. What do I do?!”

Don’t panic. I know it’s hard seeing breakouts on your new baby’s perfect face, but it probably bothers you much more than it bothers them.

If your baby is showing signs that their acne is hurting or itching them, or you’re at all worried, please schedule an appointment with your doctor.

Baby acne is very common and while time heals all things, there are a few steps you can take that may help speed up the process.

Washcloth and warm water

Using a soft washcloth and lukewarm water, gently wipe your baby’s face once or twice a day. This will help clear it of milk, formula, or anything else that may be accumulating on their sensitive skin throughout the day.

Avoid soap

Believe it or not, baby soap may actually cause your baby’s face to break out worse, so avoid using soap on their faces and stick to just water.

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser is great to use on their bodies during bath time. It’s soap-free and easy on Baby’s newborn skin.

Breastmilk

The power of breastmilk is amazing. After you’re done nursing, try expressing some drops directly onto your baby’s face and gently spreading it over their acne.

Not only can breastmilk help treat baby acne, but some moms have been known to use it to alleviate sunburns, mosquito bites and several other skin ailments.

Coconut oil

Coconut oil can serve as an anti-bacterial, as well as a moisturizer. Try applying a little bit to your baby’s skin and see if it helps.

Coconut oil can also be used to treat cradle cap and cracked nipples from nursing.

Tubby Todd’s All Over Ointment

Even if you don’t use it to treat your baby’s acne, Tubby Todd’s All Over Ointment is a great product to have on hand.

It’s made with natural ingredients and can be used to treat anything from cradle cap to diaper rash to mom and dad’s dry heels.

The ointment is a little pricey ($16 for 3.2 oz), but a little bit goes a long way!

Try not to stress too much about your baby’s acne. It does get better…at least until they’re teenagers!

XO Nicoll

Have a question? Submit it HERE

Posted in baby, parenting

How to Choose a Halloween Costume for Your Baby

“Halloween is in two weeks and I still haven’t picked out a costume for my baby. Help!”

Good news! There’s still time. First Halloweens are fun, but don’t pressure yourself to pick out the perfect costume. When it comes to babies and Halloween, practical is best. Here are some tips:

Check the weather

Not only the weather, but what your plans are.

Do you have older kids that you’ll be taking trick-or-treating? If so, baby may need a warmer costume, or one that can fit a coat underneath.

Live somewhere warm? Then those fluffy, warm costumes may overheat your beach babe.

If you plan on staying inside while your baby is in costume, you have more flexibility, but should still remember that babies overheat easily, so nothing too warm.

Avoid costumes with tails

Baby dinosaurs and other costumes with tails are cute, but don’t expect your little monster to stay in costume for long. If your baby can’t sit up on their own yet, you’ll have to hold them the entire time they’re in costume. If they can sit up, you will still need to take the costume off for car seats, high chairs, etc.

Consider buying a Halloween onesie

You already know to always have a spare set of clothes in the event of a blowout or puke. But why not make it one more festive?!

Halloween onesies can be found at reasonable prices, and you’ll be thankful you have one when your baby is tired of wearing their costume. The onesie pictured below was purchased at Carters.com for less than $10.

Buy online from a company you know

Prefer to buy Baby’s costume online? Do it! But keep in mind these tips:

As tempting as it is to take advantage of Prime and buy your baby’s costume from Amazon, proceed with caution.

Sizes can be hard to determine when buying online, especially if your baby is right around the 6-month mark, as many costumes come in either sizes 0-6 months, or 6-12 months. Buying from a company whose sizes you’re already familiar with can help avoid ending up with a costume that’s too big or too small.

Double check the shipping time and availability of the item. With two weeks left until Halloween, there is still time to get your costume shipped, but verify where it’s coming from and how soon the company can get it shipped. In September I ordered a Halloween costume that was Prime eligible on Amazon, but didn’t realize until after it shipped that the costume was coming from China (I’m in the US) and would not, in fact, be delivered that week. One month later and I neither have the item, nor am able to track it.

Companies like Carter’s and Target have some really cute costumes that generally ship quickly. They are also pretty good about letting you know when items are out-of-stock, so you’re not ordering costumes that won’t ship right away.

Don’t use face paint

We’ve all seen the adorable and hilarious Pinterest photos of babies sporting cute whiskers or funny mustaches for Halloween…don’t do it. Baby skin is extremely sensitive and face paint can not only irritate their faces, but can be difficult to wash off. You also have their busy little fingers to consider…fingers which will surely be in their mouths, rubbing their eyes, and smearing the makeup you so carefully applied.

Enjoy costume hunting and be sure to take lots of pictures! Remember – think practical.

XO Nicoll

Have a question? Submit it HERE

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

Have a question? Submit it HERE

Posted in postpartum

6 Things I Didn’t Expect Postpartum

I’m nearing the end of my pregnancy and have done everything to prepare for labor & delivery. What should I be expecting after delivery that I haven’t already heard about?

Yes! As expecting mothers, we spend so much time reading up on every aspect of our pregnancy and what to expect during labor. But there are a few surprising things that come postpartum. Here were my top 6 biggest surprises:

1. The peri bottle

Talk about a lifesaver! After you give birth and you’re a bloody mess *down there*, the hospital will provide you with a little water bottle that you squirt on yourself when you go to the bathroom. It feels great and leaves your very sore parts clean, like a portable bidet!

A word of advice: get a spare and pack it in your diaper bag because you do not want to be running an errand, have to pee and realize you left your peri bottle at home. It hurts and it’s just not an experience I’d wish on anyone I love.

2. Being scared to poop

I was more scared of my post-delivery bowel movement than I was of childbirth itself. Every muscle, tendon and piece of skin had been stretched beyond its breaking point and the idea of anything else coming out was just unfathomable.

Between how I felt physically and the mental block that prohibited me from going…it was days before I would get near a toilet for Number 2.

3. Tailbone pain

To piggy back on my fear of going to the bathroom…that was in large part because of how bad my tailbone hurt! I remember telling the nurse at the hospital that it felt like I bruised my tailbone, to which she responded, “you probably did.” What?!

Yeah. Apparently Baby’s head can cause some trauma to your tailbone. I couldn’t sit comfortably for months after delivery!

4. Stretchy skin

It makes sense, but not something I ever gave any consideration. After giving birth, your stomach is still very swollen for weeks, but once the swelling starts to come down, your skin is still stretched out.

Don’t panic yet! Your skin does eventually catch up…kind of. I’ve accepted that I’m probably always going to be a little squishier, but at least my skin doesn’t look/feel as funny as it did in the days following delivery.

I’ll also add…the squishy skin and stretch marks are so worth it.

5. Nursing is hard

I don’t know if you plan on nursing, but if you are, just know that it’s hard at first. And it hurts! But it’s normal and it does get better.

I don’t know why, but this took me totally by surprise. I thought it would be the most natural thing in the world, but it takes your baby some time to learn and it takes your body some time to acclimate.

It’s also tricky because breastfeeding requires you to continue to care for your body when your only care in the world is caring for that brand new baby. The last thing on your mind is drinking enough water and intaking enough calories…which is what your body needs in order to produce milk.

Unfortunately it also means a couple of weeks of pain and sleep deprivation because your baby needs to eat every 2-3 hours, if not more.

Once both you and Baby get into a routine, though, it’s very special.

6. How much I love my son

Of course I knew I would love him. But I never expected how overwhelmed with love I would be. There were so many days when I would just hold him and look at him and cry because my heart was just exploding out of my chest. The love that a mother has for her child is unlike anything I ever could have imagined. It’s simultaneously wondering how you ever lived without this little person, worrying about everything that could ever hurt them, and understanding that this right here was your entire life’s purpose and nothing else will ever matter as much as your baby.

Wishing you and your baby a healthy delivery. You’re doing great!

XO Nicoll

Have a question? Submit it HERE