Introducing the Best and Worst parts of Pregnancy!

Best: Stretchy Pants! They will become your best friend. They are easy to put on from week 8 to week 40. They are comfy cozy. They relieve pressure on the expanding belly. And my favorite – they keep your tummy warm.

Worst: Peeing. All the time. Every day. Every night. Why? Your blood is flowing faster through your kidneys now and filling up your bladder not to mention your new little roommate is bouncing up and down on your bladder like it is the world’s smallest trampoline. Adult diapers anyone?

Best: People are nicer! They are, for real, for some reason. People hold doors for you. They smile at you. They offer to carry things for you. They think it is cute when you eat a bunch ice cream straight from the carton.

Worst: Unwelcome belly touches! For some reason, some people think when you are pregnant it gives then carte blanche to touch your belly. Why? No! Weird….

Best: Using your stomach as a table! Yup. The “how long can I balance my plate of nachos on my tummy before I have to hold it” game.

Worst: Swelling! My feet were like large German sausages near the end. Big cozy socks were helpful but get ready for your feet, ankles, and calves to balloon up. Stretches help and luckily it is not for long typically.

Best: Your hair has never looked and felt better, silkier, softer, fuller!

Worst: You cannot bend over so if you drop something, that is where it lives.

Best: Ultrasounds: Pictures of your baby! You can see his head, his hands and toes, his little nose and mouth. His heartbeat can be seen/heard as early as 18 days in. And at 7 weeks – you can see and feel him hiccup! Which is adorable. And at about 20 weeks you may be able to see if you will have a little boy or a little girl. There is truly nothing like it.

Worst: The entire last month of pregnancy. You are hot. You are big. You have not seen your feet in a long while. You cannot sleep more than a few minutes before you either have to pee or have to roll over which takes a lot of rocking back and forth.

Best: You can feel your baby move! There are no words to describe this awesomeness. It is like a little drum and a tickle from the inside. Kind of. But one thing is for certain – he is there and alive and wants to meet you! Playing music makes him wiggle. Singing makes him rock. Hearing your voice lulls him peacefully to sleep.

Worst: Labor. For some. It can be long and arduous. Or short and spastic. It can be painful, and it is emotional. And you will be exhausted. You may scream. You may cuss (I did!), you may have more than just your OBGYN looking at the business end of you (think nurses, medical students, anesthesiologists….).

Best: But then – it is over. And everything fades and it is just him. Your beautiful baby. Looking at you with huge dark blue eyes (which may or may not change color over time) and there is nothing else in the world.

August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month!

“I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy. I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.” – Art Williams

Since the beginning of time mothers have breastfed their young.  It is as natural and organic as breathing. In every aspect of the world and every species on the planet it is there. The connection between mother and young during this simple act is one of the most profound in the human experience and there is no comparison.

The grace that flows naturally from a woman is a unique strength. Not only has she the power to sustain a life within her own body but even after birth her body still brings life and nourishment to her child.

One of the many beautiful superpowers a woman possesses.

Breastfeeding is not always easy and is not always a beautiful experience. I can recall my own obstacles with my oldest child even years later. The late nights, the fatigue, the frustration of both mom and baby at not being able to latch on properly. But once again I was not alone. There were other women who had been there and knew. They understood. The resources I was given, the patience, the encouragement was yet another testament to the capabilities and communion between women.

Despite working hard to maintain breastfeeding and pumping milk daily my daughter decided that she had had enough at about 6 months old. I remember feeling tender about it and even a bit rejected. This was natural I realized. As soon as you become a mother they begin separating from you. Your child is her own unique person, unlike any other.

I would not change those times for anything, the quiet of the night, the curve of my baby’s head in my arms as she nestled. There is nothing that compares.

My second child was a bit different in every sense of the word. Due to health concerns sadly, I was unable to breastfeed for very long and had to turn towards formula for my child. Formula is not horrible. It contains the nutrients your baby needs without a doubt. I will not proclaim to say it is worse or better. Like many mothers who are unable to breastfeed I found bottle feeding still a treasured moment with my child. A fleeting time for sure, but a gift just the same.

There are a multitude of benefits to breastfeeding not the least of which is the possibility of losing pregnancy weight! There is also a myriad of breastfeeding resources in the community –

La Leche League –

PEPS (Program for Early Parent Support) –


And for more help or questions – there’s Next Step! (425)329-4569

What resources does Next Step offer besides pregnancy testing?

According to King Five’s Eric Wilkinson in an article he wrote, “One in four people will need help getting enough to eat as the Pandemic drags on.” (Wilkinson E, May 21st2020,

Additionally, according to Eric Wilkinson (2020), “Statewide, the need for food has doubled to more than 1.5 million people since the start of the pandemic.”

While Next Step may not cover all of a families’ food needs’ we do offer baby formula and food free of charge. Thanks to the generosity of the community Next Step often has several kinds of formula, cereal and rice, and canned food for infant, babies and toddlers.

Next Step also offers resources such as contacts, addresses, and websites for local food banks and other local programs offering food and supplies for families in need.

Everyone needs help sometimes. Next Step provides confidential, patient, and caring support for your needs. Whether it’s a pregnancy test, diapers and formula, or a referral to the many local programs geared toward helping families stay healthy and safe during this time and any time there is a need. You are never alone in this. There is always help for those who seek it out.

Why do I feel this way?

It is done, you got through it. Your new baby is here. You assumed you would be happy and excited and bonding with your baby. So why do you feel exhausted, tense, and isolated?

You may be experiencing something that 1 in 7 new mothers experience during the first year. PPD or Post-Partum Depression affects roughly 70%-80% of new moms and can range from minimum symptoms to more serious ones.

You can get through it and you will get through it. You are not alone, and it does not mean you love your new baby any less. Everyone needs help sometimes.

Here are some symptoms to watch for after birth, known as the “baby blues”

Mood Swings

Crying Spells


Difficulty Sleeping

These symptoms usually last 2-3 weeks. And as you may have guessed, these symptoms are common for lots of people, parents or not!

Some of the more severe symptoms that may last longer and require help are:

Depression and Severe Mood Swings

Excessive Crying

Difficulty Bonding with new Baby

Withdrawal from Friends and Family

Loss of Appetite


Overwhelming Fatigue


Irritability and Anger

Feelings of Worthlessness

Severe Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Thoughts of Harming your Baby or Yourself

These symptoms are not character flaws or weaknesses. Just complications from birth experienced by many women and even some men! If these symptoms are severe or do not fade after two weeks here are some resources to help. Prompt attention and asking for help can drastically reduce how severe the symptoms get. There is treatment and exercises that will help you feel better and bond with your new baby.

It is a good idea to have your doctor monitor you during birth for signs of depression and anxiety. Being able to talk to someone before birth is a good way to possibly prevent negative outcomes. The earlier PPD is detected the earlier treatment can begin.

PPD Resources:

PSI Helpline: 1-800-944-4773

SAMHSA Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

DSHS Women’s Health: 1-800-994-9662

PSI Online Support Meetings:

There is help. You do not have to face this alone and it does not mean something is wrong with you. You are a courageous, capable and fierce woman! You love your child. You’ll get through this.

I remember exactly how I felt when I realized I was pregnant. Surprise. I was in a small clinic similar to Immediate Care or Concentra having gone there because I just felt ‘off’. I remember explaining my symptoms to the very young doctor – he had black hair and round glasses and he looked about 12.

“Bloated, queasy, tired, peeing all the time!” – I remember the young doc smiled and said, “Could you possibly be pregnant?”

Well, yes. Yes I could. And I was.

Symptoms of pregnancy differ for every person but there are a lot of them that all of us share.

A missed period – There are other reasons a period has been missed or late such as illness, stress, or strenuous exercise. But if you have missed your period and it’s been at least one week since it should have arrived pregnancy may be something to consider. Taking a pregnancy test earlier than at least 7-10 days from your missed period could result in a negative or false-positive result.

Breast Changes – Your breasts may feel sore or tender and even slightly larger. Yes, larger! But again, not every woman will experience these changes but it’s something to be on the lookout for.

Morning Sickness – This is the one you hear about most often but to be frank, not everyone experiences it. In fact, I had the queasiness in the evening, not the morning! It passes though and soon you want pickles, corn nuts and Fanta….all together.

Sense of Taste and Smell – certain foods and drinks may taste different to you. The smells of certain foods may suddenly be unappealing! And suddenly you want a bowl of Rice Chex cereal every day when before you were a toast and Latte kinda gal.

Tiredness – suddenly you just want to sleep. All. The. Time. Your body is working harder and your heart rate elevated – this in turn may cause you to feel fatigued.

Urinary Changes – You may have to go every other hour and consider wearing adult diapers.

You may experience all, some, or none of these symptoms – we’re all different. But bottom line it’s normal. Some days will be better than others. Women have been experiencing and getting through pregnancy since the dawn of time. Women are one of the most resilient of souls!

If you suspect you may be pregnant and need help – call us or come see us. We can help confirm your pregnancy, talk about your situation, and listen to your concerns. You were not meant to do this alone.

There has always been and will always be men who take the results of procreation for granted and do not see it for the wondrous gift it really is.


There could be many reasons but let’s focus on just one for now. As one guy said it when asked what stops him from accepting fatherhood, “Not being a good father. I know what it’s like to not have a father, and I don’t want to repeat the cycle.”

There you have it. It may not be the number one reason but it’s a pretty big one and a common one at that. That’s not to say every guy who grew up without a dad can’t be a good dad but, well, it’s hard. Even with a great example to learn from and shadow there will be times every dad will make mistakes, be afraid, and wish he could go back to when times were simpler. Because let’s face it, being a parent is a roller coaster of thoughts, emotional and physical challenges, worries, firsts and lasts, and general blissful beautiful chaos.

So – what do you do when you are expecting and the father is not interested?

I can tell you from experience that if being one parent in a two parent unit isn’t always easy then being the only parent in the unit can sometimes be a tough road to travel. But notice I said sometimes.

Sometimes things are hard. A lot of times maybe. But not always. Sometimes as a single parent the closeness you feel with your child is so profound you wonder how you went this long without it. Sometimes the bond you share with her shows itself to be the glue that holds it all together. Sometimes the days when your only interactions are with her turn out to be when the sweetest conversations happen.

Sometimes when the will to continue on seems impossible the ease with which you can place your focus on her which in turn calms your fears is a gift in itself. Sometimes despite the rush of the day, the schoolwork and half written grocery list, the load of laundry you keep forgetting in the washer, the party you had to skip (again) because she’s got a little pea creative dance recital, make you wonder and wish you were not doing this alone.

But. You. Are. Not. Alone. You have her and the knowledge that there is someone counting on you. Needing you. Loving you unconditionally. Accepting you. Watching for you. And glad you are there. Those are powerful motivators to keep your head up and your focus clear.

The role of a mother is very different from that of the father. And every role is important and gifted. But not every success story has both. You cannot make him want to be the father he already is by virtue of the pregnancy. But you can be the mother she needs.

H.V (single mother for nine years)

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
Maya Angelou

Throughout history there have been some extraordinary women for sure. Women who have shattered and soared above the proverbial glass ceiling. Many of their names and accomplishments have gone down in history. Their bravery, ingenuity, and compassion are unparalleled. Not many could argue that their lives were then and are now something to aspire to and celebrate. One not so tiny detail I might add is that many of these women were mothers.

Here are seven mothers who challenged the status quo.

Oveta became director of the Women’s Army Corps during World War II. She achieved the rank of colonel and was the first woman in the army to be a commanding officer. She was also the first woman to receive the Distinguished Service Medal.

“Women who stepped up were measured as citizens of the nation, not as women…This was a people’s war, and everyone was in it.”

Oveta Culp Hobby (1905-1995) Mother of two.

Known as the “Mother of Modern Physics”. Scientist Marie Curie is the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, she also raised her two young daughters alone after her husband died in an accident in 1906.

“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained.”

Marie Curie (1867-1934) Mother of two.

In 1826, Sojourner Truth and her baby daughter escaped slavery in Ulster County, New York but still were without her five-year old son, Peter. Truth raised money for a lawyer, filed a complaint in court, and successfully got Peter out of slavery. This case in which a black woman successfully sued a white man in court went onto be a landmark case in history. Truth went on to become a Christian preacher in New York City speaking about the Bible, abolition, and women’s suffrage.

Life is a hard battle anyway. If we laugh and sing a little as we fight the good fight of freedom, it makes it all go easier. I will not allow my life’s light to be determined by the darkness around me.” – Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth (1797-1883) Mother of five

A Polish employee at the Warsaw Social Welfare Department, Irena smuggled 2500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto during the Holocaust, saving their lives. Sendler received Poland’s Order of the White Eagle award in 2003.

“If you see a man drowning, you must try to save him even if you cannot swim.”

Irena Sendler (1910—2008) Mother of three.

Founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics in 1963, a billion-dollar cosmetics company. Mary Kay was a single mom and worked from home in sales. Repeatedly passed over for promotions she launched her own cosmetics company.

“Aerodynamically, the bumble bee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumble bee doesn’t know it so it goes on flying anyway.”

Mary Kay Ash (1918—2001) Mother of three.

Kathy Headlee, a mother of seven (the youngest of whom she adopted from Romania), started Mothers Without Borders to help orphaned children. Mothers Without Borders has sent volunteers to help children in multiple places such as Bolivia, Bosnia, Guatemala, India, Mexico, Zimbabwe, Uganda, and Nepal.

“If that person can manage their struggles and suffering perhaps I can too.”

Kathy Headlee  – Mother of seven.

Dana Suskind, M.D (1968-     ) Mother of three.

Dr. Dana Suskind, a widowed mother of three, is a pediatric surgeon at the University of Chicago who founded the Thirty Million Words Initiative to encourage parents to talk to their babies.

“Parent talk is probably the most valuable resource in our world. No matter the language, the culture, the nuances of vocabulary, or the socioeconomic status, language is the element that helps develop the brain to its optimum potential. In the same way, the lack of language is the enemy of brain development.”

No one ever said being a mother is easy. Is it possible to be a great mother and have a decent job? Well what is your definition of a great mom? One who makes sure there are clean clothes and snacks? One who helps with homework and sends cupcakes to class? One who sits in the cold rain sipping lukewarm joe on a soggy Saturday morning watching six-year-olds chase a muddy ball? One who will hear a whimpering child at 3am and whose warm arms will keep you safe? Yes – all of those things. And many more.

What about a decent job? In retail? Business? Healthcare? Banking? Education? A cook? A receptionist? A bus driver? In the military? Still a student? An astronaut? A writer? Any and all jobs that provide for you and your children are decent jobs. Finding work life balance is achievable.

Some of the mothers mentioned her were in tough situations. Poor, widowed, marginalized. But their determination for their work pushed them forward whether they asked for it or not. Their love for their children didn’t stop them or even slow them down but in fact propelled them into action where, under different circumstances, they may have given in.

You can do this.

It’s official, Next Step Pregnancy Services has a new home ~ and we are excited to learn what the future holds for us and the men and women we serve.

In addition to all the great free services we have provided for many years, such as: pregnancy testing, limited OB ultrasounds, assistance with material goods and community resource referrals, we now have the room to expand our programs and services to include a variety of classes, support groups and mentoring programs. We have a beautiful conference room at our new office and we want to use it!

Come and check us out, we’re in the classic brick building at 19526-64th Ave W in Lynnwood.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Next Step Pregnancy Services

There is confidence and strength in making an informed decision and there are many things to consider and think about when you are experiencing an untimely pregnancy.  At Next Step, we can help you with many of the things you are wondering about. Check out the top 5 reasons to visit us before you decide:

  1.  Our services are completely confidential. At Next Step, we strive to help women with their situation. We understand that each woman is facing different obstacles and we are here to assist you at this time in your life. Please know that everything we talk about and anything you want us to know is confidential to the fullest extent possible. You are safe talking to us.
  2. We provide judgement-free, medically accurate services in a professional, yet friendly setting. At Next Step, we want to help you in every way we can.
  3. All of our services are FREE. Along with our pressure-free environment, we want to make sure every woman has access to our services, no matter their financial situation or insurance. And, we don’t make any money based on your decision.
  4. We can confirm a viable pregnancy. When looking for an abortion, it is important to know your pregnancy is viable. Our licensed medical staff is here to perform a diagnostic medical ultrasound to provide you with all the information that you need.
  5. Our nurses can answer all your questions that you might have regarding pregnancy, including: pregnancy options, abortion information, sex, contraception and really anything that’s on your mind. 

You are intelligent, strong and bold. You can overcome anything that life throws your way. YOU GOT THIS!

Positive Pregnancy Test? You Have Time To Think This Through

You see two lines on that little piece of plastic and you feel like your world just came crashing down. So many thoughts going through your head right now. Here’s the thing, chances are you have some time to stop and really think about what the best thing is for YOU, so take some deep breaths and think about what YOUR next step should be.  

We are here to help you through this process. Realizing it sounds cliche to say “we’re here for you”, we really are. There are as many scenarios, complications and obstacles as there are fish in the sea when it comes to an unplanned pregnancy and Next Step is a safe place for you to come and tell your story. We are bound by HIPPA and Privacy Laws to keep everything confidential but we are bound by care and compassion to help you to feel safe and important.

Your decision is your decision, just make sure you make the one that is right for you.