It’s safe to say that this summer is going to be Nicole Williams English’s best one yet! Not only has she been announced as a 2023 SI Swimsuit rookie, but she is pregnant with her first child. The model surprised everyone during SI Swimsuit’s Miami Swim Week runway show with the news when she walked hand in hand with her husband, former NFL player Larry English, for the big reveal. “To be able to now be a rookie and to also surprise everybody with my pregnancy, it's just a double whammy for me,” she says. “It’s the two most unreal things I could have ever dreamed of.”
For the couple, married since 2017 and together for 10 years, the road to baby has not been easy, but, like landing in the 2023 SI Swimsuit Issue, very much worth the wait. Navigating the first trimester has been, for the most part, easy for English, who hasn’t had much morning sickness or heartburn, but she has noticed being more tired than usual. Below, the Nia Lynn designer opens up about their IVF struggles, including two unexpected surgeries.
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Congrats on the baby news! You’re almost in your second trimester. Has it been amazing to see how your body is changing?
“It’s so crazy. I’m taking one picture a week in the same outfit in the same position because I want to see how big I get and look back once I’m really huge. Every week I’m noticing more of a bump and my whole body is changing. I went up a bra size already. It’s just wild to just see what your body does and how your body reacts to growing a human. It blows my mind. I still can’t get over the fact that there’s this little thing in there, like a little baby already. And I keep looking at TheBump.com and seeing what type of fruit size the baby is.”
What was your initial reaction to the news?
“We did IVF, so we planned for this. It’s been a long time and a long journey. January 2021 is when I did my first IVF. We froze our eggs and did our embryos, and we only got one healthy embryo. I was really discouraged and upset about it. I know they say it only takes one but having only one and me being a healthy person, I was concerned. I took a year off because they were like, ‘Do you want to do another round?’ I was so emotional, I went through so much to get there and to only get one healthy embryo, I was just, We want to secure our future and make sure that we’re able to have three or four kids or however many kids we want. I knew I had to do it again, but it was just so much. It took so much out of me and it was so emotional, so I just took a year off and then we did a second round and got six healthy embryos.
“That year I just focused on myself. I wasn’t thinking about all the what ifs and or rushing. I just really took that time for us. And yeah, we got six healthy embryos so then seven in total. And then my doctor says, ‘So you want to implant one right now?’ And I was like, ‘Wait,’ because it was all happening so fast. It was just such a shock that we got so many because I wasn’t prepared for that. When we got the six, I was like, ‘Wow, O.K. So now we have to think about the implant.’ And that’s a big step, knowing that you were going to walk in that door and then when you leave, you’re going to be pregnant. It’s a big thing.”
You need that last sushi. You need that last sip of wine…
“It’s like, ‘Wait, now that we have all these embryos and they’re all healthy, now what?’ I have to make sure because my career is so important to me. And Larry’s career as well. We’re both really busy. We travel a lot, we have two dogs, so it’s a lot to think about. We just came to a point in our lives where we’re ready. We’ve been together for 10 years. We've been married for five years, and it’s just time. Our careers aren’t going to stop. About maybe six months after, maybe almost a year after we found out we had the six healthy embryos, we decided O.K., it’s time.”
You mentioned the process got further delayed?
“Yeah, I had a couple of bumps in the road before my implant. I was supposed to be two months ahead right now, but I went through two different surgeries to remove the polyps on my uterus. If they had implanted the embryo with the polyps in there, then I would’ve miscarried. Luckily, they found those, but it pushed me back twice. I was going in for a routine ultrasound every two weeks which is mandatory when you’re doing IVF because they want to make sure everything is healthy before they pass you on to OB/GYN. When I was in my routine ultrasound, [the doctor said there’s a little mass in there]. It’s an easy surgery, but then you have to rest for two weeks after, and then you can’t do the implant for four weeks. We removed the polyp, and the surgery went great. After the four weeks, I went in for my ultrasound and there was another polyp. It grew back twice the size in a matter of four weeks from when they first removed it, so then we had to go through another surgery. I was just devastated because I’m like, ‘Maybe this isn’t meant to be.’ I don’t know, maybe this isn’t the right time, maybe the universe is trying to tell me something. Larry’s just been so supportive, and said, ‘No, babe. The universe is not telling us to wait any longer. It’s just that we just had to get through this. And it’s just good that they’re finding it.’ Like I said, if we had just done the implant, then we would’ve had two miscarriages, which would’ve been really bad. We’re in the healthy stage and everything’s great. I’m just going in and seeing the ultrasound and the baby is moving around. If I drink apple juice before the ultrasound, I can see the baby dancing.”
You’ve had Larry’s support, but even so, how did you not get so discouraged?
“Honestly, I have two highlight reels on my Instagram. I wanted to show everything that was going on with me from the start, and so from the moment I was doing my first belly injections for the egg retrieval a couple years ago, I shared it with all my followers because I just knew that support system was going to help me. Your husband can support you; your family can support you, but when you hear other women from all around the world say you’re doing good, you’ve got this… some women did five or six rounds of IVF and still had their miracle baby. Reading all the DMs, I’ve made so many friends on Instagram, and I speak to them all the time. I just wanted to be open and honest and be as real as I could and share as much as I could. I did take a [social media] break right after my second surgery before I found out I had the six healthy embryos because I was just so worn out. I’m really happy to be able to post the final outcome and share because I know everybody’s been asking me. I needed some time for myself to really grasp what was going on. It was an emotional roller coaster, so I’m excited to share all the new details with everybody.”
“I’m craving ice cream right now and fruit in the morning. It’s so weird. I’ve never liked cereal, and I’m eating Froot Loops every morning; it’s a pretty random thing. And I also love fruit with Tajin and lemon juice.”
How was your SI Swimsuit runway debut?
“The last time I was in Miami it was for my Nia Lynn Swim Week fashion show. It was the first fashion show I ever did for my line. It went by so fast because when I’m excited about something or I’m nervous about something, I never breathe. I always go, go, go, and then it’s done. I look back and know it was amazing, but do I have any moments where I felt something? Did I sit down and breathe and have a conversation with myself or with my husband? I really wanted to focus on that this trip. I wanted to really remember that this was all manifested. This was all planned from when I was a young girl. I really wanted to sit with that for a moment and appreciate that I know that the universe really did come through and made this all possible for me.”
What do you love about the SI Swimsuit runway shows?
“They’re so inclusive and make every woman, no matter what shape or size, feel beautiful, powerful. I love watching their runway shows because when the women walk out, they’re representing who they are. I just love that SI reenforces that, and they want you to shine, show your personality. They don’t want you to just be a pretty face. Everybody’s included, and I love that feeling of empowerment and that feeling of self-love and just being confident. I’ve been to almost every SI show because I would go to Miami for Swim Week and I’d watch some of my friends on the runway and cheer Jasmine [Sanders] on. And now it’s my turn.”
You have prioritized your career as a model and designer. Since launching Nia Lynn and your collection with Macy’s, what have you learned about yourself as a businesswoman?
“I’m capable of what I thought. Like a lot of people, when I have too much on my plate, I get anxious and can’t focus. I can’t give a hundred percent of my focus to where it needs to be because I have too many things going on, but I did realize that I am capable of a lot more. Having these two lines, it actually helped me be more balanced because I was able to juggle and create in two different ways, and it wasn’t stressful. I just realized that I could be a better businesswoman if I stopped feeling like I can’t do more. Don’t put yourself in a box and just know that you are capable of doing a lot more than you think. For me, having multiple things going on at once, I don’t know, it just really helped me learn a lot about my creative self. If you don’t have a little bit of fear in you, and if you’re not doing something that feels a little bit uncomfortable, then you’re really not growing.”
In a few months, you’ll have a baby to add to the mix!
“Ask me that question again when I have a newborn crying. We’ll see where I am!”