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Help with a Trigger that Compiles related records into 1 text field (working)

I have a trigger that compiles a related object (US_Comments__c) up to the parent record (US_Projects__c).
Everything works fine but I have to populate the CommentCompilation__c field initially which has resulted in an annoying little . at the beginning on each compilation.
Part giving me an issue:
a.CommentCompilation__c = '.';
I have tried to initiate the value as null, '', "", etc. and nothing works. Anyone have a tip on how to initiate it and then possibly remove that entry? or a value that will display as blank?

here is the full trigger for reference:
trigger CommentCompilationUSProject on US_Project__c (before update) {

for(US_Project__c a:[select id,
                             (select id,Name,Source__c,Comments__c from US_Comments__r ORDER BY CreatedDate DESC)
                                from US_Project__c where id in]) 
    a.CommentCompilation__c = '.';
    for(US_Comments__c o:a.US_Comments__r)
    a.CommentCompilation__c += ' \n ' + o.Name + ' - ' + o.Source__c + ' - ' + o.Comments__c + ' \n ';
    Trigger.newMap.get( = a.CommentCompilation__c;

 Thanks in advance!


have you tried using a separate string variable for the concatenation?