Life by Lotte »

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  • HELLO!

    Welcome to my home on the web.

    I'm Charlotte Duckworth, an interiors journalist, now running my own digital comms agency Decorum Media, with my business partner.

    I also write novels.

    This is my personal blog - recently turned into a pregnancy blog, so look away all ye who hate that kind of thing. Otherwise, enjoy.

    Charlotte x

23 Weeks


Look, I’m all in a muddle now. I’m 23 weeks today (hurrah!), which I thought meant I had graduated to a butternut squash, but apparently not, apparently (at least according to my Glow Nurture app) I’m on an ear of corn (spiky). Yet the handy chart above says that that’s actually next week, and I am in fact still on a papaya. I’m not trying to cheat, honest. Can we all just agree that the fruit and veg thing is COMPLETELY STUPID AND ANNOYING?

Thank you.

Not much has happened this week except for the following:

1) I have developed acid reflux/regurgitation. This is pretty horrible, especially after my bout of norovirus the other week. Now, after every meal, all the food I’ve eaten seems to decide to jump up and down my oesophagus, despite the fact it’s been very firmly SWALLOWED. Put simply, I keep being sick into my mouth. It’s lovely. Really lovely. The only thing that helps is Gaviscon Double Action (the liquid), which I am getting through tons of. I think it basically creates a seal on the top of your food pipe that keeps the food in your stomach where it belongs.

What’s weird about this is that I don’t feel nauseous at all, but I can’t seem to keep food down. Literally! It’s especially bad in the evenings when I slump on the sofa after dinner. Slumping is bad. Slumping has always been bad, but is now forbidden.

2) The baby has been doing lots and lots of partying in my uterus. And I really love it! Oli got freaked out the other day because you can now actually watch my stomach jumping about. I have yet to see a hand or foot print emerge from under my skin, but there are definite ripples and peaks that appear when the baby moves. I know it sounds kind of gross and horrible, and I always saw it that way before I got pregnant myself, but it’s actually so cute and lovely and really does make me grin. (Apart from when the baby decides to do it at 2.40am and keeps me awake – babies seem to like moving about just when you want to go to sleep, so I’ve realised. Guess this is something to get used to).

Other than that, I thought this week I might have a bit of a rant about maternity clothes. If blue doesn’t suit you and you don’t like wearing stripes, you better adopt. That’s all I can say. ALL HIGH STREET MATERNITY CLOTHES ARE BLUE AND/OR STRIPED. Seriously, it’s like some kind of friggin’ uniform, marking you out. ‘Look everyone! this bird had sex in the last few months!’ There’s truly nothing more depressing than JoJo Maman Bebe’s maternity section – I managed to find a few pieces that didn’t make me want to shoot myself but the lack of imagination involved in designing maternity wear is shameful. And don’t even go into Mothercare unless you want to despair for humanity.

As I’m so vain (as established earlier in my pregnancy) I have been scouring the internet for alternatives to traditional maternity clothes and thus found Seraphine, Isabella Oliver and my absolute favourite, Madderson London. These brands have saved me, but my god they’re pricey. I’ve also bought a load of things in Cos, which has plenty of oversized tops that aren’t maternity but work really well. But I would say 90% of my maternity wardrobe is from Seraphine, who thankfully have really good sales on quite often. Their bamboo leggings are my new favourite things in the world (something weird, is it just me? I really don’t like wearing trousers now I’m pregnant, and jeans especially, even maternity ones – too much constriction around my tummy). And I’ve also picked up a rather yawnsome but practical grey maxi skirt from them which I can see myself wearing all summer until it falls apart.

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 22.34.59

Anyway to end this post, here’s a pic of me in both the skirt (looking depressingly knackered) and some stripes (conforming). Apologies for the black bra under the white vest top (rant on maternity bras also soon to come) and the massive VPL in both pics (made you look!) but common decency has given way to comfort and I don’t care anymore. I’m pregnant. This is the only time in my life when eating microwave spaghetti carbonara will not make me feel guilty, and when I don’t give two hoots about the state of my underwear. So there.

22 weeks


It’s nice not to have to start this post with a wonky selfie. Instead, behold the wonder that is my baby’s face in portrait! Baby is now the size of a papaya, which a quick Google has told me is pretty bloody big. I keep thinking of the watermelon that awaits though, and my eyes water…

The reason I have this new improved photo of my baby is that on Monday we had our anomaly scan. Here they check that the baby is developing well, and everything looks as it should. It’s also the time when you can find out the baby’s gender… more on that later.

I was really nervous about this scan because basically, if everything looks OK with the baby at this stage then you should be OK for the rest of the pregnancy. It’s the last scan the NHS does and the last proper check they do. Oli kept reassuring me that everything would be fine, but I was still pretty scared and didn’t sleep well the night before. Anyway, everything WAS fine, sort of.

We had a newly qualified sonographer doing our scan, and it was quite obvious that she was a little bit nervous and inexperienced. What didn’t help was that the baby decided to get into the most ridiculous position imaginable, making scanning its heart in particular a challenge. Basically our baby had its head down against my uterus (sorry, ick) and its legs curled up around its body completely, with its feet behind its head. I mean, an impressive yoga move for sure, but definitely more pretzel than papaya. So the sonographer spent quite a while saying ‘Oh baby, what are you doing’ and things like that, and poking me and trying to get it to move, but to no avail.

After about 20 minutes of this, which was actually quite mesmerising – nothing like watching something that’s INSIDE YOU squirm about and gulp and reach for things with its hands to blow your mind – another sonographer came in the room and introduced herself as the Chief. She was much more comfortable and confident, and immediately took charge. After a while, and some more prodding and poking, she managed to get a good enough picture of the heart to confirm that all looked well. She then asked us the killer question: ‘Do you want to know the sex?’

I have wanted to know the sex from the beginning. It’s not in my nature to wait for anything and I want to feel like I can bond with the baby more – which is difficult when it doesn’t have a gender and you don’t quite know how to identify with it. But Oli was adamant that few things in life are a surprise, thus this must remain one. So as a compromise, we decided to ask her to write down the sex on a piece of card we’d brought, and seal it in an envelope, in case we changed our minds.

She was very obliging. I have to say, my hospital must be the most terrifying thing ever seen outside of a horror film, but the staff and midwives I’ve met (even the dopey HIV one) have all been really lovely and very kind and nothing at all like your harassed GP who just wants you out the door as soon as possible.

I hope we get to see Chief Sonographer again because the only fly in the ointment is that I have something called ‘increased placental blood flow resistance’ which I think means there’s something wrong with the blood pressure between me and the placenta or the placenta and the baby, or something, which means I will be back for more scans. The sonographer stressed that it was unlikely to be anything serious, but did put me at a slight increased risk of developing pre-eclampsia, or of the baby developing growth problems, so they have to keep an eye on it.

I think maybe this news is the reason this post is a bit more sombre and a bit less sarcastic. Seeing my baby moving about so obviously and deliberately – like it really was making conscious decisions what to do with its hands, legs, feel and even little lips, has made me feel so worried about him/her and protective. I finally feel that the baby is a real person, and I want to make sure that he/she’s OK. Nothing else really matters in comparison.


Anyway, that’s it for 22 weeks. Just so this post isn’t all doom and gloom, check out my 22 week bump.

Last week I got norovirus (not advisable when you’re pregnant particularly) and actually lost 2 lbs, so I’m quite surprised to see that despite this my bump has actually grown a bit! Only a little, but definitely a bit! And this is the first week when someone asked me if I was pregnant. A VERY exciting moment – I finally look pregnant, not just gluttonous! – and I practically squeaked with glee when I said I was.


April 22, 2015 - 10:19 pm

Sarah Stovell - It’s horrible when you hear about things that exist ‘but are probably not serious’ (though better than things that exist and definitely are serious). In my limited experience, technology often shows up things that *might* be wrong but which often sort themselves out later. My first pregnancy was fraught with unnecessary worries, from the fcat that the baby’s stomach might have been growing outside the abdominal cavity, to the fact that I had placenta previa. But everything is fine and the baby is now five years old and would be a picture of health if I could get her to eat anything other than cream crackers.

April 22, 2015 - 11:00 pm

Charlotte Duckworth - Thanks Sarah. I do wonder if all this technology can sometimes do more harm than good… The sonographer actually said that other hospitals don’t look at the uterine Doppler flow (or whatever it is) but they do as they are a teaching hospital so always conducting research! Fingers crossed that it sorts itself out like you say x

21 weeks


Deceptive picture – see below for a more accurate representation of the bump!

21 weeks pregnant and I’m carrying around a pomegranate! I don’t know what a pomegranate looks like, apart from juiced in a glass, so I will refrain from passing comment on that one.

This will forever be remembered as the week I blew my nose and black lumps came out. No, I hadn’t recently been on the Northern line. No, it wasn’t, as suspected, parts of my (baby) brain. It was lumps of dried blood.

Lovely huh?

I had actually never, ever had a nosebleed. Not once in my life. As a child I used to envy those who had them, because they got fussed over, and, well, it’s so DRAMATIC isn’t it? Having blood pour out of your nostrils. Roll on 30ish years and I realise it’s not dramatic at all, but rather feels like you’re drowning in your own breath.

As a side effect of pregnancy, your progesterone levels mean that you have much more blood in your system than normal, which is why you are more prone to nosebleeds and bleeding gums etc. Oh, and haemorrhoids, but luckily I seem to have escaped them thus far (sorry, TMI). But the black lumps of dried blood was definitely a ‘WTF is happening to me!’ moment. Luckily it was a one-off, but it’s not something I’m going to forget in a hurry.

There have been a couple of other things on my mind this week:

1) My mind.

My mind has been on my mind because my mind is not working properly. I’ve been fuzzy-headed for about a month now, but this was the week things really started to go downhill. Here’s a few of things I’ve done thus far:

Left the gas on. For three hours.

Chased clients for invoices they’ve already paid (CRINGE).

Turned up to the dentist a week early.

Not locked the front door.

Put the washing machine on without putting any detergent in it.

Left the fridge door open – about six times and counting so far.

Forgotten meetings.

Forgotten half the things I wanted to add to this list.

Baby brain is REAL. I regularly now forget what I’m talking about in the middle of a sentence, and if I have an idea and don’t write it down on my iPhone in the milliseconds afterwards, it’s gone forever. My vocabulary has shrunk to that of a six year old. It’s actually horrible feeling this out of control, and having this much trouble focusing on things, especially when work is so busy at the moment. As a control freak, I am not enjoying not being able to depend on myself.

O has also been using it as an excuse to tell me he’s told me things when I KNOW he hasn’t. Which makes the whole thing even more annoying.


Not so big after all!

2) My bump (or lack thereof)

I know a lot of pregnant women complain about this, especially first timers, but I really don’t have much of a bump at all. I have had countless people tell me with a tut that ‘you just look like I do normally’ when I’ve stuck my tummy out and exclaimed how big I feel and I suppose I should be grateful. But it does make you worry. Is the baby growing OK? Will it turn out to be a midget (unlikely given its father)?

Every morning I do a bump check (which is a bad idea because in the mornings it’s practically non-existent) and every morning I think I haven’t really changed much at all. The only thing reassuring me is that I have a really long torso (and bottom, my nickname at school: ‘Ducky Long Bum’, forever unkind and remembered, Notre Dame girls) and so the baby must have lots of space in there which is why my bump is more spread out. I don’t really want to look hugely pregnant yet as I’m sure it’s very uncomfortable, but it’s this damn ambiguous stage at the moment that I don’t like – put a coat on me and I don’t look pregnant at all, in a top I just look like I’ve eaten too many pies…

3) The baby kicked me!

You’ll be pleased to hear I’ve saved the non-whinging part till last. I’ve been feeling squirming movements for a few weeks now, but only when I have been lying on my stomach. This was different. It was an actual kick. I was sitting with my legs up on the sofa reading and I felt this very definite little jab from inside – like someone flicking you with their thumb and middle finger. And instead of being creepy or weird, it was SUCH a lovely feeling that I actually squealed and grinned for about an hour afterwards.

It’s definitely made the whole thing feel more real, and now whenever I feel the baby fluttering around I find myself talking to it, a bit like I talk to the cat when he shouts at me. Alas he/she has yet to kick again. I wait in hope and eager anticipation…

April 17, 2015 - 8:36 am

Suzzy - oh my goodness how exciting! Squee!!
Can you tell I’m late to the party

20 weeks


Bum and bump now nearly of equal size. Er… result?!

At 20 weeks, my baby is a banana! I wouldn’t be surprised if I was actually having a banana, as I have certainly eaten more than my fair share of them since finding out I’m pregnant. Bananas are, of course, thinner than mangoes (19 weeks), so in my head it means the baby’s gone anorexic, but eventually I’ll accept it’s all about length and not girth and shut up about the fruit and veg thing.

Apparently, at 20 weeks, I’m halfway through my pregnancy. Which would be somewhat of a milestone if it meant that I now have just as long to go as I have already been through, but, as with all pregnancy things, nothing is as it seems. In fact, for the first 2 weeks of my ‘pregnancy’ I wasn’t actually pregnant at all, because pregnancy is counted from the first day of your last period. Confusing much?

A few interesting things happened this week. I finally plucked up the courage to weigh myself. I have put on 8.5lb since becoming pregnant, which is very average, despite feeling rather traumatic. I am the heaviest I have ever been (and I know, I have a long way still to go…) and I feel it! My legs are achingly heavy at the end of the day. The veins in my left leg particularly keep me awake at night in worry – are they on their way to varicose already?

As my bump is still quite small, a lot of this weight must have gone on my boobs, which are quite frankly, impressive. Last week while at work they threatened to escape my vest top and I couldn’t help but squeak:

‘My boobs are almost touching!’

‘Touching what?’ my bemused business partner asked.

‘Each other!’ I said, marvelling at the sight. I have never had cleavage in my life.

From now on, apparently I’m supposed to put on 1lb per week. I told my mum this while merrily stuffing my face over Easter lunch and she told me not to be so ridiculous, because that would mean I would end up putting on another 20lbs, which would make me clinically obese. When she had me and my sister, she apparently put on about half a stone in total and lost it all within three weeks.

I don’t think my mum has read the baby books.

I indignantly Googled it in front of her and proved to her that in fact, I am RIGHT and that I could even put on 2lb a week should I feel like it and still be perfectly within the healthy limits. Her reply to this: ‘Well, it was all different in my day.’ Hmmm.

Bless my mum, but apparently ‘in her day’, no one needed pregnancy pillows or pregnancy anything really, she wore her normal clothes quite happily until she was about six months’ gone, there was no need for prenatal yoga or any of that nonsense, you didn’t even go to the doctor till you’d missed two periods (!!), women were TOUGHER godammit, and certainly NO ONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND had a home birth. My mum has made her pregnancies sound like nothing more remarkable than having a bit of a cold, and I fear we may fall out before I come to full term, when I fully expect to be reclining in a wheelchair groaning about my ‘condition’.

This week, I diagnosed myself, with the help of Dr Google, with Pelvic Girdle Pain. At first I thought I had a bit of sciatica (told my mum this and she told me that she got a ‘touch of it’ but not, of course, until she was overdue) but Dr Google said no, it was a unique pregnancy affliction, whereby your hips hurt because they are basically stretching apart. And they really are! It’s so weird how your body can get wider without putting on any fat in the area – but for once the proof’s not in the pudding (I’ve mostly gone off them) but in the fact it’s now quite a struggle to yank my pyjamas above my thighs. Sniff.

Anyway Dr Google prescribed a exercise ball, and so this has been added to the list of random new things in my home, along with the pregnancy pillow, a Lush massage bar designed for pregnant women, some soothing leg cream and a new yoga mat. The yoga mat was technically unnecessary as I already had one but matches the exercise ball. So y’know. I have been bouncing about on my exercise ball quite happily and think it may even play a role in the birth.


Pregnancy: carte blanche to wear pyjamas 95% of the time. And put embarrassing photos of yourself on t’internet

I suppose, more than anything else, this pregnancy lark has taught me how utterly vain I am. It’s all me me me at the moment – how I’m feeling, what I look like… I feel a bit ashamed, but I find myself preoccupied with all the physical twinges and changes and not thinking much about the baby itself.

I hope that after the next scan (mine’s a bit late, at nearly 22 weeks) I will stop worrying about the fact that I just look podgy really, not pregnant, and instead focus on the poor wee mite who’s busy drinking its own amniotic fluid and learning how to breathe and forming its first poo and growing teeth buds and doing all sorts of miraculous things like that.

And I thought I was having a hard time. As O said, it’s a good thing we don’t remember anything that happens to us when in the womb…

April 29, 2015 - 6:24 pm

23 Weeks » Life by Lotte - […] I’m so vain (as established earlier in my pregnancy) I have been scouring the internet for alternatives to traditional maternity clothes and thus […]

19 weeks


Not just a big dinner for once – 18 weeks 4 days

Today I’m 19 weeks! Hurrah. The baby has morphed from a sweet potato to a mango. Much better – I actually like mangoes. For one thing, they don’t look like dehydrated excrement.

This has been an eventful week. I had another midwife appointment to collect the results of a blood test I had ages ago, that checked me for various things, including syphilis, HIV, whether or not I was immune to rubella, and whether or not I was anaemic.

I have not been enjoying my pregnancy hospital visits. St George’s, the goliath teaching hospital just down the road from me in Tooting (so close I can see it over the rooftops from my back garden), is MASSIVE. So massive that for my first appointment, I went to the wrong wing and it took me half an hour to navigate my way to the right place.

Also, it’s old. Like, really old and sad. Like a smelly, neglected sofa that’s been ravaged by dogs. Here are some snapshots from my appointment last week…

hospital hospital-chairs

I mean, what a place to be born! Welcome to the world baby. This is London. It ain’t pretty.

Anyway, at this appointment, the midwife explained she would be giving me my blood test results, told me my blood group (O positive, very common and unremarkable – sigh) and started looking through some paperwork. Then she looked up:

‘Did Michael our blood specialist contact you about your HIV results?’

No, Michael your blood specialist did not contact me about my HIV results.

‘No,’ I spluttered.

‘Interesting,’ she said, furrowing her brow. ‘There’s something on here I don’t understand.’

Excellent. Just what you want to hear from your midwife ABOUT YOUR HIV TEST RESULTS.

‘Hmm. He’s signed it…’ she went on, staring at the slip of paper. ‘I guess that means everything’s OK.’

I guess that means everything’s OK?

‘Right,’ I squeaked. ‘Um… Could you… maybe… er…’

‘Hmm,’ she said, staring harder, which we both knew was not going to make a blind bit of difference. I thought to suggest she Google whatever was written on the paper, but wondered if that might seem patronising. ‘Let me look on your file on the computer.’

She went over to the screen and started clicking away. The pressure in the room was temporarily relieved that something was now happening. Results would be obtained. It was all going to be OK.

‘I’ve never had HIV before,’ I mumbled, before remembering it wasn’t an ear infection or a bout of flu. ‘I mean, I’ve been tested for everything before a few times and never had anything…’

‘Hmm,’ she continued, scrolling through pages. ‘No, there’s nothing marked on here. NAD. I’m sure it’s fine. Or he would have called you.’

And that was that.

(NAD is another confusing bit of medical jargon, which made my head jerk when a midwife proclaimed it about my first ever urine sample. It means ‘no abnormalities detected’ which is GOOD).

Of course when I got home, I Googled what was written on the paper – HIV 1/2 Ab/Ag, Centaur – low reactivity, ND in VIDAS and Architect…* I tried to unscramble the ridiculously confusing medical terminology, before concluding that they’d run three different HIV tests, one of which had been a bit unusual, the other two of which were negative. I probably don’t have HIV. It was probably a dirty test tube on the first test. Right?

Other than that, this week has been quite nice. I have realised that if I lie on my stomach, the mango doesn’t like it and starts squirming about. Fair enough, I wouldn’t want to have someone of my (new, ever-increasing) weight pressed on top of me either if I was the size of a mango.

This is less like something from Alien that I imagined and actually really rather nice.


The maternity pillow/slug/bed barrier

I have also finally found a use for my surrogate partner maternity pillow. I bullied O into buying me one at around 9 weeks: ‘All the Youtube vloggers’ partners bought them a maternity pillow! You have to buy me one!’, when to be honest I really didn’t need one. When it arrived, we were both a bit horrified. It looks like a giant sausage, and takes up half the bed. It works quite well as an effective barrier between you, but thankfully as O is on tour at the moment I’m alone most nights anyway, and so it makes a good substitute lump to pull the duvet away from. Anyway, this was the week my hips finally started to hurt, and so I wheeled out the maternity pillow and dutifully wrapped my legs around it. It does help, even if the arm that I have to stuff underneath it inevitably goes dead.

Another interesting pregnancy fact: you’re meant to sleep on your left-hand side. Bossy huh? Apparently this way the baby gets more blood. Or something. Something to do with a major artery that runs down your back. Sleeping on your back is now a HUGE no-no and sleeping on your right-hand side earns you a ‘could try harder’ in the ‘doing-the-best-for-your-baby’ stakes.

I also had my first prenatal yoga session this week, which was amazing. The yoga teacher is exactly what you’d expect for a yoga teacher who lives in Richmond and only does yoga for expectant mums and people who’ve recently given birth. She has an awesome name (Bobbie Challenger) and pink hair. I’m a bit in love with her. She also had a homebirth for her first baby. And after my experiences this week, I am now considering the same…

* if anyone reading this knows what the heck it means, you’ll be my best friend forever!

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April 8, 2015 - 8:38 pm

20 weeks » Life by Lotte - […] share of them since finding out I’m pregnant. Bananas are, of course, thinner than mangoes (19 weeks), so in my head it means the baby’s gone anorexic, but eventually I’ll accept […]