You might have noticed that I've not been blogging much over the past four months. June and July passed in a haze of long naps, spicy pickled onions, and Nutella, and before I knew it, it was August! September was unfortunately dominated by a Crohn's related infection that resulted in a trip to hospital, but all is well now. Our family and friends know our news and I thought I'd share it with you, too. After all, many of you have been on the journey to good health with me.
I'm 22 weeks pregnant. After three major surgeries, the removal of my large intestine and a decent chunk of small intestine, and nearly two decades of inflammation and ulceration in my abdomen, I wasn't even sure that was a possibility. Before I was diagnosed Coeliac, I lost so much weight that my periods stopped and didn't return for four years. One surgeon told me that Crohn's would have reduced my chances of conceiving, I saw gynaecologists who said, "maybe, maybe not" while all around me friend after friend popped out babies of their own. Advice ranged from, "just relax and it'll happen" to "I can give you the details of a good fertility clinic," but nothing helped.
I was starting to feel an affinity with Tian Tian, the panda at Edinburgh Zoo as certain family members became increasingly impatient over when (and if) a baby would ever arrive.
The funny thing is, that in spite of really quite wanting a baby, I was more concerned about being healthy enough to cope with a pregnancy and to look after myself and the resulting sprog afterwards. Fortunately, my Crohn's is in remission and, apart from various vitamin supplements and injections, I'm medication free. In fact, the timing couldn't be better, I've been off Humira for a year (it takes six months to clear your system and isn't recommended for pregnancy), my colectomy scars have had eighteen months to heal and I have the most energy I've had in a decade. Of course, that's not to say that I believe pregnancy will be easy, there are always risks. As scar tissue stretches and internal adhesions tear with this growing wee one, I've had all kinds of pain. I know that bowel obstructions and problems with the stoma are common for women like me, plus, there's the issue of not necessarily absorbing as many nutrients and water as people with entire, and fully functioning, digestive systems.
I used to feel deep disappointment when pregnant friends confessed to not really having any interesting cravings, often demanding, "go home and eat a box of crayons for me!" One friend had cravings for tomato juice, while another confessed to eating bucketloads of daal. I've had rather unexpected cravings for onions. It doesn't matter what kind of onion, be it raw, pickled, roasted, fried or in soup, I'll eat it in vast quantities! This explains why, when the waitress at a restaurant told me that their soup of the day - French onion soup - wasn't gluten free, I got a bit tearful at the thought of missing out on onions. It turns out that onions are high in vitamin C, Folate, and Potassium so perhaps cravings aren't as strange as I first imagined.
The memory of onion-soup-gate has me craving onions once again so here's an inside-out sage and onion stuffing recipe that's a brilliant side dish for your roast.
2 tsp rapeseed oil
50g stale gluten free bread (a slightly past-it Udi's bagel is particularly good here)
25g pancetta, cut into lardons
a few sage leaves, chopped
4 large-ish onions
- Peel the onions and slice off the top and the root end off, leaving enough to hold the onion layers together. Drizzle with oil, season and pop into the oven at 180°C for 30 minutes.
- Cut the stale bread into ½ cm cubes and put in a bowl.
- Add the pancetta into lardons to the bowl with the chopped sage, salt and pepper. Stir together.
- When the onions are soft, but still holding their shape, remove from the oven and scoop the middles out, leaving just the outer 2-3 layers.
- Chop half of the inner parts of the onion and stir into the rest of the stuffing mix.
- Fill the onion shells with stuffing, pack it quite tightly, and return to the oven for a further 30-40 minutes.