Thursday, 11 September 2014

Vegan poached eggs with yummy runny yolks

These are vegan 'eggs' that look and taste almost identical to real eggs. 
Some credit for this recipe needs to go to Maresa's vegan deviled eggs which is where I got the recipe for the ‘egg’ white. They made some really nice vegan devilled eggs. I didn’t want devilled eggs though. I wanted something that looked and tasted like runny yolked eggs.
I also don’t like things with too many hard to find or expensive ingredients. This recipie has the bare minimum of these ingredients necessary. The three main unusual ingredients I used are:

Indian black salt: Also known as Kala Namak. This is a special rock salt that contains a very small amount of iron and sulphur (which give it its distinctive color and smell). It is used in indian cooking and you should be able to find it in any good Indian spice store. This is really important to give the eggs their egginess, (however if you don’t mind them not really tasting or smelling like eggs this can be left out). (make sure you buy Kala Namak NOT black sea salt which is a completely different thing). The quantities I use give a very subtle eggy flavour  don't use too much.
Agar Agar: This is a seaweed extract and comes as either a powder or flakes (powder is a lot easier to work with). This is what sets the egg ‘white’ into a Jelly consistency. This cannot really be substituted for anything. Agar is unique as a Jelly as it will set at room temperature (and harder than gelatine) then can be heated to almost boiling point before it liquefies again. Most Asian shops carry this as it is a key component in a lot of Asian cooking (I got mine in the same place I got the black salt) you can also find it in health food shops (but it is often a lot more expensive).  Gelatine will not work for this recipe (firstly because it is not vegan, but if you are making these because you cannot have eggs rather than for ideological reasons that may not matter) but also gelatin melts at too low a temperature thus the eggs cannot be heated up.
Nutritional Yeast: This product is available in health food stores. It imparts a strong savoury flavour and is also very high in proteins and nutrients (particularly B vitamins). This can be substituted for low salt stock powder (although it will make the eggs a bit more salty and will impart a slightly different flavour).

This recipe will make approx. 8-10 eggs. It will take about 3 hours, but most of that time is waiting for things to freeze/ cool, actual working time is about 10-15min.

Equipment required
Ice cube bags (preferably) or Ice cube trays
Cling wrap
8-10 small bowls
1/2 teaspoon nutritional yeast
1/8 teaspoon Black salt powder
1/4 cup walnut pieces
1/4 teaspoon tumeric powder
1/2 cup water
4 cups unsweetened rice or almond milk (I have also used oat milk which is quite nice just a little sweet)
1/2 teaspoon black salt powder
4 teaspoons agar

Step 1: Make and freeze yolks
Blend ingredients together in a good blender. You want them really smooth so blend for a long time (and preferably use a bullet blender).
Pour the mixture into the ice cube bags or an ice cube tray (this will be the shape of your yolks so it is better if they are rounded rather than square).

Step 2: Agar layer
Line 10 small saucers with cling wrap and place to the side. Get two flat dinner plates and put to the side. 
You will be making 3/4 the whites now and the rest after the yolks are frozen.
In blender put 3 cups of rice milk, a bit over 1/4 teaspoon of black salt powder and 3 teaspoons agar (ie 3/4 your whites ingredients). Blend until agar is incorporated into the milk (If you are using a smaller blender use 1 cup milk and add the rest of the milk after blending). 
(if you prefer you can just slowly add the agar/salt to the milk while stirring constantly, since I already had the blender out I did it with the blender)
Put your blended milk in a pot on the stove and bring to the boil stirring constantly.
Once boiled take off the heat and pour a small amount of the liquid into your two plates (you want to cover the plate in about a 3-4mm layer of liquid. Then put put the pot in the sink and stir constantly for a few minutes until the mixture is not so boiling hot (Ie no steam rising) and gets just slightly thicker (you can put some cold water in the sink to speed things up). At this point pour mixture into the moulds and put the molds into the fridge.
If you misjudge things and it sets hard before getting to the moulds just heat it up again and redo.

Step 3: putting together
After the yolks have frozen (about 2 or 3 hours) it is time to start putting together (the agar should be well and truly set by then).
Firstly get your egg white saucers out of the fridge and spoon out a small depression(for the yolk to sit).
Put the rest of your egg white mixture in the blender and put it on the stove to heat up (as you did in step 2).
While this is heating up get your egg yolks out of the freezer. Place the yolks on the small depression in the whites (make sure you take the plastic off first)
Now get your two plates of agar.
Cut a 8-10round circles in the agar large enough to cover your yolks (with about 2cm extra around the edge). I suggest you do one first  before cutting them all.
(this provides a barrier between the yolk and the hot agar stopping it melting the yolk and turning yellow).
Now return to your hot agar cool it as you did previously in the sink mixing constantly. As soon as it is not steamy hot gently pour into your molds making sure to cover the edges of the agar sheet completely.

Step 4: heating
This should be done right before serving
After the eggs are set take them out of the fridge and out of the cling wrap.
Place the eggs in cold water and put on the stove. Heat over a low to medium heat and watch closely. You want to slowly heat them up to almost boiling point (watch and take them out as soon as the water starts getting steamy hot and almost boiling). You may want to do one to start with to get the hang of it as it would be a bit sad if you ruin all the eggs just because you didn't watch and they melted into the water.  
End note
can do this as a dessert recipe by using half a mango and half a cup of apple juice blended for the yolks and using sweetened almond/ coconut milk and no black salt for the whites. 

I have served this with balsalmic onions, bread (specifically a bread with no soy/ dairy I checked) and my homemade chili/ chocolate and blackstrap molasses barbecue sauce (i might write the recipe fo that later). 

Sunday, 7 September 2014

A weight loss patch?

What is thrive dft (patch).
So recently I came across a people selling this miracle weight loss, feel great patch called 'thrive'. It seemed a bit strange to me, particularly because the person selling it was not exactly saying what it was (this was compounded by the fact that I remember a doctor who episode where some future civilisation got addicted to feel good patches and all subsequently died).
Anyway what is in these patches and are they conceivably good?

So after a bit of digging I found they contain:
forslean: a registered trademark
Green coffee bean extract:  ?caffiene
Garcinia Cambogia: a herb
CoQ10: I see this a lot in skin creams
White Willow Bark: another herbal thing
Cosmoperine: another registered trademark

So are these ingredients good?
Forslean: So firstly forslean is an extract from the Coleus forskohlii plant using their special method. This plant is a herb used in Indian cooking. According the company website sites 3 studies (one study of only 6 people without any blinding, which I am not going to talk about as it is too small and poorly designed so of no consequence), one study of 23 people that showed no weight loss but slightly lower weight gain, and one study of 60 people that showed mild weight loss. I have not been able to ascertain if these studies were done independently. This benefit was found with forslean capsules. I could not find any evidence that this can be absorbed through the skin past the dermal layer (it has been shown that it can cause epidermal thickening and tanning of the skin underneath in mice, not really desirable qualities in a patch). Looking at pubmed and other studies into Forskolin (the main ingredient of Forslean), this is an actual medication with benefits and side effects (ie may benifit glaucoma, interacts with some blood thinning medications, increases stomach acidity).
It is possible that Forslean may help promote weight loss, however I would like to see larger, better designed studies (and in particular studies that can prove it is absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream of humans).

Coenzime q10: one ingredient that has had a lot of press. It has been shown to decrease inflammation particularly in people with heart disease. It was trialled in large doses in people with Parkinson's disease with no benifit (but also no major side effects). I could not find any studies proving that doses applied to the skin can actually get into the blood stream (or how much actually does) did find a report that topical administration may cause vitiligo (skin whitening, what Michael Jackson apparently had) in susceptible individuals.
So this ingredient I would assess as possibly beneficial with minimal side effects, but would like to know if it is actually absorbed.

Green coffee bean extract: on the companies Facebook page they say that 'only the antioxidant benefits' were used. Does this mean there is no caffiene in the extract? Seems a bit counterproductive to me given that the caffiene is the part of green coffee that promotes weight loss....

Willow bark: willow bark is basically asprin (high concentration of salicylates). Asprin is a drug and has been shown to have many benefits (as well as risks). It can defiantly be absorbed transdermal lay, thus this may be the only actual thing you are getting from this patch. I am not sure what the actual dose of asprin you are getting from this patch is and would never consume a medication like asprin without knowing exactly how much I am taking. (I assume actual dose is very, very low to reduce risk of complications, but this sort of negates the point of having it in the first place).

Garcinia Cambogia: a herb that has been shown to promote satiety and weight loss in the short term when taken orally (most studies have been 12 weeks or less so little is known about the long term side effects/ benefits). There is some debate as to weather this compound may cause liver damage (one study in MICE, showed it can cause liver damage, other studies despite this). Could not find any studies into how this was absorbed through the skin. (Although on their Facebook page they state that their "derma fusion technology" means that you get 30-60 times "anything" that you can take orally, I could not actually find any proof of this, ie blood test results following oral and skin exposure).

Cosmoperine: this is a pepper extract that is supposed to increase skin permeability of their other ingredients. The only safety data I could find was found the company website which found no skin irritation in the 48 people tested.

Just because something is natural does not necessarily mean it is safe or effective. Many natural products (even some that are used in foods) are quite dangerous. For example liquorice is a poison in large quantities (and ricin, the worlds most deadly poison is a natural product).
From what I have read thus product is MOST LIKELY safe but probably has minimal benefits. I would like to know exactly how much of the active compounds is actually entering the bloodstream (most importantly how much willow bark there is in the product and how much is absorbed, as thus is actually a drug with significant side effects).
Personally due to the willow bark and the unknown quantities of the other ingredients I would avoid this product. I would especially avoid it if I was pregnant or breastfeeding (I could not find any instances of where these products have been tested on pregnant women and willow bark has blood thinning properties).
If I was convinced by the claims that  Garcinia Cambogia or Coleus forskohlii could promote weight loss (and I think there is reasonable evidence that Garcinia Cambogia may assist in weight loss with minimal side effects, at least in the short term) I would take them as single agents, orally at a specified dose so I know I am getting the right amount of the drug.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Making Lemonade with Young kids

A refreshing drink, structured activity, unstructured sensory play and make your house smell lovely in the process. This is an example of how even a simple activity can be a treasure-trove of learning opportunities for a young child.

4 lemons
About 4 large spoonfuls of sugar.
Hand Juicer (you can use an electric one but this removes some of the fun of juicing the lemons
1 sharp knife (kept away from the kids obviously)
2 jugs (1 smaller 1 larger) (about 1 liter or 2 pints is a good size for the larger jug)
Mixing spoon
Towel (to wipe up spills)

 For the sensory play activity
Pot and stove (away from kids, obviously)
Shallow basin
Bowls, plastic knife, wooden spoon

Structured activity (making lemonade)

Before you start make sure no-one has any recent scrapes/cuts on their hands. Lemon juice really hurts if it gets into a wound (I forgot I had a small cut on my finger before setting this up).

Step 1) Bruise the lemons
Start out with just the 4 lemons. It is good to make a space either on a low table or the floor to do this (if you have carpets/ easily stained floors you may want to put down a plastic mat and have a towel handy). To get the most lemon juice out of your lemons you need to bruise the lemons to break some of the membranes inside. A good way of doing this is to roll the lemons on the counter top under firm pressure.  This is a fun exercise for children. Another way to get a similar result is to play “Ops I dropped a lemon” careful not to use too much force you are trying to bruise it not splat it everywhere.

Step 2) Cut the lemons.
 You need quite a sharp knife to do this so it is best done away from the kids and the knife put away afterwards. (Older kids may be able to do this under direct supervision).

Step 3) Setup
Now is the time to set everything up to make the lemonade. You need 2 jugs (1 larger, 1 smaller) the smaller one ¾ full of water), your cut lemons, a mixing spoon, a bowl of sugar, a tablespoon and the juicer.

Step 4) Sugar and water
Have the child spoon about 4 tablespoons of sugar into the big jug and then pour about half the water from the small jug into the larger jug (It is easier for a child to pour all the water in rather than stop at half so if your child is just starting to learn pouring having two smaller jugs may be better).

Have the child mix the sugar in with the big mixing spoon.
Quantities do not need to be exact. Expect some mess.

Step 4) Juice the lemons
I found the easiest way to do this is to start and finish the lemons off. So get the lemon on the juicer and give it a couple of light turns (so there is a groove in it), then let the child have a turn juicing (Hold the bottom of the juicer while this is happening or you will have a big mess). After each lemon have the child pour the Juice into the big Jug (that way if you do have a spill you won’t have lost all your lemon juice).

Step 5) Mix and taste
Mix again. Then spoon a small amount of juice into glasses and taste. Add more sugar/water as needed until it is good. Then drink.

Sensory Play activity
To prep for this cut the lemon skins away from the fruit and place half of them on a pot with some water. Cook on the stove for 5-10minutes (obviously this needs to be done with children far away, pots/ boiling water are a major source of childhood injury). (This will also make your house smell lemony fresh)

After cooked drain the water and rinse the skins under the cold tap until cold.
Place in a shallow basin along with the uncooked skins. You can also add some uncooked mandarin/orange skins for a bit of color. Put the basin on the floor and allow child to play (can also give them some extra bowls or a plastic knife to play with too).

Put the activity in front of the child, explain what everything is then step back and let them play by themselves.
Learning points/ discussion points.
There are many different things that you can use in this activity as learning and discussion points with your child. It depends on your child’s interests/ level as to which are the most important at the time. As child develops can repeat this activity and add in learning activities as appropriate. Some of the things a child can learn through this activity include:

Physical skills
Rolling, dropping, picking up, finding, pouring, stirring
Cutting (Advanced)
Feel of the lemon as it rolls
Smell the lemon
Taste the lemon, the lemonade and the sugar (Sweet and sour) how does the juice change when you add more sugar/ water?

Numbers and counting the number of spoons of sugar/ number of lemons
Pouring – fractions, ie half the liquid, empty halffull, full
How the sugar dissolves into the water.
How the water changes color with the sugar and the lemon juice
Large and small : the jugs are different sizes. The lemons are also most likely different sizes. Can line up the lemons and use them in order of size.

Sensory play

There are lots of things that the child can do with the skins in sensory play. The aim of the activity is that it is unstructured and children explore by themselves. Some kids may have no interest in it and that is ok too. Kids can feel the difference between the soft squishy cook pieces and the hard uncooked pieces. They smell different too. The uncooked skins smell more strongly. They can use their plastic knife to cut or tear the pieces. Can mix with a spoon or separate groups into bowls. The cooked bits can squish between fingers. While they do not taste great tasting them will not hurt.



Monday, 11 August 2014

Artificial sweeteners are making you fat

'Diet soft drinks are definitely not for people trying to loose weight.
 It is interesting that in a world of 0 calorie foods and drinks we as a nation appear to be gaining weight. I have always seen weight loss/gain is an equation (energy in – energy out = weight gain). Therefore, one would assume if you replaced a 200 calorie cup of juice with a 0 calorie soft drink you would lose weight. So why is there not an epidemic of skinniness with all these low calorie products?
I decided to do some research.
 What I found was that far from helping in weight loss,  ‘diet’ drinks may actually contribute to weight gain. 
How can something with 0 calorie make you put on weight? It does not make sense.
It all has to do with appetite.
Out appetite is what keeps us the weight that we are. For the majority of people appetite allows us to stay within a relatively stable weight range (slowing increasing as we get older[1]). Appetite is also the reason why many people put weight back on after a diet (and then some usually). One is able to fight ones intrinsic appetite for a time while one is losing weight, but fighting it for the rest of ones’ life can be incredibly draining[2].
Another thing that points to appetite (i.e. how much we eat rather than the calorific value of what we eat) as the cause of obesity is the “French paradox. The French diet is relatively high in ‘bad foods. There is lots of saturated fat, yet the rates of obesity are a lot lower than the United States. Why? One of the simplest reasons is while they may eat proportionally more high calorie foods, they eat smaller amounts[3] .
So the key to maintaining a healthy weight is Appetite. So why do some people have bigger appetites than others and what role do artificial sweeteners play in appetite?
It has been shown that one of the key players in appetite is sugar. Sugar increases the ‘tastiness’ of food and can actually be addictive triggering the same neuronal pathways as serious drugs of addiction like cocaine[4]. So why would taking sugar out of something make us fat? Because it is not actually sugar that does this, it is sweetness. Our tastebuds are fooled by the sweet messages and the pleasure centers are activated. But our stomachs are not fooled by these imposters[5]. This means the sweetness sends a signal to the brain stating “eat more” whereas the stomach sends a signal stating “there is nothing in here keep on going”. It is confusion between the messages between the brain and the stomach,  that may encourage us to overeat
How it is the sweet taste that actually stimulates appetite was elegantly shown in an experiment where men were given artificial sweeteners as a drink or in a capsule. When they were given 280ml sweetened water their appetite for other foods increased, wheras when they were given in capsule form with 280ml plain water (so the sweetness was only released on arrival to the stomach) there was no change in appetite[6].
Other experiments have shown that changing from regular to diet soft drinks either has little effect on weight or increases weight (Yan, 2010 cites multiple examples) . Consumption of sweetened drinks by young children (I wonder how a study giving these things to children got through an ethics committee, but anyway…) was shown not to significantly decrease total calorie consumption, but make them more picky about what foods they would eat[7] (i.e leading to preference for less nutrient dence foods and thus paving the way for problems in the future) (sugar sweetened drinks decreased calorie consumption in the next meal and also made them more picky).
One theory as to why people may actually gain weight on by consuming zero calorie sweetners is that the disconnect between sweetness and actual calorie rewards teaches out brains that sweet does not equal calories. Therefore when we actually consume a calorie containing sweet item our brains tell our appetite that it does not have calories and we should continue eating[8].
Therefore one of the key ways to reduce appetite is to decrease the sweetness of ones diet. ‘Diet’ drinks do exactly the opposite of this. The research is quite clear. They do not help decrease appetite and will not help in long term weight loss. (since many of the studies proving this were done quite a while ago it seems a bit misleading that they are still allowed to market them as diet products).
Next time you are feeling thirsty and want something ‘diet’ go for a cup of water, or an unsweetened cup of tea or coffee. If you must have something sweet have a glass of juice. Don’t reach for the ‘diet’ drinks, all that the ‘diet’ is, is clever marketing. It will not help you achieve sustainable weight loss.

[1] Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D., Dr.P.H., Tao Hao, M.P.H., Eric B. Rimm, Sc.D., Walter C. Willett, M.D., Dr.P.H., and Frank B. Hu, M.D., Ph.D Changes in Diet and Lifestyle and Long-Term Weight Gain in Women and Men, N Engl J Med 2011; 364:2392-2404

[2] Mann, Traci; Tomiyama, A. Janet; Westling, Erika; Lew, Ann-Marie; Samuels, Barbra; Chatman, Jason Medicare's search for effective obesity treatments: Diets are not the answer. American Psychologist, Vol 62(3), Apr 2007

[3] Rozin P, Kabnick K, Pete E, Fischler C, Shields C. The ecology of eating: smaller portion sizes in France Than in the United States help explain the French paradox. Psychol Sci. 2003 Sep;14(5):450

[4] Ahmed, Serge H.; Guillem, Karine; Vandaele, Youna, Sugar addiction: pushing the drug-sugar analogy to the limit , Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care:

July 2013 - Volume 16 - Issue 4 - p 434–439

[5] Qing Yan Gain weight by “goingdiet?”Artificial sweeteners and the neurobiology of sugar cravings Neuroscience2010 pp.101-108.

[6] Black, RM, Leiter LA, Anderson GH, Consuming aspartame with and without aftertaste: differential effects on appetite and food intake of young adult males. Physiol Behav, 1993;53: pp459-466.

[7] Birch LL, Mcphee L, Sullivan S, Children’s food intake following drinks sweetened with sucrose or aspartame: time course effects Phisiol Behav. 1989 Feb; 45(2):387-395

[8] Smeets PAM, de Graff, C, Stafleu A, Van Osch MJP, Van der Ground, J. Functional magnetic resonance imaging of human hypothalamic responces to sweet taste and calories. Am J Clin Nutrition.  2005; 82:1011-1016

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Almond 3 ways dessert

A vegan desert using homemade almond milk and the 'waste' meal together.
time. Makes about 6 small servings. It will take a day and a half to make from scratch, or about 2 hours if you use store bought milk and meal.


1 cup whole almonds (Or 1 cup almond milk plus 1/2 cup almond meal and 12 whole almonds)
3 tablespoons sugar
3 Tablespoons shredded coconut
Vanilla essence

Special equipment required

Food processor or good blender

Muslin cloth or coffee strainer (muslin works better)

step 1) Making almond milk

First you need to soak the almonds. Rinse 1 cup of almonds and then cover with water and place in the fridge for approx. 24 hours. (anytime between 12 to 48 hours is ok, the longer you leave them the creamier the milk).

After the almonds are soaked remove a few soaked almonds and set aside. These are now technically activated almonds (these will be for putting on tops of your desserts so 2 per person is good).

Put the rest of the almonds in the blender with 2 cups of water and blend until the almonds are all diced up into a fine meal.

Line a strainer with either a couple of layers muslin cloth or a coffee strainer paper and put the wet meal on top (you can also use a very fine sieve). The milk should start to drip out through the cloth. If you are using muslin you can squeeze the milk out.

You should get between 1 and 2 cups of milk back (depending on how good you are at squeezing the water out). Remember to keep the wet almond meal as we will be using that later.

Step 2) Making the pudding

Going to be working with 1 cup of almond milk (as you should be able to get that amount easily from the almonds).

Put in a saucepan over high heat and add a couple of drops of vanilla essence and 2 tablespoons of sugar to the milk. Stir with whisk until all the sugar has dissolved.

When the milk is hot and the sugar is dissolved (but before it gets to a boil) add the cornstarch. Add 2 teaspoons very slowly and whisk in.

Bring to boil while whisking. Boil for about 20 seconds. Custard should thicken.

Spoon custard into serving bowls/ glasses and put in the fridge to set.

Step 3) Dried almond meal topping

Take approx. ½ cup of the wet almond meal. Mix in 1 tablespoon of sugar and 4 Tablespoons of shredded coconut. (If you are using store bought dry meal you will need to add a couple of tablespoons of water to wet it to help it come together).

Gently spread out over some baking paper and put into a warm oven (about 160deg Celsius or 300deg Fahrenheit). How long it will take depends on how much milk you managed to get out of the meal and how evenly thinly you spread them out on the dish. Check on them every few minutes and remove from oven when they are starting to turn golden around the edges and dry (about 5-15minutes).
Using a spoon move the meal around on the baking paper to stop it sticking then put aside until ready to put desert together.

Step 4) Putting together

After about 2 hours your custard will have set.

Put a spoon of the dried almond meal topping and a couple of activated almonds (the soaked almonds) on top and serve.

This is best put together right before serving to keep the meal crunchy.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

A letter to my husband

Recently another one of my friends has got divorced. It was no surprise to anyone given the state of their relationship. What is sad is that their children are in the middle of it.

These are not bad people, but their emotions are so strained at the moment and they are just wrapped up in their own worlds. Their poor kids hear stories and accusations about the other parent and there is a huge battle over access.
It got me thinking how this could be prevented. The best way, I think is to sort things out when you are in love rather at the time when all you can see is how lousy the other person is

So here is
 My pledge:
I promise to re-read this letter if our relationship ever gets to the point that we are considering separation. I ask anyone who loves me or my children to force me to re-read it if they think that I need to.
Dear Husband,

Firstly I love you. I honestly have no expectation of ever having to use this letter. But I do recognise that almost 50% of relationships end in divorce and it would be incredibly smug of me to assert that it is not a possibility.

There are things that you could do that would make me consider divorce and there are things that I could do that could make you want to divorce me. But whatever the reason, regardless of weather it is amicable or we hate each-others guts I will never let our children get stuck in the middle. I recognise your love/ respect/ faithfulness to me is entirely separate to your love for your children.

I promise:

1)      I will never speak badly about you in front of our children, or in any way that may get back to them.
2)      I will never speak badly about your new life partner to our children.
3)      Even if the split is entirely your fault I will work with you to tell our children and present it as a joint decision and not lay blame.
4)      As long as the children are safe and happy in your household I will never deny you access. I will attempt to sort out a custody arrangement that is in the best interests of our children rather than what I want.
5)      I will do my best to maintain a relationship with your parents and ensure that our children spend time with both sets of grandparents. I will instruct my parents to refrain from speaking about you in a negative manner in front of our kids.

6)      If I decide to do something vindictive against you I will first consider how it will affect our children and only proceed if there is no chance that it will get back to them.

7)      I will at all times during this process think of our children first.

I hope that you will also sign this pledge.

All My love.


My experience with CMV in pregnancy

I thought today I would share about a very turbulent time in my life. It was was over 3 years ago now, but that time still affects me.
During my first pregnancy I managed to catch CMV (which is one of the viruses that can cause deformities to developing babies). Given that in the end everything was ok it is probably a small trauma compared to what others go though, however it felt huge to me.

So some background. I was living in China at the time and 15 weeks pregnant.
 I was not enjoying pregnancy. 'Morning sickness' was all day sickness and I seemed to catch a cold every time anyone sneezed including a bad cold/ flu a couple of weeks previously which had had me bed bound with high fevers.

We got a call from the hospital telling me that my bloods had come back and I had tested positive for CMV, the specialist could see us in a couple of days.
Now I don't know what others would do with that information. The sensible thing to do would be to store it in the back of your brain and wait to see the specialist.
That is not what we did, of course.
We Googled it.
Bad idea.
What we got were lots and lots of worst case scenario stories. Babies with severe deformities and disabilities. My husband and I were shattered. We cried. We did not sleep.
The joy of pregnancy was replaced by an all encompassing fear.
I had just started to feel kicks and each kick served to remind me that there could be something wrong with my baby and that it was my fault (in my mind it was my fault for catching this disease, I know it was disordered thinking and if you are reading this and in a similar situation it is not your fault. You cannot live your life in a bubble and it is not good for you or your baby and it is just bad luck that bad things happen to some people).

So the next day I decided to do some real research so I could be prepared to see the specialist. I have always been a bit of a nerd and math is soothing. So I looked up proper scholarly articles and became an expert on the disease. I worked out given where I was in the pregnancy when I caught it there was about a 10% chance of baby having severe problems and a 60-70% chance baby would not even catch it at all.
While reassured I was still terrified.
What if I was in the 10%? I already had the bad luck of getting this disease, what if it continued? I knew I needed a special test at 20 weeks (amniocentesis) which would tell me if baby had been infected. We decided that I would go back to Australia for this (I had been planning on going back for the birth anyway so I just went earlier).

Cue 4 weeks of worry.
 Knowing that I had caught this disease I became intensely worried about further harming my baby. Farming/ food hygiene standards are not always the best in China (and if you watch the Chinese equivalent of 'a current affair' there are always stories of some food or another having issues).
Every meal became a battle between knowing I needed to get nutrients into my body and fear that food may contain something that would harm me.
For various reasons I was avoiding all animal products, fruit, vegetables, anything cooked outside and processed foods. Which really did not leave much that I was willing to eat. I love food generally and with my morning sickness finally letting up life was a constant battle between cravings and fear. I became a recluse staying in the house avoiding people and situations that I may get sick.

Getting back to Australia was a relief and although my daemons did not go entirely they were more manageable and I was able to have a more normal diet and life.
At 20 weeks the test came back negative and I went on to have a normal pregnancy and baby.