The day after the day the Grim Reaper leant over your shoulder, and watched you struggle to save your child’s life, is a day to celebrate. The day after his fetid breath filled your nostrils and he raised his scythe in readiness, is a day to forget the chores and to buy ice-cream. As you try to erase the residual shock and hold that child tight, it’s a day to go to the beach. Or just sit down and play the games they want, all day.
I have three girls. Only one of them has the distinction of being an older and a younger sister. She is the one I was struggling to save.
She was a tiny dot, born at 36 weeks weighing 1.96kg (4.3 pounds). They told me she would go to the SCBU, they told me I wouldn’t be able to breast-feed her, they told me she might not be very well at all. They reckoned without my feisty girl. Although her tiny, furled up body seemed too small to be in this world, she drank the first drink of formula they forced on her, then turned to me for more. She had no intention of going to the SCBU. She has an iron will.
At 6 months we bought her a soft little teddy. She grabbed it from us and has still not let go. She kissed and chewed and sucked the teddy; it is now a shadow of its former self. As soon as my baby could talk she christened the teddy, ‘Bear bear’. We all love Bear Bear, he is the seventh member of our family.
At 25 months she had her brush with death. During an afternoon with friends, a grown-up game of ball got a bit close and a grown-up fell on top of her with all his weight. She had been eating cake. As they passed her to me, the warning bells were chiming very loudly.
Her teeth were bared like a wild animal’s. Her eyes were open but they had rolled up inside her head, I could only see the whites. She was rigid. She wasn’t breathing. I called her name and her eyes rolled back and drilled into me. Her pupils were dilated to maximum and her eyes were like deep black holes. Then she went limp in my arms.
They say that in moments of extreme danger, time slows down. I concur.
My baby was choking and the ambulance was not going to get there in time. They don't tell you that when a jaw is locked shut you cannot prise it open and therefore you can't clear the airways. It took long agonising minutes before she would breathe again, and it was much much later in hospital that she came out of the subsequent deep sleep and was my little girl again. The terror of brain damage could finally leave.
Amazingly, the doctor told me that at her age she could have done six minutes underwater in a swimming pool, and not have sustained brain damage. It's a comforting thought but I think perhaps I won't be putting his theory to the test. Please, know your basic first aid.
My girl has always loved carrots. From carrot purée to carrot sticks through carrot salad to carrot cake, she loves it all. ‘I will always be able to see in the dark Mummy because I eat so many carrots.’
Bear Bear and Carrot Cake are two of her favourite things. She is one of my three favourite girls.
Bear Bear's Carrot Cake
175g grated carrots
1 medium apple
75g brown rice flour
75g maize flour1.5tsp gluten-free baking powder125g sugar
2 tbsps ground linseeds (grind whole linseeds in a blender, sooo easy)
3tbsps rice milk
2 tsp cinnamon
a good scraping of whole nutmeg or 0.25tsp
70ml vegetable oil
For the icing:100g dairy-free spread (here's one)175g gluten-free icing sugar (here's one)
1 tbsp lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 orange
- Heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius, Gas mark 4
- Line a 19cm x 19cm tin with baking parchment
- Mix the linseeds with the rice milk and set aside
- Grate the carrots and peel, core and finely grate the apple
- Put the sugar, linseed mix and oil into a large mixing bowl and beat together using a wooden spoon
- Add the apple, carrot and raisins. Grate half of the lemon zest and half the orange zest into the bowl, and mix everything together
- Add the maize flour, rice flour, baking powder and spices and mix everything agin
- Scrape into the tin and level off using the back of the spoon
- Place in the oven for approximately 25 minutes. Depending on your oven, it may take shorter or longer, start checking after about 12 minutes. The cake is cooked when it is firm and slightly springy. The top may look a little cracked which is not a problem
- Remove the cake from the oven and leave it in the tin to cool
- For the icing: Put the dairy-free spread into a large mixing bowl and sieve in the icing sugar. Beat it all together. When smooth, add the lemon juice. The icing is quite loose, you might want to add a little more sugar if you see fit
- When the cake is cold spread the icing over the top. Grate the remaining orange and lemon zest over the top to make it look pretty
- I like to keep this cake in the fridge, but perhaps cold carrot cake is weird for you. Do what you think is best. :-)