What the Heck is Gluten Anyway?

What the Heck is Gluten Anyway?


As you might or might not know, the gluten-free trend is very much now a thing. Not only is it a thing, however it is a thing that is here to stay. Increasingly more individuals are deciding to cut gluten from their diets, and they are enjoying the rewards as an outcome. There is however, a lot of unpredictability behind why people cut gluten from their diet plans in the first location, and surrounding what gluten actually is.

We’ve all become aware of gluten, and gluten-free diets, but do we understand the heck gluten actually is? The answer for much of us is no. After reading today’s post nevertheless, all will become clear. Today we’re going to be looking at what gluten really is, where it originates from, and why some people choose not to consume it.


Starting as we mean to go on, we’ll start by taking a look at what gluten really is. Gluten is a protein found in particular grains. In truth, gluten is a cumulative term utilized to explain a series of proteins discovered within certain grains. Gluten is accountable for offering particular baked items like bread and bagels, their elastic and elastic texture. All grains originate from plants. In truth, the grains are the reproductive seeds of the plants, so technically, all of these plants come from grains. The seeds consist of three individual parts:

– The endosperm (the interior).
– The bran (the outside shell).
– The bacterium (the core).

Now, the gluten is found within the endosperm, which means it is discovered inside the seed. When we consume wholegrains, this implies that we are taking in all 3 private parts of the seed. When we consume improved grains, this indicates that we are eating the endosperm as the bran and the bacterium have now been gotten rid of. So, fine-tuned grains are primarily where gluten is found. You’ll find gluten in a variety of grains, including wheat, rye, and barley.


The science behind gluten totally free grains– Now we’re going to get a bit more technical and take a look at gluten in more detail. Gluten in fact consists of 2 individual proteins. These are glutelin proteins and prolamin proteins. You’ll find these proteins in most grains, although it is wheat, rye, and barley that normally occur when defining gluten.

You can buy gluten-free grains, which still include these glutelin proteins and prolamin proteins, so how come they do not cause gastrointestinal problems? Well, they have special amino acid chains which are different to the gluten-containing grains. As proteins are broken down into amino acids they do not cause the same ill-effects as gluten-containing grains. Basically, the various amino acid chains assist render these grains safe.

Celiac illness and gluten sensitivity– Till fairly-recently, medical professionals thought that all gluten-related problems were connected to Celiac illness. This is an autoimmune condition which causes inflammation inside and outside the intestinal wall when gluten is consumed. Nevertheless, professionals now know that there are a series of other gluten-related issues, which although really comparable to Celiac illness, are really still different and special in some methods. Gluten sensitivity is a prime example as it means we do not synthesize antibodies for our own tissues, nor do we experience the exact same levels of intestinal tract distress. The other symptoms nevertheless, are practically identical.

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Unbelievable Health Benefits to CBD Oil Canada


When people refer to the “high” they get from using cannabis, they are typically referring to the effects of a chemical called THC. What you might not know, however, is that many (and perhaps most) of the medical benefits users’ get from cannabis come from another, non-psychoactive compound: CBD (or Cannabidiol). When CBD is extracted from the plant and processed into an oil, it still retains the properties that provide the medical benefits, and we call it CBD oil. Could it be that CBD is some type of cure-all miracle drug? Maybe! Here are 5 unbelievable health benefits to the consistent use of CBD oil.

Source: Floyd’s of Leadville

  1. Pain relief – Surprise surprise, it turns out that opioids aren’t always the best option for folks that have chronic pain. They’re addictive, dangerous, and have been a scourge on our society since they were released into the world by the big pharmaceutical companies. People are now looking for less toxic, healthier options. Many of them are turning to CBD oil. There are studies that suggest that CBD interacts with receptors in the brain and immune system to reduce inflammation and pain, with very few known negative side effects.
  2. Anti-anxiety properties – We aren’t joking when we say “unbelievable” health benefits. One thing that makes CBD so amazing is that it not only has physiological uses but psychological benefits as well, including treatment for anxiety. Most traditional treatment for anxiety include prescriptions for heavy sedatives. These can have significant side effects, especially after long-term use. That’s not the case with CBD oil. In a recent study, participants were given either a placebo or 600mg of CBD oil before speaking in front of a large crowd. The group that got the CBD had less discomfort, less cognitive impairment, and less anxiety about their speech performance. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3079847)
  3. Insomnia/Sleep Aid – We all know that consuming cannabis can make you dozy. That’s due largely to the sedative effects of THC. What most people don’t realize is that CBD oil and CBD products can have a place in the treatment of sleep issues as well. If you combine the above-mentioned pain relief and anti-anxiety properties, you’ve got a very good non-sedative sleep aid. (Side note: the author of this post uses CBD to treat sleep issues. It works amazingly well.)
  4. Improved Skin – It’s still early, but the scientific research and evidence for using CBD to treat skin conditions like psoriasis and acne are promising. Test-tube studies have proven that CBD oil reduces sebum production in glands (sebum is the gross stuff that chokes up your pores). When you consider CBD oil’s anti-inflammatory properties, it’s clear that there is potential here.
  5. Treatment of Cancer – Unfortunately, history has its share of crooks and scam artists promoting fraudulent or pseudoscientific cures for cancer to make a few bucks. Who knows, maybe that’s part of the reason that the medical profession is taking its time getting behind CBD oil. However, research into the cancer-fighting potential of CBD oil is starting to ramp up. So far, the results are very promising. A lot of the data being released confirms what many folks have been saying for years: Cannabadiol has the potential to be used as a very powerful cancer treatment. It’s still in the early days, but if the studies and science prove this to be true, it might be the most unbelievable use for CBD oil found yet.

Source: Dr. Axe

Consistent use of CBD oil Canada comes with many health benefits, and we’ve only just scratched the surface in this post. Here’s one thing that’s certain: There’s much, much more to be discovered with this unbelievable compound!

Top 10 things you need to know before buying CBD oil


CBD Oil has become very popular in the market due to its various health benefits. This is a chemical extracted from the cannabis plant. CBD stands for cannabidiol and has all the benefits of cannabis extract minus the high.

The cannabis plant is the source of both CBD Oil as well as THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol). Though both have the same origin, they are on the opposite spectrum when it comes to the benefits. THC is present in marijuana and has a psychoactive effect; CBD oil, on the other hand, is extracted using such a process that the THC content is close to zero and it has no psychoactive effect.

CBD oil is available in oil form or as a powder. One needs to mix it with a base gel or cream to use it on the skin or can be taken orally as well.

Though CBD oil is getting famous because of its benefit like pain relief, reducing inflammation, anti-acne, antidepressant, etc., there are claims of people getting high due to the THC level not being properly maintained in some products on the market.

People who want to buy CBD oil for the first time may face lots of challenges because of the different forms it is available in. Add the many companies that are releasing their own CBD Oils, and it is easy to see why it could be difficult for first-time buyers. One, therefore, needs to be very cautious before buying CBD oil.

Two of the most important checks that need to be carried out is that of purity and the concentration of CBD oil present in the product being purchased.

Source: pinterest

Here we list some important parameters that one needs to consider before purchasing CBD oil for the first time.

Hemp produced in and natural components inside the Hemp: Hemp is a bio-accumulator by nature. Hence, it absorbs both good and bad components from nature like water, air, and soil where they are grown. Knowing the origin of the hemp is very important from a purchaser’s point of view as no one would like to buy CBD oil extracted from hemp which has accumulated toxins like pesticides, heavy metal, etc. during its growth.

Normal farming relies heavily on the use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers and other chemicals which is inevitably present in the final product. Accumulation of these toxins in the body can even lead to various types of cancer like Leukaemia, Skin Cancer, Stomach cancer, etc.

It is therefore advisable to buy organically grown CBD oil so that the presence of artificial chemicals and toxins in it is kept to a minimum. This also ensures that the quality of the final extract is much higher and it has much better potency.

1.THC Level in CBD Oil: Another important parameter to check is the percentage of THC in your CBD oil. For some people, a small variation in THC level may not be a big issue, but those working with heavy machinery or being drug tested at work may face challenges in this regard. For them, it is always advisable to buy CBD oil which has a THC level of less than 0.03%. Many manufacturers are now bringing zero THC CBD oil to the market. Although it might be bit expensive in comparison to other CBD oils on the market, people who need to be cautious about the psychoactive component in their CBD oil should go for these products where the THC level is close to zero.

2. The concentration of CBD Oil:  While checking the other parameters, do not forget to check the concentration level of CBD within the product you are buying. This is because a set standard concentration is required for one to reap maximum benefits of CBD. The concentration of CBD present in the extract is proportional to the benefits that you will enjoy. There are some products where the manufacturer might fool you with lucrative offers on the price. But instead of the price, this is the time when you need to cautiously check the concentration level and then buy the product. High-quality CBD oil should have a concentration level between 250mg to 1000 mg per fluid ounce.

Source: CannaInsider

3. Purity and Potentiality of CBD Oil: As there is a chance of the presence of unnecessary components and toxins in CBD oil, there is always a chance of CBD doing you more harm than good. To avoid this, it is always suggested to buy a product which has been tested not only at the laboratory of the manufacturer but also by a reputed third-party laboratory which is not affiliated with the said manufacturer. This not only gives you the peace of mind to exploit CBD Oil to its full potential but also helps you avoid any unforeseen circumstances. In these cases, the test report from an ISO/IEC 17025:2017 accredited Laboratory would be deemed trustworthy.

4. Percentage of CBD in the purchased product: Though this parameter might look similar to the one addressed in point number 3, here you are supposed to pay attention to the actual amount of CBD oil in the product you are buying. You may understand this from the level posted on the container which says “800mg CBD oil” or “800mg Hemp extract”. It means the container has 800mg CBD oil in total.

5. The extraction process of CBD:  Extracting CBD oil from the Hemp is a complicated process. It is in no way similar to extracting juice from fruit but instead involves a complicated process to assure quality and potency. Companies extracting CBD oil from Hemp use methods like CO2 extraction which help ensure the purity of CBD oil and prevent it from being contaminated by unwanted substances. However, to maximise profits, many manufacturers use simpler techniques to extract the CBD oil using harsh solvents which in turn leaves unwanted, and often times toxic, residue in the Oil. The presence of these can affect your body badly.

The process of extracting CBD oil from Hemp using Carbon dioxide is a much safer option comparatively even though it increases both manufacturing expenses and as well as time. This extraction of CBD oil under high pressure and low temperature using carbon dioxide not only prevents adulterants which might adversely affect your health but also produces better and high-quality CBD oil lacking damaging solvents and chemicals like ethanol, propane, and butane.

1. Accountability of the CBD Oil Manufacturer: As it is not possible to extract CBD oil at home, you will, therefore, have to be dependent on the available manufacturers in the market. While checking the rest of the parameters, also check the accountability of the manufacturer you want to buy the product from. Due to CBD being a niche product as of now, there have been cases of manufacturers exploiting customers to make a profit. To save yourself from this situation try to reach out to the manufacturer and connect with them before you order the CBD oil. If you find them not only amiable but also willing to answer all your queries and even provide conclusive test results in time, you can be assured not only of the product you are purchasing but also of the accountability of the manufacturer. You can also read a post by Green the vote ok to choose the best CBD oil.

Source: CBD Oil

2. Transparency of the CBD Oil Manufacturer: While you check the accountability of the manufacturer, it is also important for you to check how transparent and legal the company is. Less transparency equals more diluted and harmful CBD oil and vice versa. Hence, it is equally important for you to know and research the manufacturer and company before taking the final decision to order CBD oil from them.

3. Medical Guidelines provided by the CBD Oil Manufacturer: As per the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) by the Food and Drug Administration, it is a strict breach of the contract to claim that CBD products can be used to successfully treat any medical condition or can be prescribed as a medical treatment for symptoms.


Any company making wild claims such as these should be strictly avoided because if they are willing to portray CBD as the cure of all diseases, then they might be faking on many other fronts as well.

Though researches so far have shown satisfactory reports about the effects of using CBD, legit companies will avoid claims of its medical efficacy in accordance with the guidelines set by FDA.


1. Research before buying cheaper CBD Oil: When it is the question of buying CBD oil, it is advisable not to go with lucrative offers that ship the product at a ridiculous price. This is because neither the origin of the organic Hemp is cheap nor the process of extracting the CBD from it is. Extraction of CBD using carbon dioxide is a complicated and multi-step process which requires costly equipment as well as demands a high level of expertise to do the job successfully.

Every step of CBD extraction starting from growing hemp to the final extraction involves money. Not only that, if you need high quality, pure, highly concentrated CBD oil that has been methodologically extracted from an organic hemp, with the product having passed the tests of the third-party laboratories, while the manufacturer is a well-reputed firm following all the set rules and regulations you should eventually pay the actual worth of the product irrespective of how costly it might be.

Source: CBD

It is after all up to you to decide if you need a pure and genuine CBD oil or a cheaper one that may compromise your health and that of your loved ones. I will recommend you to Buy CBD From Nuleaf Naturals.

Even as a first-time buyer, if you keep these parameters in mind you can easily filter out the bad companies and find a reputed one that fits your criteria and does not trick you when purchasing quality CBD oil.

The reality of empty arms: A father on the grief of stillbirth


This story was originally published on Noted and is republished with permission.

All along we had been unable to discover the baby’s sex, and since we were only three days from the due date, we decided to wait for the surprise.

“Don’t tell us,” I said.

The technician smiled cheerfully and promised she wouldn’t.

As it turned out, everyone had a hard time telling us. The radiologist didn’t want to; he came in and glanced at the monitor. I asked if something was wrong. He left the room.

READ MORE: Bauer Media joins Stuff in content-sharing deal 

“I’m frightened,” Toni said.

“Whatever it is,” I said, “we’ll deal with it.” Soon I also started pressing my palms together. “Tell the radiologist I want to speak with him,” I told the technician.

She went out, leaving on the image of the ultrasound. But my eyes could never pick up the details in the milky screen, I couldn’t tell a head from a heart, and I didn’t try.

We just sat in icy silence – I no longer believed in the reassuring words I said to Toni – until the technician returned sometime later. “He’ll see you alone.” 

“I don’t want to be the one to tell you this,” he said.

Toni had walked in behind me. She screamed and held on to me, clawing at my back as if she were trying to keep from slipping down a rocky slope.

Outside it was cool, rainy November afternoon. We walked holding each other under an umbrella. “I can’t believe this is happening,” Toni said. “I just can’t believe this.”

At the midwife’s office, I made two phone calls. I managed to speak in a whisper to my father-in-law. He could not grasp what I was telling him.

“What?” he said. “But how? I’ve never heard of that….” What more could I tell him? I called my mother, but at the sound of her voice I had to bend at the waist to try and catch my breath. 

Toni and I agreed to get it over with as soon as possible. At first, stunned and horrified, she wanted “this dead thing” out of her body.

Fortunately – as we would learn when we’d met others whose babies had died in similar circumstances – the hospital could not take us that night. We had to wait until the morning.

That evening at about seven, we took over-the-counter tranquillisers and climbed into bed. We spoke softly, too raw to speak in full voices. “How,” Toni asked, “am I going to deliver this baby and come home alone?”

We went to the hospital at about seven. The maternity ward was cool and antiseptic like crisp white sheets. At the front desk, we saw immediately that we were expected. On the bulletin board, our names were posted in red magic marker; other names were written in blue. After a few minutes someone came to admit us.

It was not a bad room. Soft yellow light. A bed. An armchair with thick cushions. A window looking out onto trees, a parking lot, and a quiet street without pedestrians. Everything brown and grey and desolate.

Toni put on a gown and lay down to wait. Her first labour had lasted twenty-three hours. She was hooked up to an IV, which dripped into her hand a labour-inducing drug. She refused painkillers. 

I begged her to take them. “Why make this worse than it has to be,” I said. I was afraid. What would a dead infant look like?

“Take an epidural,” I said. “Please, Toni, take something.” Maybe I thought I could escape pain if she would agree to avoid it. 

“This is all I’m going to have,” she said. “I want to feel it.”

She lay on her side, and as each wave of labour pain washed over her, she’d squeeze my fingers with one hand and hold the steel support on the side of the bed with the other. “I want to feel it,” she’d say, her eyes shut, tears dropping one at a time onto the pillow. 

Every so often I would go into the bathroom and sink onto the floor biting a towel.

Sometimes we spoke of other things. The midwife and the nurse, Amy and Linda, were professional and did as much as two strangers could.

This was Amy’s first stillbirth delivery; it was Linda’s speciality – I don’t know if there is a name for it. Eventually we’d sink back into staring and silence, and then, of course, I would wind up back in the bathroom. I’d come out, and Amy would pat or rub my back. Sometimes she too would have to leave the room. “If this is too much,” Toni said to me at one point, “you can go.”

I do not think she really expected me to leave, and I did not want to. It did not turn out to be a long labour.

Toni dilated quickly and gave birth at 12:59 PM. A resident stood in for the obstetrician, who did not arrive in time. The resident’s voice was as cheerful as the technician’s the day before. “Here’s the baby!” he said, his voice so cheerful that for a fraction of a moment I thought, could it be? “Yeah, the cord is wrapped twice around the ankle. That’s pretty snug. Yeah, here we are.”

Whenever I’d heard of umbilical cord accidents, I thought of the neck, of strangulation. It did not occur to me that anything which cut off the supply of blood and oxygen would be deadly.

They swathed the baby in sheets. My hope was gone. I could not look.

“Do you want to know the sex?” someone asked.

“Yes,” Toni said.

“It’s a girl.”

That had always been our guess. “I’m going to have two girls,” I’d say. “I always knew I’d have two girls. This one is a girl.” I had convinced Toni I was right. “Just to spite us,” she said after we decided on a girl’s name but could not agree on a boy’s, “it’s going to be a boy.” “Nope,” I said with a swagger in my voice, “it’s a girl. I’m telling you.”

“Do you want to hold her?” Linda asked Toni.


I fell back into a chair and stood up and sat down, like someone trying to find a position to ease the pain of a physical injury.

The indecision was over whether to see her. I still feared she’d be a monster. I did not want to see a dead baby. But I wanted to see my child.

Toni pulled back the baby blanket and examined her tiny fingers. “She has long arms and thin wrists,” Linda said. “Just like her mummy. And a long neck. She’s a beautiful baby.”

I looked. Besides her lipstick-red lips and the rouge staining her cheeks and chin, she was almost perfect. Six pounds six ounces. Twenty-one inches long. Her tiny fingers lay across her belly. A darkness formed like a shadow under her nails.

“Did you pick out a name?” Linda asked.

I shook my head.

“Yes, Todd,” Toni said. “We did. We did.”

But I hadn’t meant to deny it. I just couldn’t speak. “Michaela,” I whispered finally. 

“Oooh,” Linda crooned gently, “that’s so pretty.”

I reached out and held her. Now she was a reality for me, an individual outside the kicks and lurches I’d felt in my wife’s bulbous belly.

She looked like our firstborn, Elyse, the mouth slightly wider, the nose a little longer. We could see our features in her face, too, which reminded us that she was of us.

I held her for only a minute, possibly less, yet the impression of her weight in my arms would stay with me, as would the regret of not kissing her and of not inhaling the scent of her baby flesh and the wispy baby hair.

I gave her back to Toni and I slipped into the tautest knot of grief. It seemed to cut off the circulation and a physical numbness spread through my feet and hands.

I could feel nothing but burn of tears. I blinked and kneeled on the cold tile floor and scrawled words on the torn page of a telephone message pad. I wanted to record what had happened.

They took Michaela away. A few minutes later they brought her back. Toni wanted to hold her one more time. “I can’t,” I said to her. “I can’t. We have to say goodbye. Please say goodbye now. Please. It’s torture for me.”

She handed Michaela to the nurse, who took her little lifeless body into a nook across the room and pulled closed a curtain.

We drove home.

“My body doesn’t know she’s dead,” Toni would say. She held packs of ice to her engorged breasts.

Her empty belly shrank down to its normal size, and whereas a month earlier she’d wanted her body back, now her thinness felt to her like failure. My eyes and mouth kept burning. I broke out in a rash of acne.

Michaela had died on a Tuesday. We buried her the Friday after Thanksgiving. It was a small gathering. My mother put a bunch of white lilies on the plain pine casket.

The grave was the length of my leg and the width of my outstretched arm.

The early expressions of sympathy were adequate. Some were even touching. My neighbour, whom I’d met twice, helped me pick out two trees and instructed me how to dig the holes and prepare the ground. People sent cards or phoned.

But grief is lonely, and later it became evident that because of the nature of a death like this – no one had experience of the baby’s physical existence besides us – some people gave small measure to what we were going through.

“At least,” went one phrase, “you didn’t have time to know her. It would have been worse if it had happened later.”  “It’s not like Toni’s infertile, after all. You can have another.” “It was God’s will. You have to trust in God.”   

How does one respond? That I would have bargained ten years of my life just to have heard her cry and known whether she had my blue or Toni’s brown eyes? And why compare with words like “better” or “worse.”

Pain is a thing unto itself, not relative to other things. If one person breaks a leg in two places and another breaks an arm in one, the leg might be “worse” but that doesn’t make the arm feel any better. Toni’s fertility was irrelevant. Do you replace one life with another?

And God’s will? I guess anything inexplicably painful invites God into the conversation. But how did they know? Suppose it was God’s will – is that consolation? Suppose it’s also God’s will that a person is paralysed in a car accident. This is what a supreme being wants for you? Really?

These were the most common remarks, not the stupidest. We met a woman whose premature baby lived three weeks and died in her arms. “Your body knew best,” someone told her. Another woman’s father-in-law said, “At least it wasn’t a boy. Then you would have really been devastated.”

When I repeated these remarks, some people tried to explain: “Well, you know what they meant. Their heart was in the right place.” Meaning what, that the deficiency was in their brain?

For men, there is another problem. It’s as if they’re merely spectators. “It’s worse for a woman,” people said.

Suddenly, I was aware of how frequently images of babies appear. They were the angle of war stories, consumer stories, car and tire advertisements.

The news carried stories of abandoned babies, abused babies, and of course, the joyful stories of births in elevators and cabs that it was hard to relate to. Movies that had nothing to do with babies suddenly spring a few clips of childbirth on you.

Supermarkets, malls, and afternoon lunches became things to avoid. But even if you stayed home all the time, the baby trade came to get you.

Companies marketing formula and photography and all sorts of products tracked you down. “Congratulations!” said one postcard offering something or other.

Another friend of ours, whose son died six days before Michaela, kept getting discount offers to photograph her new baby.

She did not want to explain the situation to a stranger, but the same telephone marketing person kept calling back. “My baby died,” our friend said finally. The woman on the other end hung up. 

Medical bills arrived. The doctor who did not arrive in time for the delivery and the hospital where we’d stayed for seven hours put out a palm, which, when they thought we were too slow to pay, clenched into a fist.

A pathologist billed for “standard tests” that we hadn’t authorised.

His office would not give results, however. Medical protocol, they said, required me to get those from the obstetrician I hadn’t met and who didn’t return my phone calls.

The pathologist’s billing manager did. She kept referring to Michaela as a “fetal demise.” She did not understand why that offended me, and since she saw my questions as indications that I was a deadbeat, she saw no need to dignify my complaints by changing her medically-educated terminology. “You’ll still have to pay,” she kept repeating. 

One night, Toni looked out into the garden and saw a nimbus on a branch. She blinked and approached and it didn’t move. “I think I’m going crazy,” she said.

There were days when she’d fall heavily on both knees and shriek. Why why why why? And a pause. And another Why? A one-word song of grief, one long and harsh note filling up the house. 

The bereaved unreasonably expect the world to stop. It doesn’t. The phone would ring. Mostly just the usual.

Sometimes, because it was the stage of life we were at, it news that someone else we knew was pregnant or just had a baby something. Six pounds ten ounces. A hard labour. “Can I call back later?” I’d say.

The darkness would lift for an hour or a day or a week and then it would descend.

For almost seven months Toni wended through the fury and then the fatigue of despondency. Her arms felt the weight of emptiness and she was obsessed with getting pregnant.

When her perspective would return, she’d understand that a subsequent pregnancy would not cure, just as the beginning of one story does not change the ending of a previous one.

We found a support group. Some couples had experienced first trimester miscarriages.

Some had chosen to abort babies with severe defects. Some had lost premature babies and had to make the decision to turn off life support systems.

Some couples became closer to each other. Other relationships were damaged because one person couldn’t understand the other. One woman who continued to attend meetings years after her own loss said how angry she’d been that her husband wouldn’t share his feelings. He was a truck driver.

Much later, his friend told her that her husband thought he was being strong for her, but when he was driving he’d sometimes pull to the side of highways and sob.

We went through the motions until momentum carried life back into place, at least until someone intruded with their own assessment, some exhortation to see a bright side – we were still young, we’d have others, that kind of a thing, all hollow reassurances that were, I sensed, more about giving them a reason to keep their own feelings at a comfortable distance.

The grief de-activated. Years would pass. All feelings spend themselves, even sadness.

What does endure, though, is a diminished sense of well-being, and it re-sets certain psychological default settings: you no longer carry an implicit presumption that things work out in the end. You know your worst fears can come to pass.

If you congratulate someone on being pregnant, it’s because it’s what people do. In your own head, you think, “I hope it goes okay.”

The seed of a tragedy blooms into a certain way of being. When your daughter tells you that you worry too much, you think, “Maybe I worry just enough.”

It was impossible to feel at peace during Toni’s next pregnancies, which included a first-trimester miscarriage. But we had two arrivals, sons who owe their own existence to a sister who came into the world but never opened her eyes.

When people would ask how many children we have, I would say three, because everyone has more to their stories, and after a while there’s nothing to tell.

Some people who knew us remembered; some forgot. It wasn’t their story and I can’t say I kept track of every detail in their lives, either. That’s life. And yet when I say, “Three,” even now it feels negating, and it’s such a strange experience because it’s all around a void that entirely changed the direction of our lives, and yet, quite literally, doesn’t get to be counted.

And because I love my sons and I’m grateful for them, I don’t want a negating judgment that it all “worked out” in the end.

You can’t make judgments about things you didn’t have any choice in.

It all becomes just what happened, and just as we celebrate their birthdays by thinking each year of what happened the day they were born, each November 21, on Michaela’s anniversary, we remember.

It is, after a while, a staggering existential wonder that so much time passed. But in the intensity of the hours and days when we lost Michaela, when every minute felt like a period of time that we wanted desperately to escape, like eternal moments of bodily pain when you’re waiting for it to pass, we could not imagine we could get out from under the weight of it. 

At the time, we could not push her from our thoughts, but when we did, she came to us in wishful dreams.

Now, I’d be holding a child in each arm. Now Michaela would be waddling uncertainly in diapers, or the girls would be playing together on the living room floor. 

There was a dream-image of a little girl. A four-year-old. She was dressed up in a skirt and a top and her black hair is pulled back into a ponytail. We were in the backyard.

She was running to me with her arms open and laughter in her voice calling out “Daddy!”

I reached down to pick her up and felt the lightness of her being as I threw her to the sky, but before she came down I woke up to the reality of empty arms. 

In New Zealand, Sands is a network of parent-run, non-profit groups supporting families who have experienced the death of a baby. You can contact them here

So can pillows REALLY anti-age you as you sleep?


We all know we need our beauty sleep, but do we need a special beauty pillow to help turn back the clock while in bed, too?

If you’re wondering what I’m on about, I’m talking about the belief that it’s not just the hours of shut-eye that affect how your face looks. Squash your face against a cotton pillowcase all night and it not only etches wrinkles more deeply into your face, it also draws moisture from your skin into the bargain.

This is why bedding boffins have come up with a new generation of pillows that promise to combat the signs of ageing as we sleep. But which are the best?


Save My Face Le Grande Pillowette, from £75, savemyface.co.uk

Alice Hart-Davis shared her experience of sleeping with the latest anti-aging pillows. She says Save My Face Le Grande Pillowette (pictured) was difficult to get comfortable when sleeping on her side

Alice Hart-Davis shared her experience of sleeping with the latest anti-aging pillows. She says Save My Face Le Grande Pillowette (pictured) was difficult to get comfortable when sleeping on her side

Alice Hart-Davis shared her experience of sleeping with the latest anti-aging pillows. She says Save My Face Le Grande Pillowette (pictured) was difficult to get comfortable when sleeping on her side

Best for: Back sleepers

What is it? The Save My Face pillow promises to help prevent wrinkling, aid cosmetic surgery recovery and enhance the effects of expensive anti-ageing facial creams and serums — largely thanks to its odd shape. It has ‘a crescent-shaped design to support the head and elevate the face’.

The point is that it tucks neatly under your neck if you want to sleep on your back, then when you turn to your side, the curved arms support the edges of your face while your cheeks and eyes — and the skin on them that would get squashed — hovers over the gap. This also prevents serums from being rubbed off.

You can get shaped pillowcases in silk and satin as well as cotton. And there is a mini version for travel, or if you want to experiment with the concept.

What’s it like? Odd, but I really like it. I was given one by a Danish spa last year and have become attached to it. It is the right height to tuck comfortably behind my head so I can go to sleep on my back, but it is harder to get comfortable when I turn to the side, and I often end up flinging it off the bed at 3am and reaching for my trusty Hungarian goose-down pillow from John Lewis.

Verdict: 4/5 Intriguing, but not the perfect answer for me.


Silkskin Beauty Silk Pillowcase, £69, silkskin.co.uk

Alice says she loves Silkskin Beauty Silk Pillowcase (pictured) but fears ruining its delicate fibres in the family laundry 

Alice says she loves Silkskin Beauty Silk Pillowcase (pictured) but fears ruining its delicate fibres in the family laundry 

Alice says she loves Silkskin Beauty Silk Pillowcase (pictured) but fears ruining its delicate fibres in the family laundry 

Best for: Dry hair and skin

What is it? A pure white silk pillowcase, smooth but not shiny, which is designed to maintain moisture levels in skin and hair while you sleep — the smooth silk means less friction.

What’s it like? I do love a silk pillowcase. It feels like the ultimate beauty indulgence and is wonderfully smooth and cool against my face. But I fear for this beautiful, delicate thing. I know what has happened to every other silk pillowcase I have owned over the years. One day, despite my best efforts to protect it from the whirling morass of the family laundry, it will end up in a hot wash and then in the tumble dryer, which will wreck its delicate fibres. But in the meantime, I love it.

Verdict: 3/5 Fabulous but not robust.


Nurse Jamie Beauty Bear Age Defy Pillow, £56, cultbeauty.co.uk

Alice says Nurse Jamie Beauty Bear Age Defy Pillow (pictured) felt uncomfortable to sleep on

Alice says Nurse Jamie Beauty Bear Age Defy Pillow (pictured) felt uncomfortable to sleep on

Alice says Nurse Jamie Beauty Bear Age Defy Pillow (pictured) felt uncomfortable to sleep on

Best for: Heavy sleepers

What is it? A very strange thing. One end has U-shaped arms designed to cradle the face and neck, while the solid stem attached to these arms is what you rest your head on. The result is a pillow that offers exceptional neck support, cradling your face and neck to minimise fine lines.

Nurse Jamie is Jamie Sherrill, a skincare expert who’s worked with LA’s fussiest, including the Kardashians. Which is probably why her pillow comes in leopard-print satin.

What’s it like? Alas, despite its gorgeous looks, the Beauty Bear and I are not destined to be friends. The stem you rest your head on, is too high for my neck, which ends up cranked uncomfortably upwards. I manage to go to sleep on it lying on my back, but when I turn sideways, I have to lift my neck at a strange angle. And when I turn restlessly to the other side, I have to turn the whole pillow over to get the curved bit under my cheekbone. By 4am, I have given up, flung it crossly on the floor and reached for my usual pillow.

Verdict: 2/5 Gorgeous but unmanageable, unless your neck happens to fit it.


Iluminage Skin Rejuvenating Pillow Case, £50, current body.com

Alice was most impressed by Iluminage Skin Rejuvenating Pillow Case (pictured) for its ease to wash and sound science 

Alice was most impressed by Iluminage Skin Rejuvenating Pillow Case (pictured) for its ease to wash and sound science 

Alice was most impressed by Iluminage Skin Rejuvenating Pillow Case (pictured) for its ease to wash and sound science 

Best for: Those with no time to hand wash pillows.

What is it? A light-brown, slightly shiny pillowcase whose fibres are embedded with copper ions, which help the skin’s natural self-renewal mechanism. Really? Yes, really — the fabric is clinically proven to reduce wrinkles if used continuously for four weeks.

What’s it like? Absolutely lovely. The fabric feels silky and luxurious under my face, and the knowledge that it is good for my skin is reassuring. I cram my favourite pillow inside the pillowcase, pummel the stuffing about for maximum comfort, and sleep like a baby. Even better, it washes like a dream and can withstand the rough and tumble of a laundry cycle. Those copper ions have been shown to remain effective for 100 machine washes.

Verdict: 5/5 I love it, particularly since the science behind it is sound.


YourFace Pillow, £64.99 for standard size, amazon.co.uk

Alice says YourFace Pillow (pictured) was superbly comfortable but caused her to snore

Alice says YourFace Pillow (pictured) was superbly comfortable but caused her to snore

Alice says YourFace Pillow (pictured) was superbly comfortable but caused her to snore

Best for: Non-snorers.

What is it? This pillow, designed by a former acne sufferer, is made from high-grade memory foam which moulds to the contours of the head and neck. Side supports stop the user from rolling during the night so your face doesn’t touch the pillow.

What’s it like? Of all the pillows, this is the one I was most dreading testing. After years trying to discipline myself to sleep on my back, the ideal position to avoid wrinkles, I still can’t do it for a whole night, so the idea of being on my back all night wasn’t thrilling, and the side supports look as if they will trap my head.

But it is superbly comfortable. I sink into it and drop off. Half-way through the night, I can more or less turn to the side, though this does mean smushing my face into the pillow.

Verdict: 4/5 I think I could get used to it but my husband isn’t keen because he tells me this one makes me snore like a train.