at the heart of it

apricot-lentil soup

Let me begin with this: Little Bean is fine.

We were silent here for a time because we were in the hospital. I thought about writing posts before we left, sunny and breezy, about ranch dressing and being imperfect. But as the days counted down, and all we wanted to do was sit on the couch and hold our girl close, recommendations of yet another gluten-free bakery felt ridiculous. So I left the space empty, instead.

Ten days ago, Little Bean had major surgery. It was planned from the week after her birth. The terrifying clang of her breathing troubles the night she was born continued to reverberate for months afterward. We knew this was coming since she was 5 days old. I’m going to hold off on explaining the procedure here. She’s too young to decide if she wants this story told. Suffice it to say that she has always been delightful and healthy. And she needed this surgery to give her brain room to grow.

And so, ten days ago, Danny and I sat in a waiting room, whiling away the long hours with bad magazines and great-stupid internet sites. We held hands and made ludicrous jokes. We paced. We drank too many paper cups full of bitter coffee. And we tried our best to stave off the image of our little one on an operating table.

The gas they gave her, as I sang to her while she drifted into sleep, smelled like strawberries.

9 hours we waited. 9 has always been our lucky number. This time, we weren’t so fond of it.

She emerged, alive. She opened her eyes when she heard our voices, just as we entered her ICU room. And then she slept again, for most of the next two days.

We lived in the hospital for almost a week, watching her return, bit by bit, each few hours. Those were hard days. I’ve never known such stomach-wrenching agony, watching our child in pain.

We stayed by her side the entire time, one of us sleeping on the couch by her bed, the other in a chair or on a hard bench in the hallway for a few hours. That doesn’t make us heroes, just her mom and dad. Every room around ours contained recovering children and huddling parents. Even though we hated watching her suffer, we knew it was temporary. In the pantheon of that hospital, we were small voices.

During her surgery, when we wandered every hallway of that hospital, we walked into the parent resource center to ask about the wifi connection. A tired-looking man with a red baseball cap pushed down over his eyes volunteered information.
“Wow,” I said. “You know what you’re talking about. How long have you been here?”
“Seven weeks,” he muttered, as his weary fingers turned the scheduling pages for parent massages.
Danny and I looked at each other. “Is there any hope in sight? Soon?”
“Ahm, about six more weeks, if we’re lucky.”
He walked out the door.

I couldn’t give him a massage. But I wish we had seen him again so I could have offered him some of our food.

Why am I telling you this, other than to answer the questions of those of you who have been kind enough to worry about our absence? Because this experience made me realize two things about food (and entire worlds of other lessons I’ll keep to myself).

Sometimes I tire of talking about being gluten-free. Every word and meal on this site contains no gluten. But to only talk about substitute baked goods or the new Betty Crocker gluten-free mixes (yes, it’s true) bores me to tears. There is so much more to life.

And then I stepped into the cafeteria of the hospital where Little Bean had her surgery.

It reminded me of my high school cafeteria, except smaller, with more breading. Every bit of food offered came in a bun, with crumbs, or under a layer of flour. The bowl of wilted and rusty lettuces contained croutons. The hotel pan full of heavy melted cheese for the nachos could have come from a factory that processes gluten, as could the corn chips. And the sign next to the row of metal lids said, in big letters: “Our soups contain gluten.”

I was left with a small bag of Cheetos and a packaged vegetarian sushi roll.

I’m lucky. We discovered this early, during one of the many pre-op appointment days we had at the hospital. We made other plans. But while we were there, I kept thinking of the kids sitting in hospital beds, receiving breakfast trays from this place. Were the ones with celiac getting anything to eat? Or were they growing sick from cross contamination and chicken nuggets?

This was at one of the best hospitals in the nation. This is a health issue.

We have to make the awareness of the need for gluten-free food even greater. I’ll keep doing the best I can.

And finally, food.

As you can imagine, I didn’t think much about food that week. I could have gone days without eating, not missing the taste in my mouth. However, we have wonderful friends who planned ahead for us, made a schedule, and brought us meals in waves. And we were grateful, to see them in the waiting room of the ICU, and then in the more relaxed post-surgery ward. We needed the bits of news from the outside world, the full embraces, the unexpected space to joke and hear their stories.

Now we’re home, and I’ve been thinking about the potato-leek soup and chocolate cupcakes and carrot salad put in our hands by loving friends. It’s easy, in this blog-writing, food-critic world, to think about bests and essential experiences and big awards. I can ponder long moments how to describe the taste of strawberries and the shared pleasure of rhubarb memories. I think about the smell of ginger and yuzu together and try to step out of the way of my brain to let the association flood in.

However, the week we were in the hospital, I didn’t think of any of that. Instead, food became a series of solid senses, a chance to remember what is important again.

When Tea sat with us in the waiting room, we three sat around a bench the height of our knees, plucking up yellow lentils and spicy lamb kitfo with torn pieces of injera bread. That was familiar in the midst of great uncertainty. Kim’s basket of goodies — quiche with roasted carrots and asparagus; Marcona almonds; banana bread; blood orange juice — was a bright splash of sweetness in the morning after a night without sleep. Lorna and Henry’s lion’s head meatballs woke us up in the afternoon, when the nurses shooed us out of the room of the sleeping baby and told us to revive ourselves. A few slurps of Pia’s warm hazelnut white bean soup (from Eat Local gave us both enough sustenance to go back again when she couldn’t hold down anything she was drinking. Francoise’s block of oozy Brie cheese felt like comfort on the tongue late that night, when the worst of it was over. The spread of salmon, crab, and salads that Danny’s cousin Tasha made for us tasted like family. The Vietnamese pork dish that Molly and Brandon brought from Green Leaf felt like celebration, because she was seeing the world and singing by then. Becky’s chocolate cupcakes with ganache were triumph — we were going home that morning. And Rebekah’s thick Greek yogurt with homemade rhubarb compote, which we ate in the car as we raced toward the ferry? The one that made Little Bean so excited to see that I spooned some of it in her mouth, and she smiled? That was good.

And now, at home. As I write this, Little Bean is sitting in her highchair, watching her papa mash up an avocado with a fork. She is clapping, a new habit she picked up after the surgery. She seems to be saying, all day long, “Hurrah! Hurray! We made it here.” There is still some recovery to go, but she’s doing splendidly. She needed the surgery — we can tell the difference. All day long, she chatters and crawls, giggles and wriggles out of our arms.

She’s alive.

And as I watch Danny spoon that avocado into her mouth, the only thing I can say about that food is

thank you.

155 comments on “at the heart of it

  1. Engineer Baker

    I just got shivers. After dating someone with celiacs who would occasionally get stomach- and headaches due to gluten-filled cafeteria food at college, I 100% agree. This is an important issue, and one that deserves to be talked about. But more than that, I’m thankful. To whom, I don’t know, but for what – your daughter, well again.

  2. abetterjulie

    I am so glad to hear that all is returning to normal. Please give Little Bean a hug from our family to her. Thank you for letting us know that all is well.

  3. Viv

    I adore you and your beautiful family. Sorry I was thousands of miles away when L had her surgery but glad you all came out of it like champions. See you in a few hours. Now off to make that flan. 🙂

    Much love, V

  4. ccr in MA

    So, so happy for you all that there’s a happy ending.

    No, not an ending. A beginning.

    Congratulations. You made it.

  5. Micco

    I have a hard time getting vegan food when I’m in the hospital. The last time I was there, it was nothing but cheerios and apple juice. While I choose to be vegan, it is a decision I made with my well-being in mind, so I can only imagine what it’s like being a celiac. It seems “alternative” diets are becoming lifestyle norms, and I don’t see why hospitals (of all places!) aren’t catching up with that. I mean, if Betty Crocker can do it..!

    On a more pleasant note, I’m glad your little girl is doing better and that her surgery went well!

  6. Nicole McLaughlin

    Amazing! I cant believe I can read such inspiring words and get such contentment without paying for it!! 🙂 I’m so happy to hear that Little Bean is doing well!!

  7. (wife.)

    I’m so relieved for your family. I think all of us would have (sadly) accepted your silence indefinitely knowing that it was for her health and her life….but we’re so glad you and she are back. 🙂 thinking of you during the recovery. –@_wendy_r_

  8. Anita (Married... with dinner)

    What Roz said: hooooo-raaaay! And hooray, too, for the friends who kept you fed.

  9. genevieve_1

    So sorry to hear your baby had to go through this but I know its is very hard for you and DH. Sending prayers and positive thoughts your way.

  10. Dana

    Tears are streaming down my face. As a mother, I can’t imagine what you have just lived through. Best to you and your family.

  11. Pearl

    i’m sorry to hear that your baby had to go through surgery, but so happy to hear that she’s doing well. *hugs*

  12. angela@spinachtiger

    Hooray for your baby. I would have been beside myself. Thank God for new perspective. Boo for the hospital. Not only is it insensitive to gluten situation, what about any of us who need a boost of health in each meal, not just fried carbs? Hospitals make me mad because they can make people sick. Hooray for your doctors though who pulled it off.

  13. Jenn Sutherland

    Blessings to you and Danny and Little Bean, and I am SO glad to hear that she’s laughing and smiling, and eating avocados once again.

    I also get tired of talking about being gluten-free, blogging about it…though in our day-to-day lives it seems almost like a non-issue, since we cook for ourselves and know which restaurants I can eat at safely – until my security is shattered when I order my usual breakfast, and spend three days ill, with nasty eczema painfully covering my hands. And then, like you, I’m jolted back to reality, and a little upset that even with all the precautions we take – allowing someone else to cook for me is always a risk.

    I am so glad that you had so many wonderful friends to care and cook for you while you were at the hospital!

  14. gluten-freek

    Speaking as the child who put my parents through long waits in hospital wards, I have nothing but admiration for the reserviors of strength you have. How lucky to have such caring and devoted family and friends. I wish all the very best for Little Bean.

  15. Heather Pelczar

    Thank you for sharing so honestly what was on your heart during Little Bean’s surgery. Our Honey Bee had a huge surgery at 7 mo.s that was hard. for only 5 hours. I remember waiting for her personality to come back for that first week. The relief that cam with that first smile was immense. and surprising. If I were closer, I would hug you. in silence. just to share that silent stress and strength that is silently shared while parents pace the waiting room with bitter coffee.

  16. Amy

    So glad the little bean is doing better, and so sorry you had to go through that. When we were hospitalized for a week earlier this year, it was very difficult to get gluten free food for our little hospitalized bean — even with her dietary needs clearly listed, it was hard. I cooked gf spaghetti as best I could with a microwave and had friends cook and bring things to us in the hospital.

  17. Odetta Macleish-White

    I am so happy to hear LB is back home, doing well and your routines can return to normal! I was nervous when my little one had tubes put in and that only took 10 minutes! Nine hours? 13 weeks? My heart goes out to all those parents. Thanks for sharing, Shauna, Chef and LB!

  18. Anonymous

    I am so glad to hear that Lucy is recovering quickly, and it’s so touching to hear of all of the support you have from family and friends that you could also describe as family. Reading of your circle of support is almost as touching as the story of your daughter’s recovery. Here’s to your family’s continued good health, and know that this person is doing what she can further south from you to spread the word about the need of gluten free food for my own family’s, and so many others, health!


  19. KandT

    Thank you so much for sharing this story. You all are such inspirations. We are sending loving and healing thoughts from NC to you.

    hugs – KandT

  20. delicious

    <3 thank you for your post. i am glad your family is well. i love to read everything you write. it's inspiring and heartwearming and makes me hungry.

  21. ALFIE

    as a pediatric and Labor and Delivery nurse, I see first hand the scenarios you have so eloquently described here. and while I have never felt your personal struggle (not a mom, yet!) I can only imagine the agony. this post brought tears to my eyes, but also joy. joy that there are still people in this world who can survive murky waters, and emerge with thankfulness and grace.

    thank God for a happy and healthy little bean!

    your blog is much appreciated!

  22. Ali and Evan

    We’re here too, waiting in the wings, in full support of your family. Thank you for sharing your life’s story with us, as all of its characters have taught valuable lessons. Much love to you and yours.

  23. House of Jules

    Sending you lots of love & light, though you have plenty there already! Happy you guys are back home.


    I’d picked up from Twitter that something was going on. So sorry that you’ve had such a hard time, glad that it all seems to be going so well.

    Big hugs for LB

  25. adamek

    I can sympathize. My son was born with a heart defect and had open heart surgery at Children’s Hospital in Boston when he was three months old.

    He was diagnosed with celiacs at three years old.

    He’s now eight (have we really been keeping a gluten-free household for FIVE years?), and he was just at Shriner’s Burn Hospital in Boston for one week. He’s been home since Tuesday and is healing well now from his accident. They were pretty good, but not perfect about a GF diet at the hospital. There is a Whole Foods grocery right around the corner from the hospital and the staff nutritionist went over and personally bought a good selection of gluten-free food for him on the day that he was checked in. On the other hand, on the fifth day he was in there he still got glutened by something (cross contamination somewhere is my guess).

    I hope Little Bean recuperates as fast or faster than my son has after each of his hospital stays.

  26. erita

    so glad to hear that all of you are ok, better than ok, even. the strength, peace and happiness just radiates throughout your words.

    thank you for sharing this difficult passage in your life.

    sending light over your way.

  27. rachellake

    This just made me cry, what a beautiful testament to your family, friends, and passion for good food.
    I’ll be praying that things continue to go well.

  28. jill elise

    Thank goodness she’s home safe.

    I spent a week in the hospital last summer, and despite speaking with every nurse that came into my room and the dietitians and the kitchen staff, I got one single meal that was gluten-free, in a week. It was a plain burger patty on a piece of lettuce. I’m so thankful for my fiance and friends who kept a steady flow of food for me.
    It’s so frustrating that I can’t get a safe meal at a huge hospital in Philadelphia, in a place that should be taking care of you.

  29. Sara

    As a pediatrician I spent three years at that hospital during my training and you described the cafeteria perfectly… all overcooked pasta and fried potatoes.

    I so wish food in hospitals could be healing. Perhaps someday.

    Glad to hear your little girl is well.

  30. Ann

    I missed you, thought of you, and prayed for you. How thankful I am to hear you are home again after such a difficult time.

  31. Sirena

    Like probably so many of your readers, I missed you in your absence and knew that absence was probably due to something important, serious, and private. I hoped your baby was OK while you were away, and am happy to read that you guys are all home safe and sound. I think your writing on the need for truly healing food in our country’s supposed healing centers is opening the door to a critical and long overdue conversation on what patients are fed in our nation’s hospitals, and what those choices are truly costing us. Welcome home!

  32. terry

    I’m so glad all is well. Whew.

    And thank you for all you do. It IS important.

    Since I’ve had to cut the gluten out out my life, I see how I’ve raised awareness among my small circle of people. You’re doing that on a much grander scale.

    Thank you.

  33. Allison the Meep

    Glad to hear that Lucy is recovering. Food is good, but nothing in the world is more important than that.

  34. BringtoBoil

    Thank goodness she is okay. My friend said once that parenting is like having your heart outside of your body–for the rest of your life. I totally agree. Your post moved me so much. Thank you for sharing your experience and the happy outcome.


  35. alison

    I am so happy that Lucy is okay and that you can finally have some relief after so many months of worry.

    It is shocking sometimes to go into the mainstream food world, instead of a healthy market or a good restaurant where we can find things to eat. You see what the “real” world eats, and it is discouraging that the majority of people’s diets are crap! A friend told me that after her child’s soccer game, moms brings snacks like processed packaged wrapped rice krispy treats and some kind of bright blue drink… what happened to orange slices and water? It is especially scary that hospitals don’t offer foods for special diets — the last you need when you are already down and tired is to feel like there is nothing to eat! Lucky you that you have good friends to feed you. Enjoy home!

  36. observes&musings

    Wondered where you were … Glad all is well and you are back on your island. We live on an island near you – Hi, neighbor!
    When my adult daughter was in the local hospital recently, the dietitian talked to her about her gluten-freen needs and she discovered Wow cookies there. However the mango smoothie they gave her added a new item to her NoNo list – mangoes.

  37. observes&musings

    Wondered where you were … Glad all is well and you are back on your island. We live on an island near you – Hi, neighbor!
    When my adult daughter was in the local hospital recently, the dietitian talked to her about her gluten-freen needs and she discovered Wow cookies there. However the mango smoothie they gave her added a new item to her NoNo list – mangoes.

  38. observes&musings

    Wondered where you were … Glad all is well and you are back on your island. We live on an island near you – Hi, neighbor!
    When my adult daughter was in the local hospital recently, the dietitian talked to her about her gluten-freen needs and she discovered Wow cookies there. However the mango smoothie they gave her added a new item to her NoNo list – mangoes.

  39. Anonymous

    So happy to hear all is well. Reading your post put tears in my eyes. 24 yrs ago, I was that parent sleeping in a cot by my sons ventillated tent. He was 17 mths. old and had contracted a rare pnemonia. 2 weeks of hell. He is now a strong, healthy 25 year old, but the memories are as fresh as yesterday! I still pray: God Bless our children, and our children’s children. All the best, Ina

  40. Vincci

    Glad to hear that Little Bean is doing fine and recovering quickly. Your bit about hospitals being celiac-friendly really hit home for me – I remember being a dietetic intern at a hospital and seeing which foods were “allowed” for certain types of diets, and it seemed like almost everything for the celiac diet was crossed off. I’m sure this is a huge issue not just for celiacs but other patients with special dietary needs and it sucks how when hospitals look to cut costs, they cut food services first.

  41. Anonymous

    I’m so glad to hear that she made it through surgery and is recovering so swiftly, and I appreciate your post. I was in the hospital the day my wee one was born three months ago because I had a third-degree perineal tear. My midwife went with me and was in charge of finding me food in the cafeteria that I could eat. She wrangled yogurt, fruit, nuts … and that was about it. It’s ridiculous that in places where people are supposed to heal, and support the healing, that there are so few allergen-free options. Please consider publishing this even more widely so folks pay attention.

  42. Babyfro

    From one mother to another (I have a two year old little boy) I’m reminded every day to hold him as tight as possible and enjoy every look, sound and gesture he makes, as they are all precious in their own way and can be taken so easily.

    Today, reading your blog and I saw my little mans first days hooked up to IV’s trying hard to be well, and I’m reminded.

    Be well little bean, as there is much love in this world for you.

    Thank you Shauna.

  43. Anonymous

    glad your little girl is doing well. wishing you 3 lots of calm . trish, ireland

  44. beyond

    oh, what a story. very glad everything turned out well and that little bean is laughing again.

  45. The Wooden Spool

    So glad it’s over with and you can move on and LIVE! Hang in there! Thank you for sharing your story….after all, it feels good to unload feelings, doesn’t it! You guys are awesome! Giving a hearty amen to the rusty lettuce with soggy croutons, talk! *UGH*


  46. City Mouse

    What a deeply moving story. Congratulations on Little Bean’s progress, and healing blessings to all three of you!

    You’re right about hospital food — ever so right! My brother, who is allergic to wheat and dairy, spent 6 months in a major Seattle hospital. They had one breakfast, one lunch, and no dinners he could eat. They were completely unwilling to try to make him special meals even when all it meant was sending up sandwich fillings without the bread and similar easy fixes. Our family brought him food for the entire time, and for another 3 month hospitalization a year later. If he hadn’t had family living locally, he would have been in deep trouble. And that is, frankly, a disgrace.

  47. Anonymous

    Baruch Hashem – Thank G-d. Little Bean has the most wonderful and loving parents. You are all very blessed. May she recover fully and completely, speedily. May you all have wonderful health and continued joy.

  48. sweetpea

    Glad this part of your journey is behind you. Of course I have been waiting to hear that Lucy’s surgery would be successful. As for gluten free food in hospitals, I can only tell you that it is a huge problem. I work at one of the best pediatric hospitals in the country and we simply can not provide safe, gluten free food. I tell my celiac families to bring in their own food and not risk the cafeteria food. Nor can we provide kosher food. Even our dietary staff doesn’t really understand the diet and cross contamination issues.

  49. smallbluebird

    Lovely little Lucy is learning strength and courage in addition to great eats from her parents. I admire you so much for the things you endure and even more for the things you appreciate. Your writing informs and enriches my life. Well, alright then, go have some fun!

  50. Anonymous

    I work in a small hospital’s food service department. Our hostesses are not always up to date on what patients are allowed to have on a gluten free diet but we always provide them with list of the foods that contain gluten and remind them every time we see someone on this diet. We usually try to buy extra gluten free products if the patient is not happy with our selection. A hospital that does not provide a celiac diet for their patients should be reported, it is unethical to give a patient something that could potentially harm them, on the same level with giving something that they are severely allergic to (food allergies are something foodservice staff understands, even if they don’t understand what the words celiac disease, this will scare them).

    The cafeteria situation is a little more tricky, I don’t believe hospitals are required to provide gluten free meals in their cafeterias. I would try to talk to someone in the foodservice department if this happens again (god forbit) and see if they can provide you with the gluten free meals they give to patients.

    I am so sorry that you had to go through this with your daughter, and especially that you had to deal with a difficult foodservice environment on top of it all.

  51. Allegra

    This is my first time to your site. Thank you for your compassionate candor. I’m so glad that little bean is alright and has such a loving family to thrive within. I look forward to diving into your site. thank you for what you are doing. Allegra

  52. sashaloots

    Thank you so much for this post. I am celiac and I too live in Seattle (usually so progressive) and was hospitalized recently. I came to in post op feeling hungry and queasy and all they had to offer me were crackers which I couldn’t eat. Which made me feel sicker. It took them forever to finally come up with a very artificial but safe yogurt. Shouldn’t hospitals have HEALTHY food?

    I wrote a looooonnngg letter.

  53. Sarah

    Oh my God, I just bawled my eyes out. My heart goes out to all in your household and my hugs to everyone as well. I don’t know much about being gluten free, though I’m being forced to learn day by day by my own experiences, and as I’ve followed your blog over the weeks and months you’ve opened my eyes to the world of possibilities, moving forward and positivity. You have been through so much though you never complain, just dig through the mire to find that ever-glowing light at the end of the tunnel. I’m glad you’re able to find it in this instance too, and that you have those close to you to help support you in your time of need.

  54. cathi

    With shivers all over and tears streaming down my face – I welcome you three back! Your writing is so inspiring and you have such a beautiful family. Thank you for sharing with us.

  55. shriek house

    I had been wondering about the silence and am so relieved to know that your family’s ordeal is over. I am sorry that it was so hard for all of you, and thrilled that your Little Bean is thriving once again. Be well!

  56. Katie - a.k.a. Mommy

    It is wonderful that Little Bean is doing well after surgery. I understand the hospital food situation. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I was on an allergen free diet including gluten free. The day I was in labor at Tacoma General Hospital and they were not admitting me, my doctor wanted me to eat in the cafeteria and there was nothing. When I was admitted after the birth of our daughter, I had to layout everything with the food services and only got chicken and rice. Otherwise it was food that I had brought in. It is very sad that they are not equipped to work with food allergies or Celiac.

    May your household continue to be filled with the sounds of laughter and clapping.

  57. sonya

    What a relief! Thanks for the update and I’m wishing Little Bean a speedy recovery so she can get on with her important work of clapping, singing, eating, crawling and being cute.

  58. Pamela

    30 years ago my brother, then aged 14 broke his back and was in hospital for 6 months. He has no food problems except that in order to heal you do need to eat good wholesome food. We took him 2 cooked meals a day every single day of his stay in the spinal injuries unit while watching the other patients get thinner and paler. I struggled to eat lactose free for a week in hospital,apparently I was just supposed to order my meals without the sauces which might just have made the food palatable. But whilst normally I don’t worry too much about small amounts of lactose I couldn’t face the idea of bad stomach ache following my surgery. Hospital really should be a place we can rely on being able to get food we can safely and healthily eat.

    Glad to hear your Little Bean came through her surgery safely.

  59. rangiebob

    You touch my heart with your writing regularly. But this story brought tears to my eyes, knowing the pain you and Danny were feeling. I am so happy that your little Bean is back home and getting better every day.

  60. Mindy

    not only is it impossible to find GF food in a hospital, it’s impossible to find anything even remotely healthy. it is exactly like you said, a health problem for our entire nation. most school cafeterias are the same. i firmly believe that good health begins with the food we eat. glad LB is ok – can’t imagine how hard it must have been to see her suffer.

  61. kirsten

    so very glad that little bean is okay. I know it’s so very hard to watch your child suffer, even when the surgery is necessary. xo

  62. Marisa

    I am so delighted that you are all back at home, where you so obviously love to be, with all members of the family thankfully accounted for. I am sending healing love across the country to you all.

  63. shedrofsky

    We have missed you here. I have plugged in your site again and again, wondering where you were and what was going on in your life. I’m sorry to hear that it was such a heart-wrenching time and so glad to hear that your daughter is on the mend. Please continue to inform us – about everything! We are so interested and you help so much. Take care.

  64. HannahHandpainted

    I’m very very glad to hear she’s recovering well. Best of health and happy blessings to your dear family.

  65. EponaRae

    Part II:
    Ah, so um, I may be in a Seattle surgery unit this year–hoping not–planning ahead. Shashaloots? Which hospital? City Mouse? Anyone with advise for or against please email me.
    Can we band together as a community and get this addressed, you think? Is GIG working on this issue, does anyone know? Hospitals should be the LAST place to fear eating food that will make us ill. I’m just sayin’.
    Peace out.

  66. gfe--gluten free easily

    What a relief that the worst of this is behind you guys. I’m so happy for you. Many, many hugs to you all as Little Bean continues her recovery.

    It is shocking how hospitals are some of the worst spots for eating gf safely. I’ve seen it as a patient and a visitor at our local hospital.

    Anyway, give Little Bean another hug and kiss and continue delighting in the fact that she’s home eating mashed avocado and you’re all eating healthy food safely.


  67. Jessmeca

    Shauna, Danny & Little Bean,

    I am soo glad that you are ALL well and happy.

    Having spent allot of time recently in hospitals i understand the trouble with being gluten free. It is difficult but it is getting easier in Australia at least, they do have some options in Private hospitals, public no chance.

    I am a second degree Reiki student, and if you are willing to recieve i would love to send some healing your way.

  68. Jen

    I’m joining in Little Bean with her clapping that things are better and that she was such a little trooper!
    One would think that a place that is meant to make people better would take care of the people supporting them…
    I have to admit that I jump for joy anytime I can take my mom out to a place that serves something gluten-free because every mom is simply amazing for all that they do for thier children. Little Bean is so lucky to have the mom and dad that she does!

  69. Anonymous

    I’m so glad to hear that the three of you are back home. Happy and healing thoughts for you all. ~nikki

  70. L Vanel

    Thank God she is doing well, Shauna. I have been thinking of you and wishing and hoping for the best.

  71. Ellemay

    Great to hear that she’s doing well.

    I have recently been the person delivering food/company to the waiting room of the icu and it is always a pleasure to see the relief on peoples faces when someone comes to see them with a care package.

    For one split second they get to be looked after rather then being the person looked after.

    I have also been out for meals with gf friends where the only thing they can eat is the icecream. Which shouldn’t suck (who doesn’t like icecream!) but, it does.

    Best wishes to Little Bean for her continuing good health. Growing brains are very important.

  72. Becks

    When I was delivering my baby and was in the hospital with preeclampsia for 8 days, I was appalled by the behavior of some of the nurses and by the poor quality of the gluten-free food at the hospital. The first night there, I spent forever with my day nurse going over my diet, but then my night nurse brought me… lasagna. And when I told her I couldn’t eat it, she brought me… a breaded chicken cutlet. And when I said I couldn’t eat that either, she told me… I’d have to just starve then. (!!!)

    Once the nutritionist got my special diet through to the cafeteria and I got a nifty ALLERGIC wristband, I seriously only ate steamed vegetables, cottage cheese, and canned mandarin oranges for the next week. Needless to say, that pregnancy weight came of mighty fast!

  73. Linda

    So glad that she has come through this and is happy and clapping. She sounds such a lovely little girl.
    In terms of being coeliac (UK spelling), it becomes commonplace at home after a while. It’s only when we find ourselves having to look for food when we are out that we are reminded of the difficulties, and of the ‘everywhereness’ of gluten.
    With best wishes from Wales, UK.

  74. Anonymous

    You are so right. I was a child with coeliac disease in a hospital ward over here in the UK less than a year ago. When mealtime came, my mum asked if they did gluten free food. The hospital staff looked offended and said “we’re a hospital, ofcourse we cater for gluten free”. They then proceeded to bring me a wheat bread sandwich. (And to think, we hope these people know more about coeliac disease than us). Anyway, I’m so glad Little Bean is feeling better now.


  75. cottagesweet

    That is agony. But, I’m so happy for you both and your Little Bean to have come through this far. She will keep getting better and it will all seem like a bad dream in the future. You are blessed to have friends that thought of you and brought you meals. And, boy, are you right about the food in hospitals. When will they get it? How many people with celiac are in hospitals having a hard time getting better when they are constantly fed gluten? It’s sad but, I wonder if people who are in the know about celiac disease/gluten intolerance could get involved in helping the medical profession learn how serious this is? People are still being pooh-poohed by their doctors who don’t understand the situation. In any case, I’m glad you all came through this agonizing ordeal. It’s good to have you back.

  76. ChupieandJ'smama

    So glad the baby is well and home!! Reading the part about singing to her as the gas put her to sleep brought back memories. That was worse than the waiting for me. HUGS to you all.

  77. jbeach

    I’m always astounded by the power of your words and story. So wonderful that LB is doing great — happy to hear you all are home and that your friends took such good care of you.

  78. Anonymous

    Hospital cafeteria food may be impossible for the celiac, but I’ve been hospitalized 3 times in the past year, at 3 different hospitals, and each time I’ve been served delicious gluten free food (even cinnamon buns!) while recovering. So there is some… they just hide it in the back for the patients!

  79. melanie

    I agree so much,…. there has to be something done better about hospitals!! In the Children’s Hospital here in Calgary, they don’t even have lists of ingredients for the food they sell. They buy little yogurts and cheese snacks in bulk, and don’t keep the box with the ingredients either!

  80. E!

    Love, love, love to you and your family. That little bean is going to sprout up in a big stalk SOON!

  81. Barrie

    Hi Shauna. Glad that all is well now with your family. It’s funny how we start to take our gluten-free coping for granted. In NYC, it’s easier to do as opposed to Warren, Ohio where I went for a wedding last week.

    So, my thanks to you for coming back to this site and this battle re-invigorated, despite the recent challenges you, Danny and L.B. have faced.


  82. seven-wishes

    ooooooooh, that’s good news, realy. and you know what? i just realized, that ur a celiac, so I. and you have a baby, so it means, that is possible to me too. even if Im still waiting for my Little Bean…. God bless xx

  83. JennC

    I’m very glad to hear she is better and you are back home together as a family. Sending all our love to aid in her speedy recovery.

  84. ab

    Sorry to hear of your troubles, but glad to hear your baby is recovering. All best to you and your family.

  85. Sallie

    We have all been praying for Little Bean here. Claire, Isla and I. Know that we send love and good Karma and the worst is over and the best yet to come.

  86. Jess

    I just started following your blog after recently being diagnosed with Celiacs and I’m also an ICU nurse in a Children’s Hospital. I’m sorry that you’ve had to experience so much so early in your child’s life. However it sounds like she is doing fabulous! So congrats! I too have a big problem at the cafeteria in my hospital, you are not alone. So maybe with our continuing efforts the patients, families and employees can someday have more gluten free options to choose from!

  87. Sonja J.

    Shauna, Chef, and Little Bean,

    I am so glad LB came through OK! Blessings and good wishes for continued health to all of you!

    The state of food in our hospital system is disgraceful, and more needs to be done to help the healing of everyone with all types of food sensitivities. Thank goodness for all of your friends and loved ones who came to the rescue. 🙂

    Sonja J.

  88. Jess

    I am so glad to hear that Little Bean is recovering well! And that you have such a wonderful network of friends and family to support you. Lets all work towards improving the options at hospitals to ensure that everyone can eat safely and healthfully.

  89. Gloria

    First I want to say that I am so glad your babygirl surgery went well and they she is recovery nicely.
    Tears just started rolling, I too went through a similar ordeal 23 years ago with my daughter who was born with cardiac problems.
    Today she is healthy, 23 and living life to the fullest.

    I can understand how you would feel like gluten free isn’t all that important while going through an ordeal like that but keep it mind you are touching the lives everyday of persons who suffer from food allergies and or food intolerances……!
    For me personal it isn’t about the gluten free as much as it is about sharing, my passion for cooking, giving!
    Wishing you and your family well.

  90. Dede

    I just wanted to say thank you for your book. I was diagnosed with Celiac TODAY….I went into the doctor armed with your book, my list of symptoms, and a “don’t blow me off” attitude, and the doctor confirmed what I already knew. Thank you so much for providing resources for those of us who are new to the gluten-free life.

  91. StylinGirl

    Blessings to you all, and a hug to the friends who rose to the occasion so beautifully!

  92. debka_notion

    I’m learning in a hospital this summer, and as a student/volunteer, I get money towards lunch in the cafeteria- and being a student, money that I don’t have to pay for food is not to be wasted. I also keep kosher. Finding what I can eat is not precisely simple…

    Furthermore, I was with a patient whose wife tells me that the cafeteria folks Don’t know what’s in the things they’re serving, as an allergy risk. This is a hospital that serves a pretty big area and people who can’t run home to get food so easily, not to mention not wanting to leave their loved ones alone- it’s an issue. I wonder what the right way is to work on addressing it.

  93. Honey Girl Kitchen

    So Happy that little love of your life is fine. How beautiful to have such great friends to support you when you…with delicious food & love.
    Bless you & your family.
    Love, Darlene

  94. jacobithegreat

    Amazing. I’m so glad to hear things are going well. Great link to awkward family photos, btw! I’ll waste much time on that site. :o)

  95. Tara

    Welcome back, Shauna. Thank you for sharing such a personal, wrenching experience with us. I am so glad Little Bean is fine now. There is nothing like hearing of a sick child to make you hold your own that much tighter – thanks for the reminder of what’s really important. Hugs to your family.

  96. Anonymous

    Whew….glad to hear she is well and that you are all moving forward with good health. Without that, there is nothing.
    Be well and take all the time you need with your precious baby.

  97. Anonymous

    While helping a friend in the hospital in Florida, I experienced a very similar lack of gf selections. After ordering a vegan burger with no roll, I was given said burger on white bread (worker didn't know that white bread was wheat, then next threw it onto an english muffin!) all the while I am practically screaming NO WHEAT! To which the worker then throws another burger on the grill and shouts at me "that's as dry as you are going to get it, there's NO GREASE and puts this on another roll! Though thoroughly frustrated, I decide this is an opportunity and find the food service manager and ask him to get the grill folks to listen to what I have to say. I explain why I am asking for NO WHEAT and explain that this can make someone just as sick as a peanut or seafood allergy. The food service manager thanks me and I hope the workers understand I am not being difficult. They ask will I be in the hospital more days and I project maybe up to 5. This all took place at 9:30 pm, with the cafeteria open until 2:00am. The very next morning on the breakfast bar along with all the bread, muffin and bagel selections is a lone basket marked "Wheat Free for —-" and sure enough it is tapioca bread. Was I ever glad to see that loaf and told them so! It's a start, maybe they will all become a little more aware after my crazy visit.
    On a more important note, in those moments when the fate of your child is in someone else's hands the world takes on a very different set of priorities. I am glad that loving, caring family & friends reached out with support, sustenance and love. As a Mama who has walked that hospital floor and
    chanted that timeless request for grace and healing, I wish you peace and comfort as Little Bean grows strong and well. Enjoy every single moment for the gifts that they are. May all of you spend your days with joy in each other.

  98. Anonymous

    I must say it is great to see you back! Shauna, you act as a constant inspiration to me, whether it be in the way of food or writing or laughter.

    This blog is such a comfort to me, as it was your book and your blog that provided me with a sense of normalcy.

    Thank you Shauna for sharing your life with us!

    LB is so lucky that she has such loving parents, and a caring communal family!

    I wish her a speedy recovery, and that you may now rest easy!

    Now… it’s time to roast boeuf.

    For the past year and a half I have been in and out of hospitals. Each and every time I have been served straight up gluten with a side of ignorance, despite my blatant and repeated mentions of having Celiac upon admission. Mistakes happen of course, but when you are high as a kite and in extreme pain the last thing you should have to be doing is deciphering the presence of gluten. Am I right?

    I am still perplexed though as to why most of the food in hospital cafeterias seem to be almost void of nutrition. Is the goal to render everyone to a weak and sickened state? What’s the deal?

    I’ll be sending healing energy your way.

    All the best,


  99. Kelly

    I so appreciate you sharing the details of your absence. Your days in the hospital sound excruciating. Isn’t it funny how wisdom comes to us in such intense lessons. I’m so glad to hear Little Bean is recovering so beautifully. Thank you for your writing.

  100. Janna

    You and Danny are brave souls. I’m sorry I didn’t know sooner; otherwise, I would have made you something from my kitchen. Rain check? Say yes. On the island.

  101. Christine

    Shauna, I am so glad that LB is doing well and will be well. Thank you!

    Many thoughts and well wishes your way.

  102. BealcA's Pad

    I have been gone so much off the computer that I had lost a lot of what has been going on in your lives. My heart just wrenched as I read what you had written about little Bean’s surgery. My heart ached and then thrilled as I read the end of her demand for Daddy to hurry up with the food. God bless you as a family. I know that it will take time for healing.

    I am myself healing from breast surgery that was minor actually over 2 months ago, but I know that age made a difference for me this surgery, but thankful that it wasn’t cancer.
    God be with you and may complete healing come.

    Keep writing as it has helped me to share with others the importance of watching the gluten content in things when one is sensitive to it. It can be violent in reaction or mild. Thank you so much. I will continue to keep little Bean in my prayers.

  103. kate

    I am so relieved to hear that Little Bean is okay and that you both survived the abiding after the surgery. Sometimes that act, that abiding, is the hardest part. Of course, as you said, it is no heroic act, but sometimes the amount of effort it takes to just sit, and wait, and be– well, the effort feels heroic, I guess. I am so very glad that you are all back at home, safe and eating and laughing and clapping.

  104. Antsy

    Having spent too much time in the hospital with our youngest, it is wonderful to hear you are all home and happy (and eating well)! The feeling of hopelessness when doing the best for your child is hard work. Hopefully you can enjoy the sunny days to come with joy & happiness!

  105. Bowl of Soul Gal

    I had a feeling that something was up – I’ve so happy to hear that Little Bean is home safe and sound. Blessings to you three!

  106. FridaWrites

    I haven’t commented before, but I think this is the same surgery one of my friend’s babies had to have years ago. Glad to hear that your baby is recovering and that you have good support from friends.

  107. Jules

    You are just amazing. The way you write, the way you get your message out there, the way you are. Thank you.

  108. leedav

    What an incredible post. Your blog has always been about so much more than gluten free. I had 4 surgeries by the time I was 12 and I never really though about how hard that was for my parents. Thanks for sharing your perspective.

  109. Anonymous

    Thank you for your blog posts, as someone new to a gluten-free life, you have helped me. I wish you and your family the best, and I will send an extra prayer for your Little Bean.

  110. Shelly Pierpoint

    Hi Shauna,

    It is good to hear that Little Bean is doing much better. What a survivor! Blessings to you and your family.

  111. DeeCoz

    So glad to hear Little Bean is doing well! Your accounts of her capture the wonder of parenting and the simple joy of preparing and eating food with your loved ones.

  112. jeannie

    my little girl also had brain surgery when she was 4 years old. so scary at any time! she is a beautiful 16 year old filled with goodness and light. we are so blessed and so are you! the gift of this experience is that i take nothing for granted..i celebrate the small, the daily, the being of our family together from the beginning of the day to each evenings end. all my very best to you, the chef and to the scrumptious little bean!

  113. Karen

    I logged in today because I have been too busy to read for the past couple of weeks, and I missed your words. I had no idea I would find this story.

    So much grace. Little Bean is through it; you and Danny are, too; your thankfulness; your friends and their support of you all; the nurses shooing you to eat; and your skill in telling the whole story. I laid on a cot next to my sick seven-month-old child in the ER once, and I will never forget it. I understand just a bit what you two felt. It’s hard.

    So glad to hear all is well. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  114. Anonymous

    She is your heart, and you (two) are her life. Parenthood is simply an abyss we step into willingly but unknowingly. It is wonderful that you can breathe a bit now, you have had to hold your breath for so long about this! Wishing you many more relieved breaths in the future.

  115. Crysi

    So glad that she’s ok. I can’t imagine having to go through 9 hours of waiting.

    Hospital food scares me too. It didn’t used to, but that was before I had a daughter with celiac and I was lactose intolerant. If she’s ever hospitalized, what will she eat? Will they make her sicker because they’re not careful? It worries me. I’ll be in hospital in just a few short weeks to deliver the twins and what will I eat? They put dairy in everything and my reaction is very similar to my daughter’s reaction to gluten.

  116. Hazy

    This post just made me cry. I am SO glad that all went well. As the mother of a 2 year old, I can really understand how traumatic it must have been for you. A big hug to you all, but especially Little Bean, from over here in Italy.

  117. Janel

    Thank heavens that you have a healthy Little Bean to bring home!! I held my breath all the way through your post.

    I’ll light the candle in front of Buddha tonight for us parents everywhere in this little world of ours.

    No matter the language, the status, or any other trivial thing…nothing is scarier than your child being sick.

  118. Lisa

    Weds we returned home with our beautiful baby girl, after a long week in the NICU due to respiratory distress after her birth via scheduled c-section. Like you, I've had a myomectomy. I thought of you, Danny & Little Bean often during those long days, taking comfort that you had made it through and we would too. I can only imagine how long those 9 hours of surgery were & my heart goes out to you. I'm so glad you are all on the mend. Many hugs.

  119. Bea

    Oh, I am so glad to hear everything went well. I can imagine the worries and anxiety! relief!

  120. Mardel

    I’m glad little bean is ok. I’ve had lots of surgeries and been in the hospital but never thought about what it meant for the family until recently when my husband was in for three weeks. I can’t imagine a child.

    Our local hospital cafeteria has little without gluten. And there are big signs everywhere saying “If you have food allergies/issues, please talk to our staff about safe foods”. When I talk they don’t know what gluten is and are usually wrong. Now that I know I am celiac I dread the day I ever have to be in the hospital.

  121. Bakerina

    My dear, my dear. Have been following, with a degree of quiet to which the term “lurking” does not begin to do justice. I have been following, quietly. Following and hoping and crossing fingers and invoking the universe to carry the three of you through this, and thanking the universe — and your friends — for getting you through this, for giving you joy and rhubarb at the other end.

    Will talk properly soon. In the meantime, please know that even in quiet, I’m always right here, cheering at every step.

  122. Shauna

    Thank you, everyone. Danny and I have blown away by your kind words and wishes. As I write this, Little Bean is in her bouncer, singing to herself, kicking and clutching her favorite ball. We’re good now.

    And also grateful for all the hospital stories. Sad to say, this is a much bigger issue than I had hoped. Looks like we all have to start speaking out on this one.


    You have touched on an issue that is so close to my core.

    Having spent much time at Children's Hospital in Seattle, and more to come, I have often thought of meeting with the nutritionists to kindly lecture them on the importance of food in healing.

    It goes without saying that there is still a lot of work to be done. Food is the fuel of life – that cannot be disputed.

    Thanks for sharing and inspiring others to share.

  124. Andromeda Jazmon

    I'm so glad Bean is fine and you are home. This post really made me cry. I've spent some time in hospitals this winter, having surgery for cancer, and the food was a real problem. Gluten Free food from friends is such a huge blessing! Thank you for this blog.

  125. Laura

    I am glad Little Bean is fine. I was in the hospital with a sick child twice, and I know what you must have gone through.

    Food has healing power, because it transmits the love it was made with.

    To a continuing improvement to your little one.

  126. Karen

    Sharing good food, breaking bread together, is one of the simplest, most treasured forms of celebration. What a wonderful group of friends you have.

  127. Kelly

    Hugs for Little Bean and her parents too. Hospitals are places most of us ignore until we have to be there, usually with someone we love. At that point, if the recovery is a long one, they can feel like prisons holding our loved ones hostage.

    Glad to hear your little one is recovering. My prayers go out the the WiFi parent too… hope all turns out well for them too.

    Kelly in Ohio

  128. heather

    Your gorgeous post made me cry. Glad all is well with your precious Little Bean. Treasure her, they grow up and away from us so quickly.

  129. Tali

    I have never commented on your site before but this post struck such a chord in me. My 2 year old was diagnosed with celiac disease when she was 18 months old. She was in the hospital for neurological tests as she could no longer walk anymore. Really she was just severly malnourished but no doctor believed that celiac disease could cause the symptoms that erupted in our little one. We stayed in the hospital a week while they tube fed her in between meals. It was virtually impossible to get her a gluten free meal- in the hospital that diagnosed her!!! She basically ate rice, and ice cream. The staff didn't even understand the disease. It broke my heart and my heart still breaks every day when I think about that battle this little one will face in life. At restaurants, at school, at playdates, summer camp…. Thank you for your amazing recipes and support.

  130. Jacqueline

    The insanity of food allergies and intolerance in a hospital setting. It's a hospital! They should have nourishing food for any diet! The reality is that they don't and, so many times the staff are clueless.
    My oldest (dairy allergic, gluten and egg intolerant) had to go for emergency surgery some months ago. At one point, I found myself (stuck at home with an infant and toddler) arguing with a nurse over the phone that Pediasure, with it's "milk proteins", did actually contain dairy and my child should not be fed anything but what was sent from home. The ignorance astounded me.
    I'm glad Little Bean is well and that you are surrounded by community to care for you in times of need. My only excuse for missing all of this, until now, is that it happened in the month my youngest was born.
    All the best,

  131. yum

    Tears. You are a gifted writer. So happy to hear she's doing well and that she has parents who know what's important in life.

  132. Pascale

    I just came to this post from a link on another blog and reading about your little one in hospital was so moving. There can be no greater agony for a parent than seeing their babies unwell. I am so glad that she is on the mend. Your post also reminded me that we can lose sight of the truly important things in life worrying about the trivial. Thank you.
    From Pascale in England at

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