It has been almost a month since we started back at work and daycare after having off for the summer. Therefore, I wanted to give an update on how everything is going with TJ being back at daycare as an active toddler with his eczema and multiple food allergies. While there have been some challenges, we are blessed because he has been safe. So let me recap week by week the challenges while also counting our blessings.
For more background information on the safety plan we put together for TJ’s utmost safety, check out these two previous posts:
Leading up to that first week back, I experienced major anxiety, worrying about all the “what ifs” and horrible possibilities that could happen. I even reached out to different moms through other allergy sites about sending their toddlers with multiple food allergies to daycare. After the first few people responded to my post, I started to get even more upset. They were mostly all suggesting not to send TJ to a daycare at all and offering other options that they themselves took. While I appreciated all the suggestions especially since I had been the one who asked, I grew even more anxious. That’s when I realized that I was not looking for suggestions. Instead I was hunting for confirmation from everyone and anyone that we were making the right decision for TJ. Asking others on other allergy sites for suggestions is one thing and a great resource to have. However, searching for confirmation all over the place is the same exact reason that complicated and frustrated me last winter when TJ’s allergies were first discovered. I reminded myself that I do NOT need confirmation from everyone and anyone who will listen. Therefore, I stopped reading the other posts and suggestions, and shifted my focus to trusting our detailed plan, my mother’s intuition and most importantly, God. Repeating to myself over and over again every single time a worry comes to mind… “I trust you God.”
Therefore, with the start of the new school year, TJ started back at the daycare facility that is a block from my work and has been working with us since he started at 6 months. This staff has been working more closely with us since his initial allergic reaction in December. (Read more about that experience here.) And even more closely now that he is a very active toddler among many other active toddlers.
So, let’s get back to the actual update:
Challenge: The Food Strike
In addition to the screaming that happened and broke my heart every morning when I dropped him off, TJ would not eat much at daycare that first week, and even had two days of total refusal. Thankfully, he would drink his soy toddler formula. However, we were panicked since he was losing weight in only 4 days being at daycare. He would, however, eat his dinner at home on those days.
Was it just the transition back to daycare?
Was it our fault for allowing and using Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and music videos (ha) during mealtimes at home to get him to eat? (At the start of the summer since TJ’s iron levels were slightly low, we were following our pediatrician’s advice to not give a supplement yet and try different iron-rich foods. Therefore, we gave into the television and it worked! ) However, was it causing a problem now?
Was teething not helping the situation?
Or, a thought that crossed my mind which several others Including my hubby may think I’m crazy for …
Even though TJ was only 16 months, did he somehow already understand that only food from Mommy and Daddy was safe? Was God protecting him with this strike?
Counting our blessings: The hunger strike then continued over that weekend at home. All of the sudden, TJ wanted to feed himself the specific foods that he wanted. So, after emailing our pediatrician, we followed TJ’s lead and also avoided watching Mickey. By the end of that weekend, he was eating and much more independent with it. And, two new teeth had cut through … the upper canines. Ouch!
If you ask me, these new teeth and independent phase ( hunger strike and all) could not have come at a better time. Now that TJ was eating more on his own, he did not need as much assistance from anyone and there would less of a chance of cross contamination during mealtimes. Every day when I pick TJ up from daycare, I thank God for keeping him safe that day. Despite the hunger strike, I count my blessings… TJ was protected and safe.
Challenge: No More High Chair?
To start the week off, TJ and I had a “talk” in the car about eating at daycare and that all of the food is safe and sent by Mommy and Daddy. (Ha I know this is a bit silly but hey, they understand more than we think they do, right?) As we went to get out of the car that morning, TJ held on tightly to one of his favorite stuffed animals, Buddy. Since I did not want to upset him, I let him bring it with him. He did not cry that morning and actually ate half of his food! Thank you Buddy and the rest of his stuffed buddies who take turns going to school with TJ each day now. Our mornings are no longer filled with tears.
With the eating improving week 2, another challenge presented itself though. That Friday when I picked TJ up for the day, he was not drinking his afternoon sippy cup in the high chair we had provided. Instead, he was seated at one of the main tables where four other toddlers eat. He was seated in a seat labeled “Hunter.” While there had been conversation about TJ eventually being transitioned from the safe, allergen-free high chair to the “food allergy safe table,” we did not think that this would happen without us knowing and on the 8th day of school!!! Plus, he wasn’t even at the table designated for allergies. He sat at one of the main tables.
As soon as TJ saw me, he threw his sippy cup down onto the table and ran to me. While I know that the staff cleans the tables and it is a peanut and tree nut free classroom, I was not comfortable with the entire scenario and how it went down without us knowing. I told his teacher that I was not comfortable with this and explained my reasons why. However, it was Friday, I was exhausted, wanted to beat traffic, and discuss this with my husband before deciding what to do next.
One of my biggest fears before the school year started was that everyone would be super cautious and careful with TJ to begin with. Then, as the weeks and months went by, they would become “comfortable” and more relaxed with everything. I did not expect that comfort to already present itself on day 8 though!
Counting our blessings: We emailed the directors that weekend very nicely explaining our concerns with this change. They responded right away with a very supportive email, indirectly letting us know that they had no idea about the change. After speaking with them, it was clarified to everyone that for now TJ is to sit in his high chair for all meals. At the end of October, we will all discuss switching him to his allergen-free table. They also assured us that before any change occurs with TJ we would be contacted and asked our thoughts on it. TJ also now participates in art activities at the main tables. However, food is not involved.
We count our blessings…Not only is a daycare facility going above and beyond for TJ’s safety, he has been protected and safe.
Challenge: First Cold of the School Year
Counting our blessings: Although colds and sicknesses stink and I hate to see my Cutes not feeling well, I know that they are inevitable especially when you attend a daycare. Because I know that TJ has been kept safe for almost a month now and a facility is working so closely with us even though they don’t have to, this first cold doesn’t even seem like a challenge at all. Therefore, we are extremely blessed and thankful. With all of that being said and some extra cuddles and rest, we know that we will kick this cold in the butt so we smile on…