‘Daycare gave me a bad feeling’
THIS beautiful photo came up as memory on my timeline this morning. It was taken one year ago, on Eddie's very first day at child care.
I felt a little nervous about him starting, not just because he was so little at only six months old, but also because he has allergies and intolerances.
I HAD FULLY BRIEFED HIS CENTRE
We'd had an awful time with him in the months prior however, things looked like they had turned the corner and I was excited about sending him, so I could finally launch and start working on my baby sleep consulting business.
During our short orientation time prior to him starting, I had fully briefed the staff on his health issues, what his safe foods were and so on and at that time, I felt like one of those neurotic mothers because the staff member I was handing him over to looked pretty disinterested in what I was saying.
That made me nervous, but I tried to play cool and looked like I was completely relaxed about the whole situation.
I picked Eddie up that afternoon and he looked absolutely wrecked. Not unusual for a first day of child care.
He hadn't slept much which didn't surprise me because the set-up of the room was crazy in terms of having a quiet, dark and low stimulation area for the cots.
That too concerned me given my knowledge as a baby sleep consultant.
I did actually offer to help the centre, to try and improve the sleeping set up they had. They were excited about that.
HE LOOKED LIKE HE'D BEEN CRYING
That night I just had this uncomfortable feeling. I told my husband Nick I didn't want to send him back, I felt he was too young, I didn't like the sleeping set up.
My mother's intuition was telling me not to send him again, but we did.
I picked him up again the following day and he looked awful. His face was red and he looked like he had been crying a lot.
They said he'd had a good day. He was very unsettled at bedtime that night, which was unusual for him.
I had a look in his child care book to see what they had fed him for lunch and I nearly died when I discovered it said he had eaten a bowl of coconut stir-fried noodles.
I know - a bowl of noodles for a six-month-old, not to mention a baby with dietary restrictions.
I called the centre and they confirmed that he was given the food (despite me giving them strict instructions that he could only eat certain types of food).
HE WAS HEAD-TO-TOE IN VOMIT
They apologised and that was that. He went to sleep and later, so did I, only to be woken at around 11pm.
He was crying, so I went in there and I found him head-to-toe in vomit. I picked him up and called Nick. Edward vomited again. He looked pale and lethargic. I spent the next few hours in with him as he dozed and vomited on and off.
It got to about 3am, and he was vomiting bile. He was cold and clammy, and I started to get really worried.
I raced in to Nick and said I was going to call an ambulance. When they arrived, they took one look at him and said: "let's get him to hospital".
THINGS WENT FROM BAD TO WORSE
Eddie ended up in the resuscitation bay at Monash Hospital where he stayed all day before being admitted to the ward.
He was so sick. They weren't sure if he just had a bad dose of gastro or if it was related to the food he had been given.
I KNOW it was the food, but it's something that could never be proven.
I spoke with the child care centre and it turned out the coconut noodles had 11 ingredients, almost all of which Eddie had never had before.
That in itself broke me. How could anyone be so neglectful as to give a six-month-old baby a cocktail of food he's never had before, let alone food I specifically said he could not have?
THE LESSON TO TRUST MY GUT
Mums and dads, always trust your gut and if something doesn't feel right, don't be afraid to speak up or act on your thoughts.
Even if you look and sound like a crazy, neurotic, overprotective parent, who cares?
You'd rather that than end up in a situation like we did.
The child care centre had been neglectful in so many ways. I was later told they had allocated a student carer to look after him who had no experience with babies who have health issues and allergies.
They didn't have any of his allergy documentation displayed, many of the staff members had not been briefed about his health and dietary restrictions, and the chef had not even made Edward a separate meal like she was supposed to (the centre lied and said there was a bowl mix up but we later found out there was never a safe, separate bowl in the first place).
The whole experience was very traumatic for poor Eddie and for our whole family.
I know many families go through far worse than we did but having to call an ambulance in the middle of the night while holding my pale, limp little boy was something I will never forget.
I'm happy to say Eddie is now a happy, healthy 18-month-old boy and he is loving life at his new child care centre.
As I said before, never be afraid to speak up. I wish I had been more scrupulous about checking everything was in place before leaving him under their care.
I wish I had spoken to more of the staff there about Eddie and most of all, I wish I had followed my gut and taken him out that first day.
I've learnt a lot from that awful experience and when it comes to your beautiful children, you can never be too careful.
Especially when someone else is looking after them.
Steph is the co-founder of Dream Start Baby, a baby sleep consultation service.
This article originally appeared on Kidspot and has been republished here with permission.