January was the last month at day care. Because at age 4, kids start primary school in the Netherlands. The last two months Elodie wasn’t sick that much anymore, and she could go to day care from 09.30 until 16.30. She didn’t need to stay there the entire day, if she could stay there as long as a day at primary school day we would be happy already. Maybe after being sick continuously since last April her immune system got stronger? Anyhow, we were very happy that she could go those hours, that she liked it, and there wasn’t much anxiety anymore.
It seemed like yesterday when Elodie started day care in April last year. It was very stressful because of all the worries. And now primary school was coming up, so stress and concerns again. At the day care they prepare a variety of fruits and lunches every day. At primary school we would need to pack her food every day. What will she eat? Will she eat? Will she have enough time to eat? The teacher can’t pressure her to eat. Will they understand her eating issues? Just to give a selection of worries we had. Primary schoolBefore starting primary school we had a meeting with her teachers where we discussed the main topics.
1. Don’t pressure her to finish her food.
2. Stimulating is okay but no pressure.
3. If she is too tired, give us a call, so we will pick her up.
To get used to school, she went a few times (a few hours) when she didn’t need to eat and that went pretty well. We increased the hours slowly. In the beginning she would get tired a bit after lunch, and sometimes we would need to pick her up. After a while it was going better, and she could stay regular hours.
She finished her entire plate
Some mornings she would go a little later for instance if she had a bad night due to waking up a lot, or being awake a few hours due to coughing. This way she was still well rested so her immune system would be as good as possible. We did adapt her food, because at the day care she ate bread and fruits, but she didn’t want to at school. We tried some things, and she eventually wanted to take some pretzels, and later added Bifi Thins (dried sausages) to it. She has less time to eat at school and the teacher was pressuring other children to finish their lunch box, as their parents gave instructions to do so. This probably resulted in her to go for ‘easy’ foods at school.
After school eater
In the morning we would give her 1 Nutrinidrink (medical nutrition) because she eats too slow and on her terms. I don’t want to wake her up 2 hours before school just to force her to eat. That just doesn’t work. She is an evening eater. If she doesn’t take the Nutrinidrink she doesn’t have enough energy to last the entire day. After school, she is very hungry, and she immediately wants to start eating. I will prepare her food, and she takes her time to relax and eat, sometimes for 2 hours. If she is full she will stop eating.
It is still amazing to see her enjoying her food, like a miracle. I can’t stop watching if I see her eating like a professional.
Variety of foods
The variety and quantity of food has increased so much since we did NoTube. She eats anything from pizza, fried rice, noodles, pasta, fries, apples, mandarins, kiwi etc. This is just a small part of the entire list of foods she eats. Does she eat like any other 4-year-old child? No, she is more picky. But she tries new foods and can truly enjoy eating.
She will give me the thumbs up if she likes it hahaha. Super cute. She likes her flavours and textures, but that’s fine. Seeing where she came from, basically eating nothing, this is such an impressive journey.
Out-of-school day care
During the May holiday Elodie would have to go to the out-of-school day care. She would go 3 entire days because we would still be working. I choose Monday, Wednesday and Friday because Wednesday and Friday were days when it isn’t as busy, Monday was chosen, so she has a day off between every day she is going.
We informed them about her background, and we felt heard by the team. The nice thing about day care is that they eat together and eat the same foods, it’s all prepared by the day care team. Elodie was eating what the other kids were eating and tried new things like pancakes, crackers, and fruit.
She was much more relaxed at the day care, because she can do whatever she wants there. That was quite a relief. She didn’t go the entire day, we would pick her up around 15.00 like a normal school day. Her energy level was good enough during those hours.
Flu, viruses, germs
Elodie was doing quite well, and she was not sick so often. In March, she got the flu, this was the real flu, nothing compared to what we have encountered before. She was sick for 3 full weeks, she could only lie in bed being tired and lethargic. A few days after Elodie got the flu, my husband and I got sick as well. I hadn’t felt so bad in a long time. I could only lie in bed and couldn’t even talk or eat anymore. I lost 2 kg in just a few days, and Elodie lost 1.5 kg as well, while still drinking medical nutrition as the only source of food.
My mother had to come over to take care of us for 3 days, as we couldn’t do anything but lie in bed, we didn’t know it was the flu at that time. Afterwards she and my dad got the flu as well. I felt a bit bad about making them sick as well. Elodie had a 40 degree fever for almost a week, and a bit lower fever the week thereafter. Two weeks of fever, it was insane, she would whimper, moan and wince in pain and discomfort. There was nothing I could do, I felt so helpless.
We didn’t even offer food anymore because she was mainly sleeping, and any liquid or food that she took in would be vomited a little later. At some point she wanted to eat and drink, but we couldn’t find give her too much because it would come out again. That was a terrible feeling because she did want to eat and drink. Our day/night rhythm was non-existent anymore because of all the sleeping and little time awake.
The local doctors didn’t do a thing. At the emergency we had to wait for almost 5 hours until we were seen. We went in at 21.30 and were home at 02.00. They didn’t run tests, they just looked at her and told us it should be okay, that they had no worries.
This was the moment we decided to not see any Dutch medics anymore. A few days later she was still not much better, we went to AZ Turnhout where they did urine and blood tests to check her condition. Luckily the results were within limits and the doctor told us to come back if she wasn’t feeling better after 3 days. And indeed around day 13 (3 days later) she started to feel a bit better.
As a parent I can’t trust anyone who says everything is fine without running tests. I am so happy with the Belgian system, where they back up their advice with test results. That’s what Dr. Scheer from NoTube said as well, they can’t know if she is healthy or not without doing tests. It just amazes me every time how the Dutch health care tries to save money this way, especially seeing how much money we pay for our health insurance every month.
Until the summer holiday Elodie would have a cough, I don’t think she was 100% healthy, but she was able to go to school. She had some difficult nights where she would wake up for a few hours because she was coughing, but we were allowed to bring her to school later. So she would start latest 09.30. We were very happy that the teachers were flexible regarding her health, and I think that’s what helped her to be able to go to school as normal as possible.
Day at the fair
Chicken pox vaccination
Last year December, Elodie was fully vaccinated for the chicken pox. We were very happy we did that because there were some chicken pox cases at her school. If we can eliminate a few sick days and scars this way, we don’t mind vaccinations. Elodie wouldn’t listen if we told her she can’t scratch her skin, and we don’t want any other infections if we can prevent it.
On the days that Elodie was feeling well we could clearly see the progress she has made since NoTube. She was eating much bigger amounts, was really enjoying eating, trying new things. There would still be a set of foods she always wanted to eat, even when sick, and the new things she would binge on for a while. We just let her eat whatever she wants when she wants. I noticed myself saying ‘No’ to her eating at times as well. For instance when it was closer to bedtime, she would stall as she didn’t want to sleep and would tell us she is so hungry, and that I am a bad mum for starving her.
I find it so funny when she says that in her very offended way as if I am abusing her. I will also say no, if she wants to try it buy some foods if I will know she won’t eat it. Or say no, we don’t have time to eat anymore. Because we need to go somewhere for instance. This is something I never ever thought I would be saying. Elodie’s eating was holy to me, it still is. Being able to say ‘no’ feels so weird, and thinking that it’s normal is so strange, but nice too. :).
Let’s get ready for the summer holiday. This will be very exciting because it will be our first ‘real’ holiday. 3 weeks in Spain.