Let me lead with a few quotes that I dug up on the ever-reliable world wide web.
"A common misconception is that lice infestation is a result of poor hygienic practices. In fact, it is actually believed that head lice prefer clean hair to dirty hair."
"Getting head lice isn't a sign of bad personal hygiene or an unclean living environment."
"Having head lice does NOT mean the person has poor hygiene or low social status." (ouch)
Now that we've made that nice and clear.... Sophia, my sweet CLEAN :) Sophia, had LICE!!!
Lice. LICE! I've heard of people getting it. My mom says some of us had it as kids. I don't remember ever having it, though I remember having a tick burned out of my head that was burrowing it's way into my skull once.
I knew it was one of those things you might face with school-aged kids. But I didn't think I'd face it like two days into first grade.
As it turns out, once I starting scouring the internet for information about it, she got it before school started... it takes longer than a few days to get to a point where you would notice anything. I had heard about it going around a bit before our trip to Hawaii, and freaked out, imagining it hitting us right before we left town and ruining the trip. But I checked the girls a few times and saw nothing out of the ordinary.... then took off to Hawaii and didn't think about it again.
I discovered it last Thursday morning, when I went to do her hair for school and she said it itched.... ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.... I get the eebi jeebies again just remembering that moment. I started inspecting her scalp right where she was itching and saw a couple of moving bugs!!!!!
"Roooooooooosssssss!!!!" Thank goodness he was still home. So after calling my pediatrician, he went out to get me everything we might possibly need to fight this INSANE war.
My ped told me to use 1 tbs olive oil, 1 tsp tea tree oil, and 1 tsp eucalyptas oil mixed with an equal part of Johnson and Johnson's baby shampoo.... to wash with it and leave it on for 30 minutes. We did it... and I started the dreaded "nit-picking" (never realized where that term came from, assuming it's from this?) One fell on the towel we were sitting on, and was still crawling....
AHHHHHHHHHH!!!! THEY WEREN'T ALL DEAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So we went for treatment two, the stuff most people use, RID. But first I had to blow dry her hair since you have to apply it to dry hair. Now I'm picturing them flying all over my bathroom. Is your skin crawling? Mine hasn't stopped since last Thursday.
Now as much as I don't want to treat my kids with pesticides, that is NOT why I chose to try the other route first. I wanted to do whatever it took to kill these nasty bugs. But my doctor didn't even tell me to use the shampoos, they said that lice have built up a resistance to the pesticides used in the lice shampoos over the years, and that they are not as effective as they used to be. But that these oils did a far better job. And as a perk, they won't kill your kids. So I tried 'em. I wasn't so sure... so then I tried the other stuff too. In hindsight, I think a few just died a little bit slower of a death.
Which might not be such a bad thing.... they deserve it.
So back to the nit picking... where my hands dive into my sweet daughter's head of hair that I just saw crawling with live bugs.
I can honestly say that (at the time) it was one of the hardest things I've done as a mom. I was trying not to seem too disgusted... worrying it would hurt her feelings. And I still can't get over that while she has been SOOOOO sensitive and easily offended lately, she was barely phased by the idea that she had LIVE bugs in her hair. She was afraid to lay down in the bath water to rinse her head, for fear that a bug would come OUT of her hair and get in the bath and "get her".
But it didn't bother her that they had already infested her head. ?? Don't know.
The other crazy thing is that for school on Wednesday (the day before I found it), I had braided her hair in two braids. That means I'd parted it and really gotten my fingers in there, and I didn't notice a THING. These suckers are really small.... but what I really think happened, and it's really disgusting, is that some eggs had just hatched overnight. Which is why she was suddenly scratching.
Are you still reading? Or is this way too much information and way too gross. Eggs--- filled with blood-sucking bugs--- hatching in your hair.
It's like that scary story from those old "scary stories" books, where the girl has a big zit on her cheek and then it hatches in the bath and baby spiders crawl out. Oh no... it wasn't a zit at all. I think that haunted me in my preteen years. Maybe it still does.
Back to Thursday... BLACK THURSDAY, I think I'll call it. Because I will never forget that day. After the second shampoo, it was 11 am, and from that point, until a little after 7pm that night, I was hunched over Sophia, in all sorts of weird positions as she tried to get comfortable, picking through... almost literally, every SINGLE hair of her head. I put it all in a pony and took a small section at a time and went through a teenie line of hair... over and over and over and over.... most tedious thing I've ever done....
I fed Finn as quickly as I could when he needed it... Put out bowls of snacks on a blanket on the ground for the girls, and switched out movies, precisely FIVE times.... but other than that, it was eight hours of STRAIGHT nit-picking. Ross came home once in the middle of the day to help clean the house and wrapped his day up early. He took the two little ones for the last hour or so while Sophia fell asleep on the toy room floor with two strawberry girls in her hands, and I picked through the last small section of her hair with a big flashlight on her. Poor thing... she was so tired of it all.... but such a good sport.
(no idea why my font changed there... can't figure out how to fix it- sorry)
After they went to bed, we scoured the house, washed everything I hadn't already washed that morning, and bagged everything else (soft stuff... barbies, stuffed animals, clothes etc...) to leave it in the garage for a couple of days. (They say that lice can't live over 48 hours off the body, so to bag anything they could be hanging out on.)
I've picked through her hair every day since, and I don't think I'll ever be the same. I'm pretty sure I'll be doing a quick check every morning at breakfast for the rest of their childhood. Those nits are TINY... SO tiny, and practically invisible. They're not white like I've read some places online. They are... invisible. seriously. Or at least on Sophia's hair. They are pretty much sandy blonde. And it makes me sick that they all had to GET there somehow. And that I didn't see a darn thing until I started SEARCHING. Seriously. I don't ever want to go through that again. And I wouldn't wish it on ANYBODY.
Which is why I thought maybe just MAYBE it'd be helpful to write this all out for somebody.
In the future, if I ever get one of those notes home from school or think my kids were around some poor kid who got lice. (Um... by poor- for the record-- I mean some unfortunate kid who was unlucky enough to get lice.... not like some kid with no money. Got a mean comment... better just make that nice and clear.) I would wash their hair THAT DAY with the oil mixture... or the shampoo. Nothing kills the eggs... but if you got a bug in your hair from someone else, which is how it all starts... a shampoo could kill that bug before it lays any eggs and RUINS YOUR LIFE.
Ok it's not THAT bad. But almost. In hindsight... maybe it's not as bad to me as I thought it was?? But I think I've felt like that through every difficult mommy thing. It's always kind of empowering to realize you've survived something. Dramatic? Let me know if you think that after you've done lice. I could have died of non-stop heebie jeebies. And I was seriously considering shaving her head about three hours and three inches in to her hair. And I love her long hair!
Warning: if you google images of nits, bring a bowl, because you will want to throw up. And for the record, that is NOT what Sophia's head looked like. Her's were here and there, and SOOO hard to find... not some nest of white eggs like someone dumped tapioca on her head. But disgusting nonetheless.
We watched Jane Eyre a couple days after, and I couldn't stop thinking about what they must have done in the old days when they got lice. They must have had it forever. Or just dipped their head in kerosene like my grandma did. While that day, I kept thinking.. "it's 2011, I can't BELIEVE there's not a better way to do this"... I guess it could have been worse...
Am I gonna regret sharing all of this? Please don't shun us. If you do, we'll sneak into your house and give you all of our old hair ties.